Saturday, September 14, 2019

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 2

Last weekend was an aberration.  Not only did I go 3-0 on the posted picks, I won on the under on TH night as well.  The chance of going 4-0 in any week is almost none, much less in the wilderness of mirrors that is Week One of the NFL season.  It would be in my best interests to never gamble on another football game again.  It's like winning the lottery and insisting on being paid in lottery tickets.  I should walk away.  This is not what I am going to do though.

I am reminded of a trip I made to Vegas 117 years ago.  Two guys I sort of knew had worked themselves up in a lather playing roulette.  They had an absolute mountain of chips in front of them.  A crowd cheered them on, scantily clad hookers and local grifters smelling fresh blood in the water.  I wedged in to say hello and get a grasp on the situation.  Both of their eyes were crackling with the electricity and fever that only a monster winning gambling run can provide.  "Hey man!  What's up?  We are!  We are up 78 grand!!!".  I suggested they cash out when the worm began to turn.  They laughed in any face.  They were firmly convinced that they had somehow cracked the code of roulette and would now shovel all of the casino's money into duffel bags.  I was not so optimistic.  I went to bed.  It was about 230am.

I woke up around 7am with the familiar jet lag to East Coast travelers.  I jumped on the elevator to eat a horrific breakfast buffet at whatever the hotel diner type restaurant was called.  My guess is it was called "Raffles" or "Sandlewood Grille" (with the "e" at the end so you know it's klassy with a "k").  The roulette table was close to the elevator bank.  Sure as shit those two guys were still at that table.  The scene couldn't be any more different.  There was no cheering crowd.  Just the two of those guys with long faces and about $400 of chips.  While I slept a few hours they lost back a cool 78 large.  Ouch.

Now you would think I would learn a lesson from that, but I didn't.  I am going too swagger into this week with the same misplaced optimism which I carried into last week. To show you how delusional I am, my first selection is the Detroit Lions +2.5 at home versus the Chargers.  Betting on the Lions is usually as good of an idea as starting smoking in your 50s or cashing your 401k in at a strip club.  Yes, there will be some short term thrills but you will generally end up smashed on the rocks of life.  However, hear me out on this...  The Chargers have injuries.  Lots of injuries.  Their best offensive lineman, starting tight end, free safety, cornerback, their best receiver and top running back are all out.  I like betting against West Coast teams playing 1p East Coast start times, even against the Lions.  The Public will be all over the Chargers on this, which means you have to go Lions.  I know.  This is scary.  Ideally, hold out on this and see if you can get 3 points.  Detroit +2.5

The New Orleans Saints are a notoriously slow starting team.  They are 1-9 against the spread in the first two games of the season in the last 10 years.  After a "by the skin of their teeth" win over Houston last Monday, that against the spread mark is now 1-10.  Always bet with the trend, not against it.  This week they play a Rams team with a completely clean injury sheet at LA.  The Rams looked strong last week, especially in the second half.  I like the superior home team versus the road team on a short week.  The Public will be focused on the idea of "Revenge For Drew Brees and The Saints" after getting jobbed in the Playoffs last year.  Whatever.  Give me the better team at home.  LA Rams -2.5

Remember how I just told you I like betting against West Coast teams traveling East?  OK, forget that.  We are going to bet against the Bengals here.  We don't need the 49ers to win.  We just need them to hang in there.  I am not sure if 49er James Garoppolo is a legit NFL starting QB.  He looked shitty last week.  Making matters worse, the 49ers lost their starting RB.  I know none of this sounds good, but we are going to tease them.  We are going to take the six points to move through the 3, 4 and 7 number to get San Francisco +7.  Denver is getting 2.5 at home versus the Bears.  A couple of quick points.  The Bears offense looked awful because Mitch Trubisky looked like he wasn't very good at football.  I don't think he got good at football in the last week.  The Broncos have a good defense.  They have a much better defense than the Packers who totally shut down the Bears last week because, as we have noted, Mitch Trubisky isn't good at football.  The Broncos head coach was the Bears defensive coordinator last year.  I am thinking he might have a good idea at what Mitch isn't very good at besides just "football".  There is a wild rumor afoot that Mitch can't roll one direction and pass the ball accurately.  This is a problem in the NFL.  I am betting on a Von Miller led defensive front to make Mitch quite uncomfortable despite the rest disparity between the two teams.  Let's just keep it close fellas.  Denver at home +8.5?  Yes please.  SF +7/Denver +8.5

