At Any Rate…

I lost one of my best friends a few weeks ago. I called him about a week before he left us. So I did talk to him and told him I was thinking of him and that I loved him.

Bugsy was definitely a one-of-a-kind. I know that’s said about a lot of people, but this was the real deal. I had the gift of knowing this man. He was a master storyteller. Most stories I can’t or won’t repeat here. The memory that comes to mind is a story he told us in his hotel room after a show somewhere in the in the lower forty-eight.

The story was about a man who was too drunk to ride his bicycle home from a local knife and gun club called El Patio. Somehow Bugsy wove this tale of a man repeatedly falling over, into an epic story in league with Homer’s Odyssey. For the next forty-five minutes, the bass player for Dr. Wu’s Rock n Soul Revue, Doug Evans and myself were both laying on the other bed in the hotel room doubled over in the fetal position, sides aching, crying and howling with laughter at the images Bugs painted of this scene. To this day it is probably the funniest thing I have ever heard and I can’t remember a word of it.

 
This is what you get when you are my friend. You get to be a guinea pig for new software I’m learning. Ladies and gents.

My favorite bass player I that I have ever played with….
Doug Evans. He’s the bomb!


I was the sober guy. So on gig day, we’d meet at Bugsy’s. Bugs, our singer George Ozier , and myself would hop into into the van, and since Bugs drove to the gig and I would drive back. Invariably George had to sit on a brown metal folding chair between the two seats, known affectionately as ‘the bitch seat.’

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The Bitch Seat

We were playing a great venue in Olney, IL (home of the white squirrel) called the Fireside. It was a two-nighter, in that we played Friday and Saturday so our lazy asses only had to set up our gear once and tear it down once.

That Friday we drove to the gig, set up the gear, played to an apathetic audience, I put my guitar away, waited as Ozier would get shot down in flames by the shooters girl. Then… Time to go home!

I’m sober and driving, Bugs in the passenger seat drunk and belligerent, Ozier is riding bitch and is drunk and belligerent. This was the norm. Olney was only an hour from home. Not bad at all for some road warriors. Halfway home Bugs has to pee.

‘STOP!” he yelled

‘What?’ I replied waiting for what ever stupid shit was about to be said to me.

‘I gotta weedle.’

Ozier pipes in ‘Yeah! I gotta weedle too!’

They started chanting together “WEEDLE, WEEDLE, WEEDLE…”  stomping and clapping as I looked for somewhere to stop.


They started chanting together “WEEDLE, WEEDLE, WEEDLE…” as I looked for somewhere to stop.


So begrudgingly and with a ‘SHUT THE F*** UP!”  I turned off on a country road. I drove down about two miles to a place where there weren’t any farm houses.

Mind you, these are grown men…

Those two drunken boobs roll out of the van, door open, radio on, interior ‘dope scope’ light was on, and at 2:30 am, are pissing off the side of the road being loud, still bitching, and waking up half of the county.

I’m looking out my driver’s side mirror behind me and is see…. a pin light.

The light got larger and you could see it was a car barreling down the road, heading our way.

I yelled that ‘2:30 am’ yell. “F****N’ HURRY UP! A CAR IS COMING!”

They grumbled, probably still arguing about what ever tonight’s subject was and resumed their places in the van. That’s when the cherries came on. They just had to be cops, right? Of course they were cops…

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“Remember, cops aren’t your friends and they ARE out to get you” L. Eagleson

The cops are sitting behind the van calling in our plates. What we didn’t know was, there had been a rash of thefts from farmers and the county po-lice were scouting the country side for suspicious activity.

Now, I know we are fine because I was totally sober and these two’s collective intoxication makes me look like the hero as the designated driver. (Is two’s proper grammar?)

Creeping up on us from both sides of the van were two County Mounties, one on either side of the van. Hands firmly planted on their guns. The one on my side comes up and shines the mag light in my face. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”


Creeping up on us from both sides were two County Mounties, one on either side of the van. Hands firmly planted on their guns.


Let me remind you of my circumstances.

Someone has been stealing from the local farmers.

I’m two miles away from the highway, on a country road surrounded by farms, at 2:30 in the morning, in an empty panel van, wearing a smelly suit*, with two caricatures of drunken hobos sitting next to me one of which is sitting on the bitch seat.

