Saturday, December 31, 2005

Remembering New Year's Eve 2000

In 2000 we stayed home with our 18 month-old son. After more than 20 years of New Year's Eve parties and outings, we called it quits. At least that's when I lost track of my New Year's Eve memories.

The excitement of the New Year's eve experience waxed and waned over the years. It's tough to live up to the occasion. Times have changed too. People celebrate stuff throughout the year and so the novelty factor isn't there. Plus nobody wants to become a statistic on the highway.
I've had a lot of good NYE memories. Read on and enjoy. Only the last 10 entries are displayed here on the front page. To see all the New Year's eve memories, visit the December 2005 archive link. Happy New Year and here's to 2006.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1999

Sue and I dropped our baby son at the grandparent's house for a sleepover and went to dinner before we hit the party at Rob L.'s house. We went to J. Riley's on State Line road. It's a re-done Steak and Ale. We ordered the Lobster from the special holiday menu. They deep-fried it. I was surprised that the deep fried feature wasn't mentioned on the menu, but it tasted pretty good. Sue spilled drawn butter on her party dress. A fashion tragedy was narrowly averted when the acrylic fabric resisted the oily spill. We mingled among fifteen 30-somethings when the New Year rang in without any Y2K madness at Rob's house. At midnight we missed the countdown on TV. Rob's PIP feature covered the numbers. We rang it in a few seconds late. I spent most of the evening smoking cigars in the garage with Rob and Sue and Rob's sister Michelle. We got home safely at about 1:30am.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1998

Sue and I went to the home of friends Terry and Maureen O. It was a small gathering of six people. We listened to the mix 93.3 countdown of the best party songs of all time. "Super Freak" by Rick James was on and we were dancing around in the kitchen "She's a super freak, super freak!" We looked up and saw two strangers in the house. Apparently they were invited to another party in the neighborhood, got the address wrong, and walked in. I told them we were getting ready for charades and they were welcome to stay but they high-tailed it next door to the 20-something get-together. Then we played michigan rummy. I am officially old.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1997

Sue and I ate dinner on the plaza with our friends Kurt and Paige W at Figlio's. We enjoyed the Plaza scene and holiday lights and ended up over to the Parkway where our friend Mike W. was tending bar. Kurt got in trouble for shouting "Chumba-Wumba", although that was the name of a popular top 40 band of the day. Sue and I went home and Kurt and Paige stayed at the Raphael hotel.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1996

I worked at the radio station until midnight. I drove back to Burt C.'s house for the encore of the party tradition we started the year before. It was a stark contrast. Unlike 1995 where we had upwards of 25 people, the crowd this year featured about five people including Sue (now my wife!). Angie H. was back. bless her heart. I tried to liven up the event by regaling the crowd with stories of radio station hijinx from years gone by. It was not enough to save the party. We crashed another bash across the street but the crowd was sinister. Meanwhile back at Burt's house, a different drunk neighbor with purple fingers stopped by to smoke cigarettes and wax his mustache. We left. So much for tradition.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1995

It was a party at Burt C.'s house around the corner from my house in Prairie Village. I was grateful for the short drive. Girlfriend Sue wasn't feeling well so I attended stag. There were plenty of snacks including those red weenies in BBQ sauce (oh shades of 1990!). Angie H. and her roomate were there and Bryce P. was there with his jogging friends. They all had secret nicknames for each other. I decreed that Burt should have this party every new year based on the turnout - a new tradition. At midnight, I felt rather anal and demanded we ring in the new year by consulting the U.S. naval observatory master clock.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1994

The first big snow of the season rolled into town and the local roads were wet and slushy. I drove to the airport to pickup Sue, who returned from a visit to her parent's house in Florida. It was white knuckle all the way up from Johnson County. To make it worse, the Chiefs lost to the Dolphins in the first round of the play-offs. We watched part of the game in one of the airport bars. We ate dinner at Chili's and rang in 1995 at O'Leary's. We were home by 1am and it was good to have Sue back.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1993

Sue and I returned from a visit to her parent's house in Florida in time to join the KFKF staff for our station sponsored New Year's eve party at the downtown Marriott. I got free drinks and a room for working. I found it hard to sleep without the soothing sounds of my electric fan. Sue woke up early, she was anxious to return to our apartment and see her cat, Sasha. We ate runny scrambled eggs at the breakfast buffet and checked out.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1992

It was a low-key holiday. Girlfriend Sue and I went to the Paradise diner at Oak Park Mall and then on to O'Leary's taproom to ring in the new year. It was the first time in two years where I didn' t have to work either New Year's eve or New Year's day at the radio station.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1991

