Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nurse The Hate: Insanity and You!

The problem in dealing with people that are mentally ill is that these people themselves refuse to factor in their mental health problems into the situation.  How can you talk to someone about how fucked up they are acting if they don’t think they are acting fucked up?  It can be difficult to have a rational conversation about an issue with someone that can’t really understand the true nature of reality.  How do you work out a problem with someone that looks at an apple and sees an orange?  An astounding number of people I know look at situations and come to wildly inaccurate conclusions about things.  Look around you.  People are really fucked up.  They can’t hold jobs.  They can’t pay their bills.  They leap into situations without thinking anything through.  They make terrible decisions over and over and over, yet see no pattern emerge.  The reasons for the conflict and failure that surrounds them is always else’s fault. 

I am of the belief that the majority of the population is crazy to some extent. The same guy that agrees to have a baby with his wife he is on the verge of divorcing is also probably going to wager on the Texas/Oregon State game.  Why sure that baby will bring you closer together!  Go for it buddy!  The guy that tries to solve a problem with someone by giving them the silent treatment?  “Yeah, I was pissed about something, but rather than tell the person why I was pissed, I decided to not talk to them and let them try to guess what the problem was.  That hasn’t worked in my life yet, but it probably will this time!”  That guy is probably also trying to figure out the Cowboys/Redskins game tomorrow.   “Yeah, I just changed jobs again.  Those people are assholes at the old place, just like the ones at the place before that…”  The same guy that has no idea he himself is at the root of his problems is right now analyzing that Saints/Panthers game.

The key is to recognize that you cannot reason with or help these people.  They are a disaster now.  They will be a disaster tomorrow.  They have always been disasters, and will be ever thus.  No, we must profit from these people.  We must accept that whatever stupid ideas they have will most likely unfold right in front of our eyes and end in predictable fashion.  “Oh, you got divorced from that stripper you married?  I can’t believe it.  She seemed so stable…”  We must figure out what The Public thinks and go against it. 

When I hear that 70% of the population thinks New Orleans is going to beat Carolina by 4.5, I say “Hello opportunity!”.  Right now there must be dudes with neck tattoos clutching “Saints to win” tickets thinking about going to get themselves a Bud Platinum and maybe dumping their winnings into some new aftermarket crap for their truck.  The guys that spent their gas bill money on lottery tickets and pizza are all in on the Saints.  Let’s get on board Carolina +4.5 even though I can’t think of a rational reason why…

I keep hearing about how RG3 and the Redskins are a team of destiny on an unstoppable winning streak.  Dallas NEVER wins the big game.  This storyline, while somewhat accurate, fails to note that while Dallas is 1-7 ATS at home, they are 5-2 ATS away.  They are getting 3.5 playing a team that embarrassed them early on Thanksgiving, but yet allowed them to crawl back to within one score when everyone had changed the channel.  Dallas was down 28-3 and lost by seven.  That guy that has a new satellite dish and 65 inch TV while his roof is caving in?  He’s on Washington.  Me?  I’m on Dallas +3.5

Current Record Vs Spread:  13-13-1

Friday, December 28, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Johnny Cash Project

Disc 4:  "Now There Was A Song"  This is an all country covers album which I think is the first time Johnny gets down home with fiddles.  Of note is "Transfusion Blues", an early "non-offensive" version of "Cocaine Blues".  His versions of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Honky Tonk Girl" are pretty great.  This is a good album all things considered.  Somebody at Columbia must have decided to go for "the hillbilly market" with this.  I can see some guy with a flat top haircut chomping on a cigar saying, "Have him cut some of those goddamn hillbilly songs!  We'll move some fucking units down South at least!  Now where are we on that Miles Davis record?  Is he off the junk yet?"  Disc 5: "Ride This Train"  This is the first Johnny Cash concept record where he is doing American songs set as a travelogue where he is allegedly on a train that can travel not just across distance but also time.  In between every song is the exact same train sound effect and then Cash tells a story for about a minute and a half in character before each song.  It would have been nice to have the stories as separate tracks as I don't know if I might sprain my wrist hitting the fast forward button to avoid listening to the spoken word portions of each tune.  The songs are pretty good and sparse, just how I like Cash in this period.  "Loading Coal" is a good song, and "Going To Memphis" is interesting too except it sounds like one of the Tennessee Two is in blackface doing the chain gang chorus part.  It's pretty embarrassing.  Times have changed since this came out in 1960.  I also don't think Columbia Records would have released the song "Boss Jack" where Cash's character speaks to a slave he is going to punish because he was late coming back to the barn.  Disc 6:  "Hymns From The Heart" was tough going.  Everything I hate about those thick "ohhhhh" and "ahhhh" dated choruses gets applied to traditional hymns.  The original sleeve notes state "You will return to them often for inspiration and delight.".  I am not so sure about that.  This is what church in some shitty town down South must've sounded like if Johnny Cash was in the chorus.  Even then it's brutal.  Can you imagine sitting in a service in 1961 in Arkansas with whatever non-talented inbreds were singing these songs?  Bad haircuts, horrible church outfits, judgemental sermons, and then these songs?  Find me a Scientology center!  Snake handling?  OK.  I'm in! Just stop singing...  Disc 7: "The Sound of Johnny Cash" is really great.  "Lost On The Desert" is a killer Marty Robbins sounding cut.  He's got some great broken hearted lover songs with "Accidentally On Purpose", "Mr. Lonesome", "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know", "Let Me Down Easy", and "You Won't Have Far To Go".  He nails a couple standards with "In The Jailhouse Now" and "Cotton Fields".  This also has the originals "Delia's Gone" and "Sing It Pretty Sue".  It's more sparse, starting to retreat from that soft 50s production and relies mainly on the power of Cash's "voice of God".  This is his first great album for Columbia, and the first time he has the Man In Black look on the cover.  You need this.  Disc 8:  "Blood, Sweat, And Tears" is a collection of working songs, many of them real war horses like "Nine Pound Hammer", "John Henry", "Another Man Done Gone", and "Casey Jones".  The hit on this one is "Busted", where they use an autoharp in the response to the chorus instead of the doo-wop singers.  His one original is a bluesy thing called "Tell Him I'm Gone" which would be a great rockabilly cover.  This one feels like it was thrown together when they realized "Hey!  We have a whole bunch of working man/chain gang songs here.  What if we record Nine Pound Hammer and put out a full length!"  Disc 9:  "Ring Of Fire: The Best Of Johnny Cash" is by no means a greatest hits package.  "Ring of Fire" came out as a single in 1963, went to #1 across the country and pop charts and this was the album they rushed out.  There's some shitty over produced stuff on this like "Remember the Alamo", "Bonanza" with a vocal track, and "The Rebel-Johnny Yuma".  With some of these songs, you want to put on a coonskin hat and watch F-Troop in your pajamas.  It sounds really dated.  However, "Ring of Fire" is a monster, "I'd Still Be There", "What Do I Care" and "Tennessee Flat Top Box" are essential.  "I Still Miss Someone" makes yet another appearance, probably the song most likely to be on a Johnny Cash comp after "Folsom".  I think this would be worth owning on vinyl, just for the groovy cover.  (See below)  Also, please note that he is wearing the exact same shirt as the previous album, not that they rushed this out or anything...  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Travels To New York

