Friday, November 03, 2006

Sunday, November 5th at Martyr's, Chicago

In 1971, my family moved out of the Albany Park neighborhood in Chicago, and to the suburbs. We lived in Streamwood for a while and ended up in Western Springs, Illinois. It was not fun. My family was not religious, and my brothers and I were not jocks, and people were not nice to us. I was pretty unhappy until about my sophmore year of high school, when I somehow ended up having lunch every day with a bunch of guys, including Earl Carter and Steve Knoebber, who were from Lagrange, and were best friends. They looked opposites. This is Earl's picture. Steve looked totally straight. They were amazingly funny guys, and when things were really shitty, I knew that at least I was going to have fifth period lunch with Earl and Steve.

Earl, who was originally from Alabama, still had a bit of a southern accent, and hair past his shoulders.

As I suddenly approached six feet tall, and Junior High School faded away, life got better. I still had lunch with Earl and Steve every day. Our senior year, our little lunch group had gotten quite large and fun.

Earl was responsible for the single funniest moment of my high school career-- no, make that one of the funniest of my life (and I've had some ridiculously funny moments). One day, my senior year, we were having lunch and having our usual good time, when our friend Mary Nolan, who was a regular in our little lunch crowd, walked in to lunch a few minutes late. She was pretty damned cute, and that day she was wearing a dress, a turtle-neck sweater and "fuck-me" boots. Without batting an eye, in front of a lunchroom of perhaps 200 people (I went to a high school of 5,000), Earl ran toward her, dropped to his knees, did a rock-guitarist slide to her feet and screamed at the top of his lungs "Mary-- KICK ME-- PUHLEEEEEEEZZZZZZZE!!!!!!"

Of course, the whole lunch room went silent, Mary turned 18 shades of red and me and my table of friends were laughing so hard our sides hurt. Mary joined us and we continued eating lunch as if nothing had happened. This was Earl.

Over the years since high school, we've all kept very loosely in touch. I would run in to Steve regularly. Earl became a stand-up bass player in a succession of rockabilly bands, ending up in the Riptones. I was happy for his success.

In 1986, Earl was in a really bad car wreck. He was in a coma for a while, but eventually recovered.

Recently, he had to be hospitalized for lingering injuries from that accident. Being a musician, he had no medical insurance. There's a benefit for him on Sunday, November 5th at Martyr's, on Lincoln Avenue, near Irving, in Chicago. Earl's a great guy. He was a friend to me when not a lot of other people were. I hope there's a nice turn-out to help him. I'll be there with my checkbook.


Dale said...

I hope there's a great turnout. Obviously, you guys meant and mean a lot to each other. Nice post.

lulu said...

I wish I weren't going to riotfest. He sounds like a great guy and a good friend. I hope you have a huge crowd there.

Hey, is there any sort of online donation thing set up?

Johnny Yen said...

Yes-- through Paypal, if you have an account: The Earl Carter Benefit Fund. It's email address It was set up by Don and Jen Olsen, who are regulars at the restaurant. The Riptones played at their wedding.

Bubs said...

I was just reading about this as I checked out the next Big C jamboree information.

I'm not going to Riotfest tomorrow (daughter is) and we'll likely be recovering from the Halloween party that's still raging as I type this. Maybe we'll be able to swing by.

Johnny Yen said...

It's amazing how punk has come back in a big way-- my friend Andreas and I were just talking about this-- my friend Michael, age 25, delayed his move to Florida to see Riotfest. I know Ten-S's daughter, and my son are budding little punk fans, too.

See you there if you make it!


Beth said...

I can't be there, but I'd love to help out. I always try to help out musicians in medical need. I'm off to PayPal ...

Johnny Yen said...

Beth, you are the best-- thanks to you and anyone else who helps Earl out.