Perpetual Blog Motion, Day 150 (!): 75% Reunion

February 26th, 2011

It had been forty years since we all saw each other.  In defiance of actuarial tables, we were all still alive.

And even healthy.  Three of the members of the obscure but oddly satisfying band The Pleasure Fair reunited last week at Chez Nous in North Hollywood, where we monopolized a big table for about three hours and tried the patience of a waitress who has surely earned the points necessary for heaven.

The Pleasure Fair, as some of you are probably bored to be reminded, was made of of Michele Cochrane (center above, obviously), Stephen Cohn (right above), moi (the only one remaining), and Robb Royer, who was in Nashville and thus is not pictured. We were together for I actually have no idea how many years and made a bunch of records, including a single (or two) as The Rainy Day People — a name of which I have no memory whatsoever — an album, and several singles as The Pleasure Fair with all personnel intact.

Then, minus Michele, who had left to go back to real life, we cut another single with an R&B singer who had performed with the great but short-lived girl group The Exciters (“Tell Him”). I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the name of the singer from The Exciters.  (This memory thing is kind of a distressing theme, but it’s nothing new.) I thought The Exciters had a magical sound but I guess it didn’t keep all its potency when it was mixed with ours.

And then the band broke up.  Robb went into a little group called Bread, Stephen moved to Venice Beach and reinvented himself, and I kept body and soul together and learned a great deal I hadn’t previously known about pharmaceuticals.  Michele sang in touring shows and then married a brilliant comic and writer named Murray Roman, who was unfortunately killed an an automobile accident several days after the birth of their only child, a daughter.

During the decades that followed, Stephen wrote songs, cut a solo LP, created music for television and films, won an Emmy, and gradually turned himself into one of the nation’s few active and successful composers of “serious” (quotations are mine) concert music.  Robb sold 31 trillion records, won an Oscar, and wrote a clutch of Top Ten songs.  Michele became a national advocate for Down’s Syndrome research, continued performing, and married Lou Shaw, a legendary Hollywood writer-producer and the creator of “Quincy,” with Jack Klugman.

I invented several careers for myself doing jobs no one else had ever had thought of, involving the juncture between corporate money and the arts, and then started writing books.

While Robb, Stephen, and I had remained in touch, we’d all lost sight of Michele until she was discovered by an indefatigable Brit named Malcolm Searles, who tracked us all down and asked us questions for his forthcoming book on Bread.  (And if it tells the truth, it’ll be a doozy.)  I feel guilty that I’m the only one who never replied to Malcolm’s interview request.

One thing that struck me as I sat there with Michele and Stephen was how few of the bands that were on the scene when we were — The Beatles, the Stones, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, etc. — are all still above ground. Most of them are missing at least one member, and in some cases, more.

And we’re not only here, we’re also not totally repulsive, and we’re all still involved in things we care about.  What made the light of good fortune shine on our little group and blink out on folks like the Beach Boys, with three gone, and the Beatles?  Why hasn’t the one of us who could afford it, Robb, turned into some drug-ravaged rock-and-roll Norma Desmond?  How come all four of us have been allowed to remain creative and engaged?

Why us, I wonder?

24 Responses to “Perpetual Blog Motion, Day 150 (!): 75% Reunion”

  1. Beth Says:

    Blessings are gifts that should not be questioned.

    One of the quickest ways to make oneself crazy is to continually question one’s good fortune. It leads to negative thinking and behavior such as constantly looking up at the sky, searching for the fissure that proves that the sky is about to fall.

    On the other hand, getting rooted in examining life as a series of disasters, the negative “why me” question, keeps one mired in the muck so that glessing and good fortune are missed.

    So, “why us, I wonder?” Why not? On the other hand, I bet all of you have other aspects of your lives that have been hit with a sledgehammer.

