Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Walk-in special

That picture is from Sunday morning before our departure to Florida It is the dash of Old Blackie, the 11 year-old fuel slut Chevy Tahoe that gets me where I'm going. We drove (I drove, the Idiot Drummer was merely along for entertainment purposes) to Tampa in one shot Sunday. It took about 11 hours. We exhausetedly scoured a couple of exits for a cheapish looking hotel within walking distance from a food establishment with a liquor license. We found the aptly monikered "Tampa Hotel" near Busch Gardens. "Ask about our walk-in special" extolled the marquee, so I did. 100 bucks. Some special. The Amsterdam Admirals were using the hotel for training camp. That's NFL Europe. I was giddy with fucking star-struck excitement about that.

The Idiot Drummer has suffered for years from sleep apnea, which is a fancy term for ungodly window-shattering snoring. His lovely wife finally convinced him to swallow his pride and go get one of those jet-fighter looking forced-air face mask devices that people with this condition wear to get a decent night's sleep. He said he is now allowed to sleep in the same bed with his better (believe me, much better) half. (Someday I will tell stories of the entire summer he slept in my walk-in closet because he snored so loud we couldn't share the room of the apartment as planned.) We drank a couple of beers at dinner, and as much bourbon as I know he drinks, he claims he now no longer switches over after drinking beer. I do not suffer from such foolish decisions, and a majority of what is pictured in the bottle above ended up in my gullet before bed. More than I intended. I was tempted to empty the humidifier tray of his jet pack and fill it with bourbon after he fell asleep, just to see if he would wake up drunk, but Knob Creek doesn't come cheap, so I saved the rest for later. I ingested enough of the brown elixir to fall asleep despite the fact that there was a man who looked like a cross between Babar the Elephant and Hannibal Lechter in a bed not three feet from me. I didn't hear a peep out of him all night. However, he informed me that early in the morning, I sat bolt upright in bed, yelled out "TITANS!" and immediately laid back down to sleep. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of his claim.

The Idiot Drummer said the reason he never got one of these devices before is because he was afraid that he would fall asleep in his bunk on the bus and the other knuckleheads in the band would gather around and giddily unhook his air tube and shotgun his facemask full of pot smoke, causing him to wake up quite stoned. I think he is only half kidding. I quit smoking pot a long, long time ago, but if we travel together again, I will take it back up once just to try that little trick.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Trailer Trash

I took a momentus road trip with a couple of friends many years ago. We were in a van pulling a trailer. In the town of Gorda, California, there was a car pulling a pop-up camping trailer stopped to turn left into a store. We ran into the back of said trailer, mangling it and our front end. The owners got out, opened the door of the pop-up trailer and let their children out! We hid our bag of weed where it could easily be retreived after all the police reports were filed. They were one hour into what was going to be a two week camping adventure with there friend's borrowed camper. The woman was crying hysterically that we had "ruined their whole vacation." I remember thinking that letting your children ride in a trailer that had been improperly hitched with no brake lights was a recipe for having your trip ruined.

Then, about four days later, we were on the interstate in Flagstaff, Arizona, when I looked out the passenger window, and said to my friend, Tom, who was driving and whose father owned the now crippled van and trailer, "uh, dude, the trailer is passing us on the right." Sure enough, the trailer had come loose and was passing us. Eventually it began turning cartwheels and ended up in the median of the highway on a rainy, Arizona dusk. As we tried to purchase safety chains to better secure the little flat-bed at the Flagstaff Sears and Roebuck, a holier-than-thou little Nancy-boy clerk wanted to deny our only currency, Tom's Sears card, because he hadn't signed the back of the card. He eventually succumed to the glares of the three exhausted and unwashed stoners and let us have the goods.

My friend, the Idiot Drummer, is due to arrive at my house around eight this morning. We are going to get in my truck and stink it up all the way to Lakeland, Florida, where I am going to attach a 3300 pound behemouth to the hitch and drag it back to Nashville. We are coming back through Alabama, so we don't have to go over the mountain at Monteagle. My other, saner, intelligenter friends are convinced I am going to have at least one good trailer story to post here at the gathering of knuckleheads.

I am hoping for an uneventful trip.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ships passing in the night

Bob Krumm's take on the UAE company running the ports got me thinking.

If P&O had sold its American port operations to Maersk, a Danish shipping company, I’d have little objection. However, the proposed sale to a Middle Eastern company raises serious questions that the President hasn’t seriously addressed.

For the record, P&O is a British company. So what's missing? No one is talking about an American company running the ports. Why is that? Because we have regulated ourselves out of the maritime trade game.

I worked on cruise ships for several years as a musician. That does not make me a maritime law expert. I have done no research for this post, I am too busy. So, I guess my disclaimer is, I may get a detail or two wrong, but I spent several years living on the oceans, and this is what I learned.

You will rarely see a large ship flying an American flag. All the cruise ships that pull into Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Long Beach, etc and fill up with Americans spending American dollars are registered elsewhere, even if the company is American. Carnival is based in Miami, but their ships are registered in places like the Bahamas and Monrovia, because those countries have made it attractive, tax-wise, to register there. On top of that, if the ships were registered in the US they would become US business entities, subject to US business regulations.