I worked at the radio station until midnight. We did our own local countdown of the top 94 country songs of 1991 and it was a challenge to get it to time out exactly at midnight. I ran a bit short so I padded with "countdown extras". Who listens to the radio on New Year's eve anyway? I suppose people who have to work like truck drivers and 7-11 clerks might listen. At 11:58 and 40 seconds I started a recorded cartridge with a really well-produced 80 second New Year's countdown. Mark McKay, our station image specialist and afternoon drive jock, brought it in from the San Francisco station where he'd been on staff previously. It featured the trippy part of Steve Miller's Fly Like an Eagle, where he's singing "Time keeps on slippin', slippin', into the future", and then every 20 seconds or so, an automated voice gave the time update. At the stroke of midnight, Auld Lang Syne faded in and the KFKF jocks gave recorded wishes for the coming year.
It was a weird feeling driving sober on the streets at midnight, dodging drunk drivers. I met my new girlfriend Sue at O'Leary's bar in Overland Park where we started the celebration a little late.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1990

Mike W. had a buddy visiting from Cincinnati and we did a package deals at Birdie's sports bar in Overland Park. They offered an open bar and a buffet for one low price (think crock-pot of little red weenies). We played pool and had a swell time. (The buffet was right next to the pool table). Oh, suburban strip mall joy! At one point, Mike shanked the cue ball off the table and into the potato salad. We slinked home while the gettin' was good. I'm surprised I didn't have to work on either side of midnight at the radio station.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1989

I'd landed my first post-college radio gig working part time at KFKF-FM in Kansas City a couple of weeks earlier. I worked the overnight shift on the weekend and pulled holiday duty this night. I went on the air at midnight and stayed until 6am. It wasn't the best New Year's I'd ever experienced and it certainly wasn't the last holiday where I'd be on the air. Goodbye college life, hello working stiff.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1988

I drove back to Columbia hoping for a repeat of the previous year. Stu was in California but Lei and I agreed to meet at Kim H.'s new rental house for the holiday. When I arrived Lei called and said she wasn't coming due to snow in St. Louis. Since I was already half way, I drove to St. Louis and arrived at her house at 11pm. There was like a half-inch of snow. She has wussed out. We watched Dick Clark ring in 1989 and drank cheap champagne. The next day we met another summer camp (and KU) friend Lori D. We had brunch at a local pancake house in south St. Louis. When we got back to her house, I made some courtesy calls to other St. Louis area camp alumni. Willow W. invited us to a New Year's day bash in the central west end. It was at a swank town house and what a unique occasion, a New Year's night party. We had a wonderful time with Willow, talking about camp and catching up. I hadn't seen her in seven or eight years. Then I drove five hours back to Lawrence, KS so I could be at work the next morning at Audio Reader.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1987

I drove to Columbia, Missouri to meet my summer camp friends Lei and Stu. We stayed at Kim H.'s off-campus apartment. Stu's younger sister was a surprise special guest. We partied like it was 1999, even though it was still 1987. We went to Denny's about 2am and Stu ran out of gas in sub-zero weather on the way home. We found a gas station in downtown Columbia that was open and we didn't have to brave the elements for very long, sparing Stuart the gory prospect of having his innards sliced open with a bowie knife so the rest of us could warm our hands on his body heat.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1986

I stayed in Lawrence for the big Embarrassment reunion concert at Cogburn's (AKA The Bottleneck). The Micronotz opened and Dean Lubensky came back for the occasion. The bands did an all-ages show late in the afternoon and then a 21 and over show in the evening. Blake Norris and I (of KJHK radio) got permission to record the concert. I had big ideas about dubbing copies for other college radio stations. That didn't pan out but the shows were tremendous. I also got to meet the guys in the band and Ron Klaus and Bill Goffrier were really cool. They even let a local guy, Dayton Simmons, play saxophone on one song. You can hear them call Dayton "the 5th Embo" on the tape from the show. I went to Blake's apartment in the Oread after the show and we agreed it was one of those musical experiences we'd always remember.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1985

Went to a party at Tom A's house across the street from my parent's place in Fairway. Tom was a nice kid, but we didn't hang out much. I was a public school kid and he went to private school. It was cool to hang out with him. Charlie D. was there and so was my college sweetheart Patty W. We weren't tired at midnight so we moved the party over to Mission Inn. The next day I was stunned to hear about Ricky Nelson's death.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1984

Back from K.U. for the winter break and a blizzard threatened to keep our college bodies at home. We found a ride to Errol and Eric's house in Mission. The twin brothers opened their basement to us and we made the best of the situation. I had trouble telling the boys apart so I called them both "Big E" to be safe. There were probably 15 or 20 people there, a low-key affair, but very satisfying since we almost didn't get out at all. I think we had about eight inches of snow by the following morning.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1983

