Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I had the privilege to be invited (along with a couple hundred others) to spend a week at Todd Rundgren's place in Hawaii for Toddstock - 60 years on the planet. These are my daily notes for the week.

Monday 6/16

Our flight out of SFO was at 4:30 PM, so we left Sacramento about noon to ensure we got there in plenty of time. Traffic was light, and we pulled into the SkyPark, left the car and caught the shuttle to the airport. We had done Internet check in, so we already had our boarding passes. All we had to do was check our luggage and head for gate 90. While we were sitting in the waiting area, we were paged and asked to come to the desk. Turns out, they asked us to upgrade our seats to Economy Plus class on an exit row to accommodate a family. We were happy to move up from the back row, even though it meant we were actually across the aisle from each other.

The flight was delayed due to mechanical problems. They eventually moved us to another gate and a different plane. Delayed about 20 minutes. We eventually took off and headed for Hawaii. The flight included the movie "Horton Hears a Who" and I also watched "12 Monkeys" on my iPod to pass the time.

When we got to the airport in Lihue, we waited for the luggage to arrive. Cece's bags showed up, and so did most everybody else's. But not mine. We waited a bit more, and finally checked in with baggage claim. We discovered that my suitcase was still in San Francisco, and would be delivered on the next flight out, which was the next day arriving around noon. I was pretty much stuck with the clothes on my back until then. I called the cottage caretaker to advise her when we would be arriving, and she let us know the house would be open.

Saw Prairie Prince on the plane (drummer in Todd's band) and met Rachel Haden (bassist in Todd's band) at the airport. We got our rental car (a Mazda 3) and headed out. We had pretty good directions to get out of the airport (not really that hard) but when faced with three choices for selecting the right direction once out of the airport, we selected two before finally getting it on the third try.

The road to Kilauea was about 27 miles and in the dark, first time, was a bit unusual. It seemed the speed limit changed every few feet. We occasionally spotted a glimpse of the ocean, but were pretty set on getting to our destination and I kept my eyes straight ahead.

We found the road to turn off to get to the cottage, and the tree lined driveway, but still had a bit of effort to find the cottage in the dark. But we did finally find it after diving around a bit, and settled in for the night, sans a change of clothes. It even took us a while to be sure we were in the right place, as there was no identifying information around it, other than the color "green." But it looked a bit like the pictures we remembered from the web site, so we decided to stay and hoped we weren't squatting in someone else's house for the night.

Tuesday 6/17

We were awakened sometime between 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM by roosters crowing. We had no idea why there were roosters, and why they had no sense of time (we would find out later). We finally dragged ourselves out of bed at 6 AM, which would have been 9 AM at home. Obviously, our internal clocks had yet to adjust. It was lightly raining outside.

Donning my day old clothes, we headed off to find Todd's place. The directions we had were pretty vague, "the next road up, about a mile away", but I was confident we would find it. We walked and it began to rain. OK, it would pass, and it did (that's the way Hawaiian rains are.) We found the road, and followed it. It began to rain again. And stopped. We went up the road, never seeing anything that looked like a bunch of tents. Finally, I told Cece I would run ahead and see what was up there. I did, and on the way back, not finding what we were looking for, I headed back. It started to rain again. This time it didn't stop. I caught up with Cece who was already on the way back and we were both soaked. She, at least, had a coat on, though it wasn't cold. We made our way back to the cottage, after walking 3+ miles.

Back at the cottage, we got Michele's (Todd's wife) number (didn't think to take it with us on the walk) and called her for directions. Turns out we had the right road, wrong direction. Michele also asked us to check on Shandi Sinnamon, who was staying at the cottage next to us. She had injured her back the day before and was unable to return to Toddstock. She was happy for the company and asked that we bring her back some food, as she had none at her place.

We decided to drive this time. Much better choice. But not before at least changing my T-shirt with one of Cece's. At least it was a TR tour shirt. We arrived at Todd's place and walked up the long drive, expressing our wonder at the house and the tent site that had been set up further down the drive. We greeted Michele and asked for some food to take back to Shandi. We got a big plate of fruit, bacon and a carton of orange juice and headed back. We sat with Shandi for about an hour, sharing the food, and getting to know her a bit. Once we made sure she was doing OK, we went back to the cottage, got the car and headed back to Toddstock. This time we got a chance to meet a few folks, and delivered what ended up being our first sob story of the week, the tale of the Lost Luggage and the Lost Rain-Soaked Walkers. We managed to tell it a few times, much to the chagrin of our fellow Toddstockers.

