With Tim Hoback (RIP) and Shitty KISS Makeup

What started out as a week with high hopes ended with a whimper – and it all has to do with the fact that Paul Stanley tested positive for COVID-19.

Last year, I bought tickets for a KISS show in Raleigh – part of the outfit’s End of the World Tour. This concert was to be my son’s bachelor getaway. Just Wes, his best friend Xavier and me.

Not quite unexpectedly, the tour got postponed.

Bummer.

We changed our getaway plans and set our sights on an eventual rescheduled show, which was supposed to have happened on August 28.

When news came down the pike that KISS’ Pittsburgh show got canceled at the eleventh hour, we saw the writing on the wall. No way Paul would be well enough to perform two nights later.

Then came denial. What if Paul felt fine and could perform? Sure, that could happen…

How about surrounding Paul with Plexiglas… wouldn’t that work?

Then acceptance: No way any of that was going to happen. The show – and the tour – has been postponed.

I’ll get an email from Live Nation when there is a new date.

Wes and I have an incredible bond around KISS, proof that I did something right as a parent. He’s been a fan since before he started kindergarten. I’ve been a fan since I was 12 or 13, and can proudly say I was in attendance at The Forum in Los Angeles during the taping of ALIVE II in 1977. Xavier has been a fan since middle school.

We patiently await the rescheduled date. Hell, we’ve been waiting for a year already.

As much as I love KISS, this is it. They already launched one farewell Tour in 2000 (see shirt any my shitty makeup job in the above photo), and I get that it was in fact a farewell of sorts to Peter Criss and Ace Frehley after things started to go south, but I could swear we saw KISS with Peter on drums in 2003 on the World Domination Tour – but if Paul and Gene go out again, I will write them off.

There is talk about a franchise model for KISS, but that’s not what I am talking about here.

Just like I paid my respects to Elton John in Brooklyn for his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, I will be paying my respects to the band that set my imagination afire all those years ago.

Get well soon, Paul.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

My bulletin board is a mess, and it’s time to do something about it.

When you start pinning items on top of other items, there is a clear need to de-clutter.

I have written about what I call my notebook review process, where I comb through completed notebooks and note the important things, bullet-style, now in a Word document. This helps to ensure that no gems are lost or buried.

I need to do the same with my bulletin board. It’s ridiculous.

The board is a repository of reminders, song and story ideas, podcast notes, action items, random transactions and more. I even see old copywriting formulas there as well.

Point is, as with life in general, a regular housecleaning is necessary to stay on top of what matters.

I am going to incorporate some of these more meaningful bits and pieces into the same notebook review document. Maybe that’ll work.

My brother and I were discussing the good old “tickler file” the other day for an upcoming episode of our podcast That phrase is archaic, but it’s still a thing. Even though methodologies and technologies have changed, the idea of a system for keeping track of relevant and timely documents, dates and tasks remains the same.

The importance of Living in the “now” is also a thing. I see no conflict between the staying organized and enjoying the serendipity of any given day. One might complement the other.

But to be effective, I need to stay on top of my shit. Maybe then the “now” won’t be so fraught.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

I just had a tire patched on my KIA Soul.

Flat tires are a good example of life’s little interruptions.

Last night after work, there it was. Not exactly a welcome sight at almost midnight – or any time for that matter. My girlfriend’s nephew discovered that there was a nail firmly embedded in the tread of one of my new tires. He and Brenda also work where I work.

My Soul did not come equipped with a spare tire, not even a “donut.” Instead, there is a little kit under the storage compartment tray containing a small air compressor and a tank of sealant. I was not aware of this until my brother informed me a while back. He also has a Soul.

Brenda flagged down our friend Collie, and he was gracious enough to help out not only by manning the compressor but also by following us home, which thankfully was on a route to his house.

That little compressor did its job.

I know from previous experience that one should avoid using the sealant. I don’t know why, but I heard it was not a good thing – and that once it is used, a tire will likely need to be replaced.

We made it home.

As expected, the tire was flat this morning – so I used the little pump again. Before I hooked it up, my friend and neighbor Victor pulled in and immediately came over to see if he could help, offering his pro-quality air compressor. I showed him the small one, and he stayed, eyeing the gauge until the tire was full.

I realize that a flat tire is not usually a life-altering event, but I am grateful for my friends.

Since I bought the tires at the dealership, off to Myrtle Beach KIA I went. I didn’t call ahead. I just showed up.