A typical cruise ship might have about 600 crew members. Of those there will be maybe a dozen Americans, and they will have jobs that interact with the passengers, like musicians and cruise staff. But from the officers down to the guys that sort the trash, there are no Americans. The cruise lines couldn't afford it. I don't know what a typical Filipino pipe-fitter makes, but I know it is a lot less than the American minimum wage. Sound like exploitation? Like a shoe factory in Bangla Desh? I didn't find that to be the case. These guys and gals from the Philipines and Pakistan and Chechnya are getting paid in American dollars. I heard many stories from the friends I made from around the world about how they were working on board for 10 months a year because the $200 a month they made, when exchanged back home, fed and clothed and schooled their wife, kids, parents, two sisters and a couple of cousins. So what was less than our minimum wage did quite nicely for them back in Manila.

There are also state regulations that keep things interesting. In Florida, once you get three miles off-shore, you can open the casinos -- a big money maker for the cruise industry. In California, at least when I was working out there, you couldn't open the Casinos until you were actually on your way out of the country. I did four month on a L.A./Catalina/San Diego/Ensenada itinerary. The ships were mostly filled with Southern Californians, who probably knew that Ensenada is a total dump that smells like they flush the toilets directly into the streets. But until the ship was leaving the country, they couldn't open the casinos, and three and four-day cruises are big time gambling trips for a lot of people.

Every once in a while, some Senator from Iowa or New Hampshire will get wind of all this money leaving the country, and they will propose, you guessed it, more legislation. They will say, "if you are going to use American ports and American passengers, you have to pay our taxes, even if your ship is registered outside of the country." And the cruise lines reply with, "we don't have to start our cruises in Ft. Lauderdale. We can just as easily start them in Nassau." Then the congressman from Florida takes the Senator from Iowa out to the woodshed for sticking his nose in Florida's tourism business, and the proposed legislation is dropped.

I don't know anything about container ships, but I know in my years of floating around the high seas, I never once noticed a container ship registered in the US. There may be plenty, I don't know. My guess is that if they only call on US ports, they have to register in the US. But they can always drop off a box of bananas in Ensenada once a year to get around that.

Maritime trade, passenger and cargo combined has got to be in the top five global industries. (That is just a guess, but think about it, it is huge.) America says, "if you want to be part of that game in our country, you have to do it our way." The rest of the world laughs, and carries on without us. It is a huge industry that we have completely regulated ourselves to death.

So back to the port thing. We don't have an infrastructure or culture here to manage sea-going activity. Other than the military (and me) when have you ever heard of someone who works or worked at sea? Maybe some crazy step-uncle who signed up for the Merchant Marine in the 50s, other than that, America has very little presence on the ocean. I met several Greek and Italian and Danish and British officers whose families have been working on the ocean for hundreds of years. America doesn't have any of that culture. That's is why we don't have any American companies lining up to take this operation over from P&O. Will the Government do anything about it? My guess is they'll try to tackle it the way they always do, with more regulations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cell Phone Etiquette Breach #822

Sir, cell phone technology has come a long way since you were a kid in the 50s. You don't have to speak louder when you use your cell phone. It was nice of you to think to call "Sweetie" here in the record store. She can hear your graphic description of your recent colonoscopy just fine. As can the rest of us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Buck Stops Here

I am going to attempt to address Aunt B's ongoing quest to understand Libertarianism/Feminism/Christianityism/ and all the other -isms, from the point of view of me, the ultimate oppressor, the white American man. Actually, I'm going to try to help her understand me, and that's about it.

While I try to devote this forum to funny tales of crazy chicks and blow jobs of yesteryear, Auntee B got to me the other day when she posted a long and eloquent argument (as only she can do, 3 or 4 times a day) about how straight men should not stand for the messages sent by society that we are all pigs. I told her that we didn't hear such messages, then made a witty and charming remark about eating my own poop for lunch. She responded as though we were an old married couple. She ignored what I said and asked if maybe I actually heard the messages and subconciously internalized them. She didn't like my answer, so she asked the question a different way. Well, the answer is still no, I don't hear the messages in society about how men are pigs, and now I'm here to tell you why.

I am a WASP. We are the root of all evil. Period. We hear it all the time. As a younger man, it bothered me. When I came of age, Phil Donahue was bringing on all these feminists whose mantra, over and over, was "men are pigs." He'd run around in the audience and stick a microphone in the faces of all these women and they would all say the same thing. "Men only use us as sex objects." "They're pigs, the lot of them." "Piggy, piggy piggy, oink, oink, oink." Men are pigs because of centuries of "keeping us down." It definitely affected my behavior when I was younger. I made sure I could never be accused of "using" a woman. It took a long, long, long time for me to realize that sometimes women were using me, not the other way around. And it happenes a whole lot more than I care to believe, because women are, first and foremost, people. I may be a pig, but someone has to reach down into the garbage disposal when it's clogged.