After catching up and meeting a few folks, we headed on up to Princeville to buy some light groceries for back at the cottage. We bought a 12-pack of Coke for $6.99, roughly double what I'm used to paying, and some Wavy Lays chips. When asked if we were members of the store (they get discounts) we told them we were from out of town, and they gave us the discount anyway. We saved about 33% as a result. We saw a Lappert's and wanted to get the good lemon freeze that we had when we were in Maui 4 years earlier, but this one only had coffee and ice cream. I had a cone and Cece had a berry smoothie. Ran into Joan Carlson and chatted for a while.

Went back to the cottage and waited for a call about the lost luggage. It didn't come, so I called. They told us the baggage had arrived, and was going to go out that day. We just didn't know when. I watched the "12 Monkeys" bonus material on my iPod and finally the luggage arrived about 5 PM. We had dried my wet clothes in the dryer on the premises, but it was nice to change into something clean. We headed off to Toddstock, now in a much better mood after this rough start. Mexican food was the meal for the evening and it was great. We started meeting folks, and renewing friendships with other folks we hadn't seen for a while. Lots of conversation and before you knew it, the evening had rolled on to 11:30 PM. Stopped briefly at Steve and EJ's (not Steve and Edie's) cottage and picked up some more food for Shandi. Back home and no problem falling asleep that night.

Wednesday 6/18

We got up around 6:30, aware now that the roosters were not a local issue, but island-wide. We showered and headed off to Todd's for breakfast. We ate our fill, and had a plate prepared for Shandi. She needed to move out of her cottage that day, so we had agreed that she would be able to stay at ours that evening, before she returned home the next day. We had an extra futon, and the mattress was actually harder than her bed, so she was grateful for the extra support for her back.

We then went to Princeville for our zip line adventure. Cece was a bit nervous about the height, but after the first trial zip line, she was having fun. About the mid-point we needed to walk across a suspension foot bridge. That was a bit too much for her and she got about halfway across before declaring that she couldn't make it. But with some urging, she was able to make it and we finished the course. A quick dip in a nice freshwater pond floating in inner tubes, and watching the catching of crayfish (we call 'em crawdads back home) by our guides, and we headed off to the final zip line before riding back to the HQ. Altogether, a very fine time.

We headed back to the cottage to gather our things, then back to Todd's place for the house blessing. It was a very interesting and spiritual experience to be able to witness the traditional Hawaiian house blessing. Hawaiian words were spoken at each corner of the house, and a tea leaf was planted. Then the front door was blessed and the family went inside for a private blessing of each of the rooms. After about 10-15 minutes, the Toddstock participants were allowed in to see Todd's house firsthand. What an experience. At the opening of the door, the view from the house was amazing. What we didn't know at the time was that we weren't looking out of a window, we were looking out through nothing. The living room and kitchen are completely open to the outside. Got to look at each room, and finally a photo-op with Todd in his kitchen. It was the wrong day to leave the camera back at the cottage, but Rundgren Radio's Doug took a shot of us with Todd. More meeting folks and conversation and another evening out until 11:30 PM.

Thursday 6/19

Thursday was a scheduled hike with Todd, but we decided not to go as my toes were a bit scraped up from walking in the rain (See Monday). Instead, we opted to have breakfast, but by the time we arrived at 8:30 it was already over and they were cleaning up. I settled for an instant oatmeal and POG (Papaya/Orange/Guava) drink instead. We hung out and Doug did a Rundgren Radio show live from the site. Cece and I got interviewed and it was a lot of fun to participate. Since most folks were out for the hike, we went back to the cottage and prepared to go out and get some lunch.

