Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 Tribute Special Pheaturing John Berenzy

Ten years ago today the single largest terrorist attack in history occured when four commercial jetliners were hijacked, two of which slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Another plane was crashed into the Pentagon. 2,915 people are killed in the attacks, coordinated by Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden. The civilized world is horrified; especially after seeing footage of Palestinians celebrating in the streets. For the first time in U.S. history, all flights are grounded throughout the country. All major government facilities are evacuated as well as many local facilities. The federal government uses this sneak attack as a pretext to crack down on civil liberties, in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act and similar efforts, which continue to this day. This is the Phile's tribute to that day. It'll be fun and serious, and will be dedicated to all those that were lost. Please enjoy.

Hello, and welcome to the 9/11 Tribute Special of the Phile, everybody. I called in sick to work with a migraine on September 11th, 2001 and when I was laying in bed, my wife came in to the bedroom and told me a plane crashed into one of the twin towers. I thought it was just a small plane and not a passenger jet. I turned on the TV, and even though I felt sick I watched "The Today Show". I couldn't believe it when another plane hit the second tower. Being the most gullible person on the planet, I thought, man, what a coincidence. A terrorist attack was the last thing I thought of. Then work called and said they were going to give me an authorized day off as everybody was being sent home. We'll talk more about 9/11 in a bit, but let's talk about what else is going on. Apparently, Mitt Romney is planning to build a huge addition onto his beach house in California. And here’s the cool part: They’re using the same wood that they used to build Mitt Romney. I read that a man from Illinois discovered $150,000 in his garden. Did you hear that, President Obama? A man from Illinois actually grew the economy. A woman in Alaska punched a bear in the face after it threatened her dog. Or as Sarah Palin put it, “Teach me, sensei.” George W. Bush’s niece was married last weekend. The wedding was rodeo-themed, just like Bush’s presidency. A woman in Buffalo set a new world record for eating 183 buffalo wings. I don’t think there will be a second date. A Southwest Airlines passenger was arrested yesterday after he refused to turn off his cell phone during landing. He was taken from a Southwest flight to jail... or as most people would call that, “an upgrade.” In a new interview, Joe Biden says the one thing he hates about his job is not getting to drive his 1967 Corvette. Yeah, Biden’s Corvette is pretty sweet — cherry red finish, shiny chrome rims, fully-charged remote control... A town in Arizona wants to have its own version of Spain’s running of the bulls. Right, because if there’s one thing Arizona’s missing right now, it’s thousands of Spanish-speaking people running for their lives. Okay, let's get back to 9/11. Did you see the 9/11 inspired inspirational poster?

Okay, I found some pictures of what Ground Zero looked liked ten years today and what it looks like now. Take a look.

Well, as it's Patriot Day, kids, I thought I would invite the biggest patriot ever, the man who loves America more than anyone, to talk about his feelings about 9/11. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Pat Riot: Lissen to me buddee, the whole 9-11 mess was a plot by the trilateral commision, yessiree bob, so that they could corner the market on gold and peanut farms and stick it to the common man... yazoo ba bamba! They been tryin' for a long time, big brother, and the gooberment ta take us off that gold standard and issue company script for iPods and genetically altered foods... that's what this whole mess is all about. Greedy shadow men who originally were Howard Hughes' bodyguards and now work for Dick Cheney's chain of nationwide roofing companies. They are a plant to take away our freedoms and end bra burning and a woman's right to choose. Every time they canvass a neighborhood for house painting they do racial profiling and leave Sara Palin literature and flyers for genetically altered foods, so when those A RABBS , got a coat of cheap paint on that whatcha call it... The Holy Mecca Hotel, well shiit, it just peeled off with the first dust storm and those camel twiddlers realized they been hoodwinked, ya see what I'm saying? So then the whole shebang was about to come out about the secret underground city and the aliens and listen those priests and the government been living high off the hog with private condos in the Virgin Islands and abalone sandwiches as thick as a mans wrist... there is a cut of beef even higher than prime... its called "fatty delicious" and the public never even see's it. All the inspectors take it right off the trucks and give it to their secret girlfriends, in a resort next to that communist Camp David. So any hoo, the A RABBS was just about to spill the beans and that's when Dick Cheney had the CIA blow up the twin towers so we could attack those sonsofbitches and shut em before the whole Earl Scheib we can paint any car for 29.99 thing came out. Kennedy. The aliens. The underground city. The '89 World Serie. The earthquakes. It's all connected,   you see what I'm sayin'? So anyway, those sonsabitches are into a scheme for a phony check up and teeth cleaning now and if it comes out they're gonna invade North Korea and blame it all on the Chinamen, you see what I mean? Just as clear as a baby's bottom on Sundee. Ok partner, well I gots to go, Huckabee's comin' on Fox and I hears they gonna be playin' some Elvis.

