So it was 1980 I think. There I was, an 8 or 9 year old kid that had just moved from Annapolis to the eastern shore of Maryland. The greatest tv show in the world to an eight year old was either Battlestar Galactica [poor mans Star Wars] or The Dukes Of Hazard. Myself, I guess I saw right through the low budget Star Wars and went for the depth of The Duke family. A ragtag group of hillbillies living in Georgia fighting off the local cops so they can sell moonshine. Usually uncovering some major criminals that have chosen the countryfolk as their victims, and using the Barbara Bach Daisy Duke shorts to throw off their plan.
Ok, enough of that. So my mom-or me, for that matter- decide I get to attend The Budweiser World Of Wheels car show featuring John Schneider of TV’s Duke boys. Well, you can imagine, this is my first celebrity! Holy frickin crap, Bo Duke. And a bunch of tacky cars. (Prob where I developed my taste for simple, original, showroom renovations for classic cars)
Fast forward, to me standing in line for like-8 fricking hours. (sure, it was probably 30 mins, but I was eight when you are 9 years old) I get up to the stage and a girl says in her best condescending voice,
“Whats your name hansom?”
“Rob!” I tell her before my mom throws in the usual Robby. The girl takes the B&W 8×10 of Bo-Frickin-Duke and scribbles R-O-B on the back, left-hand corner. I go another 30 feet (I can see him by this time) and get right up to him. I hand him my 8×10 so he can flip it over and read the name. “Rob?” he asks me. “Uh huh” was my reply. He signs it the standard, All The Best, slides it back across the table and says, “thanks buddy” -and that was it. I was whisked down the stage and away. But- to an eight year old, it was the greatest frickin day of my life. I rode in the backseat of my Moms Ford econoline van across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, dreaming of riding in the General Lee in the dirt roads of Georgia (Or the East Hollywood Backlot)
Fast forward to 1992-3. Here I am, a 21 year old struggling musician/ Sound Engineer. Working at a 5 star restaurant for an exceptional chef. I won’t go into that for the sake of the article. (And I need to go to bed soon before I drink more Jameson) The joint was rated best restaurant many years in a row by the liberal artist rags, and cultural elite. The food was awesome. Ray Pichetti could cook and made sure I could too. So, we’re told the cast from the local play at Clowes Hall is taking table 14, the big top, for the night. We don’t think much of this until the server comes to the kitchen to say that everyone at the “Clowes table” is really happy with their food and wants to know some info regarding the recipe. Here’s where Chef Ray was so cool. He said, “Well, you cooked everything on the table, YOU talk to them.” Well, ok. He could be an amazingly modest person, but he was trying to build up my confidence, I believe.
So, I rearrange my chefs coat, check my headgear to see that the mop of hair that cascades down my back is hidden securely underneath the hat. The server, Cathy, gives me a little re-con on the group: This person, that person blah-blah-blah-John Schneider-Blah-blah……WAIT, did you say…John Schneider? Yea, you know him? JESUS CHRIS Cathy! I was an 8 year old boy at one time! So I go out and address the 14-18 people at the table. I give the run-down on the dishes they ask about and make my way down the table. I see, and make eye contact with JS. So I politely ask which production of insert play name here they are with- trying to make them think I know anything about it, and I lock eyes with JS again.
I look him in the eye, While the whole table is quiet and watching me, and say, “Hey John, remember me? Budweiser World Of Wheels-Baltimore, 1980?” “I was the little blonde kid named Rob, wearing a red and black wind breaker,you signed my picture?
Laughter from table
Laughter from JS
It was all good. Luckily I’d prob had a drink or three by this time.