Segarini – Excerpts from “The Portable Bob” Part Two

pORTABLE bOB 2

If all goes according to plan, this October will see the release of my first book, “The Portable Bob” which is a collection of some of my favourite DBAWIS columns and some new, never published stories and articles.

As promised, here are some more excerpts from The Portable Bob, and if you want to, use the comment section below to let me know what columns and stories YOU would like to see reprinted, updated, or elaborated on, AND if there is anything NEW you would like me to write about. Also take a look at the gallery of potential Book Covers at the bottom of the column and let us know which one(s) you like, or suggest a totally different idea. Let your thoughts be known in the comment section below. A few of you will be winning an autographed copy of the tome just ahead of its release. No details to share yet (the Holiday has made it hard to contact those who are in charge of the details), so they will be forthcoming in the near future. Yesterday’s excerpts were mostly about this and that…these are a little more biographical and music-centric. Enjoy.

Excerpts From The Portable Bob Part Two

Disneyland on Acid….

The Family Tree Signs with RCA

There were a lot of great reasons to sign a record deal with RCA back in the mid ‘60s. Aside from the whopping ‘3% of 90% of wholesale’ deal, (and you think illegal downloading is ripping off artists? HA!), which wasstandard at the time, there were a pile of bonus goodies that came with the servitude.

For one thing, you got to record in RCA’s Hollywood studios, which were state of the art. It was there that I saw my first 8-track recording machine. Wow. 8 separate tracks. Oh my goodness.

You got to hob nob with huge stars that also recorded there. Sometimes, like in the case of the Monkees, you even got featured in the teen magazines. Somewhere out there is a magazine with myriad photos and a 5 page story about the Family Tree and the Monkees having a squirt gun fight that started with an armload of 25 cent squirt guns from a 5 and dime, and escalated to the point where we were throwing buckets of water at each other, and was brought to a halt when a couple of us ripped some fire extinguishers off the walls. The fight went on for about an hour all over the building until the security squad trapped us in a ground floor bathroom and made us stop.

We got to watch Tony Bennett, (or was it Sinatra?), record in the huge Studio A with a full orchestra. When we first started going down to L.A and went to RCA’s studios, we saw various Rolling Stones like Mick and Keith, an occasional glimpse of Andrew Loog Oldham, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie, and the ego-maniacal engineer Dave Hassinger when they recorded ‘Aftermath’ there. Dave was pink, but I swear, the Brits were a very pale green. Weird.

Being part of RCA meant you were in the big time, Baby. Hangin’ with Harry Nilsson, on a first name basis with people like Cass Elliot, Papa John, the boys in Buffalo Springfield, and others…it was very cool for a bunch of hicks from little farm towns up North.

You got invited to lots of industry functions when you were with RCA, too. Parties, openings, record release get-togethers…this wasn’t chips, dip and beer tickets. These parties were done up right. Crab claws, shrimp, you name it. Most importantly…a full open bar.

My God, how this business has changed.

But the greatest perk that came with RCA was courtesy of NBC, RCA’s parent company at the time. NBC had a big slice of Walt Disney’s theme park, 27 miles away in Anaheim, and they were very generous with that connection.

One day, The Tree got called into Patty Farralla’s office and were each handed an envelope. Patty didn’t say a word. In the envelope was a letter from someone high up in the RCA hierarchy. It was a letter of introduction to the powers that be at Disneyland.

We were to be given a little red wristband when we presented the letters to the head of Public Relations at Disneyland.

That little red wrist band meant two things.

  1. You didn’t wait in line for a ride.
  2. You didn’t have to pay…for anything.

Well, you had to pay for trinkets like mouse ears, Donald Duck colouring books, and Tinkerbell bookmarks, but nothing else. Even lunch was on the Mouse. The coolest thing? That letter was good every time you went to Disneyland. All you had to do was remember to bring it.

Pig heaven…

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It was 1967. We had done time in San Francisco at the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom. We knew the Grateful Dead…and we knew Owsley.

Click on the map to enlarge it

We had a plan for our first trip to Disneyland. It was simple, yet perfect. We had done our homework and knew what to expect from the Security and Public Relations people. At the time, Disneyland was just one notch up from Jimmy Swaggart’s Church of the Fornicating Evangelist when it came to tolerance. Long hair was frowned upon, so baseball caps were used to tuck your hair out of sight. After you were in the park, you could lose the hat, it was just the border crossing that was, shall we say,‘picky’. Once, a year later when I was in Roxy, Melanie Bray, Rand’s sweetie, wore a see through blouse to the Park. They refused her entry. Hey, man…Donald Duck doesn’t wear any pants and he’s in your park…and there are kids in there!

The only other part of the plan assured us of a fascinating day? Find a parking spot as close to the front gate as possible, drop a tab of Owsley’s famous acid, and enjoy Disneyland.

Not two days later, we piled into the Van and lit out for the Happiest Place On Earth.

We made it to Anaheim, passing Knott’s Berry Farm and the HollywoodWax Museum.

We exited at Ball Road.

We entered the gigantic mile-wide parking area.

We found a spot.

We put on our baseball caps.

We dropped the acid.

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Crossing the border…

Looking back on this, the taking of the acid in the parking lot at Disneyland isn’t that strange considering the year, and the youth culture we were a part of. What boggles my mind is the ease with which we broke the law, the complete lack of concern for any consequences we might suffer, and the total joy of standing there if front of God, the Mouse, and the gawking couple and their 3 kids who looked like they just pulled in from Nebraska, watching us tuck our hair into our hats, (mine said “SNAFU” on it), and drop a Strawberry Double Dome, passing a warm Dr. Pepper around as a chaser.

We were fearless.

Dumb…

But Fearless!

The walk from where we parked (“Everyone remember, we parked in Goofy-24”) to Checkpoint Charlie was more of a hike than a walk. Halfway there, I wished we had saved some of the Dr. Pepper.

“We can establish a base camp here and make the peak sometime tomorrow”, says Kootch.

I come close to agreeing with him until I realize he’s kidding. Where the hell is the entrance to this place…and when is the acid going to kick in?

As it turns out, they both happen at exactly the same time.

