Friday, May 31, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Health Food Store

Today I walked into a natural foods market.  When I want to feel well intentioned, I will walk into markets such as these to buy some sort of whole grain organic free range veggie wrap for a somewhat disappointing lunch.  The idea of healthy eating is always greatly outweighed by the cold hard facts that most healthy eating tastes pretty terrible.  This is one of life’s greatest injustices.  If God truly loved us, cotton candy would be as healthy for you as kale.  This very fact alone may account for the reason I am a practicing pagan with a loose association with Basha The Wind God (who will fuck you up if you talk shit about him).

As I shuffled around the Natural Foods Market I could not help but notice that every customer in the store looked absolutely terrible.  I don’t mean physically unattractive, which they were.  I also don’t mean unfashionable, which they also were in a Kansas thrift store meets String Cheese Incident parking lot sort of way.  I mean that these people all looked horribly unhealthy.  The number of physical abnormalities combined with flat gray skin pallor did not exactly scream out “looking good, feeling good!”.  These people all looked like they needed bed rest, fresh air, and some pills. 

I have two theories.  One is that people go to health food stores immediately after being diagnosed with a horrible disease.  I imagine the doctor’s office where he takes off his glasses and says, “It’s never easy to have to deliver news like this…”.  After the initial shock wears off from the hopeless diagnosis, the individual, in a classic moment of “bargaining” decides that they will finally change their lifetime of terrible diet into a flurry of “healthy living” that will spare them their foretold gruesome future.  Despite the fact that even they must know that a month of whole grain falafel  miracle lentil salad won’t undo 34 years of Subway meatball subs, they must figure, “it’s worth a shot”.  That would explain the shell shocked expression on many of the customers I saw today.

My second theory involves the impenetrable fad diets that permeate our culture.  After eating nothing but meat and eggs a la Atkins failed to work as a lifestyle, it became time to for Alan to grasp onto P-90X and the Mediterranean diet.  That became a drag, so then it was off to yoga for voodoo mysticism and Asian cuisine.  How about that Caveman diet?  That makes sense.  Nothing has changed in 50,000 years.  Go kill dinner with a spear and forage for berries and watch the pounds fall off!  Since our society isn’t built that way, why not give organic local food a spin?  It’s got to be better than be arrested for running around in a loincloth eating robins and squirrels.  Sooner or later, Alan found himself looking for answers in the dreaded Health Food Store.

Organic food is clearly a good idea, but somewhere along the way it got intermingled with hippie mysticism, the most dangerous hocus pocus out there.  Got cancer?  Eat kale and be cured!  What?  You aren’t eating flax seed?  “Hey man, my best friend Sky started eating flax and now she can walk.  She danced her ass of at Moe in the Hamptons on Spring Tour.  Seriously man…”  The whole thing is so confusing.  Nuts are good for you, but not those nuts.  Eat more fish, but if you eat those fish they all have mercury and it will kill you.  Don’t eat beef, unless you need iron.  Oh, and not that beef.  Before you eat that chicken, do you know how it was raised?  Free range?  That doesn’t mean anything.  Do you know what they do to those birds?  Do you know about the chemicals man?  It’s a store filled with self righteous guys with knit caps and beards and old hippie women in un-ironed sack dresses and ugly shoes.  And all the good things they do for themselves via their organic diet, they un-do with heavy pot smoking and the myth of organic cigarettes.  It's a wilderness of mirrors.

My mystery grain hummus spelt magic wrap today was OK.  Still, I don’t know if I will go back to the Natural Food Store.  I guess it all depends on how this strange ache I have on my right side plays out.  If I tweaked a muscle, I think I’ll stick with a reasonably responsible diet and as much working out as possible to at least maintain my girlish figure.  If I find myself later sitting in a doctor’s office, as he puts an X-ray up on a screen and says, “In all my years of practicing medicine, I’ve never seen anything like this…” while shaking his head?   I’ll probably think, “Shit.  What was it?  Kale?  Is that the stuff?  Sunflower seed flax granola?  Spirolina shakes?  I gotta get a beard and get to the Health Food Store!”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Happy Birthday

When I was 19 years old I was a security guard at the Murfield Village golf tournament in Dublin OH.  While many people would question the hiring of a man like me for a security job, I would like to stress that I am a very responsible person.  If you are going to give me a few bucks in exchange for keeping some drunken yuppies out of a corporate tent, I’ll do that job for you.  The key to security is not the concept of actually being able to stop anyone from doing something; it’s just standing there in a uniform so they don’t think about doing something stupid in the first place.  I looked pretty official in my uniform as I stood in front of the corporate tent.  As far as anyone knew, I wasn’t a man to be trifled with.  Attendees needed the correct laminate to gain entry into the tented wonderland, so to be honest; the area was pretty much self-policed.  No one that attends a golf tournament wants to go through the indignity of having a wiseass college kid in uniform say things like “Sir!  Sir!  Without a laminate, I MUST insist you leave this area at once.”  Who needs that egg on their face?  The Columbus Ohio area golf fans understood.  Don’t fuck with the guy at the entrance to the Logistics Company tent.  That kid is keeping the riff separated from the raff at this event.   

The tournament ran over Memorial Day weekend, which usually had my birthday fall in there somewhere.  I spent a couple summers in Columbus, my family having moved there after my graduation from high school.  I didn’t know anyone in town, and worked the tournament for as many hours as I could get.  The upside was I made tens of dollars.  The downside was I stood around in the heat in long pants for 11 consecutive hours, and was left with minor heat stroke by the time I would go home.   I would collapse on my bed, and then have to get up pre-dawn to repeat the process.  Who knew doing nothing would get a fella so tired?

This particular summer my birthday was on a Friday.  The plan was my family would take me out to a birthday dinner at a restaurant of my choosing after work.   This is one of the few warm hearted traditions I had in my family.  Plus, when you are 19, choosing any restaurant you want is pretty exciting.  You are still an inexperienced diner, and each trip to a restaurant is an exotic visit to another planet where strange and wonderful treats are brought out to you by strangers.  Now eating is so often like stepping up to a feed trough, but when you are a kid and don’t know what gnocchi is, it’s pretty kickass.   “Whoa!  That’s what brie is?”

