Something About Us: The Kid is All Right!

Real Estate Agent with McCall Realty

Olivier and Pete TownshendWhat does “An Interview of a Lifetime” have to do with Pete Townshend, Thomas Friedman and the Lake Tahoe real estate business?

(LAKE TAHOE REAL ESTATE BLOG, posted previously by my partner on our Lake Tahoe Blog)  We’ve been thinking for some time about how, or if we should post things about us that seemingly have little to do with real estate in Lake Tahoe. I guess the recent article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune about my wife’s son’s recent interview with Pete Townshend is about as good a place as any to start.<!-- technorati tags start -->

 The practice of real estate is a relationship business, one whose very foundation is based on trust. Trust comes from knowing someone; it’s source is character. Sometimes we think we might trust someone we don’t know. The cause of that is information, and the more we have of it the greater the likelihood that trust might be possible. For it to be fully consummated, though, trust has to be established and fortified by personal interaction. That’s where character is given the chance to do its stuff.

We have been trained by the most advanced, successful residential real estate enterprise in the United States (excuse the hyperbole, but it’s true!), one based out of Ft. Collins, Colorado. The central idea and cornerstone of their business, and ours, is people should do business with people they like. So trust is about friends, or meeting people who share some common ground, from which the emergence of friendship, and therefore trust is a natural course of events.

Lets take Thomas Friedman as an example. We don’t know him, but we’re certainly familiar with his work. It’s brilliant, insightful, and considering our world order, his work is hopeful without vitriol. He’s one of the great thinkers of our time. As outstanding as his work is though, what makes us feel like we’d like to meet him is what we hear and read about who he is. If we did, the first thing I’d ask him wouldn’t be about a Lexus, or an olive tree, or about a flat world, I’d want to know about how he manages to put his two daughters and their education first and still do his work.

Why would I ask Tom Friedman that? Because I heard him at 5:30 am yesterday morning on MSNBC about how he prioritizes his life. Tom said he lives from column to column, but other than saying just that, everything else he said to answer Imus’ question was about his daughters. He puts his inspiring, Pulitzer Prize-winning work output within the context of family.

It’s not the concept that family comes first that’s interesting, we’re all raised and supposed to know that, but Tom must have extraordinary organization skills, and an even more extraordinary wife to put it all together. So, it’s not just our work that matters. In and of itself, one’s work doesn’t necessarily inspire the possibility of friendship. It might suggest it, but for friendship, and trust to come together in that magical, unexplainable way that it does, we have to know more. It really does come out of character.

Therefore, it’s within the scope of “knowing more” to attract the possibility of friendship, that we’ll start posting things non-real estate about us. If one understands though, that our business is about relationships, and doing business with people we like and trust is the goal, then everything that tells you more about us is... well, Lake Tahoe real estate business related.

So let me tell you a few things we know about Pete Townshend, here’s a great story about character, then we’ll give you the complete Tahoe Daily Tribune article and the entire interview Maxene’s son Olivier had with him.

I first met Pete backstage at the Hollywood Bowl about 7 years ago. Maxene introduced me, and to John too, but backstage at a LA show is always a zoo, especially for The Who. It was brief, seconds long. We could barely move, it was shoulder to shoulder jammed, and one couldn’t talk over the clamor. I don’t know what’s more powerful in LA, the need to be seen, or the fear of being left out, but for whatever reason it seemed like every under assistant west coast promo man in town was there. Other than both Pete and John being friendly, and The Who being outrageously good, the other fun thing Max and I remember is that Pierce Brosnan sat directly behind us. We’ve always goofed on how much better it is to see The Who with James Bond behind you CYA.

My first real impression of Pete was on the phone the day that John died. It was a voice of shock, not shatter, with a tiny quiver quickly covered by a stoic gulp. “This is Pete Townshend, may I please speak with Maxene?” is what it said. Here he was, a poet laureate of my generation, within hours of losing his lifelong mate, calling to comfort Maxene and see if she was all right. His humanity and compassion for another immediately told me more about him than all of his work. It was much better than a magic bus. Then we saw them all a few days later when they played San Francisco. Without John, grieving before tragic loss, they played their hearts out. It was most impressive.

