Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Farnham Chronicles - "The Band Years"

One day, I believe it was in the summer of 1979, a rumor went around the neighborhood that there was a Genuine Rock Band living in our midst. Naturally, this was very exciting news for our little forgotten neck of the Long Beach woods. Sidenote: our neighborhood was the result of a surveyor's screw-up and which led to our street being divided into completely separate towns and counties. The people who lived on THAT end of the street went to different schools and their property values were much higher than those of us who lived on THIS side of the dividing line. If you want to see for yourself, go to Google Earth and type in 3521 Farnham Avenue Long Beach Ca 90815. That surveyor must have done his surveying after a three martini lunch to screw up that badly.

Ok, back to the topic. So. There was a Rock Band living on our street but where? Which house? Who was it? Was it anyone famous? We went down the list of unfamiliar faces on our street but came up blank for anyone who fit the Rock Band image. Oh, there was this group of scruffy, oddly dressed characters who had moved into the Langston's old house a few doors down but obviously, they weren't Rock Star material. I mean just look at them! Straggly, pasty white, dressed in obvious thrift store threads. So not a Rock Band image. So who could it be? Only one person knew:
but Tippy had been sworn to secrecy because The Band, as they were referred to from Day One instead of their "real" name, didn't want to be disturbed by screaming fans. But after consulting with The Band (not "The Band" of Robbie Robertson and The Last Waltz fame), he agreed to introduce us. And it WAS the scruffy and pasty cast of characters living in the Langston's old house. Really? SUCH a disappointment in the looks department, especially as I was hoping for something along the lines of Robert Plant meets David Lee Roth. But hey, a Rock Band is a Rock Band and this rock band had Connections. Hey! Maybe we'll become good friends with The Band and they can get us into concerts and maybe even backstage!

As it turned out, that's exactly what happened. It wasn't hard to make friends. With three attractive teenage daughters and parents who prided themselves as being "hip", it was only a matter of time before The Band and the Perkins Family were thisclose. We provided them with meals and a place at the Famous Dining Room table and they provided us with free concert tickets AND backstage passes! When you're 16 years old and you're backstage without having to provide sexual favors, you are on top of the world!

During The Band Years of Farnham Avenue, several events stand out in memory. The first was when The Band played a gig at Knott's Berry Farm (of all places). As they were concluding their set, they announced that everybody was invited back to the house for a post-concert party and by God, everybody came! Hundreds of people streaming in and out. I can't believe the neighbors didn't call the police.

Event Number Two was when The Band was chosen to be the opening act of one of the big summer concerts held at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Journey! Black Sabbath! And The Band opening the show! And again, free tickets and backstage passes to THE concert event of the summer!

Another event was meeting the man who was their Tour Manager. Joe was quite a famous tour manager, Van Halen being one of his groups, and he was full of energy, which I'm sure was enhanced by the use of Peruvian Marching Powder but he was a heck of a nice guy. A little story about Joe: one night, we, meaning our family, The Band and whoever was hanging out at the Dining Room Table, ordered pizza for dinner and someone had to go and pick it up. Joe tossed me the keys to his vintage Camaro and told me I could take his car. After standing there gaping at him for a minute or two, I had to confess that I did not know how to drive (since nobody in my family could bother teaching me, Bitter Moment #61). Joe still let me drive to get the pizza (it was only a block away) and for the next few weeks, he would be waiting outside of school when I got out so that we could continue my driving lessons. How many teenagers can claim they were taught to drive by Van Halen's tour manager?

But the most memorable event of The Band Years was the infamous Halloween Party of 1980 at the local Elks Lodge. Music was provided by Johnny and the TV Dinners From Mars (The Band's alter-egos) performing their hit, "Can I See You Marie?" which was inspired by one of the road crew's unrequited love for Marie Osmond. There was also the surprise appearance by Flo & Eddie, aka "The Turtles" who sang their classic hit, "Happy Together" (Me & you and you and me...). This Halloween party was THE Social Event of 1980 and everybody begged to be invited. It was quite amusing to go back to school and hear the Have Nots claim to have been there and everyone knew that *I was one of the Elite and they Were Not.

The Band put out two albums under two different names but neither cracked the charts and they never really "made it." Eventually, the members all went their separate ways as did the Perkins Family.

After a couple years of fun, excitement and chaos, The Band Years of Farnham Avenue had come to a close.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Exercise, exercise!

C'mon everybody do your exercise! Remember that ditty? Wasn't it from "Wonderama?" Or was it "Romper Room?" I know it was from one of those 1960's shows for kids.

Anyway, I've been on this walking kick for three entire days now. Walking is cheap, easy exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes. Over the years, I've spent plenty of shekels on exercise equipment that I swore I would use and, of course, didn't.

