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COMING SOON!

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Last Call.... The DVD...

Only $20.00
(plus 2.75 shipping)

                         

Pre-order your copy now!

 

TWO FUNNY PHILLY GUYS with Joe Conklin & Big Daddy Graham,  Saturday,  August 15 th at the Deauville Inn in Strathmere NJ (between Ocean City & Sea Isle) with Marc Farzetta as special guest MC! Tix at joeconklin.com! Click Here!

rrazzroomCOMEDY SHOW

Saturday Sept 19th I'll be at the  Rrazz Room in New Hope PA! It's my first time here and I'm really looking forward to it!

TRIVIA AND QUIZZO...

MONDAY ~ Sea Isle's Pour House at 9:15PM.

TUESDAY ~ Maple Shade's PJ Whelihans at 7 PM.

tunes logoWEDNESDAY ~ Champps in KOP from 5 PM to 7:30, then on to the Crest Tavern in Wildwood Crest at 915PM.

AVA QUIZZO

My daughter Ava is running a Quizzo nite every every Monday at 7:30pm at ROCCO'S in Wilmington!   And now at CHICKIE & PETE'S in Drexel Hill every Tuesday at 7 PM! Plus every Wednesday night at 8PM at PJ WHELIHANS in Haddonfield. Don't forget Thursday night at 7pm at CHICKIE & PETE'S in South Philly! That's a busy schedule!


BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN

throwdown thursIf you are a music lover and you haven't been listening to BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN with Spins Nitely, then check it out!

Every THURSDAY at 8 PM. Watch and listen live at http://wildfireradio.com/big-daddy-graham. By the way, all you have to do is click on that wildfire blue line and the most current show will AUTOMATICALLY begin to play,  Just give it a moment

This week on BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN? 5 BEST SONGS WITH HOT OR HEAT IN TITLE!  With special guest SUDSY!

Check out last week’s DRUM/BASS COMBOS (part 2) !  BTW, you'll be able to call in to the podcast when you watch or listen live and I encourage you to do so. Don't miss!

avagrahamhoursm

 

Check out Ava's podcast THE AVA GRAHAM HOUR on Wildfire Radio live every Thursday at 530 PM.  It's really funny and of course being a podcast you can listen to it anytime you want.  Just click here to check it out

 

 

 

Check out Spin Nitely's incredible version of "Creep."

Click here to hear Spins singing "She's Getting Stoned Again.”

And now here’s Spins & Big Daddy singing Lowell George's "Willin'."

Click here to hear Joe Conklin completely nailing Elvis Costello's "Allison" with Spins Nitely on guitar
and some harmony help from the boys of Wildfireradio.

Check out the hilarious Sudsy (as B52 Fred Schneider) take on the Stones "Happy" with Spins on guitar.


THE TWENTY GREATEST MUSIC CONCERTS I'VE EVER SEEN

OMG, I have seen so many concerts.  Here's what I'm doing.  I go through my IPod in iPod alphabetical order.  When I see a recording artist that I've seen live, I will post that artist.  Remember, this is just the nomination process.  If you see "****" in front of the concert, then that is one I am nominating.  When I can,  I will post the year and venue that I saw that show.  But don't write me and say "BDG, the Knuckleheads NEVER played the Spectrum" or anything like that because I'll admit my memory isn't always sharp..  There will be artists that I have seen in concert MANY times, but if they are getting nominated, I will pick just ONE show.  Here's what we have so far...
If anyone has a ticket stub to any of the concerts that have been listed so far, scan them and email them to me, and I'll post them...
 

CLICK HERE FOR A to I...
 

****J GEILS BAND...

Trenton Civic Center... April 5th, 1975... Not counting the E Street band (and they are technically a backing band), Geils may be the single greatest live band America ever produced.  I saw them 15~20 times and I'm not even sure why I picked this one, but we somehow got right up front and maybe that was it.

JACKSON BROWNE...

Mann... Summer 1978... Great band headed by the terrific slide guitarist David Lindley.

****JAMES BROWN...

Spectrum... Summer 1968... In his prime!  It was the first concert I ever went to.  Saw him many times afterwards, but this one changed my life!  Nipsy Russell opened.

****JAMES TAYLOR...

Main Point... December 26th, 1969... Not counting the occasional tune here and there, I pretty much stopped paying attention to Taylor after his third album, but this was the first show I ever saw at this legendary club and I awestruck by what you could do with just an acoustic guitar.  Plus I still say that his first album is one of the greatest albums ever made by anybody and his classic SWEET BABY JAMES wasn't even out yet, so he pretty much did the entire record.

JAY BLACK & THE AMERICANS...

Keswick... 1995? I opened up him and it was the first time I worked the Keswick.  I was told to keep it clean, no cursing.  Which I did and I had a great set.  Jay Black, what a classing booming baritone!  Then I meet him and he not only looks like Sam Kinison, he's got a mouth on him like Sam. 

JEFF BECK...

Tower... Oct 13,  2013... With Brian Wilson, so it was a great night.  Thanks to Center City Harvey for the 2nd row seats.  Brian was shot that night, but Beck was on fire and he does it as casually as you and I may make toast.  Amazing player.

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE...

