By Jim Phillips, Senior Editor
Welcome, once again Bruthas and Sistas, to my little logbook of wrestling adventures. The last month or so has seen me all across the country representing the different brands that I work with. I did the math and it came out to 7, 472 miles just in air travel, not including the moving around I did once I got to where I was headed. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that I traveled nearly ten thousand miles this past month, and I loved every minute of it.
Now for those of us out there with a distinctive Southern accent, traveling anywhere always leads to the inevitable conversation that ends with the question, “Where are you from?”. I’ve had this twang to my slang for many years now, and I’d have to say that it stems out of the undeniable St. Louis, via Southern Illinois dialect that derives from the area known as Little Egypt. It helped me blend right in when I was living in Georgia and South Carolina, and always gave me a little dig and rib when I was told people that I had lived in Chicago, but on the south side. The proper application of “country dumb” can usually get ya whatcha need with a “Thank ya Ma’am”, and a nod. That’s the main reason this country mouse isn’t afraid to go into any big city.
Bruthas and Sistas, let me tell you that the flight into LaGuardia Airport is never a boring one. Coming in over the bay and seeing the city is just part of it, as the short runways and the slam-breaks stop always gets your attention, letting you know that you have arrived. It wasn’t long after that I was standing outside Terminal C, waiting for my road soldier Sister, and ever present running buddy while I’m in New York City, the Queen Heel herself; Nyah Kennedy. I have a cluster of people that I consider my family in every major city in the country, and Miss Nyah is top of the list in the Big Apple.
It has become a tradition for the two of us to hit the Mizumi Japanese buffet the first night of my trip, and this would be no exception. Im fairly sure that by the look of fear in the eyes of the little maitre’d that they remembered the Gaijin who put the hurts on ‘em the last time I ate there. As a person of larger stature, I’ve always maintained that buffets have a “fat bastard” alert button at the front desk to let the kitchen know to light the fires and get the food cranking. I imagine it would be a spinning red light, with the old school British air raid siren, but it could just be my warped sense of humor that spurns these assertions.
We were joined by WWF/WCW/ECW legend Sir Christopher Michaels for dinner, and friends, let me tell you that he has gotten ripped over the last few months. At 58 years old, he is in better shape and looking healthier than many people half his age. He strode up to the table, and after a welcoming embrace (that is reserved for my family), it was only seconds before we began to talk wrestling. One of the things I love about Christopher Michaels is the unpredictability of what he’s going to say, or his ability to turn a phrase, to which he did not disappoint when greeted each other and he said:
“Hey! Rocky Mountain High Hat! Did you fly here, or just float out on a big smoke cloud?”
It was a nice dinner with a few laughs, good food, and the discussion of Splendid things to come in the future. To reinforce the the assertion I made a paragraph or two earlier, the waiter walked up to our table to say that the buffet would be closing soon and the food that was out there was all there would be for the evening. We made one more strafing down the sushi line, and left the site of the carnage behind us as we headed back to The Queen Heel’s house so I could grab some sack time and try to knock off the jet lag from the cross country flight.
Saturday morning came quickly for me, but the Queen needed her rest and I took some of the local news on the television, to hear several elected officials heralding the coming of possible legalization there in the near future. I always check out the local and It makes me happy to hear news like this from the state legislators.
I started my journey, (that included a bus, two trains, and an Uber), that afternoon to make it to the Village Connection Radio station near Huntington Station, out on Long Island. The Long Island Rail Road is a relaxing ride for me and the time passes pretty well. Just a couple hours later, I was walking up to the studio, just as owner/producer/director pulled in. The Pharaoh and Monte weren’t far behind, and the boys started to set up as I relaxed in the green room.
Traffic was bad that day, and Scott Hall arrived with about ten minutes to spare before going on to do the show. We chatted and made small talk, but it made the little kid in my heart smile to be sitting there talking to, not Razor Ramon, but the Big Scott Hall that I remembered tag teaming with Curt Hennig from my AWA youth. I was also immediately taken at not only his stature, but at the level of shape that he was in. He was solid, with no signs of physical weakness other than the shuffled walk due to the rigors that his body has felt the last thirty years. We all went into the studio to do the show, with myself sitting just off camera across from the Bad Guy. It was a good interview, and Monte and the Pharaoh always come prepared with stats, facts, and plenty of questions.
Now, while I always choose not to talk bad about anyone, I feel that I should say that Scott Hall was looking at his watch with several minutes left to go, and seemed over eager to get to his hotel. The quality of the interview was good, I thought, and he interacted with the boys well, but he definitely didn’t leave any time to the wind when he thought it was time to go. While Monte was still doing closing statements, and sponsor shout-outs, Hall was shaking hands and making his way to the door. It was a down note to end on, and it probably happens all the time, but I hated to see the brothers slighted like that.
I got dropped back off at the LIRR, and made my way back to the city, after the requisite smoke break. It gave me time to reflect on the happenings, and to ponder what the next day would bring, as I would be back at the studio again to do their show and appear on the Evan Ginzburg Show as well. The Queen Heel had a show that evening, and with the MTA running the way it was, I opted to head on back to her place and relax, with some authentic New York City Chinese delivery, and a hot shower.
I dearly love the road and throwing caution to the wind, letting fate guide my way. Most are like roller coaster rides, with the week prior being the clickety-clack climb to the crest of anticipations doorway, only to drop across it’s threshold and be swept away by the twists and turns of the trip ahead. Life isn’t lived shackled behind a desk, at the end of the corporate whip, Bruthas and Sistas. It’s the freedom found out on that road that will let loose your spirit, and leave you to learn a little more about yourself through the exposure to the diversity of culture, and lifestyles.
