Last night my granddaughter tie-dyed a shirt to wear to school today. Opening the door and seeing her sitting there wrapping the rubber bands and dipping the tee-shirt in the paint took me back to the late 60’s and early 70’s. The dawning of the age of Aquarius, what an interesting time that was, so much going on. Hair, the rock musical defining the counter-revolutionary hippie movement spreading like wildfire across the country opened on Broadway in 1968 and rocked more than than the audience. Sex, drugs and rock and roll became the mantra for the younger generation who spread the word with flowers in parks and toked and stroked their way through a decade of free love and abandon bringing with them some of the best music ever created. What a time, what a time.
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
The Age of Aquarius
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
The face of Hollywood changed with the threat of war in Viet Nam hanging over the country. Hamburger joints with roller skating car hops faded into history and clubs like Whiskey a Go Go and Pandora’s Box opened their doors to the zen generation. Music took on a more serious note as we rode the sound waves into the 70’s. Janice Joplin’s twenty-seven years on the earth came to an abrupt end in 1970 and Jim Morrison’s door closed for the final time the following year.
The Aquarius Theater, a Hollywood landmark since 1938 caught up with the times and left the old glam behind surrendering to rock and roll in the late sixties. During a series of what were referred to as comeback performances, I caught the Doors there in 1968. Cool and laid back, Morrison delivered the full value of a ticket and much, much more, and held the packed theater mesmerized as he cast his spell on us.
I was not to visit there again until my late twenties, and never again after that, but my first and second visits were equally memorable for totally different reasons.
On the second visit, it was at the invitation of a girlfriend of mine who had been working for several years as a sound crew tech, basically a roadie of sorts. Single and unshackled she moved in the background with a road crew making possible the lighting, sound, special effects and general set up and break down of equipment behind the scenes for rock banks, some famous, some not so much. It was a job she loved, as she talked about her experiences incessantly. Certainly I had never done this before, and most likely was never to be asked to do it again, so I signed up for one magical evening no questions asked.
It was explained to me that there was to be a headline band and several opening groups, one called Holy Smoke or Fire and Smoke, or something like that. Sorry, the old grey cells are grinding up there but the name remains in the depths somewhere. I do remember it had to do with fire and smoke. Not a band I’d heard of before but someone said they were heavy metal (ach) and quite flamboyant, a statement I would find to be somewhat of a gross understatement.
The theater had long since seen its glory days, and was now still respectable but leaning towards shabby chic. Back stage was a beehive of activity with bearded, long-haired types yelling instructions, and cables being connected to this piece of equipment and that lying across the ground like an electrical freeway making walking hazardous. If you have read my blogs at all, you will know that walking across an empty space can prove so for me, so adding this mess spikes the odds of disaster considerably.
As the seats began to fill on the other side of the curtain, the sweet, unmistakable aroma emanating from pipes and joints being lit beyond the stage wafted our direction, prompting several road hands to follow suit. Interesting.
In the dressing rooms laughter could be heard beyond the doors, and instruments were being set up on stage, with several wild-looking guitars leaning against the backdrop. It was exciting to be a part of it, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Fire and Smoke (we’ll just use this name for the sake of this blog) took the stage and indeed lived up to the adjective “flamboyant” looking like garishly made up swans in white tights and glittering jackets, each with feathering wings sprouting from the back (I feel the wings were more for show than a statement about their moral character).
Handed a pair of earplugs by one of the other techs and after hearing the deafening first chords I plugged them tightly in both ears. The ground literally shook, but at least I wasn’t going to be deaf following the performance.
Earlier my girlfriend had warned me that in their finale number pyrotechnics were set up to set off fiery displays and release fog at the feet of the band members. Cool. On cue as they built to the crescendo firework like explosions erupted behind them and smoke filled the stage. A little too much smoke, even for fire and smoke. Overhead the aniquated sprinkler system performed as it was programmed to and suddenly a rain of dirty water sprayed the entire audience and back stage. One band member literally threw his electric guitar into the audience and people were yelling back stage to people like myself standing in the middle of live cables not to move. No one had to tell me twice. The theater was evacuated, I imagine many a joint was doused and after everything calmed down I looked around to find most of the road crew striped from the dirty water looking like Gene Simmons in a heavy rain. Quite an experience. As usual, I bring the good stuff with me.
I published this several weeks ago but somehow it got technical problems internally and disappeared. One more time. These are soooo good, I eat them the following day for breakfast. I add the Country Crock mashed because I always have more potatoes than skins so this makes up the difference.
Cheesy Double Stuffed Potatoes
6 russet potatoes
1 container Country Crock mashed potatoes
1 cup 2% milk
3 Tbsp. sour cream
6 Tbsp. butter, softened (plus 1-2 Tbsp. for topping)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 scallions, chopped (mostly white and some green
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and prick the potatoes. Bake for 1 hr. and 15 min. or until shells are somewhat hard and meat is fully cooked. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
Just before potatoes are done, cook Country Crock potatoes according to pkg. directions and set aside.
While allowing to cool briefly, do not allow to fully cool, heat milk over med. heat in small saucepan until hot but not boiling. Set aside.
Using a clean dish towel or pot holder, slice potatoes in half and scoop potato meat out into large mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. of softened butter and salt and pepper to taste (I add and taste during mixing process). Mash with hand masher. Toss in Country Crock potatoes and 1 Tbsp. of sour cream. With hand mixer beat on high speed until pebbly consistency. Alternately add remainder of butter, sour cream, and heated milk mixing between each consistency.
Once mixture is smooth and creamy, adjust seasoning as desired. Either pipe or spoon potatoes into shells and place in 13 x 9 x 2″ pre-sprayed casserole dish. Dot with 1-2 Tbsp. of softened butter. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and scallions. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 mins. or until cheese is melted and bubbly.