Every group has something to bitch about except us. We hear it from the blacks, gays, Asians, Muslims and midgets.Therefore, we are pigs. It is the "moral superiority of the victim" syndrome. Because my great-great grandfather wouldn't let women vote, you're somehow better than me because you would have never let that kind of thing happen, therefore, I'm a pig. Because my great-great-great-great grandfather owned slaves, I owe black people some of my money. And on. And on. And on.

So, back to the point of not hearing it, As I said, I used to hear it, but there is nothing I can do about it. We are the only group that isn't allowed to complain about being oppresed. We can't form an NAAWP, or a Metro Council White Caucus or a National Organization for Men, because of our history. "Golddigger" was nominated for a Grammy. I couldn't sing it in a club, because someone would be offended when I said, "broke niggaz." Gay guys call themselves queer and fags, I'm not allowed. And on. And on. And on.

So the point is, I do hear it all the time, I've just completely become de-sensitized to it. I block it out. Libertarians sort of block it out, but not all the way. That's why libertarians are mostly white men. They're guys who are just tired of being blamed for everything and bitched at by everyfuckingbody. Some guys can't block it out at all. They usually end up in a cabin in Utah with 2 years worth of food and water and a whole lot of firepower. But most guys I know give the whole topic a big yawn and a rousing "whetever." We fucked you all over. I know. Sorry. How many times are you going to remind us? Bitch at us all you want. What are we supposed to do? There is no where else to go. We have no one to bitch at. The buck stops with us. Eventually we realize that and we ignore it. We're too busy trying to get shit done to worry about it.

None of this is new. It's been going on forever. Not all white American men think like me. A lot of men are pigs. There are men who are racists and sexist and homophobes. That's because we're all people first. The sub categories come later. So people can bitch about my group all they want. I really honestly don't give a shit. I don't let others define my self-worth. Like all people, I'm just trying to get by in this limited window of life we are given. I'm not trying to oppress anyone. I'm just trying to figure out what the fuck I'm doing here. And the older I get, the more I realize that nobody, and I mean nobody, has any idea what the fuck they are doing here.

And Aunt B., if you need someone to reach into you clogged disposer, just let me know, you cute little ol' feminist. /* virtual smack on the ass*/

Monday, February 20, 2006

Five for Fighting

I've been hit with the fiver from both Rex and Huck.

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place: Then add your blog to the bottom slot.(1) Hits from 'da Blog (2) Rex L. (3) Aunt B (4) Huck
and (5) Knuck L. Head

Next, select 5 people to tag: Kelly, Ceeelcee (Maybe this will get you to start writing.), Bob K (You may be too busy campaigning), Ryan and Ivy

What were you doing ten years ago: I was lying on my back in a tiny cabin on the M.S. Island Princess with the curtains drawn across the bunk, steaming North-Northwest somewhere between New Guinea and Thailand while my Canadian roommate Danny practiced classical guitar in the bathroom (it provided a surreal reverb) and a very proper English casino dealer named Sarah gave me a morning blow job.

What were you doing one year ago: Trying to commit suicide by whiskey.

Five snacks you enjoy: cheese quesedillas, pretzel sticks dipped in Coleman's English Mustard, jalepeno slices out of the jar, sour Skittles, peppered beef jerky

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics: A band I was in years ago decided it would be a good idea to have a "reunion" about a month or two ago. In public. In a bar. Oy. I had to relearn songs I had done hundreds of times. And I also learned some new ones. Here are five I could pull off today, playing and singing, no matter what the beer consumption level. You Never Even Called Me By My Name (David Allen Coe), Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones), She Fucking Hates Me (Puddle of Mudd), Burnin' Love (Elvis Presley), Bust A Move (Young MC)

Note: the term "singing" is might raise some eyebrows in my circle of friends

Five things you would do if you were a millionare: Diane Lane, Sara Evans, Eva Longoria, Natalie Gulbis, That chick who lost the snowboard gold by hot-dogging it at the end.

Five bad habits: My bad habits come in six-packs.

Five things you like doing: Eating red meat, fucking, playing decent golf, riding my bike farther than I thought I could go, taking long romantic walks on a moonlit. . . uh . . . fucking.

Five things you would never wear again: wedding band, heart on my sleeve, name tag, mullet, polyester

Five favorite toys: I don't have any.

Happy Birthday, Li'l Knucklehead

Five years ago today, the nurse wrapped you in a blanket and handed you to me and I looked in your eyes and waited and waited for the enlightenment and life-changing wisdom that I was sure was going to hit me like a bolt of lightning from the heavens. I'm still waiting. You probably ought to know, I'm just winging it here with this dad stuff. That's why I let you eat cake for breakfast. That's why I spent $80 on a stuffed animal at Build a Bear Workshop. That's why I let you get a full-face tattoo.

Your mom is going to be pissed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Big 'uns

There is one man who, in my opinion, has influenced the lives of more women over the last 50 years than all other men combined. And, personally, I don't think it is a good influence. That man is Hugh Hefner.

It started out honorably enough. Start a magazine without the constraints of sexual inhibitions, freely talk about all things, politics, high-end audio, music, sex and candy. Oh, yeah, and have pictures of naked women.