Season Record 3-0 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Nurse the Hate: The Shell Oil/True North Store Situation

Sept 11, 2019

Shell Oil/True North
10346 Brecksville Rd.
Brecksville, OH 44141


On August 9th I attempted to fill up my tank with gas at Store #362.  When I began to pump the gas, I was immediately sprayed as the connection from the hose to the nozzle acted like a gasoline sprinkler.  I thought to myself, “well this is certainly unpleasant and I would like to make it stop”.  I immediately moved to place the hose back on the cradle when the real fun began.  The hose then became completely disconnected from the nozzle and  began to spray gas all over myself, my car, and the immediate area.  I would describe myself as “soaked” in gasoline.  Please note, this is not my ideal end result when I visit one of your gas stations.

I entered the station and attempted to report the situation.  There was a line of customers waiting to buy the variety of delights you make available at your True North stores, so I can understand the trepidation of the clerk to address my situation of being drenched in gas and having a live gas hose spewing fuel on the pavement.  After all, the spicy jalapeno roller dog is a taste treat to say nothing of the refreshments abound from the fountain drink area.  One does not want to get between a hungry customer and their 99 cent chili cheese dog, eh?  However, I was surprised to announce “Hey, you’ve got a real problem out there!  You’ve got gas spilling all over the place!” and receive a “Huh?” in the tone of a Canadian goose from the clerk.  The key to the disconnect was the tone.  After I repeated the situation as well as pointing out I was soaked in gasoline, the clerk called out “Patty!” and ignored me to ring up the next customer.

I was told to fill out “the incident report”, which I did.  This was Store 362 on August 9th at 12:20pm.  The incident occurred on Pump #9.  I can provide a photo of the completed report upon request.  Here's the way I see it.  Your hose completely disconnected from the pump.  It ruined my clothes (A pair of Lucky Jeans, a Banana Republic button down shirt, a pair of slip on Chuck Taylors, and a ratty ass pair of boxer briefs).  It also soaked the side of my car, which I had to get detailed.  This included the interior of my car, which was also sprayed as the window was down when I started to pump the gas.  All told, I am out $544.49 with the combined replacement cost of the clothes and the auto detailing.  I did not include the cost of the boxer briefs which were, to be fair, in a condition I would call “bleak”.  Nothing looks more sad than a pair of old boxer briefs soaked in gasoline, let me tell you.

If you review the security tape, I think you will see not only the confirmation of the event as per this document but also a startling lack of urgency on the part of the employees considering it was reported a hose with gasoline was emptying into a full station of customers.  Oh well, I suppose one does not have the choice of Grade A potential employees at your typical Shell station.  Maybe you guys have a “priorities” webinar you could run for employees when you issue them those sporty smocks and name tags.  Just a thought.  "Things to do in order when a customer is soaked in gas due to our negligence.  1.  Address the customer's needs.  2.  Ring up the guy buying smokes and a Slim Jim."

I am very disappointed I have not received any feedback from your company.  It has been a month my friends.  I must warn you, I expect to be fully compensated for your negligence regarding this incident.  I am not going to take some sort of automated form letter combined with a $25 gift card.  I must insist on total compensation for my clothes and service for my automobile.  It has been a month without any response to the “incident report”.  I am hoping you take a moment and rectify this situation ASAP.  I am not going to let this go.


