New England's Hilly Lands

April 11—After Long Silence (Way Up North)

by Lenny Hughes

W.B. Yeats said, “Bodily decrepitude is wisdom,” so I must be very wise.

Actually, I've just been very lazy: I've neglected to write, even when I have gone on the Road. Though at home, I did some plumbing, car repair, tax filing and of course, my obligatory cat duty. But I apologize for not writing since our Florida romp.

We ended that one in Stuart, birthplace of John Bowman. He's still on sabbatical now, but we'll drag him back on the bus in the Fall.

We miss him, but I'll bet John doesn't miss slogging through this dreary winter. Naturally, no one hates winter more than does Lewis Black. As he approached us in Chicago, you could see the disdain in his face under the late February sky.

Lewis in Winter
Lewis in Winter

On our way to Peoria, we adopted our old buddy Jeff Stilson to open for Lew. He's been fantastic and the crowds love him. Jeff has a grand resumé, having worked with Chris Rock and written for Letterman, among other endeavors. Last week, I brought up my all-time favorite line from Letterman's old Top Ten Lists, and Jeff modestly confessed, “That was mine.” (What are the odds?!)

Jeff Stilson in Peoria
Jeff Stillson in Peoria

That weekend, we also hit the FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, and the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

At the Michigan, my Washington Post comrade Allan Lengel dropped by. He now works at Deadline Detroit, an on-line paper out there, and he filed a cool little piece on Lew's performance, recalling the 2016 show where some Trump fans became irate.

We also got to see our pal from Springbrook High, Cary Engleberg and his lovely wife Suzy. He is a specialist in infectious diseases with the University of Michigan.

Our pal Cary Engleberg
Our pal Cary Engleberg

It's been an Old Home Tour recently.

Down in Florida, we were granted audience with our zany musician friend Rick Redcay. And we had a nice visit from Dave Peace and his lovely wife Carol. Dave recently retired as a medical illustrator at the University of Florida.

Zany Rick Redcay
Zany Rick Redcay
Carol, Lewis, and Dave
Carol, Lewis, and Dave

While the tour hit the midwest without me last month, Lew saw our pal Helenann (Hooser) Klukowski (who is still married to Springbrook alum Alan Klukowski). She sent me a bizarre photograph: Lewis in elementary school—as a Cub Scout!

Lewis said his unimpressed mother told him, “That's the last uniform you'll ever wear.”

And she was right.

Lewis' Troop
Lewis' Troop
Lewis the Cub Scout
Lewis the Cub Scout

Meanwhile, I missed our Pennsylvania raid, as the guys slouched their way toward Bethlehem, with stops at New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Hershey.

I re-joined the show the next week, and we did a quick turn through New York State, from Tarrytown, through Port Washington, Troy and finishing up in Englewood, New Jersey.

On that tour, I discovered where Lewis gets his remarkable amount of energy. We stopped to do a promo for a couple future shows, and he demonstrated for Ben's camera how he hooks up to a Tesla vehicle-charging station and zaps it right into his neck.

Shocking.

Charged up
Charged up

I managed to avoid the following two weekends of shows, which included a return to the Illinois area as well as St. Louis, Cincinnati and Elkhart, Indiana.

I came roaring back last weekend, and we finally got a new shipment of Bobbleheads, which sold like hotcakes, thanks to Stilson's taking up the Bowman tradition of introducing them to the fans from the stage.

Jeff introducing the Bobblehead
Jeff introducing the Bobblehead
Lewis Black Bobblehead
Lewis Black Bobblehead

We started out in picturesque New London, Connecticut, and Lew—familiar with the town from his Yale days—immediately struck out for Kamp's Hot Dogs. As if they'd heard of his love for healthful culinary delights, they had posted an ad for the Garde Arts Center show right in their front window.

“Oh, God—get a shot of this,” Lew told me, pointing to a menu item featuring a burrito made with SIX EGGS. We passed up the temptation, and stuck with dogs.

Hot doggin'
Hot doggin'
Window shopping
Window shopping
Lite fare
Lite fare

Next show was in the great town of Northampton, Massachusetts. I hit a couple fine used bookstores, the Raven, which has been on Old South Street since 1993, and Tim's Books, which opened on Main just last year.

We landed at the Calvin Theatre, where we encountered a quick snowstorm during the load-in.

Northampton City Hall
Northampton City Hall
Raven Used Books
Raven Used Books
Tim's Used Books
Tim's Used Books
Calvin Theatre
Calvin Theatre

It was reunion time for Zeke there, since he's lived there before, and some friends and his entire family came to see the show.

Last stop: Rutland, Vermont, after a beautiful, winding drive along country roads. We lit up the Paramount Theatre, a glamorous 1914 converted movie/vaudeville house.

Rutland Skyline
Rutland Skyline
Rutland City Hall
Rutland City Hall
Paramount Rutland
Paramount Rutland

Lew was especially animated during the “Rant” finale, when someone revealed that Vermont public schools have substituted “proficient” and “non-proficient” ratings for traditional grades.

“NO!” Lewis shouted, even taking off his glasses to stare down the audience, as if mere anarchy had been loosed upon the world.

“What do you do?! Send them off to college WITH A 'PEEEE'?” he screamed, and the audience erupted with laughter.

Glasses off
Glasses off

The Old Home Tour continues this weekend: after Marietta, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, we end up on Sunday at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Maryland—close to Silver Spring, where Lew and I endured those early years at Springbrook—and not far from where I still live.

“Surely some revelation is at hand.”

Your pal,
Lenny