|Tracks...the Wild Ones|
|Chapter 18. TRACKS DAYS ARE NUMBERED|
|Bryan Brat was real excited to be in Tracks as our permanent back-up drummer; filling in for Pat O’Neil whenever Pat was on the road with Aerosmith. And we were real excited to have him, too. Bryan turned out to be a heavy duty drummer along with being a real nice guy and as an added benefit, at only 17, he lowered the average age of the band considerably. But, it wasn’t too long after he joined on that Lorry got the settlement for the band’s car wreck of February, 1978.
It wasn’t enough to open up a Cayman Islands numbered account by any means. After Lorry’s hefty medical expenses were taken out, there wasn’t a whole lot left. Since Lorry’s sister worked for the lawyer who handled the deal, he didn’t charge any fees, taking out only the most basic of expenses. I’m not even sure how he got anything for Lorry. The car that ran the red light and totaled us had been stolen by drunken teenagers who managed to get away before the cops showed up – and we didn’t have any insurance. I always suspected that the car wasn’t really pinched, just ditched by the owner’s beering-impaired son and reported stolen after the accident. But we weren’t about to check out the molars on this gift horse. All in all, it was still far more money than either of us had seen at any one time. It added up to just about the right amount to make a very smooth and comfortable transition out of Boston and into New York. So that’s what we did.
|On the big night, Lorry and I walked over to the Palladium on 14th Street to see ex-New York Doll frontman David Johanson who had a very trashy, Dolls-sounding band and album out (it would still be several years before he adopted his Buster Poindexter alter-ego). The opening act was a magician who had the musical accompaniment of Lenny Kaye on guitar. A great show. We hurried back to our new apartment just before midnight and popped a bottle of champagne (Perrier Joet! not the usual Andre) with Bryan and IP to celebrate the new year in the new city. Then Lorry dressed the two teens up in some New York cool outfits she designed and we hit the streets for some bar hopping. We started out on Saint Mark’s Place and probably hit three or four joints before settling in at CBGB early in the morning. Both Bryan and IP were a year short of the 18 year old drinking age (IP in fact didn’t look a day over 14) but they didn’t have any problems getting into any of the bars in those very legally lax, non-PC days. We had just missed Patti Smith’s set, but saw John Cale put on a very intense show. That pretty wild first night out as New Yorkers would turn out to be pretty mild compared to what was coming for us.
The next afternoon we took Bryan and IP to Grand Central Station to catch a train back to Boston. Bryan seemed real down and Lorry finally got him to talk about what was on his mind. Before we announced our imminent departure from Boston, Bryan had booked us for a show at his school, Arlington High, for later in January. Now, since we were gone from town, he wasn’t eager to face the ridicule of his peers who had never really believed he was playing drums with Tracks. Lorry assured him that we had every intention of doing that last, final Tracks gig. So we did - I think it turned out to be one of Tracks’ best shows.
|We threw the biggest party that Blue Door Studio had ever seen (and that’s saying something) on Christmas Eve 1978 to make our announcement. We invited just about everyone we knew in Boston – fellow artists, bands, scenesters, former band members, family and friends. It was a real hum-dinger. In fact, everyone was having such a good time, they all thought Lorry was joking when she added a farewell speech onto her Yule toast at midnight. And that included our band. Bryan had to finish high school anyway, and Pat was heavily involved with Aerosmith again, but we had been telling John Shriver all along that we planned to make the move when we could. But he always sloughed it off. I don’t know, maybe he thought we were kidding or just pipe dreaming. He was kind of shocked I guess when the reality set in that Lorry and I were really going through with it. I still feel kind of bad that he was left behind, but he just wasn’t ready to move and we were psyched to get our band and our life going in New York without any more delays.