Greg Miller

Friday, September 6, 2019

Nurse the Hate: NFL Locks Week 1

I don’t care for Florida.  I have never cared for Florida.  Florida to me means eating subpar seafood at an overpriced restaurant named something annoying like “Captain McSwabby’s”.  Florida is always sitting underneath an air conditioner blowing 52 degree air on you like a jet engine despite having gone to significant effort to travel there FOR the heat.  Florida is a strip plaza with a nail salon, mobile phone store and beer store that only seems to sell Miller Lite and cigarettes.  Florida is poorly built homes ready to blow over at the first sign of a storm.  Florida is where all the silt of America goes to find refuge when they need to bug out of their own town.  It’s easy to root against Florida and especially Miami, a town of cheap disco culture and imminent violence. 

I am going to take “a position” on the Baltimore Ravens to cover over the Dolphins.  The Dolphins were not supposed to be very good.  Then, with a week prior to the season, they traded away their best tackle, a starting wide receiver and a starting linebacker for “picks”.  They have two QBs, Josh Rosen who they traded a #2 pick for, who could not beat out career journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is starting until he gets killed.  The offense is bereft of skilled position players, and I can’t ever recall having to use the word “bereft” in a sports post prior to this.  The Dolphins are deliberately tanking the season, which is unfortunate as it’s not like they will draft well next year anyway.  They look like a team that deserves strong consideration in taking an UNDER on their season win total of 4.5.  I’d like to remind you that Brandon Weedon won 6 games as an NFL starter, so that’s saying something.

Baltimore is going to contend to win the NFL North.  I’m not sure if Lamar Jackson will turn out to be their answer at QB, but he should be enough to score more than a touchdown difference over a Miami team that will be referred to as “the fucking Dolphins” by anyone in South Florida that is even paying attention.  This game will be a rumor more than an event witnessed by anyone in person.  Baltimore -6.5.     

The people of Cleveland are in a state of mass bliss that has nestled into delusion involving the Browns.  The widespread belief is that the team is going to the Playoffs, and probably to the SuperBowl where they will run through the opposition like a buzzsaw.  Quick reminder...  This team had a losing record last year and their best quality win was either over a subpar Denver team or the tie to Pittsburgh.  Prize acquisition Odell Beckham has already been suggesting his hip isn't right and he's "never dealt with something like this" despite missing 14 games in the last two years.  The offensive line is such a mess that they made a trade with the woeful Buffalo Bills for a guard they were likely going to cut.  I think that guy is now starting.  The Browns are also 1-18-1 in their last 20 openers.  This week they are favored by 5.5 over the Tennessee Titans, only the second time this decade they have been favored by more than 5.  Maybe Lady Luck smiles on the Browns this year, but I'd rather assume the worst.  It's always been profitable when it comes to the Browns.  Tennessee +5.5   

I'm so giddy about football starting that I'm even going to make a teaser bet.  These are generally referred to as "sucker bets", so it's good to really embrace a season of NFL gambling right out of the gate with one of these.  I'm going to take Dallas -1 over the Giants.  I'm not sold on Dallas being a great team, but I am sold on them beating the Giants.  The Giants have the odor of a team that will be a disaster and have the New York media feasting on their carcass by October.  Eli will have been discarded like a used paper cup and that kid they drafted from Duke will be running for his life in front of the jeering crowd.  I am going to pair this up with Carolina +8.5 over the Rams.  Quick fact.  The loser of the Super Bowl is 3-16-1 against the spread in the opener over the last 20 years.  I should probably just take Carolina straight up, but losing this "sure thing" bet on the Dallas end will be more fun.  Dallas-1/Carolina +8.5  

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Nurse the Hate: A Memory From Chicago