I used to travel to New York over the holidays to see the Miller side of the family.  These were great trips as my Aunt Rose and Uncle Jack were two really funny quirky people that traveled extensively.  My Uncle Jack had a brutal dry wit, and Aunt Rose was like a movie character.  They had interesting shit to say.  It was a loss to me personally when they died.  I especially miss them around the holidays as all of the extended Millers would pound a million beers and laugh it up over at their house on Xmas Eve.  There were many really good times I wish I could have shared with some people that timing did not allow to attend.  Oh well, that’s the way things shake out.  You play the hand you are dealt.

The added bonus of this trip was to work in a couple days in “The City”, a.k.a. Manhattan.  I had a roommate from college that lived in White Plains, and like anyone from the Greater New York Area that now lives in Ohio claimed he was from New York City.  Please note that nine times out of ten if you press someone that says they are from New York about where exactly they live, the answer will almost always turn out to be Jersey.  “Yeah, it’s like a 25 minute drive into The City, so it’s pretty much New York.”   

No, it’s not.  It’s New Jersey. 

That being said, I had a couple really good times running around the East Village with him including one memorable time where we found ourselves surrounded by models at the Pyramid Club as the club held their annual transvestite Christmas Pageant.  Absolutely stunning women at least four inches taller than me glided about the room with that practiced look of boredom only New York models can truly pull off.  And no, they weren’t transvestites too.  These were women you see in modeling in Vogue Magazine that have almost nothing in common appearance wise with anyone you have ever seen before.  It’s like they came from another planet. 

If you want to confirm your place on the social ladder, try engaging a model in conversation at a bar.  I was in my early twenties with almost nothing going on.  The scent of failure on me was like I was doused with Old Spice.  They knew it.  Hell, I knew it.  I stood against a wall with my $7.00 beer and bad clothes watching these statuesque creatures walk around whom were pretending not to notice transvestites dressed like Biblical women singing Christmas songs.  It was a real scene.

This guy was a good guy to live with if you had to share a room with someone.  He was always up for placing himself into a ridiculous situation and had almost no filter.  I remember one time when I was sleeping in my top bunk.  It was really late, around 3:30 am.  Something woke me up.  You ever wake up and know something is weird but you are not sure what it is?  I laid there and stared straight up at the ceiling when I finally figured out the bed was rocking slightly like it was on water.  I rolled over to the right and looked down into the lower bunk.  I saw my roommate thrusting himself into Becky From The Second Floor.  Becky and I made eye contact.  “What’s up Becky?”  My roommate made a grunt as he “completed”, and I started laughing.  What a bleak atmosphere.  It must have been a pretty romantic experience for a young lady.  I went back to sleep.  Becky and I always pretended it never happened when we would see each other around town.  My guess is she hasn’t shared that story with whatever man she is currently in residence with and I would not blame her.    

The interesting thing about this guy is he could be literally doing anything right now.  I would be equally unsurprised if I could track him down to discover he was a tightrope walker in Budapest or an airline mechanic in Hartford.  That’s really the issue in trying to re-connect.  If you do a web search he could just as easily be the “surf instructor Waikiki” or “business insurance account executive Ft Worth”.  I haven’t a clue, and frankly I don’t have the energy to try and write out seventy emails asking strangers “Are you the guy that lived with Greg Miller, lit himself on fire at a party, was featured on MTV Spring Break coverage, and had coitus with Becky From The Second Floor in your lower bunk?  If so, what up?”  I’ll either come back in contact or I won’t.  That ship has sailed. 

As I enter this New Year on track with my goals I set a couple months back, I hope I remember how thin the lines are that connect people to each other.  God knows the world is filled with enough boring people.  It takes a little effort to stay in touch with the small number of interesting ones.  You have no idea how small changes in circumstance can remove people from your life completely.  Suddenly six months go by and you realize, “Man, I haven’t talked to Jim in awhile…”  

Let’s stay in touch this year. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Gas Station Observation

The guy with the beard at the gas station:  He gassed up his truck staring blankly ahead.  The boy sat in a car seat in the back, staring ahead with the same blank expression.  They were headed back to his mother’s home, a woman that was known to his friends almost exclusively as “my fucking ex-wife”.  Most of them couldn’t tell you her real name, even on a bet.  He got the boy every other weekend, but was able to cobble together an agreement to have him overnight on Christmas Day.  They spent Christmas Day at Grandma's, a modest house that smelled like cigarettes and burnt pot roast.  After the excitement of ten minutes of opening presents abated, they all spent the next 18 hours trying to put up with one another.  His fucking ex-wife had re-married almost immediately after leaving him, which often led him to speculate on the timeline of things.  She and her new husband Matt lived in a large colonial suburban house.  He could fit his entire bungalow into the living room of the God damn thing.  When he picked the boy up he would stand in the enormous hallway, staring at the various pictures of his son, his fucking ex-wife, and fucking Matt in their spectacular fucking vacation photos.  In the photos, the boy had a smile that was totally foreign to him.  Their visits together had taken on the mutual enthusiasm of a dental appointment.  Everyone agreed though that “it’s good for the boy to spend time with his real father”.  At his fucking ex-wife's house, he would stand in the hallway waiting for the boy, now aware of his shabby boots and filthy Carhartt jacket.  There would be forced small talk where Matt would ask, “How are you doing?”, which was actually code for “Do you need money from us again?” while his fucking ex-wife looked on with feigned concern.  They would stare at each other for a moment and all hope the boy would emerge from his room so the charade could mercifully end.  They would rush out an all too excited greeting when the boy finally appeared.  He would then guide the boy outside with his hand as they both endured his fucking ex-wife's sing-songy goodbye, Matt's hand carefully placed around her shoulder.  He put the gas pump back, closed the cap, and wearily dragged himself into the driver's seat of the truck.  Neither spoke as the truck slowly pulled away.

