It's 4:26am as I type this - here, I sit in a Cleveland hotel room, thinking of my family and how I actually got here in the first place. I do what I do both for and because of my family. Little did I know that becoming a father would become a source of so much adventure (personal and professional), and that it would all make for the best gig in the world (being a Dad) - one filled with little side gigs like the one I'm on today. I'm in Ohio as a Brand Ambassador for Step2 - one of the biggest American toymakers there is - and it's all because of one special girl... and the two special girls that we created together. Fifteen years ago today... August 7, 1999, my wife and I were married. It was just two years prior that we'd gone on our first date - and a mere three months after that when we'd become engaged. Then, on August 7, 2009... our 10th Wedding Anniversary, I became "The Rock Father" when our first daughter, Adalyn, was born. Today, our first little girl turns five!
When we kicked-off our first-ever family road trip earlier this month, my wife and I did a fantastic job of keeping our destinations largely a secret from the little ones. In fact, they only knew of one stop (Chocolate World), and that's because Addie caught me looking at it on the computer prior to our journey. The centerpiece of our trip was kept well under-wraps, and keeping it a surprise until we entered the gates was completely worth it as the reactions were priceless. After spending the night in Philadelphia, the family and I headed for Langhorne, Pennsylvania - home of SESAME PLACE - the Nation's only theme park based entirely on SESAME STREET.
When I last paused my story, we'd arrived in Philadelphia on nearly no sleep after our drive from Chicago, but with two girls that were ready to roll. We'd stopped by the DoubleTree Philadelphia, but knowing how early we were, as expected, our room was not yet ready. Fueled only by coffee, we set out for Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell to jump right into that true Philly experience. Being a Sunday, we were ahead of the crowds, and managed to stop by Carpenter's Hall and the Betsy Ross house as well...
Around 30 years ago, my parents took my sister and I on a road trip to Washington, D.C. Along the way, we stopped at several locations in Pennsylvania, making memories that have lasted a lifetime. With our girls hitting two and five this year, my wife and I decided it was time for our first family vacation - and as such, it was to be a road trip. We plotted several potential courses, with the Philadelphia area set to be the focal point and ultimate destination for a couple of reasons. First off, we were going to finally take Sprout up on a long-standing offer to stop by the Comcast Center and see Chica at the Sunshine Barn during a visit to the set of THE SUNNY SIDE UP SHOW. Second, we wanted to head for Langhorne to visit SESAME PLACE. During our planning, we attempted to pack in as much as possible, with potential stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, West Virginia and Cincinnati on the chart. Instead, we strategically plotted our trip to be centralized in PA - visiting some iconic locations in Philly (but scrapping the Sprout visit), our big trip to SESAME PLACE, a visit to THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE in Easton, HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD in Hershey, and a swing back through Ohio to visit my friends at SMUCKER'S on our way back to Northern Illinois.
It was probably around 11:30pm on the night of January 27, 1994. There I was, a seventeen-year-old headbanging television host, standing in the midst of unexpected destruction - the aftermath of a concert which should've never taken place in this particular venue, The Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa. Whoever decided that it was a good idea to hold a rock show featuring WHITE ZOMBIE, PRONG and THE OBSESSED in a seated, classical theater with no standing room was undoubtedly in deep trouble - and I was right there in the middle of it - looking up from the ground floor as a faint cloud of dust could be seen still rising into the lights from above. To one side there were security guards and theater staff, bewildered by what had happened. On the other, a group of Police Officers equally puzzled. Directly next to me and a friend were members of the evening's headline act, WHITE ZOMBIE. But Rob wasn't there.
Over the past 22+ years, I've had the privilege of photographing some of the biggest names in rock - among them, some of my favorite bands. These days, however, it's a very rare occasion to find me in the pit doing a show as the photo side isn't really my thing at this point. While I don't have the high-end gear on-hand like I once did, occasionally something will pull me out of my self-imposed hiatus - armed with a DSLR and a few lenses to capture and share an experience through my own eyes. This weekend, that happened. Of all the places, ROB ZOMBIE set-up shop just down the road from my house - a significant occurrence for several reasons, and because of that, Mr. Zombie will be getting his own feature here on THE ROCK FATHER in just a few... but in the meantime, I wanted to share a collection of photos and a few words about the artists who played with him on July 19, 2014 at Austin's Fuel Arena on the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, Illinois - part of a massive event staged by FM Entertainment and 95 WIIL Rock. STONE SOUR, THEORY OF DEADMAN, DEVOUR THE DAY, THE LAST VEGAS, WILSON and CILVER.
