Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pierre Cardin

 One night, I was working at Sanger Harris, and I had two men come into the Record Dept.  One was kind of tall and the other one was short.  The tall man asked me if we had the 8-track tape for "American Graffiti".  I said yes.  He had a very thick accent.  The shorter man spoke only French and was saying something to the tall man, who then told me in English.  Unbeknownst to the shorter man, I spoke fluent French, so I knew what the man was saying.  He said some very rude things about me, including calling me a "peasant".  I rang up the tape, and then turned to the shorter man, who was Pierre Cardin.  I told him in French that I thanked him for his purchase, and that I was not a peasant.  His face turned red.  The taller man's face turned red.  Cardin then apologized in English.  He may have thought of himself as a big shot, but I brought him back down to size.  Thanks to high school and college French.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


 A call went out for anyone interested to be a movie extra for a film being made in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl.  The time was Sunday afternoon, and I went.  It was cold and rainy, but a few thousand people showed up.  The weather was so bad that they decided not to do much filming, but they did give us nachos, which was the first time I had ever had that dish. 
 The movie they were making was called "Semi-Tough".  It starred Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh,  Robert Preston, Carl Weathers, Richard Masur, Norm Alden, and more.  Since the weather was so bad, they shot a few scenes of football players sloshing around on the field.  The rest of the time, they brought in the stuntmen to put on a show for the crowd.  They had guys jumping out of helicopters into pads.  Hal Needham did a lot of the stunts. 
 Since the weather was not cooperating, they told us that anyone who wanted to come back on Monday could and would be filmed.  My school was on winter break, so I said I would be back.  The next day, not as many people came back.  Maybe enough to fill up one end of the stands.  They introduced Burt Reynolds.  He was a big star and had a security entourage around him.  Kris Kristofferson was much more approachable.  He was just coming off of "A Star Is Born", but he hadn't let it go to his head.  The Assistant Director was named David Sosna.  His job was to be in charge of the extras.  Dave was a cool guy.  He went on to work with John Landis on several of his films like "The Blues Brothers" and "Trading Places".  Dave was a practical joker, and he did several things to lighten the mood, because there was a lot of waiting around.
 The film was set in Miami, but they filmed almost everything in Dallas.  Since it was supposed to be Miami, we had to wear short-sleeved shirts.  It was very cold in the stadium, so when they were ready to shoot a scene, we had to take off our coats and look like we were hot.  Another trick I learned was how to cheer.  They said that everyone born between January and June cheer for one team, and everyone born from July to December cheer for the other team.  That way, there  were some standing while others were sitting and vice versa.  We figured out that we wanted to get as much camera time as we could, so there were many of us who changed our birthdays, and we stood up a lot.  They caught on to our trick and told us that if we didn't follow directions that we would have to leave.  Because it had rained, the areas of the stadium closest to the field had ankle-deep water accumulated down there.  Anyone who sat there had the best chance to get on camera, and also got very wet feet.
 I was there for a week.  The crowd dwindled down each day until there was about twenty of us.  In order to look like there was a crowd behind the sidelines, they would move us into the shot.  When it was time for the next shot, we would all move to that spot behind the players.  It made it look like a full stadium after editing.  One of the scenes was for the Super Bowl.  We were there cheering away.  When the movie came out in widescreen, I made a startling discovery.  The cameraman did not frame us too well, and you can see empty seats on either side of us. 
 The football teams were made up of stuntmen and professional players from the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Cowboys.  There was one Oiler player who was about 6'9" tall.  He was very big.  Dave told us that he wanted us to play a joke on this guy, so we were to cross the field from one side to the other.  As each of us passed this guy, we were to hit him in the back.  So, we did.  The guy was not very pleased with Dave's joke.  But, we were following the direction.
 In the end, we didn't get paid much money, but they fed us, and we got to be around the stars and players.  Except for Burt Reynolds.  We saw him, but that was all.  One interesting side note.  The film was directed by Michael Ritchie.  He later directed "The Bad News Bears".  That film was written by Bill Lancaster, who was Burt's son.  During the auditions for "The Midnight Man", I had gotten to know Bill, and he recommended me to his father who was directing that film, which is how I got that part.  Small world.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Star Wars

 I have never seen "Star Wars".  I have never seen any of the sequels, prequels, or quells (whatever they are).  It isn't that I don't like action movies or sci-fi movies.  I do.  But, I have no desire to see anything "Star Wars".  Why, you ask? 
 It comes from an experience I had, when I worked for Sanger Harris Department Store in Ft. Worth.  The movie had just come out, and there were a lot of action figures and other toys connected to the movie.  I worked near the Toy Dept.  We kept selling out of everything "Star Wars".  We couldn't keep them in the store, especially the action figures.  It wasn't just us.  They were selling out everywhere.  We couldn't possibly have enough for everybody.
 So, I would have children (mostly boys) and their mothers come into the store looking for the figures.  I would tell them we had sold out.  The kids would raise a fuss, and I had some kick me in my shins.  The mothers would get upset, and cuss me out.  I didn't really blame them.  They had probably been all over town to try and get these toys, but they took it out on me.  I got so turned off by their responses to me that I vowed never to see any of the movies.  I guess it sounds a little extreme on my part, but that was my response to their abuse. 
 I have had friends tell me that I should see "Star Wars" anyway.  They tell me it is a very good movie.  I guess it is, but I do have principles.  Years later, I was at home and watching TV.  I was flipping the channels and found a movie to watch. It was pretty good. I had seen about ten minutes of it, when it went to a commercial.  The announcer said, "We'll be back to Star Wars in just a minute."  I was horrified.  I had actually seen a portion of the movie.  But, I immediately turned it off.  I couldn't risk having flashbacks of the bruises on my legs from pouting children.  Or, hearing words coming out of women's mouths that they shouldn't have said.  I have even been threatened by a friend that he is going to tie me down and force me to watch the movie.  Never.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Wreck

 I was rushing home late one afternoon from work in 1977.  I loved to drive fast.  There was a misty rain, and the roads were slick.  I was on the freeway and hit the off ramp a little too fast.  I hit the brakes, but they locked up and I started sliding.  There was a Lincoln in front of me, which was stopped at the light.  There was nothing I could do but watch my car slide into the back of it.  That was a horrible feeling.
 I wasn't injured except for bruised knees from hitting the dash.  I got out of my car, and apologized profusely to the people in the Lincoln.  They said it was okay, and we both pulled around the corner from the ramp. Their car had a broken taillight.  My car was bashed in big time.  The front wheel on the passenger side was messed up.  The radiator had moved further toward the windshield. 
 The police came had decided that weather was the cause, so I wasn't cited.  I got back to school, as it wasn't far from the wreck.  The next day, I called the Ford dealership and asked them to tow my car to it.  Then, I called my insurance company who told me I should have called them first, because they wouldn't pay for the card being at the Ford place.  It wasn't recognized by the insurance company as an authorized service place.  I did not know how to deal with the insurance folks except screaming and crying, but they wouldn't budge.  The Ford folks told me that the work was going to have to be somewhat specialized, and they could do it better than just a willy-nilly body shop, but I could not afford to get it fixed without the insurance.  I asked the Ford guys if they could work on it, while I dealt with the insurance, and they said no, so my car sat at the Ford place for a week.  Meanwhile, they did give me a rental car from my insurance.  It was a Ford LTD, which seemed like driving a tank compared to my car.  The front end was so long that I felt like I had to brake a half of a block before stopping at a light. 
 I called my father in SC to ask him what I should do.  He called our insurance rep, who got on the phone with the company, and said a few choice words with them.  The insurance company decided to pay for the repair on my car at the dealership, and I had some money leftover afterwards that I used to buy a TV for my dorm room.  By the way, it cost $600 to fix my car, and 50 cents to fix the Lincoln.
 For a long time after that experience, I was very nervous driving in the rain, and I tried to avoid it as much as possible.  My car was never the same after that accident. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016


 Around February 1977, a new mall was being built in Ft. Worth called Hulen Mall.  An upscale department store was going to open in that mall called Sanger-Harris.  I needed a part-time job to help pay for seminary, so I went out there to see if I could get a job.  The fact that I had retail experience made me a good fit for the store, and I was hired to work 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday. 
 Sanger-Harris was just a step down from Neiman-Marcus.  The store had a lot of expensive things, and then merchandise that regular people could afford, too.  I was hired to work in the Home area, and specifically Books and Records.  I also sold Stationery, Luggage, Toys, Sporting Goods, Candy, and Fabrics.  Everything about the store was great. We even had celebrities come to the store to make personal appearances.  George Hamilton.  James Beard.  Playboy playmate Hope Olsson.  Just to name a few.  On Saturdays, someone would play the grand piano in the center of the store, or we would have a choir come in.  It was a classy place.
 My fellow employees were also very nice people--Mrs. Miller, Gert, Ron, Don, Charles, Maria, and Kare were my favorites.  I just had the best time working there, and it was really fun.  I even would stay after it was my time to get off.  I would clock out and continue working.  I came in on my days off to work.  My supervisors would have to make me leave and sometimes drag me out of the door.  I just couldn't stay away. 
 In the Book Department, we would have authors come in for book signings.  One Christmas, I was able to give my family autographed books from famous authors.  Our Record Department was rather unique.  Due to our employees (me included), we sold more records than any other department store in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, and our Record Department was in the top three record stores in sales in Ft. Worth.  That was a huge accomplishment.  We sold albums, 8-tracks, and cassettes.  I already knew the rock artists, but I had to learn about country music.  Especially Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys.  They were are number one best seller.  I then started to listen to everything.  Once, I had a customer come in and ask me for the record with a train whistle in it.  I knew that was Willie Nelson, so I got good at identifying songs.  We also got the best display items for the department, because of our high sales.  One in particular was a life-size Steve Martin standee.  It promoted two of his comedy albums.  When the promotion was over, I took the standee.  My distributor was not happy, but I got it anyway.  I still have it, and I think it is the only one in existence.  I also got some promo albums and tapes from working there, and one was of David Bowie.  I really loved his music, even though I had never heard him before. 
 I worked at Sangers for almost 3 years, even going full-time after graduating from seminary.  I stayed in Ft. Worth an extra year to be with my friends.  So much more to talk about that store, and I will in future stories. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Food Poisoning

