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Keef, Dr. Marlena and The Upstage

So much for my writing 1000 words a day if I want to be a real writer. Here goes another shot. Full disclosure. I am doing this on an insomniapnea personal best of two and a half hours sleep. Bed by midnight, up by 2:30am, no off switch to brain for the rest of the night. So I figured I would just do what most people do at that hour of the night, browse Keith Richard’s Instagram page. No idea how I even got there, but it’s got the cute name of Officialkeef. I’ll admit it has been quite a while since I have seen Keef, but that “no more drinking” policy is about 20 years too late if you ask me. I know, I know, it’s the iconic Keith Richards; well he still looks like hell and boy what a page he has. Do we really want our music/movie icons to be taking bad selfie videos of themselves saying Happy New Year in their underwear, for God’s sake?   And then there is the video of him letting that annoying daughter of his interview him. That’s a secret he should have kept. What I did find really cool is a picture of his granddaughter, Ella Richards, wearing her grandmother Anita Pallenberg’s clothes in a Vogue ad. So all was not lost by this complete waste of my sleep time.

I am pretty sure I wasn’t woken up at 2am by a text from my friend, Sandi, who is in Amsterdam or Belgium right now. They both look the same to me. It was to tell me she had set off the alarm on her audio headset on some tour by touching a door. At least that’s what my 2am brain registered.   Not only does she need adult supervision, but she also needs one of those nifty watches with the different time zones on it.  So that just got me wondering, why on earth would audio headsets have alarms on them anyway?   Are people in museums known to go over and steal them off other people’s head? Now you see why I couldn’t get back to sleep. Those are questions that need to be pondered immediately.

Maybe I should also get one of those time zone watches for my nephew, Joey, in New York. At about 3am he came in with a text to thank me for the birthday text I had sent him three hours ago. May 29 is the favorite birth date of my family apparently, two nephews and a niece born on that day. Niece Gabriella turned 21 today. As she was celebrating in the bar last night at the stroke of midnight NYC time, I suggested she may want to burn that fake Maine license she’s been sporting for the past few years. Not one to waste a good forgery, she will be donating it to another deserving underage imbiber.

Why is my phone even on at 2am, you ask? Well, in the event there is ever an emergency in that garage/music studio my son has going all night long, I would be available. Last night around 10, I got an urgent, come here listen to this. It was his second rap song. I love it!! Great beat, you can dance to it and I don’t understand a word you are singing, which is exactly how I like my rap music. At midnight, another rap star in the making showed up to add his vocals to said song because as Max has explained to me over and over, music is not made in daylight. He has a point; well not until you are old like Keef anyway. Or maybe I stayed awake to make sure Max didn’t make off with the black Dodge Charger with a Hemi engine that the car rental place gave me yesterday while Hyundai is servicing my car, which by the way I no longer endorse as the best car company. In case you were running out to get one. I haven’t driven a car that fast since Mikey’s 1969 454 Chevelle with a Hurst stick shift. And for good reason. Max, however, was smitten at first shift. I find it irritating to have a car with built in gears that shift on it’s own. Either make it manual and give me a clutch or make it an automatic and stop the up and up down crap. And that little adventure of going to the dealership to make an appointment rather than calling ended up being a three hour time suck fest since they decided to keep my car right then and there.

All this after my lovely morning at Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write Salon. I hadn’t been for years, but her nice request, OK, she can twist an arm with the best of them, sent me back there yesterday morning. Her musical guest was supposed to be Bernard Fowler who I had no idea even existed until yesterday as a background singer for the Stones for 30 years.   I’m detecting a theme here. Anyway, he never showed and so she got a friend of hers to be the musical guest. Apparently, this man wrote 100 songs for the Nickelodeon show Chalk Zone, again never heard of it. When I mentioned this to my older son, Marco, at dinner, however, he told me he watched this show all the time as a kid. What?? Another glaring example of my less that stellar mothering. How old were you, I demanded? I don’t know, he says, maybe 10? O good, at least that’s an age where you could watch TV without me turning it on for you. Sheesh, had you been like 5 watching it, I would have been horrified that I did not know. He just shakes his head and says “you’re weird”.   To which I give him my stock reply- weird mothers build kids with character or is it kids that are characters. The latter, I believe, applies in this house. Right after that lovely man singing, the writing guest, meaning you had to have published a book and be famous, was none other than Dr. Marlena Evans from Days of Our Lives. She was stunningly beautiful in an eerier Dorian Gray kind of way. She was hawking, I mean selling, two books; one a little cookbook and the other on her beauty secrets. Her talk was lovely and she read from a children’s book she also wrote for her two boys. Next up was another actor from the show whose name I can’t remember or pronounce who also wrote a celebrity cookbook, I think. I had to go, unfortunately and didn’t see his presentation. Vicki’s salon is very intimate. It’s in her living room and the books on sale by the guests are in the kitchen. After Deirdre Hall’s turn I said goodbye to her and bought her cookbook. Her beauty tips book would be wasted on me, I told her. She laughed and we took a selfie. Most of my selfies are of me and my activity partner/BFF Sandi. Dr. Marlena was a nice stand in yesterday, since Sandi is in Europe with her husband setting off audio tape alarms in museums right now.

Night fell with the need to see the one night only movie; Asbury Park; Riot Redemption, Rock and Roll. Why this would only be shown two nights is anyone’s guess unless they are going right to TV, which is supremely annoying. In any event, what a great documentary. My favorite was the story of the Upstage, an after hours no liquor, jam session place for teenage musicians and their followers to go at 3am after the bars closed. Bruce and Little Steven and Southside Johnny all cut their musical teeth there. Tom Potter was a hairdresser with a hairdresser wife who also had a band and so they got this space up a couple of flight of stairs, painted some glo paint on the walls, installed about a dozen amps and speakers so the kids didn’t have to lug gear up all those flights, charged a buck fifty and musical magic was made there every night for three years or so. The after part of the movie last night was a reunion of about 17 musicians, including Bruce, Little Stevie and Southside Johnny, David Sancious and a host of others, who used to jam as teenagers in the club for a concert at the Asbury Park Convention Center for the premier of this movie. What a treat this three-song jam session was that included their own versions of Lucille and Johnny B Goode.   This story warmed my musical soul last night, especially since today across the street from the original Upstage location is a place called Lakehouse, that provides musical education to kids. The main band of about five kids aged around 12 years old or so got to play with Bruce and company at this concert as well.

Bruce and Stevie’s narrative throughout the movie was just plain awesome. Humble and pure of musical spirit, just like their talent.   We’ve seen Bruce and company in their journey through their success years, but to see them all as teenagers at the very earliest part of their journey was fascinating. Not all the teenagers who jammed all those years made it.   Bruce was mentioned right off the bat as the one to watch. No surprise there. True artists are born not made, but it still takes some smiling of the gods of fortune on you to get there. It was terrific to see these ‘old timers’ now just wailing away on their instruments with pure joy to be together and reminisce about their youthful beginning. The Upstage, you can tell, was one of those places where the vibe was instant, largely due to the owners, their vision and their spirit and their place in Asbury Park history. So there you have it. I made my thousand words and then some.

ellahall1Dr. Marlenahall 3

One comment on “Keef, Dr. Marlena and The Upstage

  1. Don says:

    That’s very good and reminds me of some early after-hours jazz spots around L.A. we used to frequent.Your writing has improved without you doing much of it which is unusual.Send me a notice about your next house concert including beginning time and  ticket and parking information. 


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