Posts Tagged ‘Reno’

A Smooth Transition

January 2, 2013

Monday December 31st, 2012 – Reno, NV/Rosemont, IL

   Back home for New Year’s Eve. The trip back wasn’t nearly as hectic as I thought it would be, and other than a brief detainment from a pair of TSA chimps it actually went quite smoothly. I’m just not able to hide my disdain for the whole airport ‘security’ process, and I’m sure it shows.

What a scam, and a waste of everyone’s time and money to pay these mookazoids to rummage their way through luggage and clog the toilet of everyone’s day. Have they ever found even ONE life or death situation besides the shoe bomber? That guy looked like a maniac, and that’s exactly my point. Sticking the cattle prod up granny’s poop shoot looking for mortar shells is a complete waste of energy, and that’s exactly what they were doing today. They were bothering everyone.

The two that got to me had Barney Fife attitudes that could be felt across Nevada. I tried to put my smart ass comment urge on hold, and it was all I could do not to let loose on them in front of the entire line of us who just wanted to get where we were going. They were determined to make life miserable for as many weary travelers as they could, and they were being very successful.

My breach of national security was not taking my liquids out of my carryon bag – even though I didn’t do it on the way out. They made a big deal of it and pulled me out of line to go through it so they could find the bazooka I’m sure they thought I was carrying, but all they could find was a bottle of shampoo that was over 3 ounces, or whatever the legal limit is. They took it of course.

Sure they did. I don’t blame them. I guess I forgot about the big rash of terror plots that require four ounces of cheap shampoo to ignite dirty bombs, and of course their training ground is Reno, NV. I know there has to be some kind of monitoring of airports, but the way they do it is stupid.

Stupid or not, that’s how it is after 9/11 and I doubt if it will change any time soon. The whole world is getting more insane by the day, but strangely I am finding myself getting at least a little smarter in my old age. I don’t know how I’ll be able to use it to my advantage, but I’ll surely try.

I spent the flight from Reno to Las Vegas, my two hour layover time and my flight to Chicago making plans for 2013. I don’t know why I haven’t done this my whole life, but for some reason the plans just flowed. I had some kind of cosmic vision that flowed out of me, and I knew what I needed to do. Maybe I always knew it, but I didn’t execute the plan. This time I think I’ll do it.

I made a list of things I should do daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. I’ve had all kinds of to do lists before, but this one flowed out of me through the pen and it felt like it was coming from a source other than me. I knew it was right as I was doing it, and I feel like I have a crystal clear vision of exactly what I need to do this coming year. If I do it, I feel it will be my best year ever.

My friend Russ Martin was kind enough to pick me up at Midway Airport and take me over to Jim McHugh’s house to get my car. I made it to Zanies in Rosemont, IL to host the two shows as a fallout replacement. I’ll gratefully take the money, and it was a fun night working with Fortune Feimster and Russ Williamson. Another year gone, but I have a positive vibe about 2013. Really.

Reno A-1-1

December 31, 2012

Sunday December 30th, 2012 – Reno, NV  

    My week in Reno comes to a close, and I’m bittersweet about it. I have a lot of great friends in town, and I had a lot of fun seeing and hearing from all of them. I even made a few new ones for when I come back – and I sincerely hope I do. For whatever reason, I mesh well with this place.

I often wonder how my life would have turned out had my radio job stuck in 1996. Bill Schulz is still here, and he’s a local media fixture. Maybe I could have had that status too, or maybe I’d have moved to the Bay Area since it’s so close. I’m sure at the very least I’d be working more of the comedy scene there, in addition to Sacramento and probably the Pacific Northwest as well.

The mountains are stunningly beautiful, and I have always done well comedy wise out this way. For whatever reason, it wasn’t meant to be and I folded up my tent and moved on after only nine short months. Or was it ten? It wasn’t a whole year, I do know that – but I still have friends here.

Bill Schulz is at the top of the list for many reasons, and it was great to see him again and be on his morning show. We also got together with a group to take in some football this afternoon, and even though our mutually beloved Packers lost a last second heartbreaker, we had fun anyway.

I hadn’t watched a game since the Packers were embarrassed by the Colts months ago, and I’ve spent those three hour chunks doing all kinds of other things. I wouldn’t have watched any of the game today if I hadn’t been invited. I went for the friendship, and that’s a good thing because the sting of a bitter defeat in the last second usually puts me in a foul mood. Today, I barely noticed.