 It was the 4th of July weekend in 1976.  Everyone was geared up for the Bicentennial.  On that Friday, I ate in the seminary cafeteria.  For dessert, I had pineapple upside down cake.  A few hours later, I started to feel a little queasy, so I went to the 3rd floor bathroom in the dorm.  Most of the dorm's residents had left for the holiday weekend.  I had nausea.
 I don't want to sound too gross here, but just to say I stayed in the bathroom all night.  I had food poisoning, probably from the eggs in the cake.  I was the sickest I had ever been.  I couldn't keep anything down.  That Saturday morning, I mustered up enough energy to walk from the dorm to the infirmary and found it was closed for the holiday.  I suppose anyone reading this would wonder why I didn't go to the emergency room of a hospital.  I don't know why other than I was so sick I couldn't think straight.  I spent all day Saturday in the bathroom until I passed out from lack of sleep and energy.  Sunday was the 4th of July, and I had made it a point to go to church.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and got to church.  I was so weak that I could barely stand up.  I had to pull myself up from the pew just to stand.  After church, I went back to the dorm and continued being sick.
 Now came Monday.  There were no classes on Monday.  I proved to myself that I could drive in the condition I was in, so I drove over to the mall to get to a drug store.  I bought a bottle of Pepto Bismol and went out to my car.  I sat in my car and drank the entire bottle in the parking lot.  Now, I do not suggest that someone do this for food poisoning, but it worked for me.  I was able to eat some crackers and drink some soda.  I got back to some normality and was able to go back to class the next day.  I have a very high metabolism, and I have a hard time putting on weight.  Until 2008, I weighed the same thing I weighed in 8th grade, which was 115 lbs. (I weigh more now)  I am not suggesting than someone who wants to lose weight should try food poisoning.  It is not fun.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


 Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) was where I chose to get my Master's Degree, so that I could teach Theatre at Anderson College.  That was my plan.  That was my goal.  The school was in Ft. Worth, Texas.  I arrived there around May 20th to begin my studies, which started that summer school.  This was the same school where my parents met some 40 years before and fell in love.  I had something of an advantage, because most of the teachers and staff knew my father and many were his old friends.  I had known many of them too growing up.  It was the perfect place to attend.
 One of the things I had to learn very fast was the Mexican cuisine.  No Del Taco.  This was the real thing.  A friend of mine, also from South Carolina, went to a nearby Jack-in-the-Box and wanted a pickle.  He got a jalapeno pepper, not knowing what it was, and his mouth burned for days.  It may sound strange, but one of the things we were told in orientation was to never make fun of the Hispanic people.  Like not to yell out "Immigration" in a crowded theatre.  That would have the same reaction as yelling out "Fire".  You would have a stampede. 
 The seminary environment was special.  When seeing me coming down the sidewalk, another male would address me as "brother".  It was strange at first, but I got used to it eventually.  For single students that wanted to live on campus, there was Ft. Worth Hall for the men and Barnard Hall for the women.  I lived in room 235 in Ft. Worth Hall.  It was a single room with paint peeling off of the walls.  I had two closets, a desk, and a sink.  The bathroom and showers were down the hall.  I brought several posters with me, which adorned my walls.  We had an open house, and my dorm room was picked as the coolest in the dorm because of all of the posters. 
 I wanted to study to teach Christian Theatre, but there was not a major in that, so I helped them develop a course load for that, and I was the first Communications major at that school.  My main teacher was Paula Brooks, who was the mother of the later PGA golfer Mark Brooks.  More on him later.  Paula and I put together a major using Public Speaking, Acting, TV & Radio, and other courses.  I also took courses in Education and Psychology.  The teachers would talk about church work, and I would mentally substitute the word "church" with "college".  I also had to take some Bible courses, and a couple of music courses.  The Bible courses were very hard.  I wasn't much for learning the Greek word for anything in the Bible, but I muddled through it.  In one of the music courses, I learned to direct a choir and how to pick out notes on a piano.  If you give me a sheet of music now and about an hour, I might be able to play the melody, but it would just be with one finger. 
 All of this story is just an introduction to the seminary.  There will be much more later.  Some good and some really bad.  How bad?  I guess that would be open to interpretation, but it was really bad to me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The New Adventure

 As written earlier, my goal in life after graduating from college was to get my Master's degree so that I could teach Theatre at Anderson College or some other Christian school.  In order to do that, I decided on going to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.  Why not go to a university that had an MFA program?  Both of my parents went there, and I was a legacy.  Also, I felt that God was calling me there.
 I saved up my money from working at Belk, and I got a car.  It got to be May, 1976.  I quit my job at Belk, even though they wanted me to stay.  I loaded up my car with my records, stereo, clothes, and started my journey to Ft. Worth.  I had a map from AAA of the optimum route.  It was a little over 1000 miles to get there.  My car had a radio, but I brought along an 8-track tape player that ran on batteries.  I had to replace them each day on my trip, because the player ate the batteries. 
 I was not in any hurry to get out there, as this was the first trip that I would drive by myself for a long distance, so I decided to break it up.  I left Columbia with the love of my parents and drove as far as Selma, AL.  I actually wanted to stop in Montgomery at a motel, but I got in the wrong lane on the bypass and found myself on the road to Selma.  I had not been there since 1968, when my parents and I were on our way to Houston, TX.  I remembered we stopped at a restaurant and heard that Otis Redding had died.  I found a motel on the outskirts of town to stop for the night.  The motel had in-room movies playing on the TV.  I had never seen that before.  That was cool.  I stayed there on subsequent trips.
 My back hurt from all of that driving, but I got up the next morning and continued my journey.  When I got to Mississippi, I found that I-20 was a little different.  There were flowers along the highway, and the color of the asphalt changed in increments.  I figured it was their way of keeping one from falling asleep with the monotony on the road.  I think more states should do that.  I drove across the state, and my back was killing me, so I stopped in Vicksburg for the next night.  My motel was near the Civil War battlefield, so I had a relaxing time walking around there, and being near the river.  Old Man River.  The mighty Mississip. 
 The next day, I got up more rested to continue on.  I drove through my home state of Louisiana on my way to Texas.  I got to Shreveport and noticed something quite weird.  There were lush forests on the Louisiana side, but crossing over into Texas was quite different.  There were no lush forests.  There was flat land with no trees except for shrubs.  It was as though I had gone into another world.  I had.  I drove on a very boring stretch of I-20 that didn't want to seem to end.  Mile after mile of nothing.  I finally had to stop.  I saw a sign that said Tyler and motels, so I exited the highway and drove some more, before finding Tyler, TX.  I stopped for the night at a Ramada.  Apparently, there was some festival in town, so the only room they had was under the bandstand of their ballroom.  All I wanted was a bed.  I took it, but I didn't get much sleep that night.
 I got up the next morning and headed onto Ft. Worth.  When I got to Dallas, I had Janis Joplin blaring on the tape player.  There was a bridge that curved over a highway.  I was looking at the skyline and jamming to the music, and I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.  I almost crashed off of the bridge along the curve.  That woke me up.  I finally got to Ft. Worth and the seminary. 
 After unpacking, I wanted to go downtown to check out the city.  I saw a crowd standing on the street, so I wanted to see what was going on.  The crowd was standing across from a bank, and there were a lot of policemen around there.  It looked like there had been a robbery.  Then, I found out what was really going on.  A man had walked into the bank with a shotgun.  He killed his girlfriend, who was a teller.  He then shot himself in the head with the gun.  His body was lying on the floor of the bank with a sheet over it, and a blood spot where his head had been.  The tourist folders never talked about crime in Ft. Worth.  My first day was welcomed to this sight.  Welcome to Ft. Worth.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Arrest

