Friday, June 28, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Wonder Woman

I love when a story is so spectacular, yet so completely beyond comprehension you know that it can’t possibly be true.  Yet, because the tale itself is so amazing, the desire for it to be true carries it into an area of almost fact.  A great example of this type of story is the widely repeated story of Rod Stewart being hospitalized due to the sheer amount of semen he consumed backstage at a concert in the late 1970s.  I am not sure how much ejaculate the publicly heterosexual Stewart would have had to have swallowed to be sent to a hospital, but I think it is fair to say it would be “a lot”.  As the average male produces about a tablespoon of semen per ejaculation, this would lead one to conclude with simple mathematics that the number of men that Rod Stewart would have had to have serviced with oral sex would also be “a lot” to need to have his stomach pumped.  Even those loudly critical of Mr. Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy” cringe worthy 80s material would concede that it probably isn’t likely that a man that has forfeited great fortunes due to his serial womanizing would have veered into leading some sort of homosexual blowjob train on dozens of willing men backstage at his own concert.  Yet, ask almost anyone that went to High School in the 80s about Rod Stewart, and you’ll get that story.  It’s just too good.  You want it to be true.
Today I was minding my own business when I received a phone call from a woman that began with a simple question, and ended with her telling me a story so spectacular that I want it to be true more than anything.  This is a story from a very conservative woman.  Someone that has never told me anything even slightly off kilter.  It was so out of the blue...  So out of character...  The story so amazingly crazy...  I know that this story isn’t true, but it just doesn’t matter.  It is so twisted and fantastic, I will remember it forever.
This woman maintains that two co-workers of hers were attending a party recently in Los Angeles, somewhere in the Hollywood Hills.  While at this party, they noticed a plexiglass platform had been constructed ten feet above the assembled guests.  It was described as a clear walkway leading from a balcony across a section of the guest area.  At a point in the party, with great fanfare, 1970s TV star Lynda Carter emerged in her Wonder Woman costume and walked across the platform.  At almost dead center, she stopped and removed her bottoms.  She then squatted down and shat on the platform with cheering guests looking up from directly below her as the feces plopped above their heads.
There is no way this can possibly be true, yet who could put all those elements of a story together from their imagination?  Are we to believe that Lynda Carter, now in her early 60s, is still appearing in public as Wonder Woman, not at Comic Book Conventions or Nostalgia Shows, but at some underground scat party?  Has Lynda Carter’s financial situation deteriorated where she will accept bookings at this type of event “for the right price”?  How would one even book something like this?  Do you just call a talent agent and say, “I see you have Lynda Carter on your roster.  I am interested in booking her for a bit of a “special event” I am planning at my house.  Now, before you say yes, I have to be completely upfront with you.  I’m looking for her to ah… um… interact with the audience in a way that she may not be totally comfortable with at first, but hear me out!”  Is Lynda Carter your first call?  Is there somewhere a tablet of crossed out names of other Hollywood actresses that wouldn't take the gig?  "Damn it.  Kate Jackson said "no".  It looks like our Charlie's Angels party is off."

What if instead of it being on financial necessity, she went to the party because she is into it?  What if that's "her thing"?  How great would that be?  "Hey Donnie!  Lynda is coming to the party on Saturday but she says she really wants to do her Wonder Woman thing.  Can she come over around Noon to have her guys assemble the plastic walkway?"  Maybe that's one of those "Hollywood Insider" things that John Q. Publics like me just don't know.  Maybe if you ran into someone that is on the inside, somebody really powerful and influencial like Martin Mull or Justine Bateman, they would tell you all kinds of things like that after you bought them a few drinks and earned their trust.  "Oh yeah.  Lynda Carter has been doing that since the mid 80s.  No one even notices anymore.  It's not like when Merv Griffin used to always show up and jump on trampolines naked with little Asian boys.  Now that was uncomfortable." 
The image of an elderly Lynda Carter in a tattered Wonder Woman outfit, barely held together due to the effects of age and consistent use, wobbling out in the colorful boots while Japanese businessmen go wild under a glass platform is too much.  Afterwards I picture her walking around the party in a robe and slippers while party guests gave her all kinds of lip service.  "Oh Lynda!  You were great tonight!  Just fabulous!"  She would demurely accept the praise and offer small apologies, "Oh, I wasn't good tonight.  I shouldn't have had falafel for lunch."

