Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories
Wednesday 07-28-2010 10:24am PT
Incredible story coming down the pike today! A trove of old glass negatives bought at a garage sale in Fresno ten years ago for $45 have been authenticated as the great lost negatives of Ansel Adams and are worth at least 200 million dollars!

A team of experts has determined that the glass negatives were indeed created by Ansel Adams and thought to have been destroyed in a fire in 1937.

Wow! 200 million! And he bargained the guy down from $50 bucks to $45, is that amazing? The guy who bought the negatives, Rick Nosigian, was a construction worker who bought them because he liked pictures of Yosemite. Little did he know that he had stumbled onto a fortune of lost artwork. Those guys on Antique Roadshow would freak! That's like the Holy Grail of garage sale items. It doesn't get any better than this!

Has anything like that ever happened to you? When Ry was just a little boy, maybe six or seven years old, we went to a garage sale and I saw a complete set of 1963 Topps Baseball Cards for sale for $20. I asked my ex-wife and she gave me 10 reasons why that was a bad idea. She went on and on about it. I gave up and we drove away. A few moments later I thought, "Wait a minute. That's gotta be worth more than $20." So I went back. Against the wishes of my ex-wife I purchased the set of 1963 Topps Baseball Cards. For $20!

I just checked the price of a set 1963 Topps cards- guess what it was? $5,000! I'd say that qualifies as a bargain! I gave the set to Ry to have hold and I think he's still got 'em. He may have been tempted to sell individual cards like Pete Rose's Rookie card, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantel, and Stan Musial for hundreds of dollars each. That set had more hall-of-famers than I thought! Absolutely amazing! God bless garage sales!

Only one other time in my life did I stumble onto an incredible bargain, was when the band was on tour in the Midwest during the 80's and we came upon a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. We stopped for lunch. The local theater was going out of business and the guy had everything out on the sidewalk for sale- beautiful old glass display cases, old movie projectors, and memorabilia. I asked if he had any old movie posters. "Yeah, I got a whole room full of them- $20 a piece!" I spent several thousand dollars buying originals of some of the classic movie posters of the 1950's and 60's. The "one-sheet" for Creature From The Black Lagoon alone was worth almost $500.

I lost them all over the years. What a fool I was...


Tuesday 07-27-2010 10:03am PT
Correction. In yesterday's blog I included an old-time magazine advertisement from the 1960's to illustrate the story about my mother's humongous Chevy Bel Air station wagon, the car I learned to drive in. The problem was that the car pictured was an Impala wagon, not a Bel Air. I was mistaken because both vehicles are ridiculously large, with over-sized engines and rear seats that faced the other way. My mistake.

We had dinner in San Francisco a few days ago at a very fancy restaurant. The food was great, the prices were insane, but the service was horrible! I don;t know about you,, but when I'm paying inflated prices for the food, I expect the service to be spectacular. When the waiter is snotty or rude it ruins the whole experience. Of course, poor service should be reflected in the tip. It was. I hate to do it, but what else can a guy do?
It's the continuing legacy of "Sister Double Happiness" from our local Chinese restaurant. At least "Sister Double Happiness" is genuinely pissed off at the world. She hates everybody, whereas the fancy waiters had a superior attitude, and didn't actually hate the world, it seems, just us...
I finally broke down and bought a FasTrack window sticker, and now I can breeze through the toll plaza. I recommend it. I bought it at the drug store, activated it online, and now I can watch my activity on the FasTrack website. I didn't think I went into the the city that much, but I've already used it 3 times in the past month. The convenience is nice.

Buster Posey has hit safely in 19 straight games, having just passed Orlando Cepeda for longest Giant rookie streak- next are a pair of Willies- McCovey and Mays. Who knows how far the streak can go? Remember- the all-time record is 56 straight games set by Joltin' Joe DiMaggio! This kid can really hit! Check this out: if the season ended today the Giants would win the wild card. That means the strong likelihood of postseason baseball in the Bay Area! The trading deadline is coming up, let's see if they can pick up a player for the stretch run.

Yesterday Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays pitched a no-hitter! It was the 5th no-hitter this year! I guess that makes it the year of the pitcher! Who's next?