Side Note:  I have received the Johnny Cash Complete Columbia Album Collection as a fabulous Christmas gift.  This mammoth box set has all 65 full length records Cash cut for Columbia.  I am intimidated by the immensity of the collection, much as you would be if you sat down to eat a sheet pizza by yourself, or open up Marcel Proust "In Remembrance of Days" as light beach reading.  I have decided that this is not a gift, but rather a commitment.  I need to fully give myself to this box set, so when I have listened to it from beginning to end, I will know more about Johnny Cash than even June Carter Cash.  This is going to be an endurance test.  I know there are some dark days ahead as I attempt to make it through Johnny's 1970s catalogue.  It's not going to be easy, but I will see this thing through.

I started at the beginning, as that seems a reasonable place to begin.  Disc One:  "The Fabulous Johnny Cash" has the #1 hit "Don't Take Your Guns To Town", as well as "Frankie's Man Johnny", "I Still Miss Someone", and "Pickin Time".  It also has a lot of those songs that sound dated and annoying with those backup singers hitting all that call and response stuff.  If this came out today, we'd all be crying out "Johnny Cash is a sellout man!".  "The Troubadour" is especially brutal.  Disc Two:  "Hymns By Johnny Cash" must be the album they let Johnny record to get him signed to Columbia.  Johnny loved his spirituals, but even he knew this must be commercial suicide.  "It Was Jesus" would have been an awesome Uncle Scratch cover.  Boy, do I miss Brother Ed...  This has "The Old Account" on it, which is as close to a hit as there is on it.  Disc Three:   "Songs Of Our Soil" has a bunch of workin' man songs on it including the hit "Five Feet High and Rising".  I really dig a lonesome seafarer song called "I Want To Go Home" I've never heard before, and "Clementine" would be good if the arrangement was completely different.  Who the hell talked him into letting those syrupy backup singers hit that chorus?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Season's Greetings

Warmest Holiday Wishes on this splendid day.  May all of your Yuletide dreams come true.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Mall

I don’t venture out into the world of retail all that often.  I spend most of my money on books, music, travel, cars and fine wine.  These are things that are generally unavailable at any brick and mortar store anymore.  I just don't have a reason to go there very often.  I don't know the Mall Culture very well.  The Mall is a place where I am immediately spotted by retail clerks as an outsider.  I think I might be that creepy guy that freaks out the female employees as a potentially dangerous sociopath.  Sometimes it is like I am a caveman that has never encountered a sweater on a table before.  “Sir?  Can I help you?  Sir?  Do you understand what I am saying?”  Grunt.  Mongo no find size on sweater.  Mongo no understand. 

It is generally awkward for both of us.  I usually feel as if I am the subject of discussions when I walk out of most of these stores.  There are probably slang terms used by high school girls that I don’t even know that I am branded with every time I walk in.  When I answer the “Welcome to The Store.  Can I help you with anything?” question with some smart comment or light conversation, I usually get the “What the fuck are you talking about?” look.  You have to dumb down the vocabulary if you want to have even basic conversation at The Gap.  It’s like going to Dresden and trying to order a cup of tea at the train station.  Stick to the basics. 

People are excited at the Mall.  I’m not just talking about over stimulated preteen girls either.  Moms and Gal Pals are swaggering around in their special yoga pants holding their lattes eyeing every piece of merchandise.  It’s a lifestyle choice.  It’s a world that recognizes me as someone that doesn’t belong.  I just don’t get it.  There are a variety of stores I do not understand at most retail shopping malls.  These include: 

Yankee Candle:  Unless you are a complete moron, you would have to understand that if a store has to pay for the most expensive rent available for a retail store, they are going to be passing along that cost to the customer.  How much are candles in that place?  $20 per?  If you buy those, do guests come over and say “Wow!  Look at the way that fucking candle is burning!  That puts the $1.99 candle I bought at the grocery store to shame!  I feel like this is the first time I have ever really seen a candle!  It’s like I am seeing through the eyes of a child!  Incredible!  What a motherfucker of a candle!” 

Abercrombie and Fitch:  What is that whorehouse perfume they are blowing out of that joint?  Do they sell overpriced clothes to teenagers and also offer “around the world” service with Vietnamese prostitutes?  When I smell that perfume I think about having a visit to a clinic where a disapproving physician is looking at a scabby sore on the tip of my penis and saying things like “In all my years in medicine, I have never seen anything like this.” and “When we burn that off, you will feel a great deal of discomfort, probably unlike anything you can even imagine.  Here.  Bite down on this stick.” 

Apple Store:  I assume everyone in that store already owns an Apple computer.  After you purchase that product, what is it exactly that makes you hang out in the store?  You already bought it.  What do you need now?  An extra power cord?  Friends?  Why is everyone walking around that place like they are doing really important shit?  The only things that people post on the Internet are videos of their cat and pornography.  If you need extra equipment for either of these pursuits, you don’t need it from Apple.  Go home.  And stop walking around in that ironic winter knit cap inside.  You are making me sweaty just looking at you. 

Radio Shack:  What are they doing with all that information they want to take from me so I can buy a $2.29 cord for my TV?  You have to give less information at the DMV when you register a car.  You can tell everyone gives those clerks shit about it because they are always so sheepish about asking you.  I always feel very sad when I go to Radio Shack and I don’t know why.  I go to great lengths to avoid walking into that Shit Shack.

Clark’s Shoes:  This is a great store to punch up your wardrobe if you previously wore orthopedic shoes or banged around in Frankenstein boots.  I look around at all the Gal Pals in their riding boots.  Then I look at the functional shoes in this store and wonder, “How do you make enough to pay the rent selling shoes no one wears?”.  If I was in a horrible accident and was left with one leg longer than the other, this is the first place I would go looking for a special shoe with the extra rubber to equal me out.  When you have a really fucked up leg, no one would care about what kind of shoes you have on, would they?  Have you ever said, “Man, that guy on the crutches has some bad ass Bruno Magli shoes on!”? 

New Balance:  This is similar to Clark’s but in the area of athletic shoes.  I wear New Balance, only because the last time I wore Nike running shoes my feet fell apart like braised short ribs.  I got plantar fasciitis so bad I felt like flying over to whatever Asian country Nike has kids at gunpoint making these shoes and shooting one myself as “an example” to the others.  After I got over the foot ailment, I realized this was extreme thinking, so I just bought these ugly ass New Balance shoes instead.  They work really well.  No one else I have ever seen wears them though.  Why would they?  They have a giant ugly “N” on them.  How do these guys make payroll?  Has Nike fucked up that many people’s feet?  

