"Ya know why they'll never make a movie of my life? Because there's no tragedy in it. And that's just fine with me."
Fun From Day One
A lot of people have asked me to do a biography page since that seems to be a popular thing to do on a Website. It's also a tough thing to do because there is such a fine line between telling what you've done and "bragging". I'll try to do this without too much of the latter....hopefully.
(By the way, apparently some people have been taking my photo captions quite seriously. Many of the captions are true, but believe me, if it sounds ridiculous, it probably is. And, no- the images have not been photo-shopped or altered in any way.)
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin- March 15, 1951. "Beware the Ides of March" takes on a new meaning.
My love for miniature vehicles started at an early age. The Jewel man would come to our door every week with a metal toy of a Jewel Tea Company delivery truck sticking out of his basket and I just had to have it. I bugged my folks 'til they broke down and bought it for my 4th birthday.
And then of course, the cruelty begins. Myself and my brothers Mark and Paul on Marks birthday. We placed his birthday cake on the hood of his new pedal car and forced him to drive it around as fast as he could without letting it slide off- or we threatened to beat him.
In 1965, I won my first model contest trophy at a local hobby shop. First and third places were both taken by Corvettes, but my customized '56 Ford squeezed in between 'em and grabbed 2nd place. I still have the model and the trophy.
Uh-oh. By 1966, I was a full-fledged Rock 'n Roller and all thoughts of model car building were buried away for the time being. I'm the groovy cat sitting on the ground. Hey, the moustache may be fake, but the eyebrows are real! (L to R: Dave Turnquist, Pat Cannon, Steve Zoellin, Bob Baum, Russ Ward and yours truly)
1971, on the beach in Acapulco. The hotel Papagayo was a landmark that was torn down years later to make way for a park. This was my very first of many trips to Mexico and it actually changed my life in some ways.
1972, playing at a rally for Dan Walker, who was running for the office of Governor of Illinois. He eventually won, but I'm not exactly sure if my band really had anything to do with it.
Around 1974, after coming home from college (Southern Illinois University), I started to revive my interest in model cars. '74 was a great time to get back in because you could still pick up rare kits at great prices and I picked up quite a few. It was the beginning of a collection that is now officially out of control. I also started a new phase of my music career.
In 1980, I joined the New Seekers and traveled across the country singing "Hey There, Georgy Girl" every night for about 4 years. Hey c'mon, if that blonde had her hand on your bass, you'd be smiling, too. Alright, class....let's get our minds out of the gutter.
Singing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium, New York in front of 50,000 Yankee fans and the good ol' American flag. That's us towards the bottom of the picture, directly in front of the color guard. Pretty exciting stuff, and I'm not even a baseball fan!
I met this very nice couple on a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, but they insisted on wearing these huge masks all the time we were together. I later found out why- they had both been horribly disfigured in an automobile accident.
Yours truly, in the 1982 production of Stumpy's Gang. Jim Belushi had
suggested to friends of mine that we make a short film to be shown on
Saturday Night Live, along the lines of the Mr.Bill series. Unfortunately,
Stumpy was a bit long, coming in at around 12 minutes, so it was never shown
on SNL. Chances are pretty good you've never seen this film.
you can actually see this film and my other film from 1971- Squeamish
Nazis. Click on the link!
Doing a show at Second City, Chicago. I have to admit, it was a real kick performing on the same stage that artists like John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Alan Arkin, etc. had once been on. Maybe someday I'll be as famous as them. Then again........maybe not.
By 1993, the live band end of the music biz was in it's death throes, so when I got a call from Revell-Monogram, asking if I needed a job, I figured...what the heck? Might even be fun! I ended up working there for 12 years. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it wasn't. ( I never stopped playing in bands, though...and I never burned out on model building, either!)
My office at Revell, Des Plaines ca.1994. Surrounded by model kits, who could ask for anything more? The Des Plaines site closed in '98 and we all moved over to the Morton Grove facility. In 2003, we moved to a new facility in Northbrook, Il. and in 2006, the original Morton Grove plant was razed, I imagine to make way for another Walgreens.
1995 was my first trip to Europe. Now if you'll all sit down and be quiet, I'll show you 208 slides of my vacation.
My brother Mark and I "debating" in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. It is truly amazing walking across the very same floors that Julius Caesar walked across so long ago. Oh well, I guess you had to be there.......