Cars I Have Owned

Cars I Have Owned
Monday 07-26-2010 10:34am PT
I've had many cars in my life. After all, I started driving at the age of 16 when I got my learners permit. My mother let me drive the family station wagon- a huge Chevy Bel Air- two and a half acres of bright red Detroit muscle. That wagon sat about 40 people- it had the little seat in the way back that faced the opposite direction. We always fought to get those seats- it was a completely different vacation back there.
Anyway, I was reminiscing about all the cars that I have owned- some good, some bad, some ugly, some sexy, but I spent considerable time behind the wheel of all these vehicles. When viewed back to back they tell a story- the story of my life. To the best of my ability, here's a remembered history.
My earliest memories of driving with my parents in their Nash Statesman. I remember it broke down on our way to Ocean City for vacation one year, my father got so mad he traded it in and we never saw it again.

We were the hit of neighborhood when my father bought a brand new 1959 Chevy Biscayne with huge fins. It was black and long and looked like a space ship. There were no safety belts and my sister and I jumped up and down on the back seat as we drove. When mom hit the breaks hard we all went tumbling, but we never got hurt.

My father bought a second car to drive to work in when I was in elementary school. It was a 40's era Dodge. He took me to the dump once when I was a kid in that car and it got stuck in the mud. My father let me drive while he pushed from behind, but nothing worked, that car was stuck. My mother had to come and pull us out in her giant station wagon. The interior of that car always smelled like mildew.

By the time I was in high school my mother had taken over as the main driver and arbiter of the car rules. She bought a huge Chevy Bel Air station wagon. That was the car I learned to drive in. That was the same car I used to take on my first dates. It was the size of Cleveland. It was "fire-engine red" and sported cartoonish red and white vinyl couch-like seats. I used to park and make out with my early girlfriends in this car, which was so big it was almost like getting a hotel room.
My first personal car was a Buick F-85, I bought it used from a guy down the block. It was on its last legs when I bought it, and I took it the final stretch to infinity. That Buick had a 4 speed gear shift on the column. The clutch was as low as a birdbath, nearly non-existent. The radio had a reverb knob! The brakes gave out one day coming down a big hill on my way to college. I plowed into the car ahead of me. The cops were very sympathetic.

Then, when I became a hippie, I bought a VW micobus with my hippie girlfriend. That bus took us 1000's of miles and eventually we drove it into the ground. If it broke down (which it did many times) you could always camp out in the back.

Then I came to California. My first Golden State car was a turquoise VW bug. It served me well when Ry was a baby. I had to park it on a hill pointing downward so I could roll it down the hill and jump start it every morning. I once threw a roach out of the window during a Berkeley rainstorm and it stuck to the side of the car and a cop stopped me and I got busted. The case was later thrown out "in the interest of justice." I rolled that car at Stinson Beach on a Sunday afternoon.

Then I bought a Datsun 510 wagon off a neighbor.

I bought a little beat-up Peugot for my second car. It cost $300. I called it the refrigerator because it was "appliance white" and square as a washing machine. It was ugly but it always started. A drunk plowed into it standing at a red light in Oakland.
I started making a little money and bought my first new car- a Fiat Rally. What a piece of junk! Fiat stands forFix It Again, Tony.

When the band began to get successful I bought my first cool car in 1982- an Alfa Romeo GTV6 Balocco. What a great car! I loved it. There were only 350 made and each one was numbered. I had #40. I totalled it on New Year's Eve!

For punishment I drove a horrible Chrysler K Car for 2 years. That cured me of driving fast... for a little while at least.
Then I got Toyota Highlander- what a great vehicle. That car did it all. One of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. I wound up selling it to my manager who loves it and still drives it to this very day.

Ford Motor Company had a contest back in the year 2000 for the best radio commercial for the Millennial Mustang. I won with a stupid blues song! I wasn't even trying to win but I did! Amazing. Of course you all know the fate of that car- I totalled it.

And then I got the Corvette.

These are the cars of my life.


Friday 07-23-2010 10:22am PT
On this date in 1962, America launched its first communication satellite- TELSTAR. Russia was winning the early days of the space race. They sent up SPUTNIK in October of 1957, they sent the first animal in space- a dog named Laika in Sputnik2, and the first human being- Yuri Gagarin. So, we were playing catch-up ball for the first few years of the space program.

