Monday, November 21, 2016

C'MON! (Chapter Seven: Life, Death and Butterscotch Pudding)

C'MON!
My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -

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CHAPTER SEVEN
Life, Death and
Butterscotch Pudding

At first glance it appeared as if the '90s were poised to become the '80s, Part II. The Bush presidency was a spillover from the Reagan administration, popular ‘80s TV shows such as L.A. Law and Full House remained ratings champs in the early ‘90s and people all still pretty much looked like Lita Ford  even some of the chicks. The music scene was status quo as well. While established acts, including Poison, Cinderella and Mötley Crüe were showing early warning signs of their impending self-destruction, new bands such as Slaughter, Firehouse and Mr. Big all were dropping platinum-selling debuts as they carried the ‘80s arena rock torch into the new decade. And I was perfectly content to “let the good times roll!”

Basking in the final glory days, hanging
out with Slaughter drummer, Blas Elias.

(Fort Lauderdale, FL 1990)
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Smells Like Bad Music
A fateful Saturday night in the fall of 1991 changed my bright and sunny perception of the new decade when a frumpy-looking trio from Seattle, Washington called Nirvana, debuted their ground-breaking video, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball program. And within the three-minute span of their music video, the rock world was effectively turned upside down. Chart-busting, good-time-party poster boys who maintained solid, successful careers on the Friday preceding Nirvana’s proverbial A-bomb, found themselves standing in rock’s “breadline” by the following Monday morning. Any musician after 1982 who had ever smiled at a camera, wrote a catchy anthem, worn tight pants or, heaven forbid, donned a little makeup seemingly was banished instantly from rock's "Champagne Room." They’d all been expunged and replaced on the charts and the airwaves by a new crop of grimacing, brooding, unwashed, hobo-looking characters, wearing flannel shirts with misbuttoned sweaters and sporting short, greasy, unkempt coifs. And to me, the music made by this new breed of anti-rock star was, in a word, depressing. Simply put, the party was over.

Despite some of our rather abrasive qualities, at the core, Dead Serios was actually just a hard rock party band. And when the party officially came to an abrupt end for the "big boys" in early 1992, any chance we had of “making it” also had been squelched. But I wasn’t about to go quietly. In fact, I remained in denial for the next few years — convinced that the glorious arena rock era would make a full recovery. 20 years later, my conviction has wavered.

Mmm, Butterscotch!
As an admitted lifelong, self-centered creep, I never wanted a child. The notions of a baby’s non-stop crying, midnight feedings and dirty diapers were offensive and frightening to me. And I simply was unwilling to put anyone else’s needs before my own selfish ambitions. However, to my amazement (and many others who knew me), I did a complete 180° about face regarding parenthood the moment Trish came home from her gynecologist appointment in early 1993 with the big news  “I’m pregnant!”

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We began immediately renovating our apartment  painting walls, child-proofing cabinets and transforming the one-time guest room into a brand-spanking new nursery. I was also present at every one of Trish’s monthly check-ups throughout her pregnancy. We even attended Lamaze classes together.

Everything about Trish’s pregnancy seemed to be a breeze. She experienced very little morning sickness and she gained hardly any weight. And on October 5, 1993, the night our son, Jesse, was born, Trish was in actual hard labor for only about an hour. In fact, I joked that the baby came so quickly and effortlessly that Trish didn’t even smear her typically immaculate, Stryper-like makeup.

The deal was, if Jesse had been a girl, Trish would have named him Shandi Nicole. “Shandi” is the title of a KISS song from the band’s 1980 pop album, Unmasked. But since he was a boy, I got to name him Jesse Tanner, after the John Stamos and Bob Saget characters on the aforementioned ‘80s sitcom, Full House. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. But from the beginning, I’ve made no bones about maintaining how I’ve always been a dork!

I now was a dad and I knew instinctively I had to step up and make some life changes. But I was a 30-year-old with few options. My high school effort was minimal, I'd quit college after only a couple of weeks and I had no back-up plan in the unlikely event that my rock and roll “lottery numbers” weren’t called. And they weren’t.

