RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
I recently ran across this photo in my archives and thought it really captured a specific place and time in my memory. It was taken at a company picnic back in about 1980. 13 KELO AM in Sioux Falls had a great group of people in its employee ranks. Holding the giant squirt gun is my old pal and boss Harley Worthit. In mid-stride is Lew Hoosier; head of the Muzak department at the station. And in the 13 KELO jacket was Sales Manager Mary Wheeler. Based on the wardrobe of the participants, as well as the foliage in the background, it was most likely taken during one of those beautiful fall Sunday afternoons.
This past week in Palm Springs, I heard “Right Down the Line” by Gerry Rafferty on an AM station called KVGH 1270 AM. I hadn’t heard this song on the AM band in probably 40 years! As good as this song sounds in stereo, there’s a magical quality to it (and other oldies of the day) on AM. But here it is for you to enjoy in rich stereo!
Monday the 25th – MONDAY JAY-DAY! – My buddy Dave Rowe had been staying with me for about three days, and I wanted to do something to surprise him. So I told him I had a commercial Voice-Over job at 10am, and asked him to go with me. What he didn’t know, was that I was able to get us into Jay’s Garage for a tour. Dave is a big car fan, particularly Corvettes, so this was going to be a blast for him. Not wanting to be late, I got to the location nice and early; way ahead of our 10:00am appointment. As we sat in my car waiting for the appropriate time to arrive, we watched a couple of truck drivers load some production police and ambulance vehicles onto a big rig. Dave drives truck back in Sioux Falls, so he was explaining to me everything the drivers were doing to get their payload properly secured on to their trailers. Taking note of our location, he asked me where Jay’s Garage was from there. I thought quickly and told him it was on the other side of the airport; nowhere close to where we were. The time had come. We got out of the car and walked up to the security gate and buzzed in. I told them it was Wally Wingert, there for a 10:00 appointment. A guy named Bob came out and got us and brought us into the main workshop area. Once we got inside Dave looked around and wondered what kind of Voice-Over I’d be doing inside a mechanic’s garage. I asked him if he knew where he was. He saw a “Jay Leno’s Garage” logo emblazoned on the rear spoiler of a small roadster, and then it hit him! He couldn’t believe it! Most tours there go anywhere from an hour to two hours, but our group got the royal treatment. Our tour lasted about two hours and fifteen minutes! Dave was jazzed to see the very first Corvette that rolled off the line in 2009; VIN # 1! After the tour we grabbed drive-thru at McDonalds and headed to Warner Brothers studio in Burbank. My pal James offered to give Dave a personal tour around the lot. While he toured around the WB, I went home to do a few last-minute auditions and finish up some work around the house. Then I drove over to pick him up and we came back home to relax. It was Dave’s last night in town, so I wanted to take him out for steaks. But I was so exhausted I overslept to 9:30pm; right around the time the world-famous Smokehouse closes! RATS! So we ended his stay with a trip to Jerry’s Famous Deli with my assistant Sara. Then I came home to work on paying bills, reconciling my bank statements and checkbooks, and going through my corporate books. Feeling a sudden surge of energy, I attacked my CD rack. I have thousands of CDs in a rack that stands floor-to-ceiling, and eight lengths wide. Some of them are CD singles that I got from my radio days. My idea is to consolidate them to make more room in my rack. If I rip the 60 (or so) CD singles into my computer as .wav files, I can output them on to fewer CDs with no quality loss. I’m hoping the 60 (or so) CD singles will soon become 4 CDs full of material. That will free up about 56 slots for other CDs. It’s similar to the consolidation I’m doing with my DVD rack. I fed Roxy and then walked her on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. I came back inside and worked on the CDs all night. Then I made soup and a sandwich and watched a few more episodes of “Taxi.” Tomorrow I’ll take Dave to the airport mid-afternoon so he can catch his flight back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I’m sure he’ll have a ton of great stories to tell the “folks back home.”