Here I am, admiring a painting at the Louvre in Paris, France. My brothers and I were actually kicked out of the Louvre that day. One of my brothers can be a bit of a wise-ass at times and I guess the French didn't appreciate our sense of humor. If my folks ever found out, they'd *kill* us!
Checking out the copy I wrote for the Revell '69 Dart kit. This Australian hobby shop was very similar to an American shop. I'm not sure the shop owner believed me when I tried to explain that I was the guy who actually wrote the copy on the sides of the box, but I noticed he was happy when I actually bought something.
Working with Ed "Big Daddy" Roth at the Chicago Hobby Show in '97 was fun. He brought the Beatnik Bandit II with him and signed autographs in our booth during the 4 day event. My wife, Gay is to the left of Roth and that's me, with the top hat embedded in my neck.
Doing a research photo shoot of a Chevelle for Revell ( hey,that rhymes!). The fellow on the ladder is Bill Lastovich. The ladder eventually buckled and Bill fell onto the trunk of the car, leaving a 2 1/2 foot long dent. (Just kidding)
Gay and I had a great time back in Puerto Vallarta Spring of 2000. Here we are with former Olympic Gold Medal swimmer, Mark Spitz. Mark was in costume for his new gig with the "El Dolphin World" theme park in Mexico.
On August 5th, 2000, I finally decided trying to stay single for 50 years wasn't worth it, so I got married (at age 49 1/2).
Gay and I on top of our chocolate wedding cake and.......the real thing.
Here I am in the South of England, showing the difference between American and British car keys. Apparently that pile of stones in the background is of some significance, but I'm not exactly sure what.
In August of 2003, Gay and I actually crewed on the Stars & Stripes, the yacht that had won the Americas Cup race in 1987. Prior to the race, I agreed to gain 50 pounds to act as ballast. (St.Maarten, Caribbean)
Here I am standing on the line between the Hemispheres, the line that determines what time the new day starts throughout the world. It's the GMT line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England and I'm going crazy. I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S TIME FOR BREAKFAST OR DINNER! AAARGH!
The Madurodam, in Holland is the worlds largest 1/25th scale diorama and it is quite impressive. I had noticed a model car on the street that was missing from my own collection and I hoped to obtain it through negotiations with the management. My wife slapped me on top of the head before I was able to do so, however.
With the live music scene slowly disappearing in the US, I thought I'd try to join a band in Morrocco, Africa. When I found out the gig only paid two pounds of camel dung per week, I decided against it.
One of my pet peeves is bumper stickers that say "Ask Me About My Grandchildren!" Let's face it folks, NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR GRANDCHILDREN EXCEPT YOU! Meanwhile, have I shown you a picture of my grandkids? Aren't they just the cutest litt.......what? Oh. Never mind.
December 17th, 2006- The CD Release party for my first album, SONGS ABOUT STUFF. Looks like I'm obviously singing some painfully serious song or maybe I just have a stomach ache. Left to right: Dennis Gordon (co-producer), Scott Braam (recording engineer) myself and Dave Kovnat, who plays drums on the album. Photo- Debi Zari
March 19th, 2007- I helped organize and MC a memorial tribute to Dennis Gordon, my musical partner and friend of 25 years. Dennis passed away on February 20th, 2007 and over 100 friends and musicians came to celebrate his life on this night one month later. Needless to say, it was quite an emotional event. Photo- Debi Zari
Gay, at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Such an idyllic scene, and yet if you look a few feet to the left, there are hundreds of people, lots of gift shops and a huge parking lot filled with cars. More like the Cliffs of Moher Amusement Park, but it was still an awe inspiring sight..
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum in Ireland. Who'da thunk it? But there it was as we happened to be driving by. That's Mat Irvine sitting out front and that's me sitting inside the world's largest scale model- The Pan Am Yankee Clipper flying boat. Too cool.
Wow, the life of a famous author. Hanging out at Barnes & Nobles, signing my new book- The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s & 1970s. This woman was nice enough to pretend she was buying a copy so I could set up this picture.
The week before Christmas of 2010, our whole family
got together in Jacksonville,
Florida and the brothers decided to rent a studio and play a few tunes. And
we didn't sound bad for a bunch of old guys. Here's a link to my Youtube
page which shows quite a few videos of the music:
In 2012, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City showed several items I had loaned them for their display on tall ships. They even set up a phone so you could listen to the record I had sent them.
