Posts Tagged ‘Spike Manton’

Christmas For One

December 25, 2013

Tuesday December 24th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Rolla, MO

Here comes the tough stretch, and I’m gritting my teeth looking to just plow through it and get ready for 2014. It’s only two more days, but these are the hardest of all. These are supposed to be the best days of the year, but for me they’re the worst torture I can imagine. It’s gas on the fire.

What would stop the pain would be a family of my own to love and that would love me back. I have been searching for that my whole life, but the older I get the farther away it seems. I got off course early in my trip, and I’m wandering in the woods trying to find life’s highway but I can’t.

I’ve always felt like the outsider, and I still do. Other people’s lives just seem to work out, but I have to struggle like hell just to survive. I know other people struggle too, but it’s a different type of fight. I never felt like anyone was in my corner other than my grandfather but he died in 1981.

Some unconditional love would be SO sweet right now, but I have no idea where to go to get it or I would have years ago. I try to help people whenever I can, because I know in my heart I will not screw those people over. I make an effort to be nice to those who I don’t have to just because that’s what I’m looking for in my own life. It’s the Golden Rule theory, but where is the return?

I have a very delicate psyche when it comes to relationships. I have a hard time putting myself out there emotionally because it hurts so much to get my heart stomped on. There’s a woman I’m totally smitten with, and she took a big steamy bowel movement all over my life and I’m hurting even more than usual. My self esteem was shaky before, but this kicks it right down the sewer.

I’ve known her for many years, and we’ve gotten along really well. Things were going so well that I thought she may finally be ‘the one’. She said she wanted to travel, and I asked her to come to Tucson with me and she said yes. Then she went back with some guy she was with before and that was it. She stopped talking, texting and calling and it was like I never existed. I am history.

All I want is a solid woman to build a great relationship with that can give me a feeling of what I always thought life should be and what I see others around me have. There’s some vibe missing that I must not have been born with, or it’s so deeply buried it’s not getting out there to attract it.

I know a lot of women that I like, but they’re either married or with someone else or they don’t want anything to do with me. Casual dating is great, but I’d really like to find one that I can build something with before I’m either dead or too old to enjoy anything. I’m not looking for a partner to eat oatmeal with at the old folks’ home. I want someone to be able to share my life adventures.

That’s not an easy match in my case. It’s like trying to find a leprechaun riding a unicorn at the end of a rainbow. I’m such an eccentric wackadoo, I’m not the average run of the mill singles ad type. I’ve had a very unusual life, and taken a rare path most never try. That makes it even harder to find someone that will be willing to be with me through thick and thin. It’s time for the thick.

If I’m going to do anything at all, it’s going to be in the next little stretch. I’ve paid dues upon dues, and the slot machine of life is full and ready to hit a jackpot. It won’t mean a thing without someone special to share it with, but right now that doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to happen.

I don’t write about this subject very often, only because people take it upon themselves to have to play matchmaker and try to ‘fix me up’. What a nightmare. They find the most beat up old war horse that happens to be single and think because I’m the ‘nice guy’ I’ll make the perfect match.

It’s a funny premise for comedy, but SO not fun to live through in person. I have had countless encounters set up by ‘friends’ that have been disasters from the first ten seconds. I can’t believe I am so low on their list they’d think I’d be interested in dating a sea hag like that. It’s a big insult.

My cousin Brett has a similar problem. We talk about it all the time. The women he dates have traditionally been psychotic nut jobs because there’s some vibe we put off from growing up how we did that attracts that into our lives. We say we don’t want it, but subconsciously we attract it.

I don’t want to go through analysis for years, because I don’t have time or money for that. All I want is to meet a woman that trips my trigger and wants to be with me. There are women that are one of those, but that’s not enough. The magic lottery winner has to have both. So where is she?

Part of the reason it’s been so difficult is that I’ve been constantly traveling for thirty years. It’s hard enough to have a ‘normal’ relationship, but put a full road schedule between it and it’s over before it starts. That’s one of the reasons I got into radio. I wanted ‘stability’. Ha! There’s a joke.

In all the radio jobs I’ve had, I would meet a nice woman and start dating for a few months. It would be going fine, but then out of the blue I’d get fired and have to move and it would be over. It’s been a lifetime of this, and I didn’t bring a solid family background to begin with. That’s the reason I’m still single, and it’s getting really lonely. I do want to find someone, but it’s SO hard.

Most women want stability, and I totally get that. Unfortunately, I’ve been anything but that as long as I’ve been alive. I’m never going to be a 9 to 5 corporate slug, and I surely don’t have the skills to be a plumber or a mechanic or anything close to that kind of gig. I live the creative life.

It would be nice to find someone in that field, but that’s probably asking for trouble. We’d both have the same strengths and weaknesses, and that would be bad. This last woman I like was not a creative type at all. She has a stable job, owns a house and is the exact opposite of my whole life.

Maybe that’s why I liked her so much, but it just felt like we clicked. I guess she wasn’t feeling it like I was, so here I sit alone for another Christmas. I make all kinds of people laugh the whole year, then they go have fun with their families on Christmas and I am alone with all my thoughts.

This morning I sat in with my old radio partner Spike Manton as he filled in on WGN radio in Chicago. Actually it was WGN.fm, but it will still fun. Wouldn’t you know it, the topic that was brought up was relationships. It was an ice pick to the heart, but I opened up and talked about the torture of trying to be an entertainer and find a mate. The crew found it funny, but I was in pain.

Then I got in my rental Nissan SUV and headed west for Tucson. I’m going to have some time to clear my head and think about what to do next. I got to Bloomington, IL and saw the stores all closing and knew those people were going to be with their families. I gassed up and kept driving. I made it to Rolla, MO and got a cheap hotel room. This is not what I envision Christmas to be.

