Dec 162011
 

Once again, I’m combining this week’s Three Word Wednesday post with real life. This is a stand-alone piece, but you old-timers will recognize and remember Kermit Ladd.

Kermit Ladd, intrepid journalist, was sent to the gorgeous suburb of Maison Villa to meet with legendary guitarist Terry Fantillo. With his seventh wife by his side, he proceeded to show all present his scaled-down models of the stack of amplifiers he intends to build.

“It’ll be the second man-made object visible from space,” he brags. One almost expects him to pound on his puffed-up cheset, but all present are spared that spectacle.

“I thought about making it a touring exhibit,” he goes on to say, “but my engineers told me it would be better to make it immoble. Otherwise, my stack,” he ads with one of those nods that tells you the speaker is about to divulge a huge secret for your ears only, “would confuse the astronauts in the International Space Station. They wouldn’t ever know what city they were looking at, or what part of the world was showing. I think it’d be great, but NASA wasn’t so into the idea. The astronauts have enough to deal with and focus on up there, I guess.”

When asked if he would ever turn on this wall of amplification, Fantillo laughs. “Wouldn’t that be the ultimate retribution for the asshole neighbor who keeps letting his dog shit in your yard?”

His laughter goes on even when he’s the only one laughing. If the atmosphere becomes strained, Fantillo doesn’t notice.

“Yeah, we’ll turn it on once or twice,” he says once his guffaws have smoothed out into something approaching a state of sobriety. For Fantillo, widely rumored to have an unacknowledged drinking problem, that is quite the claim. “The engineers tell me anyone in close proximity will be sorry, but we’ll do it. Maybe when we have friends over for the Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve.”

Wife Number Seven nods.

Fantillo smiles at her as if she has greatly pleased him. “It’s enough to have such a thing,” he says. “My wall of amplification. Maybe someone will put it in a museum, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s going to be one-of-a-kind. No one will ever duplicate what I’m doing.”

The question, dear readers, is why anyone would ever want to.

 Posted by at 11:48 am
Mar 212010
 

It has become such a burning question that even seemingly innocent Internet sites are now speculating on the topic. While many question the need for this to be a topic of discussion, there seem to be an equal amount who need to find the answer to this glimpse behind the scenes of one of the biggest bands: what’s on ShapeShifter’s catering rider?

Before embarking on the dangerous mission of sneaking into a backstage room prohibited to men wearing certain sticky passes on the fronts of their silk shirts, Kermit Ladd, your intrepid reporter of the day, sought guesses, speculations, and hypotheses from the many ShapeShifter fans littering the landscape. He was mightily entertained and often would chuckle as he set about, discovering the ultimate truth about what ShapeShifter eats.

The adventure began with a knock at a side door of the Great Energy Center, where a black-clothed young man with short hair and a spider tattooed onto his neck allowed access for your secret snoop. Credentials were presented, a business card handed over — and quickly, carelessly deposited on the floor by the guard’s booth with a practiced flick of the fingers — and the sticky pass affixed to the reporter’s shirt despite the presence of the lanyard and a proferred hole-punch to allow for fast attaching.

Luck was on this reporter’s side, as a quick but whispered discussion between the man with the spider tattoo and a burly, bearded man, who also wore a black t-shirt and who held a clipboard, resulted in Mr. Spider escorting yours truly to the last room expectation had thought possible: the catering room.

It’s not much of a room. Not to look at it. Half a dozen round tables are set up, each with a white cloth covering. There are no centerpieces. Eight folding card table chairs are tucked under the lips of the tables, unfolded and ready to hold up the vaunted stars and their most important of guests.
At the back of the room sits two eight-foot rectangular tables. They also wear the white cloths. Anchoring them are seven chafing dishes, lids askew, heating element absent. It must be too early for food, although the far right end of the table holds a bus tray filled with ice. From the table in front of which all reporters seem to be placed — as there are two others sharing space with yours truly — nothing can be discerned. Getting up seems to be against the rules of etiquette.

When the band members reveal their determination to keep the press waiting, your intrepid reporter decides to break those unspoken rules. Perhaps the rules have been broken already, when a sticky pass was affixed to the front of a silk shirt.

The food, a gentle inquiry reveals, will come later. Some pasta, two broiled fillets of fish. Hamburgs will be brought directly in from the caterer’s grill and placed directly on the band member’s plates; no warming tray needed. Broccoli and cauliflower will be steamed and some seasoned zucchini will be stirred in. A rice dish will also be added, for variety. Dessert will be served after the show.

