The George-O-Lettes meet Bullwinkle
To catch fish, you have to use good bait.
The large scale version of The Shuffling Hungarians was a fantasy in my head in the late spring of 1993, but I had by that time identified the people that were going to bring that dream to life, even if that didn't know it quite yet.
I needed bait, and that manifested itself in the form of a Harborfest Gig, which paid $1000; the most we had ever been paid to play up to that point. The math was easy. Instead of a lucrative outing for five, I used the money as an incentive to draw the rest of the dream in. Irvin Daniel, Jeff Stockham, and the first complete outing of the George -O-Lettes; Angie Washington, Jackie Clark, and Gayle Sampson, plus our Soundman, Timmy Schad. Eleven peeps including me, and every one got paid a C-note.
I know. The math only works if you don't pay yourself. I had my eye on the future.
But that little C-Note gave the new recruits enough of an incentive to start rehearsing. As long as I could dangle a little green, I could move forward with the master plan, albeit slowly. Its hard to dangle money when you don't have any.
The other gig on that summer's docket was at a H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) rally at an uspcale resort in the middle of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, again sold and budgeted to accomodate the full ensemble.... and our first official roadtrip that included the soon to be infamous "George-O-Lettes".
I didn't know what the girls total travel experience was, but judging how much difficulty Angie had negotiating the route from the East side of town to the North, coupled with her absolute refusal to use the highway system in the city and the fact that she was the only one out of the three that owned a car.... my guess was that they hadn't logged alot of time outside of the city limits.
The band collected at the Park Street flat that I shared with Styleen. After the travel packets with all routing and itinerary info were distributed, the plan was to generally caravan in four separate vehicles... this was in the prehistoric, pre-cell phone days, so we wanted to stay close in case anyone had car trouble.
I took the wheel of Angie's little Pontiac, and responsibilty of getting the gals to the gig in one piece. We all pulled out and headed for New Hampshire, a long ass drive with no appreciable highways between Albany NY and the resort destination in the middle of the Mountains of East Jesus. Most of the trip was gonna be travelled on two lanes through one horse towns.
Well the "caravaning concept" was quickly jettisoned, basically for two reasons.
The girls had to constantly pee. I mean every gas station, Seven Eleven, and Quickee Mart had to be visited, and they couldn't get their bladders in synch.
And as they were peeing, they were perusing. Every stop resulted in a full scale shopping trip. T-shirts, hats, sunglasses, shot glasses, but more importantly, food and alot of it was purchased at every stop. Chips, Soda, Slim Jims, Burritos, Pizza Slices, Candy... armfuls of the stuff.I never saw three humans devour so much crapola in so little time. The car didn't need fuel, but the George-O-Lettes needed re-fueling on what seemed to be a minute to minute basis. I swear they blew 75% of their pay before we crossed the State Line.
A seven hour trip was going to turn into more like eleven, so I cut the rest of the guys free at one of the many pit stops made and told them to just go on ahead and we'd just meet them for breakfast the next morning at the resort.
At around 11pm, we finally arrived at the last outpost of civilization before turning off onto the mountain road that would lead us to the heart of The White Mountains. This last leg of the trip was going to be a bitch. 28 miles of a narrow single lane road in the middle of the night, twisting and undulating around Mountain passes at about 10 miles per hour. This was already turning out to be the road trip from hell, I was beat, and the worst of it was saved for last.
Of course, seeing as we were at the last outpost of civilization, we had to stop at a convenient mart for another round of unsynchronized peeing, shopping for gak, and re-loading of junk food supplies to last the George-O-lettes for another hour.
As they were discussing the vagaries of Bugles, Fun-Yums, and Pringle's Potato Chips, I walked up to the counter to chat with the clerk.
From his point of view, here was a guy in the middle of a tiny New England town who just had a skinny assed white boy with hair down to his butt invade his store in the middle of the night. Flanked by three Rubinesque, hungry black women who were hard to keep an eye on as they were busy plucking crapola food items from every aisle in the store, my approach to the counter was probably seen as a classic mis-direction technique to grab his attention while the George-O-Lettes stuffed mountains of merchandise down the stretch pants of their velveteen track suits... matching track suits, I might add.
I was on the look-out for any type of vague racism directed towards us as well... these women were my charges, and I wasn't about to let them get touched bt that kind of shit.
In a way, this was the first of many moments that sharpened my role as protector and paternal figure that would last during the whole tenure of the band. Eventually rumor, innuendo and false narrative got floated that The George-O-Lettes were my own personal harem.
Frankly, I didn't do much to dispel the gossip. I always let people talk, no matter how hurtful the talk may be. If people wanted to think I was having nightly orgies with the background singers, that suited my purposes just fine. Its better to let assholes build your legend for you, rather than to fight that dynamic, or try to control it.
People don't realize that by shoveling false dirt with the intent of hurting you, all they do is help you. That rumor was just going to put more fannies in the seats, eventually.
In all honesty, I followed the number one cardinal rule of a co-ed business concern:
You don't stick your pen in the company ink well. And when in committed relationships, you are limited to one ink well, or one pen, in as the George-O-Lette's case may have been. We all had significant others.
I know that's incongruous to what people read on shit house stalls writ large on bathroom walls, but as mundane as it may seem, that was always the reality of my relationship with Angie, Jackie and Gayle.
