Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Florida Weddings

Out of nowhere I was reminded of a crazy story yesterday that may or may not be my memory combining 2 crazy stories. It actually is a better story if it is all becomes the same story, so I'll present it here as such. Let's say there is a guy named Mike. Nice kid that is fresh out of college. He leaves his small Midwestern college town after graduation to go to Florida. He has no real plan except trying to stay out of the cold, and maybe figuring out what to do with his apparently useless college degree.

Mike gets a job bartending at one of those shitty little Florida beach towns. It's the kind of place where there are two "fresh seafood" restaurants that both serve everything battered and deep fried for the few tourists that somehow stray into town. This is the kind of place where the same families have run the same old "rip the tourists off" businesses for a couple generations. Mike meets a girl that is the daughter of a real Florida blue blood. Her father owns The Car Dealership, and is a real player in town. Sponsors a little league team, and has a full page ad in the high school football program. He's a "big deal".

Mike and the girl have a whirlwind romance. Mike is a pretty charming guy, so it's easy to see why he and the girl became engaged so quickly. Pretty soon, this lower income Midwestern kid is driving around in a loaner Audi from the dealership, and is on the fast track to be an assistant manager at Dad's dealership. Dad wants to make sure his daughter's husband is making enough to keep his girl comfortable, and besides, he likes the kid. Sure, he's paying for most of the condo they are living in, but after a few months, they'll be able to pay him back. Mike made his daughter happy, and if his daughter is happy then he's happy.

Mike's friends are all pretty surprised to get the wedding invitations. Hell, most of them didn't even know he had a girlfriend. Whatever the circumstances, this was going to be a weekend down in Florida and it sounded like it was going to be a pretty plush affair. All the guys from the old fraternity head on down from Ohio, and all bring their various girlfriends/wives for the whole weekend of rehearsal dinner at the boat club and wedding/reception the next day at the country club.

Most of the guys hadn't seen each other since graduation a couple years ago, and certainly they ALL hadn't been together since college. The guys hit the bar hard during "cocktail hour", and well into dinner. Mike and his lovely fiance look great together, and a few people make nice speeches. Then the dinner breaks apart into the post-dinner heavy drinking. The guys are doing shots at the bar. Then some more shots. What happens next becomes a great controversy in various social circles for years.

Someone at the bar asks, "Where is Mike?". Nobody seems to know, but there was definitely some chuckling among the fraternity crowd. Unfortunately for Mike, a small search party was dispatched to find him. They found him. He was making out with a server from the dinner in the parking lot. The fiance was obviously not pleased. Her brother wasn't either, as I believe he delivered to Mike what one would call "an asskicking" in the parking lot in front of most of the guests. In a single moment, Mike had totally torched it all. Instantly he had no fiance, no car, no place to live, and no job. Poof.

Most of the guys from the fraternity sort of hung around town the next day after the wedding had been cancelled. As you can imagine, there was plenty of "Postgame Show" discussing what the hell happened. Turned out Mike had never even met the server girl before that night. The guys stopped by his place to give him a pep talk, and helped Mike move his shit out into a trailer. The following day, Mike had to drive the trailer with all his stuff in it back to Ohio with the ex-fiance's mother riding shotgun. (Yes, you read that correctly. As he had no money or car, someone would have to take the car and empty trailer back to Florida. Wow, that must have been a really long drive. What do you do, talk it out with Mom, or just listen to oldies on the radio? Somehow the Isley Brothers "Shout" might not have been the song you wanted to hear right then.)

The real interesting part of the story is that Mike and the server get back in touch somehow. He can't stop thinking about her, and calls the restaurant to find her. They're now married and have a kid named Dylan or Radley or something. Crazy, isn't it? Depending on how you tell the story, you have a great chick flick (from the waitress point of view) or a boozy black comedy misadventure (from Mike's point of view). If you do the film like the chick flick version, Mike is a guy played by Matthew McConaughey that falls madly in love with waitress Kate Hudson and throws all caution to the wind for romance. In the boozy misadventure version (played by Ben Stiller no doubt), Mike is a guy that apparently loses it all but in a tacked on Hollywood ending gets the smiling Jennifer Aniston waitress. It's probably a 1960s French film if told from the jilted fiance's point of view, but let's not dwell on that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Hampton Inn