Tuesday the 26th – PS COUNTDOWN! – By the time I got up at 2 in the afternoon, Dave was all packed and ready to hit the road. As much fun as he had, I think he was anxious to get home. After dropping him off for his flight at the Burbank Airport, I stopped by KFC to get some food at the drive-thru. Then I headed to Wizard Printing to pick up some t-shirts I had printed for my pal Elliot Lurie. He’s got some performances coming up and he and his wife Edi wanted to have some merchandise to sell. Between his wife Edi, my pal Scott Sebring and I, we came up with a pretty cool design for vintage-looking (what I call “new retro”) baseball tees. Using an old photo of Elliot when he was with the band Looking Glass, and had the hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” we created some cool looking shirts. Since I would be going to Palm Springs this week, I wanted to grab the shirts to take them with me so I could hand them off when I saw them. Elliot and Edi have lived in the desert for a few years now, and it’s always great seeing them when I visit. I stopped by the post office to mail off a replica Andy Kaufman costume. A young Andy Kaufman fan e-mailed me to see if I could help him construct an Andy Kaufman costume for Halloween. He said he was a huge Andy fan, and a high school student. Well that’s all I needed to hear. A high school student who loves Andy? I felt I was communicating with my younger self. So I put together a very nice look-alike costume for him. When I got home I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my CD collection and making little piles of stuff to take care of when I got back from my vacation. I did some laundry, packed for my trip, and finally got around to typing out Wally’s Week, even though I was a day late! I made some food and watched a few more “Taxi” episodes before bed.
Wednesday the 27th – PS I LOVE YOU! – When I got up at 3 in the afternoon I had some last-minute auditions to record before my departure. I wanted to make sure I had them all taken care of, since I wouldn’t be able to record any of them while I was away. I walked over to Enterprise to pick up my SUV for the trip (a GMC Yukon), and then came home to throw some things in the vehicle. Just as I had mostly finished up, I got a call from my old pal Gil. He was at the hospital and had just received some out-patient surgery. They wouldn’t let him go home in an Uber, and his ride home fell through, so he asked if I could come get him. So I hopped in the SUV and headed to the hospital to get him. Having just had out-patient surgery myself, I remembered that you’re pretty hungry after surgery (since they don’t let you eat after midnight the night before!) So we tried to go through the Taco Bell drive-thru, but it was flowing out into the street, and apparently not moving at all! So after several minutes of that, we decided to go to Jersey Mike’s and get sandwiches instead. We got to my house, where he took an Uber the rest of the way home. I was REALLY glad that I had done 90% of my packing the night before! All I had to do was throw a few remaining things into the SUV and hit the road! My assistant Sara came over to start her housesitting duties, and I got on the freeway at 9:07pm. Normally it takes two hours to get to Palm Springs from Los Angeles, but because the traffic was so great I made it there by 10:47pm; a little over an hour and a half. As is my tradition, I phoned in my to-go order to the local Denny’s. I picked up my food and headed to the Palm Springs Hyatt; my traditional desert respite! It was good to be back in my usual room 627; top floor and all the way at the end of the building. It works well since I stay up all night listening to music, relaxing and meditating on the private balcony. It’s the perfect room for me, since it keeps me unusual nocturnal habits from disturbing the other guests. And Roxy likes it too! I spent the evening on the balcony watching stars and chilling out, though I was pretty tired. It was nice to be back!