I got home that day, and it had been scorching hot.  I was standing in 94 degrees in the unrelenting sun all day.  I went to my room to change, and I was beat.  I wanted to grab a shower and change into my “going out to eat” clothes, which may have included stonewashed jeans and a polo shirt with an animal stitched onto my breast.  I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes for just a second.  I opened them up and the room was dark.  What the hell happened?

I had fallen asleep.  I looked at the clock, and it was approaching nine.  I couldn’t believe my family had let me sleep this long.  Why wouldn’t they have woken me up?  I was getting mad thinking about it.  They were going to pull the rug out from under my birthday dinner?  It’s late now.  Are we going to be able to still go?  I started to go downstairs with the intention of airing my grievances.  As I descended the stairs I knew something was out of sorts.  The downstairs was dark as well.  All was completely quiet.  Where the hell was everyone?  I opened up the garage door and saw my father’s car was gone.  It hit me.

They were gone. 

They had gone out to eat my birthday dinner without me.  How could you go to someone’s birthday dinner and ditch them at home?  I was stunned.  Could a group of three people really be that insensitive?  No, there must be a different explanation…  That was when they arrived home, satiated and ready for dessert.  “Hey, you’re up!  C’mon over and blow out the candles.  We all want cake.”  I told them to go fuck themselves and made myself a grilled cheese sandwich.  I really don’t think any of them had considered that I might be pissed that they blew me off and left me at home with an empty refrigerator.  They certainly didn’t expect a “go fuck yourselves”.  That was like going DefCon4 right out of the gate.  I don’t think my mother or brother had ever heard me drop that kind of lingo.  I was pissed. 

I ate my sandwich over the sink while they dug into the cake at the kitchen table.  They didn’t give a shit.  I went to bed.  At 6:30 the next morning, I was back out in front of the tent, the sun gaining strength with each hour.  

Happy birthday.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nurse the Hate: I'm The Problem

The man in the beat to shit Toyota Corolla hit his brakes in front of me, swerved violently to the right when I tried to pass, and ultimately screamed and threatened to hurt me yesterday afternoon on the Shoreway at Dead Man’s Curve.  This is not the first time I have been the target of road rage.  Far from it.  In fact, in the last ten days I have been flipped off and screamed at by three different people after I rode behind them in the left lane.  The first time I thought, “What an asshole that guy is in that mini van.”.  The second time I thought, “What’s wrong with that woman?”.  Yesterday it finally dawned on me.  It’s me.  I’m the asshole. 

Allow me to be completely transparent.  I drive very fast.  I am always driving faster than surrounding traffic.  I view traffic as a never ending obstacle that I need to conquer.  I continue to buy higher and higher performance automobiles as a way to insure that I have all the tools necessary to enrage every other motorist that wanders into my sphere.  I have an unshakable belief in the idea of the left lane being the passing lane.  If you are driving 176 mph and someone is approaching behind you, move the fuck over.  As the guy driving 177 mph in the left lane, I feel  I have the justifiable right to climb so far on your ass you would swear I am in your trunk.  This belief has clearly run afoul of the consensus of the general population.

I think we can all agree that the blank faced driver in the passing lane unaware of the half mile string of cars behind him jamming up rush hour traffic is a nuisance that should be dealt with via the full force of our legal system.  I believe that there should be a rush hour driver’s license, whereas if you are unable to change lanes effortlessly and maintain traffic flow, you are not allowed to drive highways between 6a-9a and 4p-7p.  This is a dangerous idea, but I remind you, these are dangerous times.

I stand before you with a superiority complex built on legging the mileage on America’s roadways normally reserved for long haul truck drivers.  I have driven almost anywhere you can think of from Montreal to Tampa over to Austin across to Seattle and back to Cleveland.  While this experience has given me an understanding of the way things should be, it has isolated me as some sort of traffic elitist.  I understand that now.

I don’t know how I am going to modify my behavior.  I naturally want to keep accelerating.  That damn car wants to run.  I don’t know the best way to avoid ugly incidents like the family man in his mini van screaming at me in front of his wife and daughters, a vein on his forehead throbbing as spittle and venom flew out of the driver’s side window.  How can I prevent the man yesterday, risking his own safety and following me downtown as if he was going to fight me after I laughed at him and his pathetic attempts to stop my aggressive driving?  Can I continue to look back without regret to the woman that pounded her steering wheel and repeatedly flipped me off after I shot past her on the right, and cut back in front of her in the left lane by the narrowest of margins of rush hour traffic? 

I don’t know.  The simple fact remains if I am upsetting all these people consistently, they aren't the problem.  There is no hiding from the plain facts.  It's not them.  It’s me. 

I’m the asshole.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Ray Manzarek

The Doors were one of the first bands I was ever really into.  Sure, I started out like many of you reading this did.  I got Kiss Alive when I was nine, and was convinced they were the greatest band of all time.  I recall a spirited argument with my father at breakfast on a family vacation on the Jersey Shore where he decried the band as “just a gimmick”.  Surely he had never heard the powerful majesty of “100,000 Years” or the call to arms in "Rock and Roll All Nite"…  While a fan of Kiss, I was never a card-carrying member of the Kiss Army.  I did harbor some secret doubts that my father was right, as even at this young age I identified the makeup and costumes might be hiding some deficiencies elsewhere.  I liked Kiss, but was never truly “all in”.  There are no painful photos of me dressed as Peter Criss, thank God.

I then went through a Zeppelin phase, which coincided with the soaring popularity of the JRR Tolkien novels.  What could be better than reading about wizards and shit than listening to songs about wizards and shit while you were doing it?  It was a natural progression from there to fall into Rush and Yes.  When you are an awkward young teen, songs about big themes of Kings and lost swords are a lot better than songs about the yet-to-be discovered mysteries of women.  It’s odd at age 14 you can identify more with The Temples of Syrinx than what it feels like to kiss a girl under moonlight, but there it was.  Women are still mysterious creatures while I am certain that all those Yes lyrics are complete nonsense.

