WHAT'S GOING ON IN THERE?
THE SEMI-CONDENSED LIFE STORY
They say the brain is not fully developed until the early to mid twenties.
It’s hard to know exactly when the switch was flipped.
But at some point early on, synapses began to fire in unpredictable directions.
Here are some notes from Jeff’s first twenty five years.
The truth that is stranger than fiction
The old tapes in his head,
the static and the melody.
Mother enrolls toddler in cutting edge child development study at University of Minnesota.
Designed to nurture more imaginative children, Jeffrey is given no discipline whatsoever
for the first five years of life.
As result of apparent early success of study, pumped toddler
remains highly charged day and night, exploring endless vistas of possibility,
rendering parents exhausted.
Mother receives note from nursery school, voicing concern over Jeffrey’s extreme shyness.
suggesting an aggressive program of mandatory participation in all group activities.
The introverted pre-schooler begins talking in full sentences,
emerging from from three year “mental cocoon”
into social butterfly with uncanny ability to "work the room".
Anesthetized with giant metal gas mask prior to surgery to correct strabismus,
also known as crossed-eyes.
Recovery period featured triple vision for one week.
On night of sister Nancy’s Bat Mitzvah, Jeffrey passes out from whooping cough.
and is rushed to hospital by parents.
Wakes up in oxygen tent as unrecognizable faces peer through thick plastic, voices muffled.
Prior to emergency tracheotomy, Jeffrey gets giant metal gas mask for third time .
Hears "So Happy Together” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” back-to-back on WDGY,
providing soundtrack for first crush on older girl in neighborhood.
Neuron connection between music and romance is complete.
He begins piano lessons immediately.
Attends Zurah Shrine Circus with shriner father, Irving.
Transfixed by Fellini-esque world of 11 foot stick people,
frightening clowns and russian lady-acrobats on flying trapeze,
Jeffrey careens into sensory overload witnessing
human canon ball finale, overstimulated by candy floss.
Sets souvenir balloon free with note attached,
imagining new friend in far off place.
Fired from piano lessons by Mrs. Goldstein for feigning sight-reading skills
after playing difficult Chopin piece by ear.
Stuffs piano music back into bench, and focuses on TV Themes like
Here Come the Flintstones and Love American Style.
Sucked into mysterious whirlpool while inner tubing down Apple River.
Struggling to resurface, Jeffrey's cranium repeatedly smashes against
someone's massive buttocks stuffed into inner tube above,
rendering him semi-conscious as youngster is
swallowed by swirling vortex.
Miraculously, he wakes up on riverbank with nobody in sight.
Entering the fourth grade, Jeffrey is forced to learn dreaded flutophone
in Mrs. Vanderpool’s class.
Jeffrey and friend Mark Meyers skip stones on lazy July afternoon, when out of nowhere,
juvenile hoodlums interrupt reverie with
roundhouse kicks and lightning smacks to the rib and jaw.
The boys are forced to shout out bike lock combinations to their prized stingrays
while standing knee deep in Cedar Lake like shivering poodles.
Jeffrey hobbles home, only to learn grandma had just sustained minor injuries
when run over over by car while carrying groceries from Milt’s Market.
Takes up violin and football in same season.
Upon hearing news, coach calls violin “sissy instrument”.
The humiliated tight end is told to run laps around gopher-hole-laden France Field
for the duration of practice.
Victor decends into shame spiral, switching to snare drum.
Proceeds to crush coveted tom-tom solo in “Cherokee People”
at Fern Hill Elementary Spring Concert.
Knocked unconscious by flying toboggan while sledding at Theodore Wirth Park.
Jeffrey suffers moderate concussion and cauliflower ear,
placing him on "inactive list" of beloved basketball team,
the Fern Hill Electric Caskets.
Slams first Little League home run at Skippy Field,
Emulating hero, Harmon Killebrew, he blasts towering shot into Highway7,
100 feet beyond left centerfield fence.
Awarded bag of circus peanuts at end of game by Minneapolis candy mogul,
Drafted by St. Louis Park coaching legend Murray Whipple,
Jeff prepares for an exciting season in Babe Ruth Baseball.
Instead, mother Teresa signs Jeffrey up for dismal summer at Camp Herzl,
ending young third basemen's baseball career.
There, he bonds with cousin Peter Himmelman, fellow musician and artist,
plotting big future on the horizon.
Wins all-school ping pong tournament as eighth grader.
Continues to go unrecognized by fellow students.
After standing up for fellow student whom he felt was unnecessarily yelled at,
he is thrown against locker and punched by explosive math teacher
in crowded hallway teeming with attractive co-eds.
No longer able to make cut in Babe Ruth after Camp Herzl-induced hiatus,
he takes swing at Pony Colt Leauge, but can't hit side of barn.
Hangs up cleats and spends remainder of summer in bedroom listening to
Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon"
Todd Rundgren's "A Wizard-A True Star"
Jeff buys first rock instrument when dad takes him to Trestman Music,
leaving store with a used Vox Jaguar organ and Peavey Musician amp.
Peter invites jeff to join jam session in drummer Andy Kamman’s basement
as unofficial tryout for new band.
Mean spirited prankster Mike Williams turns Victor's keyboard off
in middle of smoldering "House of the Rising Sun" organ solo.
Victor continues with eyes closed, mesmerized by what he hears in his head,
unaware that he is making no sound amidst 130 decibel din.
