Friday, July 27, 2012

A band called Aerosmith (1972 or 1 not sure)

About 1972 or 1 or so, a local band practice nearby at a place called the warehouse. For a long time a thought they practice at a garage near Bay State Cycles but found out later in life it was at the warehouse. I was too young at the time to venture out of federal prison (Prospect Hill Projects). This local band was very popular among the teenagers at the projects and we had heard a lot about them (mostly the partying that went on). Nobody had much money so this was a way for the project kids to see a concert. Being 7 and too busy riding my new (recently borrowed) bicycle into the pool. The pool at the projects was one that tapered down to 4 feet in depth and started out at 6”. At the front end of the pool was a fountain that sprayed water.  Riding my bicycle into the pool was an enjoyable event for me. Not sure what was the attraction was but I enjoyed it. On this particular day the attendants of the pool bared me from riding my bicycle into the pool and I was the leaving the area when a project friend came running up to me and announced that “that band is here, down on Hanson Rd.”  My brain said “Bing-go.” “They are setting up to play music.” I yanked my bicycle out of the pool and peddled down to 22g Dermondy road were I, my mom and brothers lived. After changing out of my wet clothes I met up with my friends who were gathering out front of my house and we stormed down the hill (snotty nose and all) to see this band that we had heard so much about. The members of the band (by the way, I do not remember the band at the time being called Aerosmith) were plugging in the amps and setting up the drums.

 First thing I would like to say is that Aerosmith is the first band that I have ever heard of playing the projects. I have seen Rappers today actually play at local projects as part of their tour. In the late 90’s I saw this in Virginia while working at Newport News Shipbuilding. They played at the projects by day and then at night at the Hampton Coliseum. Credit where credit is due.

The band was setting up, as I said earlier, plugging amps into an orange extension cord and getting ready to crank it up. They stetted up at the end of Hanson Rd down at the dead end, at the circle. I remember watching the blond hair dude (Hamilton) and slinky (Tyler). I called him slinky because he reminded me of a popular tool, at the time, called slinky. It is a spiral wound (coil) piece of wire that today they make out of plastic. The toy would spring around when pulled and has a funny look to it. The band cranked into some heavy songs and we the kids were pushed back out of the way by the local girls who insisted to be close to the band. At one point I was 3 feet from slinky, by the end of the first song I was at the back of the crowd. I was not too happy because I had thought I had a new friend.

 Aerosmith is a band that I have enjoyed from day one. 1975 my brother Scott had bought an album call ‘Toys in the Attic.” Musically I had gone from Elvis to the beetles to the Rolling Stones and now Aerosmith. They enlightened me to a different sound that I had never heard before this date and after this I found many different types of music. During the 80’s I would hitch hike across Massachusetts going to see Aerosmith play. During the 80’s Aerosmith would announce shows out of nowhere. I found out later it was generally because they were broke and needed cash, being from Boston they always had people willing to show.

In the early nineties I worked for a guy named Tom Marron who claimed that he use to deal drugs to the members of the band. Apparently they had a serious cocaine problem back then (old news today). Tommy said they were a nightmare, getting calls at all hours of the night wanting more, more, and more. He would, at times, double the price in hoping they would say forget it and they would say “bring it over.” This sort of abuse became apparent one night in Worchester Mass. at a show I was attending when Steven Tyler passed out on stage. I remember him hanging on to a tall stand up fan on stage that looked like it was going to drop into the crowd. Tyler was drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and picking something out of a wood bowl next to the drum set. Some type of pill I presume. He poured that Jack down his throat at an alarming volume, like there was no tomorrow.  The whole obsession with drugs caught up to him that night and his body and mind gave out and he collapsed right on stage… the band played on ( I believe it was “Train Kept a Rolling”).( I am writing this in a coffee house in Portsmouth, NH and a beautiful woman with red Patten leather shoes just walked in and has caught undivided attention and I forgot to breath) anyways, shortly after this night the “toxic twins” as they were called at the time cleaned thing up and for good reason. This is now long into their past.

One show I went to in Foxboro stadium, again a show announced for no apparent reason or album release, the band had half of Foxboro Stadium set up, about mid field. I meet some folks at a wall that divided the stadium into to two sections and it cost more to go down on the field. We were devising a plan to jump the wall. We diverted the attention of the guards by telling them that 3 blokes had just jumped the wall. When they ran over to catch them, guess what, we jumped the wall. It was an extremely hot day and the faint at heart were passing out and carried off. That day was videotaped by someone on stage and the band had a large screen set up to see. I would like to see that tape because I was on it several times during the show. We had made it right up front.

