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Dallas, Texas, United States

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All Todd All The Time In Utopia

Aloha! I wrestled with how to put into words the Utopia that was my week last week, but it isn't as easy as it would seem. Toddstock was - well - oh how can I even come close to expressing it?

Todd has a song called Cliche' that he wrote years ago, a beautiful ballad, where he repeats the following line:

"Where are the words? Where are the words? Where are the words?"

I could just stop right there, but I know you guys know me better than to just leave it there, so I'll try to hit some of the highlights at least.

First to explain some of the great stuff Todd and his bride of 10 years, Michele, provided for this affair in Kauai. They've got 5 acres of beautiful, rolling land with a view to kill for. Their land rolls down into this valley with a river that runs to what is pretty much a private beach.

Now I see why he scolded me for calling it his "yard."

Todd & Michele provided a big food tent, complete with full kitchen, food and drinks. They had two bars on property. They even brought in a masseuse who had her own tent so people could get their weary bones worked on without leaving the property. And their house! Oh my, the house! I wish I could show you what I mean, but naturally, we faithful aren't going to post any pictures that might give away the secret location and cause a security risk. So until I get some go-ahead to post photos of the house or any from the property itself, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be choosy about what I can show here. Sorry, but my Toddly is important to me and I don't want you guys to go all postal on him (okay, y'all are okay, it's just that guy you hang around with who doesn't bathe, has a limp and scratches his face all the time that I'm worried about.)

After travelling all day Monday (and I mean ALL day), we arrived in Kauai and headed off to find our rental house, something called The Waterfall House. And here's why!

That's the Hawaiian way - no one wears their shoes into any one's home. I'm sure there is some spiritual explanation for this, but the practical reason is because they've got this red dirt that absolutely won't come out of or off of anything it gets on, so it's just the right thing to do.

Even though it was something like 2:00 am to our bodies, that didn't stop us from wanting to go check out what was happening over at the Toddstock Camporee. Off we went, like little virgins, all atwitter to meet other like-minded Toddheads, get a gander of Todd's house and property, and hopefully hook up with something alcoholic, because eleven hours of travelling and only a couple of hours of sleep just doesn't take the edge off enough.
The cute memory of that night came when I was waiting outside an outhouse (that Todd had constructed), chatting with some friends, when a male voice from inside said "Mel? CruiserMel? Is that you?" I didn't recognize the voice until out stepped Bobby Strickland, a sax player who I had interviewed on RundgrenRadio a couple of months ago. It was funnier than how I just wrote it.

I have few other memories of that night, but I do know we shut the place down around 1 or 2. This would become a pattern.

Tuesday, we got up and gasped at the beauty which was our rental house and it's surroundings. Our house rocked! Avocado trees, mango trees, and species of flora and fauna I'd have to look up in a book to tell you about. This was in our yard, people! Avocados! Can you imagine?

Before we knew it, it was time for three of the six housemates, including myself, to do something touristy. We headed off to a tour of the Fern Grotto. The little boat trip was cool, because we passed people on the river kayaking and doing some kind of standing on boards and paddling with long sticks. Groovy. Once we got to the Grotto, CruiserMel channelled Elvis and couldn't stop singing "In the Grotto" (Ghetto) to the point where I'm pretty sure some others wanted to kick my Texan ass. So I sang even louder. The lack of sleep was kickin' in and the punchies were in full tilt boogie.

After our tour, it was over to the Camporee, where I'm not kidding here - over 100 tents were set up, maybe more. The food & dining tent was huge. The fans had built, under Todd's supervision two tiki bars, one for beer and one for martinis. If you wanted anything else, you were on your own, but CruiserMel decided to partake of Todd's famous martinis - made by Todd himself! And by martinis, I mean lethal doses of straight vodka shaken with ice until a thick layer of frost appears on the outside of the shaker, then strained into a glass. And because I don't know what it's for, who needs vermouth anyway? OMG, in that humidity, Todd's Tinis were a welcome refreshment.

A little too much refreshment apparently, because I found myself getting my makeout on with one of the campers. Don't look at me that way. Hey, he was the prettiest guy there! That's what matters when CruiserMel is on vacation donchaknow. Shhhhhh, I'm trusting you guys not to tell. And yep, I got even more makeout on during the week. Vacay, you know.