In no time at all, James was handing me my key. I was good to go.

There is something to be said for relationships.

Interruptions come daily, and it’s how we react to these events that make a difference.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

For those of you older than I am, please allow me some leeway.

I just turned 58..

Like it or not, I am staring down 60. Right now, it’s through a spyglass. I will see it plainly soon enough.

And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I remember when I found out that my father was 60. I saw some sort of official paperwork and discovered he had been lying about his age. At that time, I thought he was 50. I felt betrayed, somehow.

Mostly, I am happy. At least I think I am.

Sometimes, I become acutely aware the reality of aging, though, and I get down about it. I am in that very real position on this mortal coil where more years are behind me than in front of me – even if I live to be 100.

Thankfully, I am healthy. I feel good and have exercised more over the past couple of years than I have in my life, in large part thanks to coaching of my son and the fact that I run twice a week.

I hope all of this “healthy” talk doesn’t wind up as an addition to a certain Alanis Morissette song. Nobody can be assured of smooth sailing for the remainder of their lives, let alone a single day.

I am seven years sober.

I enjoy a wonderful relationship with my adult twins. They are my crowning achievement for sure.

I feel loved by my family. I feel loved by my friends. I feel loved by my girlfriend. I gained a radiant daughter-in-law last year, and I feel loved by her too. And I love them.

Do I have any regrets?

I’d like to say no, but that would be a lie. If I tried to enumerate my regrets, I’m sure I’d descend into the depths. I also know that these very regrets can be grist for some great writing. I regret that I have not written about these things at length – yet.

And as with many lives, there are loose ends that need to be tied up.

But they say gratitude is key, so I’d much rather be grateful.

I am enjoying my work with my brother. We’re 44 episodes into our podcast, and we perform weekly at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach, a prime spot on the Grand Strand – and we’re there every week through the end of October.

There is a lot more to be grateful for.

As I said, I could dwell on my regrets – but I don’t want to be seen as a complainer. That sort of thing brands a person. I am not that person.

God willing, I’ll be writing about staring down 70 in no time at all.

Perspective is fluid, is it not?

First Day – October 8, 2020

I have never exercised more in my life than I have in the past couple of years.

I have made stabs at things like pushups and sit-ups at regular intervals over the years, and got really good, I thought, at the pushups.

But my son told me that I was doing them wrong. My wide arm placement would have eventually injured me.

When my son talks, like in those old E.F. Hutton commercials, I listen – and when it comes to strength and fitness, I rely on his expertise.

I am lucky to have him in my corner. Wes changed his lifestyle in favor of fitness when he was a teenager and never looked back. He served as a U.S. Marine, played high school football and regularly coaches young people in the realm of strength and conditioning. He is a Certified Personal Trainer through Bryan University and holds an L1 CrossFit certification.

I am not a young person, but I am thrilled that my son is also my coach. I now head over to his place twice a week for strength training. I’ve been doing that now for more than eight months, and I am grateful to be under my son’s supervision.

I now know that achieving results is not an overnight thing – and I enjoy the discipline of showing up and doing the work. At times, I also want to cuss out my coach. Yesterday, in fact, I wanted to cut the workout short, but I did the job in front of me and completed the routine.

I’ve also been running…

I must be careful here not to insinuate that I run far, but I’ve been running around the subdivision behind us for a couple of years.

I only just made it a half-mile without walking to catch my breath.

For some, it’s no big deal – but for me, it’s a hell of an achievement. I realize I could have pushed myself earlier on, but I’m OK with these baby steps.

Right now, I’ve only gone a mile or so with running interspersed with walking – but more running than walking – and at the end on the way back to my place, I finish with a sprint.

Now the goal is to increase the distance while still running more than I walk.

…and I plan on running a 5K with my friend Stan in November.

What?

This is a bold commitment, and again, maybe not a big deal to some – but to me, it’s a 180.

If not now, when?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I was 10 the first time I walked into Bennett’s Book Store (Collectors Book Store) in Hollywood.

I was blown away.

Bennett’s was large and open – on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard just east of Highland Avenue.

I couldn’t get my head around just how cool it was – and have never seen such a place before or since.

