The MK ULTRA KUT Original: A Emily Sifrit ”Stitch Witch’ rock n roll design.
“I’ve never limited myself to one kind of music. I feel that I’ve always had a sense for good music regardless of a genre.” – from THE MK ULTRA STORY: “A Savage journey through the sweaty underbelly of rock n’ roll subculture”
Most amazing weAkend of the year so far. Everything went perfect and I did one of the best interviews of my career with one of my teenage idols.
“Never forget, rock n roll never dies” – Frank DiMino
In a world so full of wonder
With so many exciting things to do
It’s a shame
So many choose to just exist
Rather than to live
Friday dragged but that was fine. I had one more day to go before I’d see, meet and interview Frank DiMino of the legendary 1970′s band ANGEL. As a 14-16 yr old I played 5 of their 6 albums frequently and looked at their pictures dreaming of seeing them live. They played Wheeling WV just about the time I started seeing shows but didn’t go. I was too young and besides I’d catch them next time. It was not meant to be and they disbanded in 1980. Still I planned on getting their moniker tattooed on on my shoulder and I dropped off the SINFUL album at the tattoo shop one summer day after radio broadcasting classes in Wheeling WV. It was also not meant to be as they discovered I was only 17 yrs old. I would not get my first tattoo for another 10 years. I fucking loved ANGEL.
The ANGEL logo is ambigrammatic; it reads the same when turned upside-down as when viewed normally.
Fast forward to the summer of 1999 and I stopped at Bob Hoeksema’s house for a BBQ before doing my radio show out of Elgin later that night. He was playing ANGEL from his boom box outside and I was flabbergast that someone else knew ANGEL. I should have known it was BH and we have a lot in common. He not only knew ANGEL he loved them too adn saw them many times. He so loved them in face he still has his tickets and a tour program from the SINFUL tour. He also had slides from their second to last concert ever at Alpine Valley. That was 17 years ago. As fate would have it when lead singer Frank DiMino released his first ever solo album and he booked one of 3 concerts in the US at stop from Illinois was on the roster and you know Bob and I would be going together. I contacted DiMinos management and they sent me a photo release form to sign and scheduled us for an in person interview day of show.
Friday after the show I came home, watched some TV, worked on the book some more and took a call from Ashley who called to tell me she misses me so we made plans to meet up when I got home Sunday. I took a sleep pill ad went to bed. I woke up early around 6 made breakfast packed my bags and went to Union Station to hang out for a bit before my 1040 train to Aurora. I arrived at noon and walked out to where my chariot was waiting. Bob in his beautiful slick black Cadillac. We were both very excited and stopped to have lunch at the new Pig Dog Pub.
Pig Dog Pub 1250 South Broadway Montgomery, IL used to be a bar called Elmer’s which I liked enough but PDP blows it away on every level. First of all it’s bright, spacious and clean. Very clean. I had browsed the menu and thought it seemed a bit pricey still my friend Bob ate there once, gave it a thumbs up and I thought, “why not?” I already knew what I was going to order and it was the signature sandwich the Pig Dog, a beer-braised Duroc pork belly with barbecue sauce, provolone and Swiss cheese and spicy Dijon served with an apple fennel slaw, and hand-cut fries. Bob ordered a burger abd we both had a 16 oz Heineken at only $4 each. Unreal. It took a few minutes to decide from their lengthy drink menu features a wide variety of specialty cocktails and craft and traditional beers. Lots of craft beer option.
When my order came I gazed at the sandwich and thought for a moment it was a bit small for $11 but quickly changed my mind after the first bite. This was by far one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I savored the damned thing and was so full I could not even finish my fries. I really can’t wait to go back in the warm weather and enjoy one on the patio with the breeze off of the Fox River. .
Pig Dog Pub gets my highest rating for food, service and atmosphere and it’s no wonder why this new hot spot was so crowded at noon on a Saturday.
We left PDP and went to Bobs house aka Tubby’s Drive In. I put my bags down and we listened to some tunes and drank a couple beers (Point) over the afternoon before heading off to the venue, Arcada Theatre 105 E Main St, St Charles, IL.
Built in 1926 by local millionaire and Chicago Tribune cartoonist Lester J. Norris. The new theater was a $500,000 example of the Norris family’s confidence in the future of St. Charles. The Arcada became known as one of the outstanding Vaudeville houses in the Fox River Valley. Many legendary stars have graced the stage, including George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Garland, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Olivia DeHavilland, the John Phillip Sousa Band, Liberace, Mitzi Gaynor, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Vincent Price, Carol Channing, Jeanette MacDonald, Walter Slezak and the Von Trapp Family Singers. Andrew Dice Clay recorded his Showtime special “Indestructable” at the theater in August 2012.
