Jackie Mason 

One Night With Jackie Mason The after-hours clubs that were tucked away in the hidden alleys and basements of Philadelphia’s Center City in 1964 resembled the Speakeasy era. Jackie Mason and I had hit about a dozen or so of them and were heading back to the Jersey side of the river on our way to a much-needed breakfast. It had been a long night. My club date had gone well and, at Jackie’s invitation, I had caught his second show at the Latin Casino in Camden where he was appearing with Eddie Fisher. At the time, the Latin was the largest free-standing nightclub in America with an audience capacity of some 2,200 and every seat had been filled. Jackie was in fine form that night and Eddie...well, it must have been his stoned period, as he blew lyrics all over the place and his sense of time was non-existent. On the other hand, it didn’t seem to matter much. The crowd adored him and as long as he could make it through “Oh, My Papa”, all was forgiven. After the show Jackie introduced us. He seemed like a nice enough guy but I doubt he’ll ever remember the encounter. As Jackie and I traversed the labyrinth of the Philly club scene I marveled at the seemingly endless parade of his avid fans who materialized from the darkness. If he didn’t sign over 500 autographs he didn’t sign one. I mean the guy was hot! I imagine that hanging out with Elvis would have been similar, proving the old adage, ” Any publicity is good publicity”. For those of you who don’t recall, Jackie had been propelled into the national spotlight as a result of his infamous “finger” episode on the Ed Sullivan show. The impact on the public was phenomenal. I never saw anyone cause that much excitement by just showing up. I, however, was quickly beginning to feel like the Invisible Man. O.K., so the guy was a hit; what am I, chopped liver? The Golden Steer in Cherry Hill was jammed and, in the company of a star or not, we had to wait our turn behind the velvet rope to be seated. We were both hungry, a little spacey, and becoming impatient when a loud joyous shriek cut through the late-night cacophony...The charging form of a water buffalo morphed into an old Jewish lady who screeched to a halt scant millimeters before the velvet-rope barricade. She shoved her meaty bejeweled finger at my face and literally screamed, ”Oh, my God! It’s Ari Dane! I saw him in the Catskills, by the Pines!!!” Jackie took this in, smiled, and said with his trademark accent, ”Lady, he’s been waiting for you all night!”