Fatherhood - just days after bringing
Jesse home from the hospital in 1993.
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In the mid-‘80s, I became acquainted with a local entertainment booking agent named Greg Kimple. In 1989, Greg and his brother Jeff opened a rock and roll mega-club in Melbourne called The Power Station. Dead Serios became a proven and consistent cash cow for the Kimple brothers, and through that association, Greg ultimately brought me into his DJ business in late 1993. He loaned me a cheesy, AM radio-sounding audio system, a case of cassette tapes and put me to work. Before long, I found myself making DJ appearances in clubs and at private events several nights a week. And I was grateful for the opportunity, just when I needed it most. Soon after, Jeff offered me a job tending bar at a smaller nearby nightclub that he and Greg also owned.

Thanks to the Kimple brothers, I was earning a decent living by the summer of 1994. However, the fallout from working in the bar business was beginning to take a toll on my marriage. But it was that crazy, late-night existence that allowed me to be home with Jesse every day. From feedings to diaper duty, I found indescribable joy in caring for my son. In fact, I changed so many dirty diapers when Jesse was a baby, that to this day, I still can’t stomach looking at a bowl of butterscotch pudding! And because of that early bond, we continue to enjoy an incredible father / son relationship.

The Dope Show
In the early 1990s I began hearing reports of an outrageous new band coming up on the South Florida scene called Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. I loved the name and after seeing one of their early promo photos in a local music magazine, I became even more intrigued. Wearing gobs of makeup and dressed in striped tights, with colorful, fashion-forward hair styles and carrying lunchboxes, they combined a 1990s “club kid” look with old-school Alice Cooper-like attitude. Even without having ever heard their music I just knew that these guys were going to be huge. Unfortunately, I don’t think The Spooky Kids shared the same enthusiasm for my band.

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Dead Serios was set to perform at JAM! magazine’s 1992 Jammy Awards after-show party at The Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando. During the ceremony’s intermission break earlier in the evening, I noticed various “Spooky Kids” hanging out in the auditorium lobby. There they were, Twiggy, Biggy, Piggy, Ziggy and the whole crew — sporting outrageous L.A. rock fashions and carrying their obligatory lunchboxes. I remember thinking how absolutely amazing they looked. They were a unified team, making a bold artistic statement and not giving a hoot what anyone else thought. Now that’s rock and roll. And I was really hoping to impress them later when Dead Serios took the stage at The Hard Rock. However, judging by the disapproving, scowling faces and the militant, cross-armed stances they displayed while watching our set from three rows back, I’d wager a guess that the Spooky Kids were less than impressed.

Doug Gibson and Joe Del Corvo performing
with Dead Serios at Orlando's Hard Rock Cafe.
JAM! magazine began holding its annual Jammy Awards ceremony in 1990. This was a major Central Florida event held in various 3,000-plus-seat venues over the years and was attended by throngs of the local music biz insiders, all dressed in their “Sunday best.” The top honor of the event was the coveted “Entertainer of the Year” award. Similar to the Miss America pageant, it became a Jammy tradition for each reigning Entertainer of the Year to present the honor to the next recipient the following year. In 1991, the band Stranger presented the award to Dead Serios. In 1992, Dead Serios presented it to (then) 13-year-old blues guitar ace Derek Trucks, nephew of The Allman Brothers Band founding drummer Butch Trucks. This was simply a respectful means of passing the crown from one “pageant winner” to the next. That is, until Marilyn Manson accepted the crown from Derek Trucks in 1993.

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Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids had been discovered by Nine Inch Nails frontman and producer Trent Reznor who recently had helped sign the band to a major label deal with Interscope Records. Having dropped “the Spooky Kids" from their name, frontman and namesake, Marilyn, now was taking full advantage of every opportunity to publicly shock and outrage the masses.

Despite now only being 14, Derek Trucks already had become a well-respected, nationally-known musician by early 1993. He even arrived at that night’s event in his own personal tour bus. This meant precious little to Mr. Manson, who upon approaching the podium to accept the award, patted Trucks on the head and mockingly announced over the microphone to the thousands in attendance that Trucks would likely be better suited at home doing his homework. In addition to ridiculing Trucks, arguably the most talented musician at the event, Mr. Manson further proceeded to raise eyebrows by publicly accepting the award in the name of Satan, his “personal Lord and Savior.” “Did he just say what I think he said?” I asked my buddy who was standing next to me in the back of the auditorium. “Uh, yeah,” he replied. Yikes!

