Local character: Ocean Park’s Mike Bone in his Boomtown days. Courtesy photo

YOU MAY KNOW MIKE BONE

He’s lived in Ocean Park for decades, about as long as I have. A few blocks away. Our kids went to school together.

Mike is one of those Santa Monica “characters” that my bosses keep urging me to write about more often. You know, instead of political stuff that subjects them to nasty emails and phone calls. Why some folks refuse to distinguish between news stories and an opinion column is one of our modern mysteries. I would not want their jobs.

Profiling interesting locals is something I like too, and I have, recently. Santa Monica is oozing them. Here’s another snapshot. But gosh, there is so much horribly wrong with this great little city we live in that it’s hard to keep my big mouth shut.

BUT BACK TO THE BONE

This column is not really telling Mike’s story. Because this column is not nearly long enough for that. Some people’s lives and personalities require a lot more. Like my neighbor Neil. You should know about him but I don’t even know where to begin. (I’ve tried a couple of times.) But sometimes I can work in some of these personalities in the context of a specific tale.

This is a music column. And that is where Mike Bone belongs. He grooved at the highest levels of rock and roll crazy back when it really was, mostly as a major label publicist, and more. So I will pass along this recent anecdote that is typical of him.

The more complete story awaits his autobiography, I suppose. Lots of people, who maybe shouldn’t, in this age of easy self-publishing, do roll out their life story. But I would read Bone’s bio. Except — I think he may instead be favoring collecting his random writings, put up on social media, which paint the picture pretty well. They usually get dozens or even hundreds of comments, despite their great length.

Mike Bone is one of those writers I just hate. On the face of it, that’s not who he has been in his life. A lot of people think they can write, but are kidding only themselves. The proof is in the pudding, in this case probably a Southern bread pudding, at least 80 proof. He’s a Georgia refugee soaked in Southern storytelling tradition, and he is a master of it.

A FLYER IN THE MAILBOX

That’s a pretty old school way to promote your band. But Emperor’s Night, three Kiwi brothers, bridged the decades with that flyer that offered a free car wash if you would follow their band on Instagram. And yeah, we’ll come to your driveway.

“I have seen A LOT of interesting things done to try and garner the market’s attention for the artist I was promoting,” Bone wrote me. “Hell, I have DONE a lot of things to try and get the market’s attention…..

“I once got a blue mohawk haircut to get Haircut 100 played on KMET-FM in Los Angeles. I dyed my entire body and hair yellow to get the Swiss band Yello airplay. I bought 100 dead rats (actually, biological specimens) to get attention for the Boomtown Rats.” (Now, aren’t you concerned that you may have sat next to this guy at a PTA meeting?)

So of course Mike couldn’t resist that flyer and he invited them over last Friday, but pushy little Peach that he is, he got them to wash four family cars. But he also provided a chilled bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc to ease their efforts and their homesickness, and he “even called Mystic Pete from KXLU-FM who lives down the street, and he did a brief interview with the band which aired this past Sunday.” Once a promo man, always…

“So the Chalmers brothers washed four cars, did an interview for KXLU, drank some Curious Kiwi wine, got paid (I couldn’t ask them for a free car wash… sorry) all in one hour.”

MY DRIVER

I told my wife Dian about all this, and when I mentioned Mike’s name she said, with a tease, “Oh yeah — my driver.”

Dian was in our Main Street Fourth of July Parade three years running, each time in a different costume from her singing career: full Carmen Miranda, silvery space captain VaVa LaVoom, and as one of The Goils, her Andrews Sisters-styled ‘40s -’50s era vocal group that toured the US and Japan in WWII-type military uniforms. It was as the latter two that Mike was behind the wheel of his family’s red Miata convertible, with Dian in her costume perched prominently in back, smiling and waving like a royal.

He probably remembers that near the end of The Goils-costume parade ride, an older lady came up to Dian and gushed, in apparent confusion over what decade it was, “Oh, I used to go hear you and your sisters all the time!” (They died in ‘67, ‘95, and Patty, the youngest, in 2013 just short of her 95th birthday.) Sometimes old age has its exciting moments.

Parade organizer Jeff Jarrow asked Dian to be in a fourth parade but she had to decline. “I’m all out of great costumes.”

So what an arc, the rocker at the top of the heap, winds up as… just the driver, in the small town parade. But I’m pretty sure Mike is good with every phase of his interesting life. Hell, he just got all his cars washed, and helped out another young band.

NICOLE RECOMMENDS:

WATCH TABLA VIRTUOSO ZAKIR HUSSAIN PERFORM LIVE, ONLINE — If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Zakir Hussain play, now is your chance. No matter your prior interest or knowledge of tabla music, Hussain is a rockstar percussionist known the world over for his exciting performance style and mastery. He has performed with the likes of George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma, Pharoah Sanders, Van Morrison, and so many more. He is joined by other master percussionists for a free streamable performance put on by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) this Friday, March 26, at 7PM PST.

Link to register: https://online.cap.ucla.edu//videos/zakir-hussain-and-masters-of-percussion

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com