Then along came plastic surgery. Hef has an obvious propensity to put vapid looking blondes with the biggest tits he can find in his magazine. The alternative is a vapid looking brunette with the biggest tits he can find. And I think that it is directly correlated with the massive amount of breast augmentation surgery that has occured in the last twenty years.

According to urban anthropologists (I think that's what they call themselves), Playboy is the least thrown away magazine published in the last 50 years. In other words, if you make a living digging through landfills and categorizing what you find, that magazine is hardly ever found. It has had a major impact on our perception of what is a "beautiful" woman. And, I hate to tell you, but it is what Hugh Hefner thinks is a "beautiful" woman. I think if he had a fondness for "normal" looking women, we would never have all the Pam Andersons of the world today.

When Pam first appeared in the magazine, she was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. Naturally beautiful. Now, she looks like a clown. I knew a girl in college who became a centerfold. She had dyed blonde hair and huge fake tits. She said they asked her to dye her muff, so the carpet would match the drapes. She ended up marrying a rock star. So I guess it was all worth it.

Women say they have big tits put in "for myself" or "to make clothes fit better" or "to help my confidence." Fact is, to only reason to get bigger tits put in is to have bigger tits. Woo-hoo. My ex-wife got them in her mid 30s. She chose her doctor because "he does all the strippers." I practically begged her not to do it. And if she insisted, I begged her not to get huge ones. She lied to me about what size she chose, she got big 'uns. A couple years later, she said if she had it to do all over, she would have gone even bigger. And I think it all goes back to Hef.

I watched his reality show the other night, with him and his three girlfriends. He is getting to be a dottering old fool enough to where he is now intelectually aligned with his girls. It makes for good theater. Unfortunately, I think it is too late for him to undo his enormous boob legacy.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Anderson v. Sanders

I got a phone call from Pamela Anderson this morning.


Hello, this is Pamela Anderson, who am I speaking with?

This is Knuck L. Head

I'm calling to ask that you boycott the Kentucky Derby, because their main sponsor, Yum! Brands owns Kentucky Fried Chicken and they're mean to chickens.

Well, Pam, if you're not going, can I have your ticket?

No, Mr. Head, you don't understand. KFC is mean to chickens, so I want you to boycott the Derby. Plus racing horses for our benefit is mean, too.

I thought horses liked to run. Another thing, I liked your tits a lot better before you got all that ridiculous surgery.

Can I count on you to boycott the Derby?

No, actually I really like the Derby. I went to high school in Louisville, it is one of my favorite days of the year. I like bourbon and horse racing.

But what about those poor chickens at KFC?

I like Mrs. Winner's better.

Mr. Head, please. We have to be more evolved than this. This is cruel to animals. Please boycott the Derby with me.

Look, Pammy, if you don't want to go, that will only leave 149,999 people there. I think Kentucky Fried Chicken will continue to kill chickens. I would rather you boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken because they are using "Sweet Home Alabama" as their new theme song. Doesn't that bother you?

Well, I never thought about it. I just want to be nice to animals.

So should we just let all the animals go free? I know that even my little shit of a dog could kill a chicken in 15 or 20 bloody minutes. Would you prefer that?

No, that's not what I want. I just want animals to be treated with dignity. Aren't you worried about animal dignity?

What about your dignity? Did you make your tits so ridiculously, comically huge because it makes Tommy's Louisville Slugger look more to scale?

That's not funny.

It's hilarious.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Best Valentine's Day Ever

This is a true story that involves ex-people. So to save the trouble of writing "ex-wife's brother's ex-wife's sister's cat," I'll give them names.

Knucklehead -- Me, I, Me, My
My ex-wife -- uh, how about Jon Benet
My ex-wife's brother or my ex-brother-in-law -- let's go with Jefferson
Jefferson's fiancee -- we'll call her Savannah

When I first met Jon Benet, her brother Jefferson was one the the first people in her circle that I was introduced to. We hit it off right away, and always got along famously. Jefferson was quite the ladies' man, a devout bachelor, a rogue a scamp and a scalliwag. (If I'm going to use a name like Jefferson, I'm going to use words like scamp and scalliwag.)

So it was with great surprise after a couple of years that Jefferson called Jon Benet and announced his impending marriage. He was marrying a girl named Savannah, who was someone I had never met. While he was popular with the fairer sex, there was always a short list of the long-timers who I would have put up for matrimony before some chick named Savannah that I had never met. He called to tell us that he was getting married on Valkentine's Day in Vegas, and that we were the only people he wanted to have there. Jon Benent and I discussed it for all of five seconds and booked our flight.

In order to save money, we booked rooms at Circus Circus, a theme hotel which was the height of Vegas luxury in 1975. They've built nicer hotels since. We went all over town looking at chapels, looking into getting married by Elvis, looking into skydiving weddings, and, once again, to save money, they booked a slot at the Circus Circus chapel.

Valentine's day is the second most popular day to get married in Las Vegas right behind New Year's Eve (damn that IRS). What you may not realize is that, despite the reputation in Nevada for quickie weddings, it is still a government contract which means you still have to go to the courthouse and get a wedding license. So the line at the courthouse on Feb. 13th was out the door, down the street and around the block. It took about three hours. Some quickie wedding.

