I'd go out fishing with my dad on Lake Sunapee in a 14-foot, made-in-the-'40s, very antique, giant wooden 270-pound rowboat that only a Viking could lift. The handles on the oars alone were thicker than Shaq at the urinal. You're out in the
center of the lake, sun beating down like the ass end of a camel in
the Sahara. You're burning; you can't go any farther. By the time
we rowed out to the middle, where the BIG ONES were biting,
we all realized we had to row back. We being ME. A-ha-ha-ha! I
became Popeye Tallarico. Mowing the lower 40 acres once a
week gave me the shoulders to row back to shore (and to carry
the weight of the world).
Up in the woods from the lake there were great granite
boulders pushed there by glaciers during the Ice Age. There were
caves up above the road I lived on in Sunapee with Indian markings
on the walls—pictographs and signs. They were discovered
when the town was settled back in the 1850s. The Pennacook
Indians lived in those very caves. After killing off all the Indians,
the whites built and named a 75-room grand hotel
after them, Indian Cave Lodge, the first of three grand hotels in
the Sunapee area and the first place where I played drums with
my dad's band back in 1964—also just a half a mile away from
where I first saw Brad Whitford play.
In the town of Sunapee Harbor, there used to be a roller-skating
rink. It had been an old barn; they opened up the door
on the right side and the door on the left side, and they poured
cement around the outside of the barn so you could skate around
the barn and through the middle out the other side. As a kid, it
was a great little roller-skating rink. And back then, you could
rent skates on the inside of the barn along the back wall and
buy a soda pop, which they would put in cups that you could
grab as you skated on by. Later on they put a little stage where
a band could play behind where they rented the skates. By the
next summer, not only could you roller-skate, but you could also
rock 'n' roller-skate to your favorite band. It was the first of its
kind. Across the street was a restaurant called the Anchorage.
You could pull your boat up and after a long day of water-skiing,
sunbathing, or fishing with no luck, get fish and chips. ...
And speaking of chips, no one made french fries better than one
of the cooks that worked at the Anchorage—Joe f***ing Perry.
I went back there to shake his hand, and there he stood in all his
glory, horn-rimmed black glasses with white tape in the middle
holding them together. He looked like Buddy Holly in an apron.
I said," "Hi, how are ya?" Or was it, "How high are ya?" At the
time I was with a band called the Chain Reaction—and little did
I know that my future lay somewhere between the french fries
and the tape that held his glasses together.
At the end of each summer, I'd go back to the Bronx, which was a
180-degree culture shock. A return to the total city—tenements,
sidewalks—from total country—where the deer and the antelope
rock 'n' roam. Haven't met many people who experienced that degree of transition. Where we lived was the equivalent of the projects: sirens, horns, garbage trucks, concrete jungle—versus
the country—rotted-out Old Town canoe bottoms from the
early 1900s, remnants from the last generation who once knew
the original Indians. Holy shift! By September 1, all the tourists
who made New Hampshire quiver and quake for a summer of
fun had fled for the city from whence they came like migrating
birds. Welcome to the season of wither. One was grass, green,
and good old Mother Nature and the other was cement sidewalks,
subways, and switchblades. But somehow I still found a
way to be a country boy, so even in the city I could be Mother
Nature's son—but with attitude.