A friend of mine works part of the week outside of Toledo, and his office puts him up at a Hampton Inn right off the I-75 and I-90 split. The “Crampton”, as it is lovingly known, is a very functional stay. The rooms are clean. The TV is large. The free breakfast is crappy, like it should be. As I recall, doesn’t The Crampton have that oddly mounted waffle iron with sloppy ass batter everywhere? Breakfast is always a delight there. I think you can choose from the sugary synthetic muffins, mini box of fruit loops, plastic container of fake eggs, and waffles. All of these are usually self served on tiny Styrofoam plates with small specimen cups of juice that you get from the magic juice fountain. I enjoy sitting at one of the small dirty tables, where I can usually watch a small Mexican woman scurry about throwing out the trash left behind from the sad looking guests.

At this particular Hampton Inn, the local management team has created a “Guest of the Day” award. Each day one lucky customer is chosen as the “Guest of the Day”, and is notified via a small bulletin board by the reception desk. You can only imagine the excitement my friend felt when he walked into the hotel to discover that he, at last, had been awarded the coveted “Guest of the Day”.

No doubt his mind must have raced thinking about what wonderful prize he was about to claim. A free night’s stay? A meal in a nearby restaurant? A complimentary sleazy movie on the satellite? No, his prize was this:

• one (1) Hampton Inn plastic sports water bottle
• one (1) “fun-sized” Snickers bar
• one (1) “fun sized” 100 Grand bar

I am pretty sure the goal of naming a “Guest of the Day” was not to let the guest walk away thinking, “Man, I can’t believe how fucking cheap this hotel is! Can you believe they made me stop at the front desk to give me a 94 cent plastic water bottle and two Halloween candies? That’s the best they can do? That’s how they show me they appreciate the business? I am the motherfucking Guest of the Day! These are my spoils?”

Before we go too crazy, let’s keep things in perspective. It could have been worse. Not much, but it could have been bleaker. They could have given him:

• a nearly empty jar of olives with two (2) remaining olives and the discolored liquid they float in
• a worn “used” 3 month old copy of Hustler
• a pair of women’s sensible cotton panties with the Hampton Inn logo over the ass
• a kitten

My buddy decided to stay at the Hilton after that. He said that the water bottle rolling around in his back seat, “made him sad”. (I think he probably ate the candy bars though.)

I know most companies now have employees dedicated to monitoring the web to find out what people are saying about them on social media. With luck, this post will find its way to Supertel Hospitality Management CEO Steve Gilbert. Perhaps an underling will print it out, and sheepishly stick it in a file for a regular daily review of the public’s perception of Hampton Inn. Steve will read it, and his face will cloud. He will then thunder into the phone to his assistant, “Get me the Goddamn manager of that Toledo property on the phone right fucking now!”.

Meanwhile Mary Smith, the well intentioned day manager of that very Hampton Inn, is driving to work in her 2007 Kia Rio. Her brown polyster pantsuit is a little snug on her ample rear, but is offset nicely by the fluffy sweater featuring a compelling deer nature scene. She smiles confidently, with a brand new bag of “fun sized” Snickers in the back seat, ready for a new “Guest of the Day”. This was her baby, and she is in total control of the guest incentive program. Why, who wouldn’t be delighted at the recognition from the bulletin board? The fun sized candy and water bottle are just the oh so tasty gravy.

But that phone call is on the way. Here it comes, right from the top. She had always imagined she would be noticed for her initiative, for her commitment to making this Hampton Inn the best damn hotel in the group. But she had never imagined this. Ah, to imagine the look on her face when it shifts from that smug smile into sheer panic when Stevereno unloads on her… That’s what makes it all worthwhile to have been “Guest of the Day”, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Fashion Prediction

My least favorite people out there currently by group are the "urban" rural white trash. I was in Columbus last weekend with the band filling up at perhaps the greatest morning gas station in the region at the Polaris exit. (It's really a great one-stop.. A Tim Horton's franchise, cigar humidor, college sports merch area, extensive magazine rack, Naked Juice smoothies, and relatively clean bathrooms. Highly recommended.)