The words of the wicked are like a murderous
ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.
Proverbs 12:6 (NLT)

Regardless of my own personal sensibilities, I’ve never been one to have a “book burning” mentality. I don’t have to agree morally, spiritually or even politically with an artist to appreciate a work’s creative value. In fact, Dead Serios didn’t exactly create a family-friendly product either. Hence, I was able to overlook personally troubling lyrics and recognize Marilyn Manson’s 1994 major label debut, Portrait of an American Family, as one of the year’s best rock records. In fact, by year’s end, I was actually involved with promoting a Marilyn Manson concert date at The Asylum nightclub in Melbourne.

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In addition to being one of the co-promoters of the Marilyn Manson show, Dead Serios also was one of the opening acts. Although they were now a national contender with a major label record in stores, I was surprised to notice during soundcheck that Marilyn Manson’s stage amps and drum kit were as beaten and weathered as Dead Serios’ gear. After soundcheck I was standing at the back of the club perusing the tremendous assortment of T-shirts Marilyn Manson had for sale at their merchandise area. In fact, the wall behind their table was covered with about a dozen different shirts. They all had the band’s eye-catching trademark logo on the fronts and various different troubling slogans on the backs encouraging fans to hate their parents and blaspheming God. Known for my often caustic sarcasm, I incorporated these negative messages into my band’s signature grand finale later in the evening. Taking on the persona of a rock and roll version of the popular children’s television personality Mr. Rogers, I reminded the 200-plus Goth kids in the crowd to brush after every meal, do their homework, go to church and love their parents. I doubt any of them were “buying” what I was “selling.”


Remembering how disinterested the Marilyn Manson members seemed with the Dead Serios performance they’d seen in 1992 and given my growing lack of enthusiasm for them, I didn’t stick around to watch their headline set. I left the stage, walked out of the club, got in my car and sped home to watch the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

Of course Marilyn Manson went on to become one of the biggest names in rock. In 2008 I took a teenage friend of mine to see Marilyn Manson perform in Orlando. I noticed that not much had changed about Mr. Manson’s presentation, as onstage video screens flashed messages promoting drug use and blaspheming God throughout the show.

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I Need to Know
I’d just been going through the motions with Dead Serios for the last several years. We were no longer the cutting edge punks that we once were in our award-winning glory days. The young rockers coming up on the East Coast scene clearly had no connection to guys in their 30s and our once diehard teenage followers were primarily now all married or divorced — with kids of their own, mortgages and understandably, little interest in the local rock and roll scene. I hoped that our new guitarist could provide the spark needed to re-ignite the band and keep us moving forward. We loaded our gear into our van on New Year’s Day 1997 and traveled from Melbourne to producer Jim DeVito’s recording studio, 90 miles north in St. Augustine, to begin working on what ultimately would be our last record.

During our first day at Jim’s studio we got a visit from a guy who lived nearby. Around lunchtime this animated, hyperactive fellow came bopping through the studio doorway dressed as if he’d been playing tennis. He was none other than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer, Stan Lynch.

Talking non-stop at about a million miles an hour, Stan is quite a character. Rattling off insider rock and roll stories at a rapid-fire pace, Stan rides a fine line between captivating and annoying. However, I for one, immediately liked the guy. And I think that he liked my band too. In fact, he came to the studio each day we were there that week. We had been recording an EP that was to include a White Zombie-like remake of the 1978 Village People disco hit, “Macho Man.” Stan thought that it was an inventive and hilarious concept and offered to produce the track. However, after noticing some of the rather tongue-in-cheek impromptu vocals, he backed away from the project because, as he put it, we had “gone overboard” with what he referred to as “fag-bashing.”

I could listen to Stan’s insider, rock and roll war stories all day. While taking a break from recording one evening, Stan got caught up in telling us about his experience during the 1970s as an opening act for KISS during the first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour. “I had to play under that KISS sign night after night while people booed us,” Stan recalled passionately. “But I just thought, hey, I’m up here and you’re down there!”

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From memories of drug-crazed experiences while working with Stevie Nicks to studio dish on recording with John Mellencamp, Stan had a million outrageous tales to tell.