"Dear Santa..."

“Dear Santa…”

Here's another one on my list.

Here’s another one on my list.

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

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An Infamous Anniversary

December 18, 2013

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.

Spike’s Big Night

July 22, 2013

Sunday July 21st, 2013 – Evanston, IL

   I can’t think of too many things that feel better than a friend remembering a birthday, so that’s why I try to do it whenever I can. It’s not all that difficult, but it really makes a difference. I love the beaming look of joy on someone’s face when they are truly surprised, and it never gets old.

   Today was my friend Spike Manton’s 50th birthday. He’s a very low key guy when it comes to any kind of celebrations, and I learned from his wife Tami that he’d made specific instructions to NOT under any circumstances have any kind of party or make a big deal of it. That’s how he is.

   As luck would have it, our mutual friend and fellow member of the morning show on 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago Max Bumgardner was going to be in town for a Monday business meeting so I suggested we go over and pay Spike a surprise birthday visit – especially since he didn’t want it.

   Spike, Max and I are like brothers, and I’m sure it will be that way for life. Being on a morning radio show tends to bond people together, as it can be such an intense experience. I can’t think of many jobs other than an astronaut where that much intimacy between workers exists constantly.

   How many spouses speak to each other four hours a day, five days a week from 5-9am? I doubt if there are many, and those that do probably have some epic battles. Spike, Max and I got along extremely well, and we enjoyed each other’s company on air and off. We had a rare chemistry.

   The human dingle berries of the vaunted Emmis Communications happened to be way too full of themselves to know what they had, so they chose to blow us out the door when the station was sold in 2004. They proceeded to make stupid decision after stupid decision, and now they’ve lost the station and their stock is worthless. I can’t say any of the three of us have ever shed one tear.

   What I can say is that we’ve remained friends, and every time we get together it’s like we were never apart. I’ve heard pro athletes talk about that feeling, as have military veterans. The bonding in intense situations lasts for life, and believe it or not a morning radio show can be very intense.

   There’s no use bitching about what went wrong, but the bottom line is that we got a bloody red raw deal and it’s too late to do anything about it now. What we have is our lasting friendship that will continue as long as we’re alive, and I thought it was important to visit Spike on his big day.

   I met Max at his hotel in Schaumburg, and we had about a half hour drive to Spike and Tami’s house in Evanston. We stopped and got a card, and bought him a Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificate because he used to suck down their coffee by the gallon every morning. It was the perfect gift for him, and I had some obscure sports books I knew he’d like so we threw those in to top it all off.

   We arrived at 6:30 – to the minute when Tami told us to be there. He was in the basement with his daughter, who was distracting him so he’d stay down there so we could surprise him. It was a perfect plan, as we walked downstairs and ambushed him with his gifts. He was truly surprised.

   Even though Spike is very dry and non emotional, we could tell he was glad to see us. The look in someone’s eyes in a situation like that never lies. We had a wonderful dinner, and had a lot of laughs to go with it. Spike and Tami’s kids Mickey and Samantha have grown into beautiful and well behaved teens, and that also reminded us how time waits for nobody. Spike is a great friend, as is Max. Was it worth losing our jobs how we did for their friendships? I say absolutely yes.

The Power Of Nice

January 26, 2010

Saturday January 23rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Today I was surrounded by flat out nice people. All day. And all night too. What a treat it was, and I’m recording it here so next time I’m forced to deal with any one of a number of rotating pukes, maggots and wankers, I can look back and find some encouragement in the fact that there absolutely are a number of quality souls sprinkled throughout this life.

I think they’re sprinkled way too thinly, but they’re around and I cherish every one I get a chance to meet in person. They stand out like a rapper with an accordion and their life’s goal is to please others. Period. Nothing else matters. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life, even if I haven’t always achieved it. More often than not though, I’ve been able to nail it.

Nothing feels better than making someone else feel good, and those who know that will go to the ends of the earth to do it for as many others as possible. A few get recognized as celebrities, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi, but most good people live very low key lives.

I had lunch with Cara Carriveau today. We worked at The Loop back in 2004, and now she works at WTMX “The Mix” following Eric and Kathy‘s morning show. She also has a website at http://www.carasbasement.com where she interviews mostly music related people, but occasionally a few others. I was her first interview when she started and it was a blast.

Cara is a total pro and works relentlessly on not only her career, but at being a mom too. She has two wonderful kids named Jeri and Sam, and they came to lunch too. I met them years ago when Cara had station staff parties at her house and they’re both just super kids.

People like Cara and her kids make life worth living. That whole staff at The Loop was loaded with top notch people from Spike Manton and Max Bumgardner who were on the morning show with me, to Cara who did middays, to Seaver who did afternoons, to Byrd at night, to Mark Zander overnights. We all got along and should all still be there today.

But, that’s only our opinion. Those intellectual gorillas at Emmis Broadcasting decided to blow us all out the door except Byrd. Byrd is a major league rock jock talent, nobody is disputing that. I’m glad he has a job and he deserves one, but so do the rest of that group.

Cara has bounced back nicely at the Mix and she still sounds like the big time talent she always has been. I know how hard she works at everything and was delighted to hear that she’s happier now than at any other job she’s ever had. That’s rare in radio. Good for her.

Tonight I did two more shows at Riddles and the entire staff there are unbelievably nice from top to bottom. Ken Stevens if the owner and it starts there and trickles down to Rick the manager and Patty the bartender to the wait staff and everyone else. The vibe radiates.

How can a person not want to cheer for a Cara Carriveau or a Ken Stevens or any other quality person to thinks of others and makes life better for everyone around them? These are people I want to not only be around more, but emulate as well. They‘re the real deal.