Saturday, January 27, 2007

Celebrity Snippets: Gennifer Flowers

Once a week long-time radio producer and author Rick Kaempfer shares his favorite brushes with "greatness" in a feature he calls “Celebrity Snippets.”

Gennifer Flowers celebrated her 57th birthday in obscurity last week. Her notoriety forever faded after Monica Lewinsky’s “special internship” officially became public knowledge in 1998. In the years before Monica, however, Gennifer was a well known name in America. She had publicly claimed to be Bill Clinton’s mistress, and even had answering machine messages to prove it. Her claims were such a big story during the 1992 campaign that it caused Bill and Hillary to consent to their famous side-by-side 60 Minutes interview.

By Rick Kaempfer

During the 1996 campaign, Gennifer was out on the interview circuit again. She had a book called “Passion & Betrayal” in which she chronicled the details of her affair with Bill. After leafing through the book, I knew we had to have her on the John Landecker show. She agreed to come into the studio one morning, and I’ll never forget it.

The first thing I noticed about her was how short she was. She claims to be 5’2”, but if she is, my wife is five or six inches taller than she claims to be (5’3”). Gennifer is a tiny, tiny woman.

She arrived moments before the interview, so I didn't have a lot of time to talk to her, but she was very pleasant and professional in the green room.

When she got into the studio, however, she and John hit it off immediately. He didn’t start the interview by warming her up with softball questions, he leapt right in. Some of his questions even shocked me, but to her credit, she not only answered them, she answered them flirtatiously.

My lasting visual of that day is the image of John pulling her to his microphone to ask some of the most personal questions. He lowered his voice and nearly whispered. It was as if he was saying to her, “hey, this is just between the two of us—no-one else will never know.”

When she answered John’s question about the size of Bill’s “political caucus,” it made several of the local gossip columns in the newspapers the next day.

I happen to have an audio clip of that interview. We used a small portion of it to introduce our most popular Bill Clinton song on the last Landecker & The Legends CD: “20th Century Hits & Bits.” The song is about Monica, but Gennifer will always be our favorite presidential mistress.

AUDIO: Gennifer & Landecker/"He's the President"

Stories like this one (and many, many more) are available via Allworth Press--in my How-To-Guide for producing radio shows (co-written with fellow radio producer John Swanson)

Click on this link to order your copy: The Radio Producer's Handbook

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Half Empty: Middle Aged Road Trip

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.

By Rick Kaempfer & Dave Stern & Dane Placko

Let us set the stage.

Rick had to go to Memphis for a media conference. He knew that Dave badly needed to get out of town (he has three little girls including twin one-year-olds), and they both knew that fellow college buddy Dane would be game for coming along. So…after getting approval from mildly disapproving spouses…the plans were made for an old fashioned boy’s road trip.

Of course, it wasn’t technically a road trip in the old-fashioned sense of the word. The idea of driving, for instance, was abandoned pretty quickly when Dave and Dane pointed out to the clueless Rick that Memphis was not “about four hours” away from Chicago.

Other than that, it was exactly like a traditional hard-core partying road trip…

*In the airport, Dane had all of his hair products confiscated by security. Dane, a news reporter, had no idea that these were no longer allowed in carry-on bags. The airport security man was kind enough to pose for this picture with Dane’s confiscated items.

*In the airport, Dave bought three bagels. When the total came to $8.10, Dave asked if they offered a financing plan.

*Our first meal in Memphis (lunch) was memorable. When the waitress brought Dave’s lunch, she slammed it on the table and snapped—“YOUR PLATE BURNED MY HAND!”

*Dane and Dave were eager to go to Mississippi, just a few minutes away from Memphis, although they had very different reasons.
=Dane wanted to cross Mississippi off his state list. He now has been to every state but Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, Texas, New Mexico and Oregon. Rick and Dave were just as impressed as you are.
=Dave, the same man that calls his mother every day and uses the parking brakes every single time he parks the car just like they taught him in Driver’s Ed, is actually a maniacal gambler, and knew that Mississippi has casinos.