Song falls apart and cymbal stands are knocked over as band collapses in uproarious laughter.
Jeff perservirers and eventually starts first rock band with Himmelman, called Pyramid.
Following $50 inaugural gig at pool party of frugal lawyer,
group plays at Central Junior High dance,
blowing away all in lunch room,
including chaperone bully math teacher, who looks on wistfully.
Jeff and Peter join R&B band in North Minneapolis.
Lead singer Alexander O’Neil extinguishes cigarette into pristine middle C key
of Jeff’s new Fender Rhodes electric piano,
during rebuke for lack of funkiness during tense rehearsal.
Gets mono, gets wisdom teeth removed, gets acne and gets dumped by first girlfriend.
Diagnosed with rare neurological condition, Guillain Barres Syndrome.
Experiences liberation and euphoria typically reserved for toddlers,
as he learns to walk and play piano again.
With newfound bravado and increased funkiness,
auditions for Prince in South Minneapolis basement.
Learns on following day that high school friend, Matt Fink, has been selected.
Returns to suburban roots.
Joins Phoenix, cover band specializing in Styx, Kansas and Ted Nugent.
Tours rural ballrooms throughout Midwest.
Badly butchers lead vocal on Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight"
in Quaalude-induced haze
during Rush City prom processional.
Superintendent tells band never to return.
Almost Famous- 1979 -?
Eager to create original music, Jeff forms New Wave band Sussman Lawrence with
highly excitable cousin, Peter Himmelman, and high school friends.
They sell out their first three shows at Duffy's nightclub,
filling the room with St. Lois Park High Alumni.
Tightly polished, sporting shiny new sound equipment provided by Torp's Music,
a store owned by bassist Al Wolovitch's father,
they instantly earn the scorn of less fortunate bands citywide.
They share bill with encorrigible upstarts The Replacements
at legendary punk palace, Jay's Longhorn
Following Sussman's blistering opening set in hostile room,
Replacements lead singer Paul Westerberg delivers ego-crushing blow backstage
by likening their sound to British prog rock band Yes,
the antithesis to what he considered cool.
As Victor processes disparaging critique with chin in hand,
12 year old bassist Tommy Stinson arrives backstage,
still in Little Leauge uniform.
Sees neurologist after developing vast repertoire of facial and hand tics.
EEG renders apparent false positive for sociopathic tendencies.
Doctor dismisses findings and refers patient to psychiatrist with specialty in hypnosis.
At third session, Victor confesses to hypnotist that he has been faking trance
in effort to protect feelings of inept clinician.
Wildly popular in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Sussman Lawrence books three night stand
at college sports bar, the Red Carpet.
On second night, Himmelman appears on stage totally nude.
Bar owner captures monkey business on video for future litigation
and sends band home without pay.
Road weary outfit performs in rural Wisconsin bowling alley/ stripjoint,
for sparse audience of one,
an inebriated exotic dancer, there on her night off.
Swirling in drunken dervish as band plays.
she stumbles onstage to attempt lap dance on drummer, Andy Kamman,
who is knocked from drum throne and pinned beneath her,
leaving kit crushed and mangled on beer-soaked floor.
Later that year, mostly out of boredom and despair,
Himmelman again walks out on stage totally nude.
Band is asked to leave
and they roll on to Chicago.
On strength of self released S&M tinged bubble gum pop single “Torture Me”,
Sussman Lawrence advances to finals of Miller Beer “Rock to Riches” competition
in New York City, poised to battle New Jersey newcomer John Bongiovi.
Signed to major label recording contract just days before show,
the New Jersey rocker is disqualified, paving way for Minnesota band to emerge victorious over the three remaining groups competing in the smackdown at Beacon Theater.
Band opens for Elvis Costello on Imperial Bedroom" tour,
culminating in hometown concert featuring Blondie and Duran Duran.
Sussman Lawrence releases double album entitled "Pop City",
and tours aggressively in support of record,
harvesting critical acclaim and growing fan base.
late that year
Band drives eight hours through blizzard to Brookings, South Dakota
for one night engagement, discovering nightclub has been shut down for weeks.
On long ride home, still dressed for show that never happened,
Himmelman tosses tailor-made silk suit out car window.
Down to only underwear and eager for fresh swipe at elusive fame,
the fearless visionary pulls over and steps out of car in sub zero conditions.
Flips coin to determine groups' future: Heads-New York, Tales-LA
Within one month, band leaves St. Louis Park and heads East on Interstate 94
in Vista Cruiser station wagon.
With frequent engagements at The Ritz, CBGB's and other iconic rock clubs,
the transplanted Minnesotans find themselves surrounded by an array of
Warhol-esque characters from New York City art scene.
Band attracts attention of celebrated Belgian hairdresser Christophe,
who adores band and decides they need fashion overhaul.
Backstage before important show,
working with trademark kitchen scissors, razor and can of beer,
he graces Jeff's head with most unfortunate reverse mohawk,
applying final brush stroke of crimson lipstick to two inch wide track down center of scull.
On anxiety filled train ride to visit girlfriend in D.C.,
Jeff applies double-sided Scotch Tape to cranium in vain attempt to
camouflage cosmetology mishap.
Sings homage to childhood hero at Harmon Killebrew Memorial ,
as Hank Aaron looks on with tear in eye.
Prepares Dustin Hoffman for singing part in Ishtar by sharing bottle of Wild Turkey.
Ishtar goes on to top list for box office bombs.
There you have it.