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Admittedly, I find most middle- to late-middle-aged folks a bit sad when I see them walking around wearing clothes with rock band logos. I tremble with hypocrisy, then, to note that I limped into Burger King this morning, for my ritual fountain Diet Coke, wearing a t-shirt sporting the front cover of Humble Pie’s Performance — Rockin’ the Fillmore album.
An amazing, once-in-a-lifetime thing happened. Just as I was opening the door, I saw Pat Buttram, the actor who played Mr. Haney in Green Acres. I wasn’t even sure Mr. Haney was still alive, much less hanging around New London. I’d figured he been in one of those Retired Actors Homes in Santa Monica or something.
Not only that, but was Mr. Haney the sort of person who actually liked Humble Pie?*
That’s all pointless, though, because of course it wasn’t Mr. Haney at all — it was just my own reflection in the just-polished Burger King window.
So this is what it’s come to, I thought. Some men probably segue with some grace into their Silver Years, bearing some resemblance to Cary Grant or Paul Newman.
And, somewhere in heaven, Pat Buttram is probably sad that another angel just flapped his celestial wings and said, Hey, Mr. Haney, there’s a slob on earth right this moment, at a Burger King in Connecticut, who looks just like you! Plus, he’s wearing a Humble Pie t-shirt.
Dead Mr. Haney would then snort with disdain. "I wouldn’t have been caught dead at that age wearing rock ‘n’ roll merch," he would say. "Although Fillmore was the farewell album with Peter Frampton in the band."
Anyhoo, I walked mournfully into the Burger King, where Bill, one of the assistant managers who happens to be about my age, brightened up. “Humble Pie!” he exclaimed. “I have that album on vinyl and CD.”
We discussed the merits of the Pie for a moment, and I regaled him with the story of the time I saw the band and vocalist Steve Mariott was so drunk two roadies had to carry him onto the stage. As in, to start the concert. As in, not off the stage well into the performance.
Bill then told me about driving around with his son, trying to make The Kiddo listen to and appreciate the Jeff Beck Group’s Rough and Ready album. Bill and I share the opinion that R&R — and not Truth or Beck-Ola — is the best of the Beck Group albums.
Bill’s son, though, was having none of any of it. “It’s not working, Dad,” Bill was told.
And then Bill made an observation that startled me.
He said: “Most kids today don’t like music that has instruments.”
Think about that. They don't like music that has instruments.
Wow.There’s a lot of truth in that.
Well. If live music, or the idea of learning an instrument and being in a band, actually ceases to exist, does that mean all of my archival rock merch will suddenly acquire great value? Will this, then, become Plan B for Mr. and Mrs. Koster as we woefully discuss our non-existent retirement fund?
I like it. What am I bid for this delicious item? It was only worn twice. Once by me and once by Mr. Haney.
* There is some evidence to suggest that Sherman Hemsley, who portrayed George Jefferson, was a fan of '70s British prog, including Gentle Giant and Nektar -- and if that's not the coolest thing ever, well, I don't know.