As the 10 year mark approached on Chris' death, I put down thoughts and experiences that I remember, some not as clearly as I would like as time and my shaky memory have lost some details. Pardon me if I miss a date or other fact and please feel free to correct me but here goes and in no speciﬁc order. I write as I remember - stream of consciousness and I will update as time goes on.
Here goes: Chris and I would have dinner two or three times a month, usually spur of the moment meetings and we’d head to Smith and Wollensky’s generally. He said this was his favorite restaurant in NY. There’s a plaque in the grill room with his name on it along with other regulars would died that day in September, so I guess they liked him too. We’d always start with the seafood platter - way more than enough for dinner and on from there. The waiters knew him and generally ask,“the regular?” which was seafood platter, steaks and sides.
“It doesn’t get any better than this” - he should have trademarked that expression; I heard it a lot which is to say he had fun. Concerts, ball games, cigar smoking on the deck at the beach..
We went to see Jethro Tull in September of 1999. It had been less than a month since our Mom died and we both understood the significance of Tull. Exactly 30 years earlier to the month, she had taken us to Westbury Music fair to see our ﬁrst rock concert back in 1969; Tull. Bitter sweet that night.
CQ and I had the normal kid ﬁghts now and then. I broke my left thumb slugging him after he took a sneaker off of Peter Heinen for some reason, and started running around with it. I think he was just being a nudge and it pissed me off. Peter got his sneaker back and I eventually got a cast. We had another ﬁght and by chance our Mom was watching at the back door. I inadvertently hit him in the throat and he started choking which stopped everything and I felt really bad - and I felt worse as I heard Mom say,“Chris! punch him back!”. I guess Mom’s pull for the perceived underdog as Chris was 2 years younger than me.
He called me one night and asked if I wanted to go to David Bowies 50th birthday party at the Garden. I was never a Bowie fan but if he had an invite (tickets) I thought, yeah, why not. We had a blast. He called another time and I had just gotten in from work and was pretty beat. He said,“I’m outside the Garden and I have an extra ticket to see Plant and Page, wanna meet me?”. I actually told him I was tired and probably not. After hanging up I realized what I said - I didn’t want to see the main body of Led Zeppelin?! I couldn’t get him back on his cell - oh well. I rarely turned him down after that even if was Spice Girls or some such.
The best concert memory was a very unique one. He scored (I should mention, he was known as the “Ticket Man”) two backstage passes to the 1997 MTV music awards at Radio City Music Hall. They were marked “Teamster”. We were both wearing very nice suits and I guess we could have been very front ofﬁce teamsters. So, we’re wandering around not knowing where the hell anything was backstage - this was Radio City and it was multi ﬂoor and vast. We ﬁnally decided after going around in circles to go outside to the red carpet area. Our passes basically meant we could go anywhere and I was able to avoid the “photographer’s booth” by the red carpet and went right to the door where the arriving artist entered the building. There was only one other photographer wandering freely and I kept running into him, assumed he was the ofﬁcial event guy. I stood right across from the door and this guy and I took photos. I noticed down the line that the Spice Girls were coming and Chris wanted a picture for Whitney so I told him to stand across from me and I’d get him as they came up. It worked perfectly as you can see here.
We wandered back inside and ended up behind the main stage, I guess you’d call it the “curtains”. Chris Rock was the MC and he and two women (looked like manager / producer types) were waiting to go on and for a second, I thought of asking if he would mind a photo of the three of us but he was obviously prepping to go on and I didn’t ask - regret that. So, the night went on and we ran into all types backstage - Springsteen, Madonna, Elton John, Beck, Tony Bennet, Mike Meyers, Wallﬂowers and a bunch of Rappers and other new artists that I didn’t recognize - OK, Puffy Daddy I got but... well, if they performed at the event, we saw them including Marilyn Manson, oh boy. We eventually were confronted by security guys, I guess because I was taking photos and we deﬁnitely didn’t look like artists, maybe lawyers though! The passes wained and we were asked to take our seats in the audience. So, it was a blast till then and it “didn’t get any better than that”.
CQ was at a Mets game - there are way too many Mets / baseball stories to go into so I’ll only include a few but this story represents the man.