The Daredevils/Cowslingers organization has had a long and relatively disastrous history in the city of Chicago.  We have always traveled there with the best laid plans, fully intending to bring the rock and roll to an excited audience, but usually found ourselves playing to small indifferent "crowds".  I had a real knack for booking us at exactly the moment when one of the city's sports franchises was on the precipice of a championship.  I think we played poorly attended gigs during Cubs Playoffs, Black Hawks Stanley Cup, and most notably the NBA Finals during the Michael Jordan era.  If we had a gig that we booked in March for a June Lounge Ax show, you could be damn sure that it would be on the same night the Bulls were about to clinch yet another NBA crown.  I would somehow forget what had happened the previous June and do the same thing year after year.  While the Mark Price era Cavs were frustrated at their inability to get past the Bulls, they could not have been as exasperated as we were getting dissed after a 6 hour drive in a crappy van with no place to park.  The Cavs flew home in style after losing in front of 20,000 people.  We drove home at 345am jacked up on gas station coffee and mini thins.

I remember one of those shows that seemed like a sure thing.  It was almost impossible to get into Lounge Ax, and the Cowslingers got booked onto a three band garage bill with a couple Estrus bands.  In theory, this show would have crushed as Estrus was very popular in Chicago at the time.  I want to say the Quadrajets were one of the bands, because I seem to recall Chet looking very sad as we realized that the seven of us in the bar would be about it on this Thursday night.  Everyone in the city was watching the Bulls in the NBA Finals.  It wasn't even a series clinching game where the mirage of people streaming into the room to celebrate a championship was something to cling to.  We were fucked.  No one was coming.  Essentially we had driven to Chicago to play a 45 minute set in front of the Quadrajets guys and the disinterested Lounge Ax bartenders.  It would have been easier just to have invited the Quadrajets over to our practice space in Lakewood.

Making matters worse at times like that are how little the employees of the club care.  There is NO ONE less engaged in independent rock than a hipster venue bartender, much less one from a major city like Chicago.  They have seen everyone and were unimpressed with them too.  Many of them likely refused to get beers for Pavement and Slint three years ago, so what makes you think you can just waltz over here and get a free Old Style Mr.  Fucking Cleveland Cowboy hat?  It puts you in your place pretty quickly getting attitude from some dude with a man bun that shares a shitty one bedroom apartment with three other guys and a ferret named "Riggs".

We played a forgettable set and then watched the next victims go up to take their medicine while we reversed roles.  As I recall we had two (2) fans that came to see us, a woman named Mickey that Krusty knew from OU and her male companion.  Mickey was most noteworthy for consistently peppering me with requests to "tape her down with masking tape to sheet metal and fuck her" and had made allusions to an adult incident with my brother while in college that she wished to pair with this vision to "get the other Miller brother".  I liked Mickey well enough from a distance but did not share in her enthusiasm for duct tape, sheet metal, and the frankly uncomfortable sounding combination of the two.  She seemed to be embracing a lifestyle that was a bit more extreme than my own and frankly she scared me a little bit.

This lifestyle choice was later confirmed when she talked Leo and Bobby into going with her and her companion to "a private club" where she planned on putting on some type of show.  The last thing I wanted to do was lose these guys and try to find them somewhere seedy in Chicago at 2am.  We decided that Mickey would leave to go home and change into her "outfit" and would then come back to lead us to the club.  We had planned to do the overnight drive back to Cleveland, so we would make a stop at the club on our way out of town.  This seemed like a reasonable compromise.  We still get back to Ohio somehow and at least we have some kind of adventure on this otherwise bust of a trip.

Mickey came back at about 1a with her companion.  She was in a leather get up hidden underneath a trench coat.  She went into her Japanese subcompact car to lead the way, the van following in increasingly more industrialized streets.  We finally stopped at a loading dock in an industrial park.  At the end of the dock was a door painted green.  Mickey is all leathered up and her guy looks like some fetish enthusiast.  I am in a pair of combat cargo shorts, a white t-shirt, Chuck Taylors and an Indians baseball cap.  I suspected I might not fit in unless the interior of the club was a J. Crew ad.