After Thing 1 was born, I quickly lost all but about 10lbs of my pregnancy weight. The neighborhood we lived in was not all that safe for walking so TheManTheMyth bought me one of these so I could lose weight in the safety of my own house:

The idea was to be able to get in both an upper body workout while pedaling away. Thing 1 was a high-maintenance baby so I used that as an excuse for not riding my exercise bike. I sold it at a yard sale because I found something even better for burning calories:

Oh yeah. I bought one. 20 minutes a day, the Nordic Track people claimed, is all it takes to lose pounds and inches. Doing it for 20 minutes a month just didn't seem to burn those calories. Dunno why. The Nordic Track was sold at yet another yard sale at a slight loss.

Then after Thing 2 was born and we inherited Casa de Gramma, I needed to tighten my post-pregnancy abs. So my next investment was that staple of every household that had a female living in it:

This I actually used somewhat regularly. And by "regularly" I mean more than once a month. And I also occasionally (VERY occasionally) did the "Abs and Buns of Steel" workouts. But I still needed to burn calories so I convinced TheManTheMyth to get one of these:

This, I'm afraid, saw very little action. It was big, it was bulky and it was so noisy that I couldn't hear the TV as I trudged along. And there really wasn't any place to store it and I couldn't keep dragging it into the living room every time I wanted to get in some cardio. And putting it out in the garage, where it actually fit, meant I wouldn't use it because why would I want to be stuck out in the garage, walking nowhere?

After the treadmill was sold, at a slight loss, my BF talked me into joining a gym for women that was started by one of the stars of "Dynasty." The idea was that we would work out together and help each other in our weight loss goals. This was all well and good until it was discovered that we had entirely different workout schedules. She liked to go around 9:00pm while I was a morning person. So without a workout buddy, I went from going every weekday morning to every other day to twice a week to letting my visits come to a crashing halt and my membership was not renewed when my year was up.

There was yet another membership at a women-only fitness center that sister Tracie had acquired at a charity silent auction and passed on to me. I did use it faithfully...until the owners skipped town after some shady financial shenanigans.

When TheManTheMyth hit a milestone birthday, we bought yet another piece of exercise equipment:

But this time, instead of buying new, I found it in the Pennysaver at a substantial discount. The owner was selling it so cheap because she "just wants it out of the damn house!" TheManTheMyth, I'm proud to say, actually uses his birthday present to work on his "toned and sexy core." I will use it once in awhile (translation, "once every 6 months") but mostly I just stick to walking. Did I mention that I've gone walking 3 days in a row?

I'm on a roll, baby!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm walking, yes indeed I'm walking

Since my rapidly expanding ass is, well, rapidly expanding, it was time to get off my rapidly expanding ass and get back to Walking for Fun and Exercise. Next to the beach, my favorite local place to go walking is the El Dorado Nature Center, which is located about 1-1/2 miles from my house. Now a smart person, a person who is serious about getting in shape, would WALK the mile & a half to the Nature Center and then walk the trails before WALKING back home, which would be a Serious Workout.

I'm not that person. I DRIVE to go for my walk. That's just how I roll.

Last year, I went walking at the Nature Center every day. I could just feel the pounds and inches melting away and I was feeling pretty good. I had even given up Crack (well, I had cut way down) And then I had my unfortunate off-road accident which resulted in this:

Not only could I not walk, I couldn't even wear a regular shoe and I spent the next 6 to 8 weeks wearing Tar-zhay's version of Crocs. But I digress.

So I wake up this morning and make the decision that I Am Going Walking. So I hop in The Red Rocket and head off to the Nature Center. It's been almost a year since I had last been there so I had to make a decision:

I smartly chose the 2 mile trail. I'm not lying! Despite many walkers having gone through ahead of me, I'm positive that all the spiders waited until they saw me coming and then hurriedly spun their webs at face height just in time for me to walk right into their web. I swear I heard teeny-tiny squeals of laughter at the sight of me flailing at the webs stuck on my face and in my hair.

Other than my flailing and cursing, it was very peaceful:

As always, the critters (pronounced "cridders" in our family) were out and about:

Many critters are happy to pose for the tourists for a small donation of nuts:

Some of the critters are pushy. They will chase you down the trail, begging you to buy some Chiclets, holding up toy baby squirrels and pleading for help. Don't fall for it. As soon as you stop to listen to their sob story, their homies slink out from behind trees and circle you in a menacing manner.

I was lucky to escape unscathed. This time. But they'll be there again. Waiting.

I continued on my walk, peering fearfully over my shoulder to see if I was being followed and saw this sign:

I guess the trails don't want you choosing the non-designated areas and making them feel unwanted and unloved. We must respect their feelings.

