10 Reasons Why – Tommy

‘Gator and me hang out from the moment we board the plane in Iowa. We find Minehan and his crew more to our liking, even though David calls me a fag.  He’s roughly upbraided by ‘Gator.

“I ain’t loved no other guy than ol’ Huck,” I stick up for myself. “He’s my hero. I’d do anything fer him and enjoyed it. Jist don’t git no ideas yerself,”

That settles any problems. We decide to hit the rock clubs. When David and Robby find out Tony is booking bands at the Starwood and Whiskey, as well as assistant manager at the Troubadour, they go into instant suck-up. Tony calls around and gets us on the guest list and arranges limo service for us seven straight boys.

“Put us on the list as The Neighborhoods plus 5,” David jokes.

“Meet me back at the Troubadour after midnight. I have to work tonight,” Tony tells them. “Tommy can show you around. He performed here last summer.”

Minehan is instantly jealous. “You play?” he demands. 

“I perform,” I nonchalantly reply. “I tell my ‘Gatorsaurus tale  while playin’ guitar to ‘Crocodile Rock.'”

 

I’m worried that old Jace isn’t around to help me on guitar since Tim and him died. I make no claims to be all that on guitar.

With a limo arrival, we rush the door at the Starwood, ending up on the disco floor with no one dancing and everyone staring at us.

“Fuck this,” David yells. “Where Eddie Nash?” Tony told David that Nash was the one to get him on the bill that night.

 

Someone takes us upstairs. Through the VIP lounge to an office looking down at the stage, Nash sits with a similarly physiqued Mediterranean man discussing business. When he sees us standing at his door, he quickly closes an open safe.

“What do you kids want?”

David is in his element.

“Mr. Nash, I’m David Minehan, the guitarist and singer in The Neighborhoods. We’re house band at the Rat in Boston.  We’re here for a funeral tomorrow. We’d like to play tonight, our only chance to perform in Hollywood during this visit.”

“Well, we’re already fully booked. What makes you think you can just walk in and get on the bill?”

“Tony, from the Troubadour, said you were pretty cool and might allow it.”

“Tony, Doug’s butt boy?”

“We’re all just kids and know how to get other kids excited. Your bar take will double while we play.”

“I suppose you wanna be paid too.”

“Just 25% of the bar take while we’re on.”

“Where are your instruments?”

“The other bands will share.”
“Really?”

“Yeah. It’ll make ’em look good.”

“Okay, Mr hot-shot. If they go along with it. I’m thinking they may regret being upstaged. You can go on at the end of the next band’s set. Boston, huh? You’re like the Modern Lovers?”

“No way. They’re just Velvet Underground clones. We play rock.”

“That I gotta see.”

 

We rush into the adjoining Green Room and bully the opening band into agreeing to lend their instruments. I kinda admired ol’ David for having big balls and gettin’ his way.  He promises them we’ll be up front and cheering them on.

We go down on the floor in front of the stage, ready to make a scene. There are few other fans. David takes matters in his own hands, rushing into the disco room and pushing all the girls over to the live stage room. Most of the boys follow. Even Rodney leaves the DJ booth to see what all the commotion is about.

The opening band is called Big Hair. They play ponderous rock from the late sixties, with long solos during which the guitarists  whip around their long hair,  living up to their name. David gets us prancing around in a circle, pulling in all the bemused disco dollies as we circle them into a tight crowd.   The boys are too intimidated to reclaim their girlfriends. The band assumes it’s a result of their unexciting music.

At the end of their set, the singer announces our surprise. “Well, we’ve got some Boston friends here who have whipped up tonight’s excitement. Get up here and keep it going.”

David bounces on stage, followed by Jim and Mike, picking up the borrowed instruments. He grabs a guitar and steps up to the mic.

“Good mornin’, Vietnam” he croaks. “We’re the Neighborhoods. So lock up yer daughters and prepare to rock.”

The disco crowd looks confused but having been herded into the stage area stick around to see and hear what their master has for them.

“We always start off with an homage to my high school girlfriend, who done me wrong. ‘Roxanne.’

