Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Richard Metzger: The time I met Dean Martin

Hey pallies, likes the "humorous recipe for 'Martin Burgers'" first featured here some time 'go has been makin' it way 'round the 'net the last several days certainly helpin' to bring the name of our Dino front and center likes where it always always belongs. Anyway, one of the coolest results of the ground beef and bourbon Dino-recipe is that it triggered memories for Mr. Richard Metzger, blogger extraordinare of "Dangerous Minds," of his "own encounter with the legendary entertainer."

What follows pallies, is one of those bigger then life...true life Dino-encounters that likes most of us Dino-holics only are able to dream of....bein' in the livin' presence of The King Of Cool! Mr. Metzger, at the tender age of 26, discovered that our beloved Dino often dined 'lone at the Beverly Hills Hamburger Hamlet and he and a couple of pallies went to said Hamlet in hopes of meetin' our great man...and meet him they did.

I loves sharin' everythin' with a Dino-connection, but likes I so so loves to be able to read and share 'nother's real life rendezvous with our great man...so likes it gives me the greatest of great Dino-pleasure to pass this amazin' Dino-tale 'long to all you pallies.

This is likes truly truly a supreme Dino-read and likes I woulda encourage all you Dino-philes to likes takes the time to soak in each and every Dino-detail...bein' in the presence of Dino certainly musta be likes the most amazin' experience that one coulda ever experience in this here life!

Hat Off to Mr. Richard Metzger for sharin' his amazin' personal experience of meetin' our reason for bein'...and for sharin' it in the coolest of cool ways possible...likes how envious I am of a dude like Mr. Metzger who went one-on-one with the one and only Dino! To read this in it's original format, just clicks on the tagg of this Dino-message. Dino-awed, DMP

Richard Metzger: The time I met Dean Martin
01:44 pm


Richard Metzger
Dean Martin

There is a humorous recipe for “Martin Burgers” that Dean Martin came up with (grill some ground beef, pour a shot of bourbon, done!) that was posted on the Letters of Note Twitter feed today that reminded me of my own encounter with the legendary entertainer. It also involves hamburgers. And bourbon. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Gather ‘round, children…

This event took place in, I think, 1992, when I was 26-years-old. I’d recently read Nick Tosches’ excellent biography of Martin, Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, and I was on a Dean Martin “kick” that culminated in me having a professional photo house make me a 6 ft. by 6 ft. photo mural of the above Dean Martin album cover (which Boing Boing’s Mark Fraunenfelder once described in Wired. I still have it, but it’s not hanging up).

I was absolutely fascinated by Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care roué who truly wasn’t impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn’t care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckoned Dean Martin must’ve been the coolest man alive.

Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood, ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills. I made a mental note to myself to go there one day.

Not more than a few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we’d dine that evening. And we brought a camera.

I generally like the Hamburger Hamlet chain, but the one in Beverly Hills has got to be THE restaurant in LA with the oldest clientele, hands down. It’s the sort of place where grandparents take their grandchildren out to eat and the grandchildren are in their seventies. I’m talking OLD. Palm Springs old. Miami Beach old. A few of the faces seemed extremely familiar from sixties television, character actors who might have been on The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza or Green Acres, but who I could not place exactly due to the passing of years. What made walking into this place seem even more surreal is that it is merely a block away from all the rock clubs on the Sunset Strip.

So we get there and valet the car. I asked the maître d’, who must’ve been all of 19-years-old, if we could be seated near Dean Martin’s table. He took the money I put into his hand and looked at me like I was an idiot. Not a stalker mind you, but an idiot. “Oookay,” he whistled dismissively.

Martin was not there, he told me, but they did expect him. So we sat in the lobby and we waited. And waited. And waited. After looking at the grub the waiters were serving up, we decided he wasn’t going to show up and split to grab a steak at Dan Tana’s. As the valet handed me my car keys I asked him, “We heard that Dean Martin eats here all the time. When is a good day to see him?” He replied “Mr Martin? Oh, his chauffeur just phoned ahead, he’ll be here any minute.”

I tossed my keys back to him and we returned inside and were seated in the back section of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, the sultan of suave, secret agent Matt Helm, the roast-master general hisself, Dean Martin stumbled in, completely shit-faced. His eyes were bloodshot red and he looked old and he looked drunk. Very drunk. It was probably a very good thing that he could afford to employ a full-time driver, let’s just say…

As soon as he took his seat, the waiter slammed down several shots of bourbon and two beers in front of him. Dino downed two shots immediately and two more were placed in front of him in a flash.

We made our move before they brought his food out. Roni got her camera ready and asked politely, “Mr. Martin, can I get a picture of you with these guys? They’re big fans of yours!”

He looked at us like “Yeah, right” and replied quietly “Most of my fans these days are old broads.”