Palestra... November 29th, 1969... With cool local band Sweet Stavin Chain and Lghthouse, it was the only show I ever saw at this fabled shrine and to my knowledge they never had another rock show.  Grace Slick with all her rebellious sexy swag.

JERRY LEE LEWIS...

Broadway... June 3 1983... A complete disaster.  He used an unrehearsed local band and songs would awkwardly start and clumsily finish.  He maybe did 35 minutes and he introduced his new fifth wife who was in the audience and she was mysteriously dead in a couple months.  I saw him again twice and he was awesome the second and really old and bizarre the third, but this is the show I choose to remember.  And now I perform at this legendary theatre.

****JETHRO TULL...

Wildwood Convention Hall... July 9th, 1971... Tull, with Ian Anderson as their dynamic frontman, was one of the great underrated live acts ever.  They were touring behind their latest release, a little LP titled AQUALUNG.   Opening up and performing their first show ever in the US was YES, touring behind THE YES ALBUM.  What a night and years later I opened for Steve Howe, Yes's brilliant guitarist and we spent 20 minutes discussing this memorable night.

JIM CROCE...

VFMF... Summer 1973? I went to see Woody Allen and Jim Croce, who I didn't care about at all, completely won me over.  He was funny, engaging, and put on a wonderful show.

JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE...

Temple Stadium... May 16, 1970... With the Grateful Dead, Steve Miller and Cactus and unfortunately I got really sick from something (Lord knows what) and the whole day was a blur.  Shame on me.

JO JO GUNNE...

Spectrum... September 15th, 1972... Kind of a one hit wonder who opened for the Eagles and Yes on this date.  Jay Ferguson was in the band, late of one of my all-time favorite bands, Spirit, and he later went on to write the theme song for THE OFFICE.

JOAN JETT...

Some Insane Club in Ft. Lauderdale... April 12th, 1982... She wasn't a star yet and it was probably the last horrible booking of her career.  Me and my wife were hanging at this club and we didn't even know she was going to be appearing.  I was familiar with her because of THE RUNAWAYS, but not much.  She came on about an an hour after a wet tee shirt contest and the unruly drunken 700-Level crowd (who didn't know who she even was) started screaming at her.  "Show us your tits!"  "Take your top off!"  Jett did three songs, flipped the crowd the bird, and told them "to all go fuck yourselves" and stormed off.  That's Rock & Roll.

JOE COCKER...

Academy of Music ... April 5th 1970... The legendary "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour.  What a great night.

JOE JACKSON...

Pulsations Disco... January 13th, 1986... Weird show.  Weird disco venue.

JPHN FOGERTY...

Tower... September 1997?  What a true American artist.  With the awesome Kenny Aronoff on drums.

****JOHN HARTFORD...

Main Point... November 1971? John put out one of my favorite LP's of all time called AEREOPLAIN and he was touring behind it and brought this incredibly expensive Nashville backing band.  There were 4 shows and I think I went to three of them.  And I never had any money, how did I go to any of these?

JOHN LEE HOOKER...

Main Point... October 1977? The first 2 times I went to see him, he didn't show, so the third time was the charm.  What an original.

JOHN MAYAL...

EFC... Sept 19, 1970... He was touring behind his true American breakout LP, TURNING POINT and it was a terrific show.

JOHN PRINE...

Academy of Music... April 12, 1975... This is going to be a completely politically incorrect paragraph. I was in Sea isle city drinking like a fish with a bunch of my buddies.  One of whom, Mouse McCourt, was holding a pair of tickets to the show.  He was supposed to take his girlfriend, but the drunker I got the more insistent I became he take me.  Which he did.  How we got from Sea Isle to Philly is a mystery that will never be solved.  Then we actually got sat in one of those opera boxes with about eight other people.   We saw the opening act, The terrific Steve Goodman, for one song. Then the next thing we knew all the lights were on in the Academy of Music  and an usher was waking us up.  We slept through the rest of Goodman's show, the intermission, and all of John Prine.  Plus Mouse and the girl broke up!

JOHNNY A...

The Point... Bryn Mawr... This was the club that was opened up a couple stores down from the original Main Point.  It didn't stay open too long but it was a great club.  Johnny A is one terrific guitarist.

JOHNNY WINTER...

EFC... October 30, 1970. Speaking of great guitar players.

JONATHAN RICHMAN...

Main Point... November 24, 1976... Always Dug this oddball character.

JONI MITCHELL...

Academy of Music... March 1972?... I was a huge fan of her once, before she became so miserable.

JULEE CRUISE...

TLA... 1991?... I was a Huge "Twin Peaks" fan but when I was offered the opening slot for this gig I thought the crowd might be "weird" on a comic.  Cruise played the night club singer on this groundbreaking TV show. But I ended up having a great set and it was a cool night.

JULIE ANDREWS...

Mann... My wife was a big fan which is why I went but the night was kind of sappy to tell you to truth.

KEELY SMITH...

Golden Nugget AC... 1988?... She was singing in the lounge and  someone requested "Angelina."  She said she wouldn't be able to remember those words it was such an old song when my sister pointed to me and said "he knows the words."  The next thing you know I was singing this song with her and it was a big thrill.  She is still alive and singing today and you may know her as one of the singers on the song that opens my show, WHEN YOU'RE SMILING!

KEITH RICHARDS...