At this point, the caterer smiled like she was about to share a big secret. Kermit Ladd leaned in to hear what she had to say. Big secrets are why intrepid reporters prepare themselves to sneak into catering rooms.

“They love ice cream sandwiches right as they get into the dressing room. I stand right outside their dressing room door and hand them over as they walk past.”

Any other secrets?

“Serving key lime pie will get you fired.”

While this hasn’t been the most revealing investigative reporting ever done by this particular intrepid reporter, the most ardent ShapeShifter fans ought to be pleased with a hard day’s work.
Perhaps best was the discovery that the dry cleaner could save Kermit’s favorite tan shirt. It shall live to go backstage another day.

**
Not only did I link to this week’s Sunday Scribblings above, but I found a new place to link up your fiction, too. It’s called Weekend Writer’s Retreat. I have high hopes for the future of this new meme. Come join us!

 Posted by at 4:30 pm
Jan 182009
 

In the past, when we’ve seen Kermit Ladd on these pages, he’s been run in circles by the boys in the band. That ShapeShifter band, that is (for you who don’t know just who rules the roost around here). Kermit, however, isn’t the amateur you may think he is. Nope. The man’s won awards for his journalism, and is generally well-regarded in the field. Here’s why, in a piece inspired by both this week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt and a comment made at a new blog I’ve recently found, Metalblog.

No matter how loathesome everything else around this strip mall where the end of the line trickles into place, its beige fa├žade faded by the blazing Arizona sun, trash bleaching in the fire lane like a dead fish washed up by a red tide, there is always something worthy of one’s attention. In this case, it is three young men, maybe as young as eighteen, maybe as old as twenty-six, who crawl out from behind the artificially green bushes near building’s side.

They are dirty. Their black hair wears a layer of brown dust, as do their tattered-in-places clothing. Their shoes haven’t escaped; rather, they bear the brunt of the damage. Holes in the soles and at the toes haven’t seen attempts at repair. Nor have the revealed nails seen a clipper, much as they need to.

Foot sore, weary, and hungry, they ask where they might refill their water bottles. They lick their lips as they eye the snacks others munch, oblivious to the new arrivals who need their money for the precious few tickets that remain.

No one jumps to help them, offer advice, or point them to a spicket. In fact, the thick crowd assembled to see Sammy Spencer perform across the street pretends these three simply don’t exist. The three are, to an extent, relieved. To be seen, noticed, acknowledged by the wrong people will mean that instead of the inside of a theater, they will be treated to the inside of a police car. Instead of the music they came so far to hear, they will hear a judge issuing the order that they be deported back home.

A reasonable person would bemoan the other side of what attention can bring: the helping hand that can shelter them, help them, provide them with what they need. Not these three.

“We used to it, man,” one of them tells this intrepid journalist once contact is made and safe identity established. “No one want help the Spics. Let these Spics tell you sumpin’, man. When Sammy Spencer get done and walk off that stage, we start our own walk back home. We don’t want to be part of no society that so mean to us.”

“We work hard at home,” the second one says. “But Sammy, he cancelled show in Mexico. This his farewell tour. We can’t miss the farewell tour.”

It is pointed out that Sammy’s already held two farewell tours, and no one has been fool enough to label this one the same. It seems that Sammy Spencer’s latest idea of retirement means three months on tour and one off, summers spent with the reunited and reconfigured Scarred Heart, and grandiose statements about unplugging the microphone that keep the fans pouring through the doors the moment they open. He now limits the countries he visits, and no longer seeks to gain visas for the many he’s been banned from. Perhaps there is even some taming of the famed Sammy Spencer, the man who once gave an interview while dining upon what he still, to this day, maintains was a dog, a delicacy in some of those countries in which the man is no longer welcome — and a few in which he never was.

These three Mexican men, who snuck across the border between our countries simply to say farewell to their musical hero, are the epitome of Sammy Spencer and the rebellious ways he seems to have, finally, thirty years later, matured beyond.

Yet it is clear to this journalist, at least, that he continues to inspire a flaunting disregard of the law, of simple things like visas and passports and lawful entry into another country.

These three young men, covered in dirt, stomachs audibly growling, are the essence of rock and roll.

 Posted by at 6:46 pm