The following Sunday morning, The Queen joined me on the ride to the studio, and we were ferried along by Christopher Michaels, and Evan Ginzburg. We slid into a corner diner and had a little breakfast, then headed out to Long Island.
Monte and the Pharaoh had Billy Jack Haynes and Disco Inferno on the show that morning, with Evan’s show going on after. Meeting Billy Jack was an interesting experience, and we shared a conversation about before I was told that I was going to be sitting in on the Disco Inferno interview. This was cool with me, and I chose to just punch in little bits when I could, and letting Disco talk about the business. The discussion was really intriguing, and I found myself listening intently.
We took a break for a few minutes between shows, and Evan invited The Pharaoh to sit on on our show, and it turned out to be an all wrestling episode, with Darren Paltrowitz going on ahead, talking about his book Good Advice From Professional Wrestling, which I enjoyed. We went on after with Christopher Michaels, aka, Fabio-lous from Team Splendid, with Nyah Kennedy beside him, also reppin the Splendid crew. We talked about the state of the business, with the recent release of the AEW Double or Nothing PPV, as well as the state of the Womens Division. I would encourage you to take the time to watch it, Bruthas and Sistas.
After the show was over we were chit-chatting in the green room, prior to heading back to Queens, and I asked Evan how he enjoyed the variety show concept, and what really got him interested in launching his own to which he replied:
“My radio mentor at 50,000 Watt WBAI-FM 99.5, Fred Geobold, where I spent my first 16 years in radio, taught me to support indie everything. Independent wrestlers and Artists of all genres need to get that buzz on their events and it’s been my joy to help on that end for 30 years now. It’s also my honor to call many of these great athletes and virtuoso Artists my friends.”
I feel thankful to have friends like these out there. We talk shit and raise Hell with each other in jest, but I’d always be there for any one of them if they needed it. Evan showed this same steadfastness to our friendship that afternoon when he gave up his appearance on the Hart Beat radio show out of Calgary, hosted by Bruce Hart and Bob Johnson, so that I was able to take that spot and join Nikita Breznikov on the show. We talked about classic wrestling and it’s need for preservation now more than ever in this changing wrestling environment. They extended the show by a half hour for us, and invited me back again. It was a really cool experience, and the chance to with a member of one of the families that has changed the business.
After getting that under my belt, and according to Evan, putting the last of my “press junket” behind me, it was time to unwind and spend the last two days of my trip exploring. The next day I had a Summertime jaunt through Central Park with the Queen. But first, I had to partake in a couple pieces of my special fudge recipe that I never leave home without, and recharge in it’s restorative sleep that always follows.
I love walking in Central Park, and it was a stark contrast from the chilly December trek I had made just six months earlier. I had to make a stop off at the Alice in Wonderland statue and get my picture made with fellow High Hat, the Mad Hatter. A park guide told us that the face was the likeness of the artist who had made the sculpture, which I thought was pretty cool. The boat pond next to it was full of kids and adult children enjoying the sunny afternoon, and tootling the little boats around. We had the chance to take in most of the park from the zoo entrance all the way up to the Dakota exit by the Strawberry Fields Memorial and 72nd Street on the Westside. It was getting close to time for her to go to work, so we parted ways and I headed to Christopher Michaels house for a short visit, and some of his wife’s amazing African food. It was spicy, but too damn tasty to pass up!
I knew that my last day was going to take me back out to Long Island, so I made arrangements to stay Copiague which was not far from my next item to be checked off a couple lists. The first being my trip list, and the second being my all-time most wanted to see paranormal hot spots…..The Amityville Horror House.
I set off to 112 Ocean Avenue, with my tag team partner for the day, Jimmy Pharaoh, and it did not disappoint. While the house number had been changed, and several trees had been planted out front to disguise the front of the haunted edifice itself, there was no mistaking the “eyes” on the second floor. The proximity to the neighboring houses did make me do a double take, as in the movie it portrayed the house as being set off by itself, but it was not the case. The boathouse that played a prominent role in the movie was still there though and the blue waters of the bay, and Atlantic Ocean lapped at the shores in the background.
Our Urban Inc. adventures also took us to one of Long Island’s best kept secrets, and most haunted ones nest to the Amityville House. King’s Park Psychiatric Asylum had been in operation from 1885 until 1996, and housed thousands of patients during that time, as well as saw many of them die there as well. It is notoriously haunted, and for those of you that know me, that really gets me going. I wasn’t going to miss the chance to walk around and try to get inside some of the near twenty five buildings that still remain on site. The place was like walking around am abandoned college campus, that had been overgrown with scrub in the twenty plus years since the doors had been locked up. It immediately made me think of the Geraldo Rivera segment from the early days of 20/20 on the Willowbrook facility. It was creepy as Hell, I loved every minute we were there, and I can’t wait to go back for more!
I caught the red-eye back to the Mile High, and slept every git of the way, thanks to my ole’ sidekick, cannafudge. Ahahahahah! I applied some of the ole’ country charm and got myself switched from the ass of the plane in an aisle seat in row 28, to the window seat in row 9 with only one other person in the aisle seat. I stretched out and drifted off. A tip of the hat, and big “Thank ya, Ma’am” to the flight attendant at the gate.
I always enjoy seeing family, and that’s what I consider my clutch of NYC friends. When the High Hat puts wheels down in your city, you never know what the Hell may transpire, but you can always rest assured that it will be a raucous good time. I wanna thank each and every one of you, including Nyah’s roommate Bree who let me flop for three nights, for all you did for me, and all you set aside to accommodate my time there. I will see you all again in August, so ya best get ready for Round III. Until next time road soldiers…..peace!