Sunday, April 5, 2009



After about 3 months in USC"s orthopedic ward, I was getting stir crazy, to say the least. I convinced someone to sneak me in a pint of booze during a visit, which was a common practice among some of the patients. I began getting rowdy from my bed with one of the hospital janitor's, when we started jabbing at each other verbally and it led to an argument. This particular event ended when I told the guy that if I could walk, I'd kick his ass.

Following, what was deemed as my threat against a member of the hospital staff, two uniformed security guards showed up and told me I was being thrown out of the hospital. I looked at them like they were crazy and asked, "Well where is it you'd like me to go?" They informed me that they didn't care and began digging my clothes out of a small locker next to my bed. I was basically in shock as I realized they were deadly serious about removing me.

They helped get me dressed, which consisted of cutting off the left leg of my pants, because it wouldn't fit over one of my casts. I was then taken out of bed and put in a wheel chair by the guards and wheeled into the corridor for the long ride down to County General's massive lobby. Once there, they continued on to the giant entry doors and pushed me out into the open air onto a concrete terrace at the top of the stairs that led down to the parking lot. Without so much as a word, they fixed the wheel chair brake, turned and walked back into the hospital.

I sat there alone looking out at hundreds of parked cars wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now. It all happened so fast I hadn't had time to think. One minute I was in bed and now I was out here. If I could have gotten up an walked away I would have, but I couldn't. I was stuck in that goddamn wheel chair and could only maneuver around in that limited space.

I cannot recall with much clarity, how long I may have sat there, but knowing me, I probably got pretty annoyed as time passed and soon began raising a ruckus on the front steps of the hospital. I knew I'd done something wrong to get where I was, hell I always knew that, but what I didn't know was why there was such overkill when others dealt with my mistakes. I wasn't warned or counseled in any way, just dumped out into the world at the first opportunity to be rid of me.

* * *

As a kid growing up, it was always like that. I'd screw up and the punishment would be overly severe. In 1959, in Mesa AZ, my mother got remarried to my second step father, Francis Farr, a paraplegic Mormon, who I was forced to work for loading hay trucks around Phoenix. I was about to turn 16 and he said he'd buy me a car if I worked all summer for him, with no pay, and I agreed. At the end of a brutally hot summer in AZ, after working like a dog loading hay trucks, with as much as 18 tons of 100 lb. bales of alfalfa a day, I prepared myself for the well earned payoff.

During a weekend with a couple of yahoo friends of mine, I drank some beer, which Francis found out about. His version of fair was that he was no longer obligated to keep up his end of the bargain, because I'd violated his moral code by drinking. Without payment of any kind, I angrily told him it was unfair, saying, "You don't have to get me the car, but you do have to pay me something, because I already did the work and you benefitted from it." His response was, "You're not getting anything, as you're punishment for drinking the beer." I guess you can figure out that this was not acceptable to me in any way and In fact led to a complete break between me and Francis Farr. Soon after, I found it necessary to leave home.

This episode was a key component in teaching me that my work, once done, did not deserve or require payment from those I worked for. This insidious lesson was repeated over and over in my experience with the music business and remains true to this day.

* * *

I angrily wheeled back and forth on the concrete landing at the entrance of County General Hospital, until I got the attention of what appeared to be a doctor on his way inside. He listened, as I explained my circumstances to him, promising he would investigate the matter immediately, which he did. His opinion was, that if what I'd told him was true, the hospital had over reacted by throwing me out without then following up on an alternative location to place me in, because of my condition. As a result of this I was transported to Long Beach General's orthopedic unit and given a bed in a small individual glass enclosed cubical, where I stayed for over 2 months until I was tossed out for throwing a fire extinguisher through a glass partition.

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