I was having too much fun hanging out with Bill and the rest of our group. Rick D’Elia showed up, and he’s another one of my favorite people and comedians as is Dave Mencarelli. They aren’t Packer fans, so we hung out and talked about a lot of things from life to comedy to other sports.

One of my new friends this week is Mike Healey. His title at Catch A Rising Star is ‘Executive Host’ and he’s great at it. He takes the headliner to the radio show, and oversees things in general when needed at the club and he’s a super interesting guy. He’s a former marine and also a former highway patrolman and he’s got some riveting stories that kept me entertained the whole week.

Someone I didn’t get to see in person but called me tonight was Marty Beimer. Marty formerly worked with Bill Schulz doing mornings on the oldies station KODS when I was here. Marty is a curmudgeonly sour pussed, cynical complainer – and I mean that with nothing but love. I would have LOVED to have him as a partner, as we would have stirred up the monkeys and then some. When I lived here, he always went out of his way to be kind and I appreciated it then and still do.

Marty went through some excruciating back surgery a while back, and was in a coma for three months. He knows what pain is, and I completely respect him for his immense talent on the radio and what he’s been through with his health issues. He’s super intelligent and can make me laugh out loud, and not many people who aren’t full time comedians can do that consistently. Having a group of such spectacular friends in one town doesn’t happen often, and I loved this whole week.

Breathing Easier

December 27, 2012

Wednesday December 26th, 2012 – Reno, NV

   I always breathe a little easier on December 26th, knowing another Christmas is finally OVER. Some years are better than others, but for some reason this one was a nasty bastard. I would love nothing more than to ‘get over it’ or ‘turn the frown upside down’ like a lot of well meaning but completely clueless people like to say, but it’s just not that easy. If it were, I would have done it.

It’s like Superman being bound and gagged and lowered into an Olympic sized swimming pool full of kryptonite, and then people wondering why he can’t get out. Everyone has their weakness, and this is mine. It’s also a big hurdle for most dented cans. Family pain haunts us for a lifetime.

I wish I could ‘fix it’, but it’s beyond my capability. I’m too busy out there slugging it out on a daily basis trying to keep the bills paid. Who’s got extra money to see a doctor and get some help when every penny I’m making is going to pay rent, keep my car running, feed myself and get my IRS debt shrunk down? I couldn’t support a family right now if I wanted to – but I really want to.

Had life worked like it looked like it was going to, I’d be sitting pretty working at The Loop in Chicago doing the morning show with my good friends Spike Manton and Max Bumgardner. We would be making a great living, and having a blast doing it. I’d be known around Chicago and an absolute champion for charitable causes across the board. It was right in our grasp, and then not.

I still can’t figure out why it went down like it did – but it did and the last several years haven’t been a shadow of what they could have been. An opportunity like that doesn’t come often, and it came at a time when we were all ready for it. We would have been great in that role, but it’s out of our hands now and that’s another reason the holidays stink. We were fired on December 17th.

My whole life would have been better on so many levels, but it isn’t and here I sit by myself in Reno trying to pay bills for another week. It’s hard as hell not to be bitter or depressed about the way things worked out, but I’m trying my best to hang in there and keep fighting. It’s a struggle.

I realize I’m not the only one in a rough spot, but sometimes that doesn’t help. My own issues seem insurmountable, and I feel like I’m Superman in that pool of kryptonite. Once I get out I’m confident I’ll be able to get my super powers back, but while I’m down it feels like it’s hopeless.

This week in Reno at Catch A Rising Star will be fun. The first show tonight was solid and the club is beautiful. The staff is all friendly, and they’ve been working there for years so they have a grip on how to do things correctly. I could tell in the first two minutes I was going to like it here, and I have no doubt shows will go well all week. Tonight’s show was a great way to kick it off.

Working in places like this every week for decent pay would help relieve a lot of pressure and make life a lot more relaxed. If I knew I was booked out for a year or even six months, I’d have a little breathing room and be able to get caught up and get my head together. I can ace the shows, it’s having to hunt down the bookings every week that’s the hassle. For this week, I’ll be alright. Christmas is over, and so is my dream gig at The Loop. It’s time to get myself back in a groove.

