Volume 2 Book 10 Part 7 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam & Steve

Laguna Playhouse appearance Aug. 12

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Vol 3 Book 1 ]

June 28 - July 7, 2002.
Pittsburgh & San Francisco.
June 15-19, 2002.
The Mystery Trip (of Life).
We were sitting around the apartment Sunday when suddenly Jimmy announces that he has cabin fever and that it's time to take "a mystery trip." He said, "Get your camera. We're going somewhere. It'll cost us only $5."

"YAY!!!" I thought. "MYSTERY TRIP!!"

We got out on the freeway and headed north and then west to Simi Valley. "The place we're going is probably someplace you'd never go yourself. It's a kind of museum. Any guesses?"

I had no idea. Simi Valley. What could be out there. The land was mostly desert. Rolling hills.

Then I saw it: Ronald Reagan Parkway. Was he serious? Yep. On the road leading up to the library, which sat on a hill, there was a line of banners with all the presidents. Jimmy was suddenly taking me to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Jimmy salutes Harry Truman!

Since Jimmy loves history and especially presidential history, I guess it was to be expected but I had a different reaction.

I swear there was dog poop or something.

In the courtyard, they had Reagan's presidential limo on display. Jimmy loved that. I loved the keyhole cuz it had the Presidential seal around it. Now I have to have one of those.

Now, I should confess at this point that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Ronald Reagan. I think a lot of people with AIDS, for instance, died because of his neglect and inability to even discuss the issue (or say the word out loud) until long after too many had already died. Plus, I despise the Republican Party. So, I felt like I was sneaking into enemy territory.

They had a special traveling exhibit about spying, so that's why those manikens were set up. Those, supposedly, are actual spy clothes.  But please, is that what a spy would wear in order to blend in???

Here we are in a reconstruction of the Oval Office.

In one of the rooms was a missile. Not, apparently, a pretend missile but an honest to god missile for us to gawk over. And it made me think about this procedure my doctor is recommending, to swallow radioactive iodine to kill off my thyroid. On the TLS list, a lot of my friends are warning me off about doing this; that the replacement hormone I'd have to take would never feel quite the same as my own Steve hormones. That my energy levels might suffer.

I hate having decisions like this to make, not to start whining again. But here's the devil's choice I'm left with. If I leave the thyroid "as is,"
it's possible that my left eye could start to become impaired in the same way my right eye is. It's not certain, of course. After all, we've gone a couple years with this and so far it's okay.

On the other hands, I have to take a pill three times a day right now to keep the thyroid under control. We have to monitor it constantly because at some point it's going to burn itself out on its own. So, do we let things stay or do we intervene? It makes me CRAZY!

Meanwhile, the PaulFest here in Hollywood was a great success. The "Alterknit Lounge" at "The Knitting Factory" was packed to the gills. On the stage, Paul Zollo had assembled a line-up of the true "veterans" of the LA acoustic music scene plus one big star, Peter Tork of the Monkees.

The legendary Rod Smear & Earl Gray

Peter Tork & Paul Zollo

James Lee Stanley & myself (kinda fuzzy)

Most of the pictures didn't take very well because of the low lighting but it was a great night. My ego got a much needed boost when most of the participants (whose work I've admired for years) came up to me and gushed over my singing voice. Most of them knew me as an emcee for events on the LA scene but didn't know me that well as a performer. That was really nice to hear.

I also, on Tuesday, reconnected with some old friends, George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, hit songwriters who helped me with the original demos of TLS. They also had a hit band called Boy Meets Girl ("Waiting For A Star To Fall") that met with some success in the last decade (as well has having hits for other artists). They've had their own ups and downs both personally and professionally, so it was very envigorating to see them again and reconnect on both musical and personal levels.

George Merrill & Shannon Rubicam

We talked about everything from personal spirituality ("you don't need a go-between to connect to God") to the music industry (we hate record labels and I've been pounding on them like an evangelist to bypass the usual channels and sell their stuff directly through the internet), movies (we can't wait to see "Minority Report"), family (they love hearing about my parents and they have a great daughter who's smart as a whip), theatre (they don't know that much about it but love the idea that everytime a new theatre does one of your shows, it's like it all starts over again, as opposed to albums which date themselves and die), good food (we ate low-fat) and just life in general.

What I love about them is that even though they've seen their share heartbreaks, their music (including the new album they let me hear) is always optimistic, always full of life. ("Ours was the only video ever played on MTV that featured kids running through a field chasing  soap bubbles").

They also laughed at my diary entry about hating all my songs. We talked about how everyone who is any good at all will hit that point on just about every project they ever tackle and that new songwriters will sometimes get very discouraged and give up because they don't realize that, yes, it's just a part of the process.

Something Shannon and George said really resonated with me. Just as we were leaving they were saying, "You know, the secret to it all is that you have to take the initiative to make yourself well. You can't wait for someone to do it for you. What we like about you, Steve, is that at your lowest points, you turned your pain into music. And you never stop. You always seem to be doing something new to remake yourself. That's what we all have to do. In the arts, we constantly reinvent ourselves or our careers die. In life, it's the same thing."

My heart is bubbling over. Yes, I still hate all my songs, but who cares what I think? Jimmy said, "That's good. It just means you''ll work to make better songs."

So, I guess this is a long diary entry, but after the low I felt last week,
I thought it was important to detail how much different the world can feel when you take surprise trips with the person you love, sing songs with old friends, and renew old acquaintances. But yeah, you have to do it yourself. But once you start, once you decide that life is worth living and that the joy is in the moment and in the people you love, you become like a magnet.

Everyone wants to join in.

Mazel tov!

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Vol 3 Book 1 ]

[ Hannah, Hospice Social Worker ] [ Shawn Decker's ]
[ Jimmy's Sunday Sermons ] [ My Lynchburg Diary: Meeting Jerry Falwell ]
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© 2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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