Hollister/American Eagle:  As far as I know this is the same store as Abercrombie & Fitch.  I would imagine that at high school there is a clear dividing line of which store is most preferential.  There is some kid right now feeling self conscious because he is wearing a Hollister shirt instead of whatever the cool one is at the moment.  He probably will try to mock another kid wearing Old Navy to get the focus off of him.  I don’t really need to know how that shakes out.  I’m a man in my forties.  I don’t need to be going in there unless I am buying a gift for a teenager or abducting a young female clerk.  In either case, it’s probably an event that I will regret getting involved in.  I’m just staying out of there.

Urban Outfitters:  There are a lot of ironic poseur hipsters working in there that could really use a firm talking to in that joint.  I don’t like the way they look at me as I look at the cheap “nod n’ wink” merchandise.  Look you little pussies, I had all this shit the first time around in the 1970s.  It was lame then, and it’s lame now.  Wipe that smug little look off your face and let me pay for my Pac-Man thermos, OK?  Go home and listen to your Of Montreal records and pretend David Bowie never happened.  Go get a job at a campus coffee bar where you belong, ya fuck. 

Talbot’s/Coldwater Creek:  These appear to be stores that cater to women that know how to tastefully decorate their homes with perfectly placed accent pieces, that can wrap a gift that looks like art, and instinctively know how long to baste a turkey.  These are women that measure me up with a quick glance and know what a child I am.  These are grown ups that I have little in common with except in some cases age.  If you go to your high school reunions, you will notice some old people in tasteful boring clothes that you don’t recognize.  They will turn out to be your classmates, except they look and act 30 years older than you.  I think these are the stores where their wives secure their get-ups. 

Sunglass Hut:  Is it just me, or would you also prefer if Sunglass Hut was actually inside of a tiki hut?  It would be more exciting buying sunglasses in an exotic atmosphere like that instead of having a bored twenty year old judgementally open up cases for you to try on glasses that make you look terrible.  This is a store that confirms I have a gigantic horribly misshapen head.  If there are 200 pair of overpriced sunglasses in that store, there are only 4 that don’t make me look like David Crosby.  I go in there once a year to feel badly about my appearance.  Then I buy the same basic sunglasses I always buy. 

When you don’t belong someplace, you have to limit your exposure.  I approach it like a guerrilla raid.  Get in, inflict maximum damage, and get out.  Let the sly smiling women in tights and boots allow you into their world briefly with the understanding you will leave them to their spoils.  They are the professionals.  Don’t question it.  You are but an amateur without a plan or purpose.     

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 16

I have 756 different television channels, yet the only thing that is on when I wake up in the dark is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.  It’s really uncanny how that might be the only movie that airs between 11p-5a with the exception of “The Roommate”, a terrible movie where a college you never heard of is mostly empty except for two hot chicks and one hot chick’s hot dude boyfriend.  You’ve never seen a cleaner more contemporary dorm with less foot traffic than the one they live in.  It’s like two models went to college at a W Hotel.  Everyone has nice clothes and a limitless supply of money.  I don’t want to ruin it for you, but one hot chick kills the other hot chick after the other hot chick does some fucked up stuff to the first hot chick.  It’s a helluva thing.  I hope that kid is OK.  Was that a movie or a documentary?  

When you find yourself flipping through channel after channel, hoping for just one thing to capture your interest, there is always one place to go.  No, I'm not talking about infomercials or hillbilly reality TV.  I'm talking about the best soap opera on TV.  I'm talking about ESPN.

ESPN has spent the last week stunned that the New York Jets don’t have a good QB and the team as a whole is mediocre.  Why this is surprising is beyond me as the team missed the playoffs last year, added no good players, and then had most of their good ones get hurt this year.  I knew the Jets were going to be 7-9.  My friends knew the Jets would be 7-9.  We all knew about the QB situation.  I understand that with 24 hours of continuous broadcast day there is a lot of content to fill, but Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow sucked last year and they sucked again this year.  They will suck again next year wherever they end up.  Why are you trying to pretend you didn’t know that?  With all the coverage of that going on, why didn’t they tell me something really important?  Why didn’t they tell me that the Eagles are 0-6-1 at home vs the spread?

The Eagles are a total mess right now.  What a disaster this year has been.  They are currently working with their 9th offensive line combination.  The coach’s son died of a heroin overdose, and made sure to leave a room filled with steroids behind.  Michael Vick’s brother, maybe one of the biggest dumbfucks ever, likes to tweet out public relations disasters.  Eagle fans don't want people to be fired.  They want public executions.  These guys need to press the “re-set” button.  I think they want to go home for Christmas, drink some whiskey, and watch “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.  You think they are going to cover their first game at home this season against the Redskins?  I don’t.  I don’t even care who is playing QB for the Redskins.  Throw Sanchez in there, and they’d still win.  Give me Washington -6.5.

That general malaise that defines December Cleveland Browns football has nestled into NE Ohio like a nice head cold.  There is more speculation about Next Year than coverage about the game this week, just as it is every December.  Everyone expects the Browns to get pounded today at Denver, who I have a sneaking suspicion might be the best team in the NFL right now.  The Browns have never fared well in Denver.  Mile High Stadium has been the site of many disasters for fans and bettors alike.  I still remember with great clarity all of my friends witnessing their dreams get crushed when Earnest Byner fumbled on the goal line.  I sat watching in a John Elway jersey just to be a pain in the ass.  I even went out drinking after the game in that jersey, risking life and limb in a town where football used to mean more than anything else.  

People have long memories.  They also tend to only notice the headlines.  They all know that Denver has Peyton Manning and “always” wins at home.  The Browns "always" lose in Denver.  Denver is going to the Playoffs and appear to be a power.  The Broncos are also 3-2-1 against the spread at home.  Hmmm…  They are also facing a young Browns team that has a way of sticking close in games.  Here’s the thing about the Browns.  No one remembers that Cleveland lost a game by 5.  They remember they lost.  Again.  And again.  Although the Browns will clearly be outclassed today, I am taking the Browns +12 and hoping that the unmotivated Broncos do just enough to win.

The New York Giants are tough to figure.  They went out and get their nuts stomped last week 34-0.  Based on their up again,/down again season, this week they should be up, right?  Right?  These guys have had the New York media up their ass all week asking them to explain why they flamed out last week.  Nobody wants to do that two weeks in a row.  The good news for them is that they get to play a fast falling Ravens team.  The Ravens have a nice little 9-5 record, but what no one is talking about is how they have been outgained nine of their last ten games.  That's not good.  In fact, that's really bad.  The last semi legit team Baltimore beat was Dallas.  That was back on October 14th.  What was that?  A lifetime ago?  I am going strong on the Giants -1.  

I like Seattle at home on Monday night.  This troubles me as I have heard many other “experts” say the same thing.  Whenever “everybody” likes something, it’s never a good thing.  “Everybody” likes Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Transformers movies, American Idol, white sunglasses, white watches, and Burger King.  These are all things without merit.  So too I feel may be my selection of the Seattle Seahawks. 

