Candice Bergen was strolling down Montana Avenue

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved

1997. Candice Bergen was strolling down Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, California. It was a typically sunny day; perfect for window shopping boutiques, sipping triple lattes at trendy coffee shops and getting facials at the outrageously priced salons. I was standing out front of our store with my high school rock n roll pal Jim C. who was visiting from St. Pete. Lily, our gorgeous Great Dane was sunning herself on the sidewalk as she did every day since we got her from Drew, our bad boy friend in Maryville, Tennessee who used to own this piece of property. Drew had inherited this prime real estate from Minerva, a sweet but addled old lady he had helped in her later years. He had asked to buy her vintage Buick sitting in an open garage, but she said “No! My husband said don’t sell anything!” Drew responded matter of factly, “…my friends?…They’ll steal it. Let me put a padlock on your garage door.” She let him do that, then a few odd jobs, then finally he got inside her house and saw a pile of red letters threatening to take all the prime real estate her husband had acquired before he passed. Drew got a lawyer, paid the bills, and turned the homes into shops creating a rival to Rodeo Drive ten blocks from the beach in Santa Monica. Cathy created a gift store and Drew was always her guardian angel when he wasn’t getting into trouble. He eventually cashed out and move to Tennessee where Lily was born. Drew drove back and gave away a dozen Great Dane puppies to his sisters and to Cathy. Lily had more style and intelligence than most of the people on the street. She showed people how to enjoy life; spread eagled on the sidewalk, her rows of pink nipples sticking up in the air, her huge lips falling back while she snored, trusting the world to be kind to her. All the little kids, including Kim Bassinger’s little girl would climb all over Lily and our Lily would never protest, always being gentle and sweet.

When Candice cruised by, she couldn’t resist admiring Lily’s two hundred pounds of statuesque love spread eagled on her back, her long tail demurely tucked up between her thighs, snoring like a drunken sailor in the warm sunlight.

‘What a beautiful Great Dane!” Candice said graciously.

“Her name is Lily.” I responded. She bent over to pet Lily.

My stress related response kicked in…”I knew the real Murhpy Brown…”

She stood up and eyed my suspiciously. Fear growing in her gaze.

“…In Key West. She was a friend of Jerry Jeff’s…She was great. I ran off my mouth to a producer here in LA and voila! You got a hit show…Congratulations…”

Candice stepped around Lily and backed away from me, moving up the street as calmly as she could go putting maximum distance between us.

Jim was aghast. “You just insulted Candice Bergen!”

“I DID?”

Lily was a black and white dane with lots of pink, her mother was albino. Lily was famous and had been on TV, on the E! channel upstaging Oscar Delahoya’s wife who stopped in to buy a little turtle chochkie from us, and the next week we had a run on those turtle chochkies; we only had a few of them, people calling from all over the US wanting one. Montana Avenue is like that; pretty superficial but it is the place where I landed when I left the film biz and Cathy patched me back together. Her store, Seasons, became the first healing drum center, starting back in the eighties. Montana Avenue reminded me of Coconut Grove. It was close, but what we all had back then was special, magical, and a safe haven. This would have to do. One day when I was not in the store, Cathy called me, “You have two friends here from Coconut Grove. Rick and Ellen!”

I felt a twinge of the old magic. Around nineteen seventy, Rick and Ellen met each other at one of our parties in the Bethlehem Asylum mansion on Main Highway.  Ransom School eventually bought the land, and unfortunately cut down the largest banyan tree in North America in the backyard for a parking lot.  Rick and Ellen got married back then in those magical days and were still together these decades later. They were visiting LA and just stopped to browse Cathy’s eclectic mix of handmade gifts; not suspecting that I was involved.

“They just strolled in.” Cathy said to me on the phone. “Rick had a Biscayne Baby Jacket on, and I mentioned that my partner was from Coconut Grove. I told them you were the drummer with Bethlehem Asylum. They both said it together, ‘Buddy Helm is here?!!”

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved


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