Planning Ron-Kon II
I had written at length about my friend Ron Kane and his death last November 30th. I had been ready to fly out to see him on December 1st of last year as his decline was such that he was unable to be moved from his rehab hospital to a hospice facility due to the fragility of his health. I had to cancel my flight and use the cost of the ticket within a year. There were rumblings earlier this year about the notion of a get together for all of his friends to celebrate his life, since there had been no funeral or indeed, any sort of closure to his death.
I had kept in contact with his friend Mark Moerman and in April he had discussed a meeting of Ron’s friends, but details were slow to filter out. Much of this activity had worked out on the Ron Kane “Arcane Mysteries” private Facebook page, which I do not participate in [I’m violently allergic to Facebook or other social media]. Finally, it was decided that an event called Ron-Kon 2 would be happening this summer. The first Ron-Kon has been held in one of Ron’s favorite cities, Portland, Oregon, on the event of his fiftieth birthday in 2008. Strangely enough, that had marked the first time I had actually met with Ron after 23 years of long distance friendship and regular correspondence. The second Ron-Kon would be happening the last weekend in July; more or less at the time of what would have been his sixtieth birthday.
As I had already spent the cash [that I didn’t have] for my ticket the previous year, I was definitely going. I had thought last winter that I might use the flight money for a trip to Chicago to see Shriekback in June, but we all know how that turned out. My friend chasinvictoria had known Ron through me almost as long as I had since I was quick to hip him to the legend that was Ron. Since he regularly visited Los Angeles to attend Doctor Who conventions over the last 20 years, he had many opportunities to meet up with Ron, in addition to the first Ron-Kon – which he and his wife attended along with us as well as Mr. Ware’s family. It was Mr. Ware who told me shortly after we met in 1985 that I “had to meet this Ron Kane.”
When chasinvictoria celebrated his 50th birthday in 2012 in Atlanta, my wife quickly coordinated the guest list and lodgings for many in a home we had rented near the crucial Little Five Points district. That was where we had seen Ron for the second time in addition to Mr. Ware and his family, who again made the trek. By that time Mr. Ware’s son had developed into a serious crate digger himself to our mutual delight. With Ron-Kon II looming, I confirmed that chasinvictoria would be attending and Mr. Ware quickly followed suit. This was crucial to me since he had been my entrée to the World of Kane. My wife found us a great guest home in Santa Monica and we were set for the event.
But this wouldn’t just be a bunch of people getting together and shopping for records, though that would have to happen for us to honor Ron’s memory in any significant way. The linchpin of the event would be a concert given in Ron’s honor with his many friends playing music from the recently released Ron Kane tribute album, “The Record Man.” This was first proposed as a song originally posited as a cheer-him-up for a convalescing Ron by his friend Bob Gaulke; a New York based musician and producer. As these things do, it expanded into an album with many of the musician friends of Ron adding their songs inspired by him to the mix. As 2017 moved forward, this activity was underway for many months and then when Ron died before it was finished, it became a tribute album.
As we approached zero hour, the details finally firmed up and there would be a concert with several bands and musicians performing Saturday the 28th at Brennan’s; a pub in Marina Del Rey. Then, on the next day, Rockaway Records; the L.A. record store that had been selling off Ron’s substantial collection of 30,000 items (many of which were staggeringly valuable) would host a similar show with Bob Gaulke talking about the project beforehand. There would be trips to record stores proposed on a tight schedule, but given the need for disparate musicians to rehearse 6-7 songs that they had never played together before – with musicians whom they had never played with, these too, scaled back with the final schedule being a trip to Rockaway for shopping on Saturday at 11:00 followed by a trip to his friend Warren Bowman’s home. Anything else we’d have to do on our own.
As Warren lived in L.A., he had been able to contact Ron’s closest relatives, who were dealing with his estate. Ron’s house was filled to bursting not only with records and CDs, but also books, videotapes, audio tapes of every stripe, Sony minidiscs, DVD-Rs, CD-Rs, and eclectic ephemera. We had all wondered what would happen to Ron’s many belongings that were not going to be re-sold at Rockaway. Mr. Ware was aghast at the thought of all of this material ending up curbside since only a trained eye would see the value of a Split Enz promotional mirror! Warren finally told us that he would be hosting a “Ron Swap Meet” at his home on Saturday afternoon where his friends could take any mementos away with them.
Apart from that, the musicians performing at both shows needed to rehearse and a studio had been rented for Thursday and Friday nights to facilitate this. I set up a rental car which the three of us would share. Since Mr. Ware is a keyboard man, he was conscripted into the Record Man Orchestra. We would need to get him to the nearby rehearsal studio for 10:00 pm – 12:00 am on Thursday and from 9:00 pm – 12:00 am in Friday.
I am not a musician but I had dozens of videos that Ron had sent me over the years. There were a couple of videos that I needed to share with the Ron-Kon 2 participants. First and foremost of these was the 12 minute short “Swingers Load.” Ron had written and starred in that with his friend Rick Snyder. Rick has an artistic pedigree of his own. Captain Beefheart fans would know him as “Midnight Hatsize;” the bassist on “Ice Cream For Crow.” In the short, the two played hopeless losers trying to link up with a pair of ladies; played by Ron’s then-wife and her friend. It had been made by Warren, who is an editor of film and television. As Ron succinctly put it, “Swinger’s Load” was “… a porn movie with no sex or nudity!” If you ever laughed at the two “wild and crazy guys” in the early days of Saturday Night Live, then you would sort of get the picture.
Ron had also sent me another unfinished video called “Pompadour Hell.” He only wrote the script for this one; a tale of a white trash California youth whose lifestyle of auto parts, bowling, and hair salons came to a bad end when his pompadour was cut off – much like Samson’s fate. This one had the feel of an early John Waters movie filled with obnoxious characters and had been made as a student effort.
Better yet, I had found two short documentaries on Ron that Warren had shot in the ’87- ’90 period on this tape in question. One of these was concerned when Ron had lost his job of over 6 years and was unemployed for the first time in his adult life during 1987-1988. Warren had shot lots of amazing footage of Ron in his natural environment [work, rest, and play] and this was an invaluable peek into the 30 year old Ron at a happier time in his life.
The second one detailed the day-to-day life of Ron and his then-wife as they had moved to Bath, England to run a CD/Record/Book/VHS import business for a year. If only all of us had friends in the entertainment industry to create and leave behind such videos when we were gone. Only in L.A., folks! I digitized can these and burned them to DVD and brought along a stack for distribution to one and all at Ron-Kon 2. Here is the tale of this most fascinating trip.
Next: …Walkin’ In l.A.