Date Originally Published: 20 Feb 2013 – Classic Rock Radio (UK) Facebook Page
Uncle G’s Fun Classic Rock Memorabilia Collection
Spotlight: Yes 1970s Belt Buckle
Recommended Reading Age: 16+
By Gary Brown
American Corespondent for Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Back in a time we use to call the Seventies, I started working flea markets, on the weekends. Usually outside. Your cash register is your front pocket. It’s really where I learned to apply basic math in my everyday life. I was a youngin’ still. Have not learned to balance a checkbook yet. I was married. My first time. Made decent money doing blue-collar factory work also. That’s what I did, Monday to Friday. With the two jobs, I’m working every day. Was that way, for a long-long time. Worked hard…played hard. It’s the Brown Family creed. During my downtime, I got seriously whacked. In my mind, I deserved the relaxation and enjoyment that drinking booze offered. And also, most casual drugs.
By age 24 I’m exhibiting all signs of being a real alcoholic. Tried doing the moving/geographical cure, but took me with me, everywhere I went (those in the know…know). More than one location also. But as they say; if at first, you don’t succeed, make up for the drunken moments you lost, and then after yet another real doozy, try to quit again.
During all this (multiple years), I managed to hold on to very little personal belongings. Seriously, I hitchhiked from the Carolinas to Houston (back in ’86) with only what personal belongings I could carry. Ninety-nine point nine percent of what I owned in my 24-year existence on Earth then wasn’t with me. Much of what I carried, got stolen while I was going thru the DTs at a place called, Star Of Hope, here in Space City. During that time, I must have been wearing this buckle. Remember..this is after all a story about my Yes belt buckle. It’s the only real explanation I have for still having it in my possession. It’s the oldest belt buckle I got. We’re talkin’ late seventies/early eighties. That’s when I acquired it. My guess is that it was made (no identifying marks at all) when Yes was on one of its many peaks; the Moraz years. But the blue background does reek of Tales (of Topographic Oceans — 1973). Probably, that.
The belt buckle itself, I can only assume to be, A FAKE !!! Bootleg. No one in the band or associated with the band got a dime of the $3.00 I paid for it (second-hand). More important if you can imagine, Mr. Roger Dean, whom I think is one of the coolest artists EVER, I can also feel assured didn’t get a dime, as well. That’s what I mean by using the word, fake. Not official merchandise. Did I know this at that split second when I purchased it? Not really. This was an impulse buy; saw – immediately purchased. Later all this dawned on me…damn those dirty thieves. Tricked me. My early Black Sabbath CD collection; bootlegs. Sold in a real store; cheap. Should have known. This is how one acquires experience. We learn through experience. Hard to rip off 50-year-old dudes…unless they are just plain stupid.
It was the Yes logo, with a very cool 3D-like background. That’s what got me. Wasn’t the crappy craftsmanship/cheap design. I have fallen into Mr. Dean’s work (and sometimes with the help of a friend I’ll call, Mary Jane) more than once. Wild drawings of, out of this world landscapes, where I fantasized about living out life’s existence in a peaceful and serene environment. With plenty of food, beverages, marijuana, and pretty naked women. I added that last part myself, not Mr. Dean. His paintings inspired by locations here on Earth, I sometimes conclude. Whatever one’s mind can picture it as, it could very well be. I like that sometimes there is not an exact definition of specific drawings. More fun to draw one’s own conclusions, than rather being told point-blank what it is/means. That’s just me. Others want to know so they can perhaps become inspired themselves, or help to understand the process better. That’s them.
Back to the flea markets. The ones I put in typical twelve hours days in, were mostly located in New Jersey. That’s where I lived for two decades. One flea market where I worked a lot was in Englishtown. Since I was a drone (hired help) and not the boss, I never really had a say in when, and where we set up shop. For me, it was wherever told. Usually, always on the weekends. Even crossing a state line and going into Pennsylvania a few times. At first, I sold satin sheets, and then later on all leather handmade/hand-tooled belts and belt accessories. Made some good money doing this. Wasn’t my full-time job. Extra money brought in that helped pay for my bar tab — which always would blow my mind when learning about the damages. Back then, I drank beer and bourbon as hard as I labored. Hanging in the bars, was a costly habit for sure. Make em’ titty bars and you could add a zero to the bar tap, each and every time. The ladies on the Jersey Shore who were into this deviant behavior were always very good at pleasing a guy. Many of them were lost angels of the night. If dwelling on the topic, it can be kind of sad. Stripping, and prostitution, are mixed in with various hard drugs. Life-altering shit. Usually those into it for greater lengths of time, experience some kind of unhappy outcome. It’s an endless army of those who believe they can control it all, and really can’t, no matter how hard they try.
Maturity can sometimes bring with it, if not forgiveness, at least a better understanding of our previous unknown actions. The sometimes sordid behavior I describe takes some to the grave prematurely. Always sad when that happens. Persecute when alive, and grieve when dead. To this day, shit like this puzzles me.
A lot of memories (good as well…after all, I did survive) come back when I see or hold this buckle. The solid leather belt that accompanied it (cut right from the hide) long ago stop fitting me. I believe I had a 28/30-inch waist back then. Coffee, cigarettes, cocaine, and stimulates — totally amazing I survived the 70s and 80s. A nagging now ex-wife, twelve-step programs, and more hard work kept me in the game. As I have been sometimes known to say: Onward through the fog.
End of Story
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