[FIRST PASS EDIT – July 18, 2015] I will add more to this Article & Edit in the coming days!
It’s that time of year, time to head to the beach, sand, water, and sun of your local beach haunts for vacation. It’s my favorite time of year to sit by the shore and listen to the soft splash of tiny rippled waves on the shore of the inner bay of Cape Cod. Only one of two places for east coasters to see the sun setting into the water to the west from the arm hook of the outer Cape in Truro, MA. I have spent a week or two here every summer ever since I can remember. The cottages are rustic and look to be built of driftwood, and overlook the Cape’s inner bay from atop a huge cliff, where one can sit and on a clear day and see the the full length of the inner arm of land from Sandwich to Provincetown. I can assure you that it is absolutely breathtaking. The cliff is so high that adjacent to our usual cottage on the hill, all day long, hand gliders launch from the peak and wind back and forth over the water until they descend back onto the sun dried black sea weed laden beach. There is a winding wood stairwell that allows beach goers to go down to the tepid sea, so long is the stairs that there is a rest stop with benches about half way down the winding stairwell.
My time is based on the tidal schedule for each day, two high tides and two low tides, each separated by a six hour push and pull from the moon. High tides are for catching rays, swimming, and beach volleyball…and on occasion fishing. Low tides are for exploring and catching dinner. What makes the low tides so special is that the ocean retreats for a good mile leaving teaming tidal pools of fish and sandbars loaded with Steamer Clams, Quahogs, Scallops, and large Red and Blue Crabs. Just grab the rake out of the boot and a five gallon bucket with floaters and go nuts. You can get the famous Wellfleet Oysters and Cherry Stones a few miles up the beach at the local seeding grounds. The beaches are private but not exclusive as anyone can walk the length of them all the way to the tip of Cape Cod’s Race Point in Provincetown. The good thing about this is that the beaches are not crammed with people and allow for a healthy catch of the sea’s bountiful fruit.
Every other year or so we get an extra special treat when millions of baby White Jellyfish are born and as you swim, all around you is an electric ocean full of gelatinous glee. The just-born Jellyfish are only an inch to two inches in diameter and do not have the ability to sting yet. I tell you friends this is nature in it’s most infinite form. Yes I was intimidated at first being surrounded by these strange creatures, but as you swim and a sense of wonder takes over, one realizes that Rachel Carson is alive and well beside these wonders of nature. The woman who owns all the cottages (who is legally blind by the way), every day runs her medium size metal boat with a yacht sized Evinrude Outboard Motor onto the shore and takes anyone who wants to go out deep into the bay to go fishing. When the Bluefish are running there are so many wildly whacked out fish, that they sometimes jump right into the boat. Can it get any better than that?
I remember my Grandparents and the rest of my family sitting on the beach wasting the days away. My grandfather would have on his pork-o-pie hat and a frosty cold cracked Black Horse or Ballantine Ale. With a cooler by his side, under his beach chair he would always have his beloved heartbreaking Sox on a single speaker AM transistor radio. Finishing off the look, rocking a hand carved Italian Briarwood Pipe packed with Sir Walter Raleigh Tobacco. The thick grey smoke curled locks into the air and left a nutty sweet aroma on the beach which along with the salty brine air left me with an impression that I can call forth any time I want to experience it with eyes closed and a sly wry smile.
At the end of the day we would head back to the cottage for dinner and my grandmother would boil and fry anything I caught and we would all partake. Usually we would be eating plenty of Cod, Flounder, and Fluke, but one time I caught a six foot Bull Shark and I ate shark steaks for weeks. The Quahogs I dug up would be chopped up for New England Clam Chowder set in a stew of Pork Belly, Sweet Vidalia Onions, fresh Cream, Salted Butter, and hefty amounts of thyme and tender chunked potatoes. Raw Oysters and Cherrystones (Littleneck Clams) would serve as appetizer for a chocked meal of Lobster, Crab, Scallops, fresh shucked sugar corn (on the cob) along with the daily catch. My favorite though was always the Steamer Clams, with purified drawn butter dipped in Steaming Clam Broth which I would drink down by the cup along with my every meal…even cold as a chaser for breakfast with endless wild blueberry buttermilk pancakes and tons of hot coffee.