Recalling his days with Tom Petty, he admitted that in the beginning they were great. However, according to Stan, while in the studio during his last days with the band, egos had gotten totally out of control. Stan claimed that by this point nobody was allowed to speak directly to Petty any longer. In fact, all communications with the legendary singer / songwriter while in the studio had to be done via handwritten notes.

One morning Stan described to me the recent influx of band requests for him either to produce or manage them. “I send them all back the same three word comment card... Sucks! Sucks! Sucks!” he told me passionately with his arms flailing about. “Nobody’s got any originality anymore and everyone’s afraid to be themselves,” he added. “If you’re an aging '80s hair metal guy, then hold your head up and be the best aging '80s hair metal guy that you can be!”

I found Stan’s stories to be fascinating and his words of advice to be quite inspirational. In fact, I would apply his “hold your head up,” “be the best you can be” philosophy to my future spiritual life.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith.
Be courageous. Be strong. And
do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

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Let Them Eat Cake!
I met a young woman named Jules in 1993 as she and her girlfriends frequented the South Florida nightclubs where Dead Serios  often performed. Simply put, Jules was a cool chick and after coming to see the band live a few times, she began inviting us to crash at her place whenever we were in town. Even after the band began losing momentum, Jules and I still kept in contact. And in early 1997, Trish and I received an invitation to attend Jules’ wedding.

Despite her reluctance to divulge the info when we first met, I soon learned that Jules’ father was a media mogul who at one time had owned several radio stations and founded a couple of successful TV cable networks. Although Jules' wedding reception was set to take place at her parents' palatial West Palm Beach residence, the ceremony was to take place at the nearby home of her father's close longtime friend, Donald Trump.

I remember feeling as if I’d been cast in a real-life episode of the popular sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air, as Trish and I arrived at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate. Oh sure, our car was considered a sporty ride back in our hometown, but as valets parked our 1992 Dodge Daytona among the near countless Mercedes, Cadillacs, BMWs and other luxury vehicles, I quickly began to feel somewhat out of place at this black tie gala.

The nuptials took place in Trump’s personal theater-type room, overlooking the Mar-A-Lago golf course. As Trish and I sat in the temporary wedding chapel, waiting for the ceremony commencement, I began to recognize the faces of many of the guests who were seated nearby. From old school show biz-types like Connie Stevens to “The Donald” himself — seated with then-wife Marla Maples, Jules’ wedding was truly a “who’s who” event.

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While making our way through the receiving line after the ceremony, I recognized legendary music manager, Doc McGhee, standing in the back of the room. Having managed such heavy weight rock acts as Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, and Skid Row, McGhee was currently managing KISS — I would have known him anywhere.

The wedding was a very formal affair and all of the men were dressed in black tuxedos, while the women all wore glamorous evening gowns. Anticipating that a situation like this might arise, and not being one to ever miss a promotional opportunity, I intentionally had lined the inside of my tux jacket with half a dozen Dead Serios demo tapes. Although I genuinely didn’t want to offend McGhee by bothering him, “off the clock,” I didn’t want to miss the chance of getting my music to an iconic industry power player either. Trying to appear cool, I waited for an opportune moment in which to make contact.

I became a little nervous as he approached me, because in Elvis-like fashion he was surrounded by a huge entourage. Then, just as he was about to pass me by, I finally made my move. As politely as possible, I apologized for the intrusion and asked if I could give him a demo tape — a request that he graciously granted. For an up-and-coming musician like myself looking for that big break, the courtesy was appreciated greatly. This was the first of several personal experiences I’ve had with McGhee over the years and he has always proven himself to be a class act.

While attending a KISS show a few years later, I noticed McGhee walking through the crowd — suit and tie, of course. As he approached my crew seated near the front of the stage, he noticed my son, Jesse, who was still quite little, sitting with us. Seeming genuinely concerned for the welfare of such a young child attending a potentially rowdy rock concert, McGhee inquired if Jesse was okay, if he had a clear view of the stage and if he needed earplugs. Next to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, McGhee was probably the most important man in the entire arena. Yet, he showed concern for the well-being and safety of one child. As I said, “a class act” to be sure.