In keeping with the illusion of the "Rock and Roll Lifestyle," I could tell you that last Thursday night, I drove into Chicago proper, where I spent the evening having drinks with a group of lovely women, admiring the city from atop its highest rooftop lounge, after which I got home late and woke up the next morning at the crack of 10 wearing the same clothes from the night before. At face value, that doesn't sound like a fitting scene for a married father of two (especially me), but it happened - all in the interest of the greater good - and that's my work. I don't usually talk about the business of digital publishing here on THE ROCK FATHER, and there's a couple of good reasons for it - most notably that my regular readers wouldn't be interested (too many bloggers blogging about blogging, and I don't really "blog" at this point), and I don't like to share my playbook with the world. But here I'm making an exception, because last Thursday was Mode Media's first-ever Chicago gathering, and Mode helps fuel THE ROCK FATHER. I'm a Mode Publisher.
November 7, 1985. I was just two weeks past my ninth birthday when my Dad and I hopped in the car and headed north to the Rosemont Horizon for THE WRESTLING CLASSIC, a WWF pay-per-view event for the newly-launched WRESTLEVISION service. It was there that I witnessed some of the true "legends of wrestling" live and in-person... and I can still vividly recall those larger-than-life figures like The Iron Sheik (who entered with a giant Iranian flag), Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Junkyard Dog and Nikolai Volkoff, all flying from the ropes and hitting the mat hard. This was at that time when Sports Entertainment was really becoming a huge deal, and it was something that families would enjoy together, kids would discuss at school, and "Hulkamania" would become widespread while Hogan and others began appearing in cartoons, in movies, recording albums, and selling a ton of action figures. Nearly 20 years later, history is repeating itself... but on a little different level.
Ah yes, "This Sign of the Horns." Whether you view it as a "nod to the goat," "metal fingers," "rock fingers," or even an "homage to the beast," one thing is certain - the horns go together with rock and roll - and metal - like peanut butter and chocolate. Many, like myself, have adopted the horns as a sign of approval, a friendly gesture to signal that "all is well," or even in the chosen phrase of Pharrell Williams, that you're simply "happy." But they need to be done right. A misplaced thumb can easily shift the horns into "I Love You" territory (sign language) or into the Spider-man web-shooter realm. One thing that everyone can agree on? That throwing up the horns just makes everything better... especially pictures! You see, I have a long-standing habit of tossing up the horns on virtual film, so when another "stay-at-home-dad" started getting coverage on sites like Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post for throwing up the horns in photos of his baby, I heartily approved. But then, being a guy known as "The Rock Father," everyone and their brother started hitting me with the link. "Have you seen..." Yes, I've seen it, and it's been shared and re-shared dozens of times around groups that I've joined, and websites that I frequent. There is nothing innovative about throwing up the horns, nothing unique... but it is special. It just makes the world a better place, and whether its a "Metal Dad," a "Rock Father," or anyone else for that matter, horns are a good thing. That said, I decided to go back, just into 2013, and pull photos mostly from my Instagram account, to show just how the horns can make any picture better.
Here's the deal: Crowdfunding projects (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc) being featured here on THE ROCK FATHER has been sort of an issue these past few years, so much so that I've had a few people try jamming them down my throat for potential coverage to the point where I decided that "crowdfunding is not news." In fact, I have said many times that "no matter what the project, at the end of the day, approaching me to post a 'news item' on a Kickstarter (or similar) effort is asking me to help someone that I don't know ask other people (my readers) for money." So I don't do it anymore... unless I get paid to do so. But tonight, I'm going to break my own rules (something I can do since I own this joint), and I'm going to post about a crowdfunding project, a "Pledgemusic" campaign, to be specific - one that I was never even pitched - just because I want to. NERF HERDER is on a mission to make a new record, and YOU should be a part of it.
During the course of my career, I've had the good fortune to have met, and in some cases, worked with some of my favorite artists and performers. I've been able to meet and witness live performances from my top four bands of all-time - FAITH NO MORE, HELMET, PRONG and CLUTCH. I did a music video for FEAR FACTORY... spent a Halloween with SLIPKNOT in Las Vegas... and have crossed paths with more filmmakers and actors than I can count. Over the past few years, something interesting started happening as I switched gears and became more deeply connected to family entertainment... and it all makes an important connection to my own childhood. I've started meeting monsters, particularly those known to populate a certain magical street... SESAME STREET.
The 2014 Rock Father Tour hits the road and takes to the sky again this week, as I head back to the West Coast on another adventure. One of the best parts of my job is a side-gig that I've had with PBS as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent). Having written about PBS programming for quite awhile before we made any kind of formal connection, it's been a real honor to work the the folks from PBS KIDS over the past two years, helping to spread the word about quality, educational programming. Last year was the first year that I'd been invited to attend the PBS Annual Meeting (then in Miami), and this year I've been invited back, as we "get the band back together" and hit the streets of San Francisco to get the rundown and game plan for the next year of PBS programming and events.