We drove up to the town of Kapa'a, which is one of the larger in East Kauai. We went to Burger King for lunch, and, since it was Thursday, found a Starbucks and had ours for the week. We drove up to the outskirts of Lihue, then came back to Kapa'a and visited the ABC Store, buying some macadamia chocolates for gifts at home. Cece also bought a small bottle of Coconut/Pineapple Rum to take back for the evening at Toddstock. Then we stopped at Longs and bought a cheap flashlight to help us out in the evening getting from Toddstock to the car and from the car to the cottage. On the way back we stopped at a scenic overlook and watched the ocean for a bit. Here it was our 4th day on the island and we still had not been to the beach. Time to change that.

We got back to the cottage, changed into our swimsuits and headed off to Anini Beach, near Princeville. The water was calm and quite comfortable temperature-wise. The grade was very gradual, and made for good snorkeling. I saw a few fish, some quite pretty. We spent little over an hour there. Came back to the cottage, changed and once more to Toddstock for dinner.

Had pork roast, corn on the cob and applesauce. Cece fixed her rum with some Sprite, and I had a rum & Coke. Ken Emerson did a short set and a couple of light sprinkles made themselves known. Back home at 11 PM and once again, no problem falling asleep.

Friday 6/20

Headed off the Toddstock about 8 AM to be sure we got breakfast, and still it was almost gone by that time. Doug and Bill Bricker stepped up and started cooking again, and we got bacon, sausage and eggs. Went with John Heslin for a short drive to see a friend's lot on the other side of Kilauea. Another commanding view. Back to the cottage to get ready for a tubing trip.

We discovered that the toilet in our cottage was not filling properly and found the cause to be a broken tank ball. We called the caretaker, who was on Oahu at the time. She contacted a neighbor, Noel, who told us he would take care of it while we were gone. Turns out Noel and his wife were friends of the Rundgrens, and had something that had been sent from the mainland to be delivered. We did our good deed of the day and brought it back to leave for Michele.

We drove back to Todd's place for carpool organizing for the tubing trip. We decided to drive alone, as we had plans to have dinner out that evening. Cece was anxious because 70% of the tubing course was in tunnels and she is a bit claustrophobic. The guide assured her that they would be with her and that helped a lot. This was the first activity outside of the camp that had other folks from the camp participating, and it was a lot of fun. I felt a bit like I was in Disneyland on one of the many water rides there. The water in the canals was about 68 degrees, and they called it "refreshing" instead of more commonly descriptive words. But we easily acclimated to it. When the tubing was over, we had sandwiches and I swam a bit in yet another freshwater pond.

On the way back to the starting point, I tried to find my car keys and was unsuccessful. Once back I dumped the content of our bag and they weren't there. The tubing staff sent someone out to try to find the keys, but they were also unsuccessful. We had to face the fact that they were lost. Fortunately, our guide was a friend of someone from Hertz, and she was able to arrange some new keys to be issued and even picked them up for us. She earned a $20 tip for her efforts. At least we were back on the road, but with a new key replacement charge. The mood, even after the fun day, was once again down. Sob Story #2 now to be told. We got back to our room an hour later than we expected, then headed off to dinner. We tried CJ's in Princeville, but the wait was about an hour. We headed off to Hanalei instead and stopped at a place called Kalypso. I had fish tacos and Cece had a half rotisserie chicken. We got back to Toddstock about 8:20 and had missed the first part of the Q&A with Todd. Fortunately, it was being recorded, so we were able to hear it later on Rundgren Radio. Afterward, we started spreading our Sob Story #2, Michele showed the "Wedding Video" and we went back to the cottage about 11:45 PM. The toilet had been fixed.

Saturday 6/21

The first full day of summer. The longest day of the year. Turns out it doesn't make a lot of difference in Hawaii. The temperature doesn't really change. It still rains a bit, the days end earlier than in California. Still, a great place to be.

We decided to sleep in and skip breakfast at Toddstock. We cleaned up and hit the road for Waimea Canyon about 9:45. We stopped in Kapa'a and I got a haircut at Supercuts ($17 + $3 tip) and then headed off to the canyon. We saw the turn for the Lutheran church in Lihue, so we knew now where to go the next day. The road narrowed and became more winding as we neared the canyon, but once arriving, the sight was breathtaking. I took a number of pictures and some video. It was a bit windy, but not really very cold as we expected. Since we hadn't eaten breakfast and it was already lunchtime, we decided to buy some fresh pineapple from a stand set up at the lookout point. It was soooo good. Very sweet and very fresh. The gas tank was at about 1/4 so I decided to fill up in the town of Waimea. Gas there was $4.459, about where it was just about everywhere on the island. Still, surprisingly, it was cheaper than it had been in California. The car took 10 gallons.

