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When In Rome (Roam)

The Taste Of Omaha 2005


By Bonnie Borgh, Cindy Bryant, & Kimmi Wright



Bonnie: As some SLASH most of you know, I have seen David perform once (if not twice): as far North as Lake Superior, Wisconsin; as far South as Biloxi, Mississippi; as far East as NewYork City, New York; and as far West as Los Angeles, California (North-South-East-West).

Cindy: Wait a minute….That’s Herman’s Hermits!

Bonnie: In nineteen years of "Monkee Shines", Cindy and I can now say that we have seen David perform in one time zone whilst we were sitting in another.

Cindy: Giving a whole new meaning to “across the pond.”

Kimmi: The Santa Maria sailed in and gave tours of the ocean front.

Bonnie: It all began on May 31 when Kimmi and Cindy met me for lunch at Lunardi's in Davenport. We tossed around the idea of traveling to Omaha on Saturday, June 11 to see David perform at the "Taste of Omaha". Craig had surfed the web and found their official website with lots of information about the festival. It would have been ideal for Craig, Hannah, and I to go as a family since there is a great zoo (Henry Doorly) in Omaha, but our fellowship committee at church had been asked to help with an ordination banquet on Sunday, June 12. It was an obligation we needed to keep, and that's all I'm going to say about that! Craig said he would stay home with Hannah on Saturday. They made plans to go to a free lunch (courtesy of Craig's eye surgeon), see the movie "Madagascar", have dinner at "Texas Roadhouse", and visit Border's bookstore. Cindy and I just needed to be home around noon on Sunday so that I would be able to help at the church at 3:00 pm. Ironically, Kimmi and her friend, Lori, had already made plans to be in Omaha that weekend for a Renaissance festival. Kimmi said she and Lori would meet us (at the dock of the bay) before the show.

Cindy: There was no way I could go. Work has been nuts. One day I work 13 hours and the next we are sent home early. As much as I hate the thought of passing up a day spent with Bonnie and Kimmi, not to mention a Close Encounter Of The Jones Kind, I didn’t see how I could go. Plus, these days I have to choose my shows carefully. Gone are the good old days when I could walk miles and stand for hours waiting for a show. But on the Tuesday before the show which was on a Saturday, I was called into work at 3am, after 3 hours sleep, for the 5th time in three weeks so on my lunch break I called Bonnie and said, “Pack your bags…. I’m getting outta Dodge!”

Bonnie: It would seem the "Taste of Omaha" was absolutely free. There was a phone number listed on their website to call for information. I called the "Heartland Park" to find out about seating arrangements (knowing it would be difficult SLASH uncomfortable for Cindy to stand for any length of time). The woman I spoke with transferred me to a man named Michael Mancuso (who unbeknownst to me was the head of entertainment). He explained that the stage was set up right alongside a lagoon SLASH pond. He said there were rocks to sit on, however, we were free to bring lawn chairs. Unfortunately for us, he estimated the closest seat was actually about one hundred to two hundred feet away. He explained there were boat rides available. He said there would be lots of food, wine, and beer (all of which was immaterial.) Thinking if we actually wanted to see the concert, I said, "So it's like, bring your own gondola?'" He provided me with information about how to get there and where to park. Afterwards, I spoke with Cindy and relayed the information I was given. We realized the likelihood of actually having any sort of "Close Encounter of the Jones Kind" would be next to nil. We decided if we were going to go, we would send David flowers. At least if we were not able to see him, he would know we were there to support him.

Cindy: It is sort of our M.O. We flower and run. I just don’t believe in hunting the poor man down and would rather just leave a little surprise for him to let him know we were there and leave the rest to him. I know that sounds hard to believe since the harder we try to stay out of the way the more we seem to run into him but it’s the truth.

