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Joe Renzetti's Stories

  • Writer's pictureJoseph Renzetti

George Carlin in a can.

In Chicago, in the 60s, there was a club called Mother Blues. It featured cutting-edge musical groups and comedians. Spanky and Our Gang and George Carlin performed there often.

At the same time, back in New York, arranger Joe Renzetti was working with record producer

Jerry Ross. They had just come off a hit record by Bobby Hebb called “Sunny.“

Jerry got the assignment to produce the group, Spanky and Our Gang. Jerry produced their hit record; “Sunday Will Never Be The Same.”

Mercury Records wanted Jerry Ross to now produce an album on Spanky and Our Gang.

It was decided the album should be recorded in Los Angeles. Jerry chose me to do the arranging, so we were off to LA.

So now here I was in LA with this hippie group, smoking dope and recording. Not bad.

Spanky and Our Gang was a bunch of wonderful talented wild artists, and deeply imbedded in the folk rock movement.

One day, on a break from our recording session, Spanky announced that the gang was expecting their “connection” to show up with some really great weed. I was up for that.

I asked about this “connection,” and Spanky told me he was a friend from Chicago. She said,

“you might know him. He’s a comedian; George Carlin.”

“WHAT!” I had been a fan of George Carlin from day one. This news from Spanky was a mind blower. After ranting, raving and gushing about how much I loved this guy, she confirmed to me how cool he was, a great dude. ( yes we in LA were using the dude word way back then - millennial snap)

Spanky and Our Gang was a favorite of Carlin's and he was a big fan of Spanky and Our Gang from working at the Mother Blues club in Chicago.

Around late afternoon George Carlin walked into the studio carrying a cardboard box.

He was still in his hippie-dippie-weatherman persona, tie, dark suit, short hair.

After we made introductions he got down to business. Now when I say Business, I am not implying that George was a drug dealer. He was simply a friend who was well-connected, and as a favor gifted Spanky and Our Gang a couple of ounces now and then.

This was George Carlin and he just didn’t open up a baggie. What he did was open his cardboard box. Carlin proceeded to give me a personal tour of the box’s contents.

Inside was a stack of approximately five or six metal film cans. About 6 inches in diameter. They were sealed with gaffers tape. A label on the top of each can read; from Technicolor, Camera Master do not expose. In the film world this means the rolls of film are directly out of the camera. They are the masters - the one and only copy.

I asked George why he was carrying around camera masters of film? He looked at me with a grin, “that’s where I store the pot, man“

He pulled off the seal to a can and there it was; green and aromatic.

He explained, “you know when a film crew is out shooting on a location, after they expose a roll of film in the camera, they want to get it to the lab as soon as possible. They do this because don’t want to leave such valuable items around on a location where it could get lost, stolen or destroyed. So they have a runner available whose job it is to physically take the film cans and drive it to the lab in Hollywood.

He continued, “yeah, so if a cop were to stop me and searched me for drugs, he’s has to make a decision. Does he pull the tape off the cans of film and expose them and ruining the film. That makes him liable for possibly thousands of dollars in damages.

Or the cop could just say “move on buddy“

George had a good cover going on.

I never heard of him getting busted.


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