Then it happened.  It was the opening scenes of Apocalypse Now, which I still watch any time I stumble onto it on cable.  The Martin Sheen freakout in the shabby hotel room while this weird guitar played a spooky line unlike anything I had ever heard.  There was no MTV video that could match when those Vietnam era helicopters blew up the jungle while Morrison bellowed, “This is the end…”  I was in.  I was all in.  I bought "The Doors" and was the first kid on my block to have his mind blown.  What the fuck was this guy singing about?  The band looked cool, and made a sound that was totally unlike the bullshit dominating FM radio at the time.  That the Doors were from the o-so-distant past made them even cooler, like I had found an artifact.  Want to feel old?  The Doors record had been out for 15 years when I "discovered" it.  Reverend Horton Heat's first record came out 23 years ago.  Yowza. 

The Doors are a great band for a seventeen year old.  They sound spooky and druggy while still maintaining enough melody to loop you right in.  Morrison’s lyrics are the absolute best at that age.  All that Peace Frog, fragile eggshell mind, horse latitudes bullshit sounds deep if you aren't well read enough yet to realize how flawed and deliberately opaque Morrison’s poetry was/is.  But at 17, you think you just stumbled into a guy with all the answers.  The Doors are fun.  They sound dangerous sometimes.  Sometimes ridiculous.  But they are almost always interesting.  “The Doors”, “Strange Days”, and “LA Woman” are all pretty great records.  Hell, "Waiting For The Sun" and "Morrison Hotel" and "Soft Parade" are all good too.

The Doors became really popular after that movie, and every outcast burnout high school kid had that Doors Greatest Hits album, or even better yet, on cassette. The secret was out.  I remember being in study hall in my senior year and a junior by the name of John Taylor was showing some girls "his poetry" he had written in a notebook, a very gutsy move in our football crazy high school where anyone having any artistic aspirations was most certainly “a fag”.  John was playing the “moody loner” card to get these popular girls interested.  The girls became stunned when I was able to recite “John’s poetry” from memory as he looked up in horror from his notebook.  I had totally busted him and left him picking up the pieces. John, I’d like to apologize now for my actions.  I should have applauded you for your creativity, though I still think of you when that line of The Smith’s “Cemetery Gates” about plagiarism comes around.  Without my interference you may have deflowered one of those two unwitting gals.  It would have been better for everyone if they thought you felt strongly about "petitioning the Lord with prayer".

I read about the death of Ray Manzarek yesterday with mixed feelings.  I had always thought of Ray as talented, but it always seemed like he had coasted a lifetime on being in the right place in 1967-70.  How would you like to be seventy years old and spend 300 days a year talking about how “Jim was a shaman, man.  He had an Indian spirit which leaped inside his soul and he opened doors most of us were afraid to…” Ray really didn’t do too much except talk about Jim Morrison from The Lizard King’s death in 1971 all the way to 2013.  That’s 42 years spent talking about three years.  Whew.  Jim Morrison’s legacy became how Ray made a living, and there was always something a little unsavory about that to me.  I would have liked to have heard more about how he worked with X, but you gotta give the people what they want.

I liked how Ray always took himself and the Doors very seriously.  The guy could definitely play.  Hell, if he didn’t come up with that organ part in “Light My Fire”, the rest of it probably doesn’t happen.  The Doors would have been thought of as a bad version of Love and Jim Morrison would have been playing the oldies circuit trying to stay on key during “The Crystal Ship”.  So here’s to you Ray, and here’s to The Doors.  The Doors meant a lot to you, and they once meant a lot to me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Other Booth at the Restaurant

Tuesday 1:35pm Don's Lighthouse restaurant, booth #4

Susan adjusted her librarian's glasses and picked up steam in regaling her dining companion with the outrages visited upon her by her mother and brother.  The woman on the other side of the table visibly braced herself as the speed of the chatter increased.  Susan confidently soldiered on, buoyed by her clear moral and intellectual superiority to that of her bungling family.  One day they would recognize that her plan for transporting mother to the wedding reception was clearly the best. She had worked out the logistics of the matter and discussed it with anyone unfortunate enough to fall into her conversational web.  It was undeniable.  She could save minutes, MINUTES!, with her route.  The rest of them were wrong, dead wrong. 
Her brother had waved her off at the family picnic on Sunday, you know how he was...  He was always so smug.  He was always the favorite despite Susan's better grades and full ledger of activities in school that made her a shoo-in at the commuter college.  She could have gone to State, but just chose not to.  Who wanted to go there anyway, with all those drunken frat boys and sorority girls with their parties she was never invited to anyway.  No, she lived at home and saved her money for the modest apartment in the airport flight path and the reliable blue Ford Focus in the parking lot (paid in full, thank you!).   
Susan was very animated now.  Her mouth moving rapidly.  Hands emerging from under the booth of the restaurant table to emphasize key points.  It was so liberating to tell someone what a bunch of fools she had lived with for so long.  This family that continued to celebrate her slacker brother and ignored her slow march to prominence as the assistant human resource director for the third largest pharmacy chain in NE Ohio.  She couldn't wait to see the rest of the family after she had so deftly enacted her plan.  They were only pawns in her Machiavellian maneuvers. Then standing at the reception, she would revel in the triumph that had so far so deftly alluded her.  I told you!  I told you my way was faster! 
Her companion's expression now glazed over, Susan obliviously circled back to reveal more delicious details.  Each remembered outrage producing yet another minor plot twist that linked to yet another in a never-ending chain of complaints and back story.  Susan was unable to see the posture of her companion begin to slump slightly, as if she had given up ever leaving the booth or conversation.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The BP Issue

I had a bad experience getting gas at BP.  I felt I had to reach out to BP CEO Robert "Bob" Dudley to see if he could fix this thing for me.  I think I am being very reasonable.  It went out in today's mail.  I imagine the issue should be solved by mid-June...