As I waited in line to pay for my juice, I stood behind an amazing stereotype of what kind of guy I am talking about here. He had it all. A very short shaved haircut exposed his thin bony face and skull. Eyes set just a little too far apart, like a hammerhead shark. A small goatee with skinny connecting sideburns was clipped out of his beard. A script tattoo of a woman's name was etched boldly on the right side of his neck. Just visible above the collar of his filthy XXL white t-shirt was the top of some demonic creature. The giant t-shirt was offset by ENORMOUS blue denim shorts that ended comically just above the ankle, making it appear like he was a very skinny dwarf of some kind. The shoes? Untied basketball shoes, as he must have left his white socks and shower shoes at home.

When you looked at that guy you immediately knew he had 1) no education 2) a horrible on/off job 3) the worst taste in music imaginable 4) a child from some girl he knocked up in high school 5) poor judgement and 6) a police record involving drunk and disorderly, possession, minor traffic offenses, and domestic disturbance(s). These guys usually freak me out a little bit because they take their social cues from things they have learned in rap videos, straight to video action films, and Insane Clown Posse mob scenes. As Bob Dylan said, when you have got nothing left, you have got nothing left to lose. These dudes are like junkyard dogs.

As I left the store, all my dreams were realized. My guy got his smokes and stepped into the passenger seat of a beat to shit white Ford Tempo. The driver was a guy that looked almost exactly like him, but with a nice wire tattoo on his left arm, cheap Oakley knock-off sunglasses, and white baseball cap tilted to the side with a Target version of a graffiti design all over it. Rap music was blasting out of the car with the particular bass dominant thud of cheap Radio Shack speakers so overdriven as to make it completely unintelligible to anyone within earshot. In the back seat? You guessed it. A pit bull. They had followed the entire "white rap kid playbook".

It's a tough world out there when Central Ohio Farm Boys (or in this case, trailer park boys) have taken the look so long cultivated by the inner city black youth. But as we know, inner city blacks have always led the way when it comes to driving fashion. Let's face it, these farm dork goons aren't coming up with any ideas of their own. It has obviously become time for the inner city youth to update their look. Take it up a notch if you will... So the question becomes, where does the inner city black/Hispanic kid go from here?

The way I see it, the look has to have a few elements. It has to exhibit a toughness. Young men like to look like badasses. It also has to be affordable. We're not talking about wealthy folks here. They have to be able to buy the look. But it also has to be difficult enough to find that the "product laggards" can't just skip down to Kohl's and jump on board. Lastly, it has to have some kind of tie back into something culturally. For example, the baggy pants look ties directly into the look of cons at prison.

This is why I am making the first prediction that the new look taking over this whole dipshit tough guy underground will be the "Child Soldier of Darfur" look. It's been out there for awhile, and it is ripe for the picking. Imagine it. How awesome would those same guys have looked at that gas station if they had been in shorts, thrift store t-shirt, rubber sandals, aviator sunglasses, and holding an AK-47 machine gun at their hip? Throw in a beret, and you've got yourself a guy that can have an illegitimate retarded kid in several trailers, not just his Mom's!

Oh sure, the older generations will complain. "Hey man, back in my day we would toss some Faygos at Tia Tequila and smoke some weed. Now these kids have barricades set up in my neighborhood with human small intestines stretched across the road as blockades. You think my wife likes seeing disemboweled neighbors? Plus, I go out to get my mail, and I've got a head on a stake in my lawn. I'm all for fun, but it's not like it was back in the day!"

Try to stand in the way of progress if you want. It's a lost cause. This look is coming, and I can't wait. Even now, I have arranged to have 15 palates of rubber sandals with ICP logos on 'em shipped in to sell at Dollar Stores in rural Ohio. Next Thursday I've got machetes with Violent J clown faces on the handle coming in from China (made by confused political prisoners no doubt). Laugh now, but we'll see who's laughing later. Me? I'm down with the clown!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Jets

Maybe I'm just not catching the fever, but I am not buying into The J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS! as Super Bowl champs. One of the cool/mindblowing things about the NFL is the unbelievably short memory the public has about last season. Everyone remembers the suddenly "invincible" Jet defense in the Playoffs, and the pair of Playoff wins. Everyone is abuzz about the Revis holdout, a cornerback that went from obscure player on a .500 team to the best player to lace up cleats since Jim Fucking Thorpe in about 6 weeks. Yes, Mark Sanchez sure looks like a quarterback for a NY team. Can he play? Maybe... Hell, they even signed free agents that somehow slipped through the fingers of Fantasy Football GM Dan Snyder of the Redskins in out-of-tire-tread LaDanian Tomlinson, overrated-Charger-outcast-cb Cromarte, past-his-prime Jason Taylor, and soon-to-be-arrested-for-something-stupid Santonio Holmes at WR.