  2. Suzanna Says:

    I don’t know how to answer why you were all blessed with creative engaged lives while many in your generation were not so fortunate. All I know is that it’s a wonderful thing to see you successfully living your dream of writing full time. I really appreciate how hard you’ve worked to actualize this dream. You are an inspiration, Tim.

  3. Malcolm Searles Says:

    THRILLED to see you guys all smiling together again. Maybe Robb can make the next gathering …
    Regards from that ‘indefatigable’ Brit !

  4. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Suzanna, thanks. It’s been a long slog, but mostly fun. As Lyle Lovett sings, “I’ve had an excellent time so far
    There’s on;y one thing that I fear
    I been up so long on this lucky star
    It could be all downhill from here.”

    Hey, Malcolm, thanks for bringing us together.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    You’re right, Beth. It’s like getting the long half of the wishbone and then being upset that you can’t break it again to make sure.

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Oh Tim, You all look so wonderful according to my arithmetic, Sometimes, I think it’s all a crapshoot. We end up where we end up, and do the best we can with what we get and thank the Gods for their kindness. I am so glad you are doing what you want to be doing, for you and for us.

  7. Debbi Says:

    I agree with Beth regarding both blessings and negatives. Never second guess good fortune, but don’t get bogged down in despair over setbacks, either. Simply be grateful for what you have.

    It’s easy for people to overlook things they enjoy and take for granted. Maybe you guys had your heads together enough to realize happiness wasn’t something that could be chased and captured with a net, you know? I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking if they had enough money, fame, adulation, etc., everything will be fine. But nope. It doesn’t work that way. So … maybe you guys just knew that?

    I don’t know. Just a thought.

  8. John Lindquist Says:

    A big cheer from a long-time Pleasure Fair fan. Each one of you is an inspiration. And I never tire of hearing “Put It Out Of Your Mind.” What a gorgeous classic.

  9. Jaden Says:

    So, Tim, where can we get The Pleasure Fair CDs? Or The Rainy Day People (which is such a great name that I may steal it for a title one of these days).

    I for one am glad you’ve been so blessed. At the risk of being egocentric, it means more, more, more Poke Rafferty for me.

  10. Robb Royer Says:

    1. Damn sorry I missed it but I probably would have brought down the looks quotient. Why am I the only one with grey hair?

    2. I don’t think I got paid on 30.9999 trillion of those records.

    3. I AM a drug ravaged Norma Desmond thank you very much.

    4. Pic did warm my heart, tho.

  11. Robb Royer Says:

    More…

    5. The girl who sang Gonna Have to let You Go was also named Michele.

    6. Boy, who knows about that fickle finger of fate thing? Three of the Breaddies are dead leaving just me and David. Sometimes I feel like the two of us are in a tontine.

  12. Larissa Says:

    In some ways it’s a crapshoot but in others, I think it’s deeper than just coincidence. Sometimes people who have good heads on their shoulders but do crazy, crazy things with it manage to retain just a smidge of rationale that says, “yes, we will get through this but for right now, we’re just having fun” and I think that’s what keeps them afloat.

    Others, fall into that cycle and lose entire sight of their logic and their self and never resurface again.

    So, well done in winning the tug-o-war with all of your psyches. For now at least. ;0)

  13. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Lil and thanks for the compliment. It actually occurred to me during the time we were together that no one ever says, “You look wonderful” until you really don’t, except on good days. This was a good day, and thanks for spotting it.

    Debbi, at the time we were together we were chasing happiness in its most elusive form, rock stardom. And Robb is the only one who achieved it, and it turned him into a drug-ravaged Norma Desmond recluse while the rest of us remained fresh and happy. If I learned anything from all this — if I could boil my primary life lesson into a single sentence, it would be this: Be where the luck is and stay there. Virtually everything good that’s ever happened to me was luck and the talent to spot it when it arrived and try to do whatever was necessary to hold onto it.