Plowing Through

December 26, 2012

Tuesday December 25th, 2012 – Reno, NV

   It was a wonderful Christmas, mainly because I slept through most of it. I’ve hit it hard most of this whole year, and having one day to just sit around and do nothing was quite refreshing. I’m in a really nice room at the Silver Legacy Hotel, and everything I need is in short walking distance.

That includes walking itself. There’s a convenient hamster trail system that connects where I’m staying with both Circus Circus and The Eldorado and I can get my walking in without having to go outside if I don’t want to. There’s a lot to look at, and I was surprised to find packed houses at the restaurants. What was even more of a surprise was seeing how many families were with kids.

I guess I didn’t picture the casino experience as somewhere to bring children, but they were out in full force all day and night. There is a large Asian customer base for whatever reason, and I’ve never seen that either. I don’t have a problem with Asian people, I just don’t recall there being as many when I lived here as there were today. I felt like I was walking around in Tokyo or Beijing.

I know the Bay Area has a large Asian population, and they must come to Reno for the holiday season apparently. Families were asking me left and right to take pictures of them, and of course I said yes every time. It didn’t bother me to take the pictures, but it did bother me that there were so many families together and most of them looked like they were having fun and enjoying life.

That’s how I always thought it should be, and the older I get the more I realize I never had that and likely never will. It takes a lifetime to build that, and mine has been amputated from an early age and it’s just not going to happen. I have a few cousins I’m very fond of, but they know what I’m talking about because they’re fighting it too. We’re all trying hard to salvage decent lives.

People who aren’t dented cans have no idea how painful this time of year is. I wish I wouldn’t be able to understand it myself, but I totally do. Others mean well by saying “Hey, come on over to our house for Christmas,” but that just makes it worse. It reinforces all that we are missing and depresses the hell out of me. I totally get why there are so many suicides at or near the holidays.

The feeling of sadness and isolation can be overwhelming, and it’s not just something anybody can go out and fix with a few simple steps. It’s ingrained, and just when our inner scab begins to heal the whole process rolls around again and the bleeding starts all over. I wish it weren’t true.

I’d love to have a loving wife and kids of my own to dote over, but I don’t think that will ever happen on this cosmic plane. It’s just not in the cards, and the more I wish for it the less likely it seems like it will ever happen. I don’t feel lovable, and I don’t feel loved. I never felt it as a kid, and it feels like the stump has crusted over. Comedy is fun, but doesn’t soothe this kind of pain.

So what the hell do I do? Damned if I know. I gave my life to be a comedian, and I’ve become a very good one – even if I’m not rich or famous. That doesn’t mean I can’t go into any comedy venue in North America and kick major ass. I’ll do it in Reno this week, and the audiences won’t have a clue that I’d give it all up to have a loving family around me. That’s what life is all about.

An Awful Awful Christmas

December 26, 2012

Monday December 24th, 2012 – Chicago, IL/Reno, NV

   I was prepared for my trip from Chicago to Reno on Christmas Eve to be difficult, but I did not expect the stress filled ulcer causing nightmare it became. I had all I could handle and then some to maintain my composure, but I managed to not punch anybody so I’ll consider that a victory.

It started off rather smoothly, as I pulled up to Jim McHugh’s house exactly at 5:15am as I said I would. Jim is a great friend, and has always been willing to get up at any hour to help me get to an airport if I need to and I couldn’t be more grateful. He knows I’d do it for him, and I owe him about a dozen favors for all the times he’s done it for me. It’s an honor to have friends like that.

Jim dropped me off at the train station, and I bought my ticket and hurried down a big flight of stairs just in time to miss my train. Another one came in about ten minutes, so it didn’t make me late but that was the start of things to come. From then on the stress-o-meter cranked up to a 10.

I made my transfer in downtown Chicago and arrived at Midway Airport at 7am sharp for my 8:35 flight to Las Vegas. I thought I was golden until I saw the line of people waiting to check in at the gate. It looked like the welfare line on double cheese day, and I knew I was in for trouble.

We were directed into the deepest bowels of the airport to wait in the longest line I’d ever seen this side of Six Flags or Disneyland. People were in foul moods as many were missing scheduled flights, and the tension level was on red alert. I was hoping a riot wouldn’t break out, but I would bet not as much as the security guards were. They earned every last penny of their pay and more.