It was a movie nerd’s playground, replete with vintage posters, lobby cards, photographs, shooting scripts and, for me – comic books…

…new and old comic books! The new ones organized on a long rack toward the back of the store – like the border between film and comics. Further back were the gems – boxes and boxes of comic books stored in shelves of cubbyholes – each box containing torn-off covers of the titles inside. (I know, sacrilege.)

And they were cheap. I don’t remember how much, but in 1973 it couldn’t have been more than mere pennies. A kid like me was in heaven – allowed to go through these boxes with impunity.

Now – these comics were not in the best shape, but they were plentiful. The mint-condition stuff, the sought-after stuff – even then – was meticulously graded and closely guarded up front.

But you could still get those things, for the most part, for a song.

If you had money, you could probably get the first Action Comics somewhere – in great shape, for something like three thousand dollars.

Recently, an 8.5-graded copy of that comic book sold for north of three million dollars.

Let that sink in.

I remember old newspapers and of course, new books – many of them movie industry-specific.

I bought a boxed set of “The Origins of Marvel Comics” and “Son of Origins of Marvel Comics” there a few years later.

The smell of old and new paper was intoxicating.

That place was holy ground for me.

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Remember when old people used to give you advice?

I certainly do.

When I was young, I dismissed much of that as poppycock – but I was an entitled little prick back then.

It’s not that I was arrogant or mean. In fact, I played the game perfectly. I was a good kid. A sweet kid. It seemed to whomever was dispensing wisdom at the time that I was really listening.

My body language was in line with those moments. I looked people in the eye. I nodded and smiled and thanked those old farts for their sage advice.

And then I went on doing exactly as I pleased.

And it’s generational. My daughter just admitted to me that she did the same thing – but I was on to her long ago…

Just like my sister was on to me – and (sorry, man) my brother.

Chris doesn’t remember, but I do. Maria bought us t-shirts that said: “Sorry If I Look Interested. I’m really not.”

She pegged us.

Hubris coupled with good manners. What a strange cocktail. Passive rebellion.

But now, much of that unheeded advice is biting me in the ass.

The importance of having a nest egg, for instance – what Napoleon Hill called The Habit of Saving…

I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I failed to understand that saving just a little bit of everything I earned could have put me in a good position in later life. It could have, in fact, made me rich. I’m talking about a forty-year span, give or take. Compound interest would be doing its job and I would have been sitting pretty.

And how about drugs, alcohol and the time wasted in those pursuits…

Not merely the act of drinking and drugging, but the ill-advised hanging out – talking about nothing for hours, as if this were important. Babbling, waiting for the next bump or the next drink. Spending time with folks with nothing more in common than our addictions…

…and thinking too much about getting laid.

YOLO went haywire. After all, was this really living? And if we live only once, shouldn’t I have been building a life that I could be proud of?

Carpe diem probably meant something other than what I was seizing. I can see that now.

Hard lessons learned the hard way.

Procrastination also took its toll, with my incessant can-kicking. I wish the can got kicked down a dead-end road instead of an endless expanse. At least I could have retrieved the can and set it right.

I might have believed it, but I never came to terms with how short this life really is. When older folks told me things like that, I lacked the perspective to grasp the wisdom that was being dispensed.

There is a cliché to the effect that life would be so much easier if we listened to the advice of our elders, but the vanity of youth overrode this truth. I would do things my way.

What an idiot.

Dad and Chris outside Dad’s Apartment at Peyton Hall – Circa 1977

It smelled different. It felt different.

I felt at home.

Hollywood. 1973.

Dad was living in an apartment at – I will remember the address forever – 7267 Hollywood Boulevard.

Peyton Hall was a lovely garden apartment property at the corner of Hollywood and Fuller, just west of La Brea Avenue. It featured beautifully manicured sprawling grounds and walkways, interspersed by white bungalow-style buildings boasting four units each. I don’t remember if every building had the same layout. I don’t think so because some units were singles – bed-and-bath affairs – and I assume there were two-bedroom units available. Dad’s place was a one-bedroom.

Somebody told him that actor Leo Gorcey once lived in that apartment. Gorcey was best known as one of the Dead End Kids.

His rent? $225 per month.

Just up Fuller was the parking garage. It seemed ancient to a ten-year-old – like it could have been an old stable or something. I could imagine early-model cars parked there back in the day, way older than my dad’s 1967 Chevy Impala. According to an ad I found online, a parking attendant once worked in there.