 I was working at Belk downtown one Saturday.  I had parked off of Assembly Street.  When I got out of work to head home, I went to my car and started driving on Washington Street heading toward Sumter.  When I got to the corner of Washington and Sumter, the light turned red.  On one side of the corner was the old Richland County courthouse.  On the opposite side was a parking lot.  As was my custom, when I stopped at a light, I would look in my rear view mirror to see if anyone was behind me.  I looked, and there was a two-door car, maybe a Firebird, behind me with two men in the car. 
 All of a sudden, several police officers rushed the car behind me.  Some had pistols and others had shotguns.  Some wore plain clothes and others had uniforms.  I watched in shock as these officers pointed their guns at the two men and ordered them not to move.  I was asking myself what I should do.  It was obvious that the police had used my car and me to block the men from escaping.  They had also controlled the traffic light, which was still red.  On the other hand, if there was going to be any shooting, I didn't want to get caught in the crossfire, so I had to make a decision.  If I got out of the way of the situation, I would be breaking the law by running the red light.  So, I waited until I felt that the situation was stable.  I then turned right from the left lane through the red light and went around the block.  I wanted to see this takedown, but not be in it.
 I rode around the block.  It took no more than three minutes to get around the block, even though I was still shaking from what I had seen.  When I got around the block, the car was gone.  The police had loaded the car into a trailer.  The two men were gone, along with all of the police.  Everything was back to normal.  There was an article in the paper the next day about a big-time drug arrest that had taken place the day before, and I guess that it what I witnessed.  The arrest was very well coordinated.  Some people may say that it could have been a movie being filmed.  There were no cameras.  This was real. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

My First Car

 As I wrote earlier, I was working full-time at Belk, after getting out of college, so that I could get a car and afford my graduate school.  I know that some people get their first car while in high school, but my parents could not handle that financially.  I had to wait. 
 My Mother let me drive her car.  At first, it was a 1956 Dodge.  It was black and white with fins.  I learned to drive with that car.  It had push buttons on the dash, and the steering wheel was as big as a bus.  She then got a 1967 Plymouth Valiant, which would be her car for the rest of her driving life.  It was a good car.  Years later, she would get offers from mechanics to buy the car from her, as it had become an antique. 
 I worked hard to be able to afford my first real car.  My father and I went shopping for my car at Dick Smith Datsun, and I found the perfect car.  It was a 1973 Ford Maverick with low miles.  It was an olive green.  I remember my father asking the salesman if he would let his son or daughter drive this car to Texas and back.  He said yes, so I bought it.  It cost $2000 used.  It had bench seats, automatic transmission (a must), and a radio.  It was a two-door sedan.  I loved it.  I had a friend who had a Maverick, and she liked hers, so I knew this was the car for me.  I had that car for the time I was out in Texas.  I will talk about that more later.  Needless to say, I didn't have to borrow my Mother's car anymore, which was a good thing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


 I was walking downtown during my lunch hour in the Spring of 1976 and happened on a record store across from USC.  It was just a hole in the wall, and it was easy to miss.  I went inside and my life changed again.
 As I have written before, I love music.  Especially The Beatles.  I love going to concerts.  By this time, I had seen Elton John, The Carpenters, Canned Heat, Goose Creek Symphony, Climax, Lester Flatt, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Mountain, Gene Cotton, and more.  For me, live music was the best.  Most of the songs were longer than were on record.  So, when I walked into this record store called Tunes and Things.  I found a new avenue to enjoy live shows--bootlegs.
 I really didn't know what bootlegs were.  They were secret recordings of shows or unauthorized releases.  I bought two records that day.  One was a concert by Elton John, and the other was BBC radio songs of The Beatles.  The quality wasn't the best, but it was something not everyone had. 
 This discovery started me on a quest to find more of these rare albums.  I bought a bunch.  I had a huge selection of bootleg Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and many more.  I also found that there were collectors from around the world who had stuff too, so I began trading cassette and videotapes with them.  At one point, I had the second largest Beatle video collection in the world.  It was documented as such.  Years later, Desmond Morris found out that I had a TV show featuring him and John Lennon.  He wanted a copy.  I sent it to him in London, and he sent me several of his books, which he autographed for me. 
 Record Collecting became a serious hobby for me.  At one point, my records alone were valued over $100,000.  I have since sold a lot of them, but I still have a few things.  Check out eBay for "wdurst".  You may find something there.  I branched out to other collectibles including books, posters, autographs, and memorabilia.  I always have wanted to open a store in town, but have never been able to for financial reasons.  Maybe one day.  If Oprah would send me the $50,000 I asked for several years ago...  And just to be clear, I don't sell bootlegs.  That would be illegal.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Job Offer

 One day, as I was working at Belk, an old friend of mine from Bankers Trust came into the store.  He asked me to come to see him during my lunch hour.  His office was only three blocks up Main Street.  When I got to his office, he laid out a job proposal to me.  Their operations office was out on Rivermont Rd. near the zoo.  They wanted me to oversee the computer operations for the bank.  In 1975, computers were very big and took up an entire floor.  He told me that he knew I was very smart and could do the job easily.  I asked him what floor housed the computer, and he said it was in the basement.  Strange as it may seem, I wanted to have a job where there was a window, so that I could see outside.  The basement had no windows.  I turned down his offer.  In looking back on this decision, I would have been on the ground floor (no pun intended) of computers, and I would probably be a millionaire now had I taken the job.  One of those regrets in life that I really don't regret.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Belk FT

 When I graduated from college, I was going to go to graduate school to get my Master's so that I could teach Theatre in a Christian school.  I had been promised that I could come back to Anderson College to teach.  The Academic Dean had made that promise to me.  He said that all I needed to do was to get a graduate degree, so that was my goal.  I decided to go to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX to get that degree.  It was the same school where my father and mother had gone, which would make me a legacy, but I needed a car to get there, as well as money to live there, so I took a job at Belk.
 The Belk Department Store was in downtown Columbia on Main St.  It had been there since the 1930's.  Everyone knew Belk.  In the 1990's, it was torn down and the Columbia Art Museum and a bank sit there now.  When Belk was there, they had big display windows, and three floors of merchandise.  I got a full-time job there selling Books and Luggage.  I loved books, but I didn't know much about luggage, except for what I owned.  So, I began to learn about the subject.
 Selling the books was easy.  I learned that Romance Novels sold the best to women.  They just ate that stuff up.  I also learned that I had a knack for displaying books.  One of the books that we got was one by Billy Graham.  Our display person wanted us to show it as a mountain with a peak at the top.  I thought differently.  After having the mountain, and it wasn't selling, I changed the display by making the books to form a cross on the table.  It sold like hotcakes.  It was all about how to present it, and the display people let me do my thing after that.
 Luggage was a little different.  You had to display that by size (big to small).  So, I got the bright idea to put the most colorful luggage on the front to attract attention.  It worked. 
 There were a few perks to working in that area.  About every month, we had a recall of some books by the manufacturers.  Mostly paperbacks.  You didn't have to return the whole book, but rather tear off the covers and send them back for credit.  We were supposed to throw away the books, after we tore off the covers, but I kept a few for myself.  At one point, about a third of the books in my collection were missing covers.  Of course, some of my co-workers got what they wanted, mostly Romance Novels.  Another perk was that my supervisor gave me the opportunity to work with vendors about what to buy for my department, especially Luggage.
 We had two stockrooms that used to be window displays that had been sealed up.  They weren't very big.  I really didn't have much of a concept as to how big Luggage boxes would be.  American Tourister and Samsonite each had big sales twice a year.  I talked to the rep and ordered 200 assorted pieces of each.  When the boxes came, I had to put them into the stockrooms.  It was quite a challenge.  But, we sold all of the bags, and I found I had a knack for selling Luggage.  That came in handy later in life.  American Tourister had a color they called "Plum", but it was really purple.  It was hideous, but that color was our best seller.  Belk and an independent luggage store were the only two stores that really had any selection in Luggage.  We blew them out of the water. 
 I also learned a lot about customers.  One man came in the store one Saturday who looked like Jed Clampett.  He was dirty.  He told me that he wanted something nice for his wife.  I went to the cheap stuff, and he pulled out a wad of cash and bought the most expensive piece we had.  It turned out that he was a farmer and had been to the market and sold all of his produce.  I learned never to judge one by what they were wearing.  Another man came in one day and picked up an attache case and started walking toward the door without paying.  I stopped him in the Men's Department and asked him what he was doing.  He looked at me, and asked what I was talking about.  I pointed to the bag, and he gave it back to me.  It turned out he had dementia, and didn't know what he was doing.  I also had interesting customers.  One man came in and told me that he was Elvis Presley's sergeant in Germany, and he showed me pictures of the two of them. 
 I had two girls, who worked with me part-time.  Their names were Gail and BJ.  They were both high school students.  Gail was a very hard worker.  BJ wasn't as much, but I began a friendship with BJ that lasted 20 years.  I will write about her more later.
 I stayed with Belk for a year, until it was time to move to Ft. Worth.  They were sorry to see me go, because I had created a lot of sales for them, but it was time.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


