renaissance man

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7.23.04                                                                                                 Dallas, TX

Getting acquainted with my new friend Russell:

Occupation: “You know when you go to a concert, Bob, and you look up and see all them cables and lights and boxes up there? Well, Bob, my job is to make sure none of that stuff falls down, knocks you on the head and kills you.”

Former occupations: Oil and lub specialist at Jiffy Lube; number cruncher/cash counter for Texas coke dealers.

Knew it was time to get out when… “I got a phone call from someone —to this day I don’t know who it was —literally telling me to get out, like, NOW. It’s over. And that was it. I never went back.” Russell’s been responsible and straight up ever since.

Fun Russell fact: He’s color blind.

What the hell’s that got to do with Ozzy Osbourne? Russell once had a job making $10 bucks an hour working backstage at a Dallas Ozzy show. His job was to take out all the red and green M&Ms because Ozzy didn’t like those colors. “It was the perfect job for me,” Russell was saying minutes after I met him. “I can’t see green OR red. They’re both gray to me. So I just took out all the gray M&Ms.”

2 Degrees of Bob connection #1: When I did that reality TV pilot for David Duchovny, the director we worked with had just come off the first season of The Osbournes.

2 Degrees of Bob connection #2: After I graduated from UCLA I drove a limo for a couple months. One of my regular customers was Melinda Iommi. Ex-wife of Black Sabbath lead guitarist, Ozzy’s old bandmate and party pal, Tony Iommi.

Number of guitars Russell owns: 4

How he acquired the 2 guitars he’s holding in the photo: Found the one in his right hand in a dumpster; the other one he got for $10 bucks and 2 packs of cigarettes.

Composer Russell played for me on his new dumpster ax: Beethoven.

Russell doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who’d be into…: Weird Al Yankovic. But then, who does? Russell is a huge fan. Has all his CDs and DVDs. He even sang me a few bars of the Joan Osbourne-again “What If God Smoked Cannibus.”

Russell put me into the time machine, circa, ’76 when he…: Busted out the same 2 Cheech & Chong albums I had when I was 15, 2 of the first albums I owned (Wedding Album and Los Cochinos).

3rd and final 2 Degrees of Bob connection: A couple years ago I went to Tommy Chong’s house for a meeting about co-writing a book with him. (It was to be modeled on the “Dummies Guide to…” series. Only this was gonna be “The Stoner’s Guide to…” concept. Needless to say, it never happened. Tommy’s in jail, according to Russell.)

Besides adjusting my valves and fixing my brakes, Russell also offerered to…: Give me a brand new mountain bike. I had to politely decline because my friend Rob had already given me his back in LA.

Russell quote that’s been haunting me: “Y’know Bob, what you end up writin’ about me will probably be the only thing anyone ever ends up writin’ about me that’s for public consumption.” Like I said the day I heard this, dude, that’s too much pressure.

Russell quote that reminds me things are still okay in the world: “I may not be the best lookin’ guy in the room, Bob. But I do alright. Amazing things happen, Bob, when you’ve got that backstage pass hangin’ around your neck.”

The highest praise for Russell: He’s the kind of guy who’s lived a life worth writing novels and making movies about. But more than anything, from what I can see he’s simply a good guy with a kind heart who’s been through a lot.

Town where Russell’s grandma lives: Fate, Texas.

Off-ramp you take to get there: Bobtown Rd.

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