Tag Archives: flying

Vanilla Fudge is Sitting Behind Me



Salt Lake City Airport, July 9, 2016:

Two guys with straggly long hair, one in a pony tail, and dark glasses— dangling crucifix earrings, and Harley Davidson T-shirt, two guys with that old grungy look, and a third in a kind of “Paul Revere and the Raiders” black jacket with big buttons and rolled cuffs, no facial hair, but flowing locks. Not quite the same as the other two, but from the same era. They HAD to be aging rockers.

At the gate I thought of saying “hello” to these guys. But what would I say?—”You guys sure look like rockers, but who are you?”

What if they were just from one of those zillions of “tribute” bands? THAT would be weird. So I said nothing, and they sat in the row behind Deb and I. Paul Revere behind me, an empty seat between him and Pony Tail behind Deb, then across the aisle Pony Tail’s shorter pal with the round head, dark hair and mustache.

Paul Revere fiddled on a laptop and the other two mostly zoned out for four hours, until we were approaching Newark Airport and the ride got really bumpy as we whipped through some rain clouds, and Paul and Pony started chatting about the annoyingly loud whine of the engine. Turns out Paul Revere didn’t know the other two, but after agreeing that the engine was clearly producing an “A” note, they talked about perfect pitch, and acknowledging they were both in the music business, got to know each other. Pony Tail mentioned he had just played a concert at the casino in Wendover. 

I looked over at Deb, who was also listening, and silently mouthed, “Shit! Is that Ted Nugent?” (Because we had both chatted about seeing Nugent’s name on the billboard when we passed the Peppermill in Wendover earlier that day. What SONG did Ted Nugent perform? Name one. I can’t. But for some reason his name is memorable.) But it wasn’t Ted Nugent.

Pony Tail was Pete Bremy, bassist, currently with, but not an original Vanilla Fudge band member, and the short guy with the dark hair across the aisle was Vince Martell, the original Vanilla Fudge guitarist. Pete was very talkative, once he got started. Vince hardly said a word. Paul Revere was Dominic something-or-other. He had the thin whisp of the remains of a British(?) accent, lives now in California. He was in another band, another band from the sixties, one that I had heard of, but was not familiar with, and darned if I can’t remember which one. You’ve heard of them, I want to say “Blue Cheer”, but I don’t think that’s right. The name had a “C” in it…It was a 60’s-70’s band, like the Fudge. He said he was mainly into “writing shows” now, and has something to do with the TV show “Vinyl” and is working on a musical project of his own. He made a few comments as the plane bounced and dropped, unfazed apparently as I was by that terrible feeling when you know the plane is moving down fast because your stomach is in your throat. “Oh, we can’t go down! That would make headlines!” He laughed,  “Sixties Rock Legends plunge to their Deaths in New Jersey!!”

My hands clenched tightly on the seat arms. I wanted to ask him to shut up about crashing, but he blathered on about it until the conversation turned to that favorite musician topic, “the road”.  I relaxed a bit as the flight smoothed out and listened as they traded stories about good dressing rooms, bad dressing rooms, and with a laugh, the worst dressing room—”the men’s room stall on the end”. Pete said he wished he could always play casinos, because they have great dressing rooms, pay well, provide good lodging and food and “they treat musicians like important guests” and they both agreed in an obviously warm man-moment that touring was like “getting paid to travel, while you do what you love”. Hm.

This all happened as we bumped our way downward to a landing at Newark Liberty airport. When the plane rolled to a stop at the gate, and the lights came on, Pete introduced Dominic to Vince, and they were shaking hands while most of the other passengers for two or three rows in either direction were clearly awed that these guys were some kind of celebrities—but who the hell were they? They didn’t know. But I knew, because I listened.

We disembarked to find our ride and finish the last leg of our trip, an hour drive to Lambertville.


