Odd Connections

I’ve decided to get solar panels installed on my roof.  I had been considering it, having received marketing calls and been intercepted in the local Ace Hardware by solar companies, but for one reason or another – primarily because I wasn’t in my house yet, but even after I got back in, although by that time I had completely run out of money – I never pursued it.

One day, a young man from Trinity Solar showed up at my house with a clipboard and a smile and basically talked me into a free consultation.  The gentleman that came for the consultation was named Dave Glicker.  He was about my age, and I can’t pinpoint how it happened, but we realized almost immediately that we had a shared love of music in general, but especially the music we had heard back in the 1980s on a radio station named WLIR.  For anyone who lived on Long Island during that time and was of an age to be appreciating music on the radio (this was even before MTV, mind you), WLIR was legendary for introducing an entire generation to post-punk “new wave” alternative music, mostly from England but also from hip cities in the U.S. (like Athens, Georgia, or NYC) and even Germany.

Dave told me that he was going to see the new documentary, “Dare to Be Different – WLIR:  The Voice of a Generation,” which was being screened at the local Gold Coast Film Festival being held in Port Washington, Long Island, New York, about a 45-minute drive north of where I live, in Long Beach.  I had actually heard of the film a while back, when someone (I can’t recall who) told me about it, and also that it was possible to listen to a revamped version of WLIR online (WLIR.COM).  I immediately started listening to it on those days when I was at work (I generally listen to WFUV when I’m working from home, which is what was on when Dave was here and what might have triggered our conversation about WLIR, but in the city WFUV gets buggy for some reason while WLIR Online does not).  Dave, who in his life pre-Trinity Solar was a bit of a music and restaurant entrepreneur and still knew a lot of folks in the industry, said he could get me on the guest list.  He actually ended up buying the tickets, which he said he would write off as a marketing expense, but either way, I would be the beneficiary of a free entertainment experience, in addition to my home-powering solar array.

[An aside:  My solar system (yes, I’m calling it that, just like I call Dave my “Solar Guy”) was surprisingly inexpensive, and will be paid for over 20 years at approximately $35 a month, with no prepayment penalty for when I win the lottery and can pay it off in full.  Plus, I will be getting state and federal tax credits for installing it – that is, if that lunatic Trump and his topsy-turvy cabinet doesn’t screw things up in the meantime.  According to Dave, there is evidently a push on to charge tariffs for installing home solar.  Can you believe how incredibly short-sighted and backwards that is?  Instead of ENCOURAGING the economically and environmentally sound conversion of home electric systems to solar power, they want to PENALIZE it.  Sad!]

Here’s where it gets a little weird.  In our discussions about WLIR and music and clubs back in our youth on Long Island, Dave had mentioned a guy named Eppy Epstein, who used to run a music venue in Roslyn, on the north shore of Long Island, called My Father’s Place.  I remember it for their erstwhile “house band,” the Good Rats, and also a weekly event they ran in conjunction with WLIR called the Punky Reggae Party (really the first introduction of reggae and ska and dance hall to Long Island teens).  My Father’s Place went out of business years ago, but Dave said that Eppy was going to reopen a new and improved version (The New My Father’s Place?  My Father’s New Place?), a 200-seat dining and music establishment.  Then Dave suggested that we actually get on the phone with Eppy, right there and then, which we did, throwing out some names of acts we’d like to see at the new My Father’s Place.  So I got my first introduction to Eppy, and I told him I would put together a list of acts old and new that I would pay good money and drive the almost-hour up to Roslyn to see.  So that was interesting.

That very day, one of my Facebook friends from high school posted an article from Newsday, the local paper, about Eppy and his efforts to open the new My Father’s Place. [Glenn Gamboa, “Legendary music venue My Father’s Place reopening on Long Island after 30 years,” Newsday, Nov. 13, 2017, https://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/my-fathers-place-roslyn-reopening-1.14963599%5D.  I immediately replied to brag about having spoken to Eppy that very day about that very thing!  And that he had asked me personally to come up with some potential show subjects.  It just seemed like such an interesting coincidence.

My sister and I went to the film a few days later – we met Dave there and also Eppy himself, in person, a very distinctive-looking man who also appeared in the movie.  I also ran into yet another person I knew from high school, who I hadn’t seen in literally years.  [An aside:  While I haven’t seen her, I do follow her on Facebook, and was tickled to see that her son actually drove around for a time in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile!].  We chatted about the film and Eppy and also a (slightly late) 40-year class reunion that another classmate has been organizing at his hotel in NYC called the French Quarters / Bourbon Street Bar and Restaurant.  (Yes, I know – 40 years out of high school is ridiculous and I cannot believe that so much time has passed in my life.)

“Dare to Be Different – WLIR:  The Voice of a Generation” was a true time capsule.  Directed by long-time fan Ellen Goldfarb and executive produced by the WLIR station manager from Day One, Denis McNamara, it featured talking head interviews about the history and music that influenced not only the kids on Long Island and NYC (If you happened to be lucky enough to pick up the sketchy signal) but succeeding generations of new music lovers.  There were precious videos and live performances of bands we loved back then:  Duran Duran, the Clash, the Cure, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Howard Jones  – the list goes on and on.  In many instances, you’d see the youthful, adorable, impossibly coiffed artist performing his or her song, which would be followed by an interview with the same artist in the present time.  Some aged better than others, as we all do (as my classmates will discover when I see them at the reunion – the years have not been kind to Nan!)  But they all, to a man (or woman), said how grateful they were for the exposure they got on WLIR, before anyone else ever gave them a shot.


There was also a segment of the film that really resonated with my sister and me about the local clubs that used to be promoted on WLIR and often featured the DJs, like Larry the Duck, Malibu Sue and Donna Donna (Larry and Donna were actually on site to do a Q&A after the film, together with Goldfarb and McNamara):  places like Spit, Paris New York and our favorite, the Malibu, right here in my current home town of Long Beach.  WLIR came to prominence after I had graduated from college, but I would go clubbing with my sister when she came home for the summer.  [An aside:  A night at Malibu was the cause of my most mortifying drunk-driving experience, where I could barely see straight as I went through green light after green light on Park Avenue (which fortunately is a pretty straight shot), but that’s another story for another time.]

All in all, it was a fun couple of days, and to think it all started because I decided to take the leap into solarizing my newly raised home.  Odd connections, indeed!

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