rock’n’roll research

October 9, 2016

October 9, 2016

When my sisters and I bought tickets for the awesome Desert Trip last year, it never occurred to us we’d be too wiped out to cross the finish line – Sunday’s double bill of Roger Waters and the Who. I can’t recall who broached the subject of leaving early first – not me. I objected strenuously but my heart wasn’t in it. Desert days were sweltering and nights didn’t cool fast enough plus my feet hurt. As painful as it was to admit my lack of stamina – another way of saying, I’m getting old – there’s nothing like some first-class pampering at a spa to ease the agony.

The Players
The Players

For the record, we were disappointed with Dylan (who won the Nobel Peace Prize the following week) due to his disregard for the audience. No hello, goodbye, or introduction of his band – his face hidden under a hat, rarely visible even on the huge video screens. I’m a fan of his music, not so much his performance. The Stones, as expected, were spectacular.

The three of us K Girls at Desert Trip
The three of us K Girls at Desert Trip

The next night, Neil Young was great and what can I say about the love of my life, Paul McCartney?  Spectacular, as always. Realistically, a third rock concert the night after McCartney couldn’t help but be anti-climactic. There’s no one like Sir Paul.

Aglow with the excitement of the evening.
Aglow with the excitement of the evening.

Then there’s my embarrassing behavior in the tiff with my sisters You’d think somebody too old to handle three consecutive rock concerts would be mature enough not to act like a baby. Unfortunately, the most obnoxious sides of my personality surface with my sisters, who I love dearly.  I’m guessing echos of old behaviors from the childhood we shared seep into our present interactions and catapult us back to primitive childhood emotions.

Oh Gosh!_edited-1

Sour Lemon

Mom! Kathy is doing all the talking again!

It was nice of Janet to take a picture of Joyce and me.
But, it was nice of Janet to take a picture of Joyce and me.

On the other hand, maybe I’m just a bitch.

Who, moi!
Who, moi!



May 5, 2012

May 5, 2012

Hollywood Bowl1
It was thrilling to explore a legendary venue like the Hollywood Bowl. Actually, any casual visitor to LA can explore its exterior – the site is neither gated nor guarded. Tourists can park in the lot, stroll up and down the shell, even take the stage if they choose on off-season days when no one is doing a sound-check or performing.

13 Daisy Dell

Backstage, of course, is off limits. That and its exclusivity endows it with irresistible mystique, at least to me. I’ve been backstage at a few rock shows (notably Bruce Springsteen, Motley Crue and Kiss) but on those occasions I was so in awe of the performers that specific details about the surroundings were a blur.

Dressing room, Hollywood Bowl
Dressing room, Hollywood Bowl

The tour Michael arranged was perfect. Our guide, who’d worked there for years,entertained us with anecdotes about the rich and famous and we could take our time. I took a lot of photos, many already in the clubs and venues section of my site, some reprinted here.

View from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl
View from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl

Why my interest in the inner workings of the Hollywood Bowl? I’m writing a novel about a defunct rock’n’roll band, famous in the sixties. One member went on to success beyond his wildest dreams. My hero did not. The book – half of which takes place in the 60s – is about their attempt to reunite 25 years later. Will the secrets and betrayals that shattered them in the seventies resurface in 2000? Have any of them really changed?

Hollywood Bowl Empty Seats

January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013

"I will win "Best of" before I die."
“I will win “Best of” before I die.”

I’ve attended more than my share of writing workshops, including some of the most torturous to get into (hello Bread Loaf and Sewanee) as well as other high profile names – Tin House, Aspen Summer Words, Napa, Taos.

Writers in Paradise

Eckerd College’s WRITERS IN PARADISE is one of my favorites. As far as I know, it’s the only workshop with a competition for best and second best pieces in the workshop. (The best got published in their literary magazine; the runner up got a nice write-up).  For me, this led to what a friend called “fang extension” – a fierce desire to win no matter what.

Clearly, Nicky's the one with fang extension - not me.
Clearly, Nicky’s the one with fang extension – not me.

Victory didn’t come easy. I lost both first and second place for three solid years. I loathe losing and swore I’d win before I died. Luckily, it happened sooner – because, to my chagrin, Eckerd discontinued the competition after 2013. Under the new system, all participants can revise the material they work-shop and submit it to the magazine for consideration. Speaking strictly for myself, I miss the thrill of cut-throat competition but since that resulted in nine miserable writers who lost and one triumphant writer who won, maybe it undermined community spirit and cooperation. Personally, I don’t think so, but who knows?

2013 Sabal

With or without the “Best of” competition, what makes Eckerd such a fantastic workshop?  For me, it’s their faculty. I don’t read literary fiction unless forced to  (I prefer stories /plots).  Consequently, I’ve never heard of the majority of  author/workshop leaders appearing at even top workshops. This isn’t true of Eckerd.  Books by Eckerd authors/workshop leaders are everywhere – many are best-sellers – because they’re entertaining. Where but Eckerd can a student spend time with writers of the calibre of Sterling Watson, Tom Perrotta, Stewart O’Nan, Laura Lippman, Michael Koryta and Andre Dubus? Dennis Lehane no longer leads workshops but he makes himself  accessible and never fails to fascinate.

Celebrity Autograph Show

St. Petersburg weather in January is beautiful, as is the lush green campus. It’s a safe place to stick your toe in the water (figuratively – there are alligators in Florida) and benefit from smart, professional feedback. I liked almost everyone I met there, even my competition – and I returned home a stronger writer. What more could I ask?

This is NOT a paid advertisement. Writer’s in Paradise is that good.

To download a copy of Celebrity Autograph Show, click on the link.