I know that this story is utterly false.  Yet, I can’t shake the image in my head.  It’s too crazy.  I want this to be trueI know I will wind up repeating this story even with the caveat of “…there’s no way this is true, but listen to this…”  It's now stuck in my head.  You know what?  Now it's also stuck in yours.      

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Thunderstorm

There is a monster thunderstorm rolling through.  I am alone in the house at dusk, the power has been out for hours.  The lightning strikes flash across the room and the house shakes split seconds afterwards from the tremendous thunder.  A curtain flaps lazily from an open window and it reminds me of a different time, a different place.  The air smells like fresh rain and earth with that particular scent that is only there in summer.  Soon, too soon, the massive lightning moves East and I am left with light drizzle and a weak light fighting through the swirling clouds.  The storm is almost over.

If I had a little more courage, I would take my clothes off and run through the wet yards naked, hoping for one more down pour.  I haven’t done that in years, and don’t feel the likelihood is anywhere close today.  I fear having to explain my chase for that feeling of liberation to the community police force.  “One more time Mr. Miller, what exactly were you doing running through the neighbor’s yards potentially exposing yourself to children?  Did you even consider the children Mr. Miller?”  Meanwhile I would be stammering in an attempt to find the right language to make the crew cut officer get my drift.  He would coldly stare down at me wrapped in a blanket sitting in the backseat of his cruiser.  A small crowd of neighbors will have begun to form nearby, with a large enough gap to keep themselves clean from whatever perversion has afflicted me, but close enough to potentially overhear my truncated childish answers.   No, not today…

The storm has gathered up more steam, ready for another go-round.  The sky has darkened again.  Maybe this will be even better than last time with the kind of lightning strikes so close you jump when they hit.  The kind of lightning strikes that announce confirmation of man’s utter insignificance, but also make a childlike wonder flicker inside.  The candles I have lit provide a warm wobbling light that contrasts with the erratic electric light blue flashes from the storm.  There is a bottle of Cote du Rhone across the room.  It has sat near me for years waiting for the right time.  It would be perfect right now, but it’s not a wine to drink alone.  Instead I will just sit here with the storm.  I will sit.  And wait.  For the right time.    