The Jerry Cole Tribute Show 

The Jerry Cole Tribute Show and how I came to be there: I just posted the video of my performance at the Jerry Cole memorial show which was held at the LA Baked Potato a few months ago and it’s placed me in a reflective, stream- of-conscious state of tumbling memories. My stand-up and lyrical improvisation can be seen on the video and although technically the sound leaves more than a bit to be desired, if you listen close (ear phones help), you’ll get the idea and should enjoy the show. Performing is one thing…what got me to the point of being there is another. Being there to honor the memory of my friend was a long road and I’d like to share a few of the highlights of the trip. For me to do that…we have to step into a flash back mode… Once upon a time… Janet (my wife) and I were living in Las Vegas. One night in 1978 I was invited by my friend Cork Proctor, one of my comedic idols, to accompany him to the MGM Grand to catch a singer and comedian by the name of Donnie Brooks…Ah…excuse me… I must digress…I told you this was “stream of conscious”… I said Cork was one of my “comedic idols”. He still is. To see him on stage when he’s on a roll is a thing to behold…It’s not that he doesn’t have tons of set material…he does…but he rarely uses it. He doesn’t need to. Not when he can walk out on stage, have something catch his attention that sparks something within his vast store of eclectic knowledge and then… watch out! Instant killer routine. I was performing in downtown Las Vegas at the Four Queens one night and as usual was closing with my signature improvisation. I had already thanked the band and was about to wrap up my show when from out of the darkness a huge moth flew across the stage and my face. I reacted by plucking it out of the air in mid-flight. Trust me. No one was more astonished than was I. Hmm…OK…so there I was in front of all those people with a huge moth in my hand. What to do? Well…the band was still playing so I improvised a lyric something to the effect of, “Everyone and thing should be free.” I released the moth into the light… it took flight… and…when I tell you that the crowd erupted with a spontaneous burst of applause and a cheering standing ovation that still echoes and reverberates to this very day…cross my heart…and hope to…and as I made my way off stage and floated into the club… feeling oh, so smug and full of myself for having created this…this...incredibly magnificent and magical theatrical moment out of a chance encounter with a wayward moth…when… I was confronted by Cork…who put his hands on my shoulders…looked me dead in the eye… and said… ”I can’t stand a guy who uses fucking props!” Anyway, Cork told me he had heard a lot of good things about this guy Donnie Brooks and…wow…talk about living up to a rep! Donnie put on a dynamite show. Not only was he a great singer who did all his hits like “Mission Bell” and “Doll House”, but he was also funny as hell. He knew every classic joke that ever was and had a great sense of play and timing and without question he was one of the most confidant and out going performers I ever had the pleasure of knowing. We became immediate and fast friends. The stories I could tell you about Donnie could literally fill a book. (But since this is a “blog” and not a “book” I’ll try to marshal my thoughts.) He was one of those larger than life characters and just the act of writing this sentence unleashes a flood of recollection…we shared road trips, countless shows, nights of black jack, laughter and… a few fights (the most memorable in the main room at Bally’s with a few drunks after a Mac Davis show) and…hell…you get the idea…we were tight… It was through Donnie that I first met (among so many others) Jerry Cole and one other great talent…Al Wilson. Al was one of those performers who just never, ever missed. He was nothing if not a perfectionist and it showed in every aspect of his work. From the individualistic sound of his voice to his great choice of material to the way he dressed and carried himself. Al was text book showbiz and the kind of act that others in the business could look up to as an example of what to do right on stage. At one point in the late eighties or early nineties (It’s late and I’d have to look it up), Donnie hired me to write scripts for two shows. The first was at Bally’s and was called “The 30th Anniversary of Rock n’ Roll”. It was pretty much a straight ahead variety show with Donnie as the MC/host and a cast of r&r acts like Mitch Ryder & Leslie Gore & the Tokens & the Rivingtons & Bobby Day and of course...Al Wilson The second was at the Las Vegas Hilton and was called “The Super Hop.” This one was an entirely different matter. “Super Hop” was a full blown musical comedy with a terrific band and dancers and it had a ”Back to the Future” kind of feel. What a cast! Brandon Scott played the part of a guy who puts a coin in a slot machine, wins a T Bird only to discover that the “T” stands for Time machine” and is transported back to a malt shop in the Fifties where, with the help of the owner played by Al and a spinning magic juke box, he meets his all time favorite rock ‘n roll stars like Donnie Brooks, The Diamonds, The Chordettes, and Wolf Man Jack… When Al first saw the script he got real nervous and said he wasn’t sure if he could pull it off…I told him, “Get over it. You’re perfect. Just do it.”…man…the first day of rehearsal rolled around…Al walked in…not only did he know his own lines…he had memorized the ENTIRE script! Like I said…the guy was a perfectionist and the show was a hit. Jerry Cole was the musical conductor for both productions as well as the oh, so, many shows that he and Donnie and Al and me along with so many talented others played in almost every venue you can think of. From trade clubs to conventions and private dinners and parties and arenas and stadiums and theaters to Fairs and bars and clubs and main-rooms in Las Vegas and Reno…Jerry provided the musical glue that held it all together. He was a superb musician and guitarist who was proficient and comfortable playing in every style imaginable with credits for his recording dates reading like a Who’s Who in Showbiz…from Nancy Sinatra to the Beach Boys to Roger Miller to a ton of surf records as well as being the musical director for the TV show, “Hullabaloo” and…hell… do yourself a favor and “Google” this guy and see what you come up with…a lot! Matter of fact, while you’re at it…look up Donnie Brooks and Al Wilson, too…there are worse legacies to leave than music that makes you feel good! During the time I knew Jerry, I had a fair amount of work writing special material for corporate-world clients like Mobil Oil and Prudential Bache and Lipton and BMW, etc. and there were occasions, when budget would permit, I would hire him to help produce these various recording projects. The way it worked was… I would write the songs and then play them for Jerry. Now, I’ve been playing guitar since I was seven years old and…with all due modesty…I ain’t that bad…and Jerry would listen…take my guitar…immediately play it back with his vast improvements and technique…smile…and say…”Is that what you meant?” Yeah, Jerry…that’s what I meant. And I mean this too…guys like you and Donnie and Al were very special people. Thanks for the friendship. Thanks for the laughter. Thanks for the music. Ari Dane




©Ari Dane 2004

                                    Eleven o'clock on a cold Valentine's Day night.  Time to hang it up and crawl into the preheated comfort of our electric blanket, perchance to dream and then, "That was our last cigarette..." 