Just as we reached one of the ticket booths, the Owsley entered our bloodstreams. A sweet, mellow rush, like a sudden cool breeze on a warm day, as gentle as a kiss on the cheek, but as disorienting as being spun around blindfolded.

The girl in the booth looked like Heidi, and about 18 years old. Her cheeks were glowing red and her hair was blonde and shiny, and she was beautiful.

We stood before her and her little booth, grinning like Cheshire cats and vibrating ever so slightly.

“Yes?” she said, in a voice like maple syrup.

We giggled.

“How many?” she asked.

Kootch again, “How many what?”

More giggling.

“How many in your party?” She managed, growing weary of us but still smiling that perfect smile.

“Party!” we shout in unison.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my envelope.

“Letter” I said, waving it around like an idiot. I may have been drooling.  The other guys saw what I was doing and their eyes lit up. They each fumbled out their envelopes and started waving them at her.

“Letters” We all chimed again, like a remedial reading class on a field trip.

She grabbed one of the envelopes that was being waved in her face, opened it up, and saw the letter. Looking at us like we should be accompanied by at least one adult she said, “One moment please”, and picked up the phone.

I was still waving my envelope when a giant man in a grey suit came up to us out of nowhere and asked us to follow him. We passed through an arch and into a little building half hidden in a sea of bushes and trees.

He took our names, checked our I.Ds, glanced at the letters, and, when he was satisfied with everything, tied special little red ribbons around our wrists, smiled at us and said, “Have a great time, fellas”.

Fellas?

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Had he been on his game, we would have been on our way to jail instead of the Magic Kingdom…and today, it was really going to be magic.

Walking to the World of Tomorrow…

We found ourselves on Main Street USA, Uncle Walt’s replica of a Norman Rockwell Main Street that existed in every small American town from the 1900’s until the mid ‘50’s. In our altered state, it was as though we had been transported through time to a better place. It was perfect.

“This is perfect!”, I said.

“Too many kids”, Kootch snorted.

Well, duh…

We bought some taffy. Have you ever had taffy on acid? It tasted soooo good, but we must have looked like a pack of dogs with mouths full of peanut butter, jaws working, chewing, chewing, chewing…at least we couldn’t say anything stupid as long as we had the taffy. We couldn’t say anything, period.

As we reached the hub of the park that lead to Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland, depending on which path you took, we slowed down and finished the taffy so we could discuss our next move.

“Where to”, somebody asked.

“Tomorrowland. We have to go to Tomorrowland first”, I volunteered.

“Why?” a chorus asked me.

“Because”, I said.

That seemed to do the trick.

Monsanto: Better Living through Chemistry…

There were lots of fun things to do in Disneyland, stoned or not. Over the course of our visits we managed to smoke a joint in Injun Joe’s Caves on Tom Sawyer Island, eat in a very posh restaurant hidden away on an upper floor in the building that housed the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, enjoy Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Peter Pan attraction where you sail over London on a miniature Pirate ship and on to Neverland, The Adventureland ride down the river where your tour guide shoots a hippo and scares the crap out of the little kids on the boat, enjoying a Monte Christo in the beautiful grotto restaurant that the Pirates of the Caribbean ride passed through and scream our way through multiple rides in and on the Matterhorn, sometimes straight, sometimes faced on smuggled flasks of whiskey, bourbon or vodka, but always, always, having a great time. The Matterhorn may seem tame compared to today’s roller coasters, but it was the first that ducked you in and out of an enclosed space…pretty wild at the time. The Matterhorn Ride.

That said, it was Tomorrowland that held the most pleasure for us when we visited Disneyland.

Sure, the Rocket to the Moon ride was fun, but ultimately kinda boring, the Autobahn and submarine rides were cool, (especially the sign at the end of the line-up that said you “have to be this high”, to get on the ride…hahaha), and the House of the Future was as close to being in the Jetsons as any of us would ever get.

But the ride of rides, the capo de capo of attractions, was something called Adventure Through Inner Space.

If there was ever a ride built solely for the pleasure of a bunch of goofs on LSD, this was that ride.

I’ll tell you what was amazing. After you walked through a great, cavernous room full of massive, moving light shows, you approached what looked like a HUGE piece of machinery. You noticed people getting into round cars that entered the machine from the left, and as they moved to the right, appeared to get smaller and smaller until they disappeared from view. An astounding optical illusion back in 1967, but that was just the beginning. Add to that a good hit of Owsley acid, and you got yourself an experience that you could not find anywhere else on Earth, then…or now.

I wandered into this place after getting separated from the rest of the guys after we got off the TWA Rocket to the Moon thingy. Basically, I followed a hot redhead who was wearing short-shorts and mouse ears into the place because she was the most interesting landmark I could focus on. Once I was inside the building, my attention was diverted by a gigantic, moving snowflake that must have been 3 or 4 stories high. No light show at the Fillmore had ever looked so impressive. I realized that I was in a line, slowly moving toward the round cars lined up at the entrance to the machine. I noticed the red wristband and remembered its magic powers. Raising my hand in the air like a spastic answering a question in high school, I worked my way through the line up until I was standing next to one of the cars.

“This thing work in here?” I said, pointing to my upraised wristband.

“Yep”, said the kid in charge of the cars. “Have a seat”.

He threw back the retaining bar and shoved me into the waiting car, where I was joined by a large woman in a Mumu carrying a 4 foot Mickey Mouse plush toy. Where the hell was the redhead?

Giant woman looked at me like I was going to rob her. I smiled and said, “Wow. Big Mickey”. She looked at me again, this time with a look of tolerance for the mentally challenged.

“Yes”, she intoned slowly, like I was 4 years old, “It’s a big Mickey Mouse. Do you like Mickey Mouse? Well of course you do”. Then she patted me on my hat. What the hell.

“Nice lady”. I said in my best Slingblade voice, then I patted her and Mickey on their respective heads. This seemed to make her feel motherly and appreciated. She looked at me with a wan, affectionate, smile usually reserved for wet kittens or a child that’s just tied his own shoes for the first time. “Aren’t you sweet”, she cooed.

“Yes, Ma’am”, I answered.

The car started to move. We were on our way into the shrinking process.