Since then, we’ve seen them when they tour, and they keep in touch, mostly through Max’s good friend Nicola, Pete’s devoted assistant. We also frequently hear from Alan Rogan, one of the most respected instrument technicians in the business, a guy with a hilarious, wonderfully perverse sense of humor who sends charming Christmas cards to us every year -- last year it was two, one risque and one heart warming (here’s the warm one). We also hear from time to time from Cookie, assistant to The Who’s impressive, long-time manager, Bill Curbishley, one who has also been particularly supportive to Maxene in the past.

The band, it’s crew, technicians and staff for the most part have all been together for many years, many since the beginning. They still include some of John’s key personal staff as well. What their music and work doesn’t tell you is they are a long-term extended family. It is a big time support system. I don’t know if they think in terms of this or not, but it is what we see. And it’s attractive.

We went to Denver last November to see them play. Two of our best friends in the world also live there and the four of us went to see the show together. This was shortly after the release of The Who’s latest record, “Endless Wire.” Pete wrote all of the songs on it, with the help of Rachael Fuller, his girlfriend, who we had not yet met. To me, the record is an introspective, thankful piece of work. It’s definitely The Who, but we were immediately more taken with it’s lyrics. What first stood out to us was an expression of gratitude toward their public that gave them remarkable success. We also were very aware that Pete is looking back lyrically across his career. “Mirror Door” is an open appreciation and acknowledge to past artists and influences. “Tea & Theater” led us to wonder if the retrospection we found in “Endless Wire” was more immediately personal. Was this new song coming out the two closest artists in particular that Pete and Roger have lost along their way? We wanted to know about that.

We saw Pete alone after the show in his tour bus, the same one where Olivier did his interview. Where a few moments before he and Roger arm-in-arm closed their show with “Tea & Theater” in front of some 15,000 people, he was now in jeans and a t-shirt, alone, cooking bacon to make a sandwich in the bus’s mini-kitchen. As Nicloa opened the door to let us in, it was an immediate smile, a hug for Maxene and an outstretched hand toward me. “Can I get you anything,” was what he asked after that. That was character talking.

The three of us probably chatted about a half hour or so, about Maxene and Pete catching up with each other, about Iraq and the world we all live in, about writing music; lots of things. We also talked about “Endless Wire,” which we brought up, he didn’t. We said we really liked “Tea & Theater.” Pete then told us a story about his visiting a married couple who live in a retirement home. They were in their late 80’s and have spent their entire lives together. They had been to one of those shows that retirement homes have just before his visit, and one of them said to the other, “after theater, will you have some tea with me?” Out of that came a song from one of the world’s greatest rock and roll bands, and lyrics from one of it’s most profound writers. To us, it’s sensitivity and character shining through a wonderful song.

Maxene and Olivier met with Pete after the show in Reno, one that about 30 of our friends attended, which included two of the six owners of Dickson Realty, where we work. The interview was Olivier’s idea, and Max only helped him with a few questions. All the rest was Olivier, and he worked on it for about a month before. The question I liked best was about “Bobby” O’Riley. Nicola set the interview up and cleared it with Pete some days before.

I did not get on the bus with Max and Olivier as I thought I would only get in the way of a moment that we wanted very much to be Olivier’s. Besides, I had just talked my head off to Pete in Denver only a short time ago. I was sorry though not to meet Rachael Fuller, but Max and Olivier did. Pete was immediately kind and gracious as usual. He was ready for the interview, and he took it seriously, as the full interview indicates below. He led Olivier to the back room of the bus where they could talk uninterrupted in peace and quiet. When Olivier pulled out his pen and little flip pad with his questions, Pete asked if Olivier had a hand recorder. When Olivier said he hadn’t, Pete borrowed Rachael’s, and then taped the interview while Olivier wrote what Pete said as fast as he could. The next day, Rachael sent the complete interview to us online as an mp3 file.

When it was all said and done, both Maxene and Olivier were overjoyed. Then when the interview came out in the newspaper, Maxene immediately took it to Olivier's school, as proud as she could be about her son. The school already had the article up on it’s bulletin board. It was really a great day for her... because it was such a great day for Olivier. The kid had done all right. And it did come out of a magic bus.