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Llama Show

There are many beautiful things to see in North America.  Traveling extensively has allowed me to see a great deal of this nation.  America has some beautiful highways carved out of the landscape. Unfortunately for the Whiskey Daredevils, our wheelhouse of Ohio/Indiana/Illinois is not included in the scenic beauty highway short list.  It is flat and monotonous, with the only relief coming from the stereo and its blown driver side speaker. There isn’t much to look at on that drive from Cleveland to Chicago.  You can only watch Leo fall asleep with his eyes open so many times...  These long hours spent on the road require creative thinking, and can spawn some ideas that are a little off kilter. For example, let's discuss the idea we came up regarding "Llama Shows".
I think we were driving along a bland stretch of interstate in KY when we drove past some Civil War recreation guys that were towing cannons.   That in of itself is very exciting as you project what kind of lives these guys (always men) lead. This time was even better as somehow mixed in with this Caravan of the Damned was another guy pulling a trailer of llamas.  They weren’t traveling together, but what if they were?  It really sent the mind reeling. 
First things first…  They may have been alpacas, and not llamas.  I can’t tell the difference frankly.  I do remember that weird period of time when there was a belief that herding llamas was a path to great riches.  I think you were supposed to get rich selling off their wool, as the common sight of wealthy sheep farmers driving around in luxury automobiles presents undeniable evidence of that assertion.  The obvious wool shortage in industrialized nations surely presents a real seller’s market out there for the savvy llama owner. 
I always look with a critical eye at the llama farmer.  The llama farmer is a person that twenty years prior would have raised chinchillas, and before that miniature ponies.  They probably have one of those metal detectors in the closet too.  In my narrow view, it’s someone chasing a get rich quick scheme.  Now, like all wild schemes, the llama epidemic has run its course and you just don’t see that many llamas around anymore. At least you don’t see them being hauled around in trailers. 
Or maybe there’s another reason llamas seem so scarce nowadays…  Perhaps the Llama Show is so popular, in certain regions of the country that it has created a new llama shortage.
The idea of the “llama show” is this… Civil War Recreation guys enjoy shooting their guns and camping all Old Timey-like on the weekends.  This makes sense.  What could be better than sitting in a stinky felt tent eating hard tack with a bunch of other dudes in beards?  The big highlight is “re-creating” a famous battle.  This is sort of sad, as it is really just some grown men playing army like little boys.  The ultimate goal is to attract a crowd so they can show off all their gear, and have people watch them fake die of a gunshot wound.  This is where it gets tricky.  There are just so many people that will watch adults essentially play “army” in a field.  That’s why you need a little zip to draw a crowd.  
Why not haul out some of these llamas, now essentially worthless due to the Great Llama Market Collapse of 2006, and tie them down at the far end of a field? I envision them on tethers tied to stakes so they sort of wander around in the distance grazing.  Then march the boys dressed up in their Union Army gear or Confederate (depending on the show location) to the opposite side of the field, close to the crowd.  Tack on some sort of flimsy historical storyline, like Gettysburg for example.  Sell tickets at $10 a pop (or $40 a car load) to the immediate area.  Let people sit out in blankets and beach chairs.  Let them bring coolers.  Sell the kids Confederate hats and toy rifles at the Merch Tent.  Make them wait for the Big Show just long enough to get edgy.  When the tension of approaching battle has hit the highest mark, you shoot the cannons at the llamas with great fanfare and cannon explosions.  Make sure that the llamas are dressed in the opposing army uniforms as best as you can muster, you know, for historical accuracy.  This entertainment isn’t for everybody, but I think it will really play in secondary markets.  I see a huge opportunity for Llama Shows in places like Terre Haute IN, Huntington WV, Erie PA, Kalamazoo MI, Winston-Salem NC, Bowling Green KY, etc.
I’m sure Llama Shows are happening now, but they are small scale and underground.  It’s time to take it out on a much larger scale.  It’s going to take some work to launch this thing initially.  I would advise buying as much electronic media as possible to drive ticket sales.  A heavy buy on the area classic rock and country stations would make sense to drive ticket sales.  Sample Radio Copy:  (Cannon explosion intro, big voiced announcer with heavy echo and delay)  This Saturday night at Dobson’s Park just ¼ mile past the dirt track, Wellington’s Llama Shows presents The Battle Of Vicksburg!  One night only!  All the firepower!  All the carnage!  Just like history came alive for ONE NIGHT ONLY!  (cannon explosion)  Don’t be fooled by imitation llama shows!  Only Wellington’s Llama Shows has the historical certificate of authenticity from the American Civil War Llama Association!  Bring the whole family for a celebration of AMERICA!  (cannon explosion) Wellington’s Llama Show presents The Battle of Vicksburg!  This Saturday Only!  Get your discount tickets at any USA Roller Skating Rink!  If it’s not Wellington’s (cannon) It’s not a llama show!
Let me know if you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this amazing opportunity.  I think it has legs.  I need to catch a break.  My chinchilla business went belly up, and my Ebay store is floundering.  This could be it though… It could be it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Wedding Reception

I was eating lunch by myself in a restaurant.  I took a table in the corner with my back to the wall, as I usually do, so as to not make myself a vibrant target for a sniper.  Though the pair of women was three tables away, the one facing me had a voice that carried in a way that an opera singer would have been jealous.  She had something to say, and she was going to say it.  There was no stopping it.  She would be heard. 

The woman was one of those East Coast "I'm a career woman goddammit" types with the overbearing manner of a future Jewish mother. If you want to know what is wrong with you, I would think that if you spent ten minutes in the orbit of this woman, she would let you know in the most direct manner possible.  “Greg, maybe if you weren’t such a self-centered asshole people would like you more!  And take a minute to iron your fucking shirt.  You look like crap.”   