The Jets are not going to win the Super Bowl. Hell, they probably won't even win the AFC East. This may seem to be completely impossible based on HBO's "Hard Knocks", the constant ESPN coverage (when they take a break from Favre updates), and national sports talk. However, let me present to you this, the most ironclad argument possible against a Jet championship.

1) The Jets, while having a couple nice playoff wins against a fast fading Bengals and a legit Charger team, still must be recalled for what they really did in 2009. They went 9-7, and 2-4 in their division. At one point, they lost six out of seven games. This is not an elite team, but a team that got hot at the right time.

2) Vegas is pretty good at predicting upcoming success. The big board in Vegas have the Jets over/under win total at 9.5 games. That's a real compelling under. If every Rube you know thinks the Jets are going all the way, they are going nowhere. Currently Vegas believes 7 teams will win more games than the Jets. They are 12-1 at winning the Super Bowl, and that's with the incredible New York media hype machine churning at full blast. One thing Vegas knows about is NFL Football. I'd take a flier on the Chargers if I were you...

3) That guy in the fireman helmet that screams the "Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer is almost a sure thing to ice that team. I always worry about guys that are passionate like that. Their dreams never come true. He will be left looking forlorn in his stupid little helmet during a horrible Jet late season loss at home in a crowd reaction shot at about 6:58 pm. Announcer Troy Aikman will say something like, "Well, that's about as tough a loss as you'll ever see." as the tears stream down the face of Fireman helmet guy. Then the network will cut over to 60 Minutes with a quick stop in at the "Subway Scoreboard Wrap Up" and we'll forget all about him. Fire Helmet Guy will make the long walk back to the car, drive home, and beat the dog. Thus the door to the Jet season will be shut. It's like it already happened.

4) As noted in the Whiskey Daredevils song "Jesus Walks Beside Me", The Jets never cover the spread.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Michigan Microbrew

Last weekend, with my faithful microbrew friends The Stackmaster and The Enabler, I went to lower Michigan microbreweries of note such as Bell's, Founder's, and Dark Horse. These are considered to be amongst the best in the country by beer wonks at The Beer Advocate. You know this is good information as any microbrew beer expert I have ever met is an overeducated fat dude with a beard and has a close relationship with fanny packs and cargo pants. These guys rarely have girlfriends or real jobs, but they drink a helluva a lot of beer. They also argue about tiny details of mocha barrel aged porters like other guys argue about batting averages of the 1934 St Louis Cardinals, identity of former guitar players in Guided By Voices, and episode specifics of Star Trek. These geeks of another color have plenty of good info, but I would not recommend talking with them directly unless you can feign enthusiasm for 2+ hours on various yeast strains.

Over two days we did manage to cover plenty of ground. We went to Grand Rapids (Bell's, The Hideaway and the amazing beer bar Hopheads), Marshall MI (Dark Horse), Jolly Pumpkin (Ann Arbor), Kalamazoo (Bell's and Peninsula) and Battle Creek (Arcadia). You may not be able to make such a journey, which is why pros like us step up to the task. Here's what I learned...

* Ann Arbor is indeed 3-5 times nicer than Columbus. However, the tough fireplug dyke bartender at Jolly Pumpkin is 3-5 times meaner than your average Columbus resident. I was concerned at one point about receiving a well deserved softball cleat to my cup. I also didn't like being referred to as "Boys" in a slightly condescending manner. I didn't say anything though as I was very concerned about that softball cleat.

* Dark Horse Brewery, while ramshackle, may make the best beer in Michigan. They also feature graffitti in the men's room that proclaims "Alan Deever Lix Dix". I cannot confirm nor deny this claim.

