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   'Cousin B' (which is long for 'B') was born on St.
Swithins Day in 1957 to loving mom, 'M', and dad,
'R'. A normal kid growing up on Detroit's East side,
'B' attended elementary school at 'Our Lady of the
Holy Paddle' and went on to graduate from the
prestigious 'East-by-Northeast Catholic' High in '75,
(where he had been awarded a Curling Scholarship).

    Later, he went on to midnight studies at Harvard
and Yale, ostensibly by breaking into classrooms,
libraries and professor's offices. (Although he holds
no degree from these fine schools, the photos and
copied record books have proven quite profitable.)

    Then, one momentous weekend in 1977, a bizarre
turn of events unfolded.

    Cousin 'B, already on the fourth day of a
macro-biotic diet, had waited a long time for tickets
to this matinee Red Wings hockey game, and he
wasn't about to miss it.

    So it's midway through the first period when the
guy behind him decides to light up a smoke. As the
man innocently reaches for his beer, his cigarette
brushes Cousin 'B's hair, startling him to his feet.

    Just as Nick Libett's slap shot from the point was
being deflected.

    Did you know that if a puck hits you just right,
you won't need stitches?  

    Well, they gave him a free beer and a program,
and Eddie Giacomin gave him an autograph. The
team doctor said he would be OK, and just take him
home to rest, which his friends eventually did.

    After the 'Kiss/Mahogany Rush' concert in
Toledo. (On reflection, many later say, the day-old
Orange Julius and Lime vodka was, maybe not a
good idea after all.) The zombified Cousin 'B'
appeared to come back to life momentarily, but a
broken guitar thrown from the stage soon put a stop
to all that.

    They gave him a free beer and a program and the
box office manager gave him her phone number.
The Tour Manager said he would be OK if his
friends just took him home to get some rest, which
they eventually did.

    When the after-hours Hamtramck coffee house
open-mike was over.

    In later years, friends who were there have
claimed that he caught a falling pitcher of beer in
mid-air while sound asleep, without spilling a drop,
and then, waking briefly, he took the stage. After
reciting two original poems, he proceeded to play
Mozart's Magic Flute Variations on a borrowed
guitar, oblivious of the fact that he neither played
classical guitar or had ever heard the song.

    Afterwards, as he lay sleeping peacefully in the
back seat, they finished breakfast and took him
home. He went immediately to bed.

    For three days.

    When he awoke, like an epiphany, Cousin 'B'
knew his true calling.

    He would play lead guitar for the Detroit Red Wings.

    Or he would be the #1 goalie for Motown.

    The details were still a bit sketchy, but he was on
to something.

    Actually, the team, and the NHL, for that matter,
were very kind about the whole thing and even
recommended some competent psychiatrists.

    Sadly, even greater disappointment lay in store at
Hitsville, USA.

    After settling out of court and paying for the
skate marks in the studio floor, Cousin 'B'
embarked on a nation-wide search for
enlightenment, playing guitar in various ice rinks
and being arrested at various music stores.

    Finally, after years of searching, Cousin 'B'
found himself at the most difficult point in his
journey, and he ended up where all those lost souls
go when they can't decide whether to hold a guitar
or a hockey stick.

    Kalamazoo.

    There, by the Ball Family Marker in the old
Cemetery, bathed in the same moonlight as Orville
Gibson's original guitar factory, Cousin 'B' became
entranced, and soon visited by two spirits.

    No less than the all-star goalie, Terry Sawchuk,
and the French master of jazz guitar, Django
Rheinhardt, sat before him. As he stood,
dumbfounded, Django rose to his feet and walked
across, gently rounding the graves between them.
As he reached a few yards distance, he began to
raise his hand.

    "You idiot!' the gypsy guitarist sputtered in his
thick French accent. 'Sacre bleu, any one knows
you don't play guitar for a hockey team! What are
you, stupid or something?"

    Cousin 'B' just stared blankly.

    "Just a second there, pal." Terry follows the path
over to them. "

    "I think I know what's wrong"

    Suddenly the ex-Red Wing goaltender produced a
glowing goalie stick from thin air and gave Cousin
'B' a good whack to the noggin.

    "There. He was just one head shot short!"

     Metaphysically, that is. In reality, the pure
shock of it startled Cousin 'B' so much that he
simply fell back and lightly conked his head on the
unmistakle gravestone of the inventor of the ball
bearing. After a short woozy spell, his head cleared
and he stood before the two greats he admired.

    "I knew you just needed one more good whack to
set you right.' Terry added. 'You'll be OK."

    " I'm so embarrassed' 'B' muttered back. 'I've
been a stark raving lunatic for three years."

    Terry drops the stick. "You'll be fine. You just
got a little mixed up. Shake it off. You can't be
afraid to laugh at yourself.

    "And remember, treat everyone like family, like
a cousin" Django adds as they begin to float away. "
We're all cousins. You're just like everybody else.
We're all the same. We all need to learn, to think,
to laugh and cry."

    So they faded back into eternity, and the ticket
for sleeping in the cemetery was only $50.

    And to this day, Cousin 'B' remains at large,
wandering in pursuit of those lofty ideals. You may
see him in your town, playing goalie for some
pick-up game that's short a netminder at the last
minute, or singing 'Twisted' at a jam session in
some little honkeytonk. Or maybe, in the wee
hours, you'll see his blanket-clad form escorted
from a local cemetery.

    To this day, he works tirelessly to defend the
middle ground. Occasionally, he shares his music
and insights with the public. As long as you learn,
think, laugh or cry, the first joke's on him.

 

c. 2000 Pegwood Arts all rights reserved

 

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