Mickey gave the secret door knock, and a doorman slid open a peephole to check us out.  "Hey Mickey."  The door opened and we were led inside.  It was a large open area with various implements and staging areas for bondage and S&M "scenarios".  TVs were posted on the walls playing videos of people tied up and being spanked.  In the middle of the room a man was tied down onto a rack and being swatted by a woman using a riding crop.  A couple guys were sitting very close, intently taking in the action.  They were VERY into it.  A few other people milled around in leather gear.  Tarantino could have shot a scene in here.  The door buzzed and a conservative looking mother walked in carrying a duffel bag.  She walked into a changing area in the back and emerged minutes later in a cop uniform with her breasts cut out of it.  The mirrored sunglasses were a nice touch.  Meanwhile I am just sort of standing around in a t-shirt and shorts looking like I wandered in from a Cubs game.

I started to realize that I was getting tired.  If I was going to be able to make this drive home, I would need some coffee.  There was a little snack bar area in the back so I thought about asking someone if they had coffee.  I hesitated when the bartender emerged from behind a curtain.  He had a shaved head, no shirt and some sort of leather straps went across his chest.  If I had to guess his name, my guess would have been "Horse".  "Can I help you?"  Umm... well...  Do you have any coffee back there?  "Oh yes!  I'm sorry but I'll have to make you a fresh pot.  I have regular but there's a really nice Hazelnut!  Which one would you prefer?  It's no trouble!"  He couldn't have been nicer.  I hung out with Horse and made small talk while the coffee brewed.  What a pleasant guy.

When I sauntered back across the complex I found something I wasn't expecting.  Leo was tied across the "X" rack while Mickey was preparing to hit him with whips.  A group of about 15 people began to assemble around the rack to witness the show.  12 of these people had a sexual electricity crackling off of them, getting more intense as the show came closer to beginning.  The other three were the Cowslingers and we were struggling to hold back uncontrollable laughter.  We had different expectations for what was about to happen.  I had to hand it to the folks that were into that scene, they didn't let three guys laughing so hard they were crying get in the way of their satisfaction when Leo let out a "Ohhhh!!!!" when Mickey really smacked him a good one.  I wish I had taken a photo to use as the cover of a 45.

After a bit more of watching Leo get whipped and getting a headache I laughed so hard, Leo convinced Mickey to let the tables get turned.  Mickey got tied down by her boyfriend and asked Leo if he wanted to user her implements.  Leo, going truly Old School, decided just to spank her bare handed.  Mickey's boyfriend was sort of skinny and squirrely.  I do not think he was able to deliver a bare handed spanking with the same authority as an adult male drummer of a country punk band.  Even the crowd of enthusiasts let out a little gasp when he connected with a real "smack!" as Mickey let out a dramatic whimper.  Leo was a hit.  Making matters worse I think his crowd was about twice as big as our earlier set at Lounge Ax.

We wrapped it up soon after that.  I got a refill of the hazelnut coffee from Horse.  The staff of the club thanked us for coming and invited us back next time we came in the area.  The lady cop waved goodbye.  Mickey gave Leo a hug and thanked him for putting on a good show.  We piled into the van and made the drive into the black night of the Turnpike back to Ohio.  Looking back, I think it was our best Chicago show of that decade.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Nurse the Hate: The Summer of Robo Calls

I have been receiving a dizzying array of robo calls in the last week.  Until these calls came in I did not know that I had delinquent student loan debt (I don’t), my credit card had been compromised (it wasn’t), my social security number had been stolen (it wasn’t) and someone from the IRS needed to talk to me (they didn’t).  On top of that I had been receiving credit card offers, bogus charity requests and odd calls from a woman’s obviously recorded voice that just kept saying “Hello?  Hello?”.  I had reached my breaking point.

Today I received a call from an 877 number with a computerized voice which intoned that my social security had been compromised and only by pressing one and speaking to the government advisors could I possibly save my lifetime’s savings.  Naturally, I pressed “one”.  

