An early sighting of Captain America, before the muscles and the shield.
Back in June of last year, I wrote on my blog about a friend from my childhood and what he meant to me – The Effects of Friendship. Last wednesday he was performing at the Stanhope House (great place) so I stopped by to hear him. He’s always played guitar and he’s one of the best – ever. I recommend seeing him live if you can – Charlie Jones – and click on the “See Charlie Jones” link. You won’t be disappointed. I’m going back at the end of this month and this time I’m taking my 21 year old son with me.
I probably wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the friend pictured above. He didn’t inspire me to become a photographer, but he was a silly, crazy, excellent guitarist with a hilarious sense of humor. I copied him when I bought a guitar. I was horrible. I followed him around and copied everything else about him. Especially the sense of humor. We made crank phone calls (not very nice, but tame by today’s standards). We marched and protested with signs and posters in our hometown about absolutely meaningless things (you can’t do that today without the police being called). We held mini-Woodstocks in the parking lot next to his house. When he played with his musician friends, it sounded great. When it was just he and I, it was the “Dickie Green Quintet”. By this time I had taken up the trumpet after my favorite musician and band “Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass” (I came to loving the Beatles and the rest of rock-n-roll a little late). My trumpet playing wasn’t any better than my guitar playing, but it did have one advantage – I was unintentionally hilarious. I have recordings from the time and all I can say is, wow. We were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis – musically, that is.
We also staged mock commencement dinners with speeches. We did that in his apartment, or should I say “store”. His Mom owned a small deli/sandwich store. They lived upstairs and had a room in the back, but when we became friends, business had slowed to a crawl and the store was used for everything else. Next door was a bar that he and I “partially” streaked. We weren’t completely naked and wore paper bags over our heads. It didn’t matter though because the drunks never noticed us.
Then one day, he said the magic words, “Let’s make a movie.” We wrote our version of the “Odd Couple” and then proceeded to film with a hand-cranked 8mm camera and a tape recorder. It took 5 minutes to learn that we did not know what we were doing, but that was the moment that changed my life. I wanted to make funny movies. If I never met him, I might never have thought “comedy and movies.”
PS – Our next movie was called “The Blitz”. It was about a young man (me) who found a Puerto Rican genie (another close friend) who grants him a wish – to become Hitler. It was a silent movie with music. (We adapted.) Now, even after all these years, that movie is still hilarious.