Vanilla Fudge Website <http://www.vanillafudge.com/index.htm>

The Air We Breathe

Twenty years ago, maybe, the ozone layer was a big issue, and most anyone with eyes and a brain was at  least starting to think about “global warming*”.

It was summer, and coincidentally, I was at a picnic with family friends, one of whom was a government-employed environmentalist. The topic came up, we talked about automobile pollution and coal-fired power plants. It was a warm, pleasant afternoon in beautiful, Western Central New Jersey, and for the most part the sky was blue, with long white whisps high above, the man-made clouds that scar the sky, especially along those “skyways” from East to West that originate on the East Coast and point to California and beyond.

Mike, our hero, a bearded and unabashed ex-counterculture person (those of you too young to understand, would likely—and incorrectly—label him a “hippie”), paused from the discussion and gazed upward. “I wonder,” he said, without taking his eyes off the sky, “How long before we realize that is the real culprit…”

“Jets?” I asked.

“Jet exhaust, airline fuel.”

“They’ve done a great job cleaning up jet exhaust.” I said. Adding, “When I was a kid it was brown smoke spewing out like a diesel truck!”


“Unfortunately,” he said, “It’s a global world now, and everyone, everything, businesses, and governments are hooked on the ability to move people and goods quickly over vast distances-through the air. They’ve only made the pollution invisible. The truth is we’re spewing tons of hot, microscopic exhaust particles and vapor into the upper atmosphere, non-stop, every day, in massive and increasing amounts.”

“Is there science about that?”

“Not enough. And even if there is, nobody wants to know about it. Internal combustion for cars, energy for homes, powerplants. They can all be replaced and supplanted by solar, wind, all kinds of renewable alternatives. But have you ever heard of a solar powered 747? When statistics are published about “contributors to air pollution” jet exhaust is never mentioned. It’s not on the map. It’s like there’s a secret agreement to ignore it. Nobody is going to stop this. The answer is right there, in our faces, so obvious, and we are blind to it. We want to be blind to it.”

Ironically there was even an episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation” that metaphorically addressed this topic: It becomes clear to one species that all that warping around from planet-to-planet at faster-than-light speeds is tearing the fabric of the universe. Gosh darn it. Captain Picard and his whacky crew investigate and find that this is in fact true! Star Fleet is duly informed, and except for the most dire of planet-threatening emergencies, a moratorium is placed on traveling at faster than light speed – or is it faster than warp four or five? Anyway, this restriction is mentioned in one or two later episodes, and then without warning, it’s gone! Back to the ol’ routine. Make it so!! And there you have it. A Gene Roddenberry history of the human race.

That’s all. That’s the story. Not much has changed. That New Jersey summer conversation nested in the back of my brain for all these years like some obscure conspiracy theory. I thought about it after 9/11, when the skies got a short break and were eerily free of planes. And time moves on, and my gosh, humans move on. I’d heard about, and known people who had jobs requiring them to travel the world. You usually just think about the glamour and the glory. Not the impact. Hey, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris. I’ve been there. Once in a very rare while you hear about a business, or person like Al Gore, who supposedly has an awareness of what has come to be called his “carbon footprint”, and actually tries to mitigate it. “I flew to Singapore, so I’m paying to preserve some rain forest.” But more and more I hear about global commuters. Not the silver-haired CEOs in First Class, not people who have occasional “business travel”, but people who actually commute via jet every day to Boston from Philadelphia. Or every week or two to Europe…It’s kind of crazy. What does it mean? For anyone? For the planet? And now I’m one of them. What am I supposed to do? Stop? Just say no? I need to work. I want to see the world too. Maybe it’s really not a problem. Right? Right?

*Global Warming – I’m not a scientist, but I’ll talk about it. It means the planet is getting warmer. And that’s what it feels like to me. There’s enough science (if you read) to understand that man has had a significant causal influence on this. And there’s also enough science to call it “global climate change” if you prefer, (since some people have their pants scared off, by the “w” word). It’s happening, warming, warming causing “change”, whatever.