What does this little story tell us about these Who people? A lot more than their work. They’re kind, gracious, and accessible. Pete and Rachael went out of their way to participate and accommodate. If they had not been so thoughtful and so kind as to tape the interview and send it to us, we would have never had a record of it in its entirety. The joy that was brought on by Pete’s profound kindness was something to be cherished. If mother’s were more often given an opportunity to feel good about their children, things would be better for us all.

The more we know about someone, the more we have an opportunity for trust. So now that we know just a little bit more about Thomas Friedman, and we know a lot more about The Who, and especially Pete Townshend, and his girlfriend Rachael too. Would one immediately trust them? We certainly think we would all trust Tom, but we’ve never met him. And about Pete? We trust him all day long.

So we’ll be posting more stories about us here in our real estate blog. There are some good ones, we can assure you. One of which is an astounding miracle. Perhaps some of you will find them interesting, or meaningful. Hopefully some of you might want to get to know us. If so, you’ll likely find we are people you can trust.

Here’s the Tahoe Daily Tribune Article:

Interview of a lifetime: Young rock 'n' roll journalist unites Tahoe to The Who.

Tim Parsons, March 16, 2007

Back-stage dweller Olivier Curial has come a long way since, as a 4-year-old, he started a food fight with Joe Walsh. The Kingsbury Grade seventh-grader last month interviewed Pete Townshend after The Who concert in Reno.

"I was just really honored because I was able to interview Pete Townshend," the 13-year-old Olivier said. "Not any average boy - not that I am an average boy - gets to interview Pete Townshend."

Olivier, who is completely fluent in French, certainly is not an average boy. And neither are his folks. His mother, Maxene Bolen, was the longtime partner of John Entwistle, the late bass player for The Who. Husband Richard Bolen of Dickson Realty had a long career in film and music before moving to Tahoe.

Maxene, a former wardrobe set designer in Hollywood, put together the costume for the late Who drummer Keith Moon for the television show "Sha Na Na." Later, she met Entwistle, who was the musical director for The Who films "The Kids Are All Right," "Quadrophenia" and "Tommy." Maxene ended up being with Entwistle and eventually moved with him to Britain. Entwistle, who died in 2002, and Townshend, of course, were very close.

In the interview, Townshend said he knew Entwistle since he was 12 years old. Maxene told Olivier she could arrange a meeting with Townshend after the Reno concert. Olivier asked his English teacher Wendy Smith if he could conduct the interview as a school project. "He's been very ambitious and he's a very bright kid," said Smith, who has been at KMS for 11 years. "I told him he could do it for bonus points. I always encourage kids to write in any way, shape or form."

Olivier prepared his questions and practiced asking them for a month. When he met Townshend it was very noisy with autograph-seekers. Townshend took him onto the back of The Who's tour bus where it was quiet. Was he nervous? "When I first got to the concert, yes," he said. "But once I started talking to him I didn't feel anything because since my mom knew the band it felt like I knew them."

Townshend was extremely polite. "All of them are tremendously kind," Richard Bolen said. "They are really nice people. If Olivier had a chance to get nervous Pete would have taken care of it instantly. He's just that gracious."

And although he doesn't remember, Olivier has a history of mingling with rock 'n' roll stars. "I remember when he was 3 or 4 and he was back stage throwing ice at people," Maxene said. "And he got in a food fight in the hospitality room with (the Eagles') Joe Walsh but he doesn't remember that. He and Joe Walsh started a food fight in the hospitality room when he was 4 years old."

Olivier, who came with a pen and notepad, got an assist from Townshend's girlfriend Rachael Fuller of "In the Attic" who provided a digital recorder. Many of the Townshend's answers were insightful. He talked about his childhood in post World War II Europe, he and Entwistle's classical musical roots, and even how they came up with the name of the band, which initially was The Detours and The High Numbers.

"He told me they needed something completely catchy," Olivier said. "They knew when some one heard the name they'd say, 'The Who?' And people would say, 'yeah, The Who.'"

