Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Well the following memory-telling was prompted from a reply to Linda ( "Girl About Town" ) . . . about writing. I started this 'blog' ( ...I'm still trying to get used to that... word? ) intending a prow by which we might sail the music seas! Especially the blues & oldies music waters... but begining to see now how the nature of ( shudder ) 'blogging' necessitates much more yielding to.... well, whatever! I'll tell myself that no matter what- I can write a blues tune about it!!

As to writing: It's my inescapable passion to tell a good story... and Naomi's life provides no seeming end of chapters! There may be no inkwell deep enough!!

I began "writing" in 1970. It was that year when "Rolling Stone Magazine" launched their "...Experiment in participitory journalism", wherein readers and subscribers were invited to submit short autobiographical stories. The "Stone" intended to publish what they deemed the best 10 of submissions they recieved. As I mulled it about I ventured that I might have a story or two to tell about my tour-of-duty in Vietnam... but moreso about my homecoming after I had been wounded there on July 21st 1967.

Like Naomi who is sometimes not certain of exact years, I may have forgotten the exact title of my piece!... tho' I think it was likely "...The Helmets Head" ( from a line by Jim Morrison of the "Doors" ). Some weeks after submission I was contacted by "Rolling Stone" that my piece had been selected with 9 others for publication. I was #4, and my story appeared in August ( I think? ) of 1970. As I recall there had been nearly 12,000 submissions! After that I thought- "...well heck! Maybe I'm a real honest-to-God 'writer' now!"... so I continued to write- and then after awhile it just became necessary.

The wild part of this story is that 7 yrs later "Rolling Stone" was about to celebrate it's 10th Anniversary- and CBS was producing a 2 hour "10th Anniversary" TV special for them. I recieved a call from R.S. & CBS telling me they wanted to do a segment based on my 1970 magazine piece- and that they wanted to fly me down to Los Angeles to help in the re-writing of my story into a one-person monolog... and would I mind very much if Martin Sheen portrayed me! Me!! Me...?

Though I thought to hold-out for Robert Redford I settled for Mr. Sheen. ( jus' funnin'! ) I told them I was married (then)- and we also had 2 friends visiting. No problema. They flew the lot of us down!

As Naomi felt by her opportunity to share creative space with such as Buster Newman and Sid Wyche- it was quite the scene spending 3 days with Sheen re-writing my piece into monolog! He had come fresh from "Apocolypse Now" and his heart-attack in the Philipines... so there was much talk of war, mortality, fear of death, fear of God, faith and hope to find love in our world.

A funny memory is how when lunch was ordered-in Martin would always only have bowls filled with fresh fruit along with bottles of mineral water in the wake of his recent heart-attack. I ate burritos, burgers, pizza & felafels... and Martin would discuss my own cardio-vascular risks while he still chain-smoked Kents!! ( Then again- many Dr's smoked, and smoking was still allowed in hospitals!)

It was a great ride! Despite my fears the monolog re-write played-out wonderfully... Martin, sitting on a hi-leg stool- all dark except for one light upon him as he "told-out" what goes on inside a "...helmets head". He even read a poem I had written ( long after my homecoming actually... but an idea he felt insistant about. ) If I may, that poem:

Where Each Fell -

All to here each step obtaining
of this moment drear, this blooded raining
ne'er could boys heart when once dreaming
see such life vital streaming-
hope with breath, now here should fly away

All to there and rise as lifting egret white
now tether lost this slipping kite
to go where hand nor finger guides
a final breath, then closed eye hides
in prayer for light of day.

( Charles William Olmstead- 1973 )

Prol'y the strangest part of the whole thing was the day Sissy Spacek came to shoot her "intro" to the segment- and with mentions to the "turbulent times" of the Vietnam era. Afterward we were all asked to gather-up ( Spacek, Sheen & I ) for the TV Guide photo. We had not even yet been introduced when they began "arranging" us for the pic... with Spacek & Sheen standing behind me- and each with a hand on my shoulders. Snap, snap, snap & wrap! I turned to say hello to Ms. Spacek... but she turned as well and was already walking away. Very awkward. She hung around in the studio a bit, got coffee, talked to several people but never came over to introduce herself... and by then I was feeling far too self-conscious to be forward myself!

Ahhh well... cant mingle with ALL those "stars"! The next morning a limo dopped us at the airport in L.A. and after hauling out our bags left us like bags ourselves, leaning there on a curb. Our friend John looked at me, shrugged and said- "...Welp! We're 'nobody' again!!"


Hey kids- a Life Lesson! -

"...And it was this slaves appointment: to lean forward in the Emporers chariot at varied points in the victors parade and whisper in his majesty's ear- 'Glory is fleeting my king... Glory is fleeting!'"

Saturday, February 9, 2008

"IF": Hot Rods, Cool Tunes & The Naomi Caryl Confluence

Well... where to begin in explaining this mysterious, unforseen but happy confluence!?

My name is Charles William ("Butchie Boy") Olmstead. I'm a "laid off" combat veteran (Vietnam ) via injuries resulting in paraplegia. But with full use of arms and "upper body" (including a head filled with love of music - especially blues & 50's era pop & Doo Wop!)- I have been a blues musician (blues-harp.. aka harmonica ) and blues & oldies Doo Wop DJ intermitently these last 37 years. If you've not already popped-in; links to my 'Myspace' joint & "Rock-it Radio" are below. My shows ( "The Cotton Sturdy Blues Hour" & "Butchie Boys Doo Wop Diner" ) can be heard over the internet. Just click on the "playlist"... you'll find me listed! More too in the "DJ's @ Rock-it Radio" section over on the left column. ( ) Enough of shameless self promotion!

