Eddie Brill Blog

The Blizzard of ’78

Forty Years ago!

Powerful. Unexpected. Devastating.

I was 19 years old and a sophomore at Emerson College in Boston, MA when the storm hit.
I lived at 84 Commonwealth Avenue, between Berkeley and Clarendon Streets, just a few short blocks from my work study job, which was located in the heart of the main campus.

I made $3.35 an hour “toiling” as the receptionist for the women’s dormitory at 132 Beacon Street. It sounds like a hot job, and before you cue up the seventies porno music, up until then, there were no “Letters to Penthouse” scenarios for me.

It was the time of Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, yet I had a job to do, and money to be made, so I kept my hands on my homework.

I ended up gaining the trust of many of the residents as the “older brother figure” that they could come to and ask advice, to vent, or just to sit and laugh.
I grew up around strong women and I was able to share their experiences and what they taught me.

I also learned a lot of new information about women, sexuality and gender.

There was another receptionist that worked the dorm, and I had a deep crush on her. She was a couple of years older than me. She was funny, smart and had incredible eyes. She paid attention to me and was open.
It took me a lot of nerve to ask her out.
She told me she was gay and that she already had a partner.
I was floored. This was the first time that this came up in my life for me.

She could see that I was confused and hurt. She took the time to explain it all to me. She was so wonderful and told me about her life, and feeling the way she did as a woman for other women. She told me how painful it was to have to hide her passion and authentic, loving feelings.
She chose Emerson College because it was an arts school and it gave us all a chance to be who we were, without any shame.

By the end of my work shift on February 6th, 1978, I was stuck at the dorm as the unexpected blizzard came to life. Forecasters and prognosticators didn’t see it coming. They knew there was going to be some snow. The storm was originally known as “Storm Larry” making it’s way up from Connecticut and possibly dropping, at most, 10-12 inches of snow in Boston.
The weather equipment in 1978 was not as sophisticated as we have today and the cynical public rarely took heed of the weathermen’s warnings.
Big mistake!!!

The snow was pounding the streets at a record rate and winds gusted between 86 to 111 mph. The white stuff had piled too high and it was too dangerous for me to venture outside.

Two friends of mine who were roommates, offered me shelter in their dorm room. They put their single beds together and for the first time in my life, I was in the middle of two women in bed. I had never slept with either of them, literally or figuratively. We avoided the snowy apocalypse outside by partying heartily and then passing out.

In the middle of the night I awoke and noticed that one of my friends was also awake. We were listening to the raging blizzard.
The power of the storm, worked as an aphrodisiac and aroused us. We ended up having sex, and carefully, as to not wake our sleeping bedmate.

We passed out.

A few hours later I awoke and noticed my recent sexual partner was sound asleep. Yet my other friend was awake and was sitting in front of the window being turned on by the gale force wind. She caught my eye, smiled a little smile for me, pushed herself back in bed and we ended up having sex. Naturally, we were very quiet as not to wake the other friend.

Thanks to Mother Nature, I was involved in my very first threesome.
Well possibly two one-and-a-half somes.

“Dear Penthouse…”

The blizzard kept raging on. Typically, a nor’easter brings steady snowfall for six to twelve hours, while this storm raged on for nearly thirty-six hours.
It dropped 27.1 inches of snow on New England. There were more than 4,500 injuries and nearly 100 deaths.
People were stuck in their cars on the highway. Many died from asphyxiation waiting for help to come.

Nearly twelve thousand college hockey fans were attending The Beanpot Tournament at the Boston Garden, where they witnessed wins by Harvard and BU. Because the first game went into overtime, the people that didn’t leave early enough, ended up being stuck there as the Mass Transit system had been shut down. They survived on coffee, popcorn and hot dogs and slept in locker rooms and in the bleachers.

The dormitory I worked in was just across the street from the very popular Emerson FM radio station, WERS.
Many of the DJ's couldn't make it into town, and because I was one of the few people in the area, I filled in where I was needed.
I also did the four o’clock news show by myself. That's usually a program with three people. A news anchor, a sports reporter and a weather person. I decided to do the show as three different characters and I gave them all completely different voices.
The news guy voice I used was deep and stoic. The weather voice was light and airy, and the sports voice was loud and comical.
It was a fun way to get through all of the crazy news and share the important information that was coming from Governor Dukakis’ office about the storm.

Boston’s Mayor, Kevin White, was luckily stuck in Palm Beach, Florida with his wife. He kept apologizing for not being in Boston during the storm and pleaded for sympathy, maintaining that it was so cold in Florida that he couldn’t even swim in the pool.