Tower... February 16, 1993... Look up the definition of "rock and roll star" in any dictionary and you'll find a picture of Keith.

KEN PEPLOWSKI...

Don't Tell Mama, Manhattan... 2015... This is a great story.  I am listening to a cable television jazz station.  A saxophone version of the great Brian Wilson song " Caroline No" came on so I downloaded it.  It's really beautiful.  Less then a week later I'm in this great New York club and he's just part of the band.  Small world.  I show them this song on my iPhone. Really cool guy.

KENNY ROGERS...

Grand Ol' Opry, Nashville... April 9, 2011... Me and my wife didn't even know he was going to be on the bill and for a man in his 70s he was in terrific voice.  A real pro.

KID CREOLE & THE COCONUTS...

Chestnut Cabaret... 1999?...   What a fun band they were.

THE KILLERS...

Borgata... August 8th, 2014...   I am a giant Killers fan but the crowd that night was a little lame and the show never took off.

****THE KINKS...

Spectrum... December 5th... See the Chambers Brothers.  What a life long fan of this band  I have been.  Long live Ray Davies!

****  LAURA NYRO...

Main Point... August 9,1970... It was a Sunday afternoon show and she was electrifying.

LECOMPT...

Any sweaty night at the Springfield... ever... Check out Mike's original stuff on ITunes.  Well worth it.

LED ZEPPELIN...

Spectrum... March 31, 1970... Unfortunately, I was sick the whole night. 

LEE MICHAELS...

EFC... November 7, 1969... What a unique show. Just Lee on his Hammond B3 and a dude named Frosty on drums.

LEN BARRY...

VFMF... 1995?... Former lead singer for the Dovells who had a few solo hits of his own like "1-2-3."  Great voice.  For a time he booked the entertainment at the Khyber Pass Pub and he was the very first person to hire me as Big Daddy Graham.  He had the hots for my girl Debbie (later to be my wife), which is the main reason he hired me.

LENNY WELSH...

Tropicana AC... 2010?... Sang SINCE I FELL FOR YOU and hit every note despite he was about 72. I was the Master of Ceremonies of this event along with "The Geator," Jerry Blavat.

LEO SAYER...

Bijou... February 11, 1976... Underrated singer songwriter in the beginning of his career.

LEON RUSSELL...

Cherry Hill Arena... October 23, 1971... The only time I was ever in this now gone venue that was known as the "Ice House."

LES McCANN & EDDIE HARRIS...

McGonigle Hall, Temple Campus... Summer of 1970... There was a time in this town when WMMR actually had no discernible playlist and an awesome jazz song like "Compared To What" was a FM hit.  We used to play it at parties all the time.  Me and my buddy Mouse went to the show and afterwards we got to talk to McCann just like two geeks at the black bar in "Animal House."  I didn't know enough about jazz then to appreciate most of the show, but I wish I could see it again.

LESLEY GORE...

Tropicana, AC... 2010?...  Same show with Lenny Welsh. Cool woman and a real music nut.  We had a nice backstage conversation.

LINDA RONSTADT...

Mann... Summer '78?... She was awesome in her prime and always had a great band.

****LINDISFARNE...

Irvine... March 4th 1972... With Fairport Convention.  Lindisfarne was a British folk band, sort of a forerunner to Mumford and Sons.   Awesome night.

LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS...

VFMF... 1995... Gourdine was still in terrific voice!

LITTLE PEGGY MARCH...

Tropicana... 2010?... Singer of I WILL FOLLOW HIM.  Same show as Lesley Gore and Lenny Welsh.

LITTLE RICHARD...

VFMF... Late 80's?...    True giant of the biz, but he only did about 30 minutes.

LIZA MINNELLI...

Academy of Music... 1982?... Before we officially found out just how nuts she was, she actually was an amazing singer and since I was such a big fan of her Mother (who I had never seen), this was as close as I could get.

LORETTA LYNN...

Bloomsburg State Fair... August 1986... The Fair was in the backyard of my sister's house and she had gotten me tickets as I would have never cared to have gotten them myself.  And you know what?  She was really funny and engaging and this Fair was a perfect setting.

LOS LOBOS...

Temple Campus... May 1985?... I was performing as part of a big outdoor festival with multiple stages.  I was going on before Los Lobos on the same stage.  After I was though, I found myself in a conversation with their brilliant guitarist and leader, David Hildago.  I congratulated him on the band winning Rolling Stones "Best New Band" award.  He laughed and said "I wish it came with a cash prize."  Cut to years later I'm driving over the Ben and I'm listening to WXPN's David Dye interview Hildago and near the end of the interview he brings up a Los Lobos album named "Colossal Head" and tells him that he expects it to win WXPN's Album of the Year" and Hildago says to him, "Does that come with a cash prize?"  Swear to God.  Laughed myself sick and I knew I was the only one laughing.

LOU RAWLS...

Robin Hood Dell... 1970?... What a unique voice.

****LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III...

Main Point... Late 1970 / Early 1971?... My absolute favorite performer ever with just an an acoustic in his hand.  I could have picked any Main Point performance (I've seen him live a dozen times), so I'll go with the first.

LOVE SEED MAMA JUMP...

Ocean Drive... Any time in the 80's... Great live band from Dewey Beach.