*Rick and Dane walked around the casino looking at gamblers. Not one smile in the entire casino. Dave was one of the “happy” gamblers, sitting at the $5 blackjack table. Only the smallest bladder on the planet (or possibly an enlarged prostate) prevented him from remaining there to this day.

*While Rick attended his conference the following day, Dane & Dave went to Sun Studios and took the very cool tour there. That's Dane on the left standing in the exact spot Elvis recorded “That’s Alright Mama.” That's Dave on the right, proudly singing about getting the AAA discount even though his card had expired.

*At the media conference, Rick grabbed some lunch at Quiznos. To give you an idea what kind of a crowd attended this conference, the three people in front of Rick…
=complained about the absence of romaine lettuce on the sandwiches.
=lectured the teenager behind the counter that the “roast chicken” sandwich should be called the “tortured chicken sandwich”
AND last but not least…
=demanded to know why “vitamin water” was not available as a fountain drink.
Rick ordered the Italian with everything. The teenager behind the counter smiled.

*Rick got home from the conference just in time to break up the fight between Dane and Dave. Dane wanted to go to the Cotton Museum. Dave said he would rather be poked in the eyes by Liza Minnelli.

*That night we explored Beale Street, the party center of Memphis. After an incredible BBQ dinner, we settled in at a blues bar. After one of Dave’s three trips to the bathroom, he claimed to have spotted Dennis Quaid. Rick and Dane would have been much more impressed by Randy Quaid.

*Next stop: Pat O’Briens. The Memphis version of the famous New Orleans nightspot is almost an exact duplicate of the original. A rock and roll cover band was playing Van Halen in the courtyard. Rick and Dave wandered out to listen. Dane yelled “This is too loud!” and went to the dueling piano bar to listen to the Billy Joel medley instead.

*After a night of drinking, we stopped in for a late night burger. After we ordered the burgers, Dane noticed they weren’t being made on a grill. They were being boiled in a vat of animal fat. Mmmm.

*The night came to end when Dave’s “throbbing headache” had to be relieved with a medication cocktail that included Tylenol and Ambien.

*The following morning, the three middle aged travelers went to Graceland, where we suddenly didn’t feel so old.

*Dave got a little cocky at Graceland. He tried to get the student discount with his University of Illinois student ID card from 1985. “1985 Dave” had a full head of hair. “2007 Dave” has a gray goatee, and a shiny polished dome. The cashier didn’t go for it. This is her reaction when we tried to take her picture.

*Rick was grumbling that there weren’t any new Graceland snow domes since his last visit, so he bought an Elvis/Nixon magnet instead. This is the geek by Elvis’ grave.

*Lunch at Corky’s was the best meal of the trip…an unbelievable BBQ pork meal. Dave went to the bathroom there twice. Dane told Dave that he would make a provision in his will donating his bladder to Dave.

*After lunch, Rick and Dave took a nap. Dane went to the Cotton Museum by himself. If you ever meet him, ask to see the video. He videotaped the experience on his cell-phone, but we couldn't figure out how to upload it here.

*Not wanting to go out drinking again, the boys settled on an excursion to Arkansas for their last night. It wasn’t until they arrived at the dog track that Dane & Rick realized why Dave was so excited about this…it was attached to a casino.

*If you ever feel like you are at the lowest point in your life, remember this: You haven’t hit rock bottom until you spend a Saturday night at a dog track in Arkansas.

*Although...the bar was serving 20 ounce Michelob beers for 50 cents a piece. Rick had three dollars in his pocket and a song in his heart.

*Dane picked the winners of the first two dog races. After that, not so much. This is Dane tearing up his betting slips.

*Dave got in a poker game, and was one $250 pot away from losing everything. When he didn’t lose the hand, he got out, and didn’t return. Although, he did stop at the video poker machines on his way back from his second bathroom trip.

*The night ended when Rick got heartburn. He bought Pepto Bismol in the hotel gift shop…at the nicer hotel next door.