It wasn't until TELSTAR went into orbit that America could hold its head high and know it was part of the space race. It was an important turning point for American technology and began a new era of communications.

The TELSTAR satellite inspired legendary English record producer Joe Meek to write and record an instrumental song that captured the sci-fi nature of the achievement. The group he put together was the TORNADOS, but there already was a band called the Tornados in America, so he had to change the name of the group to the LONDON TORNADOS. They recently made a feature length movie about TELSTAR and life of Joe Meek- a true original.

I bought that record when I was a kid- I loved it! I loved the space sounds at the beginning and end of the record. I played it on my little record player a thousand times.

Many years later, when the Greg Kihn Band was on tour in Germany in the 1970's, we actually did a version of TELSTAR live. It was a fun encore number, and Dave Carpender, our lead guitarist did a great job on it. Watching the video again after all these years, I noticed that at the end of the song Dave leans his guitar up against the amp and turns it up so it will sheik with feedback... AND HE JUST WALKS AWAY- with the guitar howling through the amp like a banshee. The German roadies didn;t know what to do. They ran around shouting things in German, and eventually one of the braver ones reached over and cut the volume on the guitar.

This was recorded for a Eurovision TV special, live at the Audimax in Hamburg, Germany 1978 on a show called ROCKPALAST. I remember that our equipment didn't make it through customs and we had to use all rented equipment- that's why I'm not playing my vintage 1964 Rickenbacker 12-string, but another Ricky not nearly as nice. We had a great time on that tour. We were part of an all-Beserkley package tour including The Rubinoos, Tyla Gang, and Earth Quake. Beserkley of German released the concert as a double live album with one side by each band. That piece of vinyl is notable for the only recorded version of the song "Future Girl" which did not appear on any other record ever. That makes it a rarity.
I found the video on YouTube. Check it out!
Have a great weekend!

A Good Deed

A Good Deed
Thursday 07-22-2010 9:53am PT
We were driving across the Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco to see Paul McCartney on my birthday July 10, just a few weeks ago. It's usually a mess getting up to the toll plaza. We didn't have a FASTRACK pass yet (I bought one a few days ago) and things were confusing in the lanes. New laws had taken effect and the toll had just been raised. In addition to the higher fares, the car pool lane now cost $2.50 as well. The kicker is you have to have a FASTRACK transponder on your windshield or you can't use the carpool lane at all! There are no carpool cash lanes anymore. Yikes! This caused my wife and I considerable consternation.

Anyway, I had to cut across six lanes of heavy traffic to get to a cash lane. It was brutal. Traffic had slowed to a crawl, plus there was a certain amount of confusion about the change in tolls. In fact, people were freaking out.

I was just trying to get there without being crushed. After all, at the end of my ride- a Paul McCartney concert waited. All I had to do was get there. By the way, the next day I bought a FASTRACK pass so I wouldn't have to stop or slow down to pay a toll in the commuter lane. I used it last weekend when we went over to a Giants game. I've never used one before, but the first time we went through the toll booth a red light flashed, I hope it indicated that the device was working properly. A neighbor told me that he thought the damn thing was mounted too low on my Corvette and that maybe it couldn't be read. I hope not. All I need is more love mail from the DMV.

But I digress... Back to the toll booth.
So, after great conflagration and wringing of hands we finally made it to the cash lane. I should point out that this lane is moving at the speed of a snail with attention deficit disorder, and that cars are backed up to crack houses of east Oakland. It was in this rarefied atmosphere that our story takes place.

Tension were high, temperatures were rising, and tempers were short. In the cars behind and in front of us, people leaned on their horns like members of the South African Vuvuzela Glee Club.

Then along comes a blond woman in a black BMW, cautiously weaving her way across the treacherous white waters of the final half mile before the toll plaza. I could see the fear and terror in her eyes as she desperately tried to negotiate the last few lanes to safety. She was clearly in great distress, and nobody was going to let her in. She was trapped with her ass sticking out in the FASTRACK lane and her nose trying to inch its way forward into my lane. It was quite dangerous. People in the next lane were not slowing down, they just swerved to avoid her, blew their horns and gave the finger.