As Bob was parking the black beauty my phone rang and it was Andrew the tour manager for Frank DiMino and he was just checking in with me and told me to come inside the door and he’d meet up with us. He had a thick New England accent that has become very familiar to me over time being I have so many friends from that region of the country. It was during sound check that he did walk over to me shake hands and proclaimed, “They tell me you’re the guy to talk to” in regards to booking Frank within the Chicago city limits. It was flattering and I was taken back because sometimes I really dp forget who it is that I am.
As we hung out in the lobby I was in shock of the patrons. Pretty much everyone was very drunk. The men and most of the women all shared the same body shape. They were all very loud and boisterous and I was glared at many times for being as well dressed as I was. Most of the people looked as if they had rolled out of bed and put on whatever was laying on the floor and came out. It was shocking being that St Charles is known for being such an upscale neighborhood. One guy was such a jerk that the 3 times we crossed paths he tried to start shit with me. There was a person at one point so out of it that security had to force him to sit in a chair that they asked me to bring over because the guy could barely stand. I seriously could not believe what I was witness to. In short they were all very rough around the edges. It was also 100% white, I did not see one person of color or of any other ethnicity. The whole ordeal was very hard to swallow.
As far as accommodating Bob and I (Bob is in a wheelchair and requires assistance when it comes to stairs) most of the staff was clueless and pretty much told us there was nothing they could do. But I am persistent and to do this interview solo was not going to happen. I could not and would not have done it without Bob. I connected with a security guard who assured me that when the time came we could be taken care of. I was relieved and I took my seat in the 3rd row stage left as Bob’s wheelchair was in front of all of the rows where he would remain and take photos of the show that I never thought in my life I would see.
The show was running late but would prove to be well worth it. After all, I’ve waited 40 plus years to see this guy sing in person. Frank and his band came out to a round of applause backed by an instrumental of a rendition of a Beatles staple and kicked open the show with a new song “Tonight’s the Night” and followed it up with Angel favorite “Feelin’ Right” which blew me away to the point where I felt 15 yrs old again. The 9-song set was sprinkled with some big Angel rockers the likes of “Don’t Leave Me Lonley”, “Can You Feel It”, “The Fortune”, “Rock n Rollers” and “The Tower” as well a new songs from Franks debut solo ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ album, “Never Again” and “Rockin’in the City”.
DiMino’s touring band was tight and one think that really stood out was how much fun the singer was having performing for his fans. I’ve never seen a front-man smile so much while performing and at 66 years old he has as much energy and finesse as any youngster out there. In face most of them don’t even kick as much ass as Frank DiMino did this night. Of course his voice did not lose any luster either as he sang as well as he did over 40 years ago and its no wonder that he gives singing lessons. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I did indeed have goosebumps.
Frank DiMino (center)
Known to millions of people as the lead singer of 70s iconic rock group ANGEL. Known for their elaborate stage show and all-white costumes, Casablanca Records signed ANGEL to a multi-album deal upon the recommendation of KISS without even hearing the band play. They released six albums for Casablanca and toured non-stop playing American arenas with Aerosmith, Rush, Journey, Styx, Ted Nugent, and others. A highly successful Japanese tour would include two nights headlining the legendary Budokan and being greeted with “Beatlemania-like” fans at the airport. ANGEL appeared on the television shows American Bandstand, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, The Midnight Special, and in the film “Foxes”. Years later after ANGEL disbanded a revamped version of the group was formed with several new members which resulted in a new album and live shows in Europe and America.
As would be expected I was so much hungry for more as I have so many angel songs in my head and wish I could have made a set list for them to play but that is unrealistic, at this time. And I say that with good reason.
We went out into the entrance hall and waited as the drunks and mouthbreathers made hour hour long wait unbearable. I felt like I was back in Indiana. I only saw one other long hair and the only attractive woman at the who was the young lady Rachael who was in charge of the guest list and photo passes. More than a few times I was approached and asked which band I was a part of. At one point I replied to an apology, “That’s okay I get that a lot.” Bob was starting to feel as we were getting blown off and I said lets give it 25 more minutes and no sooner had I said that than I saw Andrew looking around for us. It was going down and it would in a very rock n roll manner. One of the very and I say very accommodating security guards secured us a storage room on the top floor to do the interview. It was a dump but it provided what we needed and it was almost funny on every level.
We all walked in and pulled chairs from the piles of “stuff” and as Bob set up the recorder he took notice of a huge iron safe against the wall and proclaimed “I’d like to take a crack at that safe.” Andrew asked “You want to take a crap on that safe” and mentioned that he left his nitroglycerin at home. It would be the first of many laughs captured digitally. I told Frank I had a message from our mutual friend Kenny Ryback and told him Kenny says hello.