After dinner we would go out and fly kites off the edge of the cliff as the sun went down in the distance. One time a plane flying directly over us clipped one of the kite’s lines and flew away with it trailing and flailing in tow for a short while and then after a minute or so we watched the kite let go from the plane and slowly drift it’s way down into the deep ocean. We would sit on picnic tables and plan the most exciting part of the day which would come right before sundown.
As I said at the point of twilight we would have a brigade of vehicles drive the few short miles to the tip of the cape at Provincetown. This eccentric little enclave would provide us plenty of hand packed home made ice cream loads of salt water taffy, fried dough, and an assortment of other treats ( I loved the fruit slices, no pun intended). What was so great about Provincetown besides the food and drink, was the eclectic people who at the time were a rare crowd based on respect and tolerance of “alternative lifestyles” (silly moniker that) but I remember a day when people were afraid to go there, worried their kids might catch some of the “good vibes” eminating from it’s core. This was decades before celebrities would come out of the closet and it became trendy to do so. The drag queens and leather bears would be out in full force…but one would quickly learn they were only the nicest and coolest crowd ever. They would have DJ’s and bands playing music in the streets with parades and floats overflowing with gay pride. How wonderful that there was such an oasis at that time…when it was considered taboo and even criminal in many other places. Oh and by the way I never caught “gay” or felt intimidated or creeped out even as a child. One thing that has changed as of today is that the crowd at that time who was struggling to be accepted by society are all now professionals and as a result, Provincetown has been affected by gentrification, sounds familiar…pretty normal.
Provincetown was originally a Portuguese Fishing Villiage for hundreds of years and you only had to go through one blinking yellow light all the way, several miles from Wellfleet to Provincetown. Although fishing has become secondary to the town economy as a result of catch limits and overfishing, there are still the fighting few who live from year to year on the edge of defeat. Provincetown was and is also a place where some of the most influential artists, writers, and playwrights in America have come seeking solace and solitude to live in totem pole shacks amongst the voracious dunes on The Cape Cod National Sea Shore.
I was prompted to write this piece recently for a few reasons…first it was one of my feel good summer posts, the next of which will be about another of my summer getaways, Maine. After that I’ll focus on my trek across Canada and the Northwest US, with a few tour posts in between. Second I was recently watching one of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Episodes (On CNN) about the Outer Cape, Cape Cod, and Provincetown where Bourdain began his cooking journey in the early 1970’s. Standing on the beach in front of the yellow house he and friends rented for a summer, Bourdain talked about his first bag of dope and his foray into cooking and washing dishes, learning the ropes at a Provincetown restaurant. I wonder if they ever hazed him and sent him to another restaurant to get “The Fry-o-Later Key”.
The funny thing was while he was pointing out the house…I knew exactly which one it was in Truro, right were I always vacation. I used to walk by his back door almost every day during my long walks on the beach (he did say that he was only there for a summer methinks). Trying not to be creepy or stalkerish here-as I am a fan…heheh! I got to thinking will this house one day be a point of pilgrimage for aspiring foodies…don’t worry I will not post the address…saving the poor owners of that cottage a whole lot of headaches. We all know what it’s like at Jim Morrison’s[sic] grave in Paris. Silly to go there I know…I don’t know Bourdain although we were “friends” on Facebook (until I shut it down) a few years back, but now as his legend has grown he seems to avoid me like the plague on twitter, although I have gone back and forth with Zamir (that’s just as good). I just dig his writing and travels…maybe it’s the cavalier drug references I make with so many dying in it’s wake of destruction. I know it’s a serious subject, drug addiction in MA, people are overdosing and dying all the time. I have been there myself and it’s very sad the damage it’s causing, sucks. My writing is nowhere near as good as his so why would he notice anyway. His publicist is probably thinking in his hashtag feed, who is this douchebag who mentions his name. Note to self…do not go on tangents.