 

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RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 6/3

Here's my June article that is running in South Jersey Magazine...

MY DAD AND SOUTH JERSEY

I wrote a book about my Dad about ten years ago called “Last Call.”  It’s a simple little thing that you can breeze through in about twenty minutes.  That’s the primary reason that it sold 30,000 copies and is still selling.  Folks can proudly boast “you know I read a really terrific book last week” without investing that much time into it.

Oddly, the book got amazing reviews, and was transformed into a well-reviewed successful one-man play starring yours truly.  I’ll be performing it for the last time at the too cool Broadway Theatre in Pitman at a special matinee show on Sunday, June 14th at 2pm.  I like performing the piece and audiences seem to like it, but it’s such a personal thing, I’m figuring it’s time to move on.   I’m writing two other shows.  A “Jersey Shore” one act comedic piece and a Christmas drama, which hopefully will also have plenty of laughs.

The fact that the last time I’ll be performing “Last Call” will take place in Jersey is pretty weird being that my old man grew up in South Philly and spent his entire adult life at 7025 Elmwood Avenue in Southwest Philly.  He spent twenty seven years working at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, so when I decided to write this column on my old man’s Jersey connections, I figured there wouldn’t be enough to fill this column.

I figured wrong.  It’s amazing how many memories one can uncover in that wasteland of a brain if you just put them down on paper.  It’s really that simple.  Sit down with a blank computer screen and one thought will to lead to another.  It’s uncanny.

GARDEN STATE RACETRACK    I didn’t find out till years after his death, but my old man loved to gamble.  Being that he’s not around to defend himself, I’m gonna stop short of labeling him a “degenerate gambler” like I know quite a few of my 94WIP listeners are, but I’m pretty sure he was.  He sure loved the horses, I know that much.   He lived in an era when the racetrack was a huge deal.  People forget, but for decades the two biggest sports in this country were boxing and horseracing.  Even after baseball cemented itself as the nations pastime, the immense popularity of the ring and the track hung around into the sixties and seventies.  KYW for years gave local racing results in their sports updates and one of the primary reasons afternoon, late edition newspapers existed at all was that they had the results of the earlier races in them.

My old man used to catch a bus out of Philly that took him directly to Garden State Racetrack and he went a lot.  This was the first incarnation of that Cherry Hill track before it burned down in 1977. 

Well,  the old man must have been stuck with me, and one afternoon he took me with him.  Wow.  What a beautiful structure it was with this ornate all wood grandstand.  The big crowds with all that excitement in the air.  Cigar smoke.  Cursing.  Men wearing cool hats.  Everything a ten year old could possibly want.  He sensed that I dug it and would occasionally use me as an excuse to go from that point on.  I imagined my Mother saw though this ruse, but she didn’t stop us.  My old man would occasionally let me pick the horse.  Great times.

WILDWOOD    Twice a summer, my mother used to take me and my sisters and brother down to Wildwood for these three night vacations.  It was always Monday through Thursday because that was cheaper that the weekends.  We stayed at this boarding house called The Poplar.  No TV, no air, a community parlor, with a bathroom down the hall.  I know it doesn’t sound that extravagant, but it was the Tropicana to me.

For some unknown reason, my Dad never came with us.  It was never discussed, he just didn’t.  God knows what he did while we were gone, but I’m sure it wasn’t kosher.  We always took the bus down and back.   One year, maybe out of some weird guilt trip, he borrowed a car and drove down to drive us home.  Who knows why?

The car was packed with the five of us  and all our crap when somebody (I’m pretty sure it was me) talked him into parking up near the boardwalk so we could all get in a couple more rides and maybe a pinball game or three.

My Mom and Dad got in this huge screaming fight right in front of the Polar Cub across from Hunt’s Pier.  It was bad.  They didn’t go Ray Rice on each other, but I heard words out of my Mother’s mouth that night that I never heard before.  My older sister somehow calmed the argument down, but it was a long, silent ride home. 

It was the last time my old man ever went anywhere with us.  The Polar Cub stayed open for years afterwards and I could never walk by it without laughing.

WALKING OVER THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BRIDGE      My Dad was a loner who loved to walk.  God, he walked everywhere.  He could always hop on a trolley or a bus to go wherever the heck he was going, but I swear if the destination was under three miles, he’d walk it.  Occasionally for brownie points with Mom, he would take me along.   One beautiful summer morning, we took the trolley to 13th and Market and strolled down to the Ben and walked over it to Jersey. 

At that point in my young life, I had never even seen this magnificent bridge before and to a nine year old it’s a stunning walk.  It still is.  If you have never walked over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, what in the hell are you waiting for?  Go!

ATLANTIC CITY       Although I personally was never in this town with my Dad, it was his Jersey Shore town.  Why?  Simple answer.  Gambling.  And I’m not talking about the legalized casinos that popped up in the late 70’s.  According to my Mother, my Dad used to hang in the illegal gambling parlors down there  starting in the 30’s and continued going to my Mom put the kibosh on it in the early sixties.  I even heard a story once that the card game he was in got raided and my old man broke his foot when he tried to escape by running though a door to the basement.  There was one little problem.  There were no steps.

