Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Friends

I've been cleaning out the closets - opening boxes and sifting through a lot of old papers. Having collected casino items for thirty years now, you can imagine that I've met a lot of people in the hobby. Some of them I met at collector shows, like the one that the chip collectors club CC&GTCC puts on. Others through my ads in Coin World and Numismatic News in the early 1980's.

I was living in Sparks, NV and trading with a few local fellows when I got a letter from a guy in New York. We traded a couple chips, and then we exchanged phone numbers. Amazingly, the next week this dude with a heavy New York accent told me that he was going to be in town. Well, it seemed a bit strange, but I gave him my address and sure enough he showed up.

The night he arrived, there was a loud knock on the door, and I was greeted by a tall fellow with a bit of a crazed look on his face (yeah, kind of your typical chip collector). He was very friendly, but I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head. We talked, and I showed him a few racks of trader chips and he picked out a big handful (we had no price guides, no idea about scarcity or worth - we just collected, and it was great).

Now my new friend, Bruce Landau, kept talking while looking at the chips he wanted, and then he fished into his briefcase and came out with two stacks to match the one stack he had picked, and said, alright - lets trade your stack for my two stacks. Done deal.

He was generous, funny, and even more of a chip fanatic than I was. Bruce worked for Bogen photo (Vice President of Sales & Marketing) and had a show going in Las Vegas, but he flew the 450 miles to Sparks & Reno to see me (and I imagine Howdy Herz and a few others). He made me feel special, and not so silly for collecting chips.

We saw each other at chip shows, and he dropped by my house on a regular basis for twenty years - a good friend. I found some pictures and his business card and a couple letters with some items I saved to trade him while I was cleaning. We never got to make the last trade because he passed away a few years back.

A lot of the joy of collecting went with him, and I miss the big guy. When he visited, he liked to tease my daughter and tell her he knew me before she was born. She now has a daughter of her own.

I haven't been to a chip show for a couple years. Guess I need to get out more.

I've been doing more writing, and reading. In fact, I just finished Clapton: The Autobiography, and I have to say that I enjoyed it - but this guy was stoned and drunk for half his playing career. Jeez, I though Mickey Mantle was an alcoholic!

Clapton was a bit of a loner and solitary child, and attended the Kingston College of Art until he was tossed for not finishing his work at the age of 16. He worked for his grandfather as a gofer on building sites, and taught himself to play the guitar. By the time he was 21, he had been in five bands, including the Yardbirds, the Bluesbreakers, and then Cream. He was also considered a bit of a legend already due to his influence with local enthusiasts who had never heard a mix of sounds like Clapton played - Jazz, blues and rock and roll. There was no Internet, no Youtube, or eBay to bring new sounds instantly to new locations.

As it turned out, Clapton was an amazing player, and his early work certainly spiked the interest of many listeners. By the time he was playing as Derek and the Dominos, he was having trouble staying sober and staying motivated to play any type of "pop" music. The only studio album by the group was Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. It was released in 1970 and went nowhere.

When Layla was released two years later as a single, known then as a Clapton work - it sold briskly and had a lot of air play. Why this is important, I don't know.

I just enjoyed reading the book -

On the down side, the final 100 pages of the book could have been called "my life went on, I was in and out of rehab, and I slept with every woman I found attractive/available, and did I mention that I was drunk all the time."

Yes, it gets a bit dull near the end. But still, worth the read.

What have you folks been reading? Have you considered my book The Roots of Reno?

Thanks for reading - Al W. Moe.


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