There is a fairly famous scene in the original “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movie whereby Clark Griswald, played by Chevy Chase, is offered a beer by his cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid. Two things, first, tho. One, I am old enough that I remember this movie simply as “Vacation” and, two, I just used the word “whereby”. Find that fucking word in another article or blog or Facebook post…I dare you.
Anyway, in this beer sharing scene, Cousin Eddie is drinking a beer. He also has one full can of beer left dangling from the plastic six-pack tether that was ubiquitous with 80’s canned refreshments. So the tally is: One full, unopened beer…one open, in hand, being drank beer. Cousin Eddie asks, “I bet you can use a cool one, huh?” Chevy Chase, in character, responds “Now you’re talkin’”. Cousin Eddie promptly hands Clark the beer he was drinking from and opens the new can for himself. Premise over.
During one of Prince’s Celebrations, Prince’s head of security and I were tasked with picking up George Clinton, he of Parliament Funkadelic fame, and taking him out to Paisley Park. He was performing at a night club in downtown Minneapolis. The night club was called “Quest” but it used to be called “Glam Slam”. It was called “Glam Slam” when Prince owned it, and I’d love to tell you why the name was switched to “Quest”, but I’d have to check with a couple of lawyers first.
We arrived and George’s PR lady, I forget her name, but she was awesome, maybe Mary…I dunno, led us up onto the stage while George was performing. There were curtains on the stage, about a foot or two from the edge of the stage. Of course, the curtains were open, as Mr. Clinton was conducting a séance and a revival and an exorcism all at the same time. “Flashlight”, “Give up the Funk”, “Atomic Dog”, “Bop Gun”…are you fucking kidding me! There was enough room for us to stand on stage yet stand behind the remaining edge of the curtain without the audience seeing us…about ten feet away from Mr. Clinton. Again: Are…you…fucking…kidding…me!
Towards the end of the show, Clinton, complete with multi-colored dreadlock strings, grey beard, and long white robe flowing around the stage like a shaman to the Nth degree, slowly bent over and reached under his robe, digging his arm under this cloth as if he were assisting in a primitive back-country birth, and pulled out a pipe full of laughing lettuce. He lit it and partook and invited the crowd to do the same, if they were so inclined.
When his show finally ended, George walked towards us and give each of us a pound before he descended off stage to go to his “Green Room”. A green room is the room at any particular venue where artists kind of have their own space. It is where they go when they are not “on”…not performing.
We followed not-too-closely behind, as we knew why we were there and George Clinton knew why we were there…to take him out to Paisley Park…yet there was no rush. I would say that we gave him a good ten minutes before we entered his green room, which, at Quest, was a tiny red-bricked room, if I remember correctly.
As we entered, George was sitting next to the only table in the room. A small table with a pizza box on it. His PR lady, Mary…or was it Marcy? Fuck, I dunno. Anyways, she was standing next to him. Prince’s head of security and I took up the remaining space in the small room. Mr. Clinton was smoking a blunt, holding a slice of pizza. He asked Prince’s main dude, “You wanna hit this?” holding out the lit blunt as an offering. The reply was a polite, “Nah, man, you know I can’t…I gotta work all night”. I don’t know if he would’ve or ever did partake, but I found that to be a very professional answer. No way in hell was he gonna smoke during business hours, if he did smoke at all, but he also let George know it was righteous that he even offered. Professional shit, right there. George looked at me and said, “How ‘bout you, Shane”. Let me stop right there. George fucking Clinton hasn’t seen me in a year…I didn’t think he would even remember or even fucking note somebody of my stature…and he just addressed me by my name. Fucking AWESOME! I looked at my boss, who is also one of my best friends on earth, and he gave me a look that said exactly this: “I trust you. I know we have to work a shitload of shifts in the next week and I need you to be on your toes and right and alert the whole time. But in no way, shape, or form, am I going to ask you to NOT smoke with George fucking Clinton”. So I did. Just me and him, passing a blunt in a room of four people, two of which, whether they partook or not in regular life, I don’t know, couldn’t partake at the time out of professional duty. Epic.
So, blunt gone, me extra-paranoid high, George Clinton flung open the box of pizza as he was asking Prince’s main security guy, “You wanna piece of pizza?” He asked and opened the box simultaneously. There was one piece of pizza left in the box. My homie said, “Nah, George…thanks…I’m good”. George Clinton looked at me and said, “You want a piece of pizza, Shane?” I was high as fuck! (hey, the king of Parliament Funkadelic has some bomb-ass shyte!!!). I said, “Yeah”.
George Clinton handed me the half-eaten piece of pizza he was still holding in his hand and grabbed the full piece of pizza in the box for himself.
George Clinton “Cousin Eddie’d” me!