 When I graduated from Anderson College, I was all-everything.  I had gotten several awards and honors.  It wasn't quite the same at PC.  Yes, I was quite successful in the Theatre area.  Yes, I was quite known in the student government area.  Yes, I was quite read with my columns in the school newspaper.  But, not everything was quite good.
 As I wrote before, I had to change faculty advisors between my junior and senior year, because my first advisor went on sabbatical, and my second advisor was just not really interested in that role.  I guess I trusted him too much, because I didn't keep up with the hours I needed to graduate.  I was too busy partying to keep up with such things.
 About a week before graduation, I got a message to come see the registrar.  She had been going over my file and found that I was three hours short from the needed hours to graduate.  I needed a class in Art.  I had already taken Sculpture, which I thought was enough, but apparently I needed something like Art History, too.  The Registrar told me that the Administration didn't want me to hang around for another semester, so she gave me a paper to sign.  PC would let me graduate 3 hours short, if I didn't tell anyone.  So, I signed the paper, and the Registrar signed the paper.  She gave me a copy, and she kept a copy.  I could graduate.
 So, what did I do as my final dig at the Administration?  I walked over to the student newspaper office, and told my friend, the editor, what had just transpired.  The last issue of the paper came out with the headline:  "Registrar Makes Deal With Student".  The Administration hated me for this jab, but there was nothing they could do.  They had signed the paper. 
 When graduation day came, I was waiting to file into the auditorium and standing next to the newspaper editor.  My best friend.  We had gotten a copy of the program and were looking for our names.  We didn't see them.  Panic set in.  Did the Administration decide not to honor their deal?  Was the editor being punished for publishing the deal in the paper?  What were we going to do?  How would I explain it to my parents and grandmother who had come to the graduation?  There were several minutes of various emotions, and then we realized that we were looking at the Bachelor of Science page, and we were both graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  One more page over, and there were our names.  How do you spell relief?  G-R-A-D-U-A-T-E. 
 I think the speaker that day was the Secretary of Commerce, who had been a PC graduate several years before.  I have no idea what he spoke about, but I guess it had something to do with going out and making a name for yourself.  Either that or good luck.
 I never told my parents or grandmother about my near-death experience that morning.  We just went to the park to have my picture taken with my sculpture (The Monster).  I was a college graduate.  The world was my oyster.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Lost Weekend

 If you have read any of my previous posts, you will see that I loved to make phony phone calls.  You also have to remember that these were before Caller ID, so the person on the other end might have to accept that the call was legit. 
 There were a few dorm rooms that had phones.  These phones were paid for by those who lived in the rooms, so not everybody had a phone.  On the weekend after the final exams and before graduation, most of the guys in the dorms had left for the weekend.  Nothing was going on at campus.  Everything was pretty much shut down.  About the only things opened were the dorms and the library.  So, what do you get when you mix liquor, 4 guys, 3 days, and a phone?  Trouble.
 We went looking for a room, which was unlocked and had a phone.  We found one.  The occupants had gone home for the weekend.  So, Friday night was when we started.  It ended on Sunday.  We went on constantly calling everywhere.  While 2 guys were calling, 2 other guys were sleeping.  One of our group spoke fluent French, and he called the Sorbonne in Paris to register for classes.  We called China to ask to speak to the Leader of the Country.  We didn't get through, but we did talk to some folks in Vietnam.  In my British accent, I called the Israeli Embassy and told them that the British government didn't like their citizens being mistreated in Israel, and if they didn't stop, that meant war between Great Britain and Israel.  I got as far as the ambassador's secretary, before I hung up.  We also did some domestic pranks.  We found that if you call the local numbers for hotels, instead of the 800 numbers, that they will believe you more.  So, we called hotels in Honolulu to book their ballrooms for wedding receptions. 
 Now, I should say here that I do not condone our actions, nor do I suggest how one can make phony phone calls.  This is just a story what we did in 1975. 
 There are many calls that we made, which I don't remember, because I was drunk.  We even went to the school library and got pages out of phone books to call them.  I do remember just calling people at random and to ask them what the weather was like where they were. 
 While one of the pranksters and I were standing in line for graduation practice the following weekend, the guy whose phone we used came up to us in a panic.  He said that the school wasn't going to let him graduate until he paid his phone bill.  He said the bill was $1500, and it came in a box.  We looked shocked, and didn't tell him it was us.  We just told him that if he could prove he wasn't at school, when these calls were made, then he wouldn't have to pay them.  He said his father was going to kill him.  He kept rambling about not knowing anyone in Paris or Vietnam.  I hope his father didn't kill him.  Sorry, guy.  Oh, and thankfully Britain and Israel didn't go to war.  But, one of our guys did get registered for the Sorbonne, but he never made it to class.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Going to the Movies

 As you probably know by now, I love the movies.  From an early age, I have had a love for the movies.  Now, you have to keep in mind that videos didn't come out until I was in my 20's, so I had to go to a theatre to see a movie back in the day.
 When I was in Anderson, they had at least three movie theatres in town, not to mention drive-ins.  I saw just about every movie that came to town.  I even went to a drive-in a couple of times.  I saw all kinds of movies, but my favorites were the ones with action and people getting shot or beat up.  So, when I went to PC, I found that Clinton only had one movie theatre, which wasn't going to be enough for my movie fix.  Besides, the theatre in Clinton showed only G and PG films.  They liked to pride themselves on being the only theatre in the Southeast to not show R rated films.  Most of those films had people getting shot or beat up.
 Laurens was only 8 miles away from Clinton, and they had two movie theatres.  The downtown one showed a lot of movies to my liking, including karate movies.  So, I would take the bus over to Laurens to go to the movies.  The other theatre there showed more eclectic movies, so they were a nice change to the "B" movies that were in the downtown theatre.  One night, I had gone to see a karate movie, which got out late, and I missed the last bus back to Clinton.  So, I decided to walk back to school.  It was only 8 miles.  It was dark, and I got to an intersection that I thought would take me toward Clinton.  I kept walking a couple of miles and saw a sign to Greenwood.  I was going in the wrong direction.  8 miles was turning into 12 miles, because I had to double back.  When I finally got on the right road, I was trying to avoid cars hitting me.  Now, it was close to midnight.  I was about a mile out of town, when a car stopped and asked if I wanted a ride.  I said yes and got into this souped-up car.  He took me back to school.  My feet ached for days.
 I got the bright idea of borrowing a bicycle to ride to Laurens, since I didn't want to miss another bus.  I also got a map of the county to look for a back road to Laurens.  I found this farm road that was a straight shot, so I set out on that road.  I had gotten a little ways down it through farmland, when some wild dogs attacked me.  I tried to shoo them away, but they were more interested in me.  I turned around and went back to Clinton, and they gave up chasing me, so I never got to bike to Laurens.
 Greenville and Spartanburg were about 40 miles away, and they had lots more theatres.  There was a girl in school named Susan, and she had a car.  I told her that I had a doctor's appointment in Greenville for my bad knees, so she let me borrow her car.  I drove to Greenville and went to the movies.  I didn't have a doctor's appointment.  In fact, I didn't know any doctors in Greenville.  She was kind of gullible.  I then found excuses to go to drive-ins up there, because the appointment ran long, and it got dark, so I would return her car later.  She finally caught on to my ruse, and she cut off the car from me.  So, I went back to the movies in Clinton.  G and PG.  Very little killing and getting beat up.  Ugh.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Vault

 My summer job in 1974 was working at Bankers Trust in Columbia.  I had worked there during the summer of 1972 in the parking lot, but I got upgraded to an inside job in the vault, which was located in the basement of the bank..  My official title was "Assistant Vault Comptroller", but that just meant that I had to watch the vault when the Comptroller was away.  My duties were pretty mundane.  I rolled the coins with a machine that kept breaking down.  Twice a day, we had to balance the vault with the money inside.  Also, I had to open the vault for those folks needing to look at their safety deposit boxes, or those from the Trust Department needing to look at some stock certificates.  I also had to take money up to the tellers, or remove money from their drawers, if it got too much.  My last duty was to change the film in the cameras that watched the bank lobby.
 One thing about the vault was that there was no AC, and it got stuffy down there, so I took advantage of any opportunity to go upstairs and get some fresh air.  Another thing about the vault was that there was a lot of down time, so I read books and listened to a cassette player they allowed me to bring.  I was able to keep any weird coins I found like foreign money, as long as I replaced them with good coins.
 A cool thing about the work was that I got two hours off for lunch, because the bank was closed between 1 and 3.  There was a movie theatre nearby, and I would go to see the movies during lunch.  Most of the time, I would get in during the middle of the picture, so I would have to wait until the next showing to see the beginning of the movie to figure out what was going on. 
 I spent the first two weeks there trying to figure out how to rob the bank and get away with it.  Since the vault was audited twice a day, that meant that it would have to be done quickly.  I figured that 10 men with shotguns could do it, but then they would have to rush to the airport and get a flight out of the country.  Since Columbia didn't have any international flights, that would make it more difficult.  I gave up on that idea.
 Another job I had was to carry large checks from one bank to another.  The checks couldn't be cashed by just anybody, as most of them were State checks, but I often times would walk down the street with millions of dollars in my pocket, and no one knew.  I also became insensitive to money.  I once was walking down the street, when I saw $10 on the sidewalk.  I walked over it.  A guy next to me picked it up and asked why I didn't.  I told him that it wasn't my money.  That philosophy worked well later for me, when I worked in retail.
 As one of my jobs was changing the film, I had to do it in the dark in a closet.  This was before videotape, so the film was 8mm film, which could not be exposed to light.  I had a hard time doing this, so I would crack the door just a little to see.  By doing this, I exposed the film and ruined it.  I'm glad we weren't robbed during my tenure there, because the film would not have been much use.
 Toward the end of the summer, we were moving our bank two blocks away to a larger building.  One of my duties was to prepare the files to move.  Wells Fargo came to take the files and stock certificates to the bank, and I was responsible for seeing they got to the truck.  It was only a few feet from the front door of the bank to the truck, but I had to make sure they got out okay.  Another joy I had was to haul a safe to the new bank.  The safe was only about 4 ft. tall, but it was made of steel and iron.  They gave me a hand truck to do this job.  When I got to the corner, I had to take a running start to be able to cross the street, and pray cars would stop.  Thankfully, they did.  It was very heavy.
 The offices were cleared out.  One man and I were charged with going through all of the offices and make sure everything had been taken.  We got to an office that had a phone still hooked up, so I decided to try a prank.  I had the phone number to The White House in Washington, and I called.  I told them that I was with Strom Thurmond's office in Columbia and wanted to get an appointment with the President (Ford).  I was transferred to several secretaries, until I got the Congressional Appointments secretary.  She asked me why Thurmond wanted an appointment with Ford, since the two of them were traveling that day together to Chicago.  I made up an excuse that the Columbia office can't coordinate Thurmond's schedule with his Washington office.  I didn't know that they were tracing the call.  I got scared and hung up.  A few mins. later, my co-worker came into the room I had been in, and the phone rang.  He picked it up and said, "This ain't Strom Thurmond's office.  This is a bank."  I was afraid I was going to get arrested, but I was thankful that was my last day working for the bank.  I never talked to the Secret Service about that.  I hope the statute of limitations has run out on prank calls to The White House.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


