Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008
Been waking up at seven for the past week. Kathy brings me a piece of banana and a cup of coffee and I sit up and have it in bed. I get dressed and walk to the end of the driveway and get the paper (today is recycling day so I bring out the roller trash can).

After reading the paper at the kitchen table I check email then take the dogs for a walk up the road (one mile). Very cool out today and my sweatshirt felt good. When I get back I go out and feed the chickens. I come back and make some breakfast: cereal (fake Cheerios) and strawberries. I take my pill regimen (four pills and a puffer). I go out into the studio and do a pencil study of the Illinois book cover (still not right). Go back and talk to Kathy and settle in for my first nap (at ten).

Yesterday we sent back all the oxygen bottles. When we checked out of Kingman Regional several weeks ago, I had a portable oxygen tank on wheels with the tube into the nose. When we got to Wickenburg Kathy stopped at a gas-convenience store on the edge of town and she pulled into a handicap space. When I objected, she said, "If you aren't handicapped, who is?" I got out and had to take out the tube because the tank was in the back seat. Kathy came round to put it back together. I turned around to see a pretty, young mother with her seven-year-old son, both eating ice cream cones and waiting for us to move so they could get into their giant Expedition parked next to ours. "I'm sorry," I said," we'll be out of your way in just a second." Still wrestling with the wheels on the oxygen tank, Kathy says out of the blue, "He never smoked a day in his life." The mother seemed incredulous, or at least quite curiouos. Finally, as I grabbed the handle on the unit and started to move by them, the woman said, "What did you do?" I pointed at her cone and said, "I ate ice cream."

As they sped off, I imagined the boy saying to his mother, "Was that old man telling the truth." "No, honey, don't listen to him, he's just a bitter old man."

Here's another take on the events at the Exits Exit, this one from our bass player Steve Paroni:

I decided to read your entire blog while you were still "Questionable in Kingman". Charlie Waters was e-mailing us a couple times a day for progress reports. I knew that you really needed a couple of weeks of down time. I started with the True West Business Time Line , then to your oldest post and skimmed a few months a day. I wanted you to rest while I read your diary. Of course I read the daily current blog to see how you were. Glad that you are now walking a bit. I must say my passage through your diary has been a blast. My office mates and partners in crime, were a little less enthused, as my head was continuously buried in my computer screen the last few weeks. I countered by reminding them that I was a Genius and 1/2 hour a day of my time was worth more than eight hours of other, more menial people. They quickly proceeded in trying to disconnect my AOL account.

I have now read your entire blog and am up to date, and will continue to read it for as long as you decide to write it. It is quite good you know, with little bits of artist observations and humorous tidbits that prompts the hungry reader (me) to devour it on a daily basis. I feel like I am acquainted with your most excellent wife Kathy, your children, Hatkiller, and even your chickens. I didn't want you to think that I was coldly forgetting you. It's just that I knew you would be inundated with calls, letters etc., so I researched instead to let you rest.

These are the events, from my perspective, of that day:

I had been at the hall, that Saturday since 10 am and had played bass for several hours with the various incarnations of the Dimensions, the Exits, and Smokey. I saw you come back to the hall with part of your lunch about 2:00 pm. I remember thinking " Robert knew where the good s...t was at." You mounted the drum kit, center stage, and we played a few surf tunes, plus Lonely Bull. It was time for me to let Burf use my bass for his two songs, so I got to sit down. ( My P.A.D. in my right leg was making my Dog Bark and I knew that was it, for me) In between songs I stuck my head up through your Hi-hat and said I'm going to call it at 3 pm. (In order to rest an hour with my foot up on the bed at the motel , take a shower, and make it back with Jeannie for the 5 o'clock dinner with all the musicians and wives/girlfriends) You agreed with me that you were going to cut it off at 3 pm. 3pm came and went and it was about 3:15 or so when Mike Torres called down from the stage and said "Steve, come back up and lets rehearse "Wipe-out." I told Mike to do it without me, as I knew it cold. (besides the bass and the guitar are doing essentially the same part throughout the song, and it was the drummers that needed to do the bit.)

I stayed to see the drum show and witnessed you pounding the heads, making it sound like the Safari's. I saw you do your spontaneous bit " Drum Wars" You made faces at the other two drummers and then got off of your drum stool and started rhythmically playing the wall, the door frame, and the floor, like some demonic wild child from Stomp.( I think I saw an old Fred Astair flick where he did the same bit ) After throwing an epitaph at the other two drummers, and some air "fisticuffs" you flung your drumsticks across the room. Like everyone else, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.. I walked up and said " You have to leave that bit in for tonight, it's priceless". I then turned around and picked up my bass case and walked out, immediately got in my car and headed back to the hotel. ( you must have dropped down just a few seconds after I left).

At the Hotel I changed my bass strings with fresh ones, got in the shower, and was resting on the bed when I called Mike Torres to find out the exact name and location of the restaurant we were all meeting at. It was about 4:10. Mike told me that he had been trying to reach me. " Bob had a heart attack, he's in the hospital." Upon hearing these words I shifted into that strange Rod Serling mode, that quasi,surreal existential moment, where time seems to stand still and disbeleif and uncertanty seem to be some kind of defence mechanism. (It took me a minute or two to get it.-- Denial is not just a river in Egypt.) Mike didn't know much more other than you were in the Hospital and Charlie was with you. He told me to meet at the restaurant at 5 pm and the musicians would discuss what to do.

I got off the phone and told Jean " You're not going to believe this--Bob is in the hospital, he's had a heart attack!". Jean asked if you were alright and I told her we would get more info at the restaurant.

My thoughts going down the hill were many. Would you ultimately be OK. Could we pull off the show without you?. Should we even do the show without you? ( I believe that I came to the same conclusion as
everyone else on that drive, as my sense of reasoning came back.) The show had to go on, we had over 300 R.S.V.P s, with some people coming from out of town. Bob would agree with this!!

As Jean and I pulled up to the restaurant, there were seven or eight people standing on the sidewalk. We got out of the little Aveo and everyone seemed very subdued and quiet. Larry Archer filled me in with a few facts of what went on after I had left the hall. Larry said we should probably go in, so we did. Everyone was in agreement that we had to go on. I wasn't hungry and just had a salad. Mike Torres told me he wasn't going to stay because he wasn't hungry either. After a while, we left the restaurant to walk over to the hall.

At the hall, I gathered Bebe over to a table and started writing a short 2 paragraph monologue for Roger to say during the intro to Pretty Woman, in your place. Bebe pointed out who was to receive the framed poster, and I went and located it. I told Mike T. to sing the slow part with me, enableing Roger to be free to do the dedication to the Havetone family.

Larry Archer went out to Mike's van and listened to all the beginning drum beats of the songs. I told him I would que him wile we were playing, for endings . I sang Honky-tonk woman in your place. Roger did La Bamba. We were all adament about doing the best show possible under the circumstances.

I believe when you see the video, you'll, see that it was a good event. It would have been over the top ,if you had been with us--but oh time.

Would like to have margueritas on the patio and solve all the worlds problems when you feel better.

—Your friend Steve Paroni el paron the silver fox

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