In a rare moment of chivalry, I graciously waved her in front of me. She was saved! So grateful was she that she waved profusely to me. When we got to the toll booth, she was directly in front of me. Little did I know, as we pulled up to the toll taker, that that woman had paid my toll! 6 BUCKS! Wow! I waved back, surprised at my good fortune. Good karma begets good karma... I guess. I just felt extra special good that day. She didn't know we were on our way to see McCartney or that it was my birthday! She was just being nice to a guy who let her in.
That's a true story. I hope she's out there listening, or maybe she'll read this- lady in the BMW- THANK YOU!

The Bleached Skulls

The Bleached Skulls
Wednesday 07-21-2010 10:40am PT
The road to rock and roll heaven is paved with the bleached skulls of guys like me.

It's so true. My own daughter was once hiking through the jungles of South America when she heard my song "Jeopardy" playing through a speaker nailed to a tree in the middle of nowhere. It was a little shack that sold bootleg cassettes. She didn't buy one but I wish she had. The label said- I kid you not- "Jeopardy" by The Gren King Bang.

I have had the pleasure of being bootlegged all over the world, and you can hear those inferior audio transfers from dance clubs of Europe to the ladyboy bars of Thailand- we're downright global!

I Googled myself this morning. I had 311,000 results in .22 seconds. That's scary. What's up with that? You can use any search engine and the results will be more or less the same. There are a million Greg Kihn websites out there- of course the KFOX site is front and center, and you can always find my updated fresh blogs right here, and for those who are keeping track at home- you all know exactly where I am every weekday morning from 5:00-10:00am. I'm right here at KFOX. And I will be for many years to come. This is my home.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've got several more websites running that feature fresh content and satisfy various hungers experienced by the well informed Greg Kihn fan. If you want to buy stuff- T-shirts, CD's, Books, DVD's, Photo's, etc. then you probably want to visit Also there are Greg Kihn sites at MySpace, Twitter, and FaceBook, all of them are fabulous, of course. I also do a syndicated 7-midnight show in 96 markets around the country, and that show has a website too- In addition to the official GK websites there are many Greg Kihn videos on YouTube, CD's and books at Amazon, and biographical information at Wikipedia.

You can find all kinds of interesting stuff in a Google search. (By the way, the world has been going downhill since the words PARTY and GOGGLE became verbs!) I found out that I have been nominated for the Bay Area Radio Hall Of Fame for my 14 years on the air here at KFOX. Hard to believe but it's true! I am nominated along with such luminaries as Giant's announcer John Miller, The A's Ken Korach, Ralph Barbieri, Gary Radnich, Hal Ramey, Bonnie Simmons, Scott Beach, Dave Morey, Stan Bunger, and Ben Fong-Torres. Wow! What an honor. I had no idea. Public voting has concluded so I am way behind if I wanted to influence the voting by putting in a plug- I blew it. That's the story of my life. I'm a day late and dollar short. I hope I win just so I can go to the banquette and sit next to John Miller.

My point is this- we live in a fishbowl. If you're in the public eye like me it's even crazier. I don't mind, though. I love my life.

Man On The Moon

Man On The Moon
Tuesday 07-20-2010 10:09am PT
A lot of people think it was the most famous event in history. It's hard to argue with them. It was on this date in 1969 that Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Lunar Module and into history. The boot of his space suit sunk into the gray moondust about an inch.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

"Magnificent desolation," was how Buzz Aldrin described it.
It was the age of American exceptionalism, as different from today's world as day and night. Back then we thought we could do anything! And we could! And we did! WE were the world's #1 superpower. WE were the good guys. WE were the men. We never felt guilty or self-conscious about it. The responsibility of being the big dog never slowed us down. I don't know how to express it to you- was just different.
I remember it well. I was on vacation with my parents in Ocean City, Maryland. We all watched it on TV and the next morning, outside the condo where we stayed, written in giant letters in the sand, someone had written- TODAY AN AMERICAN WALKED ON THE MOON, GOD BLESS AMERICA! I stared at the message for ten minutes, wondering who had written those words. They touched me. I felt proud to be an American. I felt like we were all part of a great moment in history, that things would never be the same. JFK issued the challenge, and it's a shame he wasn't around to see it.