 I had a lot of encounters with famous people at PC.  Most were brought in as lecturers, but some were artists.  The artists included the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lester Flatt, Mac Wiseman, and Uncle John's Band.  The lecturers included Alex Haley, Reg Murphy, Edna Rostow, and James Dickey. 
 Alex Haley had just published "Roots".  He was a little stuck-up but interesting to talk to.  Reg Murphy was the publisher of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper and had been kidnapped at one point.  He was easy to talk to.  I guess he liked talking with anybody after his ordeal.  Edna Rostow was a trip.  She and her husband were influential in American foreign policy during the 60's.  She came to one of our convocations, and was supposed to only speak 30 minutes.  Apparently, she had forgotten her watch, because 30 minutes went to an hour, and an hour went to 90 minutes.  During her rambling, some of the students in the audience developed coughing fits to try and get her to stop speaking.  Then, there was a contest by some students to see who could win in drink can races by rolling the cans down the auditorium and through the seats.  She kept on talking.  Some students pulled out books and started to read them.  After about 90 minutes, she stopped and said "Well, I guess I've talked long enough."  She got a rousing cheer and a standing ovation.  She thought it was for her.  We were just glad it was over. 
 James Dickey came to our Modern Poetry class for a lecture.  He was pretty famous for "Deliverance", as well as for all of his poetry.  I got to sit next to him at lunch, because I had known him from when I was in high school, and my senior English teacher was a good friend of his, and she introduced me to him.  He knew I wrote poetry, and he gave me some great advice on the subject.  Jim had been drinking that morning, which he did a lot of in those days, and his breath knocked me over at lunch.  I ran into him again, when I lived in Ft. Worth, as he spoke at TCU.  We caught up on old times.  I later went to his memorial at USC after he died.  I miss Jim.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


 I went to PC to study serious Drama work.  In between my Junior and Senior years, my Drama professor went on sabbatical, and the school brought in a temporary teacher named Skelley  Warren.  Skelley was really more into the technical aspects of the Theatre like Lights, Sounds, Sets, etc.  His expertise in directing actors was a bit different, but I learned a lot from him.  One thing was that he would stand on my left during rehearsals and yell things into my ear to try and break my concentration.  Some people couldn't do it, but I was pretty good in ignoring him.  It taught me a lot about how to focus. 
 In the Spring of 1975, it was announced that we would be doing a musical.  The Theatre Dept. was to combine with the Music Dept. to do this musical.  Even the Art Dept. was going to contribute to the production.  The idea didn't sit well with us serious actors, but we had to go along with it.  It was also announced that they would have open auditions for anyone on campus who wanted to participate.  We all thought that the key roles would be done by the acting students, and any crowd scenes would be done by other students.  The musical chosen was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum".  It had a large cast.
 So, the auditions were held in the school auditorium on campus, where we would do the play.  I was up for the part of one of the leads, who was a slave.  It was the same role played by Zero Mostel in the movie.  During my audition, I was to be called by my master, and I got the bright idea to wear knee pads under my pants and come in sliding on stage on my knees from 10 feet away from the master.  The first time that I did it was well received by the others there, since no one knew what I was going to do.  Everybody laughed.  The idea came to me, and it wasn't in the script.  So, they asked me to do it again.  This time, I got up more speed backstage and then slid further on my knees.  They loved it.  Just to see how I would do in another part, I auditioned for the role of the old father, which was played by Buster Keaton in the movie.  I just half-heartily did that audition, because I knew I had the slave role sown up.  When the announcement of the roles came out, I got the old man named Erronius, and a guy with no experience got the lead slave role.  I was not pleased.  After all, I was a Theatre major.  I was in the Drama fraternity.  I had been told I had a lot of talent.  And, I got cast in a supporting role.  As it turned out, most of the real actors had supporting roles.  That didn't sit too well with us either.
 During rehearsals, we had to do it in sections, because the cast was so big.  Skelley's wife was into Yoga, so she was in charge of getting us to exercise and get into shape for this musical.  There was a lot of physical stuff that we had to do.  She taught us that doing exercise would help us be loose for our work.  One of the hardest exercises was to lay on your back and try to get your legs to bend over your head, so that your toes touched the floor behind you.  Some were better than others with this feat, and I was about to go about 3/4 of the way.  She also had us roll our shoulders, and dance around.  There was some dancing that we had to do in the musical, so she taught us the steps.  Most of us didn't have much coordination, but we learned.  We also got some vocal coaching from the Music Dept., since we had to sing in front of the audience.  Thankfully, I only had to do a brief solo in the opening number, and the rest was choral work.
 When we go to the performances, it was pretty tight.  The main slave took the business that I had done in auditions of sliding across the stage.  The audience howled.  It was my idea.  They doused me with baby powder to make it look like dust, because I had to run around the 7 hills of Rome, and I ran through the stage at very strange times during the play.  The powder caused breathing problems for me, and it made it very slippery backstage.  One actor slipped and fell backstage and hurt his knee.  He carried on, because he was a trooper.  During a dress rehearsal, they brought it some students from a special needs school to see the play.  They laughed at everything, even the stuff that wasn't funny.  We knew where the laughs should be, but we were able to use that experience to expect the unexpected.
 Our reviews were nothing short than amazing.  One told me that she had seen the musical on Broadway, and ours was better.  We took numerous curtain calls.  It was a great success.  It may not have been a serious work.  We had an orchestra that did good.  All of the actors, even those with little or no experience, did well.  It was the hardest I had ever worked on a production, and it paid off.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ivey Towers (part 2)

 As I wrote previously, the PC Dean of Students and I didn't get along.  Dean Ivey wanted everything to be the status quo, and I wanted to shake things up.  He had a dog, which was a beautiful brown Labrador.  One afternoon, I was walking across the campus, and his dog began to follow me.  They say that dogs are very instinctive as to who likes them, and I petted his dog.  The Lab followed me into my dorm and started up the four flights to my room.  I had to tell the dog that he couldn't come with me, and the dog looked puzzled.  Apparently, I was more of a friend to him than his master.  Maybe his master didn't show the attention to him, but I did.  I am really not a dog person, but this dog was special.  He belonged to Dean Ivey.  I saw the dog several times after that, and he was always nice to me.
 Dean Ivey had a house along a street across from campus.  It was behind the student building and across the tennis courts.  One night, some friends and I decided to play a trick on Dean Ivey.  We called a tow truck company in Clinton and pretended it was Dean Ivey calling.  The fake Dean said that there was a car parked in his driveway, and he didn't know whose it was, but he wanted it towed away "NOW!".  It was around 2am.  We sat in the bleachers across from the tennis courts and watched what followed.  The tow truck came and hooked up the car to take away.  As he was hauling off the car, Dean Ivey came running out of his house wearing his pajamas, and yelling "Wait, that's my car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  It was very funny.  Dean Ivey got his car back, and as far as I know, he never found out who did it.  It could have been a fraternity prank.  He had more enemies than just me.  My friends and I had the most fun that night.  Ivey is not on Earth any more, so sorry Ben (wherever you are).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Monster

 In order to fulfill my degree in Fine Arts, I had to take courses in music and art.  My Music Appreciation course was awful.  I really didn't care about having to identify classical pieces, so I didn't do very well in that course.  I did get to go to Rock Hill to hear the NY Philharmonic at Winthrop as part of the course, but we were almost killed coming back, when our driver (and professor) fell asleep at the wheel, and we came within inches of crashing into a bridge.
 My art class was Sculpture.  I can't draw worth a lick, so Sculpture seemed to be my only option.  Our class was commissioned by the town of Clinton to come up with sculptures for a park.  They wanted sculptures that would be functional for kids to play on, as well as being somethings that folks could look at and appreciate.  In addition to the artwork, we were also supposed to design playground equipment that would be nice to look at.  So, we got to work.
 I helped design a swing set, which was made out of logs.  It looked kind of rustic.  Then, I had to come up with an idea for a sculpture.  I just couldn't think of anything.  I knew that it had to be something that kids could play on.  I had an idea about that, but how could I make it appealing to the masses?  The teacher was putting pressure on us to come up with ideas.  The time was growing short.  I got frustrated and threw a ball of clay down on my table and stuck a knife through the middle.  The teacher saw it and said that my concept was great.  I thought he was either drunk or high or both, but I went with his critique.  I developed a model of a large ball that sat flat on the ground.  There was a center hole that went through the length of the piece, and a side ledge, which kids could use to climb up on the piece.  It was our assignment to design the sculptures.  The next semester's goal was to build them from our designs.
 So, during the Spring of 1975, my sculpture was built.  They took wood and chicken wire to make the foundation, and then they poured concrete over the top.  Kids could climb on it and slide down through the middle.  It was called "The Monster" because of its size.  It stood a little over six feet tall.  It was also about seven feet wide.  To me, it looked like a big blob of cement, but I guess art is in the eye of the beholder. 
 The Monster stood in that park for several years.  In the mid-1980's, it was dismantled, because some teenagers were spray painting obscenities on the sides.  My swing set has remained, but The Monster is no more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Tornado