I told the cop “We’re in a band and we’re on our way home when these guys had to pee.” rolling my eyes as if to say ‘can you relate.’

He shines a light into the empty back of the van. “Where are your guitars?”

“Uh… Our gig was in Olney and we play there two nights, so we are empty” I started to see where this was going. No doubt about it. Our activity was definitely suspicious.

“I’m driving these two drunkards home. They had to pee.” I said again.

“Uh huh…Can I see your insurance card and license?”

As my cop goes back to run my license, the passenger side cop has his light steadfast on my cohorts who are giggling at me and cracking jokes to me under their breath.

All of a sudden Bugsy turns to the cop and slurs “It’s all his fault!” pointing at Ozier trying not to laugh. “THAT’S why nobody likes you…” Ozier replies drunkenly “No it wasn’t! You’re the one who had to weedle!”

Bugs quit laughing and turned to George and me straight faced and slowly said “You can’t say weedle to a cop.”

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HEY BUGSY!!!!!!

The cop lost it.

He starts laughing at this mess because it really does look bad, but realizes this bunch can barely sit upright let alone steal Farmer Brown’s four-wheeler. The other cop comes back not only with my license but had a confirmation that we had indeed played a show in Olney tonight.

They shine the light around a few more times looking for a roach in the ashtray or an open bottle. We were clean. They both lightened up realizing that we were harmless and kinda pitiful. My cop shined his light on the bitch seat Ozier was planted on and said with a smirk, “You of course have checked that chair with the DMV and have seat-belts and everything, right?”

The three of us agreed. “Oh yes Officer, this is totally street legal.”

“Go home.”

Turns out not only can you say ‘weedle’ to a cop, but I encourage you to do so.


Wanna know a secret?

58c7f410e665570916c65407One thing that put joy in Bugsy’s heart was to put a sliver of duct tape on your back at some point during your show. You of course spent the night trying not to be tagged. Sometimes Doug would turn around and I’d see it on his back, and I’d snicker while also having one on the back of my suit.* You’d usually wake up with it in your hair. Thanks a lot Bugs.

The day they told me Bugsy had passed, I called the funeral director and I asked him for a favor.

“What can we do?

“Could you put a 1″x 1″ piece of silver duct tape on the back of Bugsy’s suit?”


The day they told me Bugsy had passed, I called the funeral director and I asked him for a favor.


We used to end the night with this tune. I’m glad the Wu guys all got in contact and helped each other through the loss of our sound-man, band-mate, friend and brother. I’m dedicating this to us and only us. No one knows the whole story but the ones who lived it. Our memories are clouded at best.

.


Subscribe if ya want to. My readership is well into the double digits but I’ll still remember you, the little people, who make it all happen.

I’ve been in touch with an old friend. I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s been very cathartic, good ear, good friend, and hasn’t told me I’m bugging him yet.

He wrote a book! It’s down there. I wrote an album, you can have it for free. It’s over there.

Zen and the Art of Racing Motorcycles

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Zen and the Art of Racing Motorcycles

*Dr Wu was a Classic 60’s R&B band. Ya needed to play in a suit. They smelled like sweat, Fabreeze, cologne, cigarettes, and Budweiser, with just a hint of skunk. JCPenny’s City Streets Collection. Came in all colors and you could get a suit for sixty bucks. We got a lot of mileage because of and out of those suits. 

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10 comments

  1. I knew a man who rode his bicycle to the patio and joes he told me one night to not run off the road in the ditch because i might run over him. Wonder if it was the same one . Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great memories Sam! He had a way of leaving a lasting memory on anyone who met him. If you were close friends with him, the number of stories and memories became infinite.

    Like

    1. Oh my lord Chenoa. Between the Wu’s and mutual friends you are correct the stories are epic and endless. Bugsy is truly one of the best friends I could of asked for. I consider myself lucky to be that close with him. I think about him every day.

      Like

  3. Absolutely Amazing Sam, you own a priceless gift forever you will cherish 💙”memories”💙
    I laughed so hard reading this I ended up in the bathroom just so I wouldn’t wet my pants 😂😂 ((((HUGS)))) My Dear Friend.

    Like

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