You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2021.

…my good friend Erik sent me this autographed (and by “autographed” I mean “forged by Erik”) glossy of Spin Doctors.

Faked Spin Doctors!

My favorite part is how Erik haphazardly scribbled “DRUMS!” above the guy who, you know, plays drums.

Anyway, there was actually a second unsigned glossy included in the envelope when I received it, so I did my own round of forged autographs…

More faked Spin Doctors!

…and then placed it in the Little Free Library by our house.

Free faked Spin Doctors!

An hour later, when I passed by it again while taking Amazing Larry on a walk, it was already gone.

Now keeping an eye out for it on eBay,

-Shady

Ricky Powell: 1961-2021

Damn.

These posts are becoming increasingly morbid.

Ricky was one of Tastes Like Chicken‘s first interviews back in the day, and we thought it was a huge deal when we landed it in… probably 1999? Maybe 2000. Anyway, somewhere around there.

Give the interview a read here.

I thought 2021 was supposed to be better than this,

-Shady

As everyone knows by now, Dustin Diamond (Samuel “Screech” Powers from Saved by the Bell) passed away from cancer yesterday at the age of 44. I never watched Saved by the Bell (I was a little too old for it, though I do remember my sister watching it fairly religiously) but, fan or not, that’s still too young.

I’ll get back to Dustin in a minute, but his passing reminded me of another person who passed away last December: David Lander, who was best known for playing Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on Laverne & Shirley. He was 73.

Michael McKean and David Lander.

I first met David sometime around the early 2000s. He was on a cross-country tour raising awareness for multiple sclerosis, and he was doing a live TV interview on a local station to promote it. At the time, we had a monthly, reoccurring slot on that station to promote Tastes Like Chicken, and it just so happened we were booked on the same show. If I remember correctly, we did a bit that made fun of David Blaine.

Lander was there to raise awareness for a disease that was slowly killing him and would eventually take his life. We were there to poke fun at a goofy magician. You know, the usual. Still, David was an extremely warm, funny, and kind man. He humored us young idiots, which he certainly didn’t have to do. If I’m being completely honest, I was never a big Laverne & Shirley fan (though that show, along with Happy Days, are widely loved by many Milwaukeeans, I was too young to appreciate it), but after I met David I did consider myself to be a fan of him.

Fast-forward a dozen or so years to the early 2010s. We’re now living in Los Angeles, and KB is working at The Hollywood Reporter which had their offices on mid-Wilshire at the time. We lived close by, and so we would hang out a lot on this strip. I’d walk up and grab lunch with KB, or we’d get after-work drinks with friends. Our dentist was across the street from KB’s office. My point is, we spent a lot of time on Wilshire, and on one of those outings I noticed David sitting on a patio eating lunch alone. He was now bound to a wheelchair, but for the most part he looked the same.

I went over and asked if he was David Lander. He said yes. I told him about the time we were on a local TV show together in Columbus, Ohio over a decade earlier. He said he remembered the tour but not that specific show. Or us. Of course, why would he? I told him it was nice to see him again and left it at that.

After that, I started seeing David out a lot. It felt like if I were in that area he was also there, grabbing a coffee, eating lunch, or just wheeling down the sidewalk. I never talked to him again, mostly because I didn’t want him to think I was stalking him. Actually, come to think of it… maybe he was stalking me!

The last time I saw him was in 2019. He was eating lunch at an overpriced deli near the corner of Wilshire and La Brea. As I sat inside waiting for a friend to join me, David wheeled past me on his way out. As he waited out front for a bus, I noticed the host make a face at a server in what looked like an attempt at making a joke at David’s expense. I never ate there again.

David’s been gone for two months. As I said, he was a nice guy, and I’m glad I had the chance to meet him… and then see him out over and over and over again.

Strangely, David Lander shared an odd parallel with Dustin Diamond.

Just like David, I met Dustin as a result of Tastes Like Chicken. It was October 2005. At the time, we were living in Milwaukee and promoting the magazine by doing a monthly, three-hour radio show on WMSE 91.7 with our good friend Dori. Dustin, who was also living in Milwaukee at the time, was promoting an event he had coming up that weekend, a fundraiser to raise money for an expansion of a wing at a local children’s hospital.

These shows were so much fun to do. Along with Dori in the booth, it was usually myself (as Insane Wayne Chinsang), Milan (Vinnie Baggadonuts), and Erik (The Night Watchman) just playing whatever music we wanted in between dumb, mostly inside jokes. On this particular show, Marla (Fphatty Lamar) also joined us. It was just a bunch of friends being stupid on the air together. Good times.

Dustin was supposed to pop in for just one segment. He was gonna promote his event, then take off. He ended up showing up an hour late, but then stuck around for the remainder of the show, so we spent two hours in the booth with him, just playing music and shooting the shit.

You can listen to the entire show here. Dustin shows up around the 1:15 mark (though everything before it is pure comedic gold).

Those two hours are my only experience with Dustin, and so it’s probably not entirely fair to judge him solely on that time. That said, I will say this: Dustin appeared to always be Dustin. What you saw of him on television is what he was like in real life, and what you hear on the air during that show continued off the air. He seemed to have one gear — on — and his wheels were spinning nonstop. That’s neither good nor bad, just seemed to be who he was.

Like my encounters with David, though in an admittedly different way, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend those two hours with Dustin. He seemed like a nice enough guy, if not a bit… I don’t know. Troubled? Lonely? Depressed? But hey, who isn’t?

What I appreciate most about that day is that it created a specific memory for a very tight-knit group of friends to look back on and cherish. Maybe not so much for the Dustin Diamond of it all, but I’m pretty sure if he hadn’t been there the day wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable. And so for that, I’m grateful.

There are thirteen episodes of our radio appearances available here if you’re interested. We play a bunch of great music (most of which you’ll never hear played on the radio), and there are a ton of laughs. Does everything hold up after 15 years? Of course not. But what does?

Again, 44 is too young to die. But then again, so is 73. Not sure what the “death appropriate” cutoff age is, but it certainly isn’t either of those numbers. Whatever that number is it gets pushed further and further back the closer we get to it. Funny how that happens.

So thanks to both David and Dustin for these admittedly odd interactions, and the stories and memories that came out of them.

Never thought I’d be writing about Squiggy and Screech together,

-Shady

Old Poop!