I do think that that The Gambling Public is very much in love with the September 49er team that beat the fuck out of the Packers.  I don’t think that team is the same team now.  Say what you want about Alex Smith, but they had it going on with him.  They would have gone to the Super Bowl last year if not for a muffed punt.  Who loves the backup quarterback?  Everybody.  So when I see everyone all crazy about Colin Kaepernick, I am not so fast to buy in.  Seattle has a monster D, and Seattle is a bitch of a place to go in and take a win.

I’m doing it.  I’m taking Seattle -1.    

Current Record Vs Spread:  11-11-1  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nurse the Hate: More Gun Talk

I was very excited to see the NRA make a public statement about the school shootings last week.  You knew their answer to the problem would be “more guns”, because that is always the answer to any question you ask the NRA.  “What should I get for the office Christmas party gift exchange?”  Did you consider a gun?   “I can’t decide on the decoration at the top of the tree… Should it be a star or an angel?”  How about a gun?  "I got Dad a gun for his birthday last year.  What should I get him this year?"  How about another gun?

Those guys really, really, really like their guns.

Surprisingly, the NRA is recommending we arm more people in schools.  This was, of course, the only answer they could come up with and a possible way to get a bunch of government money spent with gun manufacturers.  Bravo gentlemen. If I was in your shoes, I’d do the same thing.  At no time can you back off of the basic idea that guns, any guns, could possibly be part of the problem.  You’ve gone too far.  You are all in.  You have to get the public bought in on the idea of outgunning the “bad guys” (whoever they are).  It’s the best argument you’ve got if you want to be able to keep making, selling, and blowing shit up with those cool assault rifles.  The guys in the corner office at the NRA thought this one out for the last week.  Lots of phone calls.  Lots of meetings.  Lots of role playing press conferences.  This is The Plan.

In an unexpected turn, I was very excited to see the NRA blaming the media for the violence. "In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes—every minute of every day of every month of every year.”  How Marilyn Manson or Ozzy didn’t get tossed into this thing, I’ll never know.  Those guys are awesome scapegoats and incapable of fighting back.  They've been getting smacked around for years.  You know Marilyn Manson has been holed up in his condo since this incident thinking “Fuuuuck.  When are the out of touch press corps coming to blame me?  I haven’t released anything that got kids worked up in a decade, but it’s still Marilyn Manson and Ozzy, Ozzy and Marilyn Manson…  How come no one ever blames Slayer?”

I think this shot across the bow of Big Media was a big mistake on the part of the NRA.  If you start fucking with media conglomerates, they will start fucking with you.  The last thing you want is ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, etc. in your shorts.  I know the NRA would love to shift the argument on who holds the bag on societal violence, but that’s a risky move.   You can’t pin the blame on the guys that control who gets to speak in the argument.  It’s like being in the audience at a comedy club and trying to heckle the comedian.  That guy on stage gets paid for a living to make you look bad AND he has the microphone.  Don’t fuck with him.

Now I agree with the idea that first person shooter video games are part of the problem.  Those are such good simulations for violence that the armed services use them for training.  I remember playing those games often enough that when I would walk into a room, I would unconsciously case it out to see where the best defensive position is located, where I could maintain the best line of fire, and escape routes.  I'm just a somewhat well adjusted asshole suburban dude signing stupid songs and that's how my mind started working.  Give me some good old fashioned mental illness and an assault rifle, and I’m ready to rock n’ roll.  Can you imagine if I got back into metal?  

There is so much money in video games now, good luck in trying to get them outlawed.  It's like trying to outlaw movies.  The NRA is picking a tough argument.  It’s almost impossible to prove why someone goes nuts and shoots up people in a rampage.  You sure can prove what they used to kill everyone though.  Get rid of the coffee maker, you get rid of the coffee.  Get rid of the assault weapons, get rid of the massacres.  It’s a heck of an easier argument to win than cause/effect on mental illness.  I’m not saying it’s the right argument, but it is the one that I’d use if I had a stake in it.

So the NRA wants to have armed guards at every school.  Let’s just forget about the fact that this really seems like about the most stupid idea ever.  Since we are on the “fiscal cliff”, my first thought is “Who the fuck is paying for that?”.  In Cleveland, our schools can’t pay for things like “books” and “desks”.  Now you are going to have some guy with a machine gun walking around every school in the district?  What’s that cost?  We, as a country, can’t pay for the shit we already bought.  How are we going to pay for that?  From a cost/benefit standpoint, wouldn’t it make more sense to just get rid of the military style guns?  Nobody really needs them.  They’re just fun as hell if you like blowing shit up.

Dangerous Ideas For Dangerous Times:  Here’s my proposal…  What if everyone with an assault weapon is required to do volunteer charity work in security as decided by voters.  If you live in a community that thinks it’s a good idea to have your kids in school with a guy with a weapon, than so be it.  I wouldn’t vote for it, but this is a democracy.  We vote in all kinds of bad ideas.  So let's say that your community is down with this NRA plan.

If you want to keep your assault weapon, you have to be available to do charity security work.  Each person that wants to keep their assault weapon gets checked out like anyone else applying for that kind of job.  You would make a couple of other people be references for anyone that wants in on this program.  You would also make anyone that vouches for you be on the hook if you go crazy, like if you co-signed for a mortgage.  The shit has to be serious.  Mental health screenings, training, and consistent interaction with other responsible professionals are part of the protocol.  The cost gets picked up by gun manufacturers (who will make out like bandits).  This plan would give the gun enthusiasts an actual reason to have these guns that they want so badly.  They would be providing a social benefit while we as a society can weed out some kooks with firepower.  You get to keep your crazy gun you don't really need, but you have to do a little work for it.  You know how excited guys would be to walk around with badass guns waiting to get in a shootout?  If you gave them a cool looking uniform, I think they’d be all in!  Make a uniform with a snake or some scary shit like that on it.

How about that?  Is that crazy?        

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Hall of Legends

My brother Krusty and I have been playing fantasy baseball for well over a decade.  While many of you may scoff at this as a complete waste of time, I would respond that anything that gets you interested in a mid July matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres has at least some value.  Sweating out an otherwise meaningless at bat from Stephen Drew on a Sunday night at 11:15 p.m. is fun and utterly sad at the same time.  Small events that happen across the country impact only you and send out a ripple of cause and effect.  A guy you don't know does something that sends your world into turmoil.  Isn’t this just a reflection of life itself? 