Ever see the movie “Atlantic City” with Burt Lancaster?  Burt plays an old man who had wanted to be a big cheese with the mob before the casinos came to town.  He ran numbers.  Before World War II, I think my Dad envisioned being that kind of a big shot, but the Battle of the Bulge brought that dream to a grinding halt.  Still, I would love to see a DVD of his time down there.  Who knows?  Maybe he ran with tony Soprano and the like. 

See how easy that was?  I actually thought of other Jersey connections, but I’m out of space.  And here I thought there was going to be nothing to write about.  So do yourself a favor this Father’s Day.  If your Pop is no longer with you, start writing down anything you can remember about him.  You’ll be amazed of how much you’ll remember.  Do it even if he’s still alive.  Your kids will appreciate it and they’ll read these recollections.  Maybe not now, but someday.

Happy Father’s Day!

RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 4/10

Here's my latest article that is running in South Jersey Magazine...

DEATH AND TAXES

Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” 

Had Ol’ Ben been around today he clearly would have added that “the construction where 42 North connects with 295 South shall never be completed” as a certainty.  Because it never will.  Never!

So with tax season upon us it got me to thinking, which is always a bad thing, what else in life can we look at as a “certainty?”  Here are a few that I hope you enjoy.

big daddy dinerTHAT NO WOMAN I LIVE WITH SHALL EVER TURN OFF A LIGHT 

There is a TV commercial for a home security system where you see a woman attempting to unlock her front door in the dark.  The voiceover proclaims, “never come home to a dark house again!”

The commercial is unrealistic because obviously the writer of the ad agency who created that ad never lived with a woman. 

I, on the other hand, have lived with my wife and two daughters for twenty five years and in that time span not one of them has ever turned off a single light. 

It’s like Charles Manson,  even though he’s been in jail since 1969, is poised and ready to leap out of the hallway closet. 

When I come home to an empty house, it takes me ten minutes to turn off the lights have been left on.  Then there will be a night when I come home and everyone is asleep.  I’ll be laying on the couch reading and I will hear this annoying slightly clanging noise coming from somewhere in the house. 
It turns out it’s one bra in the dryer.  Going around and around.  Who’s running a full dryer cycle for one stinkin’ bra?  And I can only assume this one bra has run through a full washer cycle.  How dirty can breasts get?!

THERE SHALL ALWAYS BE ONE LIGHT YOU NEVER GET

For example.  I never get the light at route’s 45 and 322 where the Harrison House Diner is and I’ve never gotten the light at route 70 and Springdale.  No matter what direction I’m coming from.  How can that be?  You see the light is still green, you speed up, and bam!  Red it turns.  The next thing you know you are screaming and cursing at the light like it’s a rude talk show host.  One day I will make those lights and I will pull over and throw a party.

THALL SHALL NEVER GET MONEY IN A BIRTHDAY CARD EVER AGAIN ONCE YOU TURN FIFTEEN

What’s up with that?  Is it some ancient law that I am unaware of?  Even though it’s only a dollar bill, I continue to put money in the birthday cards of my wife and daughters and extended family.  Now of course they also get a gift, it’s not like they’re only getting a buck.  It’s the principal.  You’re supposed to get money in a birthday card.  It’s an automatic smile when you see that green.

I had an Aunt Helen who used to get these cards where you would slide a penny in these slots for every year you were turning.  (Hallmark also made these cards to accommodate nickels and dimes and quarters, but Aunt Helen was a tightwad).  So when I turned nine, I got nine cents.  Nine lousy pennies.  Now granted, there was such a thing as penny candy those days, but cut me a break.  I had other older relatives giving me dollar bills and my Aunt Rose was always good for a five spot.

Listen to me.  Put some cash in the card.  I don’t care if the recipient is forty-nine.  They’ll flash those pearly whites.  It’s a guarantee.

NO MORE NEW JERSEY DINERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO CLOSE

We live in Jersey.  Aside from cheap gas that you don’t have to pump, what are we most renowned for?  Diners!  It kills me whenever I cruise by where Olga’s used to be.  What a landmark that was.  Those donuts weighed ten pounds and were awesome.  And my wife and I never went to the former Ritz movies in Voorhees without going to the Country Club Diner afterwards and getting a ham and cheese omelet.  (White toast, please.  With grape jelly packets) Now that’s history also.  They should be made historical landmarks.  I know we still have plenty of fantastic eateries, but c’mon, it’s heartbreaking.

WHEN YOU CALL TO COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR CABLE BILL YOU ACTUALLY SPEAK TO SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH

Look, I’m not an “ugly American.”  I have absolutely nothing against anybody.  Nobody.  But when I have a complaint about my bill, it’s really frustrating when you can’t understand the person that you are trying to explain your problem to.  I’m not creating an international crisis here.  I just want to straighten out my bill.

It’s a nuisance enough that when you make the call that a human being doesn’t pick up the phone to begin with.  These companies should be able to hire an army’s worth of people to answer the phones with the amount of money they make off us.  And I know there’s nobody holding a gun to my head making me have HBO or the NFL Network.  I get that. 

But it’s just basic human politeness.  We are loyal customers who have been paying that bill for decades and how difficult would it be to treat us with a little respect?  But no, you have to push an endless stream of menu numbers before you even get a real live person.  If you get one at all.  It used to be all I would have to do is push zero and a live employee would eventually pick up my line, but a lot of these rude companies have gotten hip to that.