I was home from college and went to a party at Sean's apartment on Jarboe street in Kansas City, Missouri. Many of my high school friends were there. After a paucity of kisses at midnight, I met my golf shop buddy J.D. for a late-night gathering at another location. We celebrated until 4:30 am. I went to bed with a shameful lack of lipstick on my collar.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1982

We had a hotel party at the Best Western at I-35 and Shawnee Mission Parkway. I found out later that this was the former site of an amusement park in the late 19th century. President U.S. Grant himself stopped to dedicate the facility. No vestige of the park remained but it was a rollercoaster evening. I kissed the lovely Leslie G. until my ex-girlfriend showed up. She wasn't over our breakup from the previous August and made a scene. Chalk it up to teenage angst. I followed up the next week with a phone call to Leslie but she decided she wanted to be friends so the ex wouldn't have a cow at school. Total rip!

Remembering New Year's Eve 1981

Jeff P. had an open house bash in Roeland Park and everyone from school was there. One jock from the football team did a chin up on the gas line in the basement and it started a leak. Thank goodness the house didn't ignite. They turned off the main and turned up the rock-n-roll. I revved up the charm as midnight approached. The grand prize of stolen kisses was there: cheerleader Jennifer Wisely. At midnight I retrieved a bottle of cheap Champagne from Mike's orange Chevrolet Impala and popped the cork. I don't think I kissed ole Jennifer though. If I did, I have forgotten the moment. The last thing I remember was waking up in the Impala with Mike at the wheel and Sean K. yanking Christmas lights off a house in Mission Hills. I got home about 3am.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1980

Mike, Randy and I went out looking for fun. Mike was the only one of us who had a driver's license. We were riding in his mom's Plymouth Horizon and I thought he was driving too fast through the hilly residential streets near Shawnee Mission North High School. At one point I was so unnerved that I demanded to be let out. I didn't have to walk far before Mike came back and promised to slow down. I'm glad he came back. That would have been a long walk home. We went to a party at Chris Rogers' house. A couple of our good buddies, Greg and Kurt, had dates. I was ticked that they blew us off for a couple of skirts, but our aim this year hadn't changed much (see 1979) so I really couldn't blame them. KY-102 played the album of the year on the radio at midnight. It was Back in Black by AC/DC.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1979

My friend Randy had a party at his house in Mission. We were 9th graders anxious to grow up. We wanted to meet some girls. This party had no girls. Ten of us walked over to Carl F.'s house. I didn't know Carl that well. He left the area after this particular school year so this was my only Carl F. party experience. His parents and/or grandparents were upstairs and we were in the basement. It was all Jimi Hendrix downstairs and Guy Lombardo upstairs. I got crazy and accidentally broke a lamp. (Sorry about that Carl, wherever you are). Then we walked back to Randy's house. I slept on a mattress in the basement.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1978

My father wanted a Toyota Land Cruiser jeep and he couldn't bring himself to purchase one straight-away. He rationalized the decision by devising a cottage business plan. I was his partner. He saw guys with snow blades plow parking lots in the winter and figured to make a few bucks. I kicked in about four grand in savings from my grandfather Jones fund. We shook on the deal and agreed that I got the Land Cruiser when I turned 16. We purchased it but we never got the blade. You need a pickup truck with some ballast to balance the extra front-end weight. We switched to residential snow removal and bought a portable snow blower instead. It snowed like a bastard on New Year's Eve and Dad and I agreed to work the next morning. I stayed home. We got about six inches of snow and went looking for business at eight dollars a driveway. It was not a very festive holiday. Three years later when I got my driver's license, Dad reneged on the pledge to hand-over the Land Cruiser due to safety concerns. He made up for it by purchasing a different vehicle for me (Datsun pickup), and I drove the Land Cruiser on occasion, but it was a sore spot between us for a time.

Remembering New Year's Eve 1977

7th grade romance was in bloom. Randy and I made arrangements to visit our respective Old Mission Junior High sweeties, Lynn H. and Robin S. We played monopoly and made out with the girls. Lynn gave me Grand Illusion by Styx as a belated Xmas gift. I gave her some cheap jewelry from Venture. I wore cheap cologne too. We talked the adults into letting us have a sip of Champagne at midnight. I spent the night at Randy's house and the next day I caught the replay of Casey Casem's year-end countdown. The top song was Evergreen by Barbara Steisand. That was a New Year's day bummer but 1978 would be an excellent year for puberty and me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sugar Plum Visions

I got a lot of nice things for Christmas: a Best Buy gift certificate, tickets to the Jayhawks game this Thursday, new clothes, and the Ramones' Rocket to Russia CD. I have no complaints. The best gift of all was a moment I shared with my three year-old daughter. It was Christmas eve and I sat down at the foot of the stairs and lifted her on to my lap. She let me hold her close. She didn't squirm. We talked of Christmas magic in hushed but hopeful tones. She shared her personal sugar plum visions in that faux three year-old whisper that an entire room might hear, but nobody else did. There were no other household concerns. It was a moment frozen. I'll remember it long after the other gifts lose their holiday luster.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Remembering Christmas 1971

It was Christmas 1971 and anticipation was at an all time high for me personally as Christmas Eve ended. I was six and the youngest boy in the house at the time. I knew the rules about being asleep before Santa came and I was eager to oblige.