Thursday the 28th – SPEED BUMPIN’! – Around 11 I woke up to take Roxy out for a potty break. I ran into Barry, who’s one of the maintenance guys at the Hyatt. I told him that the mattress in my room had a fairly sizeable “speed bump” in the middle of it. It usually happens with mattresses belonging to couples. After years of sleeping on each side of the bed, their weight will sink the mattress in considerably, leaving a large “speed bump” running down the middle of the bed. So Barry promised me that he would replace the mattress later that day. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but since I’ve had problems with the pulled muscle in my back, I was more sensitive to it than usual. Roxy and I got back to the room and slept a few more hours. Later that night my friend Edi and her daughter Emily came over with Edi’s dog Bunny, and Emily’s new dog Indigo; a gorgeous, white Husky puppy. She was a bit nervous meeting Roxy at first, but it wasn’t long before they were tearing around my room playing “chase.” My pal Brittney Powell arrived around 6, and we all headed out to the boulevard for the usual Thursday night street fair called “Village Fest.” Edi’s husband Elliot arrived with his daughter Alison, who was in town visiting for a few days. We all had a blast walking down the street and enjoying the sights and sounds of the event. Unfortunately, the “soap guys” I usually buy from weren’t there, but I DID see my old pal Harpo the Clown! I hadn’t seen him in several years at the fair, so it was good to catch up with him; even though when he’s in character he doesn’t say a word (ala Harpo Marx). But after a delicious pulled pork sandwich, Roxy and I headed to get a Dole Whip and sit down to enjoy some people (and dog) watching. We caught up with the rest of the group and carried on. I stopped by the booth selling CDs from my favorite Native American musical artists Waykey and Wayra. I picked up a few more CDs for my collection. I saw my friend The Palm Springs Pillow Lady and picked up a few pillows I had her work on. I picked up some beef jerky and then headed back to the room to relax. Later that night I went across the street to NYPD pizza and got a pizza for Brittney and I. While I was there I saw a guy wearing a Batman villains t-shirt. I stopped him to have a look at it, since it’s a print I’ve never seen before. I wanted to make sure my guy The Riddler was represented, and sure enough he was. I told him I was The Riddler from the Arkham games, as well as last year’s “Return of the Caped Crusader” movie. He flipped out and went into the nearby bar to get his buddies to come meet me. We had fun chatting about Voice-Over and Batman while I waited for my pizza to finish baking. We took some photos and I took my pizza back to the room. Roxy sat out on the balcony with me all night watching stars. It was a gorgeous evening! We stayed out there literally all night!
Friday the 29th – TURN UP THE CONTRAST OF THE NIGHT SKY! – Shortly after 1 I met with my old pal Mike the Photographer, who was also in town doing a photography assignment at one of the local casinos. We ate lunch at Ruby’s and had fun catching up. Then Brittney and I did some shopping; buying some candy and some hilarious cat-themed tank tops for my assistant Sara. After a Dole Whip we headed back to the hotel. Later Edi and Emily brought their dogs to meet us at the Palm Springs dog park. It was a blast watching Indigo socialize with other dogs; something she hadn’t done much of in her young life. But when an older male Husky arrived, her world changed! I believe dogs can recognize their own breed right away, because these two hit it off from the start! They were almost inseparable! His name was Ghost, and if he wasn’t following her around the park in hot pursuit, it was Indigo who was following him around like a…well…a puppy! Roxy had fun running around as well, though she wore herself out pretty well. By the time we returned to the room she was ready for a nap! Brittney and I walked over to Sherman’s Deli for dinner. Figuring that it was Yom Kippur it was only appropriate to spend it in a Jewish deli! After a wonderful dinner we headed back. We stopped at a comic book shop on the way back, and the conversation turned to what Brittney and I did for a living. When she told them the films she had been in, some of the people in the store recognized her. Then she told them I did Voice-Over, and some of the customers asked for photos. It’s always fun meeting people who have enjoyed the work we do. I will probably always get a charge out of that. Back at the room, I grabbed a short nap before my evening of star watching on the balcony. There were lots of climbers with their LED lights climbing the mountain out behind the hotel. But one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been coming to Palm Springs to do my star watching is that it’s getting harder and harder to see the sky. Palm Springs is getting brighter and brighter, which in turn floods the sky with unwanted light pollution. At one point during my relaxation time I was wishing that I could turn up the contrast of the sky; much like I’d do with a video monitor or with a photo in a graphics program. I suppose one of these days I should investigate getting a hotel room in Joshua Tree for my respites. They seem to be very conscious about keeping the light pollution down to a minimum in that area.