To Be Continued........(as more things happen)
The following is a "poem" or whatever, that I wrote about fun stuff I'd done in my life. Before I placed it on this page, I showed it to several people with mixed results. Some said it was way over the top and I was coming off like a real blowhard, while others thought it was legit and came off as someone expressing how thankful he was for the life experiences he'd had. I'll let you, the reader be the judge, and if I get too many negative responses, ......I'll yank it off!
Update: Several years now with no complaints. Guess I'll leave it up. But I have to admit, it seems to be getting a bit lengthy. ;^)
I think I've had a pretty good life:
I've danced with my wife at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I've had dinner at the base of an erupting
volcano (Arenal) in Costa Rica.
I've sung, along with my four brothers, to a gondolier on the canals of Venice.
I've gazed upon the Mona Lisa, craned my
neck at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Chapeland stood in awe on top of the Acropolis.
I've played with the Barbary Apes on the Rock of Gibralter.
I saw President John F.Kennedy waving
from the door of an airplane in
Milwaukee in 1963.
I've hiked the Bright Angel Trail down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up again in one day, a feat I can assure you I will never attempt again.
I've been in two (intensely minor) earthquakes and I survived!
I've stood in an Australian
reading ad copy I'd written back in the States.
Auto Enthusiast magazine named me one of Top 20 most memorable
My band was played on WFMT Radio's "Best
of the Midnight
I was an indirect cause of one of the
last record albums recorded and released by comedian
Henny Youngman before he passed away.
I've sung and played with local musicians in
Cuba, Morocco, England, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Nicaragua and
several other countries around the world.
Grammy Award winner Shawn Colvin used to
perform a song I wrote (Youíve Been On My Mind So Long, Itís Giviní Me a
Headache) in one of her early bands.
I was in the middle of the Lincoln Park riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention and I was tear-gassed in the Carbondale, Illinois riots of the early 1970s.
I've been responsible for introducing 3 different couples who eventually married and had kids- although I certainly didn't plan it that way.
I've had a model car book (Auto Modelling
Masterclass) dedicated to me by the great British writer
Irvine in 1998, I was asked to write the introduction to
Mat's new book, Scale Modelling in 2011 and Arthur
Ward, the British expert on Airfix models, dedicated 5 pages to me
in his 2004 book,
Classic Kits. I'm thinking of moving to
England and trying my hand at convincing the British that I'm a god or
something. Maybe I can even get a job!
I'm thinking of moving to England and trying my hand at convincing the British that I'm a god or something. Maybe I can even get a job!
I opened my own Toy Museum after planning it for
25 years. 4,000 people visited the museum before it closed in 2004.
There was even a story about my toy collection written by the famous
Chicago Tribune rock critic,
Lyn Van Matre.
4,000 people visited the museum before it closed in 2004. There was even a story about my toy collection written by the famous Chicago Tribune rock critic, Lyn Van Matre.
I've sung the National Anthem with The New
Seekers before a ball game at Yankee Stadium.
I've had my name (as designer) on the side of a Revell model car kit box. One of the kits from my Highway Scenes series has been spotted in several books on the history of Route 66 and is also seen in the 2004 film- Built For Speed: The Coral Court Motel ( It appears at 1:12). Another of my kits won the coveted Model Kit of the Year award from Toy Shop News.
I've shared the stage with the likes of Cab
Calloway, Jan and Dean, Bo
I've performed on the stage of Chicago's
Second City Theatre in two different Players Workshop shows.
I was music director of a cast of 16 men and
women for several years at the Dry Gulch, a Chicago area dinner
Chicago area dinner
My band, the Casualaires (including
several "guests" from John Prine's band -The Famous Potatoes)
made a record that was played on jukeboxes all over
Chicago in the late 1970s. We recorded it at a little place called
Acme Studios, the same studio in which Bob Dylan would
record an album 14 years later.
Chicago in the late 1970s. We recorded it at a little place called
Acme Studios, the same studio in which Bob Dylan would
record an album 14 years later.
We recorded it at a little place called Acme Studios, the same studio in which Bob Dylan would record an album 14 years later.
I produced my own 1950 Buick resin model car kit and sold close to 200 of them before the mold wore out.
I've built models that were featured in movies,
TV shows, magazine ads, video arcade games
I was dating a woman for a while when a friend of mine showed me a men's magazine that she was the centerfold in. When I asked her about it, she just said "Yeah, that's me!" Ha! Not that there's anything wrong with that!
I was almost killed by Iggy Pop (of the Stooges) at a rock festival in 1969 when he decided it would be fun to throw objects up in the air and into the audience from the stage. I was lying on my back with my eyes closed near the front of the stage when suddenly I heard a loud "thump" right next to my ear. I rolled over and looked at a full can of beer embedded in the ground inches from my face.
