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Night of the Hurricane (Or Was it Just an Idiot Wind?)

Page 4 of 7

"When we got down there and we got a certain feeling about Mr. Carson and his entourage, I insisted on getting a certain amount [of money] at one time and a certain amount at another time and they got very upset. When I saw the way the hotel was being run and the way refreshments were being poured and served, I began to worry about covering my expenses. What you should take a very good look at is all the other quote miscellaneous unquote expenses. Take a good look at the hotel."

That hotel — the fairly posh Whitehall (with rates of $42 for a single; $200 for the best suite) — would quickly fill as "Night of the Hurricane II" participants and hangers-on later assembled in Houston. Clyde settled down in a suite — by his accounting, his own hotel bill came to $3,917.23 — and spent most of his time on the phones. He had many calls to make: he needed to stay in touch with Hurricane; he had to try to book more talent for the show; there were far-flung interests he had to try to be on top of. His younger brother Frank was in Los Angeles January 16th with a poster he had designed for the show. They wanted to hand out some 50,000 copies, but Clyde had to get Dylan's permission.

To hear the brothers tell it, Frank damned near got pneumonia while cooling his heels waiting for Dylan's OK. After Lou Kemp (who had been working the Rolling Thunder tour for his childhood friend Dylan) rejected the poster, Frank followed Kemp out to Dylan's house in Malibu. As Clyde tells it: "Frank waited two or three hours out in the car, and he almost got pneumonia. He had to hang around outside in the fog. Lou finally came out and said that Dylan said no." Exit the poster; enter a $1500 bill for Frank, plus his air fare and limo.

Clyde also had to keep a line open to his talent man in L.A., a man named Mitch Kanner, who was then working for World Wide Artists and doing things like getting Shawn Phillips to appear and dealing with Isaac Hayes' management and lining up plane tickets. Clyde had two travel agencies working for him: Moran's of New Orleans and Journeys Far and Near of Los Angeles.

He engaged Moran's because it was a local concern and he expanded to Journeys to have an L.A. outlet working, because the airplane travel became so heavy. The Rolling Thunder Revue members had had to fly out to L.A. to rehearse and that seemed to get so confused that both travel agencies were asked to issue tickets on the same day — on different airlines — to one member of the revue and her traveling companion. Scarlett Rivera and Jennie Yaffe both seemed to have flown first-class from New York to L.A. twice on the same day — January 20th, on both TWA (charged to Moran's) and on Delta (charged to Journeys).

Iconic Rock Shots of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash and More

Air traffic was heavy everywhere. Steve Stills and his guitar were both flying in from Miami to Houston. Shawn Phillips and his band were flying in first-class from the Midwest. The mayor of East Orange, New Jersey, was winging his way to Houston. Larry Sloman, who passes out business cards billing himself as Bob Dylan's favorite reporter, was zooming around as "liaison" from New York to L.A. to Houston and back again at a total of $703.20. The revue's accountant, Marty Feldman, charged $669.26 for his first-class travel between New York and Houston. Plane tickets for Bill Graham and his crew, who all flew coach, ran well over $3000. Hurricane's lawyers — past, present and future — were flying down. A New Jersey band that Hurricane favored, the 1619 Bad Ass Band, was on its way. Jacques Levy, who cowrote "Hurricane" with Dylan, rang up $530.73 first-classing his way to L.A. Total air travel was $45,609.24.

Then there was the matter of the charter plane. No one person will take the credit for it, but there evolved the idea of a special "Night of the Hurricane" jet flying everyone in from L.A. to Houston, complete with freshly painted Hurricane logo on the side. Mitch Kanner was the one who finally authorized Toby Roberts Tours (an L.A. firm that specializes in rock travel) to lease a Hughes Airwest DC-9 with open bar. The only problem there was that Toby Roberts Tours used the agency number of Journeys Far and Near to charter the plane and Sara Ripley, who runs Journeys, is still fairly hot about the whole deal. Especially when she claims that Toby Roberts Tours told her that her $500 commission out of the deal would be donated to the defense fund. The reason she was perturbed was that she thought $500 was a low commission for such a charter. She found out that Clyde Carson had had to transfer $17,171.57 to Roberts' trust account in the Hong Kong Bank of L.A. — in advance — to pay for the charter. But then she saw a copy of the charter agreement with Hughes Airwest and the charge on that bill was for only $13,669.28. She said she called Toby Roberts and couldn't get a straight answer. Lewis J. Weinstock, who is Roberts' partner and who negotiated the deal with Hughes Airwest, said the discrepancy was due to various kinds of land transportation and things and that, no, the final accounting for those things had not been done. And that the agreement with Journeys was that "rather than reduce our price, our fee, instead we would take the profits and the commissions from the work and donate them directly to the [Hurricane] fund." And was that done? "No, they weren't." Weinstock said that it appeared to him that his commissions went to defray production losses on the show, rather than as a donation to the defense fund, and until that was resolved his company would withhold other commissions.

Besides arranging for the DC-9, Mitch Kanner was also trying to set up a big press conference in L.A. He wanted to have it in the Lincoln Heights jail and was already trying to invite such personalities as Jane Fonda, Marvin Gaye and Bill Cosby when "Dylan's people" intervened and told him to cancel it.

Meanwhile, a press conference in Houston would not have been a bad idea, had the idea ever occurred to anyone. Hurricane Carter was not exactly a household word there and nobody had ever heard of Clyde Carson. In fact, there are people in Houston who still think the show was a benefit for storm victims. The local media were openly skeptical that the extravaganza would happen. Scott Holtzman of KILT called the show a "rip-off"every day. Holtzman said he couldn't get any answers to any questions about the show and that Clyde's first publicrelations representative in Houston didn't even know who Hurricane was. Holtzman said all he did get were phoned-in threats from unnamed lawyers telling him to lay off. Bob Claypool, the pop columnist for the Houston Post, regarded the whole affair with a jaundiced eye, especially when he got daily pleadings to plug the show from whoever happened to be doing PR that day. Clyde claimed he spent $41,877.76 in advertising, but Lou Messina, who was handling Pace's ad buying for the show, said it was rough going, especially since he wasn't allowed to advertise Dylan. Anita Martini of Pace said that when she announced that Ringo Starr would be appearing, she got an angry phone call from "someone" in New Orleans ordering her to withdraw Ringo's name. Starr appeared anyway, and he, Clyde is still proud to boast, paid his own hotel bill.

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