                                    Hmm, one more reason to quit.  O.K...so I put my Valentine's card where my mouth was and silently bemoaned the fact I didn't have another trick up my sleeve like the last time she announced I could either go to the store or clean the barbeque grill (an odious task she knows I particularly hold in disdain) and...hee, hee, hee...boy, was she surprised when I opted to clean the grill because, as I later revealed...hee, hee, hee...I had already cleaned it the day before...hee, hee, hee.  But, alas, I was out of maneuvers in this particular game of marital chess and, what the hell, since it was Valentine's Day, I re-dressed, braved the night, started humming "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette", drove the few blocks to the Chevron station and pulled up, not next to the pumps, but rather in front of that small cinder block, bunker-looking building of last resort euphemistically referred to as a mini-mart, turned off the ignition and eased out between the door and the ten-feet-tall display of leftover wilting bouquets, candy, cards, banners with pictures of hearts and Cupids, and dozens of purple and red balloons all proclaiming “Happy Valentine's Day!”

                                    Considering the hour and amount of available merchandise, I assumed this particular attempt to cash in on the holiday spirit had not been what you might term a resounding success.  Then again, what do I know?  Maybe it was their second or third batch. After all, it was Valentine's Day and, according to rumor, there's an awful lot of romantic people in Burbank.

                                    I took my place at the end of the line of waiting customers, stood witness to and was duly impressed with the be-turbaned and thickly-accented East Indian clerk as he handled each transaction in a polite, smooth and efficient manner, attending to change, receipts, and punching in the appropriate instructions to the pumps outside, all within what seemed but a scant moment: a good- looking African-American fellow dressed in a shiny double breasted suit, black turtle neck sweater, shaved head, gold earring, and movie star sunglasses plunked down twenty dollars for fossil fuel, turned to leave then quickly spun around, produced another five dollar bill and purchased a pack of Juicy Fruit gum; a young mother in torn jeans, old sweatshirt, hair in curlers, and two cranky little kids in tow purchased fifteen dollars worth of gas, Snickers, Mounds, Mars candy bars and a six-pack of Pepsi (no wonder the kids were cranky!); a biker used his credit card to fill his Harley; and yet another guy, obviously on a frantic last minute mission to impress some young, waiting object of his fancy, with an armful of flowers, candy, cards, and purple and red balloons all of which proclaimed "Happy Valentine's Day” from the aforementioned display. 


                                    As his last Valentine's Day sated customer headed out the door, the clerk turned his attention to me.  I placed my money on the counter and said, "I'll take three packs of Kent Kings, please."

                                    He reached up to the shelf above his turban, filled my order, rang up the purchase, handed over the sack and change and apologetically said, "Here you are, sir, I am most sorry for the delay."

                                    "No problem and, by the way, I must compliment you.  That was terrific the way you handled all those transactions.  Most people can't deal with that much information.  I was watching.  You didn't miss a beat."

                                    With that, he stepped from behind the counter and accompanied me the few feet to the door where, in full view of the Valentine's Day display, he replied in his sing-song accent, "Oh, yes.  I have always taken pride in the fact that I can deal with many things at the same time.  Many, many things.  Sometimes, ten, twelve, thirteen, fourteen different things.  I keep track of them all.  I always pay attention.  I always pay attention."

                                    I made my way around the wilting bouquets, candy, cards, banners with pictures of hearts and Cupids, and dozens of purple and red balloons all proclaiming “Happy Valentine's Day” to my car and said, "I thought you did really great.  Have a good night."

                                    And that’s when he smiled, waved farewell and called after me, "You, too, sir!  Happy Halloween!"

A Toast to Ocho! 



By Ari Dane

Did I know the man well?

Not in number of years

Still, well enough to share laughter and tears

We’d toast glass of wine

Swap some lies and some truth

With a twinkle in eye he’d spin tales of his youth


Impeccably dressed

The man was all class

Musicians might say,

 “That cat is a gas!”



None of us knows

What lies 'round the bend

 Today we miss Ocho

  We all miss our friend


How he loved that Jag!

He’d polish and shine

I’d always joke:

 “When you’re finished, do mine!”

Nuthin’ it seemed the guy couldn’t fix

With somethin’ he’d pull out of his bag of tricks



None of us knows what lies 'round the bend

 Today we miss Ocho

  We all miss our friend


Did I know the man well?