November 18, 1985


 I met Gene Simmons for the first time in  Gary Lucchesi’s  TriStar office. Gene was wearing leopard boots, a multi-strand choker with colored glass beads or gems and some sort of mesh bracelet. I’m pretty sure I looked like a PTA president by comparison in my dress and pantyhose. (What was I thinking???)  He liked my spec script and wanted me to write his movie project about groupies.

His plan was for me to attend a lot of rock concerts, go backstage, and soak up the scene. For those who read yesterday’s blog, Simon and Garfunkel’s empty dressing room at the San Jose Civic in ’67 was as close as I’d come to getting up close and personal with a rock star. (Not actually true. I met some heavyweights with Cindy Williams in 80 – but that was more of an “Industry” event, not a groupie scene).

Ms. Straight Suburban Mom
Ms. Straight Suburban Mom

I love rock music and I’m fascinated by the “secret society” that surrounds it – the novel I’m working on right now, in 2016, is set in the rock world.  The prospect of safely immersing myself in that world was enormously appealing – but so was my hope of adapting the Moonflower Vine, a novel by Jetta Carleton I’d loved since I read it in the sixties.

the-moonflower-vine-book-imageIt seems as if good things (such as opportunities, rewards, and kudos) as well as bad things (failure, rejection, and financial stress) tend to come in clusters.  Either there are two or three projects I want to write or I can’t get arrested. Two guys ask me out or I’m home alone on a Saturday night. I’ve always assumed it’s the same way for everybody (“buses always come in threes”) but I’ve never asked. Is it?

Actually, I don't mind spending Saturday nights alone if I've got something to read.
Actually, I don’t mind spending Saturday nights alone if I’ve got something to read.

Don’t bother looking up either of these projects on the internet. Another party already purchased all rights to the Moonflower Vine – forever – so there was no hope of optioning the underlying material. I wrote a draft of the groupies’ project for Gene and TriStar at which time it died, never to be resurrected (at least not with me as the writer).   In this case, these days of indecision – ripe with intoxicating possibilities – were as good as it gets.


May 10, 1969

May 10 1969















I’m not sure if I’m revealing myself (and – guilting my best friend Sandy Hegwood Walker by association) as a typical high-spirited high-school girl or a pathological liar. In our defense, we didn’t distort the truth for an unfair advantage – we just couldn’t resist any opportunity to try on a new identity. An only child, Sandy’s fantasy life and active imagination meshed perfectly with mine. We were naturals when it came to playing off each other and improvising.  We had our own secret language for awhile, but that was kids stuff. When we matured, so to speak, pretending to be aspiring rock stars was one of our favorite gambits. When we really got it going, we could go into elaborate detail about our set list and who sang lead on what song. I’m surprised we never got around to printing up band cards. (But what if somebody wanted to book us?)

This fantasy sounded so cool Sandy and I struggled through a few guitar lessons  before we realized our talents were better suited to shopping for dramatic stage costumes, not learning to play an instrument. Years of piano lessons, during which I fell progressively further behind my younger sisters, had alerted me keyboards might not be my forte. My next hint I might be musically challenged came when our church choir director eliminated my half of an upcoming duet with the lame excuse a Natalie Nilsen solo served the music better. I told myself she just didn’t want to show preferential treatment to the pastor’s daughter but I was devastated. While I didn’t want to “toot my own horn,” I didn’t want to hide my light under a bushel either.

I took my case to my father. “I have a beautiful voice, don’t I?” I asked.

He paused and said, “Kathleen, we all have different gifts.”

Even I couldn’t spin this response. So what if I’d never be a real life rock’n’roll icon? Thanks to Sandy’s and my living theater, I knew how it felt to strut the stage and blast away on my Stratocaster. Just to prove that sometimes fantasies do come true, Sandy’s parents bought her a drum kit which she housed in a black light room. It didn’t get much better than that.

If you’re worried about all the gullible people we deceived, rest easy – I don’t think we fooled anyone.




My diary entry for February 21, 1965 (the two clippings above were pasted into the diary.) In my defense, I was only 13 years old.

Diary 2-21-1965

Not only was I overly fond of exclamation points, in ’65 my life was a long seriously bad hair day. (See 8th grade school picture below, taken on what I then believed to be a good hair day.)  

School Picture

But I digress. Last night – slightly more than 51 years after their performance at the Hyatt Music Theater, I saw Chad and Jeremy at McCabe’s guitar store in Santa Monica – a considerably smaller and calmer venue.  No one fainted during their highly entertaining show which included renditions of two of my favorite Chad and Jeremy songs – “A Summer Song” and “Distant Shores”.  Here they are on stage. Sorry about the bad photo – our cell phones were supposed to be off.

C&J Concert

Even though we saw the second show, which started at 10 PM and didn’t end until midnight, they stuck around afterwards to talk to fans and sign autographs. I got one too.



Music is the closest I’ll get to time travel. When familiar – usually melancholy – chords cast their spell, 51 years dissolve. Contrary to the title of Chad and Jeremy’s first USA hit, yesterday is never gone. Long buried memories and feelings spring to life. My world-weary adult self morphs into the yearning dork I used to be. How much of a dork? Another diary entry from 1965.

Diary 1965_edited-1

As angst-ridden as I was at 13, I miss the passionate highs and lows. Where did all that intensity go?

I didn’t scream deliriously at last night’s show like I did in 1965, but I remembered how it felt. Exhilarating. 1965 was a very good year.


As long as there’s music, I don’t have to say goodbye to anything.  If a band you used to love passes anywhere near your town, it’s definitely worth the trip.