I should probably point out that Savannah was four months pregnant. They're from Alabama. That's where the marriage out of the blue came from.

So on the day of the blessed event, we arrive at the Circus Circus chapel twenty minutes before their appointed time, Jefferson in khakis, Savannah in a lovely dress with the as-yet-unborn Raul providing a nice shelf on which Savannah could rest her bouquet. Jon Benet and I had two jobs: be witnesses and take pictures.

We get called for their 5 minutes slot and enter the sanctuary. Jon Benet and I sit in the front row. There is no one else other than the preacher and the spare witness you have to pay for whether you use her or not. The preacher couldn't have been more of a sterotype with his high grey pompadour and booming voice.

He begins: "We are gathered here today to join you, Steven and you, Savannah in holy matrimony . . ."

I looked at Jon Benet and start cracking up. He has the wrong license, I thought. He called him Steven. I'm laughing louder and louder everytime he says "Steven." Jon Benet is giving me cross looks and messing with the camera, whispering to me that she can't get it to work. So we have the preacher booming out the wrong name, me laughing louder and louder about it and Jon Benet cussing the camera that won't work, trying to get me to shut up and fix it.

Suddenly it was all over, and we were shuffled out.

We went back to the room. As it turns out, Jefferson was his middle name, his legal first name was Steven, which is why Jon Benet didn't find it funny. She thought I knew. We never got any pictures. But the day wasn't a total waste. Technically, it was their honeymoon, but Savannah was pregnant anyway so Jefferson and I went downstairs and drank beer all afternoon and played blackjack and craps.

Viva Las Vegas.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Evil Woman

One score and a million beers ago, I embarked on the first of what would be many sabbaticals from my journey through higher education. This break was ostensibly to gain Texas citizenship, thereby dramatically decreasing the amount of money the old man was shelling out for tuition. However, the real reason was because I was certain that I was in a band that was going to vault me to that elusive status of Rock Star, and I needed to devote all my time and energy to the requisite rehearsals and bong hits needed to achieve such status. Hey, "L. A. Woman" doesn't just learn itself, you know. Only by the wisdom gained through years of experience in the music business do I now realize that record labels don't look to bad cover bands in Dallas to compete with Men at Work and Flock of Seagulls.

In order to finance this educational break, I secured employment at an authentic little Italian restaurant in town called Pane e Vino, which translates to Bread and Wine. Time for a parenthetical aside: (I later went to work at another Dallas Italian restaurant called Birraporreti's, which translates to Poor Man's Beer. That place wasn't nearly as authentic -- the cooks were all Vietnamese and the busboys and dishwashers were all Mexican, and they constantly screamed at each other in the only language they shared, broken profanity-laced English. But that is a story for another day.) While dutifully waiting tables at Pane e Vino on a Tuesday lunch shift, dropping authentic Italian phrases upon my unsuspecting customers like, "y'all want some coffee or dessert or sump'in?" and "y'all ready for your check?" I was distracted by a commotion near the entrance. As I went to investigate, I heard our lovely middle-aged hostess let out a blood-curdling scream, and saw a man bolt out the front door. Without thinking, I ran out the door after him. He had about a 50-yard head start, but I was young and in good shape, aside from the black tar coating the lining of my lungs from the aforementioned daily dozens of bong hits. I ran with all my young strength, the leather check presentation folder in my black, three-pocket waiter apron slapping against my thigh with each stride. The perpetrator was no match for my speed and guile, and within a couple of blocks I had caught up with the him, although I was completely in the dark about what it was that he had actually perpetrated. He was wearing a huge filthy green military style coat and loose-fitting, gray double-knit homeless guy slacks. Haggar, I think. His Don King-style hair flowed in the wind as he began to slow, his breathing labored. As I reached out to grab his jacket, it occurred to me that I was possibly about to take the most stupid action I had ever taken in my life. For all I knew, he had pulled a gun or a knife on someone in the restaurant, and was about to use that weapon on me. But my hand went forward, I grabbed his shoulder and spun him around to face me.

Our eyes met. Deep in his gaze, I saw something I had never seen before, but I recognized it immediately. Lunacy. Nutiness. Batshit Bonkers.

His eyes grew as large as authentic Italian meatballs, and at the top of his lungs, he pleaded his case to me, "Womens is evil! Womens is EVIL!! She spooked me! Womens is EVIL! SHE SPOOKED ME!"

I chuckled and put my arm around his shoulder. "I hear you, buddy. I couldn't agree more." We walked back to the restaurant where the cops were already there, waiting. They took him away, and probably gave him three hots and a cot for a couple of days.

His wise words have come in handy on many occasions throughout my life. Although, I admit, not nearly often enough.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Heckuva Job

I had the Congressional hearings on with Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown for a minute before I had to turn it off in disgust. The particular segment I watched was Joe Leiberman asking questions of Brown about the FEMA response in the initial hours of the breach of the levees in New Orleans. It was like watching Deputy Dawg grilling Deputy Dork.

Dawg: I have a hard time believing that you can't recall whether you spoke to the President or not at such a critical time.