Hmmmmm. That's not exactly what I was hoping for, but there you have it. Pat Riot, everybody. Okay, let's move on. Last week I invited my good friend Jeff back to the Phile so we can talk football, so here is a brand new pheature on the Phile called...

Me: Jeff, welcome back to the Phile. Okay, here's what I wanna do... every week you come up with two teams you think will win and I will, and by the end of the season we will see who won, you or I. What do you think? Oh, and I can't choose the Giants and you can't choose the Steelers.

Jeff: Always good to be back on the Phile. I think it will be fun to write a little football every week. Especially since I am in a completely legal football pool. Hehehe. 

Me: Okay, this week I say Miami by four, even though I hate the Dolphins I say they will beat the Patriots. Also I say the Raiders are gonna win by 7. What are the two teams you pick?

Jeff: The team that I think is a lock to win tonight is the Cleveland Browns. It's not so much that they are a good football team, I just think the Bengals are such a bad team that Cleveland will have no problem beating them by three. The other game I have my eye on is Atlanta and Chicago. I say Atlanta wins by a touchdown.

Me: Good picks, Jeff. Like I know what I am talking about... Anyway, while we are talking about football, what do you think about L.A. possibly getting a team?

Jeff: Every time a football team moves to Los Angeles, they lose interest fast. Maybe cause it's usually the Raiders in Los Angelas. Part of the problem is there is so many football teams in California as it is (San Diego, San Fransisco, Oakland).

Me: Also, do you think Michael Vick deserves all the money he's gonna be getting?

Jeff: As much of a fan of sports as I am, I don't think any athlete deserves a 100 million dollars to play a game. No matter how good they are. (I am talking to you A-Roid!).

Me: A-Roid! LOL. Here's another thing, I think Cam Newton will be pulled to the bench by week 9? That guy is dumb. You have to remember plays to be a good football player, and I don't think he will be good at that. What do you think?

Jeff: Cam Newton will be an experiment in Carolina. I don't think he will be benched only because there is no one better behind him.

Me: Thanks, Jeff. I will speak to you next week when we'll reveal this weeks results and we pick two more teams. While you are here, and we are talking 9/11, what was your experience like ten years ago?

Jeff: It doesn't seem like it has been ten years since 9/11 happened. There are few things I remember as vividly over these ten years as I do that day. The day started with me going to work and hearing in the locker room the radio talking about a plane hitting a tower. That's all they kept saying. So I thought there was an accident at a local airport. As soon as I walked out I saw a TV report just as the 2nd plane hit. I froze. By the time I got into work we were told to work like nothing was happening. The two things I will remember always will be sitting talking about a robotic dog that we were showcasing (AIBO!) and having a man completely covered in facial hair ask "Is there any way the government or military could use this?" and I was thinking to myself, "Of all the days for you to ask me that!" Then when it was announced the parks would be closing they send us out to explain to guests what was happening. Finally I broke down when a guy asked why. "Listen, there is no easy way for me to tell you this. The World Trade Center was a site of terrorists this morning" "You are kidding?" he asked me. "Does it look like I am kidding?". I went home and just stared at the news for a few hours. Finally I tried to sleep but every time I closed my eyes all I could see was the planes hitting. It was just a surreal day that I think everyone in my generation will never forget.

