Mike Says 9

and so after vast amounts of time and energy were expended the aliens finally created a planet where life could support itself and eventually prosper. Okay that’s it and don’t forget they’ll be a test next week . Oh .. sorry, I was just finishing my lecture. Perhaps I should explain; I teach a weekly class at Portmouth University (unfortunately called PU by the locals, but at least I don’t teach at Fordham University) on a subject known as paleoergoplanetology. I won’t bore you with the technical explanation of what that means, let’s just say it’s very cutting edge stuff that answers just about all of lifes’ questions.

Well enough of that crap, let’s get to the important stuff. And that would be—–Part Two of ‘Before They Were Stars.’ Now let me see, where were we? Oh yes I remember. Last week I told you about the early years of Rich, Stacey, and Joe. That brings us to drummer Leo Black, or at least that is what he would have you believe his name is. I know he’ll be uncomfortable with me telling this story but I think enough water has gone over the bridge, or under the dam by now that it can be told.

His real name is Leo Blick. Name ring a bell? Yes, that Blick family, famed for their high wire act. Started by his grandfather, Gustav Blick, ‘The Flying Blicks’ performed all over America, Europe and the Far East during the middle part of the last century. And, as those of you who have studied family high wire circus acts during the period of 1945-1963 may remember, theirs was an act with a gimmick. The gimmick being that the high wire wasn’t really very high at all. Some claimed it was a simple fear of heights that caused old Gus to set his wire at 5 ft., but the cagey circus veteran had an answer for that. “It’s too hard for the people to see us if we’re up high.” Unfortunately it wasn’t high enough to keep them from being pelted with fruit. Who knows who threw the first rotten apple at the family as they made their way across the wire, but whoever it was started a trend that soon became part of the show. By the time little Leo came along in the mid ’60s it had become great sport to try and knock the Blicks off the wire. Apples, bananas, even pumpkins were hurled up at the embattled troupe in an effort to dislodge them from their perches.

By now Gus, his two sons Bobo and Billy, and their wives Betty and Ethyl had all taken to wearing football-like helmets and padding in an attempt to protect themselves from this furious onslaught. No more casual walks across the wire for them; as soon as they heard the drum roll it was get on and get moving. Little Leo was carried and sometimes tossed (much like a football) from one Blick to another as they made their harried way across the wire. Proud man that he was, old Gus refused to work with a safety net (although the effectiveness of a net under a 5 ft. high wire is questionable) and after countless spills and tumbles the once noble ‘Flying Blicks’ became known derisively as the ‘Falling Blicks.’ By the time Leo was a teenager, high wire acts (especially ones as messy as theirs) had fallen out of favor and, as unpaid bills mounted, the family took to leaving hotels in the middle of the night. The famous phrase ‘quick as a Blick’ originates from this time period. Is it any wonder that when it came time for Leo to make a career choice, show biz was not ‘high’ on his list, and neither was the name Blick. But what would he call himself? At first he was Leo Block, but that name didn’t seem to fit. Then came Leo Blap, soon followed by Leo Blip, Leo Blop, Leo Bleep, and Leo Back. Finally, exhausted, he settled on Leo Black.

His career choices were every bit as fitfull and had him working at many varied occupations. Pipefitter, cable-overhauler, shepherd, wax museum attendent, pie crust indenter, urine sampler, bi-lopial fossil inscriber, all of these jobs were tried and found lacking by young Blap..er, I mean Black. It was time that he take stock of himself and settle on something. But what should he do; what was he good at? His circus years had left him with little, and, other than a highly honed ability to dodge rotten fruit, he had no special talents. But finally an opportunity presented itself in an unexpected way. Upon moving into an apartment, Leo discovered an old worn out drum kit apparently left by the previous tenant. Remembering the sound of a drum roll from his youth, the fiesty Blip…sorry..Black began pounding out all of his frustrations on the drumkit. Within weeks he had discovered his lifes calling and since then he has never looked black…er, I mean back.

Well I had planned on finishing this weeks rant with my own story; my life before the Fools. But, as it always does, Leos story wore me outso come on back next week for the conclusion of ‘Before They Were Stars’. So long