Night-Time Karma: Pink Cadillac, The Mass Pike, Two Flashy Babes & Two Eager Cops
— The Risks I Took For Rock n’ Roll!
I did my utmost to help end the immoral Vietnam War. I entered military service as a noncombatant conscientious objector and shortly afterwards was discharged as a full conscientious objector. While on active duty at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, I formed an underground anti-war newspaper called The Morning Report and I was key in a collective that formed a GI anti-war coffeehouse that was called The Common Sense Bookstore.
After my discharge I remained active in the GI Resistance Movement and worked with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. When both the war and the peace movement ended, I went on to organize a union in a small Boston machine shop. For my effort, I was fired and ended up on unemployment while living on Marlborough Street in Boston.
While at a Back Bay party I met a wild female artist from New York City who had a whole floor loft in The Puffers Building on Cambridge Street on Boston’s Beacon Hill. We teamed up and threw one of the greatest parties ever in all Beacon Hill history. She invited her artist friends and I invited my peace movement friends, including musicians who performed at various anti-war events. Our combined invite list was uniquely perfect and there was a liquor store directly next door.
The upper-floor party became a spectacular all-nighter replete with strobe lights, half-mannequins, large-sized original art and plenty of plants. We also had a non-stop live rock n’ roll band and lots of different musicians jamming. Whenever the cops tried to shut us down they were met at the door by a retinue of peace movement attorneys who kept the party going. Anyone who attended this party went on to live their life while carrying a wonderful memory!
Not only was the party spectacular, but that night fate took a mighty turn for my life. The rock musicians who never before played together were so great I made a point to keep ‘em in touch with each other after the party. I’d always find places to play and would muster up a nice gathering of listeners. A rock n’ roll band was born!
This effort resulted in a band called Harlow. I became the manager. We performed mostly original material. At one point we once had the whole floor of a warehouse in Roxbury Crossing across from the pickle factory on Terrace Street. It was a great place for parties. Our other great location was at the Earth Guild/Grateful Union Bookstore warehouse on Tudor Street in Cambridge. The band evolved into the below combination, which was the best version of ’em all.
Famous record producer Adrian Barber — who helped make the likes of The Allman Brothers, Aerosmith and others — was working with us. We were on our way! We only did a few gigs, two of which were memorable: The first was at a football stadium in Lynn and the second was when we headlined The Cambridge Polyarts Festival along the Charles River. Two other great Boston bands performed that afternoon in 100-degree temperatures. Opening act was Foxpass, a longtime popular band. The spot in the middle was taken by Richard & The Rabbits who later became The Cars.
An important page in rock history was turned on that hot afternoon. But few folks even knew as the heatwave kept so many from attending. Even today, few know!
Mickey’s in Ashland
But this is a story about the time Harlow performed a quaint dive bar in Ashland, Massachusetts. A place called Mickey’s, not far away from the well-known Cricket Lounge.
At the time, lead guitarist and songwriter Johnny Tomorrow and I had a nice apartment on Grove Street on Beacon Hill. During this same time period, my friend Daniel had just given me his pink 1956 Cadillac. He thought it would be perfect for our band. It sat out front our apartment unregistered and uninsured. Luckily, Daniel’s old plates were still on the car.
Then we learned our ride to get to the Mickey’s gig fell through. It was the second night of our weekend gig so our band equipment was already there. All we had to do was get there ourselves. Given the circumstances, the only way we were gonna make it on time was if I drove my caddy. I did, and we got there. In the course of the evening the van to bring our equipment back and many of our friends arrived for what became a really nice gig.
But the owner wasn’t there when we finished. We needed him so we could get paid. The van was all packed and ready to move out, and everybody waiting for us was anxious to get back. We had planned a party for afterwards. I gave it some thought and concluded everybody should leave and I’d stay behind to collect the band money. After all, I was manager of the band.
I also figured, given the illegality of my caddy, it being after 2 am, it’d be better to drive home alone — without a bunch of New York Doll-type musicians gazing awkwardly out the windows of what was a highly unique automobile. As a group riding together, we could have become a perfect target for getting stopped by the cops.
So I told the band to go home with the equipment and our friends. I’d wait, get the money for the gig and then meet everybody back on Beacon Hill. They departed. Then the owner came, I got paid and set out for Boston on an absolutely beautiful warm summer night. You could smell the crickets in the air!
Now I’m cruising my caddy down the Mass Pike, carrying a huge wad of cash in my pocket. I was traveling at a normal and comfortable pace. I was feeling really good. It had been a great night. The band played really well. Everyone had fun!
Suddenly a large car pulls directly next to me with two beautiful smiling women inside. They drove alongside of my car, continuously staring, while smiling provocatively. They just knew I was not the typical person they’d find on a lonely dark highway. In a neat kind of energy, for about a mile or two, we kept looking back and forth at each other while driving in parallel.
I had shoulder length hair with a gold streak through the front bangs. Five bright colors were filtered along the streak. The woman sticking half her body out the window could also tell I was dressed in a rather stageworthy fashion. My hair style was the genius of my girlfriend hairstylists who attended Boston’s Blaine Hair School. As a side note, the Blaine hairstylists also held a place in the history of Boston’s rock n’ roll scene. They were great weapons for The Battle Against Disco!
Finally, the babe on the passenger side flashes her boobs at me and yells out, “you wanna fuck?” Maintaining control with both hands on the very large steering wheel, I began bobbing my head up and down into a “yes” motion. But I must confess, my head wasn’t the only thing bobbing.
Next. they hit the gas pedal and sped off, me on their tail. Sure enough when the next exit appeared they took it, me tucked in close behind. I’m thinking: Wow, this is really gonna happen!
We got to the end of the exit. They jammed a right. Me too! They zoomed along at about 50 in a 25 mph zone, me and my caddy anxiously tugging at their rear. But as usually happens with stories like this, I got hit with what happens when something appears too good to be true.
With high wheels in zoom they slipped past a hiding cop car. In the wonderful world of logic, t’was I, of course, who got pulled over. Not only was I unregistered and uninsured but I also didn’t have a license on me. My vision of enjoying beauty meat quickly morphed into me sitting there waiting for the cop to convert me into dead meat. I felt like Spiderman when he was in the worst of all worst situations:
Two officers got out of the cruiser and come at me from both sides. I could see the smirk on the face of the one closest to me as he noticed how I was dressed and all the colors in my hair. The cop on the passenger side finally got his look and began sniggling. Keep in mind this was way before the ’80s metal band scene had hit popularity. Me? I was like a new breed!
Before he could ask his questions, I smiled and took the initiative. I said: “Officer, I can explain this. That car I was following had two very pretty girls inside. They pulled up next to me on the pike and asked if I wanted to fuck. So I — ” In the middle of my trying to utter the phrase “began following,” both cops looked at each other, quickly turned around and jumped back into their cruiser. Tires screeching, they were off! In the distance I heard sirens and saw lights flashing. They were after the girls!
This left me free to leave. I wasted no time. I eventually made it safely home. We partied all night, me with a great story to tell!