May 27, 2013

Bob Dudley
Group Chief Executive
501 Westlake Park Blvd.
Houston TX 77079 

Dear Bob,

  I don’t often take the time to write letters to heads on giant corporations.  Frankly I wonder if you will receive this correspondence at all, as I am sure you have a team of lackeys under the whip to make sure 99.5% of items like this are weeded out before staining your desk.  Still, I felt the need to reach out.  I see that you went to the University of Illinois, where I have always had a good time and met people of great character.  Granted, I’m fairly certain that the people I rub elbows with like The Enabler, Chopper, and Sasha may run out of your social circles.  You never know though.  Perhaps you had occasion to attend a show at Mabel’s where The Cowslingers played with Southern Culture on the Skids?  If so, do you remember that guy that barfed all over the stairs?  I feel confident that young man won’t mix tequila and whiskey ever again.  With your chemistry background, maybe you know exactly what kind of reaction that causes and why.  All I know is that it is never good.  But, I digress…

  The reason I am writing is to bring to your attention these damn TVs attached to your gas pumps here in the Midwest.  Look, I’ll be frank with you.  I’m not that wild about that company of yours.  I feel like you slithered out of that Gulf Oil Spill for pennies on the dollar.  I’m sure you guys in the corner offices slapped some high fives on how that turned out.  I would have thought some angry Cajun shrimpers would have figured out where you guys are holed up and gone Swamp Justice on you by now.  But as I am sure that high paid PR agency told you, the public has a short memory.  Tangle the issue up in confusing misinformation that makes the narrative difficult to bang out in a 90 second news story, and you are home free.  Kudos.

  While the destruction of one of our greatest natural resources was regrettable, I just can’t stand any longer these TVs you have mounted on the gas pumps.  Do you really think I need to hear three day old entertainment “stories” blasted at me at roughly the volume of a fucking Motorhead concert while I am gassing up on your overpriced petrol?   Throw into the mix that the content loop is so short it cycles through twice by the time I gas up the car, and it’s a real drag.  What’s that all about Bob?  I know the guys in marketing are probably jacked up about this new revenue stream, but nobody is going to commit big dollars to those ads.  I know it doesn’t want to make me go inside your convenient stores and buy a $3.00 Diet Coke or a pack of smokes.  It makes me want to get the hell out of there as fast as possible.  Why are you doing this to me?  Because you can?  It’s cruel Bob, just plain cruel…

  I could make some wild consumer threat about a boycott that will bring the company to its knees.  You and I know I can’t make that happen.  What am I going to do?  Not buy gas?  I will try to go to Shell or Marathon whenever possible though.  Speedway has that beer cave which is a real plus too.  I’m really just asking you, man to man, to please get rid of those things.  I’m shelling out a kazillion dollars at your pumps.  Why do you have to shove that crappy TV programming up my ass while I’m handing you all my money?  Have you ever gassed up in twenty five degrees with Maria Menounos screaming at you about what one of those Kardashian gals is wearing?  It’s no picnic Bob, it’s no picnic.  I don’t imagine a guy like you pulling down a cool $10 mill is filling up and hustling inside the station to buy a Chunky and a Mt. Dew.  How can you relate?  That’s why I’m reaching out. 

  Let me know where you guys are on this thing.  Hopefully you have some flexibility and we can work through this issue. 

   Go Illini!

   Greg Miller


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nurse the Hate: In Their Prime

It is difficult to know when all the gears are turning correctly, the engine running at peak, and everything is running perfectly.  Too often when one is at their peak or in some sort of heyday, you cannot appreciate it or even acknowledge it is there as there is so much focus on the task at hand.  When you are in some sort of Golden Age, can you even know it?  Or is the very concept of the Golden Age itself flawed by romantic perspective of the past?  I can’t ever remember anyone saying, “While the Summer of Love in San Francisco was probably pretty cool, I have to say nothing could possibly top what is going on with us right here, right now.  This is the absolute best!  To be living here in Mentor in 2013 is amazing!”

I saw a couple of bands last night, one of which was The Thermals.  If you aren’t familiar with The Thermals, they are a post punk indie pop band (I guess) that really writes some catchy urgent material with some pretty big ideas in nice little packages.  This is the second time I have seen them, and they were really good.  They were polished, enthusiastic, and obviously believed in their latest material.  I didn’t think they were as good as the last time I had seen them though.

After the show, I went in next door and caught The Futurebirds, who knocked my socks off.  Six guys in their early twenties that looked like a thrift store threw up on them played these raggedy dense country tinged songs that sounded like they could fall apart any second.  The fact that they didn’t only made them more powerful.  I don’t know what the hell they were singing about, but it sounded really good to me.  I don’t know what it is, but these guys have caught some kind of wave.  Despite the fact that their show was five times more amateur than The Thermals couldn’t hide the fact that “it” was happening for them.  They were just stepping into their prime, whatever that turns out to be for them, whereas The Thermals had exited theirs.  Maybe the Futurebirds will sell a million records and buy Zeppelin’s old tour plane.  Maybe they will play small clubs until the wheels come off.  Either way, the next short period of time should be pretty interesting for those guys.

I have seen some bands over the years at just the right time.  I saw the Pixies in a small club right after “Surfer Rosa” came out.  I saw Jane’s Addiction six months before they broke.  The Hold Steady when they were touring “Boys and Girls In America” were in that zone.  I saw Reverend Horton Heat open up for the Cramps in the early 90s, and every rockabilly guy went “Hmmm… So that’s a direction we can take this…”  Sometimes the right people get the right ideas at the right time and execute these ideas perfectly.  You can feel it in the air when it happens.  It’s undeniable and it is exciting.

The thing that gets confusing with the idea of a “prime” with music or art then becomes the question of subjectivity.  Maybe the last time I saw The Thermals I thought they were better because of the mix.  Maybe I was in a better mood.  Maybe I liked the last batch of songs while the public as a whole prefers this one.  Maybe most of the crowd thought last night the Thermals was a band hitting their stride while the Futurebirds were some stoner guys that need to tighten up.  Who knows?  I just know what I thought.

Maybe all the talk about “being in your prime” is really just a parlor game.  You like “Beggar’s Banquet” and I like “Exile”.  It’s really appreciating the entire ride anyway.  Memory is a fickle beast.  Even if you thought something was great, if others don’t reinforce it, you’ll have it slowly drift away.  You may believe that Krokus on their “Headhunter” tour was the greatest rock show of all time.  Who knows?  Maybe it really was that great.  If it impacted you, it was good.  (For the record, Krokus did destroy Def Leppard on that tour in 1984, but that’s not saying much.  I do not, nor have ever believed it to be one of rock’s greatest shows.  For some reason Krokus popped into my head.  I am sorry if I made you think of the horrible power ballad "Screaming In The Night".  One day I will sing that song in a duet with a keytar as accompaniment while busking in European Train Stations.  If I am lucky that is...)