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Trish and I continued to experience life in the lap of luxury at Jules’ reception — sampling caviar for the first time and schmoozing with the "upper crust." Guests were all placed for dinner according to assigned seating. Among others present at our table, Trish and I also enjoyed the company of a woman resembling actress Bea Arthur who had traveled to the gala from her home in The Hamptons. With the face of her fox stole staring me down, the regal-looking woman informed the two of us commoners that the miniature sorbet sculptures which had arrived at our table were not ice cream treats, but were intended to “cleanse the pallet” following the main course — truly a Grey Poupon experience!

Cooter Time
“Is he dead?” I could hear the rather reasonable question, but I couldn’t render a response. “No. He’s breathing,” another voice offered.

It was the summer of 1997 and my new band, a hillbilly-type, southern rock-inspired glam combo called Glitterhick boldly was taking the debauchery I’d experienced in Dead Serios to a whole new level. On this particular afternoon I had succumbed to the effects of an all-day binger with my newfound bandmates. Our guitarist and ringleader, Moe Cooter, had just broken his leg jumping off the roof “golden god-style” into the pool, while I was passed out, naked, floating on a raft.


GLITTERHICK
(That's me in black and red)
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Probably our favorite word in the Glitterhick vernacular was “more.” More girls, more booze, more drugs, more brazen cock-rock swagger — more, more, more! Despite wearing little more than T-backs and cowboy hats during our live performances, Glitterhick somehow managed to cultivate a large and loyal following among the local bikers. And our shows were more a means of executing organized sex parties than they were music events. We also quickly became THE band of choice for the hometown nudist club. I doubt whether club members had any true affection for our music, but we were the only band in the area with enough chutzpah to perform in the nude when booked to play at their monthly get-togethers. When in Rome...

Glitterhick performing in Los Angeles.
(1997)
We formed in 1997 and gave it our best until 2001. In that time we played seemingly countless shows on both coasts and released one full-length, self-produced CD. And it was while performing in Los Angeles in 1997 when Glitterhick earned its most dubious distinction — we got banned for life from The Chateau Marmont.

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Located on Sunset Boulevard, The Chateau Marmont is no $75 a night Hollywood dump. Referred to as the “great castle on the hill,” The Chateau Marmont is truly a legendary Hollywood landmark — an elegant, luxurious getaway with a storied past. Jim Morrison reportedly injured his back while attempting to swing in through the window of his room via a dangling drain pipe. It also was reported that the members of Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles through the hotel. And it was in a Chateau Marmont bungalow where actor John Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982. So a reasonable question might be, “how on earth do you get banned from the Chateau Marmont?”

I knew Glitterhick was likely to run into trouble when I entered our room at The Chateau Marmont following that night’s show at the Coconut Teaszer and immediately tripped over one of our crew members snorting drugs off the carpet. I had already been spotted earlier that day hanging out our room window overlooking Sunset Boulevard, which began to raise concerns. And subsequent guest complaints to hotel management regarding the volume of our post-show partying didn’t help matters.“Sir, you and your entourage will have to leave the hotel, AT ONCE!” ordered a rather annoyed security guard when he caught up with our obliterated guitarist, Moe Cooter, at 6AM — urinating on a BMW in the hotel’s parking garage.

I took this shot of Motörhead frontman,
Lemmy Kilmister and Glitterhick drummer,
Mike Coe while partying at Hollywood's
iconic hot spot, The Rainbow in 1997.
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A few days after returning to Florida following our West Coast jaunt, Moe Cooter’s brother, who had booked the room on his credit card, received an official letter from The Chateau Marmont, clearly stating that were no longer welcome at the hotel — ever again!

My Glitterhick experience also led to my 1998 discovery of Jägermeister. “It’s sweet and warm, just like cough syrup,” I was told by our new drummer, Scooter Greenbud, as he handed me my first shot of the tonic. Mmm, he was right! My dysfunctional love affair with Jägermeister would endure for the next several years.

Simply put, girls were
ga-ga for Glitterhick!
‘Til Death Do Us Part?
Be sure that I don’t claim to be a psychologist or a professional marriage counselor. I’m just a guy who’s offering a little personal commentary about surviving a particularly painful disease — a disease known as divorce.