In my experience, anytime you connect with these phone scams, they are inevitably answered by someone with a Pakistani/Indian accent.  They must be the #1 industry of New Delhi.  Sadly, I am not well versed enough in the regional dialects of that part of Asia to really zero in on the likely geographical source of the scam.  I do appreciate that someone that sounds like they are doing a terrible impression of Apu from The Simpsons answers the phone and says in a herky jerk accent without any trace of self consciousness, “Hello!  This is social security office.  I am Brad.  Please have your social security number?”

This is a key time in the call.  I am a firm believer in using the opening as a way to turn the tables.  I like to create a surrealistic world where up is down and down is up.  Everything they thought they knew is wrong.  Right out of the gate I went with this:  “Hello, my name is Mr. Walsh and I am glad to be speaking with you.  I believe your social security number has been compromised.  May I please have your name, bank account number and PIN numbers?” 

No!  I called you about your social security number!  “Sir?  I hate to correct you, but I called you.  I am certainly happy I did because I believe your account has been greatly compromised.  May I have your home address?”  Ahh… Ahh.. It’s Houston.  “Sir…. I am going to need more information than that.  Perhaps you do not understand the situation you are in.  I just thank that Lord I was able to reach you.  Now…. Your street please?  “2345 Dilliard Street”. 

I thought it was interesting he made up Dillard Street.  I could barely understand him past the accent.  He might have said “Dylan Street”, in which case we could have discussed the regrettable mid 1980s records of Bob Dylan.  However, I pressed on.  “Your zip code sir!  Your zip code?”  67231.  “Sir, that is not Houston’s zip code.  Is this a matter of trust sir?  Please…. Give me your bank account and PIN numbers so I can earn your trust by performing a scan of your accounts to make sure that swarthy men in cheap shirts and rubber sandals haven’t tried to steal your life’s earnings…”. I am with the social security office.  I know my accounts have not been compromised!  “Brad!  Godammit, if we don’t take care of our own, who can we trust?  Give me the numbers Brad!”  Ahhh… Hold on… Talk to my brother…. “You work with your brother?  How wonderful!”

This is when they passed the phone to The Supervisor of The Worst Criminal Operation In India.  “Jess…. Jess… I am brother.”  Hot shit on a shingle son!  Do you realize what trouble your brother is in?  His social security number has been compromised!  Now I am going to need your entire family’s banking information… PIN numbers, account numbers, the whole bit.  Thank God I called you!”  This is when things turned…

You son of bitch!  You motherfucker son of bitch!  I take you money!  I take all you money!  We are social security!  Not you!  (This is when I went to an old favorite.  There is nothing better than suggesting a man from that part of the world has been confused with a woman.)  “Ma’am!  Ma’am…. I hate to disagree with you, but I called you, not the other way around…”. Ma’am?!?  Ma’am?!?  You dirty motherfucker! I am not ma’am!  “Ma’am!  I am not going to argue about your gender as you are clearly a woman.  I can tell from that very feminine voice, which I might add is quite melodious, and…”. YOU SON OF BITCH!  I KILL YOU!  I KILL YOU!  “Ma’am!  Ma’am!  Why are you turning this into a violent confrontation when I just called to help you?  Now if you can just be reasonable, I’m sure I can help.  You are a woman in distress, and…”.   I CALLED YOU MOTHERFUCKER!  I AM SOCIAL SECURITY!  NOT YOU!  “Ma’am… I hate to correct you, but it is I that called you.  I am the one clearly sitting in the social security office while you are likely doing your housework…” YOU FILTHY SON OF BITCH!  (CLICK)

Now, on the upside, I experienced a great deal of satisfaction tweaking that guy into a rage.  On the down side, I am now a target of extremists in rubber sandals making calls from a sweaty cinderblock building in an Asian hellhole.  I hope I don’t get blown up by a suicide bomber in an explosive vest because I called some dude halfway across the world “ma’am” that was trying to rip me off.  To me, it seems reasonable for him to expect that once a shift.  I miss the good old days when people from that part of the country went in on family hotels or convenience stores to rip off overfed Midwestern guys like me as opposed to telephone death threats, but the world is ever changing.  I suppose you have to change with it.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Nurse the Hate: How This Hillbilly Casino Thing Came Together