Bonnie: I called Michael Mancuso back the next day and said that my friend and I wanted to send flowers to David. I asked if there was a location we would be able to have them delivered to. He said David would be arriving on Friday (June 10). He said he was not able to divulge his hotel information (no problem), but I would be welcome to send them to his office. He said he would make sure he received them. I said that would be absolutely wonderful. He gave me his address, and I said the flowers would be arriving on Friday. After work on Thursday (June 9), Cindy stopped at her local floral shop in Muscatine to order the purple flower arrangement. The note, which accompanied the flowers, read: "So close and yet so far away. We always thought you walked on water, but we did not realize this concert was 'across the pond'. Would you like to join us for fish and ships? Please call (He's got our number!) to turn this moat around! Love from the two purple dots somewhere out there." We figured when David saw the stage arrangement, he would get it; Davy always gets it! At 5:00 am on June 11 I departed Bettendorf, and promptly at 6:00 am I picked up Cindy in Muscatine. There was a good chance of rain SLASH thunderstorms for Saturday. Other than watching luminous cloud formations, the trip to Omaha was right on schedule and virtually uneventful. We arrived in Omaha approximately 11:15 am. (Omaha holds such wonderful Monkee memories for me. It was there on July 10, 1987 that I had my first Close Encounter of the Jones Kind at a booksigning.)

Cindy: How many times our paths crossed before we actually met in Chicago!

Bonnie: Our Map Quest directions were very helpful, and we found the Heartland Park without delay. It was a bit questionable as to where to park to avoid any strain on Cindy's arthritic knees. However, we found free parking in a nice location. Armed with my telephoto camera, lawn chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen, crocheting materials, etc., we ventured off to find "The Mutual of Omaha" stage.

Kimmi: Heh, Map Quest was a great idea! Wish I had thought of that! And the sun screen!!

Cindy: Amazingly, with rain everywhere in the forecast and a few ominous clouds we never saw more than a drop or two on the road and by the time we got to Omaha it was a picture perfect day. I heard someone say that they had predicted over an inch of rain by noon and yet the skies were blue.

Bonnie: At approximately high noon, we found the said stage. Cindy and I set up camp in a little semi-circle cement pier. It was very sort of like a half-moon shaped area directly in front of a little lighthouse. It was unquestionably the best "seat" in the house albeit easily fifty to seventy-five meters from the stage. At approximately 12:30 pm, I told Cindy I was going to take a (ten minute) hike around the "moat" to make sure it was the stage where David would be performing. There were several sound SLASH light technicians already on the job. I said, "Excuse me…Is this where 'Davy Jones' will be performing tonight?" A man replied to me, "Yes it is." I said, "It's at 8:00 pm, right?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Will they be doing a sound check?" He said, "The band might do a sound check, but 'he' won't." I tried not to roll my eyes. I thought to myself, "We already know that stars never do sound checks."

Cindy: I have faced that scene before! Right, Jon boy?!

Bonnie: I inquired about the band (Fishheads) performing at 3:30 pm. I said, "What kind of music is that?" One man replied, "Rhythm and blues." I thought, "That would be okay." Another man replied, "Reggae." I thought, "That would be okay, too." I thanked them for their time and went on my merry way throughout the grounds.

Cindy: What a lovely way to spend the afternoon! Lots of great music! It really was very good. Omaha has a wealth of talented musicians.

Kimmi: Indeed they do! While you were kickin’ back to Marley, I was enjoying the best Renaissance Group ever…………….. The Jolly Rogers! RRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bonnie: The Heartland Park was a very lovely setting with carnival rides for children and a myriad of ethnic food vendors. (Food glorious food!) Of course, to buy anything, one needed to purchase tickets. For $5.00, you could get eight tickets. I thought, "This is going to be a math game, and I forgot my calculator." I strolled by a booth where a man was giving away free copies of the newspaper. He said, "Do you read the 'Omaha World Herald'?" I said, "No, I don't live here. I live in the Quad Cities." He said, "Do you read the 'Quad City Times'?" I said, "No." He said, "Me neither. I used to work for them. Where do you live?" I said, "Bettendorf." He said, "No wonder…" I'm not exactly sure what that was supposed to mean, but I took a copy of the newspaper thinking it would give me something to read whilst Cindy and I waited for the show to begin.

Cindy: I can just hear Ken sighing at your food dilemma!

Bonnie: There were nice restroom facilities at "Rick's" (cafe) close to where the Taurus was parked. I thought, "I'm not using those Porta-Potty's." I grabbed some frozen water out of the cooler in the car and headed back to our campsite. As it was lunch time, I found a ticket booth. I paid $10.00, and I was given sixteen tickets. I noticed most sandwiches were between six and eight tickets. I bought two cheesy brats for Cindy and I at six tickets each. In other words, we had four tickets remaining. When I returned to our campsite, it was almost 1:00 pm.