 

 

“Gator was transfixed for a second before going off in the pit area. He grabs me and does his tossing up in the air trick.  Then he tosses me to Hippie who just stands there with his mouth open. I knock him down, landing on him. Bouncing up I grab him by the shoulders and we spin through the disco crowd, knocking several of them down.  ‘Gator picks up girls and tosses them in the air. Their boyfriends are totally afraid of the All-Big Ten linebacker and start to back away.  Hippie, Robby and I get behind them, pushing them back into the scrum, herding them into a circling band of sheep. The mosh pit is born there and then at the Starwood, January 1977.  The band goes into a string of their ‘hits.’

 

 

Finally the disco dollies break away from the pit and head for the door, totally terrorized.

“Stop,” Minehan screams. “Here’s a rocker for ya. We ain’t just maniacs.”

 

 

The girls respond to his orders and run back to the front of the stage. The slow rocker is more to their liking. We get them waving their hands as David bounces around the stage.  As he finishes, the amps go off and the club lights turn on. Nash cut the power. Minehan bows and jumps back into the crowd. Everyone heads back to the disco.

 

Rodney, the DJ, comes over to our group.

“Wow, you guys are amazing,” Rodney, never at a loss for words, never says much except his fan-boy enthusiasms.

Minehan looks down at the short Davy Jones clone, surrounded by his teen groupies. He put his arms around two groupies.

“Well, the girls seem to like it,” he crows.

“Come to K-ROQ on Sunday night. I’ll put you on the air.”

“Cool. Can we play?”

Rodney’s eyes bug out. “I don’t know. Do you play acoustic.”

“Naw. We need the power to drive the girls crazy.” He squeezes both girls who squeal.

“Ten o’clock. Don’t be late.”

“Yes, sir, boss.”

 

Next, we go see Eddie Nash and collect the bar take.

“I wasn’t sure you’d show up after I cut you off.”

“Naw. It’s cool. We just needed to let off some steam.”

“You wanna come back. I like your style of rock.”

“We’re pretty stuck in Boston. We’re the house band at the Rat. Your club’s much nicer. You even have girls in the crowd.”

“Good to see a band not all gay or strung out on dope.”

“How much did we make?” Minehan has his eye on the prize.

Nash reaches in his pocket and takes out $5, handing it to Minehan. “Nobody was drinking while you played.”

David goes,ballistic, grabbing Nash and pulling him into the VIP area, then jumping up on the railing above the stage are. The next band is setting up.

“See how the house screws over the bands,” he yells to the crowd, holding up Nash’s hand with the five dollars still in his fist.  “He says no one drank while we played. Get yer asses over to the bar and make us some money. We ain’t playing fer five bucks.”

 

All the fans do as told and rush the bar. Minehan counts the drinkers. There were fifteen.

“That’s $45. You owe me $11 more.”

Nash laughs and pulls out a ten.

“Make that two fives,” David demands. Nash complies and David gives one each to Jim and Mike.

“Don’t try to screw over the bands,” he admonishes Nash.

“Welcome to Hollywood, kid.”

“Screw you.” We all walk out.

Half the crowd follows us. Minehan has a groupie under each arm.

I tell everyone to follow me to Oki Dog, a few blocks east on Santa Monica Blvd.  Several girls are my age. I soon mirror Minehan with a cutie under each arm. Robby tries to pick up but the girls tell him he’s too scrawny.  David gets antsy about wanting to get it on with his groupies.

“I know a park up the street,” I learned the best make out spots from Joan’s groupies the previous summer.

“Let’s go,” he’s on a mission. We walk two blocks to Plummer Park  and head for some bushes away from the boulevard. I’m already an expert at three-ways with Jace’s guidance. I kinda miss old Jace but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Minehan is less than smooth. As soon as my lovelies start squealing and moaning, his two took charge and have him grunting and groaning.  He later explains it’s his first time. Great to have a three-way to pop your cherry.  He regrets that it isn’t with his girlfriend.

“Roxanne?” I ask.

“Nope. She dumped me in high school. Carol’s my girlfriend at Harvard. She’s holding out for the right time.”

“You’re at Harvard with Tim? How old are you?

“Seventeen. I skipped high school. Tim and Jack are my roommates.”

“I know ya ain’t no fag, just a little retarded.”

We lay back in the dirt, with two girls each. He explains what being Irish means – falling in love before doing the dirty deed.

“Yup. Retarded,” I agree.

 

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