It got very dark. Then it appeared to snow. Snow was falling all around us while a voice coming out of speakers in the little round car started telling us what was happening. As we traveled further into this environment, I noticed the snowflakes getting larger and larger until they were bigger than the car we were riding in. “Holy shit”, I thought, “we areshrinking”.

We continued to get smaller and smaller, the snowflakes looming over us until we passed through one that must have been several stories high. The voice telling us that we have passed into the very heart of this particular snowflake. A light show resembling a cross between the aurora borealis and a good lightshow at the Fillmore starts to form out of the dark and swirling mist. I am peaking. We shrink smaller still. The voice says we are about to enter an atom in the snowflake, that all the lights are molecules moving around us faster and faster as we reach a size so small as to be able to enter an atom…and then…we do!

Electrons start racing around us at great speed. Our car must be suspended in a large chamber because these whirling lights are everywhere. Above us, below us, everywhere. I hear Giant woman speak. “Don’t be frightened”, she says. Frightened? Fuck no, lady, I am in the middle of the greatest acid trip, ever!

The voice says we are now leaving the atom and will be returned to our normal size. Sure enough, the lights get hazy again, and soon, you can see the snowflakes as they slowly get smaller and smaller. Then…thepiece de resistance. We come across the business end of a gigantic microscope. You can’t help but look up the large, metal tube. There, at the other end, is a GIGANTIC eye! Staring at us as we pass by! What a rush! And then…the GIGANTIC eye BLINKS!

Whoa…

Then, we start to grow rapidly back to normal, the snow stops, and we pop back out into the massive lobby.

Walt Disney is responsible for this?

Man, he must have been wasted.

Giant woman asks me where the rest of my group is, meaning the special class I must have been with. I tell her I don’t know, but I’ll be fine without them. I don’t tell her I have the keys to the van, or that the ‘group’ I’m with plays rock and roll music and are all tripping on acid in the Trippiest Place On Earth.

I also don’t care where they are at that moment. All I care about is getting back on this ride again, and again, and again.

Which is exactly what I did.

And after the guys found me about to get on the ride again, we all did it again and again and again until we left when they closed the park. Thanks Uncle Walt, you twisted old freak…and I mean that in a good way.

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Eventually, The Family Tree did a photo shoot at Disneyland. Here are two pictures from that day. The first is from The Michael Ochs Collection and is part of Getty Images, and the second is a picture of our bass player, Kootch on Tom Sawyer’s Island. And yes…

…we were on acid again.

=0=

If you’ve got a tab of Owsley acid hidden away somewhere, go find it, take it, wait 20 minutes, and check this out. Here’s the story behind the ride, and some highlights from the ride itself. Again, it seems tame now, but on a hit of acid in 1967, this was an experience like no other.Adventure Through Inner Space.

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The Song That Launched A Million Blue Balls….

This song came out in 1959. I was 13 years old and a frequent guest at ‘make out parties’ held in friend’s basements when mom and dad were busy at the Elks Club or down at the latest Masonic Temple installation or just asleep on the couch watching ‘Gunsmoke’. The best ones were at my friend Jeff Barkett’s house. Why? Because they had a full size billiard table in the basement, lots of overstuffed chairs and couches, and a wicked console record player that had a 45 adapter. We could stack 7 or 8 records on it and dance…and make out. If you left the arm off of the spindle adapter the last 45 would play over and over again. That 45 was always “Theme from a Summer Place”.

Originally written by Mack Discant and Max Steiner and recorded by Hugo Winterhalter (he of ‘Canadian Sunset’ fame), it was the love theme for Molly and Johnny (played by Sandra Dee (A blonde Megan Fox) and Troy Donahue (Also a blonde Megan Fox)) in the movie “A Summer Place”. The film was a chick-flick that no guy at these parties had ever seen, but Percy Faith’s recording of it was a HUGE hit (at number one for 8 weeks at one point, it is STILL the longest running number one instrumental of all time) but every girl had seen multiple times. When we were taking advantage of the song’s overwhelming (for the girls) romantic cachet, we closed our eyes and every girl became Sandra Dee, just like the girls probably thought of us as their own personal Troy Donahues and went limp in our arms while we played tonsil hockey. Making out didn’t mean what it does today. You were lucky to get to 2nd base if you were brave enough to try. We were all perfectly happy to just kiss until our lips were numb and we couldn’t walk properly for a day or two. The girls used to just stop panting, their rosy cheeks would return to their normal pink hue, and they would leave for home none the worse for wear. We boys, on the other hand, could barely walk, painfully aware that something was missing in the equation. Nevertheless, this song fueled a lot of great nights when I was a kid…I just wish the girls had been a bit more understanding of our plight, or that we were brave enough to go in for the kill. The summer of this song is still one of my fondest memories, but not so much for my testicles.

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Toronto in The Summer of 2011….

Chops Dorfman

“Satan called, he wants his weather back.”

I must have seen that status on Facebook a dozen times in the last two weeks. No surprise there, Satan DID call and he DOES want his weather back, but give me a minute, I’ve got to go out to the driveway and flip my eggs….

Lovin_Spoonful_1965                  It is hot enough in Toronto to actually fry eggs on the pavement. I know this because I broke one open on the driveway last week and it fried right up. One piece of advice for anyone wanting to try this though: Sweep the loose gravel off of your cooking surface…and don’t cook in the oil spot, it’s gross and totally ruins the flavour. Whenever it gets this hot, the Loving Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” squirms its way into my head and sits tight until the weather breaks or a song of equal insistence pushes it out of my craw and back out into the ether, where it will remain until the next time the thermometer reaches the mid nineties or so. This summer it still sits, a constant reminder that for those of us who dislike temperatures above 75 or so, summer isn’t everybody’s favourite season.

The song, a jackhammer in the midst of John Sebastian’s usual hug infused and snow-globe sentimental stable of aural comfort food like “You and Me and Rain on the Roof” , “You Didn’t Have to be So Nice”, and “Darling Be Home Soon”, has an annoying repetitiveness, a finger-poke-in-the-chest insistence, and what sounds like slamming car doors driving home its point, which seems to be; “This weather is uncomfortable, “I need a shower”, “Let’s go pick up some chicks”, and “Turn up the air conditioner.” Slow it down, and it would serve as a fine vehicle for The Doors back when Morrison was still panther sleek and grist for the teen magazine mill. Speed it up and you have a good reason to shoot somebody.