The next day, I realized that those refreshing bevs from the night before tend to make one want to sleep until, well, forever. However, my friend L & I had appointments at the Princeville Resort for spa treatments that we had to get moving towards, so after doing a particularly awful job at doing a RundgrenRadio update show, grabbing a couple of b-fast bars and a gallon of water, we were on our way. Lemme tell ya ladies...if you have had the year I've had (and the amount of martinis the night before) Princeville has the cure! I was a noodle after that pampering. Screw the masseuse at the Camporee, we wanted to go first class.
Wednesday night was an especially magical one at Toddstock. After cleaning up and putting on our Hawaiian garb as instructed, we drove the 1.5 miles to the Camporee and witnessed a very personal Hawaiian tradition, that I felt I was almost intruding on, but Todd had graciously wanted his friends and fans to be there. It was the house blessing and it was so cool. A non-denominational Hawaiian priestess went around the outside of the house, saying Hawaiian words and planting a plant on each of the 4 corners of the house. Then she blessed the front door, took the family inside for a few minutes, and then invited us all to step inside, where we each had to bless the house with one word that we wished for the Rundgrens' new home. My word was light. Others were equally touchy-feely until some wise-cracker said chocolaty and another used a synonym for an illegal herb. Todd thought that was as good a word as any on which to stop. After dinner, I passed out some souvenir koozies I'd made up for all who attended. It only felt natural - because the sense of community was so thick amongst the family, friends, and fans all week; I may as well participate, ya know?

And of course, I found myself drawn to Todd's martinis once again.

Aw hell - let's just say that I took up residence at the martini bar every night just to save time.

Thursday was fun. I did another radio show with Doug on RundgrenRadio from the Camporee as many folks left for a hike up the Na Pali coast, led by Todd himself. We had fun interviewing the other lazies like ourselves and the morning was glorious with the sun coming up over the mountains. Was I getting used to the Toddtinis? Affirmative. I did worry when one interviewee likened the Toddtinis to Kool-Aid at the Jim Jones camp. But only a little.

That afternoon, Keli, Kelika and I (Meli - our Hawaiian names), headed to the heliport to take a magnificent helicopter tour with Jimmy holding our lives in his hands. He was really cool and I trusted that if we went down, he'd be sure to crash us somewhere gorgeous. Here's a pic of the Na Pali coast that some Toddstockers (Toddstalkers?) hiked earlier in the day.

That night - well - I think was a repeat of the previous ones....martinis, making-out with HandsomeMan and watching Todd really enjoy himself with one too many Toddtinis. The night closed out with a rousing singalong of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Old Man River and Bali Hai, before Todd adjourned himself (and by adjourned, I mean - was led to his bed by a couple of big guys). Another one for the memory files.

Friday was filled with a tubing tour with about 20 other camporees down a lazy river through an old sugar plantation. It was hysterical playing bumper-tubes with my new friends. There were 4 or 5 tunnels, one that was over a mile long and we had helmet lights, but eventually we turned them off to experience the sensation of not moving at all, when we had actually sped up or were going the same speed as we'd been travelling all along. What a trip!

After cleaning up, it was back to the Camporee for a lovely dinner, prepared by friends and fans (as was done all week, btw) and the highlight of the week for us RundgrenRadio folks, a very special show featuring Todd, himself. Todd donned his RundgrenRadio tshirt and we had a fan-driven Q & A show session. He seemed to love it. We faithful had some awesome questions for him - not like typical radio or news interviewers. It was fantastic! That show's had so many hits that it's not just a top show on Blog Talk Radio's music shows, but made it to the top 10 shows of all! Yay Dougie! Extra Toddtinis all around. Including me. Yeah, see the pattern? I was getting better at being a functioning drunk by now.

Saturday was a lazy day of driving around the island and preparing for the big luau hosted by the Rundgrens. Hawaiian natives gave Michele a flowery headdress, lifted her up on a surf board, fanned her with palm fronds (yeah, Todd participated in honoring his bride) and marched her through us adoring fans. A Hawaiian dude blessed us and our meal and we tore into the flesh of a pig that had roasted all day on the property. It was really yummy. Of course, the vegetarian camporee attendees went into town and had Thai food instead. More for us! I think after dinner they showed the DVD of Todd & Michele's wedding, as the next day wasn't just Todd's 60th birthday, but also their 10th anniversary. Pretty cool of them to share that with us. You know what came next - Toddtinis and some lip action. Vacay, remember?

Sunday was the big day and the excitement was in the air! We'd been told that dinner would be around 4:00 so that the concert we were about to witness could start before sundown. Oh did I mention that we got to hear the band play LIVE the songs from Todd's new cd - never heard before? Hang with me and you'll get the good stuff, baby.