For the last few entries I have been showing you actual photo's of drawings that I took when I visited St. Paul's Chapel across from Ground Zero last July. Anyway, here is the last in that series to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. 

Today's guest is a talented musician from New York. His lastest album "Out of Darkness" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... John Berenzy. 

Me: Hello, John, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

John: Fine, nice to be here.

Me: Okay, as it's 9/11, I have to ask you about your experience as you are from New York. Was it it like ten years ago for you?

John: I was in a subway near the towers when all of a sudden there was a sound like
muted thunder. The subway shook in a way that alarmed me and then the train literally ground to a halt. After what seemed like longer a time then it probably was, the train jolted
to a start and we inched along to the next station where we were told to immediately vacate
the train. When I finally surfaced, I noticed everyone staring south. When I turned around, the
first tower was on fire. I was frozen in the moment along with everyone else. When the second
plane hit I was stunned. Nothing can accurately pin point my feelings. I felt for the people trapped without recourse. I watched people leap to their death. I witnessed pure heroism.
I coughed my guts out for weeks. About a year ago I was walking through the subway system
and paused to read the names of the 9/11 dead listed on the wall, one name per tile. Once again I froze in my tracks. One of the names was a student and friend, Ed Poppa. I didn't move for a long time. I thought about what a great father and husband he was to his wife and children. How he always led by example. He inspired me to persevere in my own life when the chips were down. I think about his humble sense of noblesse... oblige and I will always be moved by his quiet personification of true spirituality. I will never forget him. Or that day.

Me: Wow. Okay, I have to ask you, you have worked with lots of famous and amazing musicians over the years, but how did you manage to record and work with Graham Parker? How did that happen?

John: I had known Graham for awhile. It wasn't until I wrote,"Doin Time" that I thought of asking him to join me in a kind of joint lead vocal.

Me: I found out about you because I am a huge fan of Graham, who has been on the Phile twice. Tell the readers what was the project you worked with him on? It was one song, right?

John: Yes, again It was the song "Doin' Time". I felt the words suited his delivery. I thought our voices would convey those lyrics in a very sympathetic and honest way.

Me: And you knew him for awhile? And he knew you vice versa?

John: Yes. He knew of my involvement with Willie Deville and had a few of my CD's and my book,"Evolove".

Me: Speaking of vice versa, you recorded a song called "Vice Verses"... I know, what a horrible segue. You recorded a song called "Vice Verses", which was one of your first songs. That song was for Miles Davis, right? Did he ever know about the song?

John: It was a to, for and about song regarding Miles Davis whose work I greatly admired. It was released in 1977 right after "Piss Factory" by Patti Smith and "Little Johnny Jewel" by Television. Graham had a copy of the reissue with "Chain Reaction" as the B side.

Me: Where were you and how did you find out he passed?

John: I assume you mean Miles. 

Me: Yeah, Graham is still living... I hope.

John: I don't remember, but I do remember something Ron Carter said to me after recording "The Fireman" with me. He said,"That was Miles, all Vices and no Verses". Miles horn lines and playing space like an instrument still inform my musical life.

Me: John, where in New York are you originally from?

John: Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. I had a beautiful childhood in the 1950's, filled with wonder and magic.

Me: I lived in Port Jefferson, Long Island, John. Have you ever been out there?

John: Sure.

Me: Do you still live in New York?

John: I live upstate where all the great ghosts still "Walk these hills".

Me: You started playing music when you were 12, right? Is that when you first started to pick up the guitar?

John: I plunked a lute my grandfather gave me when I was five. Not much music I am sure, but an engraved memory to this day. My grandfather and I would listen to Django Rheinhardt. It was the first guitar sound I ever heard. 

Me: My son is 11, and is taking guitar lessons. Did you take lessons?

John: No. Although when I got farly established, I would take one lesson a year with a good jazz guitarist, like John Abercrombie, Jack Wilkens or John Scofield.