We are playing a show with Hillbilly Casino next Sunday August 18th at the Beachland at 7pm.  We have played gigs with those guys for a long time.  The first time we played with Hillbilly Casino was in Cincinnati at Top Cats.  Well, that’s not completely true.  That was the first time Leo and I played with Nic from Hillbilly Casino.  We were in The Cowslingers and Nic was in the Blue Moon Boys.  We played last, and the Blue Moon Boys played second.  We had some crappy little band play first that we threw a bone to because we knew their booking agent from Athens OH.  They were called the Drive By Truckers.  Yes, I shit you not.  That was the bill.  It was $5 to get in.  It was about a third full. 

I have a few memories from this show.  I remember the Greenhornes came out.  They were these young guys that played cool garage rock that had played with us a couple times.  I have a distinct image in my head of a few of those guys standing by the doorway in very skinny pants they either got from 1966 or the best thrift store on earth.  They were hanging out with that “we’re kind of the shit, but you don’t know it yet”, which in retrospect was totally accurate.  One of the guys smoked a cigarette Euro style as if he was taking a break from a Swedish Magazine modeling session.  I gave him the old head nod in my ill-fitting polyester cowboy shirt. 

The Drive By Truckers had written most of Southern Rock Opera by this time, and were in the midst of recording it.  I spoke with the bass player at length about it after their set as he was engineering as well as recording the bass parts on it.  I wasn’t that familiar with their music yet, but I definitely remember them playing “Uncle Frank” and “Nine Bullets” in their set and thinking “Fuck, those songs are really good.  That band is really good.”.  The bass player told me in a self depreciating Southern way that the record was “coming out pretty good”.  Um, yeah it did. 

I had not seen the Blue Moon Boys play before, but we had heard about them.  In cities where we overlapped at that point like Detroit, Columbus and Chicago people would come up to us at shows and say “Have you played with the Blue Moon Boys before?  They are great!  They’re a rockabilly band and…”.  Now normally when I heard “they are a rockabilly band” I would take that to mean “they all wear vintage clothes and are going to play “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll” before at some point the guitar player would stand on the upright bass as they played an Eddie Cochran song to close the show”.  Yawn. 

The Blue Moon Boys started, and this was different.  It was rockabilly.  I guess it was…  But it was modern with really great original songs.  The guitar player was terrific and had his own distinctive style.  Meanwhile Nic was out front jumping around like a spazzy kid that had just mainlined a pixie stick.  On top of that, he could sing.  They were great performers and the crowd ate them up.  Our closing set was going to be a lot of work.  If we didn’t bring it, we would look like a bunch of assholes. 

I think we did OK that night.  I can’t remember anything about our performance except how much the guys in the Blue Moon Boys liked us, which was a nice surprise.  A lot of times bands can get needlessly competitive.  This wasn’t the case here, where we competed, but in a good way, pushing each other to be better.  We had an immediate Bromance between the bands and started to play together as much as we could.  The picture up top is when they brought us to Wolfy's in Ft Wayne.  The bill was a great fit.  I think we both sort of ignored those Drive By Trucker guys at that point.  Hey, who cares.  They weren’t going to amount to anything anyway!

