How lovely a low-key meet with friends over a lovely meal.
Talking about nothing is everything.

This particular meet at my apartment.
No papers to critique.
A catch up non-event. 

One attendee, Terry Kitchen, a totally lovely person and a knowledgeable/talented author/musician has published a book, “The Next Big Thing.”

He arrives home from our dinner and immediately sends this note: “Nice to see you tonight, & thanks for a great dinner as always.”
I haven’t even put the last dish away.

A couple/three years ago I had the privilege of hosting a monthly-meeting serious writers’ group.
At each meeting we each submitted 5,000 words to the five others.
We absorbed their critiques of our own submissions while critiquing each of the others.
Everyone learning a lot.

My submissions were always pieces of “Conflicted, a saga,” which you are reading now as weekly posts.
Terry submitted chapters of the book, “The Next Big Thing,” an 80s Boston rock novel from a scene veteran, Terry Kitchen. 

After years in the sub-basement of Boston's teeming underground music scene, Lennon-spectacled wordsmith Mark Zodiac is used to enduring abuse, neglect and indifference for his music. And that's just from his own band.

    But when he's thrust into the spotlight on the night of Shadowland's record release concert, the crowd tunes in as never before - much to the chagrin of Mark's best friend/Shadowland's star-in-waiting Will. With the record moving up the charts, their ego-librium gives way as Mark strives to keep control of his music without selling his soul in the process.
    Complicating Mark's world is the shadow of the loss that both drives and haunts him, even as he attempts to find love amidst the graffitied alleyways of Kenmore Square. On the eve of stardom, Mark must decide if being the Next Big Thing is really the most important thing.
    At once disarmingly absurd and heartbreakingly real, Next Big Thing combines the gritty backstage vibe of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments with the emotional thawing heart of Jay McInerney's Bright Lights Big City, and every page crackles with the kinetic current of true rock'n'roll.

I personally fell in love with the book as submitted piecemeal.
And here’s a reaction to the whole book from Brett Milano, author of The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock 'n' Roll:

"Kitchen gets all the details right - I felt myself back in the Rat, the Channel and the other clubs of that era - but most of all, he gets the underlying sense of adventure. Next Big Thing reminds me just how much it all meant and how exciting it was."

I’ll add this entry to the Web Site so it’ll always be available.
Meanwhile, here’s the Amazon link:

Today’s posting is an episode from “Dom’s, an Odyssey,” illustrating the power of a seventies rock band that made it big.
Today is Sunday, July 15, 2018

Good morning, my friends.
This is my ninety-eighth consecutive daily posting.

It’s 1.46am and the day will be cloudy but a pleasant 78*.
I’m at my desk.
Dinner is my first Meat Loaf with Morel Mushroom Gravy.
I’ll serve it with the last of the lasagna noodles.

Wikipedia summary of what’s on the screen: ..And Justice for All is a 1979 courtroom drama film, directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden, and John Forsythe. Lee Strasberg, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Lahti, Craig T. Nelson, and Thomas Waites appear in supporting roles. The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson.

The film includes a well-known scene in which Pacino's character shouts, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!" It was filmed in Baltimore, including the courthouse area. It received two Academy Award nominations: Best Leading Actor (Pacino) and Best Original Screenplay (Curtin and Levinson).


Today’s Post

Today’ early entry showcasing a book on the emergence of a rock and roll band in the eighties, I thought it appropriate to present an episode from “Dom’s, an Odyssey,” illustrating the power of a band that made it big.

“Boston” had begun a tour as a little-known band opening rock shows for stars. By the time the year-long tour had ended, they returned to Boston as superstars.

On the day of their first of four concerts for their home town followers, I got a call from their co-manager, Paul Ahern. It was 9.00am, early for Paul.

“Dom!” His voice was angry and happy.

“Hey, Paul.  Congratulations!  What’s going on? How was the tour?”

“Man the tour was a blast!  Tom and Brad, man, they’re stars!  But listen!  We’re the biggest thing to ever hit CBS. We’re just finishing an amazing national tour, we’re coming back home for a 3-date, sold-out triumphal finale at the Boston Garden and not one label executive has called to invite us to dinner or to share a drink or even to congratulate us!  The band is pissed!”

“No one’s planned a party for the group?”  I pretended I didn’t know.  These parties were mother’s milk to me and, since Dom’s had a virtual monopoly on them, if we weren’t doing it, it wasn’t being done.

“Nothing!  Can you imagine those bastards at EPIC and CBS?  That fucking Lenny Petze and lazy-assed Ryan!”