Cindy: I laughed to hear an older man standing near our camp explaining to his wife that The Monkees were performing there that night. I grinned and he saw me. “What?!” He asked. I smiled and explaining that not all of the Monkees were performing.

Bonnie: Just as we had settled comfortably to eat our lunch in the warm sunshine with the cool mist of Old Faithful in the distance and the smell of dead fish from the moat, I noticed an entourage appear. Although the size of a pea from our vantage point, there was David. He was unmistakably carrying his briefcase along with Dave Robicheau carrying his guitar and Aviva Maloney with a little bit of everything. Once again, Cindy and I concurred how stars just never do sound checks.

Cindy: Absolutely! Well, almost never…. right, Jon boy?

Bonnie: With my 300 mm lens, I could see David was wearing a nice pair of Levi jeans. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the spray of the geyser to spot it. David performed parts of "It's Nice To Be With You" and "She Hangs Out". Meanwhile, Cindy crocheted her doily while I perused the paper in search of an article featuring the "Taste of Omaha". I should have paid greater attention to Hannah's Curious George book where Curious George made little boats out of newspapers. We thought David would appreciate a fleet. Unfortunately, we missed the boat again when we thought how appropriate a motorized vessel would have been to send a "Message In A Bottle" across the pond. We could just hear David sing any one of our numerous requests: "Ferry Across The Mercy", "Misty", "Sunshine On My Shoulders", "Michael Row The Boat Ashore", or "Smoke On The Water". Cindy and I had passed numerous boats in tow along I80, and we contemplated re-routing one to Omaha. We sure could have used one there. Of course, there were the $2.00 gondola rides which breezed by the stage. For private "cruises", it was $15.00 for a couple or $10.00 for an individual. Also listed was an "extended cruise" for thirty minutes for $35.00. Sadly, I think those excursions were by prior appointment only, and just the $2.00 rides were operational.

Cindy: Sitting there with the sun frying our brains as well as our skin, we thought of many inventive ways to get David’s attention. I remembered the wet suit we had used once before to “get it” and imagined the look on David’s face if, in the middle of the show, Bonnie’s head popped out of the murky water and she handed him a note with a request on it. How about a floating armada of paper boats? Better yet a remote control boat!

Bonnie: David and his compadres left around 2:20 pm at which time the "Fishheads" (who waited patiently in the wings) assembled on stage. They performed a variety of songs whilst Cindy and I continued to roast in the sun. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. During the time the "Fishheads" performed, a sound SLASH light technician I recognized on stage earlier approached our cove. He propped his foot up to check out the acoustics of the equipment. I wondered. He returned sometime later, and I said, "Excuse me. Do you know Michael Mancuso?" He said, "Yes I do. He's my boss." I said, "We sent flowers to David yesterday. Would you know if those arrived?" He said, "Oh, I would have no idea, but I'll tell you who to ask. Tracy would know. She is in the show office." He gave me specific directions on how to find her. I said, "Okay. Thank you." He came back again and asked if I had found out about the flowers. I said, "No, but I was thinking I might. Would you want to give me those directions again?" He was very kind, and I set out on a journey to find Tracy. Along the path amidst hundreds of people, I passed a man with an elaborate camera. Alongside him was a neatly dressed man with a cell phone. I heard him answer the phone, "Mike Mancuso." I thought, "Of course it is! Who else would it be?" Since he was clearly on a phone call, I did not want to interrupt so I continued on my quest. When I reached the trailer where the show office was, I spied with my little eyes 'Mike Mancuso'. I said, "Excuse me…are you Michael Mancuso?" He said, "Yes I am." I said, "I'm Bonnie Borgh, and my friend and I sent David flowers yesterday. Do you know if they were delivered?" He said, "Yes they were!" I said, "Awesome! Thank you!", and I promptly turned around. I thought, "Cindy is not going to believe this!" What are the odds? It was close to 6:00 pm when the thought of food seemed quite appealing. I purchased another sixteen tickets and selected barbeque beef sandwiches. We had four tickets left which were just enough for two bags of potato chips. I returned to our campsite to share my non-celebrity close encounter with Cindy. At approximately 7:00 pm, Kimmi and Lori arrived at the park after a difficult pursuit to find available parking.