I wasn’t in full blown panic mode as I had a two day cushion to get to Reno, but it wasn’t how I’d planned to spend my Monday morning. That line was NOT moving, and I truly thought I had no chance of making my flight until a woman from the airline walked through the line and asked if anyone had a small enough bag that didn’t have to be checked. Only a few of us raised hands.

We were told to follow her to another part of the airport and stand in another line. I had a small glimmer of hope I’d make it, but then I saw the security line and it went away. That’s always the killer, and it was moving extra slow today. I gritted my teeth, shut my mouth and got in the line.

Miraculously, I managed to get through the line with about five minutes to spare from the time my flight was to take off, and I ran to the gate and was the last one to get on the plane. My heart was beating like a drum solo, but I made it. Still, the feeling of not knowing is one of pure stress.

I made it to my seat in the very back of the plane and was of course destined to the middle seat between Hoss Cartwright’s love child who was about 6’6” and 350 lbs of blubber – half of which was oozing over into my seat – and a lady from Canada who wanted to hear my full life history.

To add even more tension, I wore a Packers jacket and sweatshirt and Moose had a Bears shirt  on. I sensed his disgust as I sat down, and the lady had to immediately ask if I was a Packer fan. I told her I grew up there and had no choice. I didn’t want to get into a war of words with Hoss Jr.

I hoped to get some sleep, but I just couldn’t manage to nod out. There was far too little room, and the lady refused to be quiet long enough for me to try. I never mentioned to her that I was a comedian, and I’m glad I didn’t. She’d have been telling stale knock knock jokes all the way to Las Vegas and I’d have had to choke her at some point. It was hard enough to endure as it was.

I was as polite as humanly possible, but this was not a day I felt like getting into a conversation with anyone – especially an exuberant Canuck who loves Christmas more than anything and isn’t afraid to tell strangers on a plane. I didn’t want to be mean, but I did want to hear ‘Silent Night’.

My flight to Reno from Las Vegas wasn’t much better. I was between an old man who smelled like a cross between moth balls and the unwashed pair of his own and a woman who could easily have been a stunt double for Weezy from The Jeffersons. At least it was only one hour, not three.

Dave Mencarelli picked me up at the airport, and I’m thrilled he did. That was very nice of him to do that, as he totally didn’t have to. He took me to the Silver Legacy Hotel and I checked into a beautiful room on the 32nd floor. I was sound asleep in what seemed like sixty seconds or less.

I woke up from my nap and realized it was Christmas Eve, and that put me in a reflective mood for the rest of the night. The icy fact hit me that no matter what happens in my comedy pursuit, it will never ever fill this hole in my soul that comes from not having a family. They’re not related.

Most if not all entertainers think hitting the big time in show business will make up for all their deficiencies in other areas, and it’s just not true. Somewhere in my twisted logic process I’m sure I believed that same thing, in fact I know I did. I thought hitting it big would erase all the hurtful memories of childhood and make those people love and accept me. Nothing could be more false.

I’m very proud of how far I’ve come as both a comedian and a person, but Christmas is always a harsh reminder that I’ve never had the support of a loving family to carry me through the times I really need it – and it’s not a pleasant feeling. I feel all alone, like I’m drifting through space.

Yes, the feeling of being on stage when it’s going well is nothing less than intoxicating, but it’s not worth a damn thing if there’s no immediate family to share it with. Enduring a travel day like today doesn’t pay back enough to keep going through them. Anyone I may have needed to prove anything to is dead, and it accomplished nothing. I have proved to myself everything I need to.

I walked around the streets of downtown Reno, and saw some poor bastard playing a guitar all by himself. He looked weathered and frazzled, and his story can’t be a happy one either. I’m sure if he had some place to go on Christmas Eve, he’d have been there. I wasn’t alone in being alone.

There’s a small casino called The Nugget that has a diner in the back that features a big greasy hamburger called ‘The Awful Awful’ – as in ‘awfully big’ and ‘awfully good’. I haven’t had one since I lived here, so I ordered one and looked around at all the others who had no destination for Christmas Eve. They looked sadder than I was, and I was pretty sad. I’ve made others laugh for a lifetime, but on a lonely Christmas Eve in Reno who brightens my spirits? Who the hell knows?The NuggetAwful Awful