Thankfully, the focus was not on me today.  Today, it was all about her.  She didn't so much talk to her friend as lecture her with an angry tone on her failed relationship history. Even from a distance you could see that the biggest issue in her failures was plainly evident.  Who could handle that type of constant criticism?  Most men would just plain lose the ability to withstand the daily verbal onslaught.  She continued with her voice rising in aggravation as her story continued. 

Her last boyfriend had taken her to a wedding. She and her boyfriend were “serious”.  It was all going according to plan.  They were living together, and there was an expectation of marriage, children, and the whole bit. The plan all went horribly off track at the wedding reception.  The last thing you think will happen when you are the guest at a wedding is discovering your boyfriend having intercourse with the bride in the bathroom. I can certainly imagine how this would have derailed the relationship. It's probably pretty tough to get past the image of "your guy" thrusting into another woman in a bridal gown. Hallmark, as far as I am aware, does not make a greeting card powerful enough to get past that one.  The relationship was over. 

I would have loved to have slid my chair over there and asked her some follow up questions.  What exactly happened when this discovery was made?  What sort of scene did you make?  (This woman would not have been the “tearful exit with handkerchief held to face” type.  I would expect lots of yelling at everyone as the crowd gathered.)  How did you get home?  Certainly you didn’t drive together like you came.  What did the groom do?  How about everyone’s parents?  Man, it must have been a hell of a thing.  I have so many questions…  

The actual incident, while spectacular in a destructive way, is totally fascinating. From her ex-boyfriend’s point of view, why did he think this was a good idea? I think we can agree that the "sanctity of marriage" idea wasn't a big concern on his part. Even though he appeared to be a bit of an amoral risk taker, going for the bride at the wedding reception itself seems a bit over the top to me.  He either wanted to "mark his territory" like a junkyard dog or the concept of forbidden fruit just drove him to insanity.  If you want to have sex with someone other than the woman you took to the wedding, the actual bride at the wedding wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind.  Even if he thought the bride was interested, one would think that the timing of her actual wedding reception would have placed too many constraints on action.  Not for that guy.  These are the actions of a dangerous man.  He has no filter.  Nothing stops him.  He is a man that should be monitored closely by The Authorities. 

That was when the story veered into the woman’s present boring dating life.  I felt cheated.  I felt the woman’s story lacked the obvious follow up on the full explanation of the newlywed’s fate.  I did have my theories.  Maybe I am a pessimist, but I think the marriage might have been over.  When you get divorced after a few hours, do you still refer to the other person as your Ex?  What is the protocol on that?  If I had been either of them, I would have hired a very good public relations firm, like that one that made us forget Manti Teo is gay or swept the Tom Cruise divorce under the rug.  It would be advisable to move to a new city, or face having a decade of awkward conversations with people you run into at gas stations.  “Soooo…. I haven’t seen you since that wedding…”  

I am going to grab lunch now.  I will sit in the corner, to avoid being an obvious target for a sniper.  With luck, a man will sit down two tables over and say, “Yeah, I’m not together with Shoshanna anymore.  Wait… You didn’t hear about that wedding we went to?”  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Chevrolet Citation

The Chevrolet Citation was never much of a car.  A mere footnote in the grand history of General Motors, the Citation was a car to buy when you couldn’t afford anything better.  Amazingly, I saw one today, limping down Interstate 90 in the right lane, seemingly held together by bumper stickers and hope.  I have not thought much about the Chevrolet Citation, and my own brief history with the poorly engineered mid sized vehicle for years.  I instantly recalled the stale interior smell of the Chevy Citation I knew, so over powering that we called it “The Sock”. 

“The Sock” was a car an old roommate of mine had purchased after the untimely death of “The Seedmobile”.  The Seedmobile, as I recall, was a Dodge Duster with an alignment problem so bad that the driver needed the wrestle with the car just to keep it on the road.  If you were at a stop light with the wheel positioning the car straight ahead, and you pressed the gas while letting go of the wheel at the same time, the car would wildly jerk right like you were making an evasive right turn.  This car, