The other day, super-dooper famous Lee Popa and his lovely wife, Jolee, came to Japan. I got to show them around a couple of days for a few hours. I'd like to tell you about the scadalous hi-jinks that went on while they were in Japan. Hence the cool title: "Lightning Strikes: Producer Lee Popa, $30,000 in Cash, His Wife and Me: A True Story!"
Lee and Jolee at Sensoji Shrine May 6, 2017
Lee Popa is a humble man but he is super famous. He is a VERY famous engineer and producer. He served as live engineer for X-Japan and Hide. Discogs writes: "(Lee Popa is) A primary figure in the industrial rock scene since the late 1980s, Lee Popa served as live engineer for Ministry’s legendary 1989/1990 “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” tour (as documented on the 1990 live album, “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up”) and Killing Joke’s 1990/1991 “Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions” tour (as documented on the 2007 compilation, “Inside Extremities, Mixes, Rehearsals & Live”). Popa’s extensive resume as a remixer/producer/sound engineer includes work with Tool, Living Colour, Korn, Cheap Trick, Prong, White Zombie, Danzig, Phunk Junkeez, KMFDM, Queen, Gnarles Barkley, Phantom Planet, Bad Brains and Bush, and pinksideofthemoon among countless others. Popa was the frontman of Slammin’ Watusis, a Chicago-based group that released two albums on Epic Records in the late ‘80s and toured with the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour and King’s X."
He has also worked with Aretha Franklin, Aerosmith, Macy Gray, Tina Turner. Many more....
Mrs. Popa (Hereinafter referred to as "Jolee") is actually the boss and she is also a fantastic songstress and singing coach to the stars too. Together they make up a fab artist named "pinksideofthemoon." Here's one of their tracks: (pinksideofthemoon - Keep on Dancin' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp-yoyJ2XBU)
Cool, eh? Anyway, I asked them how it was that pinksideofthemoon came about and Lee told me, "We were in a studio waiting from some musicians that never showed up so we decided not to let the studio time go to waste."
Makes sense. As a producer (sort of) myself, I totally 'get it' as to the "what are we gonna do now?" type of situations. "Producer" sounds like a high-falutin' title, but it's actually a fancy term for "Baby-sitter." As a producer, I spend most of my time making sure there's no arguments or fighting; everyone has a coffee and a donut; and that there are enough hand-held mirrors for the prima-donnas to go around. That's what a producer does.
But I digress.
Lee and Jolee in front of Mt. Fuji May 2, 2017
Lee and Jolee were in Japan to do some investigation on making a charity event for the kids who, to this very day, suffer from the effects of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. At this moment, plans are being formulated and set up but it looks like its shaping up to be a life-changing experience for everyone involved and, hopefully, a few smiles and good memories for the kids who have gone through so much.
I'll have more information for you as things get settled.
While I was chaperone for Lee and Jolee, we went a lot of places. We went to see Mt. Fuji from afar, had some great sushi.
Anyway, we did the tourist thing but I wanted to take them to places that most tourists never see.
"But, Mike! What does this have to do with $30,000?" I hear you say. Well, hold on, I'm getting there.
So, one day, after sightseeing, I reckon that Lee and Jolee were waiting for the ride to the next Jet-Set Happening Thingy they had planned. They were famished. So, I guess they popped into a fast food Burger-World type of place. There, a miracle happened! Lightning struck! When Lee went into the men's bathroom, he found a wallet that had about $30,000 USD cash in it! Woah! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Our ship has come in!
Unfortunately, I wasn't there when our ship came in (story of my life).... And.... And... Lee, being too damned honest for his own good (er, I mean 'MY' own good) took the wallet and... Are you sitting down?... Are you ready for it?.... He took the wallet down to the police station and handed it in!
Why, dear Lord? Why wasn't I there to, er, um, "take care" of that wallet for my dear friends Lee and Jolee????
Anyway, I guess a few ten or fifteen minutes later some guy comes screaming into the burger joint faster than a dress comes off the prom queen after the big dance looking for his wallet. The guy is freaking (well, duh!) Lee looks at him, and then takes the guy down to the police station and helps the guy get his wallet back.
WTF? An honest foreigner? This dude's gonna give us all a bad name! Chuckle.
Later on, Lee and Jolee are all smiles and telling me all about it as I try to hold back the tears and my sobbing.... Because I'm so upse... er, "Happy"! Yeah, happy! That's it!
Anyway, a couple of days later, we're walking around Tokyo and then it was Jolee's turn to break the unwritten law. There was a kid's festival (it was Boy's Day, or something like that... I can't keep track of this stuff...) and they were having a Children's Festival over by Okachimachi station.
There they had that silly-assed kid's game called "Kingyo Tsukui" where you take this flimsy paper scoop and try to catch as many goldfish as you can.
I hate that game. I've done it a few times and have never caught even one goldfish. I figured since Lee and Jolee were here doing the "tourist thingy" they might as well try catching the goldfish in the impossible traditional Japanese festival game of Kingyo Tsukui.
I asked if either of them wanted to try. Jolee said she was eager to give it a go. I laughed. Laughed, I tell you! I laughed at her naivety. Why, I have been here over 34 years and have never caught even one goldfish in this silly scam game. But try she wanted, so try she did.
It was ¥300 for a go. She tried to scoop a goldfish and the scooper fell apart immediately. I smirked. The guy running the booth gave Jolee another scooper. He winked at me knowingly.
I proclaimed, "I've been here for over 30 years and have never caught one goldfish in this ridiculous game."
But, then, again, lightning struck again! On her second try, Jolee actually scooped up a goldfish. My jaw dropped! The guy running the booth looked right at me and he was shocked too!
Jolee tried to give the fish away to some kids who were scooping up fish left and right... But when they seemed uninterested, Jolee did something that all REAL fishermen cannot ever forgive: She did "Catch and release" and put the goldfish back!
I couldn't believe it! The last time I went fishing with friends and one guy did that catch and release, we about whacked him with the boat paddles.
So, in less than a few hours, lightning struck twice! Not only did I lose out on $30,000, I lost the fish that was caught.
Oh, the agony!
pinksideofthemoon on "WTF?" InterFM 897 May 7, 2017.
Dejected, I took both Lee and Jolee back to their hotel. They seemed happy and oblivious to my pain...
Sure. Like I said, "Story of my life."
Lee and Jolee say they are coming back to Japan in Autumn to help set up that charity for the kids. I will help them if I can....
I know one thing, though for sure... Next time, I am going to be with them every second of the day watching over them like a hawk....
They say "Lightning always strikes twice." Maybe, I can be there the third time because, you know what they say, "...the third time's always a charm!"