    John, you’re the online campfire around which we’ve all gathered all these years, and for anyone who’s interested in learning more, you’ll have a great time at http://www.jlindquist.net/bread/

    Jaden, I can’t speak for the others but since I have no memory of ever having been a Rainy Day Person, it’s all yours as far as I’m concerned. As for the Pleasure Fair CDs, I think some of the songs are available as mp3 downloads — I remember seeing a couple somewhere –but I don’t know where. Sometimes obscurity is kind, and I think that’s true of my singing, although Michele sounds great, and Robb and Stephen were always on top of things.

    Robb, you’re the only one who’s gray because of all the drugs, not to mention the life-in-the-fast-lane lifestyle, what with kids to bring up and all. And, of course, there are hair stylists. I thought about Bread when I wrote that line. Really, really hard to figure it out. The only thing I can attribute it to is luck. And I do appreciate the irony that you and David are the surviving members of Bread, which kind of eliminates any prospect of a reunion.

  14. Robb Royer Says:

    No reunion… definitely. Maybe a man-kini mud pit fight

  15. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Stephen Cohn tried to post but was repelled by Captcha, taking its sentry duties a bit over-seriously. This is what he wanted to say:

    Beth is also right about the sledgehammer. However, our reunion did bring Tim’s perspective into focus and it’s an inspiring affirmation of why we endured the blows.

  16. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Robb — Can I have the T-shirt concession?

  17. Debbi Says:

    BTW, I just want to say I really love Michele’s refrigerator magnet dress. 🙂

  18. Lisa Formica Says:

    I’m so happy to see you all reunited, thanks Malcolm! I think it has a lot to do with Fate, and like Tim said be where the luck is. Wow, this has really made my week! I hope to see more from you talented group, in the near future, thank you so much for sharing this happy occasion!

  19. Dean James Adshead Says:

    Nice to see all of you are alive and well! Hi Robb! May I take this opportunity to say The Pleasure Fair album is terrific. As Robb will agree, I’m possibly your (introduced via Bread) youngest fan at 22!

    Probably best not having a Bread reunion, I can’t imagine Gates having an amazing vocal range these days anyway… Although I would pay good money to see the man-kini mud pit fight!

  20. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Well, Debbi, that dress weighed ninety pounds. We almost lost Michele when a car drove by as we were shooting, and the next thing we knew, Michele was ten feet away, stuck to the driver’s door. Close call.

    Hi, Lisa, and I’m so glad you’re happy to see us. It’s actually looking like a 100% reunion may be on the cards sometime in the next month, with Robb flying out from Nashville.

    Hi, Dean, I remember being 22, although not very clearly. I sort of hope you’re having a better time than I was. I’d give Robb a ten-point edge in the mud against David.

  21. Judy Says:

    I love reunions. This is simply a wonderful re-grouping and it is good to know you’re all doing so well. In my doing a biography on James Griffin, your names of course came up time and again. I cherish those flashbacks to the 60s and 70s. Though it’s not always the case, of course, it probably was wise you didn’t stay together longer! The question of how to spell the group name was brought up often and gave reason to wonder where are they now. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Judy — It was a lot of fun. Have you finished your biography on Jimmy? Has it been published? Robb, do you know about it?

    Would love to read it if it’s in print.

    And I don’t think I could have told you with certainty six months ago whether “Fair” ended in an “e.” I think we used it both ways.

  23. ALDO Says:

    HI, REUNION PLEASURE FAIRE & BREAD , HAPPINESS , GOOD!! , ROB, DAVID ,TIM, MICHAEL AND STEPHEN……. GIRA IN CONCERT SUDAMERICA….FANTASTIC

    GOOD LUCK

    ALDO

  24. Richard Says:

    I’ve heard 7 songs by The Pleasure fair on the net so far. Love all of them, especially Morning glory and Fade in fade out. I’d love to hear the other 7! I keep checking the net for a decently priced cd, but in the meantime does anyone know where I could hear all 14 tracks by this brilliant group? Many thanks, Richard.

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