Cindy: Poor girls had been at a renaissance fair all day living primitively in costumes that had to have been designed by men in the 90-degree heat! The middle ages were not woman friendly!

Kimmi: Indeed they were not!! That was by far the warmest faire I have ever been to. I was dehydrated for 2 days after that.

Bonnie: Thanks to cellular phones, we had arranged to meet at the ferris wheel.

Kimmi: Yeah, ferris wheel.

Cindy: God bless cell phones!

Bonnie: However, I did not realize there were two ferris wheels on the grounds. Kimmi said they had to park in Minnesota, and they actually found Cindy before they met me at the ferris wheel I had been positioned at. (I thought Kimmi was probably riding it!) After escorting them to the ticket booth to purchase tickets for water, I showed them where some "modern" restroom facilities were located. Thanks again for the tissue, Kimmi!

Kimmi: A renny goes prepared! (Actually it was just luck that I had them) You’re welcome!

Bonnie: What’s a “renny”?

Cindy: Duh! Someone who attends a renaissance festival!

Bonnie: They were quite relieved to have two "front row" chairs reserved for them as they had had a long day at the Renaissance festival.

Kimmi: I collapsed in the chair and relaxed in the bright, burning sun. It eventually went behind the trees. I love trees!!!!!!!!!

Bonnie: At 8:00 pm, we saw David appear in the distance wearing a long-sleeved burgundy shirt with black trousers. At approximately 8:15 pm his time (7:15 pm our time) he took the stage after an introduction as "The Ayatollah of Rock and Roll."

Cindy: The Wha????

Kimmi: And I did not recognize the person that was introducing him! Davy mentioned that they did not care for the airlines. We assumed their flights must have been mixed up. Hope to see you next time, Loafy and Sandy!

Bonnie: Using my 300 mm lens, I noticed there was something wrong with the picture. Mark Clarke, Sandy Gennaro, and Dave Alexander were missing. I called Janet on my cell phone. Besides being in "Roam" (Or was it Venice?), I was down to one bar left on my battery. At least Janet heard David's opening line and "I'm A Believer". David began the concert by saying something to the effect that in all of his years of show business, he could finally say he could see Davy Jones' locker. He also referred to the aesthetic water as a "moat".

Cindy: Smelled like a cess pool! Thoughts of us simply walking across that stagnant pool to hand David a note crossed my heat-addled mind! Where was that alligator, Kimmi?

Kimmi: Lurking in The Atlantic right under my feet!

Bonnie: We thought it had to be a challenge for him performing to an audience across the barrier reef. His stage dialogue SLASH songs would likely seem as if he were talking SLASH performing with SLASH for himself.

Cindy: Maybe we could send up a flare to let him know there was an audience!

Kimmi: He seemed very lost.

Bonnie: For the record, David performed: "I'm A Believer"; "Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow"; "Valleri"; "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" (dedicated to Jack at the hotel); "It's Nice To Be With You"; "What Am I Doing Hanging Round?"; and "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" (dedicated to his mother and to all of the mothers in the audience). David commented that "his friend, Renee" was selling t-shirts and memorabilia somewhere out there. There were a lot of people in and around the vendor area, and we had no idea where she had set up the merchandise table. David continued with the song, "Girl." David talked about wearing hand-me down clothes as a youngster, and how his raincoat buttoned on the opposite side. In fact, he said, his trousers zipped at the side. He asked his Dad, "What am I supposed to do with this?" David's Dad replied, "Be like Elvis, son, 'swing it'!" It's always nice to hear new material. "She Hangs Out" and "I Wanna Be Free" followed. David began "I'll Love You Forever" by dedicating it to all of the girls who had his picture on their bedroom walls. He also dedicated it to a good friend and his wife from Omaha who he said were in the audience. Then, a completely unexpected dedication followed. He said, "This is for the two girls under the lighthouse." I thought to myself, "The two girls under the lighthouse? What two girls under the lighthouse?"

Cindy: Huh? I must have been dozing! I missed the lighthouse remark.

Bonnie: When I heard "Bonnie" (or is that Bahnknee?), I realized, "Cindy and I were 'the two girls under the lighthouse'!" Cindy said David said, "I see you…"

Cindy: He did and the tone was…I know you don’t think I do but I do!