Dork: (stammering and looking away) In that particular incident, well . . . I . . . uh . . . I don't want to sound arrogant, but I talk to the President all the time.

You're kidding, right?

You're still impressed with people who have access to the President of the United States?!? You think saying "I talk to the President all the time" sounds arrogant? Maybe to a guy who runs horse shows. But the head of a major government administration? Man, you're worse than I imagined.

Listen. We are not "impressed" that you might have actually talked to the President. Nobody sounds "arrogant" by declaring that they often talk to their boss. I think we all assumed that talking to him was part of your job. When you say you don't want to "sound arrogant" what I hear you saying is that you are a weak, sniveling pussy who got a job you were majestically unqualified for through nepotism and cronyism and found out in front of the whole world that you were in way over your head and now you have to squirm in front of the cameras and committees and try to act like you're tough. That's why, in order to finally get things under control, they sent in an ass-kicking Coonazz aptly named Honore to do your job, a man who would never be caught dead saying something like "I don't want to come off as being arrogant . . ." because he IS arrogant, which is what we needed in the first place.

Arrogant was thinking you could handle a job you had no business taking. You were head of FEMA. It was an Emergency, something you were supposed to Manage. You failed. Trust me, you don't sound arrogant. Save us the faux tough guy act.

Please come back when you find your testicles.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Symphonic Sounds

Time to play Enlighten the Knucklehead.

Everyone is comparing the Sounds ballpark deal to the raw deals the city made over the Coliseum and the GEC, because they are sports venues. I never see anyone talking about the Symphony Hall, where a prime piece of downtown land was given away for the private development of an entertainment venue. And unlike the Sounds deal, the Symphony deal has no development of condos, shopping, greenway, etc.

I was missing from Nashville for a couple of years and I was not around for the Symphony Hall "debate." From talking to friends and looking up archives, there was no debate. I looked it up today and found that it passed in council 35 to zero. Was it the power of Martha Ingram? If anyone here, pro- or anti- baseball park can explain the differences in the two deals, I would appreciate it. On the surface, it seems that it is easy to hate baseball, but hating the symphony (or Martha Ingram) is taboo. Surely there is more to it than that.

Codes is Codes

For some reason, as I was walking to the men's locker room at the Green Hills Y yesterday, a fire sprinkler caught my eye. There was an unusual way the pipes were configured, nothing nefarious, just interesting. As I walked down the hall, I followed the pipes with my eyes and examined the system layout. This was in a hallway overlooking the big, indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool. I noticed something that, to me, is a bit unusual. There are, by my casual count, 15 sprinkler heads over the pool.

I suppose the good folks on the Y staff could get confused by all the various nozzles and valves associated with such a large swimming facility and accidentally fill the pool with gasoline or Jack Daniels. Then, while unwittingly swimming in that potential death-trap, a metal grommet on my board shorts could strike an exit ladder at the perfect angle to create a spark, thereby igniting entire pool, killing tens.

Potential crisis averted. Thank you YMCA. Thank you Metro Fire Codes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Airport Code for Bora Bora is BOB

The weather last weekend reminded me of a situation I was in several years ago. I had been working for a few years as a cruise ship musician, and I was done. I had played the Phantom of the Opera medley about 100 times too many. I had played Too Fat Polka for the last time. I was tired of being the only one in the show band who would agree to be the juggler's "spontaneous" assistant, letting him juggle apples over my head, feeding me the green one to the delight of 1,500 retired folks from Ft. Lauderdale. I was tired of wearing a blue blazer, white pants and white shoes five nights a week, and a tux the other two. I was tired of living in a 4 x 10 cabin with a pissed-off, fat, farting, snoring trumpet player with an addiction to garlic sleeping in a bunk a foot above my head. It was time to commit to staying in Nashville, to get job playing state fairs and tractor pulls with some dickhead in a Stetson singing songs about his fabulous redneck way of life.

It was January. It was 10 in the morning. It was snowing. I had $19 in my checking account. I was in a 400-square-foot attic apartment in East Nashville. I had the yellow pages open to temporary services. I was going to get a job moving boxes or digging ditches or something, anything. I was staying, dammit. I was going to gut it out in Music City.

The phone rang. It was my agent. These were her exact words: "We have a big problem. Can you fly to Tahiti, today?"

Fuck a bunch of Country music auditions -- South Pacific here I come. I got my affairs quickly in order and left that afternoon. I landed in L.A. about dinner time. I got to my connecting gate and the bastards wouldn't let me on the plane. I had a one-way ticket. In desirable destinatons like Tahiti, if you don't have a return ticket and you're not a citizen, they don't let you in for fear that you'll never leave, sort of like in-laws. So I got a cab, some beer and a hotel room. When I got to the room, I called my best friend from college, a bass player, who lived out there. I left him a message, "Dude, I'm in town for a night, come get me if you're not working!" When he got the message he called back. Turns out he was working. He was playing with Lou Diamond Phillips. (Did you even know he had a band?) In Nashville. Is that ironic or coincidental? I always confuse those two.

