I have a fistfight with Chuck Barris and a Muppet – plus the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Apparently things got pretty ugly that night outside Portland’s Aladdin Theater.

It was late in the evening, sometime after the taping of that evening’s “Live Wire” radio program. The gang sifted into the bar next door and somewhere between the literary talk, the garrulous host of “The Gong Show” got into some kind of beef with either Grover or the guy who performs as Grover.

Are those different guys?

Anyway, voices grew sharp, then loud. Eyes darkened. Neck hair bristled. Someone suggested that the time had come for Gong Show to meet Sesame Street on the sidewalk to work out the nuances of their disagreement. And this was when I stepped in.

I’m not dreaming. I heard about this from another sensate person on Sunday night at the fundraiser for Red Hook, Brooklyn at the Disjecta arts/culture space on North Interstate. She was recounting the not-long-ago evening for me and a few others, recounting how she and I had known each other for a long time, actually. And we DO know each other. She used to work for my father-in-law during his Outward Bound days. Seems like a really cool person, too. With the steady confidence and wingspan of a

and wingspan of a person who can survive the wild and an artsy event equipped only with a knife and a length of string.

And so she recalled how Barris and Grover got up into one another’s molars, and how momentarily tense it became. Then how I’d stepped between them and led Barris off in another direction, out the door and eventually safe in a car, in which several people piled to drive him back to his hotel, and to a quieter end of the evening. It was, she recalled, an elegant performance on my part.

I have no memory of this evening. I’m 99.9 percent sure I wasn’t at that particular episode of ‘Live Wire,’ and more than 100 percent certain that if I had stumbled into a scene of incipient man v muppet violence I would have been too cowardly and/or curious to do anything to stop it.

Sorry, but it’s true.

More realistically: Had a great day here in Cleveland, Oh. yesterday, making new friends at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Curatorial director Howard Kramer took me deep into the archives to open cabinets holding, say, Eddie Cochrane’s guitar, the Temptations’ matching spangled stage suits and a setlist composed in the hand of Elvis Presley. Also, a couple of Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting notebooks (‘BTR’ and ‘Nebraska/USA’ era), which we flipped through wearing rubber gloves. Wow.

The evening’s presentation, an on-stage interview with the HOF’s education director Dr. Lauren Ontkey, was terrific fun — a big, attentive crowd and Lauren’s intelligent querying and etc. — and so let’s call the whole day dreamy.

When I got back to the hotel I double-locked the door. I hear the muppets in Cleveland can get kind of rowdy.


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