I vividly recall the minister who married Trish and I confronting me in a back room of the church just minutes before our wedding ceremony in April 1985. He bent over, lifted his robe slightly, removed one of his shoes and shoved it in my face. “If I ever find out that you screwed this up, I’ll come find you and stick this shoe up your ass,” he warned me with considerable conviction. I assured him that he'd never have reason for concern.

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Trish and I were high school sweethearts. We dated off and on for more than four years prior to my popping the question in 1983. And although our engagement lasted a year and a half, we still were quite young at the time of our nuptials. In fact, I was 22 and Trish was just 20. But at the time, we’d already been involved with each other for six years and we knew that we were meant to be together. We were the rock and roll “Ken and Barbie.” We loved the fast-paced party lifestyle — jet setting to L.A., hanging out backstage at major concert events and basking in our local notoriety. We hit several rocky spots in our relationship along the way, but we always managed to rebound — that is until the late ‘90s. Then everything just went crazy.

Me and Trish backstage during
the '90s with REO Speedwagon
guitarist, Gary Richrath.
There was plenty of blame to go around regarding our split and the fact that we were becoming consumed by partying didn’t help. I could easily offer a dozen reasons why everything was all Trish’s fault. But truth be told, I can come up with just as many examples of how I blew it. Marriage is often fragile and it requires constant care and attention. And I lost it all while my back was turned — running around trying to play rock star.

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We had been fostering a questionable environment for years and consequently we now were surrounded by people of dubious character. My perception was that our relationship had spun out of control and had simply become unfixable. FYI — it’s always fixable. But my pride kept me from recognizing that, and in the summer of 1998, I split — losing everything I had in the process — most importantly, losing out on half of my son’s life. Jesse had nothing to do with the garbage that Trish and I were dealing with and he certainly didn’t deserve to have his family torn apart — especially at age four. But that’s how divorce rolls. And its repercussions are far-reaching. Divorce is a disease that affects many — especially the innocent little ones. I once was criticized by an editor for likening divorce to cancer. As someone who has experienced the effects of both personally, I believe that's actually a perfect comparison.

I was determined that NO judge would dictate when I could see my son — Jesse was all I cared about. But with my tattoos, piercings and shoulder-length hair, my appearance was hardly an asset. Plus, I worked in the nightclub business and played in a band that was better known for its carnal escapades than for creating music. Conversely, Trish’s appearance was always polished and proper. She looked like actress Heather Locklear and had a respectable career in banking. Plus, we lived in Florida, which typically means, that in divorce proceedings, if you have a penis, YOU LOSE! Consequently, it was imperative that Trish and I work out our differences privately and avoid a potentially nasty and costly court battle. In the end, we agreed on a 50/50 custody arrangement — something that no judge likely would have allowed. And with nothing more than my car, my DJ gear, a few KISS collectibles, some clothing and less than $100 cash, I started life all over at age 35. If it’s true that time does heal all wounds, I’m still waiting.

My splintered family in 1998.
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Fly to the Angels
In the early ‘90s I had never heard of multiple myeloma. However, by the mid ‘90s, I’d become all too familiar with this form of cancer that affects the plasma cells in bone marrow — causing bone pain and breakage, particularly in the back and ribs. I recall my mother first complaining of breaking ribs while simply picking up laundry and rolling over in bed. Yet it took doctors a couple of years to diagnose her illness accurately. It was multiple myeloma.

My folks in the '90s - just prior
to receiving Mom's diagnosis.
Upon finally receiving an accurate diagnosis, the cancer was spreading rapidly throughout my mom’s body and she was expected to only live a short time. However, with the news of Trish’s pregnancy in 1993, my mom seemed to harness an intense will to survive. She was clearly committed to being around to welcome her new grandchild into the world. I believe God timed Jesse’s birth perfectly for that very reason. Mom did live to experience Jesse’s arrival, as well as his first, second, third and fourth birthdays! And the relationship they shared was amazing.

By the summer of 1998, Trish and I had split up officially and Jesse and I briefly were attending weekly church services with my parents — which meant a lot to my mom. Then, one Sunday morning in September, I overheard her mention to another woman at the service how she was once again breaking bones. I was shocked, as she’d been in remission for some time and I for one thought she had won the battle. A few days later, her doctor informed my mom that she had at best, only a few months to live.