I completed my walk, huffing and puffing, dripping with sweat and feeling quite proud of myself. So, I celebrated by heading to the Crackhouse for My Usual. I know, I know. One step forward, two steps back.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Farnham Chronicles

Subtitled, "Tales from the Table"

During my high school years, life at 3521FarnhamAvenueLongBeachCalifornia90808 (must be said in one breath) was never a dull moment and our dining room table was the center of it all. We spent many, many hours sitting around the table, which looked like this from about 1965 until the day we moved out in May 1981:

That's my mom, circa somewhere between 1965 and 1969. My sisters and I fall down laughing every time we see this photo. Doncha just LOVE the avocado green chairs on casters? I believe they were Naugahyde. Some poor Naugahog gave its life so we could have those chairs. Not shown is the door to the hallway where we hung a Nerf basketball hoop and we'd shoot hoops rolling around the floor in those chairs.

Anyways. The dining room table is where our male friends would eat an entire box of Lucky Charms cereal in one sitting.

My dad acquired a Polaroid camera from work along with cases of free film (maybe it wasn't supposed to be "free") and we took hundreds of Polaroids of everyone sitting around the table.

Note the artwork on the wall. Eventually, there was a photo of everyone in our family mounted on that wall. Oh, except me. I didn't merit a photo (Bitter Moment #82). Notice the latest batch of Polaroids on the table. We'd even take photos of our Siamese cat, who went by the very original name of "Siam."

We loved that cat. Except my dad. He hated that cat. Siam was a Father's Day present instead of a drill that my dad was expecting. My dad was so pissed we all got The Silent Treatment for several weeks.

But back to Table Tales. During the summer months, we'd have marathon poker and blackjack tournaments that went on for days. These were high-stakes games, where the buy-in was somewhere around 10 cents. In pennies. Sometimes, we'd go wild and up the ante to a quarter and during one crazy session, toothpicks were the currency.

After she graduated from high school, sister Jamie decided to move to Canada. One day, a bunch of us were sitting around the table and we decided to write her a letter. People were streaming in and out all day, as usual, and every person who came in contributed to that letter. I hope she still has it; it was a Classic.

Over the years, hundreds of people sat at that table. Nobody was a stranger. Oh, I'm sure there were a few occasions where someone would be sitting there and it turned out to be one of those "I thought you knew him!" "I thought YOU did!" situations but as long as they didn't act like an ass, we'd shrug and carry on. The table was a place where people of every gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and political affiliation were welcome. As long as you were a "nice" person and didn't try to rape the cats and rabbit or steal from us, there was a place for you at the table.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Day in the Life of Me

On Friday, June over at Bye Bye, Pie! challenged fellow bloggers to blog about their day. What the heck, I thought, I'll give it a whirl.

Prepare to be amazed, astonished AND aghast at my exciting day.

I woke up at 7-ish with one hell of a hangover because on Friday night, I had gone to see KC & The Sunshine Band at the Orange County Fair. Admit it, you're seething with jealousy, especially since *I* got a Genuine autograph from Mr. KC Himself:

While dancing in My Boogie Shoes, I had made the mistake of having a couple servings of what I call "Fair Beer." Fair Beer may not make you feel drunk or even buzzed but you WILL feel like hammered shit the next day. So I stumble out of bed in search of this:

Some people start their day with coffee. Me, I must have a diet soda. After washing down a couple of ibuprofen, I headed outside to get the paper. If I don't read the paper every morning, I get "twitchy."

Once I finished reading the "Long Beach Blab" as I like to call it, my hangover hadn't diminished. A serving of some fast-food grease was in order so I headed off to Del Taco, aka "The Crack House":

After a nutritious breakfast of a Bacon & Egg Quesadilla with Hash Brown sticks and a LARGE Diet Coke, or, as the employees of Del Taco call it, "Your Usual?" I felt somewhat able to do some chores. I did some laundry:

Cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher as I seem to be the only person in this house who knows how to load a dishwasher. Seriously, TheManTheMyth will wash dishes by hand instead of putting them in that newfangled dishwashing machine.

Then it was time to head to the computer and check e-mails and stuff:

Sister Tracie called me up and asked if I wanted to go with her to a used bookstore out in Tustin. Is this a trick question? Does the Pope drive around standing up? Books are my one serious vice and any chance to go browse the dusty aisles in a used bookstore is a chance I'll jump at. So off we go with our directions from Mapquest in hand and let me say that, hands down, those were the stupidest directions ever issued. They had us taking the freeway offramp only to direct us to get right back on the very freeway we had just exited.

ANYWAY. We find the bookstore and I found a couple of books to add to my ever-expanding library:

When we got back, I pawed through yet another box of family photos and found some real gems, which will be used in future blog posts:

It was now dinner time and my hangover was still stubbornly hanging on. With both offspring out of the house (Thing 1 is in Lake Tahoe, Thing 2 stayed the night at Aunt Bippy's (Tracie) & Uncle Gaga's house), TheManTheMyth and I took advantage of no kids and actually went out to dinner! I was hankering for some BBQ so we went here:

where I had pulled pork and fried pickles. Oh, and a little hair of the dog to wash everything down. Dee-licious!

After dinner, we settled on the couch to watch X Games 15:

before toddling off to bed around 11:00pm.

That's it. That was My Day. Exciting, no?