Valet Confidential

Find out what I've been keeping under my hat



Sorry not to have written much in the last few months. I’ll admit it, I’ve kind of become addicted to Facebook and have been enjoying meeting up with old friends, playing the scrabble-like game “lexulous”, and trying to come up with pithy status messages.

Sadly, something has come along that makes me want to write a longer piece.

This past Monday, a good friend of mine, a spiritual brother, Joseph “Jody” Duncan, died at the far-too-young age of 41. His friends & family are saying goodbye to him today in ceremonies in Henderson, KY; there’s another group of his friends who won’t be able to make it, because we’re far-flung all over the country. Most of us met Jody because of our mutual love for and obsession with the band NRBQ.

Jody was the guy who always knew the name and original artist of any obscure cover that NRBQ played. Or at least he had the music library at hand to figure it out. I would send him mp3’s of cuts I didn’t know, and he usually could get back to me with the right name & artist. Usually fairly quickly.

The first time I really spent any significant time with Jody was around Labor Day, 1999, when my then-wife, Maia, and I flew out to Louisville, KY to catch 4 Q shows in 4 days. The first of those shows was in Evansville, IN, which happened to be Jody’s hometown. I remember ahead of time he recommended a hotel to stay in (cheap, but not too shabby, and in a decent neighborhood, if I remember). He met us at the club, introduced us to all his hometown crazies, and we were fast friends. The next night was in Louisville, KY, and it was more of the same. He showed us such wonderful hospitality. Later that year, we made a trip to see NRBQ in Chicago (OK, really Berwyn, IL) and Champaign/Urbana, and, of course, Jody was at both shows.

A few years later, a special NRBQ fan weekend was put together by Stacey Q. Naturally, it was called “Wild Weekend”, and was held in Hartford, CT. Jody made the trip, along with a I don’t know how many other Q-balls, and now, everyone knew each other for real, not just online. The Chandler Travis Philharmonic was one of the opening acts for the shows, and I still remember Jody’s smile when Chandler sang “Surf’s Up”.

Here’s one story that to me is pure Jody. The NRBQ 35th Anniversary shows, which featured almost all living members of the band, past & present, were held in Northampton, MA. Jody made the trip but wasn’t sure if he could until practically the last minute. As I was filing out of the Calvin Theatre the 2nd night, the place was almost empty, except there was Jody, still sitting in his seat (the last seat in the far right corner of the last row of the balcony), with tears in his eyes.

Jody’s graveside service starts around 2pm CDT today. I plan on playing something joyous by NRBQ (maybe “Me & the Boys”) and raising a glass of Kentucky bourbon to Jody. I’m sure more than a few tears will be shed, too.

photo: Jeff Wilson

Until we meet again while travelling the spaceways … I love you, Jody.


Life imitates Art (comic absurdity)

Up until now, my favorite example of life imitating art was the increasing # of blades in multiple-blade razors, which was parodied in a Saturday Night Live commercial in the first ever episode of the show, in 1975 (at the time, there were only 2 blades in multiple-blade razors, and they proposed the then-absurd premise of a THIRD blade!)

But now … well, just check out this 1993 Onion “fake news” headline!

Unrelated, I’m sad to hear that Studs Terkel died today – not surprising, since he was 90 or so, but he is another great one who is now gone – fortunately, he leaves an amazing legacy in his writing and recorded interviews.


I am a Cranky Old Man

Oh, it’s summer on Cape Cod, and that means so many things to those of us who live here.

The other day I was on Route 6, in Eastham – I was in the left lane and passing someone in the right lane – I was probably going about 45, maybe a hair over (in a 40 zone), and the car behind me flashed his high beams because, apparently, even though I was passing a car at the time and driving over the speed limit, I just wasn’t going fast enough for him.

But it’s not just the tailgaters … there are those that drive so slow as to make me understand why the speedfreaks might be so ornery … the slowpokes, the timid drivers … they drive well under the speed limit (30 in a 45 zone? is that really necessary?); they tap their brakes whenever a car is coming in the other direction …

For the last few weeks, it seems as if I’m constantly either behind a car that’s going 10 mph under the speed limit or in front of a car that wants to be going 10 or 20 mph over the speed limit – what ever happened to just driving the posted limit or at least fairly close, one way or the other?

