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Uncle Ray's Psychedelic Soul

Uncle Ray’s Psychedelic Soul Blog #4 Ramapo High

Sunday, February 9
10am

I was lucky to get the call a few month or so ago, from a warm soul I just saw at my 30th High School Reunion, about coming to my lovely town with 3 or 4 other close friends. The first rainy weekend in San Francisco 2014, I got to kick it with some really great men from New Jersey who live in some of my most important memories, most of whom I haven’t seen in ages. I thought for a while I may never see these guys again, and they are all here. I made them stay up entirely to late, and we shot the shit for a couple hours on the radio.

Thanks Mark, Chris, Vic,

MarkVicChris

(Steve and Ted too).

 

Ramapo Regional High

 

I’m sure high school started out as a terrifying experience.

I was a pimply -forheaded four-eyed kid

some friends ,

plenty of questions,

and no clues.

Ramapo Regional High in Franklin Lakes was really clicky and rich.

My sister had been a really good student, so her reputation with the teachers was great but that did me little to no good, dumb as a stump this one . My memory is terrible, even trying to think about certain stories it’s just not really coming back. There was a general overall sinking feeling about high school, it’s kind of when I lost sports and found music , which was a great thing for me in the long run.

I’ve always been a big guy so I started playing football early in about 5th or 6th grade

I had great coaches and a good amount of encouragement and a lot of attention on the fundamentals so the team I was on won a lot of games. These were the glory days.

Around the time that we entered Ramapo,  they hired a new coach who couldn’t win games. No matter the ways he tried, whether it be slapping a 16-year-old across the helmet or calling the whole team bunch of girls, he couldn’t find a way to win. I was playing both ways in the varsity game as a sophomore and broke my hand in the first quarter,  Coach played me the whole game. I’m sure my hand kept breaking because it was a mess after I took the tape off it at the end of the game. I think I knew then I was quitting football, not because of football but because of the personalities surrounding it. This coach was such an insufferable asshole and my recent visit with old high school friends I haven’t seen some for over 30 years prove that I wasn’t the only one that thought this. This man constantly badgered us to be on the wrestling team because we’re big, and would always insult us about whatever else we were doing, weather be acting in a play, playing music, or being on the radio station (which I’m not sure he even knew existed).

Looking back I feel this guy put a serious dent in my life. I loved playing football and who knows what would happen if I kept playing? It really doesn’t matter now, but as a teacher it so offends me the way some educators behave around young people and the way they treat their students. Completely obscene. I had a kindergarten teacher who used to grab kids by the ear and drag them across the room. Mrs. Hoyerman. Enjoy hell you witch.

 

One time sitting in the sauna losing weight to make a football requirement (after I was already underweight) I was forced to “stick it out” in the sauna with some of the other guys because I was “on the team”. This was of course the coaches idea claiming “you got to stay in there with your teammates”… idiot could have killed me.

 

I managed to make a tough transition from football player to cheerleader. I know it happened gradually, but it never occurred to me until recently what a ballsy move that was. I wasn’t an official cheerleader, just kind of a role we made up to root for the team.  My next-door neighbor Skippy and I were president & vice president of the class senior year. We would wear Raider green and white & use mega phones to cheer and hype the crowd. We had something called the spirit can which was a tin garbage can painted green with the word “yeah” painted underneath the lid. I ended up on the bus to away games with my best pal and the all the other cheerleaders, 100% female, probably drinking and doing all the original high school shenanigans. It sure beats the grind of being on the football team in a stank bus with a shitty coach loosing every week, what a waste of time. I guess I was no dummy after all.

Interestingly one of this coach mentored a kid I played with (who also happen to be a royal asshole) and went on to be a coach in the NFL for a few years. Not so ironically, he couldn’t win a game either, turning a bunch of Super Bowl contenders into a chump team. Rah Rah!

Shortly after breaking my hand I bought a bass guitar . I could still play it even though I was just starting out, and I had a cast on my right hand. I was determined to learn how to play this instrument. What ended up happening after years and years of formal music lessons, I was taking care of the neighbors dog and cat over one summer.  The teenage girl in the house happened to have a bunch of guitars and played pretty well, so I spent one a few days that week in their basement,teaching myself cords out of a chord book she had. Before long I was banging out simple chords and simple tunes, it made me so happy. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I had a short stint as a freshman in high school in an upperclassman band as a backup singer. Truthfully, they just used me as a mascot and whipping boy,but I could sing and I was definitely helped them sound better.

After a few gigs they kicked me out of the band and I was determined to start my own band (in my own Scarlet O’Hara moment of realization) I would never look back. (and destroy them in the process !)

I was on a trip sophomore year with my best friend Chris Behrens. My parents took us over Europe to visit with my sister who was studying abroad. We visited England and Italy, I was fully in tune at that time to the fashions and was paying close attention to the music scene. When we went shopping and I purchased a very expensive copy of the Beatles anthology music book at Harrods in London. It was in our hotel room one night Chris & I came up with the idea of starting our own band.

Ty and the Pedestrians were born. We recently did a reunion at our 30th high school reunion for Ramapo it was a lot of fun. As it turns out all the band members recollections are different about how the band started but here’s mine.

