Crunch Time

Monday October 15th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   It’s down to crunch time for the Joshua Albert benefit fundraiser this Wednesday at Shank Hall in Milwaukee and I’m feverishly working to check and recheck every last detail hoping I haven’t forgotten anything major. There’s too much to do in too little time, and I can’t help but be a little gun shy after all the disastrous flops I’ve been part of in the past. I don’t want this to be another.

I want this event to be a major success for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s just the right thing to do. Period. Someone is hurting badly due to the carelessness of some drunken idiot, and can use some help. Human to human, this is the correct way to respond – at least I think so.

I wish I couldn’t relate to Officer Albert’s plight, but in many ways I absolutely can. I was in a similar situation in 1993, and a drunk driver was the cause of that as well. I was extremely lucky to survive a crash where my Mustang convertible flipped completely upside down, and I can see it in my mind’s eye like it was yesterday. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Everything changed in a split second, and there were months of painful rehab before I could go back on the road and earn my living. I was getting food sent to me from a shelter, and times were about as low as I had ever seen them – and I have seen some pretty rough times. Or so I thought.

Then I see this situation and it makes mine look like a stubbed toe. Officer Albert has injuries I don’t even want to think about. I also think of Officer Brian Murphy in Oak Creek, WI who took a double digit amount of bullets in the Sikh Temple shooting a few months ago. I may have had a few bad days at work in my time, but no heckler anywhere could top what these people endured.

No matter how hard I think my life gets, I’m not even close to being at the bottom of the barrel. I want to help however I can, and if doing a comedy show will make that happen then sign me up immediately. I’d do one of these every week if I thought it would do some good for somebody.

Another reason I want this event to be a success is because my extended family is involved. I’d be happy to do anything I could to help anyone who might need it, but family makes it a lot more meaningful. It’s been such a sore spot with me my whole life, I couldn’t turn down this request.

Quite honestly, I don’t know Officer Katie all that well. We only met a few times actually, and we were never close growing up or anything like that. Her mom and I go way back, and she’s the one who made this happen. She asked on Katie’s behalf if I would do this benefit, and I said yes.

I know there are termites in every family tree, but not like ours. We come from a freakish crew of particularly nasty parasites, and precious few have tried to break that chain. The odds haven’t been with us, but we try anyway. Katie’s mom Wendy has always been a sweetheart, and she did her best passing that down to her children. Katie is the result of that, and I’m proud of them both.

It’s important to me to show solidarity to that whole side of the family, who have taken it upon themselves like I have to not follow in the footsteps of the rest of the people who share our DNA.

Another major leap I had hoped to make with this event was to patch up some old wounds that have been festering for decades. One of them was with a local comedy club that I had a big blow out with when I had my car accident in 1993. They held a ‘benefit’ allegedly in my honor, but it was a major fiasco and the owner back then ended up keeping the cover charge fees for himself.

He said there were ‘expenses’, and they ended up passing the hat at the end of the night and got $23 and some change. I was insulted and embarrassed to receive that in my hospital room, and it started off a chain of events I’m not proud of that eventually amputated our working relationship.

I haven’t darkened the door of that place in twenty years, and quite honestly I didn’t miss it and they didn’t miss me. But Milwaukee will always be my hometown, and I like to work there when I can. I would have killed at that place and been one of their top acts. We both lost out from this.

That owner is thankfully out of the business now, and I went through the proper channels to try to hold this event at the club to hopefully mend some fences and move on. It was about the event first, and I didn’t want to bring anything personal back into it after twenty years. They apparently don’t see it that way, and I was rejected in less than thirty minutes. At least I know where I stand.

I’m sorry they feel that way, but look at all the publicity they’ll miss by saying no. We’ve been getting all kinds of interest by most of the media in town, so I guess Shank Hall will get the press instead. I tried my best, and it didn’t work. But at least I tried. I can’t force anybody to like me.

The other comedy club in town could have had this event too, but the manager and I have some heat from when he bounced a check on me a couple of years ago when he owned another club. It was a huge mess, and then he ‘banned’ me from the new club he manages. Well, his loss as well.

I never claimed to be perfect, and I freely admit when I’m wrong. My goal is to always make a sincere effort to be above board and make things right, but sometimes people just clash. I always heard that a man is nobody unless he has a list of people that hate him, but that’s not my desire.

It’s ok if people don’t like me – and there are a vocal few – but I don’t want to perpetuate it if I don’t have to. I’d rather make peace or at least agree to disagree and end any hostilities. Looking at the situation Officer Albert or Officer Murphy and so many others are in, what really matters?

Another fence I had hoped to mend was with some radio people in Milwaukee. Bob and Brian and Dave Luczak were my competitors when I was on 93QFM years ago. I used to go on the air and bash them openly, much like pro wrestlers do. In fact, that’s where I got the idea so I did it.

Apparently, they didn’t like it and took it personally which it never was meant. I’ve been blown off by those guys for years, and I’m sorry that happened. I meant no harm, but it’s apparently not how it was taken. The fact is, they have had successful careers for twenty years, and I salute their success. Again, I’m sorry we weren’t able to work together, and it’s not my intention to hold any grudges against them or anyone else. If they are still angry at me, I can’t help it. I don’t consider myself important enough for that. I want to focus on good energy for the event and from now on.


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