“It was just another gig”
And it was coming for us, Fast, dangerous, and invisible, like something out of a Greek Odyssey.
The hand of fate. The luck of the draw.
It came around the corner, unexpectedly, and at such a high-speed, that to me, for some reason, it felt like slow motion.
Smashing into the back of the first of three cars, which had parked just a little too far out into the highway, the gigantic hulking mass of steel and aluminum and rubber, caught each of three cars one after the other, ramming them into one another, each one with another sickening crunch, I remember side view mirrors spinning through my field of vision, exploding shards of glass, and the smell of gunpowder which I don’t understand, since no one fired a shot as I remember it, and hearing a couple of law enforcement officers and agents cock their guns, which were already pointed squarely at the heads of me and my bandmates, as we were headed home from a gig, in the late 1980s, on I-5 in California near Dublin.
There is something about having a half a dozen semi-automatic rifles aimed at your head, held by nervous law enforcement officials, who have just mistaken you for an infamous highway robber, whose stake out you have just accidentally stumbled into, like Peter Sellers from the pink Panther. Things are very tense. And you can smell death in the air. And that “something” is a feeling of “is this even really happening?”
Yes. It is.
Leaping out of the way, I heard the sound of the air brakes being engaged too late to stop what was unfolding in front of my eyes. The 18 Wheeler, the two local police cars and one FBI car, (I was later told this was one of California’s first satellite uplink cars of the 1980s) all skidded by us, and ran directly into the beginning of a freeway overpass, that is to say, an immovable cement wall, that just happened to be there, and the cars crunched, buckled, and piled up, with local police, and uniformed agents jumping around, shrieking, yelling, and shouting orders that I am not even sure they knew we should follow or not.
I screamed one of the officers, to take his gun off of my bandmate Mike Maung, who was kneeling, quite cooperatively I might add, while three law enforcement officers had the muzzles, of their heavy hardware pressed up against his head. I shouted for the officer let us run, before anything else happened. It was at that time we all heard a gigantic whoosh of air, and an exploding sound, as the fuel tank on 18 Wheeler, driven by the very first, meth crazed, White Rastafarian wannabe and trucker I had ever seen up to that point, ruptured, spraying diesel fuel in all directions for a quarter-mile, assisted by the wind which was heavy.
By this time I was more than ready to die, having had gun stuck into my head, having witnessed a four vehicle, high level of total destruction, and now being drenched in fuel, I consider the fact that maybe this is that time they talk about movies called “cashing your ticket in”
Luckily, the fuel was diesel fuel and not able to be ignited outside of a pressurized tank. Gradually order and calm, (if you want to call it that), returned to the scene, while supervisors, EMTs, and other officers swarmed the area, realizing that I was not in fact the robber they were looking for, although I do bear a striking resemblance to him, and that they had just destroyed about $1 million worth law enforcement equipment, and ruined their big stakeout, all because me and my band had rolled through town.
Just another gig.
My name is Piero Amadeo Infante, and I am a traveling musician. And this is my story.
All of our stories. My journals, notes, and tips, on how I survived 45 dangerous years, in the field of the performing arts, and made it here to give you my testimony.
This, is the Tao of gigging.