 I was sitting in class at PC one morning.  The class was on the 3rd floor of the three-story classroom building.  We were watching a movie.  All of a sudden, the power went off, and we heard a freight train outside the window.  Our teacher told everyone to get on the floor.  He knew what it was.  I didn't. 
 After a short time, (it felt longer than it actually was) the "train" was gone and everyone started getting up off of the floor.  The teacher asked us if we were okay, and everyone said yes.  We slowly walked outside, fearing what we would see.  I looked around and saw the buildings seemed to be okay.  I did see a tree that was next to my dorm was gone.  I went to my dorm room and saw that a tree next to my window was gone.  My room overlooked the football field, and I saw that the tornado had taken out all of the light poles about halfway up.  I realized what had happened.  The tornado had taken the tree on one side of my dorm; skipped over the building; and then taken the tree on the other side of my dorm before going across the field.  If it had gone through my dorm, it would have gone straight through my room.  The tornado also tore through some homes on the other side of the football field, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.  The fact that it happened in the Spring meant that football season was over, so they had time to repair the light poles. 
 It was pretty scary, but we were also thankful that it wasn't worse.  That was the first of three tornadoes that I have been in.  I will write about the other two later.  The fact is that it DOES sound like a freight train.  Three tornadoes in my lifetime are three too many.  I pray that I will never be in a fourth.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


 The quality of our Theatre work at PC spread past the confines of the school.  We were invited to an Alcohol Symposium on Fripp Island attended by educators and people who worked with substance abusers to present the theme of the conference in a dramatic way.  They gave us the theme in advance, and I helped write it.  There were five of us that went to the conference.  Our skit was based on a family dealing with the crisis of young people drinking, and the parents also drinking, but not knowing where the kids got their behavior to drink.  The theme was on alcohol prevention.
 So, we went to this resort on Fripp Island in South Carolina.  We got lost a couple of times going down there, but we made it in time for the Friday night opening.  The conference went from Friday night to Sunday morning.  Our presentation was very well received.  The leader of the conference suggested that we sit in on the discussion groups, because he wanted us to come up with a summary skit of the conference. 
 The main speaker at the conference was a Canadian professor named Wilson Bryan Key.  He taught media at a university in Toronto.  He had written a book called "Subliminal Seduction".  His theory was that advertisers place subliminal things in their ads that make you want to buy the product.  For example, he showed a picture of ice cubes from a drink, and the advertisers and painted in two polar bears mating in the ice.  He said that your brain saw things subconsciously that you didn't realize you were seeing, which would cause you to react in a way that the advertisers wanted you to react without knowing why.  Another example was the $5 bill.  Supposedly, the government etched the word "sex" in Lincoln's beard, which would make you want to like the bill more.  Now, I have to say that much of his theory sounded a bit like paranoia, but some of what he said actually made sense.  You might want to check out the book to see for yourself.
 Anyway, this was a meeting for those people on the front lines of trying to get young people not to drink.  After the conference each night, many of the participants went to the bar at the resort for drinks.  They also bought liquor and drank in their rooms.  These folks would put their trash cans out to be picked up, and they were full of bottles and cans.  It brought to mind the old adage--Do as I say, not as I do.  I know there is a school of thought that one must experience things before they can help others, but this was not so much experiencing the drinking as much as experiencing the hangover the next morning. 
 On Sunday morning, we presented our summary skit for  the conference.  It was basically the same one we did Friday night with a few changes.  The resort was pretty nice.  There were several things that we wanted to take as souvenirs.  Towels, sheets, silverware, candle centerpieces from the restaurant, napkins glasses, whatever wasn't nailed down.  We tried for the TV's, but they were screwed to the wall, and we didn't bring any screwdrivers.  I got two candles, two glasses, a towel, and some silverware.  I had the things wrapped in the towel.  When we got back to PC, I was walking in the dorm with my loot, and I tripped on the step.  I dropped my stuff on the cement floor, and the glasses and one candle broke.  I was able to save one candle and the silverware.  I guess that was my punishment.
 On Monday, our teacher got a call from the resort.  They asked about all the stuff that was missing.  We denied taking anything, but they knew we had stolen the stuff.  PC was not asked back the following year for the conference.  Sorry, guys.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Belk Toys

 You may remember I time when there were downtown department stores.  This was before malls got popular and the downtown area became a ghost town.  So, around Christmas, 1974 I was hired as a stock boy for the Toy Department in our downtown Belk Department Store.  It was just a Christmas job before going back to PC for the Spring semester.
 Officially, my job was to restock the toy shelves during the Christmas rush.  I worked with 2 other people.  Belk sat on the corner of Main and Hampton Streets, which is where the art museum is now along with a bank.  Other stores downtown included Davison's, Penney's, Haltiwanger's, Tapp's, and one or two more.  Belk was the biggest.  It had four floors, although only three were for selling to customers.  The fourth floor had offices, a restaurant, and stock rooms.  Our toy stockroom was on the fourth floor.  Near the back of the stockroom was an opening with a metal slide that connected to the stockroom behind Toys on the third floor.  The concept was to slide the toys from the fourth floor to someone on the third floor to restock the department.  It was a good concept, since the third floor stockroom couldn't hold many toys.  We were told that we couldn't slide down the slide between floors, but we did anyway.  After all, one had to have fun.
 There was a lot of downtime during the day, so I would go out onto the floor and help customers find stuff.  It also got busy, when a sales associate would leave the register to go help someone, so I learned how to run the register, and rang up stuff for other associates.  One in particular--Cathy.  She was nice, and I had a crush on her.  Her sales started going through the roof, because I would ring stuff on her number.  She didn't find out until I was about to leave the job.  My supervisor got mad at me, because I wasn't supposed to ring stuff up, but then I thought that it meant more money for the store, because customers might leave mad because I couldn't help them.  That was the start of my thinking that the customer was the most important part of the equation.  My supervisor wanted me to just stock toys, but there were just so many toys we could put on the fixtures. 
 I would return to Belk after graduation from PC to work a year, while saving money for my next adventure.  I will write about that later, but for now just to say that retail during Christmas is not very fun.  Be kind to those workers.  They are trying to help you, whether you believe it or not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Breaking of Bread Revisited

 As you know, if you have been reading this blog, one of my most successful ventures in Theatre was at Anderson College doing "The Breaking of Bread".  If you don't know, you may want to read about it, but if you are too lazy, this play was a one-act that we did at AC and in surrounding churches.  It was about two soldiers in the Civil War, one Union and one Confederate, encountering one another with wanting to kill each other and then becoming friends.  It is a powerful play, and one we thought was jinxed, because someone got hurt or something went wrong during each performance.
 So, my first directing venture was at Presbyterian College in 1974.  I was required to direct a one-act play, and I chose "The Breaking of Bread".  After all, I was familiar with the piece, and it would be easy to direct it.  I immediately found a problem with it.  The Klan was very apparent in Laurens County at that time.  If I did a Civil War play about two soldiers coming together, there might be problems, so I rewrote the play.  Instead of it taking place during the Civil War, I changed it to World War III.  Instead of two soldiers from the US, I changed them to one from America and the other from England.  Yes, England and America were at war against one another.  And, there had been a nuclear war that had wiped out everyone except these last two guys. 
 Our casting went okay.  I cast a guy from the Theatre Dept. to play the American.  I brought in a guy from outside the department to play the British soldier.  We had a month of rehearsals, and everything was going great.  Then the jinx raised its head.  One afternoon rehearsal, about a week before opening night, the actor playing the British soldier said a line that I thought was funny, so I laughed.  He thought I was laughing at him.  I was laughing at his character.  He got mad and stormed off of the stage.  He said I insulted him.  I tried to coax him back, but he quit.  What was I going to do?  I was going to be graded on this play. 
 The other actor suggested a guy he had seen, who he thought could play the role of the British soldier.  I was desperate, so I saw him, and he was perfect for the role.  I had a flashback to the time I did the lead in "Up the Down Staircase" at Anderson with two days to cram for the role.  This new actor had to do the same thing.  Once again though, one has a great advantage in the Theatre that the audience does not have the scripts in front of them to know if a mistake was made.  Everything went off without a hitch, and the audience liked my play.  One thing about the Theatre that you should know is that the audience sees the finished product.  Thank goodness they don't see the rehearsals.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


 One of my favorite TV shows is "Whose Line is it Anyway?".  It is an improvisation show.  It does not use scripts, and the actors come up with scenes from suggestions that the moderator gives or by those in the audience.  One very successful franchises for improv is Second City.  If you are not familiar with them, they have been around a long time, and many SNL cast members have come from there. 
 In 1974-75 at PC, I was required to direct two productions.  I am going to talk about the second one first. My second was an Improvisational workshop.  Back then, not many people knew about improv.  So, the workshop was part entertainment and part educational.  I assembled some actors from PC who knew how to do improv and we worked a couple of weeks beforehand on some techniques.  We only did one performance for PC.  We had promoted it all over campus, but only a few people showed up, and most of them were Psychology or Theatre students.  We had a good time, though.
 I have been accused of being a trend-setter for one thing or another.  I like to think that I introduced people to something back then who now take the form of Theatre for granted. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Where Did We Go Wrong?