The last thing I remember about that night was speaking with a creepy overweight middle-aged couple in the doorway to the club.  The guy was proudly telling us how their German Shepard liked to fuck the woman and how much they both got turned on by it.  One time the dog was unable or unwilling to pull out of her, so they had to all go outside to spray the dog with a hose in the back yard.  I remember Bobby and I slowly backing away from the conversation in a manner you would a junkyard dog, facing them while slowly backpedaling.  “Hey…  that’s really great…  that’s really something…  we have to go back in the club and…  get some stuff… and… but you two have a great weekend…”.  That’s southern Ohio for you…

So here we are all these years later.  Nic fell in with these great guys from Nashville and got Hillbilly Casino going.  Leo and I were lucky enough to trick Sugar and Hector into the fold.  We all kept writing songs, recording and touring.  We are either to be celebrated for keeping the flame alive or pitied for being in such a rut.  I don’t know if I would have done anything differently, or even could have if I wanted to have done so.  I do know I am looking forward to Sunday.  It’s going to be good.  It always is.         

Monday, August 5, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Two More Acceptable Mass Shootings

I have not written about the need for effective gun control lately.  It isn’t an issue of debate any longer.  It is self-evident.  However, I felt that when nothing happened after the Las Vegas machine gun slaughter, there was no reason to think that the nation would ever do anything about this issue.  As a people, we have decided that the chance of a fucked up young white male with a military grade weapon blasting away into a crowd is an acceptable part of our lives. 

The Republican members of Congress, who can be argued are devoid of any soul, are willing to embrace white nationalism to stay in power.  You think that a few murders of strangers at a Wal Mart or nightclub will sway them into action?  They will not, under any conceivable circumstance, vote against the gun industry for fear of being taken out of office in a primary election.  I don’t know how great it is to be a member of Congress.  It must be awesome, because these people will do ANYTHING to stay there.  A strong majority of American citizens favor stricter gun laws, but these elected officials, tasked with enacting the will of the people, will do nothing.  This is fact.

I did find it galling to receive a social media post from Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a reliable lackey for the gun lobby.  “I went to bed with a heavy heart because of El Paso and woke up to the tragic news from Dayton. These senseless acts of violence must stop.  While we are still learning more about the details of this tragedy in Montgomery County, we are praying for the victims and their families and thank the officers who responded so quickly and bravely.  I am talking to local leaders and law enforcement officials this morning. First and foremost, let’s get all the facts and help the community heal.”

This goes right to the playbook of the gun manufacturers.  Slow everything down, let the moment pass, allow people to move on, get back to selling guns.  Portman today went to the old reliable talking points of “it’s not guns, it’s people”.  I will admit that I feel a little badly for him having to shovel this load of horseshit behind a podium as even he can't believe the nonsense he is trying to sell.  "Are there more things that could be done? I'm sure there are," Portman said. "But I will say there's something deeper going on here. If you look at the suicide rates, if you look at the addiction rates -- this community's done a good job in responding to it but it's been ground zero in terms of the opioid crisis."

That was a nice shift to suggest that opioids are the issue, even though neither shooter had anything to do with opioids.  Sure, the El Paso shooter did echo Trump’s aggressive inflammatory racial and immigration white power stance, but why get into that?  Portman then came back strong and suggested that since the issue is complicated, the best course of action is apparently complete inaction.  "There aren't enough laws, and in fact is no law can correct some of the more fundamental cultural problems we face today as a country and the shooting last night is an indication of that. I look forward to working together with my colleagues to try to respond in the most effective way possible. But we also must look deep into our hearts and figure out how could someone point a gun at someone who he had never seen or known and pull the trigger." 

Bravo Rob.  Way to tackle the responsibilities with which you have been entrusted.  Then again, the over $3 million dollars gun lobbyists have spent on Portman since 1990 should buy them something.  In this case, it’s our collective well-being.  Rob has a good thing going, and he is not going to rock the boat.  

Here’s a quick prediction.  This week will be spent with the same public discourse.  We need to outlaw assault weapons.  No, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  They will find a way to kill soneone if they really want to.  Yes, but 30 people don’t get killed in two minutes by a knife wielding maniac!  Well, it’s really a mental health issue.  It's all very complex.  Let's not rush into anything.  Two weeks pass.  The enthusiasm around the issue wears off.  We wait for the next mass shooting.  Repeat.