Olivier remembers his teacher's reaction after he submitted the interview. "She was just looking at it going 'Oh, wow,''' he said. Smith was the longtime editor for the school newspaper. "We rarely got an interview like that one," she said. Olivier remembers what she said after she finished reading the interview. "Olivier this reads really well, but to get an 'A' you need to have the band play for the teachers."

Here’s the complete Interview:

RENO, NV - February 23, 2007. Interview conducted by Olivier Curial, a 13-year old 7th Grade Student at Kingsbury Middle School, Lake Tahoe. Place of interview was back room of Pete Townshend tour bus after the Reno concert.

P. Here we go!

O. So where were you born?

P. I was born...right where I live a place called Isleworth...

O. How do you spell it?

P. I-S-L-E-W-O-R-T-H.

O. England?

P. Yes, just outside London...right on the River Thames, near where there was an old river crossing, and my studio is, the studio I use most of the time, I bought it before I knew this was like 20 yards from the house I was born in.

O. When where you born? If I can ask?

P. I was born the 19th May, 1945.

O. 1945?

P. Yes, that makes me 62, it was just after the end of the War, so I’m a baby boomer you know... right, the war ended around May/June 1945... the war with Germany and Japan, and the bomb that they dropped on Nagasaki was around that time as well or so... I sort of feel like my life began when all the peace began, and things were good again in Europe, but times were also quite difficult and a lot of rock music relates to a lot of that tension...we’re also living in that time now.

O. How many were in your family?

P. To start with, I was an only child, my father was a traveling musician and my mum was a singer, and... so there was just the two of them. And I was born... I went to live with my grandmother for a couple of years... while my mum worked. Then my parents had a little bit of trouble and they split up for a while and then they got back together again and then they split up again and... There was a lot of trouble with the people after the war in those days. It was quite difficult for people to divorce, and my brother Paul wasn’t born until I was 12, and my brother Simon wasn’t born until I was 14. That's how many are in my family, just the 3 brothers. My father died about 15 years ago and my mother is still alive. She is 86, and she a real nuisance (laughs affectionately).

O. What kind of musical background? What kind do you like?

P. Well my background, my dad did dance music, you know like the kind of music, what would you call it... kind of like... Big band music, and that's what I listened to from the age (laughs) about 1-year old right up to about to..., I suppose around 11. I first heard bill Haley, before I heard Elvis. Bill Haley and then Skiffle, we had something called Skiffle in the U.K., which I don’t think we had it in America. It was kind of like folk music with guitars. I got into the guitar and then I found, I discovered jazz, and blues, and classical music, and... my background is very spread you know. I like all kinds of music, John Entwistle and I, your mom’s partner for a long time, John, he was an orchestral musician. He played french horn in an orchestra, so we had slightly different tastes, but we started playing together when we were 12 at school. Between us we liked a bit of everything really, but rock and roll was... my first love, I just loved it. And then rhythm and blues, I really loved that too.

O. Who else in your family?

P. Sorry?

O. Who else in your family?

P. In my family, I’ve got 2 daughters grown-up now in their thirties: Emma and Aminta. I’ve got a son, Joseph, who’s 17. I’ve been separated from my wife for 12 years now, but I’m still married to her. We are about to get a divorce, but still married. Her father, he’s died now. His name was Edwind Astly. He was a great film composer, but he is famous for doing the music for Danger Man and The Saint on the TV and... yes, both sides of the family were very musical.

O. Did your son or daughters play any kind of music or your family?

P. Yep, they all are pretty musical. My son Joseph plays guitar pretty well, very elegantly. My daughter Emma was a classically trained pianist. She made a couple of records, which were successful. She has given up music now; she still plays music, but she has given it up as a profession. She’s a journalist now, and my daughter Aminta has a beautiful singing voice, and she sang in choirs, and had a few bands, but she now works in the film business.

O. When did you start playing?

P. I started playing the harmonica, the proper harmonica, the chromatic one, with the buttons on the side, when I was about 7. And then I picked up the guitar when I was about 11. My father had a guitar, he was saxophone player, but also played the guitar. So it was really good for me, ‘cause you know when you start the guitar the most important thing is having somebody who can tune it for you.

