The following is an excerpt from my memoir, “The Kid Who Got Away.”
I haven’t sold a million records. I’ve never starred in a film. I have been a professional performing artist since my first recording session at the age of twelve. I’ve always been what I call a “Lunch Pail” artist. Aside from a couple of crazy jobs, I have made a decent living (for more years than I’d like to count) as a full time working professional performing artist. Go to work, do the job, live indoors. I’m the guy you can always count on to be on time, know what I need to know and give it my all. I’m not a Pacino or a Kravitz. On the set, I’m just the actor you least have to worry about. In front of a mic, you’ll get what I’ve got. That’s me.
During a tough time in Bangkok, I sold Encyclopedia Britannica’s outside of a U.S. Army base. That was terrible. I’m not sure that I ever sold one. I was a car salesman for a day, again in Bangkok. When I first hit Hollywood, things got a little dicey. I somehow secured a job selling a series of accordion lessons door to door for Jim (Loggins & Messina) Messina’s dad’s music school. I’d drive to a neighborhood, knock on doors, convince parents that their kid had some “musical talent,” sign ’em up, move ’em on. I did really well but hated it and found an agent willing to sign me up and get me some auditions. There was a brief period as manager of an infamous “boiler room” selling toner to unsuspecting rubes. I was desperate and am not proud of it. I, as I implied earlier, I do have this thing about sleeping indoors.
I have been somewhat “homeless” several times. Once, with my band Prophecy (read “Hippy Band Prophecy”) we were so out of work desperate that we slept in a huge abandoned building in Djakarta. We’d sneak in during the evening hours and jam into the night on our acoustic instruments, all the while smoking enough ganja to kill a horse. Then we’d each spread out some newspaper and go to sleep. We were awakened each morning by the percussive/concussive sounds of a giant wrecking ball hitting the building as they began the day’s demolition. This lasted about a week and bonded us as brothers.
The only “normal” job I’ve ever had was during several years in San Francisco. As a single parent of four, I relied upon the typing I’d learned in my limited time at Bishop Loughlin Memorial Diocesan High School in Brooklyn. I talked my way into a job at a law firm downtown. That became my day job.
Rush home, feed the kids (with the help of my live in girlfriend, Mary Riley) and rush off to moonlight at law offices all over the San Francisco Bay Area, typing my fingers to the bone instead of stroking the neck of a guitar or commanding a stage somewhere. Return home, a couple of hours of sleep, wake up early, scrub and feed the kids, get ’em to the bus on time and off to work again. It almost killed me.
Eventually, the kids went back to their mom in New York and I was once again doing theater, eventually heading out on the road as a collective member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe.
After a short sojourn through the Estados Unidos, I am back. It’s good to be home. I thought I was going to get some RnR (Rest and Relaxation) and instead I got some RnR (Rock n’ Roll). I’ve been playing music with a new bud here, Woody Price outta Austin, and have had to hit the ground running. The pipes are rusty but the machine is still capable of pumping out a song or two so, what the hell, eh? I hid out for a year but the cat is now outta the bag. This time, I can perform because I feel like it and not because I need to pay the mortgage. I am no longer a Lunch Pail musician. I am a dilettante, playing what I want when I want the way I want. I have become the Master of My Domain.
Spring has sprung. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I am embarking on an exciting new musical adventure. My house is becoming a home. Despite all this, I am depressed. Down, bummed out, saddened, concerned. My cat, Boudin, always an adventurer, escaped while some workers were here and I haven’t seen him since yesterday. Although he has never lived outside, he has some very fine, natural feral instincts. I’ve seen this in action in my backyard. I know he could appear on my doorstep at any time seeking reentry into the fold. I am still very concerned. There are four wheeled monsters out there. There are large hungry four legged monsters out there. I hope he’s ok. He’s a pain in the ass but he’s my pain in the ass. I miss my bud. So does his big sister.
Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”