Krusty is pursuing his doctorate in political science with an emphasis in polling and statistical concerns of elections.  One would think that this would make him a monster in fantasy baseball where the only real skill is evaluating extensive stats and predicting future performance based on the information.  Yet somehow Krusty manages to be always in the middle of the pack in a league of guys that might be challenged to successfully drive from Cleveland to Columbus without incident.  In complete disclosure, Krusty did win a championship in an event that was akin to a comet whizzing by or total solar eclipse.  Even now it seems like a dream. 

We have played 13 seasons, and he has won once and made the playoffs maybe four times.  I’m guessing, but he is always around .500.  Not bad, but his teams are always sort of hanging around.  This means he either has too much focus on his studies, or all potential political candidates should strongly consider his analysis of incoming polling data very thoroughly before pulling the trigger on any of his recommended actions.  “Look Jim, the numbers don’t lie.  When you speak in public, wave your hands around like Mussolini.  People like it.  It makes them feel like you are powerful.  Oh… Tell them you don’t believe in Jesus either, and you think he is a myth like unicorns and New Mexico.  It’s all in the report.  You wanna win this thing, right?” 

It all started with his waiver wire pick up of Mark Bellhorn.  Bellhorn was a third baseman for the Cubs (and later Red Sox) with some limited power.  He also had a hole in his swing the size of Rhode Island.  Bellhorn got hot for a week, put up some big numbers, and Krusty picked him up.  Unfortunately he picked him up about three days too late.  Bellhorn quickly went back to being Mark Bellhorn.  Krusty’s team, The Lakewood Spider Monkeys, continued to lag in the standings.  The League christened him Mark “The Answer” Bellhorn, and a legend was born.  Well, to the twelve of us anyway.   

That Christmas I purchased for Krusty, at very small expense, a signed Mark Bellhorn baseball.  Thus was born “The Monkey Hall of Legends”, the least valuable collection of signed sports memorabilia anywhere.  Some sports fans have signed merchandise from iconic figures like Muhammad Ali and Joe Montana.  Krusty has Doug Glanville, Angel Berrora, Kyle Lohse, and Mark Bellhorn.  I can't even remember all the crappy guys I have tracked down signed merch from.  It has turned into a holiday tradition as Krusty stares at the almost illegible scrawl on a baseball attempting to figure out what trivial name is on it.  Last year I traded a near worthless signed Quincy Carter Dallas Cowboys jersey for an almost equally worthless Carlos Zambrano ball from the Cubs.  That guy from the Cubs was like "You want a Zambrano ball?  Really?".  That was after his meltdown in the Cub dugout destroyed the Cubs (and Ken's) chances at the playoffs.  To me it was a major score. 

This year I have put great thought and effort into the acquisition of the latest addition to the Hall of Legends.  Phone calls have been made.  Networks have been extended.  Deals have been made.  While many of you will exchange gifts culled from online catalogues that were given no more thought than a vending machine purchase, I would like you to remember that in one house there are individuals going to great lengths to celebrate mediocrity.  Bask in the glory.  When in the area, please feel free to contact Krusty and arrange for a tour at the Hall of Legends.  Make a day of it.  Or at least twenty minutes. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Elf

Mondays can be tough.  Maybe you are heading back to work a job you don’t particularly care about.  Maybe you hate your co-workers.  Maybe you dread the consistent wave of nonsensical emails and counter intuitive direction from corporate.  Maybe if you just didn’t show up, no one would notice for a month.  “Hey, what ever happened to that guy that sat in the last cubicle?  I haven’t seen him since, God I don’t know, October?” 

It could definitely be worse.  How would you like to be on the line with that asshole Foreman Elf on your ass?  That fucking guy is on you all day long.  Sure, Santa probably chews him a new asshole after every shift in his little sweat shop on the North Pole.  The pressure must be crushing to produce enough toys for the planet’s Christian population.  Back in the good old days, kids wanted blocks and dolls.  Now these little ingrates want iPads and video game systems.  How can you train a crew of elves to make sophisticated electronics that were making Lincoln Logs twenty years ago?  Those little fuckers are not exactly career minded, are they?  Every two seconds they want to run off to choir practice.  You think they are paying attention during training seminars?  No chance. 

 Still, is there any reason for that Foreman Elf to be such an asshole?  He knew what he was getting into.  He worked the line for years.  Everybody liked him, even though he always was kind of a hardass.  He grew that goatee out when he played bass in that Death Metal trio that used to gig in Norway.  He was an OK guy in those days.  He smoked out back by the break area and did an impression of Santa fucking Mrs. Claus that would make you weep with laughter.  He’s got that tattoo of the Slayer logo on his back he shows off at the company picnic in July when he’s playing volleyball.   “Whoa!  Look who’s taking his shirt off!  Shit’s getting serious now!”   Yeah, he used to be OK… 

I’m not sure if he still plays the bass.  Those guys haven’t played out in forever.  I heard they might do a reunion show in February, but that’s only if they can get the tall elf with the glasses to fill in on drums.  The original drummer OD’d on bath salts in 2008 I think.  That was after he joined King Diamond.  It’s tough to go back to making toys in that tense atmosphere after you’ve played a few Euro Outdoor Festivals.  One minute you are being fellated by a dark eyed Spanish girl at a 100,000 person Metal Festival, and the next your old bass player is screaming at you in Santa’s Workshop because of your bad seams on an iPhone.  No wonder he skated from that whole North Pole scene.  Dude couldn’t keep it on the rails though.  It’s tough up there, always cold and dark.  Plus they still run the business like it’s 1958. 

I don’t know who handles HR up there on the North Pole, but they should be concerned about how Foreman Elf is handling things.  He is obviously fueled up on whiskey, cocaine and gallons of coffee, ready to blow up at the drop of a hat.  His handling of the obviously “alternative lifestyle” Hermey is a lawsuit waiting to happen.  If Hermey lawyers up, calls into question the unique punishments he receives due to his sexual preferences, and then asks about their non-existent dental coverage?  I see a big settlement coming to that delicate little elf.  The key for him is to start documenting what is going on.  Start using words like “uncomfortable” and “unfairly singled out”.  His lawyer can help him with that.  Santa needs to cut that Foreman Elf loose, or at least hide him back in shipping. He won't though.  He's too Old School.

You know that Foreman Elf has horrible coffee breath.  I bet you can feel it cover you like a wet quilt when he gets up in your face to scream at you.  Spittle probably flies at you, getting into your eye as you try to concentrate on what he says through his rotten teeth.  You know that he is writing all kinds of shit about everyone on forms and documents they’ll never see much less be able to address.  Then after work Mr. Tough Guy Foreman Elf is laughing it up with Santa, kissing ass like you can’t believe.  “Hahahaha!  That’s a good one Santa!  If we moved any slower we'd be dead!  Hahahahaha!  You crack me up!  If you didn’t do this toy delivery thing, you could be a comedian!  Whew!  Let me catch my breath!”.  It’s all back slaps and good times in Santa’s office. 