We stopped in Lihue at the Kukui Grove shopping center and had lunch about 2 PM at Quizno's. We walked around a bit afterward and went to K-Mart to buy an anniversary card for Todd & Michele (they got married on Todd's 50th, 10 years earlier.) We already had a birthday card for Todd that we brought on the trip. Cece bought a Hawaiian dress to wear to the luau that night. It was only $5.99. We were back to the cottage about 3:30 PM and rested a bit.

Off to Toddstock and there in time to see the pig unearthed. Quite an elaborate procedure. The crew was professional and they explained the procedure as they went along. First they removed the wet burlap sacks, layer of plastic tarp and finally the leaves. They lifted the whole pig in a metal cage and set it on a table for shredding the meat. While the rest of the meal was being prepared, I chatted with a fellow named Ron who had a long association with Todd.

To start the luau, they anointed Michele as the queen and lifted her on a surfboard above the crowd, carrying her about. It was great to see. We all got in line and got our food. Everything was fantastic. Pork, chicken, prime rib, rice, salad, noodles, macaroni, salsa. I was stuffed. Steve started a big card and folks signed it at $10 per signature to raise enough money for Todd's $1,900 Sushi table. The card continued to circulate through the evening. The intention was to present it after the TR-ivia show, but there were still funds and signatures to be collected. By the end of the evening, about $1,000 had been collected.

About 6 teams "competed" in the TR-ivia contest, although everyone came away a winner of an autographed can of spam. Veggiegirl had a special autographed vegetarian foodstuff instead. Steve and EJ hosted the contest. I didn't participate, but knew many of the answers, so I guess I could have gotten up there without embarrassing myself too badly.

After the contest, we all headed back to the tent to view a special DVD prepared by Till as a present for Todd. A heavy rain dumped a bit on everyone who wasn't under the tent and we finally called it a night once again around 11:30 PM.

Sunday 6/22

We woke up at 7 AM to get ready to go to church at Lihue Lutheran Church, the oldest Lutheran church in Hawaii. It was established in 1881. We left shortly before 8 AM for the 9 AM service so we could grab a quick bite to eat along the way. We stopped at Safeway in Kapa'a and picked up a 4-pack of Cranberry muffins and a couple pints of Chocolate and Vanilla milk. Got to the church at 8:30, earlier than we expected because traffic was light. The church was filling up fast but we managed to get a pew near the front. The service was standard Lutheran liturgy with a few Hawaiian words thrown in. Quite interesting. One of the liturgical hymns was actually sung in Hawaiian. The pastor there was very nice and greeted all of the guests with a hearty welcome. We took a number of pictures of the church and its cemetery after the service.

On the way home we stopped at Hilo Hattie’s in Lihue and bought some souvenirs for our son Brad. Cece also bought a T-Shirt. Since it was on the way, we stopped at Kaua'i Backcountry Adventures (where we went on our tubing trip) to see if our keys had magically popped up. Cece went inside while I stayed in the car. When she returned excitedly waving the keys, we were both elated.

We parked in Kapa'a on the street and walked up to Bubba's Burgers for lunch. I had the double Bubba with onion rings and a chocolate shake, and Cece had the Garden Burger and a Sprite. Good stuff. We bought more souvenirs for Brad, whose nickname at work is Bubba. After we ate (and fed a bit to the birds) we walked down to the seashore for a bit, then through a few of the shops in the area. Headed back to the cottage at 1 PM.

Changed into our swimsuits and headed once again to Anini Beach. It was a lot busier on this Sunday afternoon, so we had to drive a bit down the beach to find a parking space in the campground area. I snorkeled out to the coral again and saw a number of fish, including several schools. Caught some sun on the beach and then back into the water. Afterwards, back to Princeville grocery to pick up a few things from the flight back the next day.