So you’re not in a good mood to begin with when you finally get someone to talk to and when you can’t understand that person it just drives you up the wall. 

So let’s recap.  They’re too cheap to hire anyone to pick up the phone to begin with and they follow that up being too tight to hire an American that they would actually have to dole out the minimum wage to.  Nice, eh?

Which makes me wonder.  When someone in India calls their cable company to pay a bill, do they get an American to discuss it with?  I can just hear that conversation.

“You’re what?  Calling to complain you can’t get your soccer game?  I got your bleepin’ soccer game right here.  Some nerve you got calling me, you bleepin’ knucklehead.”  

Just saying.

So there are certainly other things in life that are as certain as death and taxes.  Write me at bigdaddy295@aol.com with yours.  Have fun!

RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 4/5

Here's my latest article that is running in the current Sea Isle Times...

4:47 PM... MARCH 5TH, 2015

I am stuck at 4th & Market in downtown Philly inside the Omni Hotel.  There’s 8 inches of snow falling on the ground and more on the way.   It is the hotel that 94WIP puts us up in when there's a weather emergency.  Unless you're Howard Eskin, then the management hopes he drives in and gets buried by an avalanche.

447PMMARCH 5TH, 2015I’ve been in this extremely fancy, almost extravagant, room for 36 hours and I am losing my mind.  There’s only one premium channel on the TV, no menu button on the remote, and there’s no close-captioning either.  It’s pathetic how much of my life is controlled by my TV.  That's my television in my house.  I need a thousand channels.  DVR.  Netflix.  On Demand.  Surround sound.  Giant screen.  I know exactly where every important button is on all my remotes by touch.  Sort of like Braille to Stevie Wonder. 

I would have lasted ten minutes as a cowboy in the 1800’s. 

I was channel surfing, desperately trying to find something, anything to watch and what popped up?  That insane scary looking nun on the Catholic Channel!  What's her name?  Sister Dirty Harry?  I travel a fair amount and there's not a television on this planet that she doesn't appear on.  How is this possible?  I went to St. Clement’s grade school for eight years.  Help!  Get her off this screen.  I did my time! 

I just got back from the Cosi across the street from the hotel.  I thought I was thrilled that they were open but I 37 bucks for a large coffee and a Blondie Brownie.  Room service would have been cheaper for chrissakes.  The lettering of the nutritional information on the brownie wrapper was so tiny that I had to ask the frozen looking dude behind the counter if there were any nuts in it because I couldn’t make out the info.  Now I’m not going to fall to the floor and spin around like Curly of the Three Stooges if I eat a nut.  I’m not allergic to them.  I just don’t like them in my brownies.  He assured me there were no nuts.

I grab my coffee, stuff the brownie in my pocket, and make the treacherous twenty-minute 75 yard walk back to the hotel without slipping and falling on my keister.  I get up to my room and take a bite out of the brownie and chomp right into a giant walnut!  (I know there have been a lot of exclamation points already, but what can I tell you?  This snow and ice has me insane in the membrane!)

I haven’t seen the sun in over a week.  My skin looks so Jack White pale that someone recently asked me if they knew me from “True Blood.”  I’ve gained twenty pounds from just laying around the house eating slabs of Ellio’s Pizza.  (It doesn’t help matters that you can only eat them in bed after 2am as you spill crumbs all over yourself searching for the remote.) 

I have fallen twice now just getting to my car in the driveway at home and that’s just in the last four days.

I would go somewhere warm, but I’ve used up all my vacation time on a recent trip to Hawaii and on an upcoming trip to Ireland.  (I know, poor me)  Hawaii.  I went there in September and looking out my iced up hotel window it feels like that beautiful trip was 30 years ago.  You know what I really need, don’t you?

I need Sea Isle City on the hottest damn day of the summer right now. 

I need to be riding my bike down the Promenade where I’m in danger of losing control because it’s so scorching my sweaty palms can barely control the handlebars.  (I taught both my daughters how to ride a bike on that promenade, by the way.)

I need to be lounging on our gorgeous beach taking in that delicious aroma of Banana Boat suntan lotion when the sun starts baking it into the skin.  (And since I’m imagining I’m on the beach, I need to see the mysterious Woman in the Black Bikini from last summer.)

I need to be chillin’ in a boat with the wind spraying my Long Island Iced Tea in my face as we cruise underneath the Sea Isle-Avalon Bridge flipping the bird to the toll collector.  Nothing against the toll collector, but I ain’t paying to drive into the slums of Avalon.

I need it so hot that  my air conditioner runs for seven days straight and the electric bill be damned.   So sweltering that the line at Yum Yum’s stretches for half a mile and you stand in it anyway.  So hot you stand next to the Juliano Brothers to get some shade.

 So humid the fake horse your kid is riding at the boardwalk arcade ups and dies.

So broiling I wanna be flatting away flies at any of our great outdoor bars as the sweat drips off my Rolling Rock.   So hot Mike LeCompt’s hair dye runs down his face as he rips into a red hot version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” 

So humid the fake horse your kid is riding at the boardwalk arcade ups and dies.