The Saturn 5 rocket that blasted Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins into orbit was the most powerful engine ever created. What those three Apollo Astronauts did was incredibly dangerous. They could have died a hundred times during the trip. This could never happen today. People aren't into taking chances anymore. The spirit of exploration has waned in our collective psyche. But, back then, American astronauts were heroes, and they did impossible, amazing things.

The Apollo 11 technology was clunky and obsolete- the IBM computer that plotted their course wouldn't run a cell phone in today's world. The command module was cramped and primitive. The fact they made it 238,857 miles through space to the surface of the moon, then descended to the lunar surface, got out and walked around, then returned to their ship, blasted off, returned to the mother ship and traveled all the way back to earth is incredible!

America was a different place back then. We got things done. God, I miss it.

Why Character Matters

Why Character Matters
Monday 07-19-2010 9:54am PT
I don't know what to tell young bands when they ask me for advice. Not only has the music business changed since I started, society itself has changed. The same rules no longer apply.

The Greg Kihn Band started in 1975. It was before anything. It was before the Internet, before cell phones, before MTV, before computers, before digital, before just about everything you rely on today. We had a rental space at Berkeley Rental Space on Gilman St.- a double garage where we stored our equipment and rehearsed. After they locked up at night, we had to scale a ten foot chain link fence to practice. You had to be in tip-top rock and roll shape. We rehearsed every freakin' day! Every day- I kid you not. We wrote three to four songs a week and played every gig that came down the pike. We worked our asses off, and that's no lie. There was nothing glamorous about it. Ten hours in broken-down van to make 20$ each. So why did we do it? There was no American Idol back then, or any other TV talent show (unless you count the Gong Show) we needed the money.

We toured on the strength our FM album airplay, doing interviews everywhere we went. I did a ton of radio, and we played clubs- great classic nightclubs like the Agora on Cleveland, Bogart's in Cincinnati, Cain's in Tulsa, the Main Point in Philly, the Cellar Door in Washington DC, Toad's Place in New Haven, The Park West in Chicago, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, The Bottom Line in NYC, the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, the Paradise in Boston, The Shaboo Inn in Willimantic, The Keystone in Berkeley, the Broadway and the Old Waldorff in San Francisco, The Troubadour and the Roxy in LA, The Keystone PA in Palo Alto, and The Catalyst in Santa Cruz to name but a few.

It was another age and hard work really counted.
We didn't have a top forty hit until our 7th album! Which is unheard-of today. We were on a goofy little independant label in Berkeley- way off the beaten path. We didn't earn an ounce of respect in LA until we had a hit. Not even the other bay area bands seemed to respect us. We didn't care, of course. We were just thrilled to be there.
In fact, if you'd have asked us at any point back in the old days, if we thought we had made it- we would have emphatically said YES! Hell, we were having a ball! We were so blown away by the fact the people would pay money to see us, we didn't care about much else. It seemed like a miracle to us.
I remember, backstage at the Bammies- back in 1981-1984, when we were winning Bammies every year, we would be hanging with the other groups in the "green room" waiting to go on. I couldn't believe the attitudes of some of the other bands! They actually thought the world owed them a gold record every time out! My guys were just happy to be there.

No matter have sophisticated it got, or how far from home we strayed, or how over-our-heads culturally we were- we always kept one thing in mind- always be true to yourself. We didn't put on aires because we knew in our heart of hearts that we couldn't pull it off. We just weren't hedonistic enough; we didn't pack enough hubris; we were never actually cool, we always felt uncomfortable in limos. By staying true to ourselves, we avoided having to be pretend to be something that we weren't.
I have no idea what it must be like to be Lady Gaga- but if this is the freak show you have to be in to make it, then I guess the next generation of rock bands will have silly costumes on and cover their faces. It won't matter, of course.

Whoever they are, and however weird they may be- if they want to make it the real way- they'll have to be true to themselves. People will be able to tell if it's bogus. They will have to live by the same convictions we did: don't lie, cheat, or steal. Always do a good job. Treat people with respect. Get there early and stay late. Wash your face and brush your teeth. Do your homework. Don't be a jerk. And rehearse.
Good luck! Character matters.
Character is what you are when nobody is looking.