March 2 2007

My Favorite Things – and People 

Well first off, seeing how this is my favorite youngest daughter’s (as opposed to my favorite oldest daughter) birthday, I just want to tell her, and apparently thousands of others reading this, how proud I am of who she’s turned out to be. She has given her father and me hardly any worries or problems, and there are no words to describe how grateful we are for that. But then, the lawn ornaments that greeted her this morning gave her a pretty good indication J  I loved seeing her face as she walked out the door and found our yard filled with a menagerie of some 25 plastic farm animals (and cute little penguins) along with the big Happy Birthday sign with the rainbow and smiley face.

My, that was fun...

Luckily, our daughter has a good...


sense of humor (and we all know where she got that from). Happy Birthday, Honey.  

A Word on Intervention: 

I know you’re all tired of hearing about it, but in the midst of the ongoing exploitation of the tragedy of Anna Nicole Smith, the most important issue remains in the shadows, so I feel a need to address it. But just for a moment. Promise.  

Anna Nicole had an awful lot of people around her, yet no one had her back, so to speak. All those people. And no one seemed to have stepped up to the plate to save her from herself. From what I hear, those around her the most, (ALLEGEDLY) fed into her substantial (ALLEGED) drug use.

It’s the same old sad story. Add her now to the long list of rich and famous addicts gone too soon – Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin … (I’ll stop there).  

Here’s my take - when someone really loves and cares about you and they see the train wreck coming, they will throw themselves on the track and do what you need to do to prevent the inevitable collision. Even if they realize that you’ll probably hate them, for awhile, for “interfering.”

Remember the old adage, “Tough Love?” It is my hope that more people will interfere with those who obviously need help before it’s too late. It may not only save their life, but others as well.

Case in point: Here in northeast Ohio, there was a woman this week who abruptly made a U-turn on Ohio Route 2 in Eastlake – straight into oncoming traffic at 65 mph. Her minivan immediately smashed into another car. The crash killed the other driver, as well as her own babies, ages 2 and 3. She survived but is in critical condition. Drug and alcohol use is suspected.

Ya think?

Turns out this woman had purchased a car of mine some 8 years back, when she was 19. And just so I don’t get in trouble here, I’ll just say the signs were there then. She went on to get two DUI convictions and two other citations for not having her children in car seats. (Which apparently had no effect as the kids weren’t buckled in seats at the time of the crash).

We all know drug addition affects more than just the one doing the drugs, and sometimes they leave a real mess behind. Anna Nicole is now the Poster Child for that lesson.

So, if you love someone who’s clearly going down the wrong side of the road, be a hero. Step in and get them help. Before you read about them in the paper or see their face on TV. 

Sorry, I had to bring that up because the theme this week is my favorite people and these news stories just remind me how lucky I am to have many people at my back, and how grateful I am for that.  

And they’ll be plenty of time to talk about my wonderful family and closest friends - who already know they are my favorite. For now, I’d like to hail some of my other favorite people - who may not even know they’re my favorite. 

And here’s where I’ll probably get into trouble again. I’ve learned the hard way that anytime you start naming names, you’re gonna hear from those you didn’t. If you don’t know of my personal experience on this after my rock book came out, and feel you just have to hear about it, email me, so I don’t use up my space here (remember I have a vow to try and keep these entries short).

And really, I should know better about naming names. After all, you baby boomers out there remember that great children’s show, Romper Room with Miss Barbara, right? Okay, you now have that image in your head - the one where she’s looking out through that damn fake hand mirror and calling out all those little children’s names? Well, you guessed it, I’d sit there in front of that 12-inch black-and-white screen every day waiting  for her to call out Deanna, or even Dee, and never, not once - day after day, week after week, year after year (gee, ya think I still hold a grudge?), did she ever call out my name. I believe it damaged my self-esteem for life - well, at least until I grew up and realized she didn’t know any of those kids personally anyway, well, except for David Spero—whose father was a television producer at that station—and not only was his name called out zillions of times (David was a common name) but he also got to go on the show…. 

But ANYWAY, please don’t be offended if I don’t name you this time. There’s always next time - if indeed you really are one of my favorite people.

