The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowin' In the Wind
Let's take a stroll down memory lane as well as listening to some new stories for you.
Not too long ago I told you a rather amusing story about a booking I had in Illinois that was temporarily postponed by a tornado. Click HERE if you don't believe me.
What made this story so funny was how chronologically close this freak occurrence happened to my home being destroyed by a microburst (a straight-line, tornado-force wind). Once again, a LINK for your amusement.
I've lived in the Midwest all of my life until recently. I'm no stranger to tornadoes and other strong winds & storms. In fact, I have had my show interrupted by a tornado twice in my lifetime.
The first time happened in Benton, Illinois around 1995. I was on the road with a small traveling circus and having a rather awful string of bad luck. The trip started with my car dying and didn't improve much from there. I recall at least three vehicular breakdowns on that trip.
There has always been discussion around my family of a "Martello Curse". See, some time ago one of my family members did something dreadful like feeding a neighbor his own cat for dinner or something like that and apparently, in the Italian immigrant community, that is a curse-worthy offense. What is it with Martellos and cats anyway?
I have never given much credence to such things as curses. I would choose to use it as a convenient excuse for bad things happening. Sometimes you just need an explanation, ya know?
Since I didn't believe much in curses I would also upon occasion just take the more sensible approach to adverse things landing on my life. I just assumed that God hated me. Hell, I don't much believe in God so why not lump Him in with my convenient excuses for all the shit, right?
On the day in Benton my car broke down again on the way to the gig. While talking on the phone to my God-fearing girlfriend at the time I'd mentioned the curse and how I was certain that God hated me. This sparked a rather unnecessary heated discussion about how I can't think that way and so on.
Later that day I managed to get to the show on time and set up for a big day of merry-making and more importantly, money-making in the form of balloon sales during intermission. I made lot of gas - car repair money on the show from the balloon sales. The day promised to be PACKED with circus-goers and indeed we had a HUGE crowd. My plate-spinning act was the last act before intermission.
I was getting the audience whipped into a frenzy. That act never fails to get them going if done properly. I was breaking plates to add to the suspense, nearing the conclusion of the act and then breaking a few more - it was one of the best performances I'd ever given. A wild crowd right before intermission almost guarantees big dollars.
I had just finished spinning the 6th of 10 plates when some stranger stormed into the circus ring and grabbed the microphone. It wasn't a freak circus fan or an Andy Martello stalker. It was the town's Fire Marshall. Apparently there was a tornado sighting 8 miles out of town and he insisted on ending the show IMMEDIATELY!
"Sorry folks, the show has to stop. There was a tornado sighting and you all must get in your cars and go home right now!"
My act was cancelled by a tornado. My intermission money was never made and the crowd left in a most unorganized hurry.
He went on a few more times, presumably to increase the panic, if not just create some for no good reason. The funny thing was, we were in a high school gymnasium. We were actually in one of the safest places in the whole damn town and he sent some 450 people outside into their cars to drive in the storm. That gymnasium was actually the town's storm and bomb shelter and he felt it necessary to put people in harm's way.
Later that night I joked with my God-fearing girlfriend that it would be difficult to argue with me when I say God hated me. After all, if He sent a tornado to put an end to my act and my earning potential, that has to carry some validity.
Sound like too much to believe - this odd series of "coincidences" regarding tornadoes and storms? Is this just another "Number 32" kind of thing for old Andy? Well, if you've come this far you may as well hear the rest of the story.
Here is a clip from a local Marengo, Illinois newspaper (Presumably the Beacon News or the Republican, later merged into the Beacon-Republican and then completely dismantled altogether.). This was about 1979-1980 and I was in the 5th grade. We were all given a writing assignment about things we're afraid of and why. At the time we thought it was for a classroom grade. Instead it was for a feature piece the paper wanted to do a on childhood fears. Those who told the best stories of fears ended up being interviewed & photographed I'll just let the picture and caption speak for itself.
I remembered this when the microburst happened and had hoped I could get my mother to send me a scan of the story.
I still am not convinced of the existence of God or the power of curses, but I can certainly say that some things just happen to certain people for a reason. Until I truly get to enjoy my new life in Vegas I am being hesitant to call my storm "The Curse-Breaker". However I can be a bit taken aback by the continuing presence of things like the number 32 and freak storms in my life.