 Toward the end of the Fall semester at PC in 1974, I was cast in the lead role for a play called "Where Did We Go Wrong?"  It was a Christmas-themed play about the 4th Wise Man, and his goal to make money on souvenirs at the birth of Jesus.  He was consumed with the commercialization of Christmas. 
 We didn't have much in the way of props.  One of the funnier moments in the play was when he invents a car, because he hates camels.  We used 4 stools to represent the inside of the car, and much of the action was mimed.  It was hard to work out some stuff like everyone leaning to the left or right when making turns in the car.  The play had a lot of funny moments, but the end was very serious.
 We did a preview performance of the play at our theatre, and then we took it on the road.  We went to 2 churches in Clinton, and both were well received.  We then set out for Atlanta.  Our first performance was at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church.  All went well. 
 Our second performance in Atlanta was at the Druid Hills Presbyterian Church.  As I wrote in an earlier blog, I had been introduced to alcohol at PC.  It had been about a year since my first taste, and now I was a seasoned professional.  Earlier in that day, before the performance that night, I went with some friends to a bar at the top of our hotel in Atlanta.  I drank several Vodka Collins.  If you ever hear a drunk say that they can handle it, don't believe them.  We got to the church, and I could barely stand up.  Thankfully, much of the play required me to sit, so I didn't fall down.  However, one very scary thing happened.  I did all of my lines perfect.  My characterization was great.  My acting was great.  The scary thing came after the play.  People came backstage and told me it was the best performance they had ever seen.  They were comparing me to Olivier and DeNiro.  They were telling me that I was the best actor.  Others in the cast were fawning over me.  I couldn't remember a thing about what I had done on stage.  I had basically performed the lines on auto-pilot.  One of the actors told me that he could tell I was "different", but he couldn't put his finger on what it was.  I was drunk.  Because it was due to vodka, no one smelled it on my breath.  I only wished I could remember how great I was.  Never again did I ever perform either drunk or stoned.  I never wanted to forget that I was good.  That may sound egotistical, but I know I was the best.  I still had a problem with alcohol for years later, but never on stage again.  That one was scary.
 I loved that play.  It is one of my personal favorites of all I have done over the years.  If you can find it, you may want to look into doing it in your church.  Just don't have anyone drink before you do it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blue Hose

 I have seen a lot of movies in my life.  I guess you could say that I am a movie buff.  I haven't seen every movie, but I would estimate that the movies I have seen are in the thousands.  There are some movies that I want to see, but haven't for some reason.  In the Fall of 1974, one of those movies I had not seen was something called "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round".  PC was showing that movie for students one night, and I thought it was a great chance to see it.
 The room was only sparsely filled.  It was me and some football players with their girlfriends.  I wanted to watch the movie.  They came to cut-up.  They had water pistols and some might have been drunk.  They caused such a ruckus that I couldn't hear the film.  I got mad and left.
 As I have talked about before, I had a place in the school newspaper for my letters to the editor.  They were something of a staple for the paper.  When I didn't write using my name, I used a pseudonym.  No one was supposed to know that the fake name was me, except for the editor and asst. editor.  I turned in a letter criticizing the football team and its players.  The letter questioned the IQ of the players.  It was pretty bad.  I used the pseudonym.  It was printed the next week.  The football team at PC was revered.  Not because they won games, because they didn't win many, but because sports was the number-one draw to the school, and they made a lot of money for the school.  No one dared criticize the players or coaches. 
 After the letter was published, the coaches and players wanted to know who wrote it.  The editor said he wasn't going to say.  Apparently, the asst. editor spilled the beans.  The team had a meeting and decided to put a "contract" out on my life.  Word came to me that I could go to class or meals without retribution, but any other time that I was outside, there would be trouble.  And there was.
 One person taped the paper to my dorm room door and set it on fire.  It burned a bit of my door, but someone put the fire out before it got worse.  Someone threw a lit firecracker under my door, while I was sleeping.  It got so bad that I wrote a letter to the security dept., asking them to insure my safety.  They didn't do anything.  I guess they sided with the team.  I also wrote letters to both the administration and the coach in which I denied writing the letter to the editor.  That didn't seem to work either.  So, I left school for a week.
 I went to Greenville and stayed with a couple of friends, hoping all of this would blow over.  I missed two mid-term exams in Shakespeare and Modern Poetry.  I ended up failing both classes.  I came back to school and wrote a letter of apology to the coach.  I admitted that I wrote the letter.  They had another team meeting and called off the "contract", but there was a condition.  I was to attend all home games, and they would assign a seat for me in the stands.  If they didn't see me sitting there, the retribution would start up again.  So, I agreed to the "punishment" of sitting in the stands, and watching PC lose, but it was worth it to get on with my life.  The letters continued after that ordeal, but I was much more careful what I wrote.  Freedom of the Press can be dangerous.  I proved that.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Alpha Psi

 Toward the end of my Junior year at PC, I was invited to join Alpha Psi Omega Honor Dramatic Fraternity.  One had to accrue points from being in or working on plays.  I was already a member of Delta Psi Omega from my work at Anderson College, and those points transferred to PC.  At that time, I was the only person in South Carolina to hold both memberships.  I guess that was a big deal.
 Everyone had heard about the initiation into Alpha Psi.  We heard about the ritual, and how hard it was.  Each person had to memorize a passage from a work by Shakespeare, and it had to do something with the Theatre.  I chose a part of "Hamlet".  I crammed and memorized it, but I have never been a fan of Shakespeare, because his language is very difficult to learn.  They had the initiation at night, and we had to stand outside until our name was called to enter the Black Magic Theatre.  I was sweating bullets, as every candidate was.  We had heard that if we messed up the soliloquy, that we would be rejected. 
 My name was called, and I entered the dark theatre.  There was a small light on the Alpha Psi members seated behind a table.  They made it seem very scary.  Imagine a haunted house.  That was the ambiance.  I was more nervous about something than I had ever been before.  They asked me to perform my passage.  I guess I did okay, but I really don't remember.  I was too scared.  They preyed on your emotion.  After I finished, they all gave critiques.  They were very cruel.  Then the vote came, and I was unanimously voted in.  I found out later that everyone got in that were nominated, and the critiques were all an act. 
 The next year, I got to sit behind that table and do the same thing to those candidates that had been done to me the year before.  After that night of initiation, they put a star beside my name in all of the programs noting that I was a member of Alpha Psi Omega, and I was included on a special page in my Senior yearbook.  It turned out to be a big deal.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ivey Towers

 In between the Theatre and my others classes, I was heavily involved in social change.  It stemmed from my work in the anti-war movement and human rights.  At PC, it was a little easier to do these things, because much of the student body was more liberal than those at Anderson. 
 Our school newspaper was "The Blue Stocking".  It was a play on our school team, which was the "Blue Hose".  It wasn't until much later that I knew what that meant.  The editor of the paper was a friend named Eddie.  He and I shared positions on what needed to be changed at PC.  The list was somewhat long and changed from time to time, but it all centered around the administration and their seemingly lack of caring for the students.  Their philosophy more had to do with money and pleasing the Trustees.  I didn't have a regular column in the paper, but Eddie did give me space for an almost weekly Letter to the Editor spot.  My letters were sometimes angry and sometimes thoughtful.  It got to the point that several students told me that I was the voice that they didn't have before.  Others got tired of my rants.  The administration saw it as a thorn in their side.  Some of my letters dealt with trying to get co-ed visitation in the dorms.  Others were more political in nature about current events.  I know that some students read my letter first before reading anything else in the paper.  I became a fixture for the good (and bad).
 In the Spring of 1974, it became time for those interested in running for president of the student body to sign up.  I was urged to run.  There were five candidates.  Two dropped out early on in the campaign.  The ones left were Millie, Howard and me.  Millie had the backing of the administration.  Howard was much more liberal than me and had the hippie backing.  I had the backing of the jocks, fraternities, and pretty much everyone else.  We all had to make a speech in convocation to introduce ourselves and tell what our platforms were going to be.  Millie spoke on staying the course.  Howard basically promised everything short of having co-ed dorms.  I gave a rousing speech about the evils of the administration.  The Dean of Students was a ex-Army man named Dean Ivey.  He and I were at each others' throats all the time.  I really think he hated me, and I didn't like him.  During my speech, I saw him sitting in the balcony of the auditorium by himself.  I had a line in the speech that the administration sat in "their Ivey..I mean Ivory Towers".  I looked directly at him, and he looked very sternly back at me.  The audience erupted in laughter.  If Dean Ivey had a gun on him, I don't think I would be here today.  His face turned purple.
 So, between our speeches and the election, there was a week to campaign.  It was generally thought that I had the election won.  The night before the voting, Millie called me in my dorm and told me that she was going to drop out.  I deserved to win, she said.  She told me that she was scared, and felt she wasn't qualified, but that I was the most qualified.  I tried to calm her down, but also I thanked her.  She said that if there was a run-off between me and her, she would endorse me.  Neither one of us thought Howard had much of a chance.  The next day, the voting began.  At the end of the day, it was announced that Howard and Millie had the most votes, and there would be a run-off.  I couldn't believe the outcome.  Neither could the other two.  The run-off happened the next day, and Millie won.  Upon further investigation, we heard that I got the most votes the first time, but the administration decided I was not to win.  In the run-off, Howard got the most votes, but he didn't win.  Millie won.  I was given a pretty good position though of being on the Student Affairs Committee, which was comprised of students and faculty as a liaison between the students and the administration.  We discussed the needs of the school and how we could get the Trustees on board with us.  I also had a seat on the Student Assembly representing the independent students (those not in any other groups on campus).  I am actually glad I didn't get the presidency of the student body, as it gave me more time to party, but I continued my letters.  One got me in serious trouble.  More on that later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Birthday Party