Well the party days ended and Aerosmith picked up steam. CD’s started going platinum in tune with their brains clearing up. Soon I was not able to buy tickets; you use to be able to buy them up until the day of the show, not no more. The last show I was able to see of Aerosmith was at the Lynn Manning Bowl. A small stadium used for local soccer and lacrosse games. The band kick ass as usual. A bit of disruption occurred when a fellow decided to climb a tower that for some reason was located next to the field. It appeared that he was going to jump off the top of the tower in the southerly direction. A landing pad had formed by the crowd moving out of the way and chanting started “jump, jump, jump.” A brave security guard who wasn’t being paid enough climbed the tower and talked the man down…the show went on. The Hells Angels were there, back stage.

Hay, I’ll say it, I love that Tyler voice. 1975 I played that album over and over again and later on wore out cassette tapes of the band. His voice is an instrument of the band, very distinctive. (Recently I wrote a song called “Queen City talk” that has Aerosmith written all over it, the influence is unavoidable). Steve Tyler took that Mick Jagger style, double down and it was jack pot. The band has become so popular that state of New Hampshire had a scratch ticket (lottery) with the band on it. Well no matter how many albums they sell, no matter how many concerts they sell out they are still that local band to me. I miss being able to buy tickets to go see them play. I guess it’s a good thing when you can sell out a concert faster than a forty old man can log on to the internet. The last time I tried this, 10 minutes after the tickets went on sale, “sold out.”
Creative Commons Copyright by
Dess Dermondy

Friday, June 29, 2012

MGA, a poem by


He came last night black and gray

To look to wonder

Look at what to wonder on whom

Laugh now

We shall share the wine

Dance with jewels

A sparkle a shine

Celebration unkind

Laugh now

We shall laugh later

During our celebration

A click a clack

He climbs the stairs

As he stood to look

Arm around

We will laugh in a celebration

He is a friend

He waits for it to begin

So don’t ask

You will never get in

What is the greatest wonder of them all

The answers were all around

So now you know

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Newport News Shipbuilding, 2002 (written in 2010)

I’ve been working for a research and development company for 10 years prior to this trip. With out getting into revealing classified writing, generally what we did was a “tune-up” on Navy aircraft carriers. We had just finished up on a trip to Canada (story coming) and off to Virginia. Traveling became a normal part of life for me at the time. Flying at first was frightening, but when you fly several dozen times it starts to become a way of life. A minimal amount of passengers were on board for the flight. The country had just been attacked by a bunch of cowards and traveling by plane was off this list for many. The company had split up the work crew incase one of the planes was hijacked by terrorist. The country was still in the 9-11 fear factor. This way half the crew would make it to Virginia and continue with the work at hand. Preliminary letters were written by management incase a plane went down and families needed to be notified.

First we landed in Washington to take a commuter flight to Virginia. The commuter flight consisted of a twin prop plane with seating for a tired dozen. These twin props are fun to take if you have some traveling hours behind you. The pilots obviously enjoy flying them. The take offs and in-flight banks have a roller coaster effect. Beads of sweat form on the novice travelers’ foreheads with blood stopping grips on hand rails of the seats. Most have visions of fuel pump starvation as 70-degree banks are achieved. The hope is that the pump won’t loose its prime of fuel. If it lost its prime the plane would need to land via wind current. Landings on a twin prop are interesting on windy days. The plane can and will drop 150 feet or so while approaching. The constant struggle by the pilot is evident by readjusting the planes flaps. You know when the pilot looses control when all of a sudden the plane makes a 65-degree bank straight up wards to avoid a belly flop landing. Second approaches are typically followed by extremely hard landing that shocks the spine. I always enjoy seeing the pilots exit the cockpit with a wide smiles and “enjoy your day” good byes.

It was mid-July; Virginia in July has the humidity consistency of pea soup. At 5am wake-up and exit the hotel room into a sauna atmosphere. Waiting for the always-late staff engineers newly recruited from local College and universities. Hard-nosed management would curb these late meetings with a simple private talking to. Simply catch the always-late staff engineer alone then kneel him with “keep pulling that late arrivals and your gone.” There were a couple of ‘staffers’ who no matter how many threats they received by upper management continued to exit their hotel rooms when it was convenient for them. Always followed by “off the record” talks. “listen good get your shit together earlier so you can be on time.” The standard response was always “the hotel didn’t ring me a wake up call,” followed by upper management response of “have your mother call.” “Or set your table alarm clock, your wrist watch alarm clock, cell phone alarm clock and the wake-up call by the front desk.”

Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding (NGNN) is a bit of a rough house for contractors. Most but not all workers there don’t like contractor because they feel that jobs are being taken away from them (not true). Not only were we contractors but also contractors telling them what to do. A double whammy. Normally we would work with the same shipyard that we have in the past. I have traveled to NGNN many times. This would also make the training easier having the same people year after year. Any manager out there worth their weight will tell you of the costs of training. Normally we would set up the process area (water filtration) and go straight to operations. Supervising is a tough job always looking for balance between getting the job done and not pissing every body off in the process. I worked with a fellow names Reggie who was the shift supervisor for the yard workers. The newspaper crew was the third shift. I always got a kick out of this one particular guy who would walk onboard with an arm full of newspapers apparently not expecting to perform much work. Mondays were even more interesting with the Sunday versions of local and national news. He never tried to hide it. There was always a one-hour shift overlap so that we could talk to the next shift and explain what had occurred over the last shift. Every morning we would come on shift with newspapers on the table and crossword puzzles completely done (not every one on this shift approved of this fellow and he had many run ins with people on his shift for his lack of interest in work). 3rd sift management always had a laundry list of things to do.

The Navy likes to train crews on a daily bases. Constantly over the PA system you would here “this is a drill, this is a drill” so not to panic any body followed by what was occurring around you. If your ever going to get hurt in an industrial environment you want to get hurt on a Navy base. Dozens of Sailors come flocking to the scene. Complete with every piece of equipment needed to save your ass. I must say that it is comforting to know that this amount of training goes on. On one uneventful day I was walking up the gang plank to enter the air craft carrier an alarm went off. The alarm was ear piercing in decibel level. I looked up at the entrance to the ship and seen a m-16 heading down the gang plank accompanied by a 19 year old Marine (the bullets in weapons are real and no longer rubber bullets). The Marine was yelling "DOWN DOWN DOWN," for future reference: when a Marine yells down down down; you get down (they are trained to kill and are ready and willing to protect this country). Ship yard workers(yard birds) started dropping to the ground. I took several steps back off the plank and dove behind a dumpster. I was working on the "out of site out of mind" theory. Its not that I thought that the dumpster would stop any armorer piercing bullets. A dead silence fell over the ship yard. Any one who works or lives near a shipyard will tell you that a shipyard always has noise. Clanking banging and hums of motors. This was an uneasy silence. I looked around and seen dozens of yard birds, belly first to the ground, not moving. Dust clouds were forming around their mouths and nostrils as they exhaled heavily to the ground. Every one was waiting for the familiar "this is a drill" announcement that never came. I remembered being 19 years old and not thinking properly. 19 year old Marines with fully loaded M-16's is in my top ten, "to fear", list. Several M-16 were diving for cover. The sound of a human body hitting cold steel is a dead Thug. A sound that I have never heard before yet I knew exactly what it was when I heard it started running by on board. It was bullets clanking against gun steel. Not sure of the caliber (nor could I mentioned if I knew for its classified info) of the weapon but it must be large for the gun barrel had a tripod at the end of it to hold the weight of the gun barrel up. Two Marines manned the weapon, one holding a drab green ammo can holding the bullets and the other manning the trigger. There were two of these weapons and they took  trained calculated positions aiming the barrels down at us. Approximately 60 feet apart. The only noise in the entire shipyard was the crackling of two way radios as communication between Officers and personnel started. I couldn't hear what was being said. Stress levels started to rise among the yard birds over the age of 30. The dead silence was nerve racking and frightening because all that was need was one sharp noise and all hell would have broken loose in the form of bullets flying. being young and in the military, you can't wait to fire your weapon that you have been trained to fire. Especially with currently live targets. Again there was no announcement that "this is a drill." The atmosphere was quite tense as wide eyed yard birds were looking about. M-16 were still diving for cover, I lost count after 10.
             Finally an Officer stood up after what seemed like several hours, an announced that "this is a drill." A crowd of yard birds formed at the plank ready to take the Officer for a short stroll out back to talk to. Th Officer was escorted by several Marines out of site. The comments being made by the yard birds are unmentionable to put in writing. The coast cleared and every one went back to work and milling about. I have never before or ever seen again in my 18 year career working in and around shipyards seen a drill go unannounced. Please don't do it again, ...Sir.
Creative Commons Copyright by
Dess Dermondy

Monday, January 23, 2012