Posts Tagged ‘Richard Caan’

Auto Correct

May 22, 2013

Sunday May 19th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   In the continuing education program that is called life, I think I can cross off yet another lesson I have learned painfully and in the most difficult way. That seems to be the only way to really get the message, and this time I have certainly gotten it and then some. This one will stay with me.

   I have learned and learned well that there is a big difference between being ‘thrifty’ and being a flat out cheapskate, and also that there is NOTHING ‘free’. I thought I had known that already, but apparently I needed a refresher course from the universe. Hopefully this will be the last one.

   What a humongous mistake it turned out to be to accept the ‘free’ 1994 Nissan Sentra from my friend Richard Caan. Richard is a great guy and only had the best of intentions, but his gesture of friendship turned out to be a painful kick square in my ball joints that kept kicking for months.

   On paper, it looked to be a win/win situation. He had just been paid out a healthy chunk from a fender bender his sister had that wasn’t her fault, but the car was still drivable. They had planned on donating it to charity, but Richard knew I put a lot of miles driving to gigs and thought I could benefit from a low mile Japanese car that had never given his mother a problem while she had it.

   In theory, he was correct. Nissan Sentras are supposed to be notoriously dependable and have a stellar track record from all I heard and read. For whatever reason, I got the exception to that rule and I had nothing but one incredibly painful and ridiculously expensive crisis after the next with that rolling turd for as long as I had it and it sucked both my wallet and my spirit completely dry.

   The body work before I could drive it cost $750 for a replacement hood and right fender. If that would have been it – and Richard and I both thought it was – that would have been a sweetheart deal. The car only had 105,000 miles on it, and by all estimation I could have driven it for years.

   Other than the fact the car was red and the hood and fender I had replaced were blue, it wasn’t a bad looking little roller skate. There was one hubcap missing when I got it, but I replaced it and even with the hillbilly two tone it wasn’t as bad as some of the tin cans I have owned in my life.

   Then, the gates of hell opened wide and everything went wrong. First it was the exhaust system that fell off in Springfield, IL. That cost a ridiculous $825. I still can’t believe the exhaust system for a golf cart like that costs that much, but at the Midas Muffler Shop in Springfield, IL it does.

   I didn’t think the exhaust systems of Air Force One or the Space Shuttle would cost that much, but I thought since I planned on keeping it a while I’d invest and that would be it. HA! That was just the beginning. The brakes were a bit spongy, and that cost $350. I needed a new battery and battery cables, and that cost $125. The right headlight blew out and that was $45. It didn’t stop.

   Then I had a problem with the driver’s door. It wouldn’t stay closed in the dead of winter, and for a while I had to crawl in through the passenger side and get sodomized by my own gear shift. It was $150 to fix that. Then the alternator blew on my way to a gig and that was another $250 – plus a tow.

   I don’t even want to add all that up, because it would just depress me more. I was being flat out cheap rather than thrifty, and it was a big mistake to think I’d be able to get a free car. I really do appreciate Richard’s kind offer, but if I ever get another one from anyone I’m going to run in the opposite direction as fast as I can. I have learned my lesson. NOTHING in this life is ever ‘free’.

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

...in with the next one. This is my 124th vehicle.

…in with the next one. This is my 124th vehicle.

Hillbilly Two Tone

November 16, 2012

Wednesday November 14th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   I received the phone call today telling me my new old car was ready to be picked up after about six weeks of waiting for it to be repaired. When I dropped it off, I told the mechanic there was no rush and he really took it to heart apparently. It was to the point I’d almost forgotten it was there.

My friend Richard Caan gave me a 1993 Nissan Sentra that first belonged to his mom and then his sister. His mother bought it in 1995, and drove it mostly back and forth to work. It’s only got 107,000 miles on it, and despite needing a list of repairs I thought it was worth rolling the dice.

Richard’s sister got into a fender bender which took out the right front headlight and dinged up the hood and right front fender. The person who hit her was insured, and she was paid off for the damages and kept driving the car. Still, it was generous of Richard to give it to me. I’m grateful.

He knows I go through cheap cars like KISS goes through makeup, and I appreciate the chance to nurse another one back to health. He knew I’d give it a good home, and I knew his family had owned it for years and it had the potential to be driven for thousands more hopefully easy miles.