John SebastianI met John Sebastian and the rest of the Spoonful in the summer of ’66 in L.A one night at the Whiskey on Sunset. We were introduced by a mutual friend (whose name escapes me at the moment although it may have been Mark Volmanof the Turtles) and hit it off immediately thanks to our shared love of all things musical and John’s interest in finding some hash. Like damn near everyone under the age of 30 at that time, I must have looked like I was a mark volmandrug dealer (I wasn’t) or like I would know some (I did!) and told John when he asked about obtaining a chunk that I would happily find him some while he was in L.A and bring it to him. He gave me the address of the house they had rented in the canyons of Hollywood, and I promised to drop by the next day. I did. He still owes me fifty bucks.

Flash forward to 1982.

I’m doing afternoon drive at Q107 and a lot of commercial voice overs (“The only thing as good as your Crispy Crunch is someone else’s” and “Levis…the origin of the species for the HIP of the species.” among them) when I get a phone call from an old friend, Clive Smith. Clive, along with two partners, had a thriving animation studio going called NELVANA. He called to ask me if I would audition for a part in a live-action series they were going to do called, “The Edison Twins”. Being of the ham family, I accepted the offer. “Anything I need to know?” I asked him. “Not really”, came the reply, “You’ll be playing a rock star who is now a movie star who wrote and sang the song the parents in the show fell in love to at a rock festival in the ‘60s.” I asked him if I could write the song if I got the part, and he said, “Well, the part was written for an actual rock legend” (I winced) “and the song was going to be his biggest hit from the ‘60s. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of the episode, a conflict that he couldn’t get out of and we Clive and Johncouldn’t re-schedule the shoot, soooo…yeah, I suppose.” “Who was it and what was the song, so I know what you’re looking for”, I asked. “John Sebastian, Do You Believe in Magic”, Cliveanswered over the phone. Ahh, I thought, an opportunity to get my 50 bucks back with interest…if I get the part.

Next thing you know, I’m playing ‘Chops Dorfman’, whose ‘60s hit, ‘Real Live Magic’ was the reason Mr. and Mrs. Edison fell in love all those years ago at the Strawberry Mountain Festival when the world was young and everybody else their age were on acid and playing in the mud.

I also ended up writing the theme song for the whole series after overhearing the producers talking about how much they disliked the one they had. John Sebastian has more than paid back the 50 bucks he owed me and then some.

Joan BThe littlest Edison, was played by a kid named Sonny Besen-Tharasher, a wee lad of inestimable energy and a cute factor of a zillion. Smart, inquisitive, and talented, it was no surprise he encompassed these qualities considering who his mother is. Mom isJoan Besen, founder of Canada’s wonderful country outfit Prairie Oyster, and a formidable musical whirlwind, keyboardist, writer, and singer.

Sonny EdisonWhen I ran into Joan at the Leon Russell/Paul James show at the Sound Academy a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the patio drinking a Rolling Rock and listening to ‘Summer in the City’ play on repeat in my head, the heat of the day abating in the cool breeze coming off Lake Ontario, and pushed further away by the ice cold can of beer in my hand. With John Sebastian’s voice in my head, the first thing I asked Joan about when she sat down at the table was Sonny. “He’s 35 now”., she responded. I suddenly felt like I was a million years oldChops and Sonny.

“He still remembers you”, she said, “You invited him over to play video games during the Edison Twins shoot.” I remember that. An Atari 2600, Sonny and I shot dots from our respective cubes at one another while the Atari Bleeped and Blooped its chorus of primitive sound effects through the television’s speaker. Technology gone wild, we thought at the time.

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Remembering Nostalgia….

Stockton, Derring Do, and Crusin’ the Miracle Mile – Part One

Bob (Cylus Proulx) SegariniRegardless of where you end up living on this mudball, an odd thing occurs sometime between hitting 30 and the day sex slips from number 1 to number 9 on your Top Ten list. When a warm sweater takes precedent over a cold beer, and a Friday night out on the town ends at 10:00 pm instead of Monday. No longer interested in flirting with young women after your first encounter with the business end of a can of Pepper Spray, instead of mentally undressing women on the street, your mind wanders not up skirts, but to a cheeseburger you had when you were 13 years old, or a TV show that is no longer even in reruns, or the incredible smell of wood burning in fireplaces when you walked down your street on the first chilly night of fall. Mostly, your mind wanders to where you grew up, where you went to school, and where everything was ahead of you. All things were possible, and you felt like you would live forever. Nostalgia.

Nostalgia, believe it or not, was once thought of as a disease.

So, we all suffer this paralytic mental disorder, only now it is not only okay, it is actually psychologically relaxing and reassuring to wallow in a past already lived. This is due, in part, to a massive desire to escape the woes and frightening amount of oft-times erroneous The-Sky-Is-Falling-Don’t-Eat-The-Food-Unless-You-Grew-It-Yourself-ASTEROID!-Everybody’s-Out-to-Get-Me-Underwear Causes Sterility-KidneyHarvesting First Dates- GUNS!-Government/Military/Big Pharma  Conspiracies on every Facebook page, Tweet, and Fox News crawl, nostalgia is  also used to make more money than Romney wasted on his bid on that house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is especially financially rewarding to prey on the generation known to all as “Baby Boomers”. because a lot of them worry constantly that something MUST be wrong. I am actually from the very tail end of the generation before that (missed being a Boomer by 4 months) called the “Last Great Generation” which I wasn’t really a part of either. The sobriquet refers to the generation that fought in World War Two, which ended about 12 days before I was born. So my generation should probably be called the “Taint” generation…the little strip of time between the ‘Greats’ and the ‘Boomers’.

At any rate, nostalgia is so rampant in the Boom People (and the generations that followed) that it creates revenue (and a reason to live) for a lot of folks who should be whittling on a porch somewhere or playing Euchre in a retirement home cafeteria. I don’t care if you grew up in a hovel under an overpass, or the backseat of your parent’s getaway car, you WILL eventually start to remember your youth as A: Fun B: Carefree C: The best years of your life. In the future, will this current generation go to a butcher shop to purchase some Soylent Green, see some meat, and immediately begin to pine for Lady Ga Ga and her meat dress? Will they read about a domestic squabble and dig out their CDs of Chris Brown and Rihanna? Only time, that relentless bitch of an egg timer, will tell.