I also would happen to make a teenage dream come true in 2004 when I purchasded a beautifully restored and customized 1949 Mercury from a collector in Pheonix, AZ! The car I knew I had to have since seeing my first Mercury in "Rebel Without a Cause" as a kid! I'll try to pop a pic or two of her ( "Lil' Sugar" ) somewhere here soon! I show her off at carshows here locally on the Central Coast ( & my hometown here in Lompoc, CA ) thru the Spring & Summer months.

My car was featured in the Feb/March 08 issue of "Rod & Custom" magazine... and not long thereafter I was contacted by the very gentlman who did all the original customization of the car in 1984 ( 24 yrs before I would become her 4th owner in '04!)... named Donn Lowe.

As we became friends and he learned of my music & DJ gigs he one day popped this seemingly inconsequential question : "...Hey man... do you remember a tune by this chick, Naomi Caryl, entitled "If"?" As it would be- Donn ( also a Vietnam vet by-the-way )- was among the kids out on the dance-floor when Naomi appeared at a "Bandstand" style venue in Connecticut; sometime in the 50's! Donn never forgot the song... nor Naomi whom he described as quite the "kitten" up there on that stage!

Well... Donn is also a "caveman" and ( use the Saturday Night Live "Unfrozen Caveman" line ) "...our modern world frightens and confuses him!" Hence... he does not utilize computers. Not that I am a computer "wiz" myself... I do own one, know how to turn it on and negotiate the net with some low degree of acumen- especially if it should come to finding music... and the more obscure the better. There are treasures to be found! At that, Donn asked me if I could locate "If" by Ms. Naomi Caryl... and having once long ago bought it as a kid in Connecticut ( " 1950 sump'm!" ) he even remembered that it was on the "Ember" label... #1006!!

It took me a few days or so but found an oldies "vinyl cat" in Maryland who had a well used but perfectly playable 45rpm pressing of Naomi's record "IF" on 'Ember' #1006! Bought it... got it... and sent it to Donn by certified USPS. Talked with Donn by phone ( he now lives and still restores & customizes cars in Oregon City, Oregon... even for such clients as Jimmy Vaughan... Bluesman & brother of the late, great blues guitar-slinger, Stevie Ray Vaughan!! ) . . . and its an understatement that he was crazy-ecstatic with anticipation of "...Naomi's arrival"!!

As we spoke he ruminated and wondered where Naomi was today... and with all hope of her happiness and wellness wherever she happened to be. Alas, another internet search one night- and ( possibly? ) locating Naomi Caryl among the members of Theatre West in Los Angeles! I took a shot and wrote "Ms. Naomi Caryl" c/o 'Theatre West'. . . and was slack-jawwed to find her reply the very next morning! Naomi wrote:

"...Hi Butchie....

Well, this is simply amazing!!!

That "Jim Gallant" American Bandstand type show in New Haven had to be 1955- or 1956...1957....? It is terrible but I don't remember what year it was.....! And the reason I did that show was that Jim Gallant called the record company and said he had played the song and had a huge response to it....So they sent me up there and I did the show...(I think I did it at least twice....) And I cannot believe that Donn Lowe was actually one of the kids dancing on that show.....! That is simply Amazing!!! You have no idea what a lift this gives me, to know that something I did back over 50 years ago is remembered by anyone!!! And that you actually got a copy and will be playing it....! You must tell me when that will be, if you can....I would love to hear it over the Internet.....!

And by the way, based on the popularity in Connecticut, they sent me on a Publicity tour---back then the important cities were, Boston, Philadelphia..(I actually was on American Bandstand in Philly...Dick Clark had just taken it over a few months before my appearance...) Cleveland....I appeared on a lot of radio shows in these cities....And the side that was the "A" side of the record was "IF"....! I think the Ember thought we were on our way.....But....the same thing did NOT happen in those other cities....It did okay, but not like it had in New Haven....I got to know Jim Gallant and his then wife, quite well, and they had me to dinner the 2nd time I did his show....God, I wonder whatever happened to him....! He was a very nice guy....!

If you ever come across another record of mine....It was on a label called Cambria....God knows whatever happened to was a kind of '50's version of "ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND"....I don't even remember what was on the other side.....But it was a pretty good record....It disappeared into space, I think....!

I LOVE your car, by the way....It is really Great! It is wonderful that you have filled your life with music and all these positive things...I know it could not have ben easy being in Vietnam and coming back wounded as you were....(I wonder what you feel about that war and the war we are in now...there seem to be a lot of parallels....)
I will go to your My Space site....I am not too savvy about navigating on My Space or so many of these other things like Facebook....The blog world seems very easy, next to all these other

The Internet is truly amazing, you found me....And in turn Donn has found me, too, because of The Internet, and further, I got to meet you!! And hopefully will get to meet Donn, too.....
It will be quite amazing if other New Haven-ites surface....!

A joy to be in touch, Butchie....

All My Very Best To You,


Thanks so much for replying Naomi. . . and what a gas this has been- to have the pleasure and priveledge to make your aquaintance... and what a strange confluence that brought it all to fore! I trust we shall become great friends- as are the feelings of my friend Donn Lowe I am sure... a kid on a dancefloor some fifty years ago; who remembered a voice, and "..a kitten"! You have enduring fans to this day sis!!

Lord hug you tight... - Butchie Boy Olmstead