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My Brother, Mike Dorn, Wilt Chamberlain, and Garrison Keillor


Seeing the title of this post, you may have answered (channeling Cliff Clavin on Jeopardy!), “Who are four people who have never been in my kitchen?” But Randy has been in my kitchen, so that’s not where this is going.

This headline appeared in my Google news feed today:


Neil Young credits my brother as an influence?

 
Say what? Neil Young credits my brother as an influence? I can’t believe it! I’m the one who owns a boatload of Neil’s albums[1], not Randy. Geez!

Of course I know the headline refers to Canadian musician Randy Bachman, whom you may recall as a singer and guitarist for BTO (Bachman-Turner Override). (Trivianauts: Guess Who he played for prior to forming BTO?[2])

Also of course, I knew when I saw it that the headline did not refer to my brother. Duh! I would never make that mistake. Or would I?

Yes, I did

In my own defense, it was 46 years ago in 1973 when I made this mistake. I was twelve or thirteen years old and BTO had just released their debut album and (probably), b-b-baby I hadn’t heard n-n-nothin’ from it yet. I had heard of Randy Bachman’s earlier band (have you managed to Guess Who it was yet?[3]), though I couldn’t have named its members. But Mike Dorn, Redding’s coolest DeeJay, knew the name. So? Well I had a short, confusing phone conversation with him that day. It went something like this:

  • DJ: KRDG radio. Congratulations, you are caller number 9!
  • Me: Cool.
  • DJ: You can pickup your prize at our studio. What is your name?
  • Me: Bachman. Steve Bachman
  • DJ: Bachman, huh? Any relation to Randy Bachman?
  • Me: [confused] Yeah. He’s my brother.

 
I hung up thinking, “How does Mike Dorn know my brother?” Puzzled, I shrugged and turned up the radio in anticipation of my coming moment of fame–my name announced on the radio! And after a commercial for some local business, perhaps Glassburn Motors[4], DeeJay Dorn spoke:

  • Our prize winner is Steve Bachman of Anderson, who, incidentally, is related to BTO’s Randy Bachman!

 
Oh, I see. I didn’t think he knew my brother…

I’ve always wondered why he said “is related to” rather than “is the brother of.” Did he believe I was exaggerating–that I was related to the rock star, but just not as his brother? A puzzler.

So other than the invaluable on-air mention (surely as portentous as Nathan Johnson’s appearance in the phone book[5]), just what was my valuable prize?

“The Big Dipper”

Wilt Chamberlain never played a game for the San Diego Conquistadors.The prize was a life-size poster of Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt-the-Stilt. The Big Dipper. At the time he was my favorite basketball player, as I had first began following NBA basketball as Wilt’s 1971-72 Lakers dominated the league.[6] In all, he played five seasons in Los Angeles before signing to play for the San Diego Conquistadors of the ABA for the 1973/74 season. As it happened he never played a minute for the Conks[7], but my prize poster pictured him in the pajama-like warm-ups of this historically bad franchise. It’s no wonder KRDG had a copy to give away.

I don’t remember what I did with it–I must’ve hung it on a wall for maybe a week–but picking it up at the radio station certainly wasn’t worth the gas (at 50 cents a gallon) or my mom’s time to do so.

On the other hand, the memory of winning it, which was triggered today by the occurrence of my brother’s name in a headline to a Neil Young interview, regularly pops into my head and always gives me a chuckle. So it was worth something after all.

A rabbit hole leads to…Garrison Keillor?

Wilt Chamberlain: a prolific scorer.I spent some time looking at Wilt’s Basketball reference page, marveling over what I’ve heard described as his “video game numbers”: A single season scoring average of 50 ppg (points per game)–no one else has ever averaged as much as 40. Career averages of more than 30 ppg and 20 rbg (rebounds). Over the course of his career, he played an average of 46 minutes a game and never, even once, fouled out of a game (in the final season of his career, at the age of 36, he played in all 82 games on the schedule and averaged 43 minutes per). And of course, he once scored 100 points in an NBA game!

I looked at his Wikipedia page and learned a few things about him. Mostly I was reminded of things I already knew, such as his remarkable claim–made in his 1992 autobiography A View from Above–that he had slept with 20,000 different women. Talk about “video game numbers!”

I remembered that shortly after the publication of the autobiography, Spy magazine had run a sting-like piece in which they had duped Chamberlain into responding to their reporter in the guise of a young woman seemingly eager to become the 20,001st notch on Wilt’s bedpost. I had read and snickered over the piece back in the day and now I wondered, could it be found somewhere on today’s omniscient Internet? (I wanted to snicker again.)

Well of course it is out there (see for yourself)! And it is much as I’d remembered. Wilt, for a man who had slept with an average of 10 women a week for 40 years, seemed awfully eager to hook up with a random woman 3,000 miles away. To be fair, it must’ve been a full-time job to keep his social calendar full.

The story did include one interesting detail I hadn’t remembered. Its first paragraph described the process by which the magazine set up its operation. Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine):

  • We sent 42 similar letters to other men who acted as a control group, and most did not reply, although Regina did have long conversations with Garrison Keillor, who told her, “I’m–I don’t know–sort of high-and-dry in the city in some ways,” and painter David Salle, who invited her up to his studio to “see what the next generation is thinking about.” Wilt, however, was much more responsive.

 
Who knows what Keillor’s intentions were, but he was between marriages at the time and New York is a long way from Lake Wobegon’s Chatterbox Cafe. It’s no wonder he found himself high-and-dry in the city. He must’ve been quite disappointed to find that the nubile and star-struck Regina wasn’t real, and to find himself as the Washington Generals to Wilt’s Harlem Globetrotters[8] in the pages of Spy magazine.

Notes

  1. After The Goldrush | Comes A Time | Decade | Freedom | Greendale | Harvest | Harvest Moon | Hawks and Doves | Hitchhiker | Le Noise | Live At Massey Hall 1971 | Live Rust | Mirror Ball | Neil Young Unplugged | Prairie Wind | Psychedelic Pill | Ragged Glory | Reactor | Rust Never Sleeps | Silver And Gold | Sleeps With Angels | Tampa, FL – 2003 | Tonight’s The Night | Trans | Zuma [^]
  2. Yes he did. [^]
  3. See footnote #2 above. [^]
  4. This would have been several years before three miscreants whitewashed over the “GL” in an old, neglected billboard for Glassburn Motors. [^]
  5. If you have forgotten Nathan Johnson, see https://youtu.be/-7aIf1YnbbU. [^]
  6. That I ever called myself a Lakers fan will come as a shock to many, given my now long-standing hatred of the franchise. The reason I was briefly a fan of the Fakers (and for 25-years, a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers) is because my dad, who grew up in Southern California, was. That they were a dominant team didn’t hurt, I’ll admit (but hey, I was 11 years old!). I jumped to the Milwaukee Bucks when the Fakers traded for the enemy, Kareem Abdul Jabbar (for whom I have the utmost respect today). At least I bailed long before the overrated and repulsive Kobe Bryant joined the team. [^]
  7. They probably were never called “the Conks,” but what an epically bad team name is “the Conquistadors?” [^]
  8. Yes, Chamberlain played with the Globetrotters for a season. [^]

 

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