I awoke later and got out of bed, opened the bedroom door and walked down the hall toward the front room. The hall light was on and I saw two new fisher price toys under the tree: the parking garage and the airport. Santa had come to Roeland Park. Our dog Watson didn't even bark.

I went to my parents room, tugged on my father's pajamas, and relayed the big news. He did not share my enthusiasm. It was only 3am and he was content to wait until morning and reminded me that I needed to do the same despite my discovery.

I returned to my room and got back into bed. It was the best, most satisfying feeling knowing that I had it all, my parents, my home, and new toys from Santa. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Another Show I missed

I wasn't there but it doesn't matter since Warren Zevon's 1990 concert at the Shadow in Kansas City, MO is now available for download.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Concepts (personal)

At lunch (while perusing the sushi menu): boston roll
At work (while sitting near a co-worker with the habit): betel nut
At home (while fiddling with this web log): snowclone

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oswald Gets Clipped From Clip Show

TV Land is airing television's 100 most unexpected moments. These list shows always omit something. I know it's subjective but they left out Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination by Jack Ruby. That was a stunner, much more so than any Jack Benny quip on Password.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sic Transit Trivium

Five years ago today I was in New York taping Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and I got to thinking about the way trivia changes as we age. If you don't know what I mean, try watching a re-run of You Bet Your Life. Groucho asked some trivia questions that seemed really obscure but must have been gimmes in the 50's. For example, they might chat with a professional hobo about the best places to get a free meal and the folksy gent might woo the audience with his home-spun humor and earthy appearance. Then Groucho would say it's time to play you bet your life. "What father of modern critisism studied at Coll├Ęge Royal, Lyon from 1832-36?" And without pausing our hobo responds, "Baudelaire!". Ding, ding, ding. That's right. Such is the nature of what every school boy knows. On this day that holds no small significance to me, enjoy this annotated version of Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, by Emily Dickinson (1852).

Sic transit gloria mundi
"How doth the busy bee"
Dum vivamus vivamus
I stay mine enemy!--

Oh veni vidi vici!
Oh caput cap-a-pie!
And oh "memento mori"
When I am far from thee

Hurrah for Peter Parley
Hurrah for Daniel Boone
Three cheers sir, for the gentleman
Who first observed the moon--

Peter put up the sunshine!
Pattie arrange the stars
Tell Luna, tea is waiting
And call your brother Mars--

Put down the apple Adam
And come away with me
So shal't thou have a pippin
From off my Father's tree!

I climb the "Hill of Science"
I "view the Landscape o'er"
Such transcendental prospect
I ne'er beheld before!--

Unto the Legislature
My country bids me go,
I'll take my india rubbers
In case the wind should blow.

During my education
It was announced to me
That gravitation stumbling
Fell from an apple tree--

The Earth upon its axis
Was once supposed to turn
By way of a gymnastic
In honor to the sun--

It was the brave Columbus
A sailing o'er the tide
Who notified the nations
Of where I would reside

Mortality is fatal
Gentility is fine
Rascality, heroic
Insolvency, sublime

Our Fathers being weary
Laid down on Bunker Hill
And though full many a morn'g
Yet they are sleeping still

The trumpet sir, shall wake them
In streams I see them rise
Each with a solemn musket
A marching to the skies!

A coward will remain, Sir,
Until the fight is done;
But an immortal hero
Will take his hat and run.

Good bye Sir, I am going
My country calleth me
Allow me Sir, at parting
To wipe my weeping e'e

In token of our friendship
Accept this "Bonnie Doon"
And when the hand that pluck'd it
Hath passed beyond the moon

The memory of my ashes
Will consolation be
Then farewell Tuscarora
And farewell Sir, to thee.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hello John Cleese


Marc in front of John Cleese's apartment in suburban London in 1983. We were visiting people around the corner when they mentioned the famous comedian lived nearby. We strolled down and hoped to catch a glimpse but all was quiet. Marc pretended to walk in the front yard and I took this picture. For all I know it may not even be his place. Perhaps you know.

Friday, December 02, 2005

You want a sandwich?

Have a danish, and other contractual obligations with Van Morrison. Courtesy of WFMU.

Recommending Iron & Wine

I'd like to thank my friend Michael Bassin for turning me on to Iron and Wine.