Somehow I knew this guy from out of town named Joe Langan who played guitar really well, he was actually the kid they gave me my first lessons. He had a Les Paul Black Beauty, looked a lot like a young Tom Petty and he drove a fatigue green Camaro, so this kid was all kinds of cool. I think we also made use of the fact that he went to a private high school and knew some other kids from some other high schools that could play (or at least they had some equipment) so we employed Tim B on the drums and Rob C on the bass. These guys couldn’t play so well, really none of us could, but we hammered out some three chord songs right alongside the best of any of the garage bands that ever walked the earth.

Actually Chris and Joe were pretty good players and helped the band establish some kind of sound. We played tunes by the Beatles some stuff from Bruce Springsteen the Doors, the Kinks and a bunch of other British invasion bands.

We didn’t know it at the time, but we made some great choices that would help elevate the band in to hard-working unit. These decisions happened gradually and they included using musicians from different schools so we would have many more direct opportunities to get gigs, enticing upperclassman to sing with the band to draw more fans,  and eventually more gigging opportunities. When we noticed all the other local high school bands were playing classic rock we decided to switch new wave and punk which worked out really well. This of course was a stroke of genius as we got to play every sweet 16 party in a 20 mile radius over the course of the next two or three years. I remember I could tune in the station from Long Island called WLIR, and they played all new wave and punk rock, some hip-hop too. This is where I got turned on the bands like The Police, the Clash, Duran Duran and Joe Jackson. . Our first gig was arranged by my future brother-in-law at the local church MBS. We went on to play many more church dances, Catholic schools, battle of the bands and even some keg parties.

The legendary Sloatsburg bust comes to mind. We were located in Northern New Jersey about a 15 minute ride from Suffern in New York state. We were pretty established by then and someone hired us to play a party in Sloatsburg , NY.

They had rented some kind of hall and had kegs and giant hoagies and expect about 300 people. Unfortunately they were underage and the cops turned up right as we finished loading in and shut the party down 90 minutes before it was to begin. We had a great manager (our buddy Skippy) who was a hard ass and asked them how they expected to pay us the $250 or whatever it was they owed. I’m sure he had a copy of the contract in his back pocket. We ended up driving back to Jersey with a cold keg a six-foot hoagie and whatever money they all had in their pockets. If I remember correctly our parents let us spend the night at the drummer’s house in his basement where we practiced.  We proceeded to get pretty well lit up, and handled the better part of that keg,a pretty significant job for brunch 16 and 17-year-old boys.

Another thing I remember about high school was the Friday Afternoon Badminton Club. This was created by my buddy Willy with me Skippy and Chris. We were pretty good kids back then, not getting into much trouble at school. In fact we were probably more like model citizens, but this club was an excuse to skip class and do things teenage boys will do. I’m not sure if it started as a Halloween costume but we definitely had uniforms, White tennis shorts and polo shirts, you couldn’t help but be preppy where we went to high school, no matter how punk rock he wanted to be.

High school also brought first love. This girl is still one of the nicest, sweetest, most beautiful women I’ve ever met. She can always make me laugh and I’m fortunate to still be in touch with her, because she always remind me who I am, and where I came from.  We met in summer theater, Onstage Inc.,  and we would go to the movies and make out in the theater, missing significant parts of the motion picture. We  obsessed over Brooke Shields, and god knows what else. This was a dynamic girl, her father was a federal agent and they lived all around the world. She embraced that and excelled in several languages and love to travel.  Unfortunately they made one of these moves, I think it was our senior year of high school and we’d been dating for a couple years, so at the time we were madly deeply when she left, which happened rather abruptly.

She moved to Amsterdam. Ouch. We never even made it to prom together.

I’m so pleased that we are still friends and her husband is a Mench, she and a friend visited San Francisco and stayed with me several years ago.

 

# 4 Ramapo High w/ Mark Sole, Victor Manelli, & Chris Fuller.

00:00:01 The Stooges – No Fun

00:05:07  Bowie – Let’s Dance

00:12:35  Announcements/ Introductions

00:15:40  Herb Alpert Whipped Cream

00:17:30 The Cars- Just What I Needed

00:21:08 Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science

00:26:37 Talking Heads – Crosseyed & Painless (live)

00:33:11 Announcements- Herb Alpert

00:38:57 Trio- Da Da Da

00:42:58  Tears for Fears – Pale Shelter

00:47:25  Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

00:55:18  The Go-Go’s- Our Lips Are Sealed

00:58:09 Announcements/ Herb Alpert

01:02:40 Cheech & Chong- Sgt. Stedenko

01:08:50 Rush – Spirit of the Radio

01:13:38 Van Halen – Dancing in the Streets

01:17:15 Announcements

01:29:50 Steely Dan- Black Cow

01:34:48 Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out

01:39:00 A Flock of Seaguls- Space Age Love Song

01:42:20 Announcements

01:50:08 Pretenders – Tatooed Love Boys

01:52:52  Rockpile – Pet You and Hold You

01:56:00 URPS bumper

01:56:24 The Knack – My Sharona

02:01:14 Announcements

02:06:55 Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

02:09:47 Beatles – Drive My Car

02:12:12 Beatles _ I Dig a Pony

02:15:53 Beatles Glass Onion

02:18:00 URPS Bumper

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