Most of us, of a certain age, grew up listening to all the great music of the sixties, seventies and early eighties, yet had that one band that was "yours" -- the one whose music you'd play until the vinyl became scratched or the cassette tape tangled, whose lyrics captured every bit of the teen angst and confusion you were enduring, whose band members had the inimitable rock & roll personas that you coveted and envied. For me, that band was The Cars. In the glorious summer of '79, between ninth and tenth grade, me, Steven Cahn, Chuck, Kenny, Preston, and others worked on mopeds in Steven's driveway, living for the moment and in the moment, blithely ensconced in that teenage bubble where every issue's importance was outsized, monumental, and all-encompassing -- especially if it had anything to do with who-liked-whom among the girls we hung out with. And we listened to The Cars first album endlessly. Until I wanted to be either lead singer Benjamin Orr or Ric Ocasek, burn guitar licks like Elliott Easton, be as oddly memorable a keyboardist as Greg Hawkes, or drum as well as David Robinson. Some fifteen years later, after I had finished grad school in Los Angeles, my mother came to visit. I thought it would be a treat to take her to Spago's, a restaurant owned by Wolfgang Puck, which sat on the Sunset Strip and was as famous for its chef as it was for its celebrity guests. That evening, Puck came out from the kitchen to greet every table, engaging in a brief but wonderful conversation with my mother, which sent her over the moon. A little later, I had my own celebrity sighting that still puts a smile on my face. At one point, Ric Ocasek and his super model wife Paulina Porizkova entered Spago's. Ric, at six-foot-four and as thin and uniquely-configured as you'd imagine, and Paulina, just short of six-foot and impossibly gorgeous, were easily the most unusual couple I've ever seen. They were promptly escorted towards the far side of the room by the maître d'. In LA's most famous restaurant, where celebrity sightings were ubiquitous and where most dinner guests themselves were either wealthy, famous, or in the entertainment industry, a hush came over the room and EVERY person stopped eating and talking to simply watch Ric and Paulina as they wound their way among the tables to their seats. Afterward, I tried to explain to my mother who they were, but she was still beaming from meeting Wolfgang Puck. For me, it was a moment I'll never forget. RIP Ric Ocasek & Benjamin Orr.
Alfred C. Martino
Updates from everyday life as seen by me