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1998 Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Catalina

Les Paul Catalina
Riverside Red
Exceptionally Fine
A few years ago, back in 2009, Lee and I were attending the Charlotte guitar show and as a late birthday present (the dude was born in June), I managed to get two tickets to see Chickenfoot that Friday night. Our seats were 7th-row center, so when I told him of my plans for the evening, let's just say that we were both fired right on up. We got to the show early and you have to remember that this was back during the time when we would document everything for the Elk Diaries on our website. We'd take pictures write stories about anything and everything, much to the amusement of the many members of the Elk Nation. Those sure were simpler times, indeed...

Back to the Chickenfoot show. Lee and I were hanging out in the concession area before the show when we spotted a young lady sitting alone at one of the tables. Now let me first say that being guys, a beautiful woman sitting alone at a table would be the perfect genesis for one of our kooky stories, so it was me that walked over to her and asked if we could take her picture. Yes, as I write this story, the memory of her was that she was gorgeous and for the picture, a pink GrinningElk babydoll was promised. She would be a featured chapter in the tale of our Chickenfoot experience that hot August night, so I took a couple of pictures of her, told her the name of our website and said that the story of our evening would be up sometime the next week. Little did I know I almost wouldn't live to see the next day.

After the opening band was through, we headed back out to the concession stand for a cold beer and a smoke because they both seem to go well with outdoor, hot-as-hell concerts. We were headed back to our seats, on the wide-ish path behind the seats where the people were kind of crammed in tight, walking in a slow shuffle and holding our beers. Now coming straight towards us at a fairly quick-ish pace was this guy and he was pulling a girl behind him. Coming straight through the crowd. Because I was walking and talking to Lee behind me, I saw him, but I didn't see him if you know what I mean. I was just moving along when he rolled right up to me and ladies and gentlemen, this dude was not happy. He stood about 6' 2", had a shaved head and was rockin' about 7% body fat. The crappy jail tattoos on his arms (which looked like ripped steel cables to me) immediately indicated that he had just been paroled from a quadruple homicide sentence. Yessir, at that moment, I mentally named this guy "Violent Ripping Death" and as my life flashed before me, I strangely regretted making my little brother eat a mouthful of dirt when I was about 7 years old.

He leaned over me. "You takin' pictures of my girl?" he snarled. I was about to stammer an answer when he repeated the question, this time with a little flying spittle for extra effect. "I said, you takin' pictures of my girl?" he repeated and knowing that my life was soon to end for just trying to get a story for our website, I took a deep breath and said, "Hold on brother we have a company and a website and I did take a picture of your lady but she was going to be in the story but if you don't want us to put her on there it's no problem no problem and all and dude I'm sorry it won't happen again I wasn't hitting on her I just write stories for our website and please don't kill me I know you've already killed other people man I'm sorry I just want to see the show." Or something to that effect.

The guy leaned over me for a third time and growls, "Show me your card." Now in my heightened state of distress, those words didn't register. I was only thinking that this must be what a journalist in a war zone must feel like right before a huge bomb lands on their head and blows them to bits. "Show me your card," he yelled and by now, a medium- sized berth had been given to us by the crowd. They were going to see a murder and extra entertainment is always best when it's free, right? I reached into my wallet and handed him a business card. He snatched it out of my hand and as he was looking at it, the girl behind him said, "See? I told you they were doing a story." Little did I know, Lee was standing right behind me with a drinking straw in his hand. He would later tell me that he was going to shove it into the guy's eyeball if he grabbed me or attempted a decapitation. For a few seconds, nobody said a word.

The newly-released ax murderer foamed, his face an inch from mine, "She ain't gonna be in no story or no website. You better go shoot pictures of somebody else," and with that, turned and dragged the girl away. As they were leaving, she looked back as if to send a silent plea not to let her be taken away by death cable arms prison murder thug, but there was nothing we could do. In fact, there was nothing that I wanted to do more than go find my seat, sit down and forget about my very recent brush with death. Sammy Hagar and his red Les Paul helped make the evening a little easier to take, but the memory of this event is still with me today, as you can see. Or, to put it another way, "Dayum, that was close..."

After we returned to the Elkcave, we did write the stories of that weekend. I was tempted to put the girl on our website anyway and write about near-death experiences and the terror of coming face to face with a "released waaaaay too soon" death adder, but in the end, I decided against it. I merely deleted the pictures of the girl and wrote about the show. It's still on the Elk Diaries page of our website entitled, "Charlotte, 2009- The Show" and my relegation of that evening was brought to you all merely by opening a guitar case and seeing this red Les Paul inside. Ain't it strange how certain things can bring back a memory? Maybe one day, I'll see a tye-dyed guitar and that will lead to a whole 'nother great tale involving mushrooms, a pet monkey and getting carjacked in the parking lot of the Paul Bunyan motel in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

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