Okay, I have to start with my honorable and esteemed webmaster, Mike Miheli. He’s not only one of the great drummers here on the North Coast (see his website ), he’s a very dependable web guy. I have a writer friend whose web person has been MIA for months now and she can’t post any updates, current info or book signings. That’s very frustrating. What I suggest is getting yourself a musician to do your site because, if they don’t have a day job, they’re usually home, so when you send your stuff, it gets posted that day. Least that’s been my experience. So yes, the very dependable, talented, and rather nice (and cute) Mike is one of my favorite people. So is his nice girlfriend, Crystal, and his very nice mom and Aunt Patty (who I’ve known since the Hullabaloo days, which once again, will mean nothing to you if you’re not a baby boomer). 

Nearly everyone has a favorite radio station, but few, anymore, have favorite disc jockeys. That’s because there are not many left who we still feel a real connection with these days. So many changes, so many impersonal “announcers.” We are so lucky here in northeast Ohio to have a few deejays who were born and raised in the Cleveland area, still live here, and have somehow managed to stay on the airwaves for decades now, despite the encroachment of corporate, focus-group controlled radio. That’s quite a feat!  So as most people know, I love listening to Bill Louis and Paula Balish at WNCX, and Brian & Joe, who has a great morning show at  WMVX, because they all are the real deal. WNCX, in particular, is dear to my heart because the station was, and still is, amazingly supportive of my book. And everyone there is just so genuine. I like that in a person. In fact, I like all the deejays there, and personally, I was thrilled when Howard Stern went off the air, and even more thrilled when locals Mud, Mihalik & Mike took over the morning show. And though I don’t know him well, I really enjoy Chris V, who says in his bio that he really likes nice people (hey, me too, Chris, read down further!).

And of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning Michael Stanley who so kindly wrote the foreword to my book. And his bands - past and present - are pretty good too J

So if you don’t live in the area, go to these websites to see, and hear, what I mean: and 

And while we’re talking music, I have to go to favorite bands. OF course those at ‘NCX and my personal friends know of my affection for the Rolling Stones, and I have some more as well. But in my continuing efforts to keep these entries short (I know, I’m failing miserably), let’s go straight to the local ones, who never seem to get their due anyway. 

Mr. Stress has to come first because he’s the guy that inspired me to write my book. His longtime blues band broke up a few years ago, but Bill Miller still plays out regularly - now with the Alan Greene Band (yes, Alan, bass player, John “Slap” Daubenspeck, and drummer Rob Luoma are among my favorites as well). Bill is one of the great harp players in this land with great blues pipes, and although he’s been known to be somewhat of a curmudgeon, he’s really the sweetest guy on the planet, and I love and respect him dearly. He’s got a good heart - the essential trait needed to be one of my favorite people. 

The Elm Street Blues Band has been around for decades and each member is talented in his own right. Their drummer, Hank Hess, is high on my list of favorite people. And absolutely no one can get a crowd going like Hank can. And although he’s been having health issues of late, we all can’t wait for him to get back where he belongs. Hurry and get better, Hank!

And Stone Pony! Oh, how I love this band. They pay tribute to Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny - got the horn section and everything. They also have an absolute awesome singer, Kelly Derrick. That guy can sing – and sound - like anyone. Michael Stanley, Springsteen, Southside - even Barry White. I kid you not. Please, for your own happiness, check them out.  

And I guess because blood’s thicker than water, I should mention that another one of my favorites happens to be my brother, Dennis’ band - Mojo Street Blues Band. I am being honest here - I am proud to say this fiery, kick-ass band really is impressive. Even if my bro is in it J  

Last but of course never, ever least (hear that, other bands I didn’t mention?). There’s a new band in town, too, that’s getting a lot of notice, particularly last week when they played the House of Blues. Signals is a Rush tribute band, and I didn’t even know I liked Rush that much until I heard this band’s debut. It helps, too, that one of its members is also one of my favorite people - Dan Sidoti, whose girlfriend, Lynne Bryant, is another of my favorites. It’s all kind of like a local “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” thing (Okay, I won’t explain that one - if you don’t know - Google’s a wonderful thing). 

Whew, alright looks like I’m way past my limit for today - and I didn’t even get to my Favorite Things, and have lots more favorite people. But I’m sure you all have a life, and I’ve got a deadline. So look for more favorites next week. Go now, and do good things. And be nice (isn't that right, Chris J).  Till next time ….  

P.S. Oh, and please check out this Sunday’s Plain Dealer for a really interesting feature in the PDQ section on famous Rock ‘n’ Roll Autograph Collector John Markulin. He’s a true man about town getting autographs of everyone even faintly mentioned in my book. The stories behind his getting Alice Cooper’s, Chrissie Hynde’s are … Well, just read about it.

I’m done. Really.