Next time on “I am a Cranky Old Man”: “When I was a kid …”


All-Star Game opening ceremony

“The greatest collection of baseball All-Stars ever assembled on one field.”


I’m sorry, but the best they could do for catchers was to get Yogi and Gary “where’s the camera?” Carter? I certainly understand Yogi being there, but if Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk aren’t there, too, what’s the point?

And is Willie Mays really the only great living center fielder left? I was thinking maybe he was, but according to, Duke Snider is still alive.

Also should’ve been there: Yaz, Sandy Koufax, and, of course, Stan Musial

I thought that introducing HoF managers and executives was a great idea, but it suggested a big improvement to me … they should have used a Hall of Fame announcer (my choice would be Ernie Harwell) instead of Joe Buck, or at least along side Joe. Heck, they have possibly the greatest living stadium announcer right there in Bob Sheppard – let him introduce everyone!

Oh, and I thought it was great that Sheryl Crow played the National Anthem live, but that it was too bad she had such trouble with it (looking at the fingerboard when making chords, trying to hit that silly high note at the end) … still, it could have been a whole lot worse!

Just my 2 cents …


So long, George

Through my gig as valet to Chandler Travis, King of the World, I had the honor and pleasure to meet George Carlin. Chandler was kind enough to invite me along when he & Dinty opened for George several times over the last 4 or 5 years.

The first time I got to meet George, we were doing two shows in one night at the Cape Cod Melody Tent – we were introduced before we went on for the first show. I was heading out after our opening set for the second show and before he went on stage, George shook my hand, said “nice to meet you, Fred”. Damn – he remembered my name. Also at that first gig, when we were eating a quick dinner between shows, George said something alliterative and then repeated it to himself, mulling over the way the words ran together – I imagine that if he liked the way it sounded, he would write it in his notebook or something, saving it for a later day. It was cool to see that his mind was always working, always looking for potential new material.

The last time we opened for George, at the end of the night, he hugged Chandler goodbye, hugged Dinty goodbye, then shook my hand and said something along the lines of “you’re still kind of new – but next time, you get a hug”

Here’s a video clip of George talking about death – this is fairly recent, and I remember seeing him do this stretch of material at some of the gigs where we opened for him.

update: Chandler wrote a piece about George for local Cape Cod weekly newspaper The Cape Codder. It’s a remembrance of George unlike most others you’re going to find on the good ol’ world wide interweb. We have it up on the SonicTrout site in the Kelp on Kape section. Here’s a direct link to the piece.

update zwei: Bill O’Neill, Lifestyles Editor and Music Reviewer for the Cape Cod Times, has a little online remembrance of George which includes a great quote from Chandler, circa 1999: “Here’s a simplification of what I appreciate about George C: how much he produces, how little he panders, and what a fine friend he has been.”


why you make things so hard, mr stop & shop?

OK, trust me … this one’s really no big deal … but what’s the deal with newspaper placement in grocery stores?

At my local Stop & Shop, they put all the newspapers OUTSIDE the check out lanes and almost exactly half way between the two possible entrances into the store. So, unless you remember to make a special trip half way across the store on the wrong side of the registers (and then back again or continuing on to get to the rest of the shoppables), you’re (or at least I am) likely to forget to go through the registers to get the newspaper before you check out. I often find myself walking by the newspapers with a cartful of bagged groceries, thinking “gee, I should’ve gotten the local paper – oh well, too late”.

I can see why you might not want newspapers right inside the entrance, since some yahoos would probably just grab a paper and run, but it sure seems to me as if sales would be better if they were at least on the “shopping” side of the cash registers! Just a suggestion, but perhaps with the other periodicals?

Oh, and MySpace won’t let me put “listening to the radio” in the “tell us what you’re reading, viewing, or listening to” section … so I’ll tell you here … I’m listening to the Cubs/Giants ballgame on XM radio .. it’s 4-1 San Francisco going into the bottom of the 8th.

[copied of my original MySpace blog post, hence the reference above to MySpace features]


1994 Cheney video re: Invading Iraq

I’ve seen lots of examples of doublespeak from the current US Executive Branch, but I’m pretty sure I hadn’t seen this one before:

For once, the guy made a reasonable argument.