As you can read in the interview it all went very well. I let Bob ask some questions and it wasn’t so much of an interview as it was a discussion filled with great stories and anecdotes. It was so strange that I had never actually seen him perform before this night and with the industry insiders who I consider good friends, I really knew what I was talking about. in the interim Bob gave Frank and Andrew 30 or so slides from Angel’s next to the last concert ever and got his tour programm signed. They were very gratful for the slides. I felt a wave of envy sweep over me. I wished so much I had seen the band back in the day. As we parted ways Cheap Trick came up, I mentioned I’d be seeing them next week and Franks asked me to tell them “Hello” as if they were friend’s of mine. Which they are not. Yet.
Andrew gave me his card and we told each other we’d stay in touch and as we all left the comfy confines of the less than luxurious storage room BH noticed another giant iron safe in the room. Then we had to brace the drunks on the way out and got to the card and shot back to Bobs house where he cooked me the best store bought pizza I’ll ever have (again) and I took a pill and fell asleep on the leather sofa with his big German Sheppard Lugar sleeping at my feel the entire night.
Nowhere as cool as Bobs ANGEL tour program but a signed CD nonetheless
I love Breakfast at Tubby’s
I woke early by habit and so did Bob and he made us some coffee and a very nice breakfast as usual. I was anxious to get home and upload photos and I had him take me to the Aurora tran station early so I could hang out it’s walls. What can I say I have a thing for train stations. Really.
The Two Brothers Roundhouse, formerly the Walter Payton Roundhouse, America’s Historical Roundhouse, and Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Roundhouse and Locomotive Shop is a historic building converted to a restaurant in Aurora, Illinois. It was originally constructed in 1856 as a roundhouse for the Chicago & Aurora Railroad (later Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad) and served in this capacity until 1974. It was abandoned until 1995, when a group of investors led by Walter Payton purchased it and converted the building to an entertainment complex. Its most recent tenant is Two Brothers Brewing. The building is the oldest limestone roundhouse in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The structure was abandoned for twenty-one years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 16, 1978. In May 1988, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers recognized the roundhouse as a landmark in mechanical engineering for its “innovative railroad yard machine shop.” In 1995, the Aurora City Council voted to allow an investment group led by former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton to purchase the building. The building re-opened in 1996 and hosted a brewpub, restaurant, museum, and open-air pavilion. Among the artifacts in the museum is Payton’s championship ring from Super Bowl XX. The complex received a National Preservation Award on October 22, 1999, only days before Payton’s death.
I walked into the Two Brothers Roundhouse retaurant and took a seat at the bar and ordered a Bloody Mary from the bartender Danny who would prove to be a great salesman of the venue. A bike rider named Nick (from DrunkCyclist PH an org which I will soon be joining) took a seat next to me and we talked bike riding as I ordered another Bloody and asked Danny to make it a double. I got a nod of approval from both men. I got my tab and it was a whopping $13! That’s for 2 drinks with 3 shots. It was a perfect near end to a perfect weekend. I shook hands with my new friends and took a seat on the train and within 90 minutes was back in the Windy City. I took the train home, went to Wagreen’s and came home unpacked my bags took a shower and prepared to see Ashley when she got off work. As I arrived Bob had already transcribed the 17 page interview and sent it to me. I met Ash for dinner at Tac Quick and then bought some Fruit Punch vodka and spent the remaining hours going over the materials I have gathered for the MK ULTRA Story book. She really got into it it and I could tell she had a lot of appreciation for the items I have organized thus far.
Monday morning I woke too early, took 150mg of Trazadone and knocked myself back into sleep. It would be a day to unwind and write this lengthy confession.
Thanks to the security at The Arcada, Dave Tedder from Head First Entertainment, Andrew Arsenault, Frank DiMino, Pig Dog Pub and Danny at Two Brothers Roundhouse and last but not least one of the best friends a guy could ever ask for Bob “Newbomb Turk” Hoeksema.
The Redhead On The Red Line Blues
This is my story
you may know how I feel
when love hits ya like a bus
you know its for real
After work we locked eyes
coming off of the train
I walked down the plattform behind her
and into the rain
Once I was outside
Saw her inside the store
she shot me a smile
But I wanted more
Now I spy her same time every day
and the story is always the same
I wanna ask for number
But fall right off of my game
Cats got my tongue but I’ve nothing to lose
I can’t help it I have the Redhead on the Red Line Blues
At the first stop who did I see
walk down the aisle and she sat next to me
I thought man here is my chance
a shot a true rockin romance
Yeah he’s been on my mind
I want her right by my side
But each day I’d see her
I’d get crazy tongue tied
The next time I saw her
I wanted to ask for her name
then I lost my nerve again
I’m the only one to blame
The last time I saw her
was the last time she saw me
I thought this is my chance
But it was not meant to be
Cats got my tongue but I’ve nothing to lose
My friends tell me “YOU’VE got the Redhead on the Red Line Blues”
“I like it! 8 bar blues. We can tweak it a bit but I hear that raspy voice of yours belting it out.”- Greg Duncan
Jay Panick and Stephen Pearcy of RATT the night before Frank