Ok…to get to the title of this article. It was August 7, 1981 and I was staying at the usual summer cottage in Truro, Cape Cod. Across the sand packed road from our humble abode I met another kid who was staying in the cottage across the street. So we were hanging out listening to music in his room when his uncle showed up to stay with his family. He comes in the room and says something to the effect ‘that they were going to have a blast this vacation, that he brought all his Warren Zevon, Boz Scaggs, and Journey Albums on Vinyl.’ After that announcement he tells us what we’re doing tonight, “going to see Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leppard at The Cape Cod Coliseum.” At first I thought he meant just them, but he then pulled out four tickets and demanded that I go too. I was a big Ozzy fan but I had never heard of Def Leppard. Go figure, I did not know anything about Randy Rhoads either, except that he was the guitarist on the album. For some reason I thought of the Blizzard of Oz band was all Ozzy for some reason…I was a big Sabbath fan as well. It was the Blizzard Of Oz Tour and I did have the Blizzard of Oz album which my aunt had bought for me and I had listened to over and over a thousand times in the previous few months since it’s release.
The problem was that there was no way my parents were going to let me go to an Ozzy concert at such a young age. I did not even know they were playing practically up the street from us in South Yarmouth, MA. I remember seeing a flyer at the time for the tour in a rock magazine and it specifically stated “Do Not Come To This Show If You Have Mental Tendencies Because You Will Leave Even More Mental” which we all know now that was all just publicity fluff, but the word going around the neighborhood at home at the time was that it was true and Ozzy killed animals live onstage. All silly hogwash (pretty much anyway lol). There were tons of rumors floating around at the time that Ozzy would throw live puppies into the audience and would not perform unless they came back onstage dead. Oh and there where the Alice Cooper Vs. Ozzy gross out challenge rumors. You get the picture…all a load of shit of course.
So when I said there was no way I was going to be able to go, my new friend replied …’Just tell your parents you are going to stay here for the night and then you can come.’ Ah ok…good one, I thought. So I went to our cottage and went through the motions and the rents were fine with that outright lie. I grabbed a sleeping bag and pillow and went back to my friend’s cottage…we cranked up some Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, one last problem, I had no money. My friend’s uncle said ‘Don’t worry about it…the ticket is on me’. So soon after, we hopped in the back of my his uncles pickup truck and took off for the show. We got there a little early for the tailgate party and the air was ripe with dope smoke and everyone was pounding beers. I think it was probably the only show I’ve ever gone to sober. You know how metal shows are…everyone was screaming obnoxiously great stuff. Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy, ya know!
So we went into the show and I now know it was Def Leppard’s High ‘n’ Dry Tour. They came out and tore the roof off the place…they fucking rocked. My God, Steve Clark was something else, and Joe Elliot’s voice was hitting all the high notes solid! Remember I had never heard of them, so I got on them real quick. Then when “Pyromania” came out a few years later and blew the doors of America…I mean wow, just wow. They were no Clash or anything but they were a fun party band for sure.
I said ‘a’ WELCOME TO MY SHOOOOOOOOW!!!
Def Leppard Setlist at Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA, USA Aug 9 1981
Venue: Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA, USA
Tour: High ‘n’ Dry Tour
On Through the Night
It Could Be You
It Don’t Matter
Another Hit and Run
High & Dry (Saturday Night)
Note: People were screaming “Ozzy, Ozzy” throughout their whole set…the band played on undeterred.