At this point in time, The Rolling Stones still bring a  measure of moisture to millions of women (who should be knitting sweaters for their cats or dogs), even though they can no longer see the show from their boyfriend’s shoulders and have long since stopped flashing their breasts at the band, and james-bond-daniel-craig-sean-connery-300men who argue with Daniel Craig Bond Fans in favour of Sean Connery Bond, whose full head of hair graced the franchise when special effects weren’t so special, and Bond Girls were actual women with meat in their bones and not girls who could blow away in a high wind. Add to that the ongoing support for Star Trek TOS (the Original Series), which, when viewed without the rose coloured glasses ofnostalgia, has all the grace, technical wizardry, and depth of a round of Chinese Checkers or a rousing game of ‘Go Fish’, against the far better written, acted, and presented Star Trek Reboot, where Spock is finally getting some sugar instead of the testosterone soaked lump of fatty ground beef Captain of yore, who should have been wearing a leisure suit when he picked up space chicks, he was such a product of his time. At least he wore a velour shirt.

When it comes to living in the past, your memory edits out the bad stuff and you are left with the good, and like truck stop meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy, your past becomes comfort food for thought. Sure, that is not always the case. Some people grow up in a miserable environment, or had a terrible childhood, but on the whole, even those people will find themselves nostalgic for their youth, and where they spent it. I am no exception.

The past is truly comforting to live in. The reason is simple; there are no bad surprises there. No planes taking out towers, no alien overlords, no Nikki Minaj or Pitbull records. We KNOW what to expect because we have already experienced it, and we survived, and back there, we are safe. And young. And hopeful.

The air smelled better, the food was tastier, and you could still meet Mick, date Tuesday, become a rock star, become President, cure cancer. Or, to make it easier to understand, pot and gasoline were cheap, and sex wouldn’t kill you.

So even though I am referring to my own past, my own generation, it is the same for each and every one. Even this current generation will look back Best Yearssomeday and remember these times fondly. Apparently, NOW is always worse than THEN.

We forget the Cuban Missile Crises, Kennedy’s assassination (at least the grief that accompanied it), the Gasoline shortage, Debbie Boone, Helen Reddy, Up With People, and those acetate, form fitting shirts that caught fire if a cigarette ash dropped on them…and it is good that we do. Nostalgia helps us maintain our sanity. Remembering how good something can be gives us all hope that there are more good times ahead, and I, for one, would like to think there are.

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 Strange Bedfellows….

I’m not much of a political animal. Never learned the game or played it well, which is why I’m not a household name or King of All Media. Further, as much as all pursuits in life have a political bent to them, (marriage, your job, getting a decent deal on a used car), the Arts have a very checkered past with actualpolitics, the ones that feature elected leaders and CEOs and the like, who are supposed to lead us, the Great Unwashed, around by our noses. It seems an odd footnote to me, seeing popular musical artists taking a photo op with the leader of a Nation, Religion, Donald Trump, or vise versa.

Odd as it may be, it happens all the time. When I saw this picture of Chad Kroeger and Stephen Harper (I like to think of them as The Burger King and Ken Doll) together, I wondered who was zoomin’ who. Is Chad working to convince Harper that his government should increase funding to the Arts, or that he is cool with the Harper Government’s existing laissez faire attitude towards artists because, hey, he doesn’t need any funding, or has Harper seized the moment because Chad is just so darn popular with the younger voters…and he isn’t.

Surely you have heard the expression, “Politics makes strange bedfellows”. This expression means that Political interests can bring people together who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster. Kind of like our relationships with some of our bosses, middle management, and our Presidents (or Prime Ministers). So if we see a picture of one of our musical heroes with a Political Figure, does that mean they have common goals? If so, we may not know our leaders or musical heroes as well as we think we do. Or maybe…we don’t know them at all.

This time-tested and hard to decipher practice has resulted in a lot of bizarre pairings over the years. Sometimes I wonder if there is a picture of Hitler shaking hands with Glenn Miller lying around somewhere. Even without that one, there have been some doozys.

Everybody’s favourite of course, is this photo of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley. I can’t think of a more disparate coupling this side of Roger and Jessica Rabbit. Elvis took a cross-country trip, higher than the planes he rode, to seek a meeting with Nixon. The King of Rock and Roll wanted to help the President’s war on drugs, perhaps thinking that if everyone were doing them, there wouldn’t be enough for him. Nixon, a man who probably didn’t even know he had a pelvis, let alone how to wiggle it obliged Presley, the man who brought black music to the mainstream white audience, and not only welcomed him aboard, gave him a Special Agent FBI/DEA badge, even though Elvis was carrying a gun and had more drugs in his system than the entire White House secretarial pool had in their purses. You can see Nixon counting the votes. You can see Presley wondering if he was out of Dexedrine.

There have been even stranger photographs taken of musical icons and powerful leaders since then. After Nixon dodged the bullet of impeachment (Jailhouse Rock, anyone?) but instead resigned his office, Gerald Ford, who was more awkward than a Prom dance with your sister, stumbled into the White House and proceeded to hook up with a musical icon who at the time was even bigger than Elvis. I cannot imagine what either one of them were thinking, but judging by Ford’s laughing at George Harrison’s antics (and that jacket) I’ll bet he had to ask an aide who George was.

The most famous photos of a sitting President and a popular music star were the ones taken during the friendship of John Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. Unlike most of these kinds of pictures, these two were actually good friends at the time. They shared politics, musical taste, and women, not necessarily in that order. The popular (and very powerful) Sinatra helped Kennedy get elected, but fell afoul of the Kennedy family when he inadvertently got Jack connected to gangster Sam Giancana. So angry was Sam when Sinatra couldn’t deliver on a campaign promise he made to him that Kennedy would keep the FBI off his tail if Sam delivered the union vote in Chicago during the 1960 presidential election, Sam actually considered having Sinatra’s throat cut and Kennedy killed. Some still think he may have delivered on one of those threats.