So blistering you actually go to Mike’s Seafood to get relief  sitting on those picnic benches.  (What can I tell you?  Heat or not, he crab balls are so worth it).  So hot Mayor Lenny gives a key to the city to Fred the delivery man from Sea Isle Ice.

 So hot the band Secret Service collapses from heat exhaustion at the Ocean Drive and Jerry Blavat runs across the street form LaCosta to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  My good buddy Chris from the OD is quoted that “no one at the OD noticed anything was up because Secret Service always looks like they’re suffering from heat exhaustion.”

Years ago, when I used to stand on a street corner with my mother freezing my tush off waiting for the 36 trolley, she used to say to me “imagine you’re somewhere warm.”

Well the time for “imagining” is gone.  You might be in Sea Isle reading this right now.  Spring is here.   Bring on the warmth .  Bring on the sun.  Bring on the fun.  Bring on the summer of 2015!

RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 2/15

Here's my latest article from South Jersey Magazine...

THE RIGHT TO LAUGH

Bear with me as you read this column.  I’m not used to writing anything this heavy, but the tragic murders that occurred in Paris really hit home.  I’ve been making my living as a standup comic for thirty-five years.  Add in that I’ve been doing four hours of talk radio a day at 94WIP for almost 20 years and that’s a ton of jokes and satirical comments.

bdg armen pink caddy smallWhat is it about religion that riles people up so?  My live standup show virtually makes no religious comments at all anymore and either do I on the air. 
However, that wasn’t always the case.  In fact, I wonder if I would still have a vibrant career today if it wasn’t for one song that put me on the map over 30 years ago.

I was performing at the Comedy Factory Outlet in downtown Philly.  I had a piano player back then (Andy Trackman from South Jersey) and I used to perform a song that my brother and I wrote called “Nuns.”


“Where do they come from?  Where do they go?
What are their real names?   I bet you don’t know.
They’ve been around for millions of years
They were the one thing that dinosaurs feared.
NUNS!  Stronger than you and me
NUNS!  Looking for someone to beat
I hope it’s not you, I hope it’s not me
NUNS!”

There was a lot more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.  The song was inspired by my Catholic grade school upbringing and the years of beatings I took at the hands of the Sisters.  As funny as the audiences found the song, there was also a ring of painful truth to it that connected with a metro area that’s so Catholic.

John DeBella of WMMR’s Morning Zoo hosted shows at the Outlet on Friday night and he loved the song and the reaction it got from the crowd and said to me, “you record that and I’ll play it.”

Well, I did record it.  And he did play it.  Day after day for months.   It became a local hit.  I put it out on a vinyl 45 (if anyone remembers them).  It eventually landed on an album and sold 19,000 copies.  You can still buy it today on CD.    Then Clark DeLeon, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, did a major piece on the song and all hell broke loose.  A picture ran with the article of a nun threatening me with a yardstick.  (It was my Mother, by the way)

DeLeon got enough angry letters about it that a few weeks later he wrote a follow up on the original story discussing the reaction.  Then all the area talk shows started calling me to appear.  I had never been a guest on a talk show before.  AM Philly, a TV show on Channel 6, had me on with a nun.  I was young and just starting out and I just rolled with it.

Dr Donn The weird thing is that “Nuns” was about as controversial as I was ever going to get.  Oh, I have jokes with some edge to it today, but nothing any writer or talk show host will build an article or show segment around.  I’m not Bill Maher.  (And I like Bill Maher)  All I did with “Nuns” was “write what you know” which is the oldest trick in the book.

 There’s no doubt it was “Nuns” that kick started it all for me.  Yeah, it’s a funny song.  I’m proud of it.  I think it was well recorded for someone who had never produced a record before.  However, it was the uproar that it caused amongst some religious types who did not see the humor in the song at all that actually made my comedic bones.

But at no one point did anyone shoot at me with an assault rifle.  No one attacked me as I left a nightclub and walked down some lonely street by myself at 2AM.  What in blazes has happened?

Some people are just so easily offended these days.  I know that makes me sound like some old fogie, but how many times have you heard someone say that “All In The Family” would never make it to the air today?  So it’s just not my opinion. 

I never understand why anyone wants to label themselves as “Democrats”: or “Republicans.”  I have different opinions on all matters.  Some listeners may label one of my viewpoints as “liberal” or “conservative,” but I don’t.  My opinions are just that.  My opinion.  I am white.  I am half Irish and half Lithuanian.  Every now and then I make some stupid, grandiose statement on the air regarding some hot topic and after I make it, I remind my listeners that the comment doesn’t represent the viewpoint of all half-Irish, half Lithuanian people.  Where would I get off thinking I have that kind of authority?  To speak in behalf of anybody?  It’s infuriating when I hear people do that.  Who appointed them?

Look, I have very close friends, including my daughter, who go to church or Temple every week.  I myself do not, but if they get some sort of peace and comfort out of it, great.  We certainly need more calm and gentle people in this world.

However, sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if there was no organized religion at all.  I’m no numbers cruncher, but I have certainly have heard historians much smarter than me state that organized religion is responsible for more deaths on this planet than anything else.

I wonder if these same friends of mine, who I respect, would get the same solace if they just quietly prayed in their homes.  I certainly pray.  I’m all for prayer.