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Mom was clearly losing the fight in early 1999. The medications were taking a noticeable toll on her and she was becoming extremely weak, yet I remained ever hopeful that she would make a full recovery. Then one Sunday afternoon in March, she couldn’t even get out of bed when my then- girlfriend Karen, Jesse and I went over to visit. This had never happened before.

We visited briefly with my dad in the living room and then made an early exit. Just before we left, I went to the back bedroom and said goodbye to my mom. She seemed disoriented and kept saying she was cold. I covered her in an extra blanket, told her, “I love you Mom,” and went on my way. Those were the last words I ever spoke to the best friend I’ve ever had. Within 24 hours, I received a call from my dad telling me that my mom couldn’t be revived and that an ambulance was on the way to rush her to the hospital.

Mom wasn’t allowed to receive visitors until the next day. When Jesse and I arrived at the hospital, she had been unresponsive for some time. Not fully grasping what was happening, Jesse made his way to my mom’s bedside, reached up and held her hand. At that moment, Mom’s eyes opened. Immediately recognizing the face of her five-year-old grandson, she squeezed his hand tightly for a second or two and then slipped into a final coma.

With the aid of life support, my mom hung on for more than a week, during which time my family kept an around-the-clock vigil. I visited her at the hospital every day and then returned late each night when I got off work from the local nightclub where I was DJ-ing. The sound of my mother gagging and gasping for breath, echoing throughout the quiet hospital halls at 3AM, was agonizing. I’ll forever remember the moment I walked into my parent’s house that afternoon in late March. I was greeted at the front door by my brother’s wife, Beth, with the words, “Mom’s gone.”

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The day of my mother’s funeral was a particularly painful one. As I stood next to the now closed casket following the service, I was approached by a deacon from my parents’ denominational church — a guy named "Dick." “Your mother wants you to join her in heaven,” Dick told me. “But if you don’t change your ways, you’re not going to make it,” he added. Really? This was the single worst moment of my life. I was saying goodbye for the last time to my best friend and that was what this guy wanted to say to me? Dick knew my family. Dick knew me from attending his church for several months with my parents — and those were the words Dick chose to offer. Needless to say, Dick’s words offered NO comfort and I once again felt dragged back 15 yards by a member of my own team.

This memorial lies beneath a tree that was
planted on the property of my parents' church.
Coke Chaser
I was in my late 30s by the end of the ‘90s. Life as I had known it for years recently had come to a crashing end. My mom’s death a few months earlier and my 1998 divorce created the first of several layers of darkness that would hover over me for the next decade.

After being introduced to Jägermeister during my tenure with Glitterhick, I was guzzling the stuff at an alarming rate by 2000. At the time, I was DJ-ing at a local nightclub owned by the Kimple brothers’ youngest sibling, Scott. A shrewd businessman, Scott surmised that it would make better economic sense for both of us if he offered me an unlimited bar tab as part of my nightly wage. But after noticing the unbelievable amount of Jäger he now continually had to restock, Scott opted to pay me in straight cash.

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I also developed a similar reputation at another venue where I DJ’d frequently — a local hot spot called Siggy’s. In 2000 I'd become quite tight with one of Siggy’s nighttime bartenders, a crackerjack, seasoned pro named Pattie. Siggy’s entire storefront is glass, and from her position behind the bar, Pattie could see my van coming through the parking lot as I arrived at work each night. By the time I could drive around back, park my vehicle and make my way into the club, she’d have a monstrous-size shot of  Jägermeister with a Coke chaser and an ice-cold Heineken on the side, already waiting for me in the DJ booth. Hence, I’d begin my night of drinking before even powering up my DJ amplifiers. By the end of the night I’d be stumbling through the bar and screaming profanities over the microphone. On several occasions, I don’t know how I even made it home. But I do recall regaining consciousness one night, sitting at the wheel of my car, which was facing the wrong direction on a major thoroughfare. That’s right, I was now driving drunk on a near-nightly basis.

I was clearly out of control, and I had to get sober. But I worked full-time in the bar business and I really loved to drink. I needed to drink. Plus, I reveled in being the life of the party. I would continue drinking for another four years.

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Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long


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