Posts Tagged ‘University of Kentucky’

College Credit

September 28, 2012

Wednesday September 26th, 2012 – Lexington, KY

   I’m back on the road for a few days, and all the creaks and squeaks of inactivity are there. Even my blood is brittle, and it’s a strong reminder I’m not the bullet proof kid I once was who’d jump at any chance to see someplace new. I won’t be going anywhere this week I haven’t been before.

Part of that is rather comforting, as I’ll know pretty much what to expect. Another part tells me I’m spinning my wheels and I need to implement a much better career plan. I am literally all over the place, and nothing significant is getting done. I’m surviving, but that’s about it. It’s not great.

I took this particular run so I could file a small claim in Morgantown, WV against the guy who unceremoniously backed out of a gig we had booked for March of this year. He totally stiffed me out of a hefty chunk of change, and there’s no good reason for it. We had a contract, and I totally lived up to my part of the bargain. I’m sorry he wasn’t able to fill his event, but it isn’t my fault.

The booking agent I went through to set this up is Tom Sobel out of Louisville, KY. I’ve never had a problem or harsh word in the probably quarter century I’ve known him, and I wish comedy was full of Tom Sobels. It’s full of something, but not him unfortunately. Tom is a professional.

We were both if not shocked at least taken aback that this situation has festered this long and is still an issue. The guy seemed legit, but despite numerous attempts to contact him and resolve the situation like adults he continues to ignore every attempt to settle and move on. It’s been a bitch.

Tom booked me for tonight in Lexington, KY at the University of Kentucky’s ‘Cats Den’. He’s been booking shows there for years, as well as West Virginia University in Morgantown where it all started with this ugly situation. The guy that leaked out on the deal saw me there and asked if I would be able to do the combination show and class for him. I said I would, but through Tom.

I should have listened to my gut when he suggested we go around Tom, but that’s just not what ethical people do. I’d rather cut a booker in on something, and in a situation like that it’s the way to handle it professionally. I’m glad I did, as at least there is now proof we had a deal. Tom never acts any less than with ultimate class, and he has documented all this insanity for several months.

It’s the last thing I want to have to deal with, but it’s too big a payday to just let it go. Tom was nice enough to give me some work so I could pay my way out, and that’s typical of how he does business. He’s great at putting himself in the comic’s shoes and treating us how he’d like to be.

Tonight’s show was really fun. I’ve never been a college act, but this has always been a fun gig and I’ve done it several times now. Tonight we had another packed house, and they were there to enjoy the show. It was run correctly, and part of the reason is that Tom cares about all the details.

For instance, he puts us in a nicer hotel than just the typical faceless flea bag. It’s a few dollars more, but it makes a world of difference. If nobody else appreciates Tom’s courtesy, I surely do. This should be a fun few days, so I’ll sit back and enjoy the ride. Tonight started it with a bang.

Just One Pawn

September 15, 2012

Friday September 14th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL 

This here show business thing sure isn’t the glamorous carefree cakewalk people might think it is. I guess it might be for somebody somewhere, but not in my contact circle. Everyone I’ve been talking to lately is taking it in the shorts, with no signs of a turnaround any time soon. It’s ugly.

My haphazardly pieced together comedy booking schedule continues to blow up in my face by the day, and it’s a common thread throughout my peers. Today I received yet another happy note telling me a new one nighter in Lexington, KY closed after one show where only 4 people came.

This is disturbing news on several levels, but at the end of the day it’s one more night’s pay I’ll have t to find a way to live without. What makes it even worse is that I’m booked to work a show at the University of Kentucky in Lexington the very next night. It would have been a perfect fit.

I don’t think that’s ever happened even once in all my years of road dogging, and it would have been a nice little kiss from the cosmos. My reputation on the road – and well deserved – has been one of having the worst routing of anyone working. I wish it weren’t true, but it has been forever. I have notoriously driven hundreds of miles out of my way to pick up shows, and done it often.

I did it for years, thinking it would get me somewhere. I showed up wherever and whenever I’d get hired, and too many times to count I got there worn out from too long of a trip. But I did what I thought I had to do, and I don’t regret it. I busted my ass, and earned my chops like few others.

What good all those years of doing the hustle does me now, I can’t say. Nobody with power or clout who could help advance my career was ever at any of those shows, and all these years later I’m still struggling to survive by the month. Gas has doubled in that time and so has my age. I’ve spun my wheels literally and figuratively, and I don’t have a whole lot to show for it. I feel used.

That one nighter in Lexington would have paid for the hotel room I’m going to need on a night off that week, and also a chunk of the gas to get back and forth. I was thinking of renting a car to save the wear and tear on my own. It’s got high miles and could puke at any time. Why risk it?

Now I may have to since I lost this booking I thought I had. I’ve worked for that booker quite a few times over several years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened. It’s brutal, but I don’t blame the booker. It’s just how the times are right now. Difficult is how it is for us all.

Of higher concern is the other news I received today that the immediate contact person I dealt with at Carnival Cruise Lines is no longer employed in that position. I always got along with her very well, and we had been in touch of late to discuss going back out again this winter. I’m very sad to hear she’s not there anymore, as I thought well of her both personally and professionally.

I feel bad for her, but I feel bad for me too. I’m going to have to start all over again and there’s no guarantee the new person in charge will ever return an email much less book me. This is how the game works, and that’s what it is – a game. Life is a big chess match, and I’m just one pawn.