I wasn't ever going to be their communal lover. But as I approached that counter, I knew right then that I was going to be their protector, their teacher, and in some aspects, their Daddy for a very long time if I was able to realize the vision I had for the future.
As the clerk was craning his neck to look around me to make sure he wasn't getting robbed blind, I asked if the only left turn to take in Tiny Town was the road that wound through the mountains and to the resort.
In the best New England Pepperidge Farm announcer accent I've ever heard, the old coot answered, "AAA-Yuh. Thaht thai-yah would be the Mountain Road..."
The girls started to collect behind me with their armfulls of foodstuffs. The fact that Gayle had a couple of packs of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies did not go un-noticed by me.
"Mighty dangerous road thai-yah to be drivin' on at night... "
"Well... we're staying at the resort, so we really don't have a choice"
"AAA-Yuh... Jes' sayin'..ya might be inclined to wait fer daybreak, that's all"
"Oh... Jes' lotsa collisions up thai-yeah up on that thai-yah mountain road this time of yee-ah...'specially at night."
"Collisions? Is there much traffic on that road at night?"
"Not Cah collisions, son. Moose"
Gayle snapped first. "Georgie! Whus he talkin' 'bout?"
I exchanged a knowing glance with the crusty clerk. He was going to have an epic culture clash between Yankee Country Mouse, naive inner City Kitties, and a long haired Bohemian was going to function as the interpreter. But his terms were acceptable. He just wanted to scare the Bee-Jeezus out of the gals.
"Ai-yuh...thaht thai-yah mountain road is rife with moose".
Now I'm trying to supress my laughter as Angie dug her finger nails into my arms.
"Rife? Rife with moose?"
"Ai-yuh...rife with moose up thai-yah on that thai-yah mountain road. Been sev'ral hundred moose collisions so fah this yee-ah"
At this point, the girls had eyes wide as saucers, and were contemplating sleeping in the car in the parking lot of the Quickee Mart. Mission accomplished, Mr.Yankee comedian.
"But if ya vent-chah up thai-ya on that thai-ya road, an ya hafta stop fer a moose... make sure ya don't hahnk ya hahn"
"GEORGIE! What the fuck does "Hahnk ya hahn" mean?"
"I believe he's saying "Honk your Horn", Gayle..." Turning back to the clerk, I asked why that was advisable.
"Well... now ya see: If ya come across a bull moose in the middle of that thai-yah road, and hahnk ya hahn, the moose thai-ya perceives it as a matin' call... if ya hahnk ya hahn, he'll mount ya cah."
Gayle has now officially had it. City Kitty was about to take a swipe, claws beared.
"GEORGIE! What the fuck does he mean 'Mount The Cah'?"
"I believe what he's saying is that if we have to stop for a moose, and honk the horn, that a bull moose will mistake the horn for a female mating call, and attempt to hump the car into submission...is that right?"
"AAA-yuh... yuh don't want a moose to be mahntin ya cah... pretty unpleasant, Crush the roof of ya cah right in."
I couldn't hold it in anymore, and bust out laughing. The girls are freaked at this point, thinking that Bullwinkle The Moose is going to fuck our only mode of transportation into next week.
"I think we'll just take our chances", I said as the clerk winked at me.
"You all be caihful now, ya hee-yah? An' remember..."
"I know. Don't 'Hahnk The Hahn'."
It took me awhile to talk the George-O-Lettes off the ledge and out of the notion of sleeping in the parking lot of the Quickie Mart until daybreak. It had been a very long drive due to all the peeing, shopping and eating, and I wanted to hit a mattress. I assured them that I would drive extremely carefully... I had gotten them this far safely, right? And I swore on my Mother's eyes that under any circumstance, I wouldn't "Hahnk Tha Hahn" for nobody, not for nuthin, not no way Jose.
We piled in the car and took the left turn on the mountain road. 50 feet up ahead on the right as we entered the forest, was a quaint hand painted sign: Old school style like an ancient baseball field score board, with flip cards for the changing statistics.
Adorned with a cartoon moose rendered in weather beaten peeling paint, it read: "Welcome To The White Mountains! Moose Collisions So Far This Year: 223. Suggested Speed 5MPH."
Cue the theme song for "The Twilght Zone", because Little Georgie's Maiden Road Trip and Voyage with the George-O-Lettes was turning into a Rod Serling classic.
So for the next two hours, we crawled down that single lane road at 5MPH. About halfway through, we came across a ginormous bull moose, but he wasn't interested in mating with the Pontiac, and ambled off back into the woods. They had all conked out and missed the the thrilling sighting of the magnificently massive beast.
My head finally het a pillow at about 2 am.
As I drifted off, I knew that this was but many adventures I was about to have with Angie, Jackie and Gayle. There was going to be a lot of stories to tell, but there was going to be a lot of love exchanged too.
Mr. Yankee Crusty Clerk Comedian made sure of that.
There is a moral to the moose parable that I have kept throughout my life though.
If in the presence of someone that is out to emotionally and spiritually fuck you, no matter what the intent may be, its probably not a good idea to advertise that you can be.
In other words, as you walk through this life, be careful not to "HAHNK THE HAHN", unless you're spoiling for an uninvited moose humping.
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
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THANK YOU KINDLY,
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"