I’m just sick of turning on the news and seeing innocent people slaughtered in the name of religion.  It’s depressing enough that some crackhead may break into your car or mug you, but I at least sort of get that.  It’s about money.  It certainly doesn’t make it right.  But someone killing someone because of their religious beliefs?  Or worse yet, killing someone because you don’t like their religious beliefs?   It’s getting where I don’t wanna turn on the news at all.

All this anger also rears it’s ugly head in smaller and more personal ways.  On the air I make comments about the news of the day.  It’s mostly sports,  but when news the likes of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson breaks, the conversation crosses over into life issues.  When I say something that someone takes offense to, I get bombarded with mean tweets and emails and Facebook comments.  They don’t bother me.  I actually enjoy them and often I learn that I was wrong in what I said and that eventually makes me a better person, right? 

But if I make any comment on religion at all, even if it’s a 100% positive one, someone always twists it and somehow gets offended.   Then it gets really weird.  They won’t just write me.  They’ll call the station and get my bosses name and write them also.  How is that “religious?”  The end result?  I never mention religion at all on stage or on the air anymore.  I just don’t need the hassle. 

surfboardBut think about that for a moment.  If that’s how I thought back in the beginning of my career, I never would have wrote “Nuns” at all.  And people to this day still come up to me and smile recollecting that song.  And what’s wrong with that?

Even worse, however, is killing someone because they were attempting to make someone laugh, which basically is what Charlie Hebdo was doing.  I grew up on Mad Magazine.  I wrote a tribute in this very magazine to the awesome Joan Rivers when she died and she skewered everything that breathed and we certainly adored her, didn’t we.?  Geez, Louise, what is going on? 

Look.  I’m just a big doofus in a bowling shirt.   I’m not speaking for anyone but myself, but relax!  Joe Conklin and Josh Innes, at the station that I myself work at, constantly rip me by doing impressions of me and I’m friends with both of these dudes.  I get it.  All they’re trying to do is make you laugh.

 I myself am not an insult comic, but I certainly laugh at Don Rickles, The Onion, Howard Stern, Lisa Lamponelli,  to name just a few who work in that vein.  I also love Jerry Seinfeld and Brian Regan who do not.  Vive la diff’erence.

People have the right to make fun of your weight, your race, your sexual preference, your favorite team, and yes, even your religion.  You have the right to not like it.  You have the right to speak out on your behalf.  But, duh, you do not have the right to kill someone over it.  I’m just a regular Joe Schmo.  I’m don’t have the answer to anything.  So whenever I don’t know how to end a thought, I invariably turn to something my Mother would say to me. And in this case?  It’s  “take a chill pill.”

Thanks, Mom.

 

HEY! I'M LOOKING FOR ALBUM COVERS. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE VINYL...


NewYorkSkyline2

 

You can take an inexpensive tour  of RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL that's well worth it.

Check out MASH ARMY & NAVY on 8th Ave between 45 & 46th streets.  A blast from the past!

Folks are always asking me about piano bars in Manhattan.  There's two I would recommend and they couldn't be any bit different.  DON'T TELL MAMA is on 46th St between 8 & 9th Avenues.  It's a comfortable narrow long bar where you either sit at thee bar or at a table.  They have a singing piano player and every fourth song or so a member of the bar or serving staff will get up and sing a three song set.  And sometimes a member of the audience will get up at the mic and sing. And they have awesome food also. It's a really fun joint, but completely different from MARIE'S CRISIS CAFE which is at 59 Grove St in the Village.  (Make sure you have the address handy before you get in the cab.)  MARIE'S is a tiny hole in the wall basement club where there is a piano player but no professional singer.  YOU are the singer.  It's insane.  People (like my nutty wife) go there TO sing.  There's no microphone and literally 150 people or so will be singing at the top of their lungs to some Broadway tune  Which, by the way, IS ALL Marie's does.  They don't mix in pop tunes like MAMA does.  The two couldn't be any different from each other and any more fun if a piano bar is your bag.

A HOTEL TO STAY AT?   We always use some hotel site and often stay at one of these two hotels which I would both recommend.  THE BELVEDERE on West 48th St is clean with a nice lobby and it's very convenient to Broadway and many clubs and bars.  THE WARWICK is pricier, but still affordable when you go through Expedia.  It's at 54th & 6th and many famous folks (like the Beatles and Liz Taylor have stayed there.

IT'S ONLY A PLAY is hilarious with an amazing cast.

As obvious as this sounds, you can spend a couple hours exploring Central Park and never get bored.

Lincoln Center has a free SINATRA exhibit running till September 4th which has some pretty neat artifacts from his Hoboken days.

LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP on Lexington between 82 & 83rd St. has been opened since 1925 and is a don't miss trip.

THE METROPOLITAN ROOM on 22nd St is a very cool, classic NY cabaret room where we have seen many cool acts at a very affordable price.

BIG ONION WALKING TOURS are a lot of fun and reasonably priced.  I have taken many of them and they never disappoint.

54 BELOW on 54th St. is literally the basement of the famous Studio 54 disco. It's a terrific place to see anybody. Top notch club.

Finally made it to BIRDLAND for one of those CAST PARTY shows. What a great time and the sight lines are excellent.  Legendary jazz artists perform there and if you ever thought about seeing one of them at BIRDLAND, do it.

 

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