I observed a huge, glowing U.F.O. from about 30 feet away for several minutes one summer night back in 1978, another object in Acapulco, Mexico in 2006 and a 3rd flyover in Indiana in 2007.. And no, I was not taken onboard and "probed" by little green men.
In 2003, I crewed as a Backstay Grinder on the yacht Stars & Stripes, the winner of the 1987 Americas Cup race. We ran a regatta against the yacht True North and we actually won.
I've had quite a few of my model cars featured on the pages of Collectible Automobile magazine, as well as others..
Early Super 8mm footage of my '60s band, Grope was featured in film director Allison Anders "Don't Knock the Rock" festival in 2004.
In the late '60s, I was lucky enough to see the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the original Mothers of Invention, the Yardbirds, The Byrds, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Segovia, the Grateful Dead and many others, live in concert.
In 1977, Del Close of Second City fame, came to see my band, and was so impressed that he immediately gave me the Second City sweatshirt he was wearing. He then proceeded to run out into the street, bare from the waist up, into a howling blizzard and disappeared into the cold Chicago night. I think it's safe to say, Del was "feeling no pain" that evening. ;^)
I had my name in the Americas Who's Who book (only as the son of Nicholas Milano, my father the world famous metallurgical engineer). Hey, it's a start!
I've had all my musical equipment stolen twice, and both times they left my accordion behind. Puzzling? You decide.
I'm proud to say that over the last 35 years, I have not found it necessary to eat at a McDonalds.
I was mentioned (as the lead singer for my band, Pontiac Jones) in the premier issue of OUI magazine, an offshoot of Playboy magazine. How many of you can tell your grandkids you were in a dirty magazine, huh?
My bands have played in just about every situation imaginable, including a stint at a nudist colony, a Teenage Miss America Pageant, Chicago Bulls warm-up act, political rallies, a book signing for Studs Terkel, a maximum security prison (Joliet) and two weddings that ended in bloody brawls between families.
I've seen the Can-Can danced at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, I've seen the show (which has run continuously since 1939, by the way) at the famous Tropicana in Havanna, I saw the MC5 kick out the jams in Lincoln Park at the 1968 Democratic Convention riots, but I didn't get to go to Woodstock with all my buddies because I had to work at the IGA grocery store that weekend! Hindsight is golden...
In 2004, I had my picture (see my Celebrity Models page) on the boxtop of an AMT model kit, the company that competes with Revell, the people I was working for at the time!
I had my name in the credits of the 2006 release of the feature film LEGIT, and all I did was play bass at the World Premiere ceremonies. Look ma, I'm in da movies! PLUS- One of my model cars, a 1960 Valiant, ended up in the 1999 Disney Pictures film version of the '60s TV Sitcom My Favorite Martian.
In 2006, I realized another of my lifelong dreams when I recorded and released my own CD/album of 16 original songs. The title- Songs About Stuff. In 2008, I released my second CD, Vestiges: More Songs About More Stuff. In 2010, I released my third CD- Something To Think About, which was listed as one of the Top Fifteen Folk Albums of 2011 by WDCB radio.
In 2009, I wrote my first book entitled The Chicago Music Scene: The 1960s and 1970s, a pictorial history for the Arcadia Images of America Series. It actually went into second printing only a couple of weeks after it was released and a year later, it was in it's third printing.
After 20 years of being a member, in 2010, I was featured in the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journal in a nice Member Profile article.
Submitted my song Forever Children to Neil Young's Living With War website and it reached #171 out of about 3,000 submissions. Also sent a video (put together by my brother Philip) for my song Storm Is Comin' to the Neil Young video Site and that one peaked at #15 out of 695 entries.
In May , 2012 I was profiled in the Chicago Reader magazine series, the Secret History of Chicago Music. Quite an honor and quite a surprise I was chosen to be part of this series.
After 50 years of searching, I found my dream girl and I married her. We're a match made in heaven- I'm the worlds loudest snorer and she's the worlds heaviest sleeper.
And above all, I've been surrounded by the best
family and friends a man could want.
I've had a pretty good life and if I could go back
and do it over again, I
Welcome to the Milano/Kulas/LaPorte Family Pictures area.
These pictures are being made available to my family for downloading. If you're not a Milano/Kulas/LaPorte family member, they may not mean much to you, but there are some pretty interesting older images here, nonetheless.