Pro Sound News
did, as they ran features about the new technology and my engineering
Via fax, (remember fax?) I brought Phil Kurnit, the Vice President
at Vel Vel, and Deke Arlin, Ray's manager at that time, up to
speed on all of this. I nailed down my day rate plus expenses
and per diam, and grabbed the next plane for La Guardia.
I flew in on December 9th, 1997. It was really balmy and humid
there. I recall sharing a cab with two other people, which is
the common practice there. They even have a matchmaker dude at
the airport cab stand to pair co-riders with taxicabs. We all
sat quietly in the rumbling taxi as we made the trip onto the
big island. I sat in the front seat sweating in my biker jacket
which I had bought in The East Village the year before.
I can still picture looping around that massive cemetery in Queens.
It was absolutely crammed with towering headstones, fanning out
at radical angles like they had tried to fit too many markers
in one place. There was an eerie parallel of this cemetery in
the foreground, and Manhattan's jutting skyscrapers in the background.
Smokestack factories surrounded the cemetery on three sides. I
felt small and insignificant. We motored on.
I was the first passenger out of the cab, thankfully. Vel Vel
put me up at the Park Central Hotel on 7th Avenue at 59th. It
was kitty corner from Carnegie Hall and close to the southernmost
boundary of Central Park. It was also only a fifteen minute walk
to The Toy Specialists. The Park Central featured a great location
but was a real dump. Throngs of weirdoes, Japanese businessmen,
and holiday funsters formed long lines at the check-in counter.
Thirty minutes later I finally made it up to the desk. Vel Vel
hadn't called their Amex number in yet, so I had to tender my
Visa card for the $375 a night room. Yikes! They finally gave
me a key to a "No Smoking" room on the 11th floor.
The hotel's elevator was the slowest, ricketiest thing ever. As
the doors opened at different floors, strange noises and smells
filled the car. I got off on eleven and wheeled my bag toward
my room. As soon as I opened the door, I knew there was no way
on God's green earth I could ever stay in there. It was about
the size of a closet, smelled of every foul human, animal, and
vegetable odor, and sported matted down orange shag carpet and
a stained bedspread. And me without my gas mask!
I stormed back downstairs, (if you can storm in a rickety,
slow moving elevator..) waited another thirty minutes in line,
and pled in robust tones for another room. They gave one up in
sympathy. Either that or they didn't want the other waiting guests
to hear my sad tales of woe!
This next room was on the third floor. I rode up again and strode
down the hall with great trepidation. But this room was awesome!
A nice clean suite with a 27" TV, and a view of Carnegie
Hall. Things were really looking up. I fell asleep to the sounds
of traffic bustling just below. (continued)
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