 In the Spring of 1974, I was given an acting role with the Black Magic Players at PC.  I had done a couple of behind the scenes jobs on previous plays, but it was now time to shine.  The play was "The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter.  I played a Jewish man named Goldberg, who was not a good guy.  I had to learn to do a Jewish accent, which I think I pulled off. 
 The play was in the round, which meant that one couldn't stand in one spot for very long.  I had to be careful, because I could easily hit someone's foot in the audience sitting on the front row.  I did that a couple of times, but you just had to stay in character and ignore the audience.  The play was very serious and dark.  It required me to drink and smoke on stage.  My Mother remarked afterwards that it was strange seeing me smoke a cigarette.  She didn't know that I had been smoking for years, so I tried to lie to her and tell her that I didn't inhale.  I blew into the cigarette to make the tip glow.  I don't think she bought my story.  There are a few tricks that I learned while working at PC.  One was that if you have a mirror on stage, spray it with hair spray and the lights won't reflect into the audience, but the reflection of the person will show.  Another was to put a small film of water in an ashtray, so one could put out a cigarette without the lingering smoke distracting the scene.
 In one scene, we had to drink Scotch.  Of course, it would not be the real thing.  During rehearsals, we had just used water to pretend before opening night.  The director sent someone to the liquor store to get a real bottle of Scotch for opening night.  The prop person was to empty the Scotch bottle and replace it with tea.  He did that, but he didn't wash out the bottle before putting in the tea.  No one was told what had been done.  When we went to drink the Scotch, it was tea-flavored Scotch.  It was quite a surprise.  The subsequent performances just had tea.  The cast "explained" (yelled) at the prop guy afterwards about his mistake.
 Another scene, toward the end of the play, required a boy to blow into Goldberg's mouth to restore him from his exhaustion.  The boy was played by a high school senior and brother of one of our actors.  He and I were both uncomfortable about this scene and the homosexual undertones.  In rehearsals, we couldn't stop laughing.  We were both embarrassed, but when I would laugh, he would laugh.  When he laughed, I laughed.  We just couldn't get through the scene without laughing, and it was a very serious scene.  It got to the point that we had to do something to get through it without laughing.  So, the director suggested for each of us not to look into the eyes of the other, but rather pick a point on the forehead of the other and stare at that during the scene.  The suggestion worked, because we knew we had to get through it.  I also asked the boy to use mouthwash before blowing into my mouth.  That helped.  A couple of times, our eyes started to tear up, because we were holding in the laughter.  It made for a more convincing scene.
 My acting was well received, and I finally showed the others that I had talent.  The next two roles that I had required me to play old men in those.  More on that later.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


 I have been introduced to a lot of famous people, but this story is not about any of those.  I have also tried to be as honest as possible with my stories, and this one will be no different.  I only ask that you don't think any less of me after reading it.  And, if you put it into the context of my life during college and beyond, then it might make more sense.  So, here goes.
 My Mother once told me that I have an addictive personality.  Little did she know how much of that was true.  When I was around 14, I discovered cigarettes.  I would ride my bike over to Flora and find half-smoked cigarettes in the parking lot.  Students would go out to their cars between classes to smoke, but they couldn't finish them, so they threw them on the ground.  I would find those and smoke the rest.  I know that wasn't too sanitary, but it was still a kick.  I also would look for cars in neighborhoods with cigarette packs on the dashboards.  If the cars were unlocked, I stole the packs.  My favorites were Salems and Winstons.  I smoked off and on until 1984.  For a time in college, I smoked those small cigars.  I could buy those legally.  They made me look cool. 
 When I got to college, I discovered a few more things.  First was cocaine laced snuff.  They would put cocaine in snuff flavored with strawberry or cherry.  I didn't do that much, but it did give me a rush.  The downside was that I got nosebleeds.  One was so severe in my Sophomore year that it looked like the horse head scene from "The Godfather".  After that incident, I didn't do it any more.  The other things I discovered in my Sophomore year was speed and downers.  When I would do plays, the play would usually go until around 11pm.  I would take legal speed called "No-Doz".  This stuff was pure caffeine, and it was designed to keep you awake.  The normal dose was one pill.  Usually, I would take two.  Yes, it kept me awake, but then I needed something to sleep, so I took sleeping pills.  This was a regular habit.  Often, I would wake up the next morning and have a headache, so I would have to take aspirin--a lot of aspirin.  That did a number on my stomach.  I had this routine for several years, when doing plays.  I had to stop it, when I started drinking.
 The only alcohol I had was the wine in Rome, which was covered earlier.  When I got to PC, alcohol was more prevalent.  One night, I went with some friends to a forest outside of Clinton, and I had my first taste of beer.  I didn't like the taste, so someone told me to think of it as "banana juice".  I know that sounds gross, but it worked.  During my Senior year, I drank a lot of beer.  One night, I drank 22 beers over a three-hour period.  I passed out for two days.  I went to a fraternity party and got very drunk.  I pinched a girl's butt with ice tongs, and she told me that she had problems sitting down for a week.  I also discovered daiquiris in Atlanta during this time.  I liked those and Tom Collins mostly.  Anything with Vodka was the best, since it didn't smell on my breath.  I will address the Atlanta trip later, at least what I can remember of it.  Alcohol was a part of my life until around 2000.  I can't have any alcohol now without getting sick. 
 During that trip to the forest, I was also introduced to Marijuana.  I didn't feel anything at first.  No buzz.  I tried it again in Atlanta and really got stoned.  So much so that I went for a walk one night and found myself floating down the sidewalk. The last time I did grass was 1981.  Another drug during this time was LSD.  I think I only did two hits of that, but it caused me to have flashbacks for many years afterwards.  Thankfully, the flashbacks never happened while I was driving.  They would come every three months.  Then every six months.  Then every nine months.  I haven't had any for about five years.  I hope I have outgrown them.  I never did Heroin.  I had two friends die from overdoses during high school, so I had no desire to do that. 
 So, I had several introductions to things over a period of about 7 years.  Some remained longer than others.  If you look at the time frame, most of the stuff I did was during my hippie years.  Most were more acceptable back then, even if much was illegal.  When I reached 21, I could legally go into a liquor store, but by then it was anti-climatic, because I had already been drinking by then.  I also just want to say that I do not want to suggest that it is cool to drink or take drugs.  I am suffering now, in many ways, because of what I did many years before.  As you read subsequent stories, you will see some things I did, which I am not proud of.  They seemed fun at the time.  I wouldn't even think about doing them now.  I guess we all have things in our past that we are not proud of.  I just wish that I had the power of being able to see the future, and then maybe I would not have done so much in the past.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Elton John

 Elton John did a concert in 1973 at the University of Georgia.  He was promoting his LP "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".  My friend Jimmy offered to take me to UGa on his way to Atlanta, so I could go to the show.
 When I got there, the only tickets left were General Admission seats for $2 each.  My seat was behind a column in the balcony.  I had to peer around the column to see anything, but just being there was great.  Elton had his piano draped in a cloth surrounded by lights, which made it look like the piano glowed.  He wore big glasses and had a flashy costume.  His band of Nigel, Davey and Dee were great.  At the end of the night, he got Gregg Allman to do the encore with him, and they did "Midnight Rider" together.  It was a magical night.
 I saw Elton again in Columbia in 1980 at the Carolina Coliseum.  A lot had happened to be since that show 7 years earlier.  I was drinking more and doing drugs.  I am guessing that the show in 1980 was good.  I remember little bits of it, but a lot of marijuana was being passed around, as well as beer.  Some guy brought some binoculars, and I got to see Elton and Nigel making faces at one another while they were playing.  He was there to promote "Little Jeannie".  I really don't think a concert is any better when one is stoned or drunk or both.  Unless maybe the Grateful Dead, but I never saw them in concert, at least not all of them.  I have been to a lot of concerts over my life, and I will discuss them later.  I have been drunk, stoned and sober at various shows.  I prefer to be sober, because then I can remember the shows better and enjoy the music more.  To each his own.