An Infamous Anniversary


Monday December 16th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

This is a date that has lots of personal significance – none of which I care to celebrate. It was in 2004 on this infamous date that I was unceremoniously shown the door at ‘The Loop’ in Chicago along with my friends Max Bumgardner and Spike Manton. It was a blow that we still feel today.

That was our shot at the big time, and we were just starting to hit stride. Nobody predicted that the company would be sold, and we were classic examples of ‘wrong place, wrong time’. It’s too late to change it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. We all took a direct shot to the face.

And if that wasn’t enough, December 16th is also the date in 1991 I rented a car and picked up my childhood best friend and my cousin Brett and we set off for Las Vegas. None of us had ever been there before, and it was supposed to be an adventure. It turned out to be a whole lot more.

Little did Brett and I know that my lifelong friend had robbed a bank where he used to work as head of security, and had two duffle bags full of stolen bank money in the trunk of that rental car as we drove across America. I wouldn’t find out for almost a year, and it ended up becoming the most painful thing I ever had to do – testify on a witness stand and send that “friend” to prison.

I still have nightmares occasionally, and I try not to let my mind go back there but on days like today I can’t help it. It seems like a different person in a different lifetime, but it really happened and it’s a hell of a story. I can say that with full confidence because I didn’t write one word of it.

It just happened, and I got tangled up in the middle. He decided he was going to rob that bank, and I had no idea I would end up involved. Then he decided to pull it off again a year and a half later, and circumstances forced me to have to testify against him and clear my name. At the end of the day he robbed the bank and I didn’t, and I wasn’t going to prison on anyone else’s behalf.

The whole story saddens me to think about, but the fact remains it is a hell of a story. There are lots of twists and turns, and anyone who hears it always says “Wow, that’s a movie!” I agree, but I wish I didn’t have to live through the nightmare that ended up taking several years to play out.

The “happy” ending was that I testified against someone that was closer than my blood brother, and he went to prison. It was a relief when the trial was over, but it was also painful. We’d come through a lot together, and he decided he wanted to be the bad boy and get even with life for the hand he was dealt. He’s a dented can too, and that was his way of fighting back. BIG mistake.

Tonight I was interviewed on WGN radio with Patti Vasquez. Patti does standup comedy, but also goes back and forth to Los Angeles pitching ideas of all kinds. She takes a cut of what gets sold, and she really hustles. I respect her tenacity, and she has agreed to pitch this story when she has an opportunity. We thought it would be a good idea to get the main outline recorded on air.

I told the story in about twenty minutes over two segments. I could see the others in the studio become riveted as usually happens. I’m telling you, it’s a fascinating story that listeners get lost in when they hear it, and I know it needs to see the light of day. Was it coincidence that Patti’s radio invite came on the anniversary? Who knows? What I do know is it’s an unforgettable tale.

I was on AM 720 WGN radio this morning telling a true story I still can't believe happened, but it did.

I was on AM 720 WGN radio in Chicago this morning telling a true story I still can’t believe actually happened – but it totally did.

Patti Vasquez has a show from 11pm to 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning. Thanks to her for having me on the air. www.pattivasquez.com.

Patti Vasquez hosts a show from 11pm to 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning on WGN. Thanks to her for having me on the air. http://www.pattivasquez.com.

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