Take a look around.  As you sit at your job today, remember it could be much worse.  You could be working up North for those assholes.    

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Tampa Bay

I was sitting at a drafting table in a large classroom setting.  I was working on painstakingly detailed technical drawings of ornate keys.  Behind me to my right, Bob Dylan walked into the room dressed in a colorful cowboy jacket and wide brimmed hat that he has taken to wearing.  He came over my right shoulder, pointed to one of the keys and said with a smile, “That one.  That one there.”.  I was really nervous and didn’t know if I should pretend to know who he was or not.  I decided to go for it and stammered out, “Umm… Mr. Dylan, I just wanted to let you know that ah…”.  He turned and walked away.  What the hell did that mean?

I would have preferred if that dream had been Dylan picking a football game today.  However, I don’t know if I would bet with Dylan or against Dylan.  I have a hard time imagine Dylan being well versed in football.  He seems like a pretty wacky guy that probably doesn’t even know that Carolina has a football team.  He probably wouldn’t even give you a straight answer if you asked him about the Pittsburgh/Dallas game today.  Bob, who do you like today?  “Well Pittsburgh has lots of Indian blood in the soil, but the dust of Texas is so pure.  They’ve both been there a long time.  The game has already been played anyway.”  What?  Do you wanna give the points or not?  Jesus Bob.  How about it?  I will clearly have to go this alone.

I am not a big fan of the city of Tampa.  As far as I could tell, the only businesses in Tampa are used car lots, pawn shops, strip clubs, and medical malpractice attorneys.  The baseball stadium sucks.  Ybor City is where the clubs used to be, and it harbored some of the worst music anywhere.  I remember playing a club there where the other band on the bill spent 90 minutes soundchecking, of which ten minutes alone were spent adjusting their special hippie rugs they brought with them.  Genesis probably did shorter soundchecks at Madison Square Garden.  They were horrible, but not to be outdone, we went out and alienated their entire fan base with our catalogue of “hits”.  It was especially depressing when I walked outside and saw a line a mile long to get into a “foam party” next door.  Dancing in a bubble bath and dry humping strangers was probably more fun than we offered, so I couldn’t stay too pissed.  Regardless, I still have a bad taste about Tampa.

I am going to set all of this aside and take Tampa +3.5 today against the hapless Saints.  I read something the other day where an NFL scout said the Saints had the worst defense he had seen in 30 years of NFL experience.  That means something.  Tampa has quietly been playing OK football, where the Saints look to be a team trying to end this nightmare season.  I think Tampa wins outright, but I’ll take the 3.5.  Tampa +3.5.

I don’t know too much about Carolina except Cam Newton is the QB and they might not have any of their games televised.  They might be a team that someone made up, and they shoot fake highlight footage to see if any of us are really paying attention.  (We’re not.)  Those highlights might be made by the Rankin and Bass people that make those creepy Christmas puppet specials.  If you look close enough, can you spot strings attached to DeAngelo Williams?  Do you know anyone that has personally met Cam Newton?  I don’t.  I think the whole thing is a scam.  They do still put out lines and let you bet on the alleged games though.  I looked up these fabricated past game records, and it appears that the Panthers are better than they were earlier in the season when The Public decided they sucked.  They are a team that loses but hangs around in close games.  I will take them +3 against a Chargers team that is probably tired from packing up Norv Turner’s car with the shit from his office.  San Diego is pretty bad and heading down, while Carolina is pretty bad heading up.  I will take the points.  Hopefully Phillip Rivers can toss a couple of INTs to whatever marionettes the Panthers have in the secondary.  Carolina +3.

Dallas isn’t very good.  I know this because I talk about how bad Dallas is every week with a friend that is a big Cowboys fan.  He loves Dallas and he knows they are bad.  “So bad” is the phrase he uses.  You might think they’re good, but they aren’t.  They really aren’t.  Dallas is especially bad against teams that pressure the crap out of Romo.  The Steelers will pressure the crap out of Romo.  I realize that Pittsburgh is a brittle shell of the team they were two years ago.  I just think that they still have enough when they “need” a game.  Dallas, on the other hand, folds when they “need” a game.  Especially at home, when the last time they covered was when Roger Staubach still had a buzzcut from his Naval service.  That was 1969.  (The facts I just used are pretty dodgy.  Actually, I made them up.  Beware.)  I think Dallas is running on empty after that emotional win last week in Cincinnati.  (I would also like to point out that I have no concrete evidence of that fact either.  I don’t care.  I’m on a roll today.)  Gimme Pittsburgh -1. 

Current Record Vs Spread:  10-9-1


Friday, December 14, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Gun Control

There is clearly no reason to have even a discussion about guns in our society.  There is no problem.  To even suggest having a conversation about this issue is to throw away the very Constitution itself.  This document from the late 1700s was clearly intended to make sure deranged individuals had the same access to weapons with capabilities well beyond the imaginations of the Founding Fathers as any normal well adjusted citizen.  Thomas Jefferson would have been 100% on board with a 20 year old fuck up having more firepower than an entire company of professional soldiers from when he wrote that document.  Why wouldn’t he?  In fact, why are we all so touchy about nuclear weapons?  Why are my constitutional rights being violated?  Why can’t I have an intercontinental nuclear ballistic missle?  That is complete bullshit. 

Some people are going to be worked up about two random mass shootings in a week.  Let’s point out that there were five days this week where no one showed up in a public place and started firing weapons at people for no reason.  Quit being such pussies.  If we get to the point where every single day there is an incident where a crazy white guy kills strangers with firearms, I think that we should maybe talk about the possibility of discussing the chance that we might maybe talk about thinking about changing our current gun policy.  And I will stand firm on that!

Let’s also remember that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  I think we all remember the past when guns were more difficult to acquire and had less firepower.  Who can forget the weekly mass stabbings as men with knives went wild in shopping malls, slaying all those in their path?  And how many of us lost family members to being clubbed as they sat in movie theaters?  It was an epidemic!  There was a time when you couldn’t walk down the street for fear of being strangled.  I lost seven kids in my high school to random axe attacks. 