O. What was your first band?

P. The first band was the one I had with John, which was a jazz band actually called “The Confederates.” And we played, what you would call over here, jazz like... kind of like Louis Armstrong jazz, like New Orleans jazz. I played the banjo and John was the one who played the trumpet, and there were two other guys in the band.

O. And when was this?

P. That was when we were about 13 (laughs). We were really young, 13 or 14. O. What interested you in school? P. You know I was pretty clunky at school. I liked pretty much all subjects, but I wasn’t particularly good at anything except, I was very good at art and very good at mechanical drawing, very good at metal work, very good at practical things. Not so good at academic subjects, and I’m very much right side of the brain, I’m very much into creative stuff and, but that's it really. When I did my exams I passed plenty of exams, but I got my best grades for metal work, art, and mechanical drawings which is when you do plans for artifacts and stuff.

O. What were your early influences?

P. Well, probably Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Bill Haley, Elvis, Everly Brothers... Ricky Nelson... Eddie Cockran, but I liked a lot jazz as well. So Wes Montgomery was a great jazz player, Kenny Burrell. I listen to Flamenco music as well, a guy named Segovia, and yeah, those are the...

O. What are your influences now?

P. I think the influences now are things that cross my creative process. I listen to a lot of music. I love a lot of music that I hear. I love a lot of new artists that I hear. I’m getting to meet and play with a lot of new artists at the moment ‘cause Rachel is doing this show that she does on the internet called “In The Attic.” We get to meet loads of new artists. So there’s an incredible number of people that I love, and some of them are really influential like C.C. Goras (sp?), a Finnish group. They are quite famous for that funny movie... did you ever see that film called “The Life Aquatic?”

O. I didn’t see...

P. It’s a Wes Anderson film. There is a scene in that where they’re underwater and, it’s kind of a comedy film, and there is a shark and the music that was used by Sufjan Stevens, I really liked. But my main influences really are movies, literature, and art, painting and stuff. It must sound strange, but that is what inspires my writing, my music writing.

O. What inspires you?

P. As I said other creative people, other creative ideas, being exposed to a creative process. I mean by reading or by you know...

O. Why did you name yourselves The Who? Is there any origin to that name?

P. We were just knocking around a name. We thought that would be catchy, quick, fun, and a little bit sort a cosmic, and we also wanted to do something controversial. We knew that when we said “The Who” or called ourselves “The Who”, we thought people would say, the who?

O. Why the name for these songs: A man in a purple dress? Or Bobby O’Riley?

P. (laughs) Baba O’Riley. The man in a purple dress is a song about how people in positions of power... who have the power to order the death of other people... often seem to dress-up (laughs) in strange outfits in order to do it, like cardinals, popes, rabis, mullahs, judges. In England, judges wear these long gray wigs, and they kind of look stupid. Why do they wear that to judge people? But its all about ceremony of course, and it’s a song about that. Baba O’Riley is a song that was my first attempt at a complex piece of electronic music production composition, and I named it after an Indian teacher that I followed called Meher Baba, one half of the name, and the other half of is named after a electronic musician I loved called Terry Riley. I put in a little Irish too, so that’s where the O’ comes from. So I mixed them together and that came out as Baba O’Riley.

O. Ok, what's your favorite song?

P. Probably, “Three Steps to Heaven” by Eddie Cockran.

O. Who’s idea was it to be in CSI?

P. It was just a deal, a TV deal.

O. What advice would you give young people today?

P. Don’t worry... try to be positive. I’ve lived all my life with people telling me the end of the world was coming. And not only did it not happen, but I wasted a lot of time worrying. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be careful about the planet, but we shouldn’t be negative about it, and we shouldn’t get upset about it. We should be positive.

O. Last question. What is the most asked question you get?

P. (laughs loudly) I suppose it’s how many guitars have you smashed? (we both laugh) And I don’t have an answer. So are you good with that?

O. Yeah.


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Irina Netchaev
Pasadena Views Real Estate Team, Inc. - Pasadena, CA
Pasadena CA Real Estate

Wow! What an amazing exerience for Olivier to have.  How many kids would have an opportunity like that.

Thanks for giving us a little insight into the type of person Pete Townsend is.  I'm printing this one out for my husband.  He's a fan!

Aug 22, 2007 05:04 PM #1
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Gary Bolen

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