Saturday the 30th – McCARTNEY, THE MOON, AND MONTY! – My old pal Ron Chaney told me to text him when I was up and around so we could meet for lunch. But the text I sent around noon went unanswered, so I went back to bed and slept until 4. Apparently Ron had gotten busy in his office doing an assortment of “Chaney” things, and didn’t see my text. We agreed to meet on Sunday for lunch. Though Brittney had to head back to L.A., my friend Emily Danyel arrived in Palm Springs to join us for dinner that night. She had some business to conduct with Elliot and Edi, so we all planned to meet at the Spaghetti Factory at 7 that night. It was a gorgeous drive over to the restaurant in Rancho Mirage. On the way there we passed Monty Hall Drive in Cathedral City. I pointed to the sign and said to Emily, “Hey! Monty Hall!” At the restaurant I saw a woman wearing a Wings t-shirt, so I struck up a conversation with her about Paul McCartney. She had gotten the shirt at his concert when he was in San Diego a few years ago. I got my camera out and showed her the shots I took of him when I saw him in Sioux Falls in May of 2016. After dinner, just as we were leaving, I saw a young gal wearing a t-shirt with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on it. I asked her how old she was. She said she was 21. I asked her what her favorite Lennon song was, and then I asked her what her favorite Beatles song was. I made an observation to Elliot that lots of kids her age were into the classic rock songs because much of the music they’re being fed from their generation is truly awful. The girl and her boyfriend agreed with me. Then I told them that Elliot was the guy who wrote and sang the song “Brandy.” At first they didn’t believe me. But when I told them the news that Elliot had relayed to me earlier, that he just got another Gold Record for the “Guardians 2” soundtrack, they started to realize that I wasn’t kidding. They wished him congratulations as we headed out the door. It’s amazing that Elliot has a Gold Record from every decade since the 70’s. A few of them are because of “Brandy,” but others are because of his years spent working as Music Supervisor on various soundtracks. Pretty cool! On the drive back we listened to 1270 AM out of Thousand Palms; a station called KVGH (Valley’s Greatest Hits). I heard “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, and other songs from the 70’s that I haven’t heard on the AM band in decades. It sure took me back! I wish I could get that station in L.A.! It’s magical hearing those great old tunes on AM radio! When we got back to the hotel Emily told me that the news just broke that Monty Hall had passed away that day. It was odd, since we just were talking about him hours earlier as we passed his street. I got prepared for my evening on the balcony watching stars, and I called Emily into my room so she could watch the moon set behind the mountains. She had never seen anything like it before, and she was amazed that it set so fast! Yup, the earth really does move pretty fast when you think about it! I was thinking that I might go back on Sunday evening instead of Monday afternoon. I had some auditions that were due early Monday morning, and my vacation was so far pretty satisfying. I’m not sure I needed a fifth night of star watching. But it sure was peaceful on the balcony that night, with a nice warm breeze and lots of twinkly stars overhead. Utter paradise.
Sunday the 1st – BACK TO BIZ! – Roxy and I drove over to Ruby’s Diner in downtown Palm Springs to meet up with Edi and Ron Chaney. It was too hot for Roxy to walk over, but it was nice and shady on the patio where we ate. It was fun to get Roxy out for an afternoon walk. We had a great lunch, and then Edi and I did a little shopping. Edi headed back home, and Roxy and I went back to the room. After a short nap I got up to read some comics on the balcony. I ordered a pizza at NYPD and went over to pick it up. I happened to run into my new friends Dr. Debra and Julie (both in town from Michigan) in the lobby. Julie said her flight back to Detroit on Monday had been cancelled, and she had been on the phone all day trying to find a suitable replacement flight. But the one she got had a very short layover in Denver; only 40 minutes! She was worried because the Denver airport is HUGE, and she was hoping she would make her connection alright. I hope she did. I went back upstairs and ate my pizza and read a few more comics. I was still torn about whether to leave early or not. The past few times I was forced to leave early. One time I had to leave early because Roxy had developed some bleeding from her female anatomy, and the most recent time I had to leave early because of severe sinus pain. Now if I left early, it would be on my own terms. After hanging out on the balcony for a while I realized that it was a gorgeous, quiet night. It sure would be nice to stay. But staying didn’t feel right, so I packed everything up and hit the road around 2am. On the drive home I was jamming to 1270 AM. When the signal got too weak I switched over to KTNN 660 AM out of Window Rock, Arizona. It’s a great Navajo station that plays a combination of Native American music and classic country. But when that station started to fade I tuned into some L.A. stations to listen to the all-night talk shows. But I started to detect that something was wrong. All the stations were doing live reports from Las Vegas; something about a mass shooting at a concert. Dear God. Why?! I got home around 3:30 and unpacked and got settled. I made a pot pie and watched a few episodes of “Taxi” before I turned in. It was a great vacation, but it was good to be home.
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
I’m not sure why, but Indigo loved to try and dig water out of the water bowl. Funny puppy!