Dateline - 5:45 a.m. the History Center Parking Lot (2007?)
I'm sitting in the parking lot waiting to go into the History Center to partake of some event that was called something like Early Bird Sunrise Breakfast. The frost is so thick on my windshield that I can't scrape it off with my drivers lisence.
To be honest, I'm not sure how I even got here with such limited visibility, so instead I just give thanks to Polish Jesus that I was able to navigate myself to this destination w/o crashing into something.
This is the worst time of the morning to listen to the radio because they refuse to play music. Its always BLAH-BLAH-BLAH morning talk show hosts. OMG- is there anything more demonic?
So I rifle down the dial and eventually I hear something that resembles music, oops...no sorry, it was only Journey singing "SOMEDAY LOVE WILL FIND YOU."
At this point, Klecko does the unthinkable and shuts off the radio. If there is one nemeses that he loathes, it's silence, but sometimes it's the only cure for a middle aged man who has pulled an allnighter.
I would have gone into the building, but there was 5 or 6 other cars idling out in the parking lot as well, and none of them were budging so I began to wonder if there was something going on, or maybe a reason why were shouldn't enter yet.
I would be a "nose as long as a telephone wire" if I didn't report that I seriously thought about skipping the dealio, but one of the peeps who invited me was part of the crew that I kicked it with the previous evening.
The cats name is Stevie C, and he is a lawyer for the "Farmers Legal Action Group." Basically those guys are the folks that take that Willie Nelson's LIVE AID money and travel across America defending farmers against the government/establishment or anyone who will do whatever they can to pull the rug out from under our nations food growing community.
If you met Stevie.....you would be shocked that he debated at Stanford or did other lawyer training stuff at prestigious Boston universities because the guy has pretty much looked like one of the Ramone's ever since he got out of high school. In addition to the black leather biker jacket, the guy is completely sold out and even sports a "Prince Valiant" banged haircut that has been out of style for so long, that it's almost back in vogue...LOL!
But anyways, the night prior we brought a mini chess board and went to First Avenue. Now for those of you that are not from the Twin Cities....First Avenue is the club where the "cool" bands play, or the venue for bands that can no longer fill our arenas. But....more importantly, this is the space where our own home town hero Prince shot the music scenes for his iconic Purple Rain film.
So me and Stevie made a special trip because the New York Dolls were playing a set and neither of us had ever seen them. It was cool going to a show at age 44 and the other 1200 people in the crowd were older than me. I don't know what to think. Is "that guy", you know who I'm talking about, the guy who is 51 with blond spiked Billy Idol hair and a dog collar. Is "that guy" cool....or actually...never mind, Polish Jesus is telling me not to cast judgment.
Stevie has a higher chess rating than I do, but at the same time, he pretty much only plays a Ruy Lopez E-4 opening, so if you can feed him a few beers and open B-4, he'll recoil in fear.
As the crowd thickened, I spotted Kansas City Bob, Terry Duck and a host of other food service folks.
When showtime hit....David Johansen struts out, dude is like what..... 102, and he still is in great shape. Back in the day the savvy children would pit him against Lou Reed, and even though I am a "Lou Guy', Lou does look like he's died several deaths, but Johansen wore a bathrobe and sang songs from an open book that was as big as your grandpa's almanac.
When they opened with Personality Crisis,the roof almost caved in. There is something about bands that have that perfect "club" sound. In food terms it is like saying a guy/girlio that serves the proper steak & potato is offering you a service than can never be improved on.
High end fine dining will never touch a well run steak house. The Dolls at First Avenue, was actually more fun than U2 at the Target Center....sorry Bono.
So people across the entire floor were going ape s***, and within seconds the chess board got leveled, pawns were lost, but after that...lol, things get foggy. All I know is I am sitting in a parking lot, my hairs still wet from showering and I basically just wanna die.
So after some letch in an orange hunting cap plops out of his Pick Up and prepares to go in, the rest of us sheep line up and amble quietly in.
At most events, and in particular "Breakfast Events" there is usually some chipper middle aged woman that sings salutations at you as you walk in the door. I don't know about you, but anytime before 6 a.m. is way too early to drop a Doris Day bomb on anyone, even a baker. Today would be an exception though because instead I was greeted by some athletic looking guy who just rolled his eyes at us in silence while handing us badges that would declare that we were important and worth talking to.
So as I make my way to the event floor I had to do a double take. could it be? Why yes....I do believe that I spy former Vice President of the United States - Fritz Mondale. He was all by himself and seemed like he was in a reasonably good mood.
At this period in my life I was writing columns for a couple different food and wine rags, and being a vulture of opportunity I realized I would kick myself in the head if I didn't capitalize on this moment.
To be honest....Klecko froze for a second thinking "What even is the protocol? Do you call a former V.P. - Mr. Vice president, or do you go with a less formal Mr. Mondale? I sure wasn't going to stroll into his personal space shouting "What up Fritzy?"
So now he starts fidgeting a bit, and I realized it was now or never............
Sweet Holy Christ and the kittens of Warsaw......in retrospect even I can't believe how amateur my delivery was "Mr Vice President" this part was good, he seemed to enjoy the formality in this greeting. "My name is Danny Klecko and my mother is Corrine Mady. When you and your wife went to China she stayed at your house and watched your dog."
OMG, that's it Klecko...that's your best off the cuff power networking?
Fritz, like a true politician processed the information I gave him and was kind enough to pretend that he remembered my mother, and continued to issue some generic praise about her.
Then when he paused for a breath, I decided to assure him I wasn't making the whole deal up, so that's when I tossed data at him that would assure him that I was in the loop.
"Well if I recall Sir, my mother said you had a beautiful Rottweiler, hows the old boy doing?" I asked, almost oozing as if I had spent summers alone in the Hampton's with that mutt.
The Vice President....of the United States..... of America, just kinda scowled and furled his brow before leaving me with his answer.
"It's not a he, it's a she, and SHE is dead thank you.....have a good day."
I wrote a column about it anyway.