I have been surprised twice this year by wandering into a club to hear something unknown that sounded interesting.  It’s not easy despite all the access we all have to an unlimited amount of content.  You have to work at it to see and hear interesting things, as most of what surrounds us is crap.  There actually are some exciting things going on.  The fact is you just don’t know unless you take a look around and see for yourself.  Take a chance. You might find someone that stumbled onto something at just the right time.  It is worth opening up that door and looking inside.  You might like what you see.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Grief

I found out about the death of George Jones on Facebook.  This is the way one finds out about these things now I suppose.  I was surprised to see the enormous outpouring of poetic grief posted by people that I could never recall mentioning George Jones in any manner to me.  Honestly, with the exception of one person that I know, I can’t ever recall anyone ever saying, “So I was listening to a lot of George Jones, and…”  I have never heard a George Jones song come up on any jukebox except the outstanding Brass Rail jukebox (and I’m the one that played it dammit).  What is all this posturing about the massive loss you are feeling about the death of George Jones?  Who is kidding who?  I thought the guy was already dead, and you probably did too. 

Celebrity death has now become an excellent time for people to posture about how cool they believe their record collections are, and how much more into a particular recording artist or actor they are than you.  “Oh, look.  Mike is into George Jones.  Look at how sad he is about Jones’s death.  Hmm…  He really knows his music!”  For example, there is a sea of people wearing Johnny Cash t-shirts that yell out “Whoooo!!!!” whenever a band plays “Folsom Prison Blues” that can’t name you another song except “Ring of Fire”.  Yet when Johnny Cash died, you would have thought their parents had perished in a house fire.  Yes, Johnny Cash is a symbol of cool.  But in this case, isn’t he more of a fashion accoutrement than someone that has personally touched your life?  Maybe you really connected on a song.  OK.  I’ve got good news for you.  There are 65 more CDs on Columbia alone you haven’t bothered to listen to, so maybe you should zero in on your icon a bit more.      

George Jones never had that same crossover cool that Cash did, mostly because he was an alcoholic pain in the ass in Ambervision sunglasses.  When your nickname is “No-Show Jones”, that gives you a pretty good idea of his reliability.  He does have that Good Ole Boy town drunk softened identity after the ludicrous incidents involving getting a DUI on a riding lawnmower though.  Sure he was a destructive alcoholic and cocaine addict, but that’s just good old Possum!  Yuk yuk yuk… 

The death of George Jones was a much bigger deal in Nashville, where you are never allowed to be honest about the lack of impact a celebrity death has on you.  “Oh, Loretta Lynn died?  Huh.  I never really listened to her records.  I don’t know.  I never really cared for her.”  Can you imagine?  You would be publicly flogged on Broadway in downtown Nashville for saying that on the day Loretta Lynn passes away.  Your naked headless body would be hung from a lamp post as a warning to others to keep their thoughts to themselves when Merle Haggard goes.  “Merle?  I loved Merle!  All of his stuff!  All of it!  And Willie Nelson too!  Even that reggae record!  Please don’t hurt me!”

I love that Southern thing where everyone feels better openly lying.  “Well, it was quite a blow to all of us when we found out George was gone…”  All those bullshit Nashville tributes to George Jones aren’t going to mention how the Nashville Machine has excommunicated Jones from the radio and industry since 1990. If these current stars loved George Jones so much, why is it they never had him on one of their tours?  In interviews though, they’ll defer just like the Nashville Playbook tells them to with a “Well, I grew up with the music of George Jones, and I’ll always remember my Mama turning up the radio in the kitchen while she was making biscuits anytime his songs came on…”  Enough of the horseshit.  The death of George Jones affected you as much as the death of that dude in Kriss Kross.  If you cared so much, where were you when he was alive?

At least the Nashville community might have possibly come in contact with Jones.  Most of the people on my Facebook feed are as close to George Jones as they are Angelina Jolie, Bill Cosby, Billy Joel, or Bart Simpson.  These are all just pieces of content in the massive entertainment universe.  “Fly to heaven singing angel and let your earthly troubles fall free”  Please.  Stop it.  George Jones was a guy that could sing like a motherfucker.  No one can debate his talent.  He is one of the iconic country singers of all time.  But ultimately, for us on the outside, isn’t he just a group of recordings that tastemakers have determined are “real country”?   

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to write a Facebook tribute to Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Dry Spell

Leo P. Love, drummer extraordinaire of the Whiskey Daredevils, is single right now.  I am a big fan of the periods of time when Leo is single.  This is primarily because of Leo’s willingness to bravely head into any adventure, completely confident of a good ending when the obvious signs are posted around him that it will end in utter disaster.  Leo has a somewhat charmed life, primarily because I believe that some sort of good karma swirls around his signature twisted innocence.  He is a kind soul and always manages to find the good in any seemingly horrible situation.  This quality leads him directly into relationships with some of the real flotsam and jetsam of the general population.  The payoff for me is to be consistently entertained with great stories told in his unflinchingly honest voice.

Prior to Leo’s marriage, he went through a “dry spell” that provided Bobby Latina with more joy than a boy finding a new stack of Christmas presents every single morning.  The absolute glee that Bobby would find in watching Leo strike out with any and every woman he came in contact with in a seven state area is a joy he probably didn’t experience again until the birth of his children.   The first hour of a drive in the van to some gig in the Midwest was usually spent hearing the recap of Leo’s night of failure at Quotes, a sad little strip mall bar that featured a “ladies night” on Thursdays.  He would go with his loyal wingman Kevin, a friend on a similar dry spell that so captured our imaginations that we nicknamed him “Dusty”.  If a woman made the error and spoke to either of them, they would pounce on her like sharks with the scent of blood in the water, dooming each other to yet another night of Baywatch re-runs, lotion, and Kleenex.  (“What are you doing down there Kevin?”  Nothing Ma!  Nothing!  Don’t come down!  Don’t come down!)