The United States wasn’t the only country where political leaders ingratiated themselves with voters by being seen with celebrities. Music, always the succor of a nation, its poets and conscience, and its most telling barometer, could be a very powerful way to connect with the populace. Bear witness to present day politicians adopting a ‘theme song’ for their campaigns. Some, like Clinton’s hijacking of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, (a song I personally waited patiently through when it was a hit on the radio, hoping something better would follow it), became hits all over again and were forever associated with the politician. Some politicians would take a song from an artist without their permission, and be thoroughly chastised in public by the artist for doing so. Like I said before…music is a verypowerful medium. It is that powerful all over the world. British Prime Ministers fell over themselves to be snapped with the Beatles, Australia’s Midnight Oil became a force to be reckoned with in the Aussie Parliament, and it’s not just the free world who   mine this particular field.  Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev had his picture taken with heavy metal group,The Scorpions. Whether they ever hooked Gorby up with women, drugs, or a mob boss remains unknown.

If we are to judge our politicians by the musical company they keep, we should be proud of Canada’s Pierre Trudeau. He and one of his musical heroes were both unique individuals with a coarse side and a humanitarian core, who, flaws and all, captured the hearts and minds of their generation’s youth. Free spirits often meet  regardless of their paths. Some inner-radar seems to put them in the same room at one time or another, and when that happens, there is a certain synchronicity that cannot be planned or created out of whole cloth. The connection is either there…or it isn’t. Pierre Trudeau and John Lennonhad such a meeting (Man, is Yoko ever short). Missing is Margaret Trudeau, Pierre’s wife. She would turn up later with the Stones and in a very revealing photograph taken at the Stones show at the El Mocambo in Toronto.

If there is something to the power of politics being attracted to the power of music, it would be useful to know if the artists and politicians are on the same page, or if one is using the other for personal gain. We really don’t have any way of knowing.  Here are pictures of both Bono and Dylanwith Popes. I cannot figure out what’s what in either case. Bono’s Messiah complex might explain his presence in the Vatican, but Dylan’s leaves me baffled. Could it be that the Pope’s PR people thought they needed a boost with music fans, or did the artists just want to meet somebody famous? Your guess is as good as mine. Regardless, music and the people who make it can make a difference. Whether they write or sing about change, or use their platform to try and involve their audiences in the world around them, it’s all good. Of course it depends on the message when you get right down to it, and all great music contains a message of one kind or another… doesn’t it? Well…doesn’t it?

There are some great pictures of Obama with some truly wonderful recording artists. If the U.S (and the rest of us) is saddled with Mitt Romney on Tuesday, what will we have to look forward to? Mitt and Ted Nugent? Mitt and Pitbull? Mitt and Kid Rock? Mitt and Meatloaf? Come to think of it, does Mitt evenlisten to music? And does he have an iPod, or dozens of them to choose from to suit his wildly shifting stands on the issues? Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out.

==========

How Charlie Manson Harshed Our Mellow….

On July 25th, 1969, Music teacher Gary Hinman is murdered in his Topanga Canyon home. On August 8th, 1969 Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Sharon Tate and Sharon Tate’s unborn child are murdered in her home on Cielo Drive. On August 9th, 1969 Leno and Rosemary LaBianca are murdered in their Los Feliz home. 

All the murders are brutal, and horrific.

It is the official end of the innocence…

It was the Summer of 69. Bryan Adams was learning how to play guitar, the Woodstock Nation was about to change the course of pop culture, and Roxy were having the time of their lives in Hollywood, California.

Contrary to popular belief, Hollywood is a county, not a town or a city. Fifty years earlier, it was just miles of Orange groves and nothing more. In 1969 it was considered ‘Ground Zero’ for entertainment and all things cool. Roxy was in the center of it all. We were recording for the best label, living in Laurel Canyon, and hob-nobbing with either established rock and roll icons, or about-to-be rock and roll icons.

No waiting in line or paying to get into the Whiskey or the Troubadour. Randy and I were on good terms with Mario and Elmer at the Whiskey, and Doug Weston at the Troub. We knew everybody, and damn near everybody knew us.

We dined regularly at Denny’s on Sunset, the Hamburger Hamlet, Pink’s, and Ben Franks. Tiny Naylor’s on the corner of Sunset and La Brea was our drive-in of choice, Cantor’s and Barney’s for ethnic diversity, Duke’s for steak sandwiches, Pioneer Chicken for take-out, and Pizza Man pizza for watching Cal Worthington and Chick and Storm on the tube in the wee hours, until we opened the box one night and noticed a cockroach the size of a computer mouse was holding up the lid instead of that little round plastic deal-y.

Free pizza for a month.

If you think we were foodies and traveled on our bellies, you would be half right. We also drank a bit, and traveled in Rand’s brand new Volkswagen Squareback.

During the summer of ’69 we had yet another favourite eating and drinking establishment…Le Figaro.

The Fig was on Melrose Avenue, just East of where Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd. merged. It was located a half a block South of the Troubadour, and half a block East of  Beverly Hills. It was a vast, upscale, beer-hall of a place, but centered around high end cuisine, (for rockers, anyway), and the best sangria I have ever had. It was not a hip place, nor was it a musician magnet or industry place of coolness. It did, however have one huge attraction for us. One of our roadies, Dennis Lopez, worked there three days a week, and on Mondays, he was not only a waiter, but the manager. Dennis and I on his porch in the Canyon.

On Mondays…we ate and drank for free.

One Monday night, Randy, Jim DeCoq, David, (a friend from a band called the Velvet Chain visiting from Lake Tahoe), and another visitor, this one from Stockton, John McKenzie, and I went to Le Figaro to partake in what had become a tradition that summer: Eating huge wooden bowlfuls of salad brimming with the finest and freshest California produce, and topped with a variety of cheeses and julienne’d meats, and served with the best house made dressings and loaves of fresh bread straight from the Fig’s ovens….and to wash it all down? Pitchers, and I mean, pitchers, of perfectly made, accurately concocted Sangria. There were sliced limes and oranges floating on the top, and just the right amount of brandy mixed in, an important ingredient in sangria, sadly missing in most bars recipes.