I thought his Impala was ancient, too, but it was only seven model years old. What a difference a little perspective makes…

Behind the garage was an Olympic-sized pool, said to have been built for aquatic MGM star Esther Williams. The pool was a huge feature at Peyton Hall. It was textured with small square tiles, most light blue and some black to mark the lanes.

Even as a youngster, the magic of the place was not lost on me. It was palpable.

Strolling east down Hollywood Boulevard was a journey of discovery for me and for my brother. This was a world we had not known in Miami, although that place, especially Coconut Grove, holds an altogether different treasure trove of memories.

Bookstores like Bennett’s, Cherokee Bookshop, Pickwick Books and Bond Street Books were awesome places to score old comics, lobby cards, posters and even slightly used shooting scripts. The movie theaters were mind-blowing – the Chinese, the Egyptian, the Cinerama Dome on Sunset

Hollywood Toys, Hollywood Magic

Lunches at the Copper Penny on Sunset and La Brea, Ice Cream at Thrifty Drugs at Santa Monica and La Brea…

Swimming in that awesome pool and being shushed by McLean Stevenson

And the sign: “We don’t swim in your toilet. Please don’t pee in our pool…”

Peyton Hall was the precursor to our eventual life at Franklin and Orange.

More to come.

If you enjoy stuff like this, be sure to check out the podcast I have with my twin brother, Chris – The Yale Brothers Podcast.

Dad’s Building was 7267 Hollywood Blvd.
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

I recently received my second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The first round was inconsequential, and I’m sure that emboldened me to believe that I would have no ill effects.

I also brought all of my visualization skills to bear, seeing myself as perky and good-natured in the days that followed the shot.

I also bet my daughter ten dollars that I would be perfectly fine, a bet she took immediately, scoffing at the arrogance of my remark. Taylor went through headaches, chills and night sweats as a result of her second vaccine, which she received a couple of days before my girlfriend and I had ours.

After the event, we went to work as usual and neither one of us felt unusual. That was some sort of cruel joke perpetrated by Mother Nature, because by that night I was becoming tired. I went to bed early and wound up sleeping until the following afternoon, leaving just enough time to get ready for work.

Brenda felt the same way. Tired, warm and listless with a slight headache. But here’s the difference. She can be much more realistic than I am, more meat-and-potatoes, if you will.

Neither one of us were looking forward to our shifts at the cigar shop. Myrtle Beach is starting to become a very busy place, with an influx of tourists for what we call “the season.” But it was a Thursday, and we both knew we could get through the day. Thankfully, the crowds were not nearly as large as they had been for the several weekends before.

We made a stop at Chick-fil-A before we headed to the shop and ordered soup and sandwiches. If ever there was a time for chicken soup, it was then. Never mind the soul, we were thinking in far more corporeal terms.

When we arrived, my sister-in-law and brother said they would be happy to work our shifts for us. We thanked them and said we could handle it, but it was nice to know they would come back if we needed them.

We made it through, and it took days for us to fully feel better, but we are heartened to now be fully vaccinated.

My daughter, observing all of this, offered me her Gatorade and dutifully checked on us.

She also told me I owed her ten bucks.

I paid up, of course.

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

As the old saw goes, “A stitch in time saves nine…”

My father used to say that, and it makes sense. If you take care of a problem immediately, you will likely save undue time, effort and trouble later.

It’s like a homespun way of asserting that being proactive beats procrastination any day.

Have your air conditioner checked before it peters out in the middle of a sweltering summer or a subarctic winter. Check your oil before your engine seizes up, leaving you stranded at the side of the road in rush hour traffic.

If something is not right in your personal life, speak up. You might not need to “forever hold your peace,” but speaking now is infinitely better than bottling up your feelings until they turn into resentment and anger.

Take care of yourself. Stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to your well-being.

Do you really need a crisis of any kind? Sure, crises can be calls to action, but a little vigilance goes a long way – and small, preemptive measures can help you correct course in the present.

Take action. Show up at the gym. Throw on your running shoes and go outside.

Politely decline an invitation to some event you have no interest in attending. Call your mother. Show appreciation for the kindness of others.

Call somebody on their bullshit, or they will continue to lie to you because they think you believe them. Do you really have time for that?

By taking small and positive actions, you will reap dividends of peace of mind and of clarity.

Say no when you want to say no.

Extract yourself from toxic situations, people and conversations.

Say yes to the simple steps that lead to a life free from drama, fear, worry and anxiety.

By you I mean me.