So I spent an hour this afternoon teaching a class ("Guest Lecturer, '' actually) and I had a great time, passing off my opinions as facts.
I'm trying my best not to listen while I'm being introduced. The students are staring at me as the instructor reads a way over-the-top and way, way too long intro about how I was:
"The youngest contestant on NBC-TV's NAME THAT TUNE, an author, attorney, pop culture expert..." (it went on-and-on and always grosses me out that they read the hype that was obviously written or approved by me). So I start to hum to drown out the flattery, and my mind goes back to the first time I ever spoke to a class.
It was a political lecture and one of the few listening was a seventeen-year-old MATT WALLACE. I later learned that he wasn't that into my speech at all, but was buddies with the candidate's children (I think he dated the daughter...Matt was always dating somebody's daughter).
So he comes up after and tells me about this 18-piece Big Band he's playing sax in and I end up checking them out. It turns out that the producer of my SUNDAY WITH SINATRA radio show, Tony Anzaldo, knew Matt (who was prolly dating Tony's sister) and so, to make a long story longer, Matt and I became fast friends. A 17 year old handsome, pretty good and soon-to-be great saxophone player!
It wasn't too many years later that Matt went on the road with the great Maynard Ferguson band, stealing shows all over the world with his big and powerful solos. After becoming Musical Director and a few years before Maynard died, the talented Mr. Wallace came to Las Vegas, doing shows at the Riviera, on the dark night of a show I was representing, An Evening at La Cage.
We hung out. Turned out he had become friends with the son of my close friend Vinnie Falcone. (Note: Vinnie has two talented sons, Jeff and Danny, the latter who now is blowing up a storm, backing Bette Midler here at Caesars.)
Anyway, back to school, where the teacher is STILL reading my intro. Man! It seems like she's doing an opening act. So I loosen my tie and interrupt her (students like that) and go into my guest lecture. Since the topic is Pop Culture, and I almost always let the students decide where we take it, I start out talking about "Jazz," a real American treasure, and, if you agree with my definition, a topic I know a bit about. So... do I lead-off with Sinatra, Basie, Harry Connick, Jr, Jamie Cullum or maybe Lionel Hampton? Nope. Met em all, and there's a great new book celebrating the career of Hamp, but me? I start with MATT WALLACE, and aside from my taking credit for discovering him, it was straight-forward well -deserved praise of a now 40-something jazzman, a sensational player who is helping keep Jazz alive and very well. Using Matt as an example, my opinion was accepted by the freshmen class at UNLV.
I was a hit. (It was easy- there was no cover charge, they weren't forced to buy my book, and let's face it: anybody is better than Mrs. What's Her Name and her boring ass introductions.
I hope to work with Matt on an upcoming project but until I do, I just wanted to thank my old friend for helping me through another speech.
- ► 2010 (85)
- ► 2009 (90)