Like most hard news in those days, those of us in Hollywood felt very little connection to any of it. The ongoing series of murders that were screaming headlines in every paper and newscast, however, were local, and it was just coming to light that someone named Charles Manson was connected to all of them. At this point in time, Manson’s connections to the Beach Boys,Doris Day’s son, Terry Melcher, and other local musician types known to us, had not yet surfaced, but by August 11th, everyone knew that the killers could be described as a family. A family of long haired hippies.

It is a rowdy Monday night at Le Figaro. The weather is perfect, tourists are everywhere, and the Fig is packed with Monday night regulars and folks from Smallville, USA. Everybody is having a great time. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a beautiful summer night, the sangria is flowing like Rapunzel’s hair, and this is Hollywood, Baby…top of the world!

By midnight we had long since finished our bowls of salad and loaves of bread, and cheered when Dennis brought another 3 pitchers of sangria to the table. Setting two of then down on the sturdy hand hewn redwood surface, he refilled our wine glasses, (and the one he had brought to the table for himself), proposed a toast to the band, and we all took a hefty swig of the addictive wine and set about refilling our glasses again.

Between cracking wise, and bursting into song, (to much applause, I might add), occasionally, we busied ourselves with round after round of sangria until we arrived at our usual destination, pouring glasses of the stuff over each other’s heads.

Bars stopped serving at 1:30 in those days, and you had to be out the door by 2:00 am. The Fig had an interesting way of breaking up the party.

Mounted on the walls were at least a half a dozen Airport runway landing lights. These suckers were not only big, they were brighter than the sun when turned on. If Le Figaro’s patrons were having too much fun and were reluctant to leave, as we, and many others, were this night, the Fig turned those lights on at 5 minutes before closing to assure a hasty retreat. To add insult to the injury achieved by the blinding light, they also fired up a tape at a level that could shatter glass. Normally, this would not necessarily be a bad thing.

Except, it was a tape of bagpipe “music”.

Loud, badly played bagpipes.

We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Time to go home, but first we had to drop David off where he was staying in the East end. That meant driving through downtown Hollywood, then circling back down Sunset and up Laurel Canyon to our Casa on Horseshoe Canyon Blvd. Hell, we’ve done this plowed a 100 times. No problem.

As Los Angeles law enforcement frantically tried to find Manson and his followers before more murders were committed, they uncovered more facts about Manson and the family.

They linked the current events to a failed musician who had briefly been a part of Arthur Lee’s “Love”, Bobby, “Bummer Bob” BeauSoleil, who had been arrested on August 7th, after being stopped in a car owned by Gary Hinman. While police pieced the facts together, the media had pounced on the story, and rumors as well as facts, were constantly being updated on television, the radio, and in the papers.

One thing was crystal clear. These heinous crimes were being committed by what the mainstream media was calling a family of hippies. Soon, what had once been obscure locales and harmless pop culture references and slang, would enter the mainstream consciousness. The Spahn Ranch. Helter Skelter. Little Piggies. An obscure musician and self-proclaimed prophet named Charles Manson would come to be considered an Evil of Hitler-esque insanity. A plot to create a Race War would be uncovered, and the population of Southern California would take to locking it’s doors, and  looking suspiciously at the growing number of long haired boys and straight haired girls…and the police?…the police would be desperately trying to restore calm and order and reassure the frightened  people who feared the worst. That this terrible outbreak of violent and unthinkable behavior was just beginning, and could only get worse.

Every Southern California Police Department was on the alert, including the Hollywood Sheriff’s Department.

This reign of terror would not stand.

Finding Randy’s car was no mean feat. We forgot where we parked. Several gallons of sangria can do that to you. Once we found the VW, (it was parked around the corner, near the Troubadour), we crammed ourselves inside the little clown car, and headed up to Sunset.

I wanted to stop atTiny Naylor’s and get a cheeseburger. Someone else agreed. However, Randy thought it prudent to drop David off and head home. That’s when the argument started.

We were headed north on La Brea when Tiny’s came into view, but Rand didn’t stop. He headed straight up to Hollywood Blvd. and signaled a right. As we were going around the corner onto Hollywood, I reached over and took the keys out of the ignition and tossed them out the window.

Randy and I were yelling at one another and some of the guys were laughing when the red lights flooded the interior of the car.

Shit. The cops.

It was 2:20 am, August 13th, 1969.

August 13th, 1969 2:21 am

I have done a million stupid things when I’ve been drunk or high, and just as many when I was sober, but the instant I pulled Rand’s keys out of the ignition and tossed them out the window as we turned the corner off of Highland onto Hollywood Blvd, I knew this was one of the dumbest moves I had ever made.

As if to drive the point home, we were suddenly bathed in the flashing red light available only from the roof of a police car, or, in this case, a sheriff’s car, which mysteriously loomed up behind us like theReliant behind theEnterprise, Khan behind Kirk…and there was bound to be wrath.

I may have thought, “shit”, when I realized what was happening, but the five of us managed to say “FUCK!”, in unison…like a drunken cheer at a high school football game. There was, at that moment, no one dumber than me in the entire L.A. Basin.

Still, thanks to a few gallons of Sangria courtesy of Dennis Lopez and Le Figaro, we couldn’t help but giggle uncontrollably. An unrehearsed chorus of “Hooray for Hollywood”, filled the Volkswagen as we coasted to a stop, Rand fighting the lack of power steering all the way to the curb.

By the time we came to a complete stop, the lone squad car was joined by three more that came from both directions on Hollywood Blvd. They hemmed us in on all 3 sides, as if not having the keys weren’t bad enough. We were now neck deep in a kettle of fish Laurel and Hardy would be proud of…and yet, we continued to giggle like school girls. Except Rand, who was glaring at me like I had just killed a box of puppies.

Time seemed to stand still…then…a bullhorn squawked to life from behind us.

“Please exit the car with your hands clasped on the top of your heads. Exit the car NOW, one at a time.”

The giggling stopped. Someone said, “How can we open the doors if our hands are on our heads?” The giggling started again.

The bullhorn resumed its spitting and squealing.

“Exit the automobile NOW. Hands clasped on the top your heads. This is the Hollywood Sheriff’s Department.”