With little sleep, we drove to New York early Christmas morning. Stayed at Lorry’s mother’s apartment (she was in Brazil visiting relatives) and put a deposit down on a studio apartment two days later. We thought, “That was easy enough.” Later, everyone would always tell us how they had searched for month after endless month to find a decent enough place to live in the city. I guess we were just lucky. We always were. The apartment was real nice – easily affordable, recently renovated, sunken living room, exposed brick wall, even a working fireplace - but the best part was that it was on East 11th Street almost exactly halfway between (and just a few blocks from) CBGB and Max’s Kansas City which were still the heart and soul of New York’s music scene. Cool. We liked the flat so much, Lorry and I would wind up living there for one week short of nineteen years.
|We rushed back to Boston to break down Blue Door studio for the quick escape to New York. Thankfully, Bryan Brat and his school chum IP (aka I Pee) volunteered to help us. Nothing like having a couple healthy teens willing to run up and down stairs lugging your junk. We rolled up paintings, packed up our art and music gear and threw our clothes into trash bags for easy transport. What we didn’t feel like schlepping, we left with Gary Kirby who had shared the studio with us. (We had known Gary from the Art Institute. But over the past year or so, Gary was living with his girlfriend and spent little time at Blue Door though he was still paying his portion of the rent. Gary was a very talented artist. A former Army medic in Viet Nam, Gary had an amazingly creative approach to his work. Not only was he a painter of note, but he also did miniature stop-motion filmmaking at the studio [think Ray Harryhausen – Mighty Joe Young, the Sinbad features, etc.]. Last we saw him, Gary was working on a great illustrated book featuring insects. The story and his unique drawings were uncannily similar to the characters and situational storylines of both A Bug’s Life and Antz which debuted about twenty years later – I always wondered about that – we lost touch with Gary, I know he wasn’t credited on either film.)
So the morning before New Year’s Eve, we rented a truck which was much too big (it was the only one left on the lot) and packed it up with our junk. The guitars, amps and other fragile stuff went into our old Chevy wagon with Lorry driving and Bryan’s friend IP as her co-pilot. (IP only drove for half a mile or so before Lorry commandeered the car back. IP said he had a driver's license, but he didn’t mention that his only driving experience had been jockeying cars in and out of spaces in a parking lot.) I handled the truck with the assistance of Bryan. And I needed all of his help. Not only was the truck a monster (it took some getting used to air brakes, slow acceleration rates and terrifyingly long stopping distances), but one side mirror was broken and the other at a permanently useless angle so unless Bryan told me, I had no idea if anything was happening behind or on either side of me. Our usual route into New York didn’t allow trucks so Bryan had to do some quick map reading and navigating as well. A real adventure, but everything I did with Lorry was always an adventure and would continue to be so. The 204 mile trip took several stops for gas (that behemoth must have gotten all of 2 miles to the gallon) and close to eight hours. But once we got to 11th Street, the kids leapt into action. While Lorry and I mostly supervised, drank beer, smoked cigarettes and checked out our new neighborhood, Bryan and his friend took no more than an hour to empty out that truck, zipping up and down those four flights like they were on speed. Maybe they were. All that activity tired us all out and we crashed early, ready to gear up for our first New Year’s Eve in New York City the next day.
|Christmas Eve '78 - Blue Door, Boston
Above: Jeff with Lorry Doll in the outfit she designed and created for the party (as she did every Xmas). Below: Angelo and Micky of The Phantoms make a bold entrance in their garbage bag evening wear.
|Artist Bill Pitcher, Lorry and Frank Gerace (Zoo Types, Dreamchild). Below: With photographer Fred Taylor|
|Left: Lorry flanked by artists Bill Pitcher and Gary Kirby - our Blue Door "roomie"
Right: Original Tracks' bass player Paul 'Kidd' Kross telling punk 'n roll war stories.
|Above: John Shriver, with Sandy, chats with fellow bassist Tas Calo (Zoo Types)
Left: Jeff Rey shares one final drink with neighbors, lawyer Peter Sunderland (seated on left) and painter Donald Shambroom. Their lofts above Blue Door were under almost constant aural attack from Tracks. Their patience and understanding were amazing.
|New Years Eve '78 in NYC
Left: On East 11th Street, Lorry in the outfit she created for the night (as she did every New Years)
Below: Bryan Brat in his
Lorry Doll designed.
trash 'n roll
New York City gear
|Left: Bryan, IP and Jeff are about to catch their second wind for the big night on the streets of the Big Apple.|