Hanging Out in Rockford: Getting started—part two

Dawn Smolinski and I are at Kryptonite to record for the new television show that I am going to have on WQRF called Hanging Out in Rockford. We are here more on a test run than anything. “Chicago Bill” (Bill Olson), the technical guy for the Snaggs, has predicted that we will be at Kryptonite for three weeks. We soon find out that he is probably right.

When we get there, Chris is not around, so we kill time waiting for him to show. Dawn locates Reed, and he graciously lets us store our camera equipment in the office. While we are standing there, Rick Lamonica walks up. Sensing an opportunity, I proposition him about buying a spot on my television show. He jokingly remarks that it is probably time to get going. But I tell him about the show and how it is going to feature all hometown places like Kryptonite. “Good second effort,” my old boss would say. He then says that maybe it is something they should look at.

Renee Irby corners me and talks to me for about 15 minutes. Rick and Brian Campos are standing at the bar. Renee wonders out loud who those hot looking guys are. I tell her. I remember the first time Rick’s father Mike called on me at the Old Rock River Café. He was riding the route with a delivery driver. I was really impressed. He looked like the quintessential CEO of a Fortune 500 company. So smooth and well spoken. I have known Brian’s father and mother forever. I went to high school with his mom. These handsome young guys are about as close as it gets to Rockford royalty.

Dawn has charged the camera battery and is experimenting with the light level. She has already done a mini interview with Holland Zander in a back room. Holland looks, as always, very beautiful in the video. We are not going to have enough light to shoot on the floor. Chris arrives, and I tell him that I want to shoot with him and me sitting at the bar. I walk back down the street to get the lights. Then we try to set up upstairs near the sound booth, but the noise prevents us being heard. Should have brought a microphone! Oh well, that is why we came…to learn.

Back downstairs, who should walk up but Mike Dupree. He apologizes for missing us. I introduce him to Dawn. He says to call him on his cell, and we can get together. We exchange numbers by him calling my phone and storing. Ah, this digital age. Frank Schier is sitting at the bar and Larry Morrissey walks up. I am caught without lighting or sound to record this. I make a silent promise to myself that it will not happen again. Dawn wanders off to start recording the Snaggs.

J-Bird is bartending, and I give him a credit card to open a tab. I am sitting next to Eddy McCullogh at the bar and I buy him a drink. I see Cathy La Rosa and her best buddy Julie. I am all hanging out and being cool drinking Bombay and tonics. Meanwhile, Dawn is working her butt off. She is upstairs, downstairs and at one point standing on a stool by the doorman to get a better perspective. I congratulate myself on aligning myself with a person so artistically talented. She seems to be really getting into this.

Later, Dawn and I sit upstairs alone, and she shows me some of the video on the camera’s viewing screen. The footage she has gotten is amazing. I was right about her ability to move to a new medium. People who have her sense of style and art can cross barriers easily. She acts tired, and I suggest we get going. We drive back to the Rose and say goodnight. She has to meet up with her sister and we say goodbye by her car, which is parked behind The Office nightclub.

I go back into the Irish Rose. Robin, my lovely ex-wife and partner, is hard at work behind the bar. I walk over to her and tell her how wonderful the images are in the video Dawn has shot.

She says she knew Dawn would do a good job because she has wonderful visual perception. I go upstairs to my apartment and am trying to make myself go to sleep, but I am electric. I finally decide that I need something to eat to settle me down. In addition, I have forgotten my credit card at Kryptonite. I drive across the State Street bridge. I see Chris and Reed outside the bar, and they tell me they have my card inside. Inside, J-Bird returns my credit card and says that I didn’t have to come back, that they would have taken care of it for me. I reply that I was going to South Main Street anyway for rice and beans.

At the Taco Loco, I have one of the best meals in Rockford, the tongue in red sauce. A breath-takingly beautiful Mexican girl waits on me. I accuse Blanca of hiring beautiful girls just to get customers in her store. She doesn’t deny it. Back in my apartment I look over at the little flag atop the Faust. It is pointing straight south. When will it turn around?

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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