The giggling stopped again.

Rand opened his door and slowly got out of the Volkswagon, I opened the passenger door and did the same, followed by Jim, David, and John. We all looked at each other. Yep. Hands clasped on the top of our heads. McKenzie said, “Pirouette?”

The giggling began anew…until we noticed eight giant guys, each of whom looked like a cross between Randolph Scott and John Wayne. I don’t think one of them was smaller than 6’3” and 230 pounds. There couldn’t possibly be enough donuts…

Four of them stood back, hands on their holsters. The other four approached us slowly, herding us away from the street towards the front of the nearest building.

“Turn and face the wall, hands against the building and spread your legs, barked John Randolph Scott Wayne. We did as we were told. Looking up, we realized we weren’t leaning against a wall. It was the front window of a retail store we had all heard of.

It was all we could do not to burst into laughter.

As drunk as we are, this latest turn of events has everyone perplexed. How could four drunk musicians and a just as drunk cameraman be worthy of all this attention from eight candidates for either Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D, or The Village People, depending, just for tossing a set of keys out of a car, whenreal crimes were being committed, and people like Charlie Manson were…that’s it! Manson! Hippies. Long hair…holy shit, we’ve been profiled! This wasn’t about the key tossing hijinx…this was about the on-going murders.

And that is exactly what this turned out to be.

If we would have been paying attention to the reign of terror Manson and his minions were paralyzing the Basin with, we probably wouldn’t have…hell…I probably wouldn’t have been such a ‘tard had I considered the mood of the public and the hair-trigger stance of the police that had swept the area in the last few days. I mean it was nuts.

So now, were leaning against the window at Frederick’s, our noses pressed up against the glass, inches away from mannequins wearing nylons and garter belts and crotchless panties, and a field of vibrators and other accoutrement’befitting the establishment, while a couple of giant people patted us down and another half dozen of the behemoths stood watching us to make sure we didn’t flame on or turn green and rip our trousers.

We very quietly launch into a whispered chorus of ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ again. The absurdity of this has become surreal.

McKenzie decides he has had enough of this ridiculousness, and turns away from the window and starts to take a step. One of the ever vigilant cops whips out his nightstick and swings it at John so hard, it cracks his oversized belt buckle in half in mid-stride. John immediately turns back to the window and resumes the position. So much for quietly leaving the scene.

The search for contraband and weapons concludes. Now, the officers have separated us and are asking us questions to ascertain whether or not we are a coven of psychotic hippies and part of the city wide murder spree, or something even worse.

We are still, undeniably, insanely, drunk.

I stand weaving in front of my cop-buddy. He looms over me like an awning. He looks down at me and says, “Do you see God?”

What?

“Are you on the LSD?”, he continues.

“Look at me”, he says sternly,

“Do you see God?”

I try desperately to focus.

“Man”, I slur, “I can barely see your hat.”

He is not amused.

After an hour of this stuff, the police finally decide that we are more a threat to ourselves than to the public, and reluctantly conclude we are not the ‘droids they are looking for, give us a short, but very intense lecture on the evils of drugs, and depart, leaving us standing on the sidewalk like a bunch of hicks on shore leave.

Not once did they comment or question us about the fact that we were completely shit-faced.

It took us about 45 minutes to find Rand’s keys, and another 30 minutes or so to drop off David and get home to the Canyon. In the ensuing weeks, the police hassled long haired folks at every opportunity. I remember coming home from buying a pack of Lark cigarettes, and being stopped by an officer who questioned me as to what I was doing out at 4 in the afternoon, and when I told him I had just bought a pack of smokes, took them out of my pocket and broke each cigarette in half until they were all gone. When I asked him why he did that, he said he was looking for drugs.

The pack was still sealed when he took them.

It wan’t until years later I realized that the Manson murders weren’t just a vile and unconscionable act of heinous proportions. It was the end of the hope and promise of a generation…my generation, that just wanted peace, music, and the right to dress any way they wanted, dance any way they saw fit, and wear flowers in their hair.

We were pretty simple, really. Respect others, be mellow, dig the music, and peace, brother, peace.

Naïve? Sure. But better than the shit storm we find ourselves in the middle of now.

What happened to us? How did the sincerity of that movement get so horribly twisted? How did some of my generation go from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers to destroying the economy in the name of smart business? Aw, nuts.

Fuck you, Charlie.

==========

 The Genius of Corporate Greed….

The Real Reasons the MAJOR Labels are No Longer MAJOR –Wherein a series of memos explains the current state of radio and the records you hear on it…and why the Indie Industry is flourishing.

Memo 1

Memo 2

Memo 3

Memo 4

Memo 5

Memo 6

The book will not contain many of the pictures used online, just my personal ones, and of course, none of the links will work and will probably be removed anyway…but music, links, and more may be included in the eBook…and Yes, Virginia…there will be an AudioBook containing some of my catalog of recordings.

This is just the tip of the iceberg…and again, I would like you to use the comment section below to let me know what columns and stories YOU would like to see reprinted, updated, or elaborated on, AND if there is anything NEW you would like me to write about. Also take a look at the gallery of potential Book Covers at the bottom of the column and let us know which one(s) you like, or suggest a totally different idea. Let your thoughts be known in the comment section below. A few of you will be winning an autographed copy of the tome just ahead of its release. Details tomorrow.

Some of the Possible Covers

12186054_10153558237136355_693865001_o

12197567_10153558236806355_207917383_o

12209009_10153558237031355_1736701456_o

pORTABLE bOB 2

The Portable Bob 3

The Pope Cover

And…by Popular Demand…The Picture for the Back Cover….

Bob as Stephenson book

=0=

Segarini’s regular columns appear here whenever Horton hears The Who

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

2 Responses to “Segarini – Excerpts from “The Portable Bob” Part Two”

  1. Warren Cosford Says:

    It’s Baby Boomer Book Writing Time. In the past month I’ve purchased Nevin Grant’s “Growing Up With The Hits” and Dick Williams’ “A D.J.’s Spin”. Looking forward to yours.

  2. Strummer Says:

    Bob, upon reflection…I’d take the 4 middle pics above and put them on the cover. (quartered) Cheers.

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