Fans had helped build a stage upon the infinity pool in front of Todd's house. Upon the water, folks. I wish I could show you this thing, but alas, not cool to do what I promised I wouldn't do. There was a 4 camera shoot for a DVD to be released sometime in the future, so just being part of that was kind groovy for an ex-TV/film student. Though Todd asked that they restart the first song twice, the rest was perfect! FYI - his new music is somewhat of a departure for Todd. It's called "Arena" and it's music in the style of early 80's arena rock (think AC/DC, Robin Trower, ZZ Top) with big bombastic chords, heavy basslines, long searing guitar solos and just a little screamin. Several songs have opportunities for comebacks from the audience. ("Higher, higher") I think it's quite catchy and for once in a very long time, I believe some songs are very radio-ready. (I admit, my Todd hasn't striven for commercial success in a long time, so this was surprising.) Todd ended the concert with "PARTY TIL DAWN!!!" and we did. Like that was different. Riiiight. I got my makeout on again, but HandsomeMan was MIA, so I made a better choice in MoreResponsibleCuteMan. Hmmm, we'll see.
Meanwhile, check out the tshirt artwork (which will be the cd cover).....does this man look like he just turned sixty? I think not.

Monday was when the depression began. We ran by the Camporee to say some good-byes then did more touring of the island, grabbed some souvenirs and a pizza, headed to the airport, got our upgrades for our flights and headed home.

By 1:40 pm on Tuesday, I was on the ground in Dallas trying to figure out how to retire to Kauai. Soon.

It was the experience of a lifetime, even if you weren't a Toddhead. But for this one here - I would have to say that I'd be six feet under by my own hand if I had not gone. I mean, seriously, how many celebrities actually open their home and property up to people with free reign for a week!?!?! Somebody pinch me, I think I'm dreaming!

Mahalo Todd & Michele. You were the best and bravest hosts to do this totally unheard-of thing for us. One of my favorite memories will be the look on Todd's face over and over again of a proud papa. This was HIS wish and it came true for ALL of us. Todd said during the Q & A show the greatest line: "You guys have been better than our real friends." Awwwww, Toddddddd, you're the best.
And FYI - if you want to hear more stories of Toddstock, tune in to RundgrenRadio Monday night at 8:00 pm Eastern time because Doug (Hawaiian name: Kouko) and I will be having a good time with callers relating their own stories of the Toddstock event. It should be funtastic! See ya on the radio, y'all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Headed to Paradise

Aloha, my friends!

If you're reading this, please know that I am having a Mai Tai in your honor, gazing at waterfalls, flying in a helicopter, learning the hula and the ukulele, rubbing elbows with fellow Toddheads (both famous and infamous) and enjoying some fine new Todd music - all the while thinking of you. Yes you.

Have a great week and perhaps I'll be able to update here as the week progresses. At the very least, there will be one helluva story to tell when I get back!
If you're particularly interested, I'll be an on-the-scene reporter for RundgrenRadio each day, so you can pause the music player to your right and hit the play button on the blue RR player. We'll be broadcasting most nights around 8:00 or 9:00 pm eastern time.

Mahalo, CruiserMel

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Aloha, Oy!

Aloha my chitlins! CruiserMeli (yes, that's my name in Hawaiian) is counting down the days until she is in beautiful Kauai! Lemme explain.

As you know, Todd Rundgren rules. Right? RIGHT?

Well - you tell me how many celebrities open their residential property not only friends, but to fans for a week? Granted, it's for a couple of special occasions: 1. Todd's turning 60 next week. 2. Todd's long-awaited new CD will be debuting shortly thereafter and it's rumored to truly RAWK.

But come on - allowing the faithful (and hopefully not nutso) fans to flock to your own private sanctuary? For a week?

Did I mention that they are allowing the flock to actually camp on their property? (Heh, I called it a lawn to Todd's face a couple of months ago and he corrected me by saying "It's 5 acres!" to which I quipped - "Well, in Texas, that's a lawn." - but I digress.)

Don't be looking for blog entries about CruiserMeli getting her camping merit badge though. Hell no, I'm going in style and renting a house - I'm no dummy - a week on the ground? Get outta here.

The week will be capped-off on Todd's b-day with Todd and his band playing songs from the new CD LIVE - for us! For us! ON THE LAWN! (acreage. Evs.)

Todd and his wife will be feeding us, entertaining us, and putting up with us for a week! I can't begin to understand what's come over them.

Am I going? Duh.

I've got some stuff planned (boating, helicoptering, tubing, spa-ing) and some lovely time of non-planned stuff, like hanging with a bunch of the enlightened ones who actually "get" the whole Todd thing. To say I'm excited doesn't come close.

I'm so excited my hula's already got a shake in it and I'm ready to get lei'd!

More to follow so stay tuned. Get it? Tuned? Music? I'm so funny I'm crackin' my coconut bra!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I'm Not Excited Or Nothin'

Lookie where I'll be in a coupla weeks. I am so not diggin' the wait...