* The convenient store next to Dark Horse, called "Wacky's", has one of the finest selection of local microbrew ever. It was there I scored a six of Short's outstanding Huma Lupa Licious IPA. I also watched a young woman buy a small flask of bourbon, Virginia Slim 200s, and 15 scratch off tickets at 230p on a Sunday afternoon.

* Grand Rapids is a shockingly nice place. On Saturday night, every woman I saw was dressed in a nice fashionable dress and heels. Very pretty girls. They were also some of the biggest gals I have ever seen en masse. Must be that corn heavy Midwestern diet. One woman in a bachelorette party told me I was "her boy" while I was in the elevator with her. She also told me I needed to "meet her in the hotel lobby at the end of the night". After thinking it through, I decided to reject her offer and not start an exciting new life in Western Michigan with a soft n' curvy hair stylist girlfriend. This may have been an error in the long term as my hair isn't so great. I may kick myself later when I think of all the free hair care product I left behind in that Holiday Inn, but life is about choices.

* Grand Rapids is home base to Amway, and one of America's finest old school hotels, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. It is like a version of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining situated on the banks of the Grand River. The amazing thing is to consider that such a mammoth 5 star hotel was built on the back of suburbanites selling toilet paper and canned vegetables to one another. I have never met anyone that has bought, sold, or known anyone associated with Amway. Clearly someone is involved in this white bread pyramid scheme. Regardless, if you ever have to take a dump in Grand Rapids, I highly recommend the bathroom on the second floor lobby by the conference rooms.

* Kalamazoo is sort of bleak, but Bell's Brewery has a nice hippie shaggy dog vibe. I must warn you that Sunday night is some sort of regular female folk singer songwriter torture show. It's preferable to be ripped to shreds by the mosquitoes outside than to have to endure quasi-sensitive feminist acoustic drivel. When I left, I was light headed from either the Two-Hearted Ale or the sheer loss of blood from 978 bug bites.

* Battle Creek, while the home of the ever cheerful Snap, Crackle and Pop from Kellogg's, is utterly devoid of hope. I understand why people power down all that English style ale at Arcadia on "Sunday Happy Hour", which is little more than a loose keg party in a metal shed. I also learned that one of the world's worst blues songwriters lives in Battle Creek as he trotted out the lyrical abomination of the new millennium in his "Sunshine Wheat Blues". Had I the means, I would have quietly and tastefully "put him down" with a .22 and enjoyed the accolades from the patrons afterwards.

* There are no police in Michigan. I say this confidently as I drove routinely at speeds between 95-115 mph and seldom passed anyone as even 2006 Kia Rios careened at these high speeds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Book Store

True story. I walk into Borders to kill some time before my to-go lunch order is ready across the plaza. I'm just sort of browsing, and go right to the "Summer Reading" table with the superdeal paperbacks. I love looking at that table if I don't have a game plan in the Book Store. It's great to see something like "Zombie's Dating Guide" next to "Walden" or "Catcher in the Rye". So while I am staring at this random collection of books trying to make sense of it, I hear a Borders employee talking to a customer. "Here it is. It's over here"

Being walked over to a copy of "The Great Gatsby" by the slight bookstore employee is a guy around 21 years old. He looks like a guy that spent his high school years tormenting smaller kids in gym class with de-pantsings and well placed towel snaps to the scrotum. His buddy is shuffling behind him in shower shoes with that slow, pained walk that seems innate in NBA basketball players, self conscious High School football players, and the elderly suffering with chronic hip pain. That guy is also sporting one of those titanium necklaces worn by douchebags like Josh Beckett, as well as dyed blond hair with lot of "product" to offset his casual blue mesh gym shorts. He is absentmindedly staring around this strange store with the indifference of a legless man in Foot Locker.

The first guy looks down at "The Great Gatsby" warily like he's unsure that this is what the product he asked for was actually going to look like. Maybe he expected it to look like a Maxim Magazine. Maybe he expected a DVD, I don't know. With the same suspicious look he approached the table with, he turns the book over to look at the price. "FOURTEEN BUCKS!", he blurts out.

The second guy lazily turns his head to his friend. "Dude. That's why I don't read."

The $250 top of the line smart phone on guy #1 goes off. "What's up? Where are you at? Uh-huh." He puts the book down on top of the wrong stack, and they both shuffle out while carrying on the cell phone conversation. Dude, there will be no reading today.