Not in number of years

Still, well enough to share laughter and tears



None of us knows what lies 'round the bend

 Today we miss Ocho

  We all miss our friend 

"Occult" for Halloween 



Happy Halloween my little (and not so little) creatures of the night...boo


© Ari Dane 2007

 I’ve never seen a ghost

or got a message from the dead

I’ve never seen the future

when the Tarot cards were read

I’ve gone through life undaunted

Never haunted in my sleep

Never battled with a demon

or heard a banshee wail and weep


I’ve never met a ghoul

who was wracked with the desire

to suck upon my neck

like the Dracula vampire

I’ve yet to meet a witch

who might fill my heart with fright

or a man who changes to a wolf

when the full moon’s shining bright


Tho Edgar Allen Poe’s

my favorite bed time story

I’ve never witnessed anything

so bloody or so gory


I’ve never known the horror

or experienced the chill

of a Phantom of the Opera

or a house like Amityville

I’ve never known a mummy

or an ancient voodoo curse

“Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble”

is just a nonsense verse


I’ve never seen a poltergeist

who’s presence made me shrink

The only spirits I have known

came in a good stiff drink


Houdini hasn’t called me

neither has my uncle Fred

They’re either much too busy

or, when you’re dead,

you’re dead


It’s hard for me to buy these tales

My life is undramatic

I write my words deliberately

They’re never automatic...


just in case these guys are right

Those who claim that they’ve been through it

If the I.R.S. should audit me...

I’ll say,

the devil made me do it!


Who killed the Ballona Creek ROCK PEOPLE? 


Who killed the Ballona Creek ROCK PEOPLE?


Not those kind of guitar slingin' Rock People who write Rock Operas...

I mean, we're talking real rocks here!



I alternate my daily walks between Dotweiler Beach and Ballona Creek.

Joggers, cyclists, fishermen from the bridge spanning the Creek, low swooping pelicans, seals and sea lions following the sport fishing boats in and out of the adjacent Marina Channel are all part of the scene...





As has oft been said, "People sure do a lot of strange stuff"...One day in mid-walk I noticed something different. Someone or ones had, at the creeks' rocky edge, gone to an awful lot of trouble to place several rocks on top of each other to create a sort of crude yet natural sculpture. Not once. Dozens of times. 


 The effect was pretty cool  and over the next few months I was kinda' tickled and amused to see the prolifiration of the Ballona Creek ROCK PEOPLE as they stretched for several thousand yards up the length of the creek. In a city where the usual public expression of art is to spray paint something, what a nice change of pace to see folks spontaneously get into a fun,and playfull simple artistic expression.

I even told myself little stories as I passed by them: How at night, when nobody was looking, they could walk and dance and make cold, icy love and that's where all the little pebbles came from...and...yesterday... when I was on my walk...

Oh, No!!!... This just can't be!!! ...They were knocked down and strewn about and returned to the creek-side rubble from which they had arisen.





I mean...hey...maybe it was some sort of official Beach & Harbors reason or some naturalistic cult of efete art critics called the Mayor to complain about using creek rocks without a permit or something ...or,...more likely...some jerks just like stomping on a dream and can't stand for anyone else to enjoy something nice and creative...It's not news LA is a tough place...but...to kick down several hundred yards of creek-side delicately balanced rocks that form a several meters long assembly and display of ROCK PEOPLE...why...that's just mean and nasty for no good reason.

 Sure wish Columbo was still around...




Ari's Birthday Blues 


(Sing the blues, now...)

Today it was my birthday

Can you imagine that?

 I guess I'm feeling older

It's cold, I need a hat...

I got the blues...

(one more time...you finish it...)



Seasons Greetings from the Danes 

Dear One and All,

'twas not without regret

I had to make you wait

And yet

and yet

and yet

I still... procrastinate...


Pointed line, comedic barb


Tried and true material


Perhaps to wax poetic

Brilliant metaphors,



How to say what has been said

Combinations and… mutations


Not too far from theme


In some rhyming scheme


Best, I guess, to shout it out

The thought is all it is about

Be it Hell


Be it Heaven

Have a GREAT

Two Thousand & Eleven!!! 

What? ...You were expecting Hallmark?


 Seasons Greetings

Ari & Janet & Roxy Dane





Dear One & All,

OK...so I can see by the ol'TV that the weather pretty much sucks no matter where you live and so I don't realy expect much in the way of sympathy for the last few miserable, rainy beach days...gloomy...starin' out the window at a stretch of deserted, sandy beach and sullen, grey sea...got me thinkin'...



c. aridane 2010

 As I pondered weak and weary

Thinkin’ about Old Tim Leary

Was there something he did know?

Shared between himself and Poe?

 Other than a sense of dread

Other than they both are dead

Other than what’s plain to see

Psychosis and some LSD

 Both can get the walls to  wavin’

Roads to hell in need of pavin’

Don’t ask me, I ain’t no maven’

Go and ask the fuckin’ Raven!


Ari Dane

Ari Dane

Ari Dane

Ari Dane

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