Child Hood Hero

Steve Martin and Martin Short at Thunder Valley


I got to see him.  A childhood hero.  Steve Martin.  Since his first record “Let’s Get Small” hit in 1977, I’ve been a fan ever since.  I bet I played that record dozens and dozens of times as a kid.  And I still have it.  And this morning, after last night’s concert, Karen and I are listening to not only that album, but thanks to Tidal…a whole host of Steve’s recordings as an accomplished banjo player.  Who knew he had so many recordings that are quite remarkable as stand alone performances…not to mention his acclaim as arguably the most successful stand-up comedian of the 1970’s.

Comedy, music, movies, books, and now on-stage comedy and blue grass band performances here in 2016.  Congratulations Steve for a lifetime of fun and success. And from a true fan, thank you.

Steve Martin has also written a couple of books, his first being “Cruel Shoes.”  My favorite story written by Steve Martin:

— Demolition of The Cathedral at Chartres —

Mr. Rivers was raised in the city of New York, had become involved in construction and slowly advanced himself to the level of crane operator for a demolition company. The firm had grown enormously, and he was shipped off to France for a special job. He started work early on Friday and, due to a poorly drawn map, at six-thirty one morning in February began the demolition of the Cathedral at Chartres.

The first swing of the ball knifed an arc so deadly that it tore down nearly a third of a wall and the glass shattered almost in tones, and it seemed to scream over the noise of the engine as the fuel was pumped in the long neck of the crane that threw the ball through a window of the Cathedral at Chartres.

The aftermath was complex and chaotic, and Rivers was allowed to go home to New York, and he opened up books on the Cathedral and read about it and thought to himself how lucky he was to have seen it before it was destroyed.

The Great Johnny Carson

Like many of my friends, I spent many a nights in front of a (non-flat screen) TV watching Johnny Carson entertain, amuse, and make us laugh. This short few minutes shows the backstage lead-up to his final night, and ends with his heartfelt “goodnight” to his viewers like me who let Johnny into our living room and bedrooms for 30 years from 1962 to 1992. Those were the days…spent many a nights in front of a (non-flat screen) TV watching Johnny Carson entertain, amuse, and make us laugh. This short few minutes shows the backstage lead-up to his final night, and ends with his heartfelt “goodnight” to his viewers like me who let Johnny into our living room and bedrooms for 30 years from 1962 to 1992. Those were the days…

Everyone Knew My Name; My “Cheers” Bar

Theme to “Cheers”

Le VirageIn the mid-90’s, a friend introduced me to a French restaurant and bar in Walnut Creek called Le Virage. It quickly became my “regular” spot to either start the night, end the night…or sometimes both. It was a cozy and unique spot as the video below shows. Beautiful murals reminiscent of Toulouse Lautrec on both the exterior and interior. Private dining rooms in themes such as a wine cask room or a kings table complete with jeweled chandelier over your curtained table.le-virage-mural-6

Lolek and Andreina Jasinksi were the owners and there almost every time I visited. So was Lolek’s son-in-law Eddie, who was the general manager. And then there was Thomas, Matt, and Rick…and all of them always in tuxedos all of the time.

They were famous for serving a Pousse Cafe. A Pousse Cafe was a layered drink served in a glass like this. Rick or Matt would carefully prepare…set one in front of each of us, light on fire and hand us a straw to thrust down into the glass and drink up.

We had so many good times there. And the food was authentic French cuisine and they made a table-side Ceasar that was incredible. Dinners were fancy, rich-tasting, and expensive. And the service always impeccable.

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It was a great place to gather.

I was there just a few nights before they closed in 2005. This video is with Lolek, Eddie, and Rick…and tells the “story of Le Virage.”

Sadly, Lolek died in 2007 just two years after the restaurant closed.IMG_7160

And then in 2012, fire struck the building.Fire

Just the other day I drove by the old site, there on North Main Street. It’s just a parking lot today. It was so fun while it lasted. There was never a place like it before…and never will be again.

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Tower Records…All Things Must Pass

Most people know what a “listening station” is at a record store but…have you spent a couple of hours on a Friday night listening to CDs to your heart’s content-looking for just the right sounds to bring home?

I did.  At Tower Records.  And I found the greatest music that way.

If you were a Tower Records addict, this movie is for you: All Things Must Pass.