It was during this period of time that I invited Leo to a party at a friend of mine’s house.  These people were normal “citizens” and not used to the cast of characters that Leo would dredge up.  However, Leo is ALWAYS a good time, and I figured an outdoor bar-b-que would hide some of the social awkwardness of people like “Nice Guy Mike”, “Dusty”, and “Pop Bottle Pershon”.  This was one of those suburban deck parties where ladies in sun dresses sip white wine and their husbands knocked back light beers while speaking in ever increasing enthusiasm about their quest to secure the elusive assistant regional manager’s job at work.  I was walking up the driveway when Leo pulled up outside in his blue pickup truck with Nice Guy Mike in tow.  What surprised me was a second car, a beat-to-shit Toyota with an equally beat-to-shit peroxide blonde that may have been a meth addict behind the wheel.

It seems that while Leo was gassing up his truck on the way over, he chatted up this woman at the next gas pump over.  Being a friendly guy in the depths of a horrific dry spell, he decides to invite this woman to the suburban deck bar-b-que.  This woman would not be a real good fit at this social gathering.  In fact, this woman would not be a real good fit if she walked into the Greyhound Bus Station downtown.  She was, shall we say, “damaged goods” at best.  However, as she must have had a limited social calendar that Saturday, she decided to drive on over to this party.  Oh well, let’s see what happens…  I bring the crew with me to the backyard.

Leo knew a few people and walked around getting their names wrong with great enthusiasm.  “Oh!  Hello!  Yes!  I remember you!  Your name is Jim, right?  Oh!  Steve?  Very good!  Very good!”  The neighborhood folks did what well-heeled suburban folks do and were very pleasant to the new guests, while still maintaining a comfortable distance from Leo’s compatriots.  The ladies in particular looked on with smiling faces and said terrible things about this woman under their breath.  Seriously, who could blame them?  They were expecting a nice night out with friends, not getting up close and personal with a dangerous drug addict.  The woman fired up a smoke, pulled a beer from the cooler, and got down to it.  She knew this was not her crowd, but you could tell she figured a free beer is a free beer, right?  She was pleasant enough, but about as rough around the edges as you could get.  I quickly abandoned them all, and did my own thing.

It didn’t take long for Leo to disappear with the woman.  At first, I feared he was doing something terrible in my friend’s house.  I can only imagine the ugly conversations that would have ensued regarding their need to fumigate the home because crabs had worked their way into the upholstery.  The good news is that Leo had left the party with the girl.  The bad news is he abandoned “Nice Guy Mike”, who was now staggering drunk and holding court on the front porch.  I decided that Nice Guy Mike was now my friend’s problem, not mine, and I slunk off into the night without a word to anyone.  This is apparently known as “The Irish Goodbye”, and I have been a practitioner of this technique for years.

Leo drove back into the near West Side with the girl.  She had an apartment relatively close to where those women were being held captive for a decade.  It is not Cleveland’s most exclusive real estate market.  I’m not sure of how the logistics of the domestic situation worked out, but I do know that for some reason it was Leo, the woman, and her 18 month old little boy.  I have no idea if that kid was held in a cage while she went out to drink and smoke, if he was at a neighbor’s place, or what.  All I know is that it was the three of them in that apartment. 

Things progressed “romantically” with Leo and the woman.  She took off her stained tank top and led him down the hall to her filthy bedroom.  I recall Leo telling me about the overflowing ashtrays and cigarette butts on almost every available surface.  The child was placed inside a playpen which was inexplicably placed in the hallway to stay within eyeshot of the mother.  Why she thought it was a good idea to have the child view his mother do unspeakable things to an evil leprechaun, I cannot say.  Perhaps the hope of his not crying and “spoiling the mood” if he was left alone combined with the rationalization that he probably wouldn’t remember seeing his mother rammed from behind by a stranger  made that seem like an excellent form of child care.  I do know that Leo plowed on ahead, unashamed and undeterred by the setting.  This is his particular gift.  Still, even Leo has his limits.  After a certain point when he was involved with a certain act that is probably illegal, he made eye contact with the boy.  Thinking quickly, he reached out with his foot and slowly closed the door on the unblinking staring boy.  The boy stared blankly as the door shut on his face.  Leo completed his task, and left soon afterwards never to see this woman again.

That story and others yet to come are why I am excited that Leo is single.  Wouldn’t you be?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Mystery Drink

I was standing at a bar in Kent Ohio.  This was no regular bar friends.  No, this was the third floor of the legendary (infamous) Townhouse, a hillbilly version of a dance club where I was often forced to go by drunken friends.  As it was a dance club, this was the place where 19-22 year old college girls would dance and wobble around on heels like fawns.  My friends’ plans were all of the variation of 1) go to dance club 2) identify potential victim 3) somehow charm your way into this woman’s life between our 12:45 am arrival and 2:00 am closing time 4) leave with her like a door prize.  I would like to emphasize I do not EVER recall this plan coming to fruition.  Not once.  In fact, I don’t even recall any of those guys getting to step three.

The Townhouse was much more of a highbrow nightclub experience than the punch palace “Filthy McNasty’s” due to their “exclusivity”.  The Townhouse only allowed the much more mature selective 21+ crowd, where Filthy’s admitted 19+.  As you can imagine, the Townhouse was very swanky.  I do recall some flexibility in their admission policy though.  If your ID said you were 21, you were allowed in.  If the ID matched who you actually were, that was a real bonus.  I had a roommate that was 5-7 with thin brown hair that gained entry to the splendors of the Townhouse with the ID of one Lt. Col Anthony Davis, a 34-year-old 6-2 military man with dark curly hair.  The doorman said, “Anyone that has the balls to try and use an ID like this I have to let in.”  And just like that, unlimited plastic cups of Natural Light came within his grasp.

The Townhouse was located in a dilapidated downtown building on Main Street in Kent.  The basement housed the more intimate bar with the jukebox, which also played a never ending collage of the horrific Eighties dance music that was also being thudded into patron’s skulls upstairs via DJ.  The basement bar, always a good choice to grab a quick drink and enjoy the faint scent of urine from the moldy carpet, was where insiders gained entry to the entertainment complex.  Then, after procuring a bottle of domestic beer, one could walk up the metal fire stairs to enjoy the full Townhouse experience.