So the next morning, after much wrangling between Princess Cruise Lines and Qantas Air Lines, I was booked on a flight to Bora Bora. My original destination was Papeete, but I was now a day late, and the ship had moved on. On the flight, I found myself chatting up the fetching young Australian stewardess. We arrived at Papetee, the capital of Tahiti, at two in the morning, local time. She was getting off there for a couple of days. I had a layover until 8 a.m. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I could charm my way into spending the layover in the lovely flight attendant's hotel room instead of the airport, but quickly decided that was way to Penthouse Forum-ish. (Had I pulled it off, it would have made for a much better story. Cue the wah-wah guitars.) So I spent the layover in a tiny deserted Tahitian airport, watching the big crabs scurry across the tile floor and trying to remember enough college French to use the right bathroom.

So I finally arrive in Bora Bora, and I'm completely exhausted. I'd been awake and traveling for at least 30 hours. Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places on earth (it is Bali Hai from the movie South Pacific) but all I wanted to do was sleep. It was about 10 in the morning, and I slept like a baby until showtime that night. I ended up staying on that ship for a couple of months and went places like Fiji, Pago Pago, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, Bali, Java, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam, China and Japan, but I never really saw any of Tahiti. Please don't shed a tear for me. I'm OK now.

So, you may have forgotten by now that this was a cruise ship musician emergency. What could possibly constitute a "cruise ship musician emergency," you ask? Well, it seems the guy I replaced went completely 'round the bend. Bonkers. Loopy. Batshit crazy. I was told he slowly began saying odd things, like claiming he was Jesus, and it escalated from there. He refused to participate in the stupid ceremony they do when they cross the international date line because he thought it was Satanic. The night before they called me, he stood up in the middle of the show and walked off stage in Jesus fashion, so they put him in the infirmary. He asked to go outside to smoke a cigarette, and walked away. This prompted the ship's security staff and the Tahitian Police to spend several hours looking for him throughout the Tahitian capial.

They eventually got him home. We got word weeks later that he was on medication and didn't tell anyone and ran out on the ship. He was back on it and just fine. However, the cruise line had to pay for a one-way ticket for me from Nashville to Bora Bora and a ticket for him from Papeete to New Hampshire. Plus round-trip tickets for a Tahitian doctor and nurse to accompany him from Tahiti to Hawaii, where they had to pay for round trip tickets for an American doctor and nurse to accompany him from Hawaii to New Hampshire. All bought at the last minute. It cost the cruise line over $20,000. I bet you never factored that kind of expense in when you last looked up the price of a three-day cruise to the Bahamas. But, the show must go on.

Bora Bora

March Madness

If you're not familiar with this little old Perry March murder case we've had going on here in Music City for the last ten years, the following phone conversation transcript obtained by me won't make any sense to you.


September, 1996

Ring . . . Ring


Hiya, Dad, it's Perry.

Perry! So good to hear from you. How are Janet and the kids?

The kids are great dad, just great. Janet isn't doing so well.

Is she sick?

No, dad, actually she's dead. I cracked her head open with a wrench.

You don't say! Did she deserve it?

Yeah, she did. You know, women, can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em fast enough.

(much laughter)

Do ya need some help with her body? I just changed the oil in my F150.

Gosh Dad, that'd be super. I've got her rolled up in a rug right now. I guess I'll call the cops in a couple of weeks.

That's a good idea son. Give it a couple of weeks, let things blow over. How are the kids taking it?

Oh, they're fine. I gave them ice cream. I think we're going to move to Mexico. You wanna go with us?

Sure son, that's sounds like fun. I'll come by as soon as Wapner is over, and we'll run that rug up to Bowling Green. OK?

That would be great, dad. You're the best dad in the world.

Thanks, kid. Listen, if her parents start to get nosey about this, we'll just kill 'em, too. How's that sound, buddy?

(much laughter)

That's great dad, see you in a little while. I'm gonna go get a coffee.

OK Perry. Bye bye.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Start It Up

Ten months ago, in the conference room . . .

Director: All right, what are we going to do about halftime this year? I want clean-cut music, no wardrobe malfunctions.

Intern: Well, sir, Detroit is "Motown." Maybe we should have a Motown revue.

Director: No, no, no. Nobody who watches football cares about black music. We'll give them something before the game, maybe the anthem. I want something to rival Pat McCarthy from last year.

Assistant: It was Paul McCartney, sir.

Director: What about the Beatles? Who handles them?

Intern: Uh, two of them are dead. Sir, Kid Rock is from Detroit. So is Eminem. They're both wildly popular.

Director: Those foul-mouthed rapper punks?! No way! I said I want clean cut. This is the Super Bowl, dammit! Think big, people, think big!

Assistant: Well, sir, Jessica Simpson is very popular these days, with her reality show and marriage and. . .

Director: Have you lost your mind? Her tits are way to big! We'll have Mothers Against Tits and Ass all over us.

Intern: We could get Big and Rich and Gretchen Wilson and Tim McGraw and . . .

Director: Aren't they Country and Western? This is the Super Bowl! We're not going to have some kind of hillbilly hoedown for our halftime show! Remember a couple of years ago, we had Arrowswitch with that other big-tittied blonde? That was a good show!