A quick change and were off to Todd's for the final night's activities including the highly anticipated concert of "Arena" debut. Dinner was pork roast and chicken plus a variety of Greek salads. After dinner we headed over to Todd's house where the stage had been set up over the pond. Rows of chairs had already been set up by folks that brought them, so we secured standing room about five rows back. Still, not a bad place to see the show, no matter where you were. The sound check lasted about 30 minutes and they finally hit the stage about 7 PM. The first song was repeated because of monitor issues, then they ran through all the rest of the songs from "Arena" and Todd announced "No encores" and "Party 'til dawn!"

All of the songs sounded great live, and several were instant hits with the crowd. Can't wait until the CD comes out.

After the show we wandered about the camp. Word was that about 9:00 the big card was going to be presented. They were still short of the $1,900, and Cece got the idea that we would make up the difference. At the time, that difference was about $600. Fortunately, as the evening wore on a few more signatures were added to the card, and the difference was cut significantly. When the card was presented, it was also mentioned that we made an additional contribution, and TR said that was "Above and beyond." The presentation of the card made for a great photo op, which was followed by presentation of sake by the Japanese fans. Cece helped distribute sake for everyone who wanted some. By the end of the evening, spontaneous singalongs, sometimes accompanied by accordion, broke out. Magical.

We wandered a bit more, finally met up with Matt Bolton and talked with him a bit. About midnight we decided to call it a night and headed back to the cottage with our friend John Heslin as our overnight guest. We had a final toast of Jameson's before going to bed for the final night in Kauai.

Monday 6/23

Got up, showered and packed our clothes. Since we had acquired a few things, it made packing more of a challenge, because we were packed tightly when we arrived. But we managed to get everything back into the two suitcases. I triple-checked the cottage to make sure we weren't leaving anything behind. We piled all our stuff in the trunk of the car and headed back to Toddstock for one last look and some goodbyes. We took a quick walk in, said our goodbyes and I called out a goodbye to Todd across the pond and said "Thanks for everything!"

Headed out and stopped a final time at Safeway in Kapa'a for some goodies for the plane and on to the airport. Pulled into the airport and immediately got lost trying to find the rental return. If you'd been there, you'd wonder how, because it was dead simple to find it. Dropped off the car and they reported that we had not filled up the tank. I got in and scooted off to Lihue and filled up, then got back. Dropped off the car and the extra sets of keys we had acquired and caught the shuttle to the airport. The check-in line for SFO was long, and we had several baggage inspections to go through. I was busted for trying to bring a bottle of Arizona Green Tea in my bag. Frankly, I forgot about the liquid thing. They offered to let me drink it on the spot, but I told them to just toss it. I was looking forward to having it while waiting, but as it turned out, by the time we got to the gate, it was already boarding. Cece boarded in group 2 and I was in group 4, so I had to wait until almost everyone else was boarded. Cece was a bit anxious for me to get on. After all the rush, the plane was about 30 minutes late taking off, but once up, all went smoothly. During the flight watched "Spiderwick Chronicles" courtesy of the airline, then Cher and Elton John live concerts courtesy my iPod.

Arrived SFO about 10 PM, got our luggage (both bags arrived this time) called for the parking lot shuttle, got our car and hit the road for Sacramento. Stopped to gas up in Vacaville, where the gas was more expensive than in Hawaii, and noted the moon was orange. That was due to all the wildfires happening in California. Got home at 1:30 AM, dumped the suitcases and hit the hay. The trip was over.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Music Will Be My Life

Part 1 - Making Music (the early years)

Way back in '74, I wrote a song called "Music Will Be My Life" as a part of my rock opera, "Only Golden Fingers Could Play So Heavy". Little did I know that it would be so prophetic, at least in a somewhat indirect way. Nearly 35 years later, music is as important, if not more so, than it was back then. This is the first in a short series of how music has been, and will continue to be a major part of my life.

Going back to elementary school, I was interested in music. I joined the chorus. I learned to play the recorder. I tried to play my father's guitar, though my fingers were too short to finger chords. I played around a bit on the family piano. I played my grandmother's Silvertone organ (which I acquired for myself after she died.) I wrote my first song on that organ about a 6th grade classmate that I was madly in love with:

Brenda Eberle
I love you so
You're for me
Brenda, Brenda
The melody of that name
Brenda, Brenda
The melody of that name, oh yeah, the melody of that name.
She never knew.