Then It was time for Ozzy…wait a second, it was time for Randy Rhoads. Randy came out, this tiny figure with bushy blonde hair (he looked like a girl) and I was right in front of him about ten rows back in General Admission, and once he started to play no one in could take their eyes off him. He was the star that night! The sound, the phrasing, the tone (for the time) was massive and precise. I am a BIG Eddie Van Halen fan, and I was watching Randy and all I could think was this guy is at least as good, if not better (could it be true or contact high). When I look back I think it was just a different style of playing as Randy wrote all his riffs in the vein of a Classical Music Trained Musician…really EVH was still the technical king, I just preferred Randy’s style more, as I had never heard a guitar played that way in America (A few guitarists at that time in Europe Like Blackmore, Schenker, and Roth were blending hard rock with classical guitar, but it was new). It was really cool to hear two tracks of Diary Of A Madman which had already been recorded but not released yet. “Believer” and “Flying High Again” really stood out because they were awesome tracks but I had never heard them before. I remember thinking where the hell did these songs come from…years later it would be common knowlege that both “Blizzard” and “Diary” were recorded right after the other, I think within the same year.
So I had seen Randy’s name on the album but it did not connect with me at the time at just how special he really was. As a matter of fact it is common knowlege that Randy was talking of leaving Ozzy’s band because he wanted to explore new avenues of playing guitar. It was also in his nature that he never stopped yearning to learn new ways of playing the guitar. It was a running joke in the band the lengths he would always go to take lessons from other guitarists while on tour with Ozzy. Truth is he was just plain happy with teaching guitar to others as he had done for many years at his mother’s music school (Musonia) before joining Oz. Sadly Randy was just on the cusp of shaking up the guitar world when he was killed at the age of twenty-five in a senseless plane crash on March 19, 1982. He was gone way too soon but he left a legacy that shook the music world to the core, that can still be felt to this day. Whenever I hear “Crazy Train” played at like every sporting event in the US, I say to the people around me, “That’s Randy Rhoads”…I get the usual reply “who is that”, and I think to myself he’s only the guy that wrote the guitar for that song and every other song on “Diary Of A Madman” and “Blizzard Of Oz”…and they subsequently insist that the song is by Ozzy Osbourne. I say politely in return “No it’s not. He’s the vocalist.”
I love you Oz…no offense…I just use that twist to drive home a point. Bless!
Randy lives in spirit with His Mother Delores Rhoads, Brother Kelle Rhoads, Sister Kathy Rhoads D’Argenzio, & His Fiance Jodi Raskin Vigier. Bless!
Yes, I have had a good chat with his Sweet Mother Delores Rhoads several years back, it’s pretty cool…someday on an anniversary I will publish part of the text. She is an Amazing woman and Music Teacher at the age of 95 years young.
Ozzy Osbourne Setlist at Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA, USA
August 9 1981
Venue: Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA, US
Tour: Blizzard of Ozz (Second Leg)
O Fortuna (Carl Orff song)
I Don’t Know
Flying High Again
Revelation (Mother Earth)
Steal Away (The Night)
Drum Solo (Tommy Aldridge)
Guitar Solo (Randy Rhoads)
Iron Man (Black Sabbath song)
Children of the Grave (Black Sabbath song)
Paranoid (Black Sabbath song)
These are a quick sampling of Randy’s Solo’s that I heard that night…I shall never forget!
How Randy Rhoads Passed…
The next day after the show on Cape Cod in August of 1981, Ozzy wanted to go deep sea fishing and as they had the following day off… Ozzy, Sharon, Rudy, & Ross +2, chartered a sailboat to go deep sea fishing in the waters off Cape Cod. There are several photos of them that exist from this trip (I have them in my possession) but I could not get the go ahead from the photographer, Ozzy caught a small fish and passed out on the deck drunk. Everyone looked like they where having a great time…Mr. Bourdain knows a thing or two about catching live fish while taping for a show. Respect.
Anyway here’s a link to a few of the photos on the boat off Cape Cod from Rudy Sarzo’s Book – Off The Rails. Rudy’s a great guy and his book is a great read…he was close to Randy and has the deepest respect for him. So here’s a link to his book as well. Bless!!!
Cape Cod Deep Sea Fishing Boat Photos:
Rudy Sarzo – “Off The Rails”:
or @ Amazon:
More on Randy Rhoads:
More Interesting Articles and Reviews to come.
Cheers and Bless!
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