Bonnie: I returned to consciousness to hear him say, "I've got her baby's picture on my refrigerator…How'd you like that?" [I remembered that I had given David a picture of Hannah (when she was eighteen months old) when we saw him in Palos Hills in January of 2001. He looked at it and said, "I'll put in on my refrigerator."] Cindy and I both humbly waved to David from across the pond.

Cindy: After the show a woman rushed up to us and asked if we were the girls under the lighthouse. She was our age but giggled like a teenager as she told us she had once written a letter to Davy Jones. These are my favorite moments at shows…. seeing the reaction of the fans who are seeing him for perhaps the first time. They are so sweet.

Bonnie: Speaking of pond, several gondola cruises sailed past the stage during the show. David had numerous exchanges with the passing "ships". For example, he asked whether or not they served food on those cruises. Actually, we wondered where Gilligan and the Skipper were.

Cindy: We could have dressed like pirates (Kimmi and Lori were already dressed appropriately), commandeered a gondola, and sailed to the stage…

Kimmi: All you had to do was ask!

Bonnie: The thought had also crossed my mind earlier in the week about renting a wet suit and watching the show from a much closer range. I had my swimsuit with me as well, but I'm much more comfortable in chlorinated water than in fish-infested lagoons.

Cindy: I knew it was a good idea!

Bonnie: Kimmi had also reported that there was an alligator loose somewhere in Omaha. You never know, you know. Memories of David in "Scooby Doo" where the moat monster appeared also danced in my head. "Happy is the secret word, and if you're happy it will get you through…" David continued with "Papa Jean's Blues"; "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"; "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"; "Daydream Believer"; "I'm A Believer" (repeated); and "No Time." Sadly, the concert ended about 9:20 pm. Kimmi and Lori had decided to drive home to Des Moines. Cindy and I had thought we would drive to Adair (about half way between Omaha and Des Moines) and stay there for the night. We had all agreed to get a "little late-night snack" there. Unfortunately, the nightlife in Adair was pretty dismal. Kimmi and Lori opted to drive straight home.

Kimmi: I got home, showered, snarfed down some sketti and hit the sack! I love my bed!

Bonnie: Cindy and I figured we would drive as far as Des Moines (half way home) and find lodging. Thanks to those wonderful discount travel guides, we found a coupon for Super 8 for $44.99 at about 12:30 am. There was a Perkins' restaurant about two blocks down SLASH up the street. (I'm not sure what direction we were going at that point.) We were both hungry and tired. The dilemma presented itself again about what to order at such a late SLASH early hour.

Cindy: Again a vision of Ken shaking his head…maybe it was a heat stroke….

Bonnie: A listing read, "Can't make up your mind?", and I chose an appetizer sampler plate with deep fried onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, etc. Cindy referred to it as a "heart attack on a plate". What did you order again, Cindy? It was a healthy-start breakfast; wasn't it?

Cindy: Well, healthier anyway. I had an omelet. I am not so confused about when you can eat breakfast!

Kimmi: Good job! You make me proud!!

Bonnie: We got to sleep about 2:00 am, and we were up bright (I think it was mainly from the glow of the sunburns we had) and early at 6:30 am. We departed Des Moines at approximately 8:30 am. Our drive home was a leisure one. Cindy and I collaborated ideas about our latest adventure. I dropped Cindy off in Muscatine approximately 11:30 am. I had enough time to stop and visit my parents in Walcott on the way home. Craig, Hannah, and I arrived at our church in ample time for the 3:00 pm ordination service and cheerfully served (and cleaned up for) over two hundred guests for a sit-down banquet dinner. Nothing was going to ruin my Roman holiday! It's true we weren't in "Roam" anymore, but I just couldn't "get off the Venice thing". Come to think of it, hearing David play was much better than being serenaded by an Italian playing a violin any day.

Kimmi: It was a good time but there was obviously something missing from the show. Better luck with those flights!

Cindy: I got my cell bill and it turns out I wasn’t Roamin’ after all! I told you I was Scotch SLASH Irish!

Bonnie: I’m German SLASH English.

Cindy: It was good to get away after the month I had previous and the month I had after at work. A Monkee trip with friends is always a good thing! By the way I was so burned that I burned through the gauze top I was wearing over my tank top and I glowed for two weeks! Ouch! Until the next time……