The grand total after getting a junkyard hood and fender along with ball joints, a muffler weld, heater blower repair work, an oil change, coolant flush, new battery and wiper blades totaled out at right around $1000. I transferred the title and registered it legally and that cost another $100.

The mechanic I took it to is located in Kenosha, WI and was recommended by my other friend Mark Gumbinger. The guy works on all of Mark’s cars, and does quality work at a fair price. He told me when I brought it in it was a solid car, and would be worth fixing if the price was right.

The mechanic went through it with a fine tooth comb, and gave me the final total of how much it would cost to get it road ready. I told him I’d prefer to keep it under $1200 if possible, and I’m thrilled he did. If I can keep it running for a year at right around $100 a month, it’s a sweet deal.

Of course he couldn’t find a hood and fender that matched color, but that’s ok. I am long past the point of having to impress anyone with my car. If Carmen Electra won’t date me it’s surely not going to be because my car is a hillbilly two tone. There will be other reasons besides that.

It is a little disappointing that I’m still driving pieced together Frankenstein mobiles this late in the game, but that’s how it goes. I’d rather do that and still be able to live my dream than have an ulcer producing hellish job that comes with a shiny company car. We have to choose our battles.

Sometimes being a comedian can be hellish, but at least there are good times to make up for it to balance it out. Every other job I’ve ever had has always been a living nightmare. I’ll trade off multicolored fenders on a 20 year old car given to me by a friend to have a chance at satisfaction.

As far as my other pickle, that was a good car too. I put more than 50,000 miles on it and I just think it’s time to be safe and move on. I’ll hopefully be able to get $1000 for that one, and make it a wash. I’m getting an older car with far fewer miles. Is it the right choice? I’ll soon find out.

Dabbling For A Day

February 23, 2010

Sunday February 21st, 2010 – West Allis, WI/Kenosha, WI

I promised my friend Richard Caan I’d take his table at the sports card show at Gonzaga Hall in West Allis, WI because he wanted the month off. I pieced together some scraps of collectible things I wanted to unload and arrived at 8:58am for a show that started at 9:00.

Nobody is ever going to get rich at that place, but for a $25 table investment I threw out my trinkets and spent the day haggling with the local chiselers. Milwaukeeans are right up there with the Scots as being cheap, so prying any money at all out of anyone is a miracle.

I did manage to make my table fee and a few bucks more, but not much. What set me in the black was finding out I had won the Super Bowl squares pool from last month and my $5 gamble paid off with $85! That was an unexpected break and I gratefully accepted it.

I’ll always enjoy the card hobby, but it’s not what it was. Nobody is hauling in millions, but that’s ok. It’s a social club to hang out with friends, and I love having a monthly time to just relax and escape the rest of the world. Yes, I bought all those cards and I wish now I hadn’t, but that won’t kill me. I’ll unload them eventually but keep a few for myself too.

What I noticed today more than ever was guys I normally don’t talk to coming up to me and asking about comedy or radio. They’d either heard me with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN or on The D-List on ESPN AM 540 in Milwaukee. I had no idea they even listened or had a clue who I was, but quite a few of them did and it felt really good to have them say so.

I never looked at myself as anything but a regular guy, but it felt like I was a celebrity or something by the way people were treating me. They would quote back a line I said on air that made them laugh, and I was amazed at how long they’d waited to come and tell me. I guess setting up as a dealer put me in their peer group, and I enjoyed being in it for a day.

I’m not going to kid myself though. I’ll never be a full time card dealer. That takes a ton of work doing all kinds of things I’m not good at, and on top of that the market isn’t close to what it once was. Richard will be back at his table next month, and I’m out. OK by me.
I’ve dabbled in this my whole life and drifted in and out. It’s a hobby, that’s what it’s for.

With everything else I’ve got going on, the card tide is drifting out again. That’s totally fine, I’ve had my fun. If I never see another card show I won’t complain, but if I decide I want to get back in it, I can do that too. It’s nice to have options, but now I need money.

I’ll take my $80 profit from the football pool and run. Maybe I can use it to finance my next set of comedy classes. Making copies of paperwork and buying binders will cost me right around that much. That’s what I need to be creating – multiple streams of income.

The Mothership Connection radio show tonight on WLIP AM 1050 in Kenosha was fun as usual. I got to dabble in radio all night like I dabbled in cards all day. That’s the best of all worlds, minus the money. If I can’t make money, at least I’ll have fun. Today was fun.