Assistant: Uh, It's Aerosmith sir, and the blond is named Britney Spears. She's not exactly squeaky clea . . .

Director: I've got it! Who handles the Rolling Stones? Get them on the phone, see if they're available. This is the Super Bowl, I want the greatest rock and roll band in the world! What a stroke of brilliance! The most popular sport in the world with the greatest band in American history! Get me the Rolling Stones!

Intern: Uh, sir, soccer is actually the most popular sport in the world. And, uh, the Rolling Stones are British.

Director: They have a string of hits a mile long. "Waiting for my Friend," "Jumping Jacks Fast," "Honky Tonk Hero," Our sponsors are going to love it!

Assistant: Sir, the agent says they'll do it, but they want to play one of their new singles.

Director: Tell them that's fine, as long as they open with "Start It Up." That's one of my favorites.

Intern: Uh, sir, "Start Me Up" has an off-color line about a dead man having an orgasm.

Director: Bullshit! The Rolling Stones are squeaky clean! What's that song they did, "Pinball Whizzer?" Yeah, that's it. Pinball is all-American, not like you and your mindless video games. This is going to be the best halftime show ever!

Assistant: Sir, that wasn't the Rolling Sto. . .

Director: I can't wait to meet them! Nick Jaggerd is a legend!

Intern: Sir, I'm not sure the younger viewers are going to like this choice. Those guys are really old and scary looking. They look like skeletons. And Mick Jagger, when he takes off his jacket, his upper arms are really jiggly, you know, "substitute teacher arms." Nobody under the age of 40 cares about the Rolling Stones.

Director: You listen to me! Nobody under the age of 40 buys Cadillacs or uses FedEx. That's why I'm the director and you're the intern. When you have my job, you can pick the band. I want the Rolling Stones! Book 'em! Now, somebody find out if we can get Ray Charles to do the National Anthem . . .

Friday, February 03, 2006

Go Away

Go away.

Nothing personal, you seem like a very nice man. Probably married your high school sweetheart. I bet you give blood and build houses for the poor in your spare time. But, for the love of God, please go the fuck away.

It started out as a clever ad campaign. You were a huge fat fuck. You thought it would be a good idea to lose weight by eating two Subway sandwiches every fucking day until you slimmed down. Two Subway sandwiches every fucking day? For what, two years or something? What kind of freak could even do that? You, I guess. You wrote a letter to Subway. They made you a case study for the healthiness of eating thier crappy sandwiches. It should have lasted a couple of months. "I was a fat fuck. Now I'm not. Thank you, Subway!" Two months. That's it.

But they kept you on. And on, and on. Now you're their spokesman. Sorry, you're just not well-spoken. When you say "buh-bye burgers," I want to put my foot through my flatscreen and kill my dog. You were a fat fuck. Now you're not. It's over.

Nothing personal, you probably rescue kittens and do cancer research in your spare time. I'm sure you're a nice guy. Just fucking go away.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Birthday

There are odd facts one remembers from one's youth. One fact that I have remembered for the last thirty years is that today is Farrah's birthday.

Happy Birthday. You are a truly fetching knucklehead.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mock-yeah, Ing-yeah, Bird-yeah

Some Brentwood parents want to ban a classic book. To Kill a Mockingbird is full of potty-mouthisms, dirty sex talk and folks with poor hygiene. From a letter to the editor to the Tennessean:
Neither eighth graders nor high schoolers have the maturity level to separate and appreciate books of this nature.

The profanity and suggestive lines in this book are far too advanced for this age group.

I am not going to go for the standard rant about narrow-mindedness and tolerence and the worthiness of art and literature in our society.

Here's my question: Who the fuck are these people?

Really. My kid is four, but I am old enough to have college-age kids. So these parents of eighth graders are probably near my age, or even younger. Who the fuck are these people? Where were they when I was growing up?

The last thing my parents needed to worry about regarding my behavior in Junior High and High School was a book. Here is a summary of my memories of high school.

Uh . . . it's kind of blurry . . . let's see. . . oh yeah, I spent the whole time stoned, drunk, cussing and fucking. And I wasn't alone. I didn't need a book with naughty words to tell me to act that way. I acted that way because I was in high school. We all acted that way. Now we're all parents. We set the bar for bad behavior.

I know that when my daughter is that age, I will be worried sick, because I lived through everything I hope she will be strong enough to avoid. I am providing her a foundation of self-worth to work from, and I will do my best to try to help her go down the right path. The last thing I am worried about is a book.

The letter writer continues:
We as adults and teachers should take a stronger stand to keep profanity out of the classroom. The minute any kind of profanity is introduced into the classroom, all respect has been lost.
Look, lady, I'm all for keeping profanity out of the classroom. I'm all for keeping profanity out of the workplace. I'm all for decorum. I don't cuss in front of my kid. But give me a fucking break.

Banning a classic work of American literature because of profanity is akin to banning Michelangelo because it will expose our youngsters to dicks. If you can differentiate between a picture of David and a picture from Huge Swinging Studs dot com, then surely you can differentiate between profanity in a work of literature and a teacher saying, "I said sit down and shut up, you cocksucking, motherfucking assholes."

I'm sure your students can.