When the snow finally stopped, I remember a bunch of us trying to climb these huge snow drifts to forage for food. We went a few blocks to Boylston Street and saw army tanks. The Governor had brought in 350 federal troops.
It was incredibly intense.

After they finally cleared the roads for cars, myself and three friends piled into a hot, red Mustang and drove straight to Florida. The weather was beautiful.
Unlike Mayor White, we found no issue with the water temperature.
We even stayed a little longer than we were supposed to, and missed a few days of classes.
We felt we earned it after surviving the blizzard of '78!

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It was the night before my birthday and a little more than a month after 9/11.
The air was still thick in NYC with shock and despair.
I headed to a benefit at "The Park" on Tenth Avenue to help raise money for the families of the brave men and women who had recently lost their lives.
As soon as I walked through the door, I stopped in my tracks.
Then did a double-take.
On his way out and saying goodbye to a couple of firemen, was none other than Robert DeNiro.
Many New Yorkers have their DeNiro story, but not only didn’t I have one, I had never seen him live and in person until this very moment.
I remember vividly the first time I "saw" him.
I went to the movie theater to see "Mean Streets" for my 15th birthday.
The film was rated 'R' and I couldn't get in without a guardian until I was 17.
Some kids needed adults to buy beer for them.
My vice was film.
I trolled the parking lot and found a couple who were willing to bring me in with them. I went inside, separated from my "guardians," sat down, and began to watch one of the most intense films and the most amazing performances I had ever seen.
The film started out raw, and didn't let up.
"You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it."
Well here I was all these years later.
At this famous Chelsea hotspot.
And there in front of me on October 15th, 2001, 28 years TO THE DAY the film was released, stood Johnny Boy.
Robert DeNiro.
He started to walk past me to leave the club, and instinctively, I gave him a head nod.
He looked at me for a moment, and then all of a sudden, he grabbed me and gave me the strongest and best hug I have ever gotten in my life.
Robert Fucking DeNiro.
And he didn't let go for a long time.
It appeared that I was getting the cathartic brunt of his super-charged passion from the events that he and the whole world were going through.
Or, maybe he thinks I was Danny Aiello!
Either way, the embrace felt good, and I was glad to be part of it.
At one point during the hug, I looked up and noticed that my two best friends in the world, Chris Phillips and Adam Roth, who had gotten to the event earlier, were staring at me. Like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, their eyes were bugged out and their jaws had hit the floor. They, like me, couldn't believe that I was in a hammer lock with Rupert Pupkin.
After what seemed like an eternity, Travis Bickle finally let go, and wished me a good night and I stood there for a moment, trying to understand what had just happened.
The venue was huge, and the event was star-studded, yet everyone in the joint stopped to witness this huge embrace.
I walked briskly past through the crowd to where my friends were standing, and they asked me how I knew “Bobby,” and I said I didn't. After a long beat, we broke the silence with a huge laugh.
All throughout the night, people stared at me, wondering who the hell I was.
I heard a lot of whispering as I would pass.
It was killing them trying to figure out who this guy was that practically made love on the dance floor with one of the greatest actors of all time.
At one point, I went up to the bar to get a cocktail and the fellow next to me asked if he could buy me a drink.
Time for another double-take.
It was Clarence Williams III.
Link, from "Mod Squad."
"One white, one black, one blonde!"
One of the most memorable shows from my childhood.
We hit it off immediately. We were chatting and sipping on some beers, and I could see it in his face. Despite our fun and funny small talk, he had a question he wanted so desperately to ask me. Finally after a few minutes of chit chat, he blurted out,
“SOOOO, how do you know DeNiro?”
I still hadn't processed it all and didn't really know how to explain it.
So, I looked at him and I said…
I knew him from "Mean Streets."

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Neil deGrasse Tyson explains to his Guest Co-Host, comedian Eddie Brill, what the distinct difference is between a scientist and a charlatan.
Want to hear Neil's entire discussion with Eddie? "StarTalk Radio" airs on Saturday, May 27th & Sunday, May 28th at 5 & 10 PM EST...only on SiriusXM Insight, Channel 121.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson explains to his Guest Co-Host, comedian Eddie Brill, what the distinct difference is between a scientist and a charlatan.

Want to hear Neil's entire discussion with Eddie? "StarTalk Radio" airs on Saturday, May 27th & Sunday, May 28th at 5 & 10 PM EST...only on SiriusXM Insight, Channel 121.

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