Every single time I was there I had the same scenario play out.  I would walk upstairs, lean against the bar with my beer, and try to talk to people over the din of the terrible music.  Think of Morris Day and The Time’s “Jungle Love” blaring at the volume of a 747 taking off.  Now picture a bunch of very drunk white young people dancing wedding reception dances to this song on a dance floor with colored lights like on Saturday Night Fever.  Most conversations would go like this.  “Don’t you live in Glen Morris Apartments?”  WHAT?  “Don’t you live in Glen Morris Apartments?”  WHAT?  DO I KNOW CLORIS?  WHO?

It was always a complete waste of time.  Except once.

This time I was standing against the bar with my “I’m too cool for this scene” posture.  Every patron in the place failed to notice my obvious happening scene with my longneck Bud, ripped jeans, and Chuck Taylors. People were shoving me aside whenever approaching the bar ordering primarily “value” priced light beer.  Then, suddenly and without warning, something interesting happened.  A dark haired guy leaned into the bar and yelled out to the bartender.  “Gimme Four Dogfuckers!”  What?  “Gimme Four Dogfuckers!”  My head snapped back to look at the bar.  A dogfucker?  What the hell is a dogfucker?  The bartender nodded in understanding and with a whirlwind of flashing liquor bottles produced four plastic cups filled with 3 ounces of an ominous dark shot of booze.  If a junkyard tire could bleed, this is what would come out of it.  It looked and smelled awful.  The customer threw money on the bar, nodded his head to the bartender, and picked up all four cups with one hand and fought his way out of the bar.

I leaned in to the bar and screamed out to the bartender.  “WHAT”S A DOGFUCKER?”  WHAT?  “WHAT”S A DOGFUCKER?”  YOU WANT A SHOT OF PUCKER?  “NO!  NO!” 

I gave up and turned back around, my head filled with potential recipes for a “dogfucker”.  It had to be some combination of whiskey, jager, sloe gin, amaretto, and bone marrow.  Something like that anyway…  I would never find out.  Through fate and good judgment, I never went back into the Townhouse.  I never regretted that decision until I thought about the crushing void in my education in not knowing exactly what is contained in a “dogfucker” recipe.

I looked it up on the Google Machine, but came up empty.  It’s probably pretty dangerous to look up things like “dogfucker” on the Internet.  I would think I set off some red flags and am now on some sort of “deviants list” in a data bank within the FBI somewhere.  I am probably just a few days away from a Goon Squad smashing my door down, seizing my computer, and being shoved in a cell downtown.  It will be very uncomfortable having to sit in a court room while a jury of my peers reviews some of my “artistic achievements” like “The Burro Show” single and the “Spine Snapper” 7 inch.  “Mr. Miller, when you first manufactured and sold these alleged musical pieces to the public at large without any consideration of the morality of The People, did you think your deviance would go unnoticed?”  Ummm…. 

There I will sit.  Cameras capturing every facial tick to be analyzed on cable TV legal talk shows.  Bleach blonde helmet coiffed women will argue about the degree of my depravity.  Mobile text polls sponsored by deodorant companies will allow the public to vote for “castration”, “death”, or “life imprisonment”.  News will relay my blank faced entry to court each day to the ravenous viewers.  Meanwhile the only thing I will be doing is what I am doing right now.  Wondering what the hell is in a “Dogfucker”…


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nurse the Hate: America's Newest Hero

I woke up last morning with that same dream, the one where I am walking along the Pacific coast, a breeze in my hair, and everything is perfect, the way it should be.  Then I gradually came out of the haze, into reality and felt out of sorts.  It is never easy to transition back from playing rock shows to walking into an office setting where I come in contact with people that use phrases like "clarity plan" and "platform agnostic" in an non ironic manner.  Then again, maybe it was just the jarring juxtaposition.  I had spent the previous weekend in contact with a girl that had radically tattooed her face and a bunch of really drunk dudes with beards that ZZ Top would envy.  There is madness in every corner.

No matter how outrageous your day is today, you should be happy you weren’t held captive in a small house in one of Cleveland’s dodgiest neighborhoods.  For a decade.  It seems impossible that three (3) girls could be held in a house for ten (10) years without anyone noticing anything strange.  Having some firsthand knowledge about this neighborhood, let me assure you that there is always something strange going on.  The problem is that no one that lives there has the same definition of “strange” that most of American society does.  Matt Lauer on the Today Show struggled to come to grips with how this could have been going on for so long.  “The houses are so close together.  How did no one notice something strange going on?”

Let me tell you what that neighborhood is like.  Small houses decay into themselves while occupied by single parents that have taken up with the ex-husband of their cousin, who also happens to be the mother of one of the four kids living there.  One kid is strangely redhead and looks nothing like anyone in the house.  The eldest boy is ripping apart a 1987 Dodge K car (never to be reassembled), his buddy “Goldie” stopping by with some Bud Platinum to celebrate after his big scratch off lottery win.  There will be yelling going on in the driveway later when his “Baby Mama” swings by to unceremoniously drop off his three kids (one of which is from another woman who hasn’t been heard from in months) so she can go to her sister’s for some confusing reason involving marijuana and Browns tickets.  Mongrel dogs wander by warily.  Guys with heads like hammerhead sharks walk down the street without shirts on in enormous shorts and sideways baseball caps.  People scream at each other all the time.    

It is absolutely horrible that those girls had to endure that imprisonment.  It’s an amazing story.  How did the perpetrators keep it silent?  Did they handle childbirth by themselves in that house?  I have been on that street.  Most of the people that live there you would not put in charge of bringing a pizza, much less bringing a child into the world.  How did they decide this was a good idea in the first place?  So many questions…  However, the biggest question is where has Charles Ramsey been all these years?

Without question, the man of the hour was Charles Ramsey.  Every television station in town had a microphone in front of this guy, and he delivered absolute gold all evening.  There are people in front of autotune programs all over the planet right now working hard to make Sweet Brown and “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” a distant memory.  Fame is now 15 seconds, not 15 minutes long.  With the media’s insatiable appetite for content, anyone is given the opportunity to speak at length if it appears he may know anything.   While half of the neighborhood stood in front of the cameras calling people on their cellphones, clearly excited that Something Big was happening in their little world, Charles Ramsey delivered such quotes as:

·         I barbecued with this dude! We eat RIBS and what not, and listen to salsa music!... There's nothin' exciting about him, until TODAY. Heh heh heh...