We’d been going to games since the mid 1960s and I can’t count the number of times we brought mitts so we could potentially snag that foul ball. Decades pass with not one. So, he’s watching the game and the next thing CQ sees (don’t recall the exact date) is a foul ball bouncing in front of him and he grabs it - this is on the ﬁrst base side, ground level of Shea. He notices a little kid in front of him who’s watching the whole “get the ball” scramble and decides to hand the little guy the ball, which he does and as the kid gets it he turns around and throws the ball back onto the ﬁeld. So much for Mr. nice guy.
I remember coming home from visiting Grandma in the city - mid 1960s, we were in the back of a country squire station wagon with the old man driving. We pretended to be the next Simon and Garfunkle and proceed to write “Station wagon wheels” sounding out a rhyme that made no sense although I remember it was a love story, a Beatles type of love. This was pre gameboy, video screens or any of that crap. We made our own fun like keeping Mets baseball stats from the radio broadcast or making faces at other drivers, or more than likely, fighting.
Chris and I were Master baseball card ﬂippers or whatever matching game was hot at the time. We’d leave the house with a speciﬁc number of cards and when we got home, we’d count up the winnings. Drawers full of cards. It was about the winning more than Willie McCovey and the kids at South Country Elementary didn’t stand a chance. It was all in the wrist and we came to play.
Another thing we did in grade school was make things called “Creepy Crawlers”. They were sugar and gelatin worm things you cooked up in a very proprietary device. Easy bake oven for adolescent boys. We’d bag them up and sell them at school. Made enough to pay for the ingredients. I know we violated health codes.
We were at a Knicks playoff game, second row under the basket on the ﬂoor. Tom Brokaw was sitting in front of us. I noticed Puff Daddy was on the ﬂoor as well, mid court. Chris said that Whitney would probably love an autograph. I told him at the half he better go get one because I would be sure to mention it to her if he didn’t. He went over at the half. I hope she still has it.
Our brother Brian used to design his clothes closet to replicate a Gemini space capsule. He would get I.V. bottles from Dad and ﬁll them with Tang. He’d lay on his back facing the ceiling mimicking the way the astronauts would be positioned and I remember Chris volunteering to take a mission, I think it was a short earth orbit. I wished him good luck and went outside to play... I guess that’s more of a story about Brian.
Chris told me the story of how he ended up driving Jack Nicholson to the airport. Evidently someone who was a mutual friend of Jack’s and Jimmy Dunne, knew Jimmy was a member at Deepdale golf club and Nicholson wanted to play the course so it was arranged. The weather turned out bad and Nicholson decided to head to the airport. Chris offered the ride. CQ kept saying to me,“It was so weird, I’d look over and in the passenger seat was Jack Nicholson!”.
Another story he mentioned was how he and a client landed in a private jet at Teterboro airport (I believe) and the pilot forgot to extend the landing gear. The pilot came back and apologized and assured Chris that it had never happened before!
Another business story he told me was a classic Chris. I assume he knew the family owners of a small bank, I think it was in Ohio, very well or he embellished but the story goes like this: The owner is talking to Chris at a board room table about how the bank had started out small and family owned and that now it was a large oak. Chris replied, based on his financial analysis, that what they had was not so much an oak tree but rather the material you use to help one grow. Damn funny.
He just bought this red Jaguar XK8 convertible and we were riding along the Ocean Parkway heading to West Gilgo. Top was down and the Wallﬂowers “One Headlight” was blasting. I can’t hear that song and not go there.
Kelsey and the bait ﬁsh. Chris had a new boat and we were all going ﬁshing in Manhasset bay the kids and Uncle Michael. We needed bait so CQ starts throwing out a weighted net to catch mullet or some sort of bait ﬁsh that were swimming around. We get a couple and he puts them in a bucket, taking one out to use as the ﬁrst “bait”. Well, they need to be dead and cut into strips so he proceeds to cut the head off this ﬁsh and the blood is going everywhere not to mention the guts. They must have been “blood ﬁsh”, it was really gory. Kelsey, witnessing this blood bath screams and runs into the cabin and won’t come out -totally traumatized. Thanks Dad. Let’s go ﬁshing!
I'm not sure how I could skip the Mets early years and of course, 1969. We had a Mom who loved baseball, especially seeing it live. While we weren't season ticket holders, I bet we did 25-30 games a season and back then, good seats were easy to find. Well, after suffering through 7 years of awful, albeit, fun games, we got to the big dance. We were there when the Mets beat Atlanta and we were there for game 5 against Baltimore. We brought home some Shea sod, outfield wall stuffing and memories.
44 years together so there are lots of stories. More to come - Michael Q.