I told him about my giant 6’ ft. mural of his album cover and that I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, just across the Ohio River from Martin’s hometown of Steubenville, OH. He softened a bit and said “I remember Wheeling, WV. I used to swim there and mess around hang out there when I was a boy.” (No matter how slowly I ask you to imagine this sentence being said, you’re going to make it faster in your mind than he spoke it. Pause after each word as if there is a period… or a wheeze).

I asked him when the last time he’d visited and he just snickered.

“Do you mind if we get a picture?” Roni asked again.

“I don’t think they allow that here,” he demurred, trying to avoid it.

“Who’s gonna stop us? Let’s just do it,” she replied.

Martin exhaled with undisguised annoyance, parted his lips and clicked on a a very fake smile. Through his gritted teeth he said “Go ahead, I don’t give a shit.” Something about his manner let Mike and I know that he meant NOW, so we squatted beside his chair.

After the flash went off, his smile vanished, he looked down at his drink and completely ignored us. We knew this was our cue to leave and we took it. Outside his limo was waiting. It sported a vanity plate reading “DRUNKY.”

The story doesn’t end there: Two weeks later I get a package of two big prints of the photo and several smaller ones from Roni. I laughed my ass off, DELIGHTED at seeing this memento of our loopy encounter with Dino. I left them out on the kitchen counter and every time I walked past them I grinned and marveled at the fact that a photo existed with Dean Martin and ME in it.

Then the phone rang. It was Roni asking had I gotten the package. I was looking down at the picture when she asked me: “Did you notice that his…”

No, I hadn’t noticed it, but I did then: His pants had been unfastened and un-zipped old man-style so his gut could hang out and the camera caught this!

The photo I had been admiring all day became a million times better before my very eyes.

But the story doesn’t end there, either: At the time, I was in the middle of writing a script with Kramer (he of Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc fame) and I gave him one of the larger prints, which he framed and hung in his Noise New Jersey studio. Around this time, he and Penn Gillette formed a band called Captain Howdy and they were doing a bit of recording. Apparently Penn asked Kramer who the old guy in the photo was, but he refused to believe it when told that it was Dean Martin. Eventually he relented, and the Captain Howdy song “Dino’s Head” was apparently inspired in part by the below photo (and Penn getting to use Dean Martin’s “special” German shower head when Penn & Teller were performing in Las Vegas).

Posted by Richard Metzger


Always On Watch said...

Getting old is a bitch! And so it was for our Dino, who aged dramatically once his beloved Dino Jr. died in that tragic accident.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, indeed that is the truth for all of us Miss AOW...but our Dino lived his life to the fullest possible and likes set such an example for all of us...woulda loves to have met our Dino in his prime...but to have been in the presence of our beloved Dino at any point in his Dino-journey woulda have been the thrill of a life time! Keeps lovin' our Dino!

adam tylor said...

Hello. this dish appears yummy and delicious and i have never tasted it before.but it looks so luring that i cannot stop myself to ask my mum to prepare it for me this hamburger .

adam tylor said...

Hello. this dish appears yummy and delicious and i have never tasted it before.but it looks so luring that i cannot stop myself to ask my mum to prepare it for me this hamburger .

Davek said...

Dean went to la familia restaurant on canon drive in BH,it was closed on sundays only and Dean went to hamberger hamlet on sunset blvd,he would get there around 7:30 and leave around an hour later,la familia closed up and went to de vinchi's restaurant on little santa monica blvd,he had a rolls royce ,not a limo,,,not a drunky licence plate,,,never,,,

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes thanks so much David for droppin' by and leavin' some patter...I have a pix somewhere of the car with the "drunky" license plate...that was earlier in our Dino's career..keeps lovin' our Dino!

Davek said...

met dean alot at the restaurants,outside to take his photographs,he was the nicest guy in hollywood, he would never say no to a fan wanting a picture or an autograph,,,,there was a horable autograph dealer from new york that came to the restaurant and paid off the waiter and he and his girlfriend took advantage of dean and sat at his table ,and they got around 35 11 by 14s photographs signed at the table while dean was eating his dinner,each night for weeks,,they got 350 photos signed by dean that trip to beverly hills, then they paid jerry to sign at a private signing later on, for thousands of dollars to compleat the photos,, it was the unbrella pose that they had,,, i totaly hate that autograph dealer,,,

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes David how wonderful that you got to photograph our most beloved Dino and see him often...and how sad 'bout those other folks who abused our Dino's kindness...indeed I remember seein' the umbrella pix here on the web...if you would ever like to share some of your Dino-remembrances in some Dino-reflections here at ilovedinomartin, just let me know...the email address is kentsmokerguy@yahoo.com. One question man, how did you find your way to ilovedinoamrtin?

DDGallows said...

You did not 'meet' Dean Martin. You stalked him, intruded on him, then later, publicly mocked him. Weasel.

Davek said...

I was the only one invited into the restaurant to take family pictures.Riccis family.Jeannie martin and Gina and Carl Wilson. I photographed Brian wilsons wedding through Carls friendship and Gina and ricci