*The next morning when we checked out of the hotel, Dave asked the clerk to name the most famous person who ever stayed at their hotel. She said: “The tall guy from the TV show ‘Martin’ had his family reunion here.” Top that.

*The next day the middle aged travelers arrived at the airport two and a half hours before their flight so they could watch the Bears-Seahawks playoff game.

*With fifty seconds left in the tied game, the airline announced… “Chicago fans, this is your last call for boarding. We’re going to give away your tickets if you don’t board right now.” An audible groan went up in the airport bar. We walked down the tunnel toward the airplane not knowing if the game went to overtime or not. Dave, Dane and Rick tried to convince everyone to draw straws to see who would fake a heart attack in the tunnel to delay the flight.

*The flight attendant was British. She announced the football game result this way: “I’m not sure what this means, but the team from Chicago…I’m told they are known as the Bears…scored… is it called a field goal? Yes. In any case, they won the American football contest.” We cheered, but we suddenly all felt stupid for caring.

So, was our middle aged road trip fun? I know it might not sound like it, but we had a great time. Will we do it again? Probably.

Next time, though, Dave is getting a catheter.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Suburban Man: Rules are Rules, right?

Those of you who know me, know that I have a real problem with people who arbitrarily enforce rules against the laws of common sense. If you've been with me when a nearly empty restaurant or nightclub refuses to seat me because of an unforgivable sin (like wearing gym shoes), you've seen my hex dance; a "speaking-in-tongues"-like performance wishing business doom on a "service-industry" location turning away business for no reason.

That might be why an old friend of mine, Walter Stadler, recently sent me a copy of this letter. Unlike me, Walter is a respected member of the community--an oncologist. Like me, Walter is German. The lesson here is clear: never mess with a German man's beer.

The Yardhouse Restaurant
Glen Town Center
1880 Tower Drive
Glenview, IL 60025

I would like to thank you for your rigorous and selfless application of minimum drinking age laws. We visited your establishment for a family dinner on 12/29/06 around 5:30pm and when we ordered a beer the waitress dutifully asked for identification. Since I am more than twice the legal drinking age I was somewhat surprised, but flattered. Since I was chivalrously driving and taking my wife and family out, she did not have any identification on hand, and believe you me she looks at least 5 years younger than her actual age of 39!

Not to be deterred, we bullishly requested to speak to the manager, who also refused to serve my wife due to the lack of identification. Our 8 and 10 year old girls were with us and in order for my wife to be under 21 she would have had to bear our oldest at the age of 11, but have you seen how early girls mature these days! Besides, underage drinkers will go to all kinds of lengths to get a beer, and how could your poor manager know that these were really our daughters and we didn’t just pick them up on the street.

This got us to thinking that the whole beer drinking thing is just over rated. So we got up and left. Unfortunately, other establishments in town have not yet begun to apply the laws so mindlessly and we really have difficulty with self-control. We thus ended up eating and having a beer somewhere else.

As a resident of the Glen I am sure that all my middle-age neighbors are running from restaurant to restaurant and from bar to bar without identification, eating and drinking to their heart’s content. This has got to stop! Although this might affect your business, we would all be happy to pay higher taxes for the loftier goal of controlling this abhorrent behavior.

As a physician I am all too aware of the ravages of alcohol and I am thrilled that you apply the laws so unthinkingly. With modern make-up, plastic surgery, and the conniving deception induced by the evil desire for alcohol one can never be too careful! Perhaps we can even get rid of waitresses, bartenders, managers, and restaurants and simply require an electronic ID to be inserted into a secure “beer kiosk.” (Preferably with an airport style security line to prevent sharing of ID’s. Even better would be an implanted identity chip, but you know how much people hate shots!).

In honor of your selflessness, we will no longer visit your establishment. I can only hope that other restaurants and bars begin to take the same robotic approach to the minimum drinking age laws. You are a pillar of the community. (Now, what to do about my wine cellar?).


Walter Stadler

Not quite a hex dance, but probably more effective and less embarrassing to his loved ones. Nicely done, Walter. Suburban Man approves.

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