Friday, February 07, 2003

I left my debit card in the ATM Wednesday night (no, I was sober) and didn’t figure out until today that it was missing. For sure I thought the next person to use the ATM would snatch my card and use it to go on a spending spree. Only a pin number and signature keep others from my accounts. And you know how many people check the signature. First thing I did was call my bank’s 800-number auto teller to find out about unknown purchases with my card. Next, I called the bank where I used the ATM, a First Federal, same as my bank, and they said they’d call back. They did, and had my card. Yippee! Thanks to the anonymous and honest soul who turned in my card. And shame on me for freaking out and assuming the worst. After all, it’s just money.

Well, I didn’t FREAK OUT. No hair pulling or pounding walls. But a deep breath sense of relief when I tracked it down. I would have had to go through a bunch of baloney to cancel the card and get new ones, and no matter what it would have cost me. And I still don’t know if I’d have to pay if someone made unauthorized purchases with the card. Probably. You get no security with TOTALLY FREE CHECKING.

Wednesday night I had a breakthrough on the RIPT saga. When I go to my parent’s house I usually take a left turn off Forest Hills Road onto this ramp that goes to Alpine Road. Right at the base of the ramp is a street light, and on its post is a bumper sticker in This is Spinal Tap script that says Ript. There is another Ript sticker on a traffic signal post on the northeast corner of Alpine and Windsor Roads. Whenever I take a left turn onto the ramp I always mutter “ript.” I’ve been in the middle of heated discussions and managed to edge in the “ript,” often without the person I’m talking to noticing. With Esther and I, it has become a competition to see who will say “ript” first. I modified the rules so you actually have to be able to read the word to say it.

Well, Wednesday night at LT’s, I not only got a little inside scoop on Ript, but actually heard them for the first time, a cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds.” Randy Wescott, one of the Wednesday wings regulars with the Molly and Mike Gang, mentioned Ript when we were talking about the Rockford Armory. The city is thinking about tearing down the Armory to build an arts campus (one of many grandiose schemes floating around to improve downtown Rockford), but we didn’t bring that up. Randy was saying how much of a Kiss fan he is and that he has a poster from 1975 when Kiss played at the Armory with opening band Rush. It’s one of the all-time classic rock and roll shows ever ‘round these parts. Randy said the last show he ever saw at the armory was Kansas, in 1994, and that Ript opened up for them.

My eyes lit up. “You’ve seen Ript?”

“Hell yeah,” Randy said. “I used to love Ript. I even attended their CD release party. I must have seen those guys about 30 times.”

He told me the names of the band members (I forget. I was on beer #5 at about this point) and about Vern, this 58-year-old crazy burned out SSI guy who has seen every Ript show. And then Randy went to the bar and had them play Ript’s cover of the Elvis tune. They sound just like the bumper sticker. Balls to the wall hard driving Rockford rock and roll with screeching guitar and gravelly vocals.

A few years ago I had an idea about writing a story about Ript, a kind of where are they now tied in with the bumper stickers and a narrative biography about the band. Now I’ve not only got Randy’s recollections, I’ve got a connection to crazy Vern and, possibly, members of the band. The case is cracked.


May they never RIP.

1 comment:

Brian J. said...

I saw Ript at a club called The Haven in Milwaukee in Spring 1993. I was thinking about their cover of Suspicious Minds today, which is why I'm searching Google for info about them 14 years later, and five years after your post.