In Junior High I took up the clarinet (see "Clarinet Player") and that was my primary instrument through High School. I gained the valuable skill of reading music. During my senior year I acquired my first guitar, an Aria Electric and Fender Champ Amp that I bought from my friend Jeff Schnaidt for about $50. At the end of my senior year I bought my Yamaha 12-string guitar at Highlands Music. During the summer following graduation, I bought my Aria bass and an amplifier at Jack's House of Music. I have purchased no guitar since then (1971) and still have all three. I did upgrade the amp a few months later and would still have the original if it hadn't been stolen in a break-in at my church in 1998.

In late summer of 1971, I got together with some friends I met at a College Kick-Off week preceding my Freshman year at Sacramento State College. I had met Joe Spradlin and Roger Smith the previous May at another college orientation day, and met Jeff Mulford at the CKO. Joe had brought his saxophone and Roger S. had brought his drum kit. Introducing them to Jeff, we discovered that we all had a common interest in music. Jeff and I each arranged for our instruments to be delivered to the site (his guitar, my bass) and we set up and jammed together in front of a small crowd of about 30 folks. Poor Joe had to blow his brains out on the sax to compensate for the fact that we had our amps turned "up to 11."

We must have hit it off pretty well because before you knew it, we decided to form a band together. We named ourselves "Ambush" after a popular perfume of the day (Why? I think one of the guys liked the smell of it.) Not too manly a name when you consider the source, but not knowing its origin, it was a pretty decent name. We got together at each others' houses to learn a few songs, and even worked up an original called "Run" that was more or less an extended jam. We covered America's "A Horse With No Name", The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" (I sang lead), The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun", Grand Funk's "I'm Your Captain" and "Mean Mistreater", Cat Steven's "Peace Train", The Beatles "Something" and a few others that I can no longer recall. In our short time together we managed three gigs: a Girl Scout troop dance, a Junior High Dance and a High School Dance. We tried to add another guitarist, Bob Kobrock, a friend of Jeff's (Bob also became a good friend to Cece and I, and is the only one of the group that I see to this day), but it just didn't click. The summer came and Roger S. moved to Utah. We tried another drummer, I think his name was Jim, but it just didn't work out, and the band split. I had recorded one of the rehearsals during our heyday, then sent my one and only copy to a friend stationed overseas. Why didn't I keep a copy?

During the tenure of the band I adopted the moniker of Borf Entlinder. Upon meeting us, a friend of one of the band's members took a look at me and said he knew that I was on drugs. The thing was, I never was and never have. But I thought it was funny, so Borf stood for "Burnt Out Red Freak." The Entlinder was a tribute to Who bassist John Entwistle, my idol at the time. I wore these platform shoes that had a sort of wooden sole, and stomped my feet on the stage during a performance. It all seems so silly looking back. I think I may have done a few attempts at Pete Townshend leaps as well. The Who's Woodstock movie appearance really had an effect on me.

After the band split, I had to fill my music void so I started composing songs. Over the next three or four years, I managed to write about 50 songs, including the entire score to the aforementioned rock opera. The only problem was: no band to perform them. I recorded some of them on a cheap cassette recorder and eventually my friend Jeff Schnaidt, he of the Aria seller fame, and I got together and recorded a couple of songs: my original "Hurts So Bad" and a song we jointly wrote that night called "Leave Me Alone." Somewhere in Jeff's tape archives are the original recordings. I have a really crappy cassette version, recorded from the tape playback over the cassette mic, while the recorder was sitting on a waterbed. The tape wasn't so good either. Someday, I'll hear that original version again.

By late 1975, I suddenly stopped writing. I was in a pretty good place, with a girlfriend who in the next year would become my wife, and was spending time wrapping up my Bachelor's Degree in Math. Making music was still important, but the inspiration for creativity was being channeled elsewhere. It would come back, but not for many years.

Next up: The Collecting Years

Wednesday, June 4, 2008