I don’t know why it has to be like this, but it obviously is. Something’s wrong somewhere, and it’s probably some form of trickledown effect from the top where’s it’s probably screwed up way beyond our feeble comprehension. We’re just the worker ants. The orders come from the queen.

But who really is ‘the queen’ anyway? Does anyone really know? No, I don’t mean Elton John and I don’t mean the President of the United States either. I don’t think that position is more than a high profile broadcast news anchor. The real source of power tells the President what to say to us worker ants, and he has no choice but to read what is put in front of him. That’s what he does.

I know I sound like I’m in the tin foil hat wacko patrol, but I really feel there’s a deeper reason for why things are the way they are. I thought that before I started hosting a paranormally themed radio talk show and the more I dig into topics like these the more disgusted with humanity I get.

It certainly does appear at least on the surface that humankind as a whole is absolutely rotten to the core, doesn’t it? It does to me anyway. Yes there are a number of good eggs, and I try as hard as I can on a daily basis to be one of them. But it seems like I’m in a painfully outnumbered band of gypsy renegades who are no match for the Death Star. Evil is everywhere, and it is in charge.

I’m not claiming to be perfect, but damn. They’re really making it rough out here. At least I try to think of and respect my fellow human being whenever I can. I make an honest attempt daily to follow the rules I was told we’re all supposed to use to play this game called life, but too few do.

I have a lot of valued friends and business peers that do, but they’re getting boned in the stinker dot as hard as or even harder than I am. What gives? Why does it keep occurring? I think it’s just plain wrong, but I have no recourse but to peck away on a keyboard and let my aggravation ooze.

I sure wish I could do much more, but I don’t see how. I can barely keep my own life operating week to week. What would I do with power? I’d like to think I’d do a lot of good, but who could guarantee that? I’ve always heard that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If that’s true, that’s an unbelievably disillusioning thought. It’s almost like we’re hard wired inside to screw the pooch.

So where does that come from? God? Here we go with that whole question again. Who or what is ultimately responsible for placing the human species as a whole on this planet has a deep inner flaw, and it has trickled down and pissed into the gene pool all of us share. Our DNA is polluted.

Maybe I’m taking this way too deep, and I hope I am. Maybe we’re just in a tough slump and it will all turn around as the pendulum of yin and yang swings back and forth as it has always done. Or has it? Has it always been this way and I’m just now tuning in, or are we all sliding down that giant cosmic commode faster than we’re able to save it as it appears? Is there hope for us idiots?

I don’t know if we’ll ever know, but I do sense a deep seeded feeling of something being really wrong and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. My grandfather was a cynic to the bone. As a kid I couldn’t see his point of view, but now I think I see it clearer than he did.

Dinner Bell Mel – RIP

July 10, 2010

Friday July 9th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I heard on the radio today Mel Turpin committed suicide. He was 49. He was probably best known for his infamous nicknames of ‘Dinner Bell Mel’ and ‘The Mealman’ among others, but he was a basketball player for the University of Kentucky who was drafted the same year as Michael Jordan. He’s considered one of the biggest NBA busts of all time.

He was about 6’10” and always seemed to struggle with his weight, hence his array of colorful monikers, but I remember meeting him not long after he was drafted. I was just getting started on the road and was working in Lexington, KY, probably for the first time.

I don’t remember exactly where or when, but it was in some sports bar complex where the comedy show was. I was in my early twenties and after the show I was hanging at the sports bar with some comics and club people and there was Mel Turpin hanging out too.

It was hard to miss a 6’10” black guy in a crowd of twenty something Caucasian college kids, but what stuck out more than that was his very calm demeanor. He was just a guy at a sports bar, minding his own business. He wasn’t bothering anyone or trying to scam free drinks or anything other than being a customer. Nobody bothered him and he blended in.

At first I didn’t know who it was, so I asked one of the comedy club workers. I’ve been a huge sports fan all my life and knew since we were in Lexington, KY which is a college basketball haven and a large black man sitting in a sports bar is allowed to stay there with no hassle it had to be a basketball player of note, not just the security guard. I was right.

Mel Turpin was a celebrity name back then. Like I said, I don’t know the exact date, but it was right around when he was drafted, and his future was very bright. He could’ve been  an arrogant  prima donna and I bet he could have gotten away with it, especially in a place like Lexington where basketball is a religious experience. The world was his oyster then.

As the night went on, we were shooting pool and hanging out and as fate would have it, Mel was sitting at a table near the pool tables. I was standing next to where he was sitting and he was still taller than me, but we struck up a conversation for a few minutes. I don’t even remember what it was about, but I know it wasn’t about basketball. We just talked.

He was a very decent, laid back down to earth guy. We had our exchange and at the end of the night as we left I caught his eye and waved and he waved back and that was it. But  after that I was always a big Mel Turpin fan and was very sorry to see how his life played out. I’ve met a ton of full of themselves divas in my day, but not Mel Turpin in the least.

At the time, I had a brush with a celebrity. He was a hot name and life looked to be rosy for his infinite future. Not long after that he flamed out in the NBA and it spiraled all the way down to the point where he shot himself in the head before he was 50. That’s not the way any of us expect life to be, but all too often it is. I sure hope he’s in a peaceful place, being able to be the Mel Turpin I met way back when – a friendly easygoing nice person.