“You, putzledorf, get over here, put that camera down: for once in your life, give some nachus instead of schpilkis.
“Bill Graham has a story to tell: During my naval service, I was stationed on the USS Hiawatha, which was an Oklahoma-class theater ship: a big room, a lounge, and a small bar for jams late at night and other funky stuff, when people started feeling loose and getting groovy with each other. I once booked Lola Falana in there: it did not go well. Did much better with the Andrews Brothers, who were the Andrews Sisters’ cousins. They had a dog act.
“Anyway, this was in Korea during the whatnot with the boomboom and the Commies; the troops were screaming for entertainment. Also screaming for other reasons. The brass decided to turn the Hiawatha into a floating USO dance, with shows and bands and mishegos: they would bring the entertainment to the troops, rather than bring the troops to the entertainment. “Get out there and show ’em what they’re fighting for,” was the mandate.
“Bill Graham rose from ensign to stage manager to commander to producer. We had our own chain of command on the Hiawatha, which was originally a coal scupper named the Pittsburgh Sunset, but you hear that and you wanna slice your throat, nu?
“So, the original XO was a junkie sax player from Oxford, Mississippi, named Captain Fatback–cat could wail–and when he wanted to sneak off and get high, he would say, “I’m gonna go see my friend Hiawatha,” and the rest of us would make sure the boat didn’t sink and, you know: play craps, get laid, smoke a stick of grass, whatever.
“But, anyway: we called it the Hiawatha.
“So, we have the big room which the fire marshal–that hockin mein chinik–says holds 500: Bill Graham gets eight in there, easy. One time had a group, some little pishers, they ask, “Bill Graham, how many people are here? They’re packed in like sardines out there.” So I say, “You’re right: this place is full. Sign on the wall says that when there’s 500 people in here, it’s full. So: there’s 500 people in here.” Little goyische punims think they’re clever. Next week, there’s a different band, but Bill Graham’s name is still on the marquee!
“Then the lounge, which we called Bill Graham’s Mocambo Lounge: we did it in a New York/Latin/ballroom thing and it’s so classy, people feel guilty about using the bathroom. How do I know: I KNOCKED ON THE DOORS OF BATHROOM STALLS.
“This is before, whaddya call it: yelp. schmelp, google, shmoogle, whatever it is–you wanted feedback, you barged in on sailors using the head. Speaking of head, there was a near constant amount of seaman-on-seaman action in those bathroom. Our janitor went through two mops a week. It was like a warehouse full of Elmer’s glue exploded.
“Bill Graham experimented with homosexuality. I liked it, but I couldn’t stand writing all those thank-you notes.”