Me: You teach guitar, right? Where do you teach and how many students do you have, John?

John: I do teach for "bread and butter". I have great respect for teaching and students. I have taught my whole life... many, many good people.

Me: My son Logan wants to learn Bowling for Soup, Green Day, AC/DC and Foghat songs. What kid of music did you first start to play?

John: "House of the Rising Sun", "I Am the Light of the World" and "Twelve Gates to the City" also some blues. Most notably "Two Trains Running". Later I remember the sound of the guitar in the instrumental "Apache".

Me: Who were you into at that time?

John: Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Then the British invasion came and flooded local towns including mine. Ha!

Me: John, I think this is pretty cool, Danny Kalb of Blues Project invited you to play on a record with Clapton, BB King, Santana and Chuck, right? How did that happen, what was the experience like, and what was the record? This is a great story.

John: I had collected Danny's work on various records like "The New Strangers" with Sam Charters. I had my young ears de-flowered by The Blues Project and was very moved by Danny's rendition of "Alberta","Caress Me Baby" and "Two Trains Running". I hooked up with him when I was a student at Hartford University . I left school to tour with him in a duo setting. Later we formed a group and had two songs,"Brownsville Blues" by Memphis Willie B. and "Long Distance Call" by Muddy Waters on a Columbia House record called 'The Guitar Package" Being on the same record with B.B King, Cream, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry and Roy Buchanan was to say the least, quite an honor.

Me: And you went on tour with Eric Burden and Commander Cody? Was that your first touring experience? Was it wild, John, or boring? Did you like touring?

John: I spent all night talking to Eric about. Late night record listening parties with Brian Jones, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. We smoked out of Jimi Hendrix's pipe. He showed me Jimi's last poem. Evidently they jammed the night before Jimi died.

Me: And what's this, you filled in for Mark Knopler on a Dire Straits tour? I have that information screwed up, right?

John: Mark produced Willie Devilles "Miracle" album but could not do the tour. Willie who I had played with on the C.B.G.B scene when Louie X couldn't, asked me to do the European
Tour. I was with Willie for a year and a half.

Me: You recorded an album called "Johnny Jewel", which was the name of my sister and her husband's band. That's a great stage name. Would you ever use it again?

John: I doubt it.

Me: I downloaded your album "Out of Darkness" from iTunes and liked it. What other albums do you have out, John?

I have four CD's available on CD Baby... "Votive Light","Far Cry", "Sacred Heart"and "Out of Darkness" I also recorded a blues album with Bob Reid called "Trouble in Paradise" I have one song I am mixing in L.A. next week I did with my son Garland on drums and a fine bass player, Matt Rochio, called "Rising Son" which might lead to another CD. We'll see.

Me: Okay, I have to ask you about your book "Evolove", which I added to the Peverett Phile Book Club. When did that book come out, John?

John: In the early 90's

Me: It's a book of poetry, right? How many poems did you write, and do you still write poems?

John: I wote a second book of poetry called "Blood of the Rose". I hope to publish it soon.

Me: What made you decide to release a book and do your poems ever get turned into songs? Poems are just songs without music after all, right?

John: I didnt release the book. The book released me.

Me: I tried to write lyrics but I do not know how to write music or play an instrument so I guess my lyrics are poems. Is poetry something you do to help you relax?

John: It's more of a trance.

Me: John, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again, and I wish you continued success, my friend. Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you continued success.

John: My music is on CD Baby. You can correspond at j.berenzy My web site
is Thanks for being such a gentleman.

There you go, everybody, another of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and check out his own blogspot at Also thanks to Jeff Cameron and of course John Berenzy. I hope you liked the 9/11 Tribute entry. It was a hard thing for me to put together, trying to be funny and serious at the same time and respectful. There will be no Phile tomorrow as I have to have a procedure done but the Phile will be back next Sunday with Alumni JoDee Purkeypile. Until then, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.


Best of Buckhead said...

Thanks for a very insightful interview with John Berenzy - one of the most generous, creative and soulfully honest men I have ever known.

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