“Call them up, Paul.  They’ll do whatever you tell them.”

“No! Why should we call them? That’s their job!”

I understood.
“Listen, Paul.  Why don’t you give me a chance to make a few calls.  I’ll call you back in half an hour.”  

“Man, you’re the greatest.  Thanks, Dom!  Listen, what night are you coming to see the group? I’ll take care of everything, including a limousine to get you there.  You’ll come backstage before the show and wish the boys luck.  They love you, man.  We all do!”

 “And my sons, Paul.  Don’t turn your back on my boys.”

“Of course. Of course. I’ll take care of everything.”  Paul was responsible and I knew it would get done.  “What night?” he said.

 “Let’s do it on Friday.”

“Alright. I’ll set you up.  I’ll send a limmo and take you backstage before the show.”

“Alright. Sounds great! Let me get started.”  We hung up.  He knew I would get it done.

I had a lot of fun with this.  Epic and its parent company, CBS, had been caught with their pants down and, since I would be saving them from a major league faux pas, I could berate them all without jeopardizing our friendships.

I started with the most susceptible, George Ryan, the President of CBS, New England.  George was a good customer at the restaurant, preferring small quiet parties to the raucous events he had to attend as part of his duties. He loved the attention I lavished on him and his prominent status at one of Boston’s premier elegant destinations.  I dialed his number.

“George!  What are you guys doing?” My tone was controlled histrionic.  

 “Dom!  What’s the matter?”  He’d never heard me like this.

My voice was raised and excited.  I read him the riot act: the company’s ‘number-one-money-maker’ ignored; someone screwed up major-league; heads will roll!

After 20 years at the label, George was getting ready to retire.  He certainly didn’t want anything upsetting his planned smooth and graceful exit, certainly not a blunder of this magnitude!  Holy cow!  This lapse fell directly on his desk.  He was flabbergasted and shocked.  His job was at stake.  He would see to it at once.  

“Dom, can you handle a party for them tomorrow night?  Is it too late?” I could see the sweat oozing from his face.

Could I?  My anticipation level rose and, on the basis of “The more money you spend, the more the group will know you love them,” I said, “How much do you want to spend, George?”

“Money is no object, Dom.” Oh my heart! “Do you know how much money they’ve made for us?”

“George, don’t say that because you know that they love good wines.”

 “I don’t care.” He paused.  “But only for them!  Everyone else can drink house wine. Your house wine is great, anyway. Isn’t it?”

This was too easy but I was coming to the rescue, solving their problems.  Could anyone begrudge me a profit?

“It’s first class, George.  Listen; let’s serve the band in the Small Dining Room.  We’ll give them a great meal with great wines.  For everyone else, we’ll pass appetizers and drinks and wine-by-the-glass.  We can even do first-class appetizers for them like baby lamb chops.  It won’t matter how many people you have.”

“What time shall I tell people to arrive?”  

“Not before midnight.  The band won’t get here until 1.00am and you don’t want to pay a bar for the hangers on!”

“Aw, this is great, Dom.  Honest, you’re very much part of the music industry – a real pro!.  You’re an angel!”  He meant it. Then he hung up saying something about notifying everyone and finding out who didn’t do their job.

Then I called Lenny Petze, President of Epic Records.  While I didn’t know Lenny as well as I knew George I did know that he was on Tom Scholz’ shit-list to begin with and would be eager to make any amends at every opportunity.  Petze had heard Scholz’ demo and passed on it before Charlie MacKenzie and Paul Ahern became Tom’s manager. I was calm and rational with Lenny but I read to him from the same script I delivered to George with the same effect.  He, too, even more fearful of being blamed for this screw-up, mobilized and added numbers to the party.

For kicks, I called the two lawyers involved in the group and management, Marty Silfen in NYC and Brian Rohan in San Fran and let them in on the fun.  I know they spent some time calling people they knew until the entire CBS family across the country knew of the frantic efforts in Boston to redress a major slip.

The first calls were coming back to me before I was done talking to Brian.  In three separate conversations, the party would take place at Dom’s; the sky was the limit; and 24, no 50, no 100 people will be in attendance.  Maybe 150.  I called Paul Ahern a scant hour after he had first called me and told him he had a no-holds-barred triumphal return planned and every corporate executive from the two labels was expected to be in attendance!

By the time the day had ended I had fielded or made 50 phone calls, including a dozen to and from the restaurant regarding the menu, seating and staffing.  In the end, Paul was ecstatic, the labels were protected and Dom’s would be a bit richer.  Win, win, win.

Post Scripts
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