potpourri


I hope that is how you spell it.  Today is just a collection of remembrances and thoughts.

Photo by sagarenas from stock.xchng.com

This little story may help you if you get discouraged and think you have made the wrong choice in what you do.  When I was with Ticketmaster we also had parties in our major cities around Christmas time.  We would fly from LA to Detroit to New York to Orlando to meet our people and our clients.  Generally it was Fred Rosen, Bob Leonard, me and some others.  In New York (this was in the eighties) Fred and Ann Mooney had arranged for us to be at a club.  Ann and Fred had rounded up some great entertainment, and Fred had seen a new comedian on late night in LA and booked him (probably for $2000 or $3000 or less to perform.

Now the audience were our clients: Arena and Theater managers, box office people, etc with some promoters also.  Out of the several hundred attending not a great amount of hipness was present.  Some wonderful surprise performers showed up and then it was the comedian’s turn.  To say he bombed would be putting it lightly.  Wrong audience, not listening to him, and those who did were put off by his language.  He cut his act short, sat down head in hands backstage, and I said something to him, I’m sure he didn’t hear.  And that was Chris Rock’s introduction to the big time in NYC.

A woman I was dating at the time was on a flight to Los Angeles (early 80’s) when Robin Williams sat next to her.  As they neared landing he suddenly realized something: he didn’t have a dime on him and couldn’t get his car out of the airport.  He asked her if he could borrow $20 and he gave her a check.  She framed the check and put it on her wall.

The ticket business was often a pain in the ass.  We really made our money from the service charges of the regular concert, sport, and theater goers.  But when a tremendously hot act went on sale, especially one that appealed to yuppie or older demographics (Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, et), we would hear from all the “important” people (primarily their secretaries) who would say, “I am calling for Mr. So and So and he needs 4 tickets in the front row for Sinatra.”  They didn’t seem to realize we were not a resale company and held back no tickets, and they would get very offended when we said we couldn’t provide those, but had some seats left in the upper arena.  There is a whole category on facebook by box office and other people about what a pain these calls are.

In an early posting I mentioned Peggy Brown’s two favorite ticketing stories:  the person who called and asked “Is this where you pick your seat on the phone?”  and the phone call from the San Jose Arena from a little old lady with a tremendous noise in the background complaining she had bought tickets for Rush since he was her favorite radio personality and she and her friend had come to the Arena and there was this loud music playing….(we gave her back her money).

During the Giants-Yankees World Series in San Francisco in 1962, my father came up to see his old friend and partner, Tom Gallery, who was the head of NBC Sports.  When the series was supposed to be played at Candlestick a veritable monsoon hit the Bay Area (in October, just like today when it is raining lightly), delaying the series.  So my Dad and I visited with Tom at his suite at the Fairmont.  He had other Yankee personnel there, including Mel Allen, the voice of the Yankee telecasts and broadcasts.  The 49ers game was on television and Bob Fouts was doing the commentary only stopping long enough to take a breath.  Tom turned to Mel and said “You see what I mean, just shut up sometime”  Mel never did.

In 1949 I was a freshman at Stanford and since I was admitted late, I started summer quarter, was off fall quarter and then returned to campus for the winter and spring quarters.  During that time I went to New York as the Roller Derby had just hit hugely on television and was the toast of the town.  Although just 17, I had a great time.  I went with my Aunt Agatha (Oscar Seltzer’s wife) to see “South Pacific” shortly after it opened.  My brother-in-law Ken had obtained first row tickets for “Guys and Dolls” which had just opened on Broadway.  We went to the theater and found someone in our seats.  We were one week early.  We went the next week and had a great time.  Robert Alda (Alan’s father) played the lead;  the price of the tickets? $4.40.

Richard Lester, who became famous for directing the Beatles in “A Hard Days night” and “Help” was shooting a movie in San Francisco called “Petulia” (1962, I believe) and wanted to shoot some Roller Derby scenes.  The stars were George C. Scott and Julie Christie.  The film company rented Winterland (this was before Bill Graham used it) and Lester had two women’s teams, including the Bombers, come out for an all day practice in order to set up a particular shot.  The two stars were going through some tension in the film (not personally) and he wanted to use the skating to heighten it.  He said that at one crucial point in the dialog he wanted skaters coming around, one to get hit and fly over the rail directly in front of the stars.  He asked the women how many hours they would need.  The skaters said let’s practice.  He started the scene, had the cameras rolling, Peanuts Meyer and another jammer came out, Peanuts was blocked, came directly over the rail and landed at Julie’s feet.  Lester was stunned.  Peanuts looked at him and said, “I can land in her lap the next time if  you like”.  It was all done in just one take.

I received a phone call from Al Ruddy, the producer who had just completed “The Godfather” and was on top of the world.  He said he wanted to meet with me as he had a treatment on a film about Roller Derby.  I said of course.  He flew up to Oakland and we met.  He had with him who he felt would be the stars of the film:  George Hamilton, Mama Cass, and Michelle Phillips.  George would play the manager/promoter.  George was even prettier in person, with his tan and something I had never seen before:  wearing loafers with no socks.  We went around, checking locations and I took the stars to our training school in Alameda, where they all (except for George) skated.  We had a great lunch, said goodbye and then the project fell apart.  Someone picked it up and make Kansas City Bomber, which was not Roller Derby.  Oh well.

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5 comments on “potpourri

  1. You should have told the Rush (Limbaugh) fan to stick around till they played the stuff from “2112.” My eighth grade English teacher brought in a tape of that LP in order to turn us all into Ayn Rand fans. I don’t think she got that it was an inner-city (magnet) school.

    Rush was “prog rock” with a guy singing falsetto to the masses of suburban teen asses. I disliked having them shoved down my throat by friends and radio programmers bad enough, having my English teacher do it was the last straw. They were like Journey for boys.

    I hated them enough that it thankfully put me off of Ayn Rand’s writing for life. Not that her politics wouldn’t have done that on their own.

  2. A new flat-track roller derby team has formed in Eau Claire, Wis. — the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls. Someone asked me if there had ever been a roller derby team in Eau Claire before. I figured if anyone would know, you would. (I can’t think of how else to contact you.)

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