The issue as I see it is why weren’t the teachers and children in that school armed to the teeth?  As well all know, the solution to stopping the occasional armed lunatic is to provide everyone in the entire population with weapons.  This obviously would have been the case today if the irresponsible parents of those children hadn’t failed to send their eight year olds to school with at least a snub nosed .38 revolver and extra ammunition.  Instead of playing with action figures and legos, those kids should have been firing powerful guns at human targets in spooky camps in the woods.  Those parents will have to wrestle with the grief of their lost children knowing that if only they had put a small concealable 9mm pistol in their kid’s lunchbox this morning, they would have had a happy and normal childhood.  Nothing promotes safety and smiling well adjusted children like a totally armed population.  I’ve always said when I’ve been in an urban area facing a problem like a traffic dispute, argument at a sporting event, or even a shoving match at a bar is “You know what we need here?  A whole bunch of guns and ammunition so we could sort this thing out!”. 

An incident like today’s mass shooting is a tragedy.  However, we can’t let emotion lead us into even having a national conversation about guns.  We need an armed population so if the government gets out of control, the citizens can take control from the army.  I know that most Marines would not want to tangle with a small group of folks that get together every weekend to shoot their retail firearms at a firing range.  Sure, they rolled through the third largest army on the planet in a week in Iraq, but how can you compare them to real red blooded Americans?  Our nation's military is our biggest export besides trash culture and fast food.  Nobody puts on a war like we do!  Still, if we all have access to second rate weapons, we can get rid of that pesky army in no time.  Wolverine!!!
Today I feel more sure than ever that the last thing we should do is even notice these school shootings.  We do not want to even mention the possibility of thinking about the chance that somebody might want to consider giving thought to the idea that we should talk about these guns.    


Nurse the Hate: Get Your Own Tone

When we first started The Cowslingers our goals were on a step by step basis.  I always figured if I could play out once on stage, that would be awesome.  Then it became trying to play out of town.  The goal then shifted to putting out a record.  That seemed impossible.  If you are one of the 1000 people that own the “Bad Booze Rodeo/Burro Show” seven inch, you are holding what I considered to be the ultimate pinnacle of what I could possibly achieve in music.  To think that someone would pluck that record at a garage sale for 50 cents forty years from now, go home and hear me say “The Burro Show” was and is still a magical idea to me. 

After a couple of years we started playing with bands we knew only from owning their recordings.  One of the first bands that were considered a “national” act that we ever played with was The Forbidden Pigs at the old Bank Street Café.  This was akin to us playing with Black Flag as these guys had a label deal and seemed impossibly professional.  We owned their actual CDs for God’s sake!  In retrospect, the Forbidden Pigs were probably at our level now, a decent club draw with a limited international fan base.  We probably sell more records than they did even now in the “Digital Age” of free download, but we thought they were a Big Fucking Deal.  It's all about comparisons.  Since everyone we knew and hung around with listened to the same music, it was impossible to fathom that anyone wasn’t as excited as us to be playing with a real honest to God professional rock band.  “Yeah, we’re playing with the Forbidden Pigs on Friday.  What?  You don’t know who they are?  What do you mean?”  (The “Una Mas Cerveza” CD is really good by the way.  Try and track that down.  You’ll like it.) 

We played in front of the big (for us) crowd and didn’t totally embarrass ourselves.  I think if I heard playback from that show now I would cringe in horror and maybe weep openly at how awful it sounded.  We thought we rocked though.  The newspaper even gave us a backhanded compliment.  The best part was playing it cool with the guys in the Pigs and not being identified as poseurs, which we clearly were at that point.  Bobby was about 15 years old and totally in awe of these men and their cool gear.  In most cases these same men were in awe of Bobby’s obvious talent, but Bob didn’t really pick up on that, so that made them like him even more. 

It was a few months after that show that we got the opening slot we really wanted.  The Paladins were our favorite band.  All of us loved them, and we listened to cassettes of their first three records anytime we drove anywhere in Tony’s piece of shit Dodge Caravan.  Dave Gonzalez, the guitar player, is probably one of the most underrated players of the last generation.  He can destroy playing blues, rockabilly, country, and soul.  He’s one of those guys that plays shows with a crowd of dudes standing in front of him trying to figure out his licks and technique.  He’s a monster. 

Playing with the Paladins was our version of playing with Led Zeppelin.  We understood that our world was a little subgenre of music so the chances of us playing with the Rolling Stones was the same chance of you having sexual intercourse with Scarlet Johansson or Brad Pitt (depending on your taste and preferences of course).  This, to us, was the top of the mountain.  OK, maybe the Stray Cats were, but there was absolutely NO WAY we would ever meet those guys.  That was insane to even think that way.  Who gets to hang out with Brian Setzer?  Rock stars and people that are on MTV, that's who.

As the show approached, Bobby was getting more nervous.  This was his guitar idol.  He had listened to his records a million times.  He had copied his licks.  He had tried to play his solos.  He studied the albums, trying to figure out what equipment he was using to get close to his sound or “tone”.  This was a rare chance to get close to the Master himself.  In mere days, he would have special access to Gonzalez and be able to have a private audience with him if things worked out as he had hoped.  Secrets would be revealed and a true bond would be forged between these contemporaries in rock.  

We got to the club earlier than the Paladins and tried to hang out nonchalantly like other cool guys in bands seemed to do so easily.  The Paladins were running late, so we wound up going on before they even got to the club.  Towards the end of our no doubt awkward and kinda shitty set, I saw them hurrying in with their gear in the back of the room.  The set changeover was quick, and we got our stuff off as fast as possible.  Bobby tried to say hello to Gonzalez, but the Paladins were clearly in that distracted head space you get from running late and freaking out about making it on time.  They were focused on getting ready to play a professional gig.  We were focused on trying to be cool and getting free drinks.

The Paladins played and were awesome.  They always were.  The crowd, which seemed pretty low energy, responded in an almost primal fashion as the step up in musical ability and presentation was obvious.  We watched these guys do what they did 250+ nights a year and hoped one day to get in the same conversation.  After the show, the band talked to the crowd and sold merchandise, waiting until they had interacted with everyone before heading back to the band area.  Bobby, seeing Dave Gonzalez heading back by himself, maneuvered into position to at last have that conversation he must have run through his head a hundred times. 

“Hey Dave!  Dave!” said Bobby to get his attention.  Gonzalez looked up at Bobby, but kept moving.  “Hey, I really love your tone…”  Gonzalez, without breaking stride, turned completely to Bobby and spoke.   

“Get your own tone.” 

He walked into the dressing room, shut the door, and left Bobby standing there alone at the back of the club.  He was stunned.  It had all gone so terribly wrong. 

We have spent some time with the Paladins since then, and they are great guys.  Dave Gonzalez might be one of the most polite guys to ever play in a rock band, so the story is wildly out of character.  Frankly, we liked him even more after that moment.  It has never died with us.  It’s been twenty years.  I still relish the opportunity to tell Bob to “Get his own tone”.  You should too…