·         Hey, check this out: I just came from McDonald's, right? And I'm on my porch eatin' my little food, right? This broad is trying to break out the fuckin' house next door!... She said her name was Linda Berry or some shit. I don't who the fuck that is. I just rolled up here!

·         I knew somethin' was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms. Somethin' is WRONG here. Dead giveaway! Deaaaddddd giveaway. Deaaaaadddddddddddddd giveaway. She's got problems. That's the only reason she's running to a black man!

·         You got some big testicles to pull this off, bro! 'Cause we see this dude Every Day!

·         So I went over there with my Big Mac…

In a world of prepared statements, carefully coached answers, and extreme caution, I could watch Charles Ramsey talk on TV all day long every single day.  If I owned a TV station, I would swing by his place with a camera anytime there was a big news story and get his take on it.  While most “analysts” would dance around the topic, you know Charles is going in straight ahead full force and give you the straight dope.  He is the new Voice of The People.

It was a big day.  Three women finally gained their freedom, and the rest of us got to meet Charles Ramsey.  Everything turned out OK.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Story

A guy I know is a divorcee in his early 50s.  He is not a particularly attractive man.  He is not a wealthy man.  He is just one of the nameless guys wandering around in Home Depots and Applebee's that blend into the fabric of daily life.  Since his divorce, well over a decade ago, he has refined his ability to find female companionship on down to a science.  As a not particularly attractive man, he rarely finds women that reach out to him unsolicited.  Instead, he has spent the years sifting through the human wreckage online, trading stability and lack of personality defects for physical attractiveness, youth, and a certain sexual proclivity.  I have consistently been surprised by the women I have seen in his company until I hear some of the horrifying back stories.  Adults weeping telling him about foster parents putting out cigarettes on their labia, horrendous mental abuse, and serial dysfunctional relationships.  It's really brutal.  I have to hand it to him, my tolerance for this sort of baggage is much less than his.  Once the jar breaks, it's not easy to reassemble.  Still, he keeps at it, with the fading hope of finding a kindred spirit in the chaos.

Last week I saw him at a social occasion with his latest girlfriend. She was cute, and somewhat age appropriate for him.  This is sort of shocking as I have seen a steady parade of Eastern European women hoping for some magic from an American with deep pockets.  We spoke for a few minutes, and she appeared to be together.  This was odd.  I congratulated him for meeting this woman who he really seemed to be enthusiastic about.  He grinned and thanked me, taking a big pull off his Jack and Coke.  That may have been his last blissful moment in the company of this woman.

He had made the big effort with this one.  Flowers when he picked her up.  Cooking for her at his home.  Taking it slow.  After a few dates, they were making out on the couch.  Tonight would be the night they "sealed the deal" as he said.  They were entwined on the couch.  He broke from the embrace to ask, "Do you want to go upstairs?".  She seemed eager, but stopped herself and said "OK.  But there's something I have to tell you first."

In the history of male/female interaction, there has never been a good conversation that started out with, "There's something I have to tell you..."  The news you are about to receive is always awful.  It's just a question of the degree.  You have to brace yourself for impact and let it wallop you square in the jaw.  I see.  There is something you have to tell me.  Well, let me button my pants back up, make us some tea, and let's get comfortable.  I was hoping to make love to you, but this horrible revelation will be a much better night cap.  Let us enjoy it together...

In this case she began as follows... "Well, as you know I just got out of this five year relationship.  Before that was my divorce.  Well, between the two of those things, I went a little crazy."  So the guy thinks "OK.  She went a little crazy.  I can understand that. She is totally cool.  We like the same music and movies.."

She continued with the confession.  "My therapist said I need to be more open and honest with people.  So I want you to know that between my divorce and my last relationship, I fell in with this guy that introduced me into the swinging scene, and I... well... I liked it.  He would create these, um, scenarios for me, and I, ah... would do them."  The guy straightened himself up on the couch.  So... What do you mean by "scenarios" exactly?

"Well, I would get a phone call and he would give me an address and a name.  And I would go to an office building and ask for the name he gave me.  Let's say it was Tom Smith.  I would go to the receptionist, and ask for Tom Smith.  Then a man I had never seen would come down to the front desk, and take me to a conference room somewhere in the office and fuck me on the conference table.  Then without another word, he would lead me out of the office."

Hmm... OK... OK... I haven't been a choir boy.  I mean, so she went through this phase.  She is still really fun, and pretty cool.  I guess I could see how she could have done that.  She was confused.  It was a weird time in her life.  I think I understand...

"And I just need to be really honest with you.  I started to really like the anonymous sex.  After I stopped seeing the swinger guy, I started to be an escort.  I don't even know how it happened really.  I didn't need the money or anything.  I had all that money after my divorce.  I just did it.  It wasn't for money.  I just gave the money away really.  Well...  I just need you to know I was with men for money.  I have probably been with over a thousand guys."


I don't care how forgiving or liberal you are, that's a lot to take on.  Your girlfriend has had intercourse with every man at a typical Division III college.  Think of a very small town.  She has been with every man in that municipality.  That's a tough break when you really like her and envision her as something she isn't.  Your mind has already assumed that since she is the same as you in her taste in entertainment, restaurants, humor, sports, etc, it must follow through on values and past behavior.  Cleveland is a relatively populous place, but when you are talking about 1000 men, you are going to run into ex-clients at some point.  Hey Cindy?  How is it you know Dwight over here?  "Oh, we worked together..."

I don't know what happened next.  I'm sure there was some uncomfortable quiet time as everything was absorbed.  The question to me was it after he had intercourse with her anyway, or was it post coital regret while staring at the ceiling in his bedroom?  Between you and me, I am betting on the latter.  Either way, you know what he was thinking about.  Maybe it was "lovely".  I don't know.  Still, there was definitely awkward goodbyes and non-committal promises of a phone call in the future.

He laid the story on me yesterday.  He was trying to figure out what he was going to do.  I am a firm believer in your actions in the past made you what you are today.  If you didn't take a particular path, you wouldn't have become the person that you found so attractive in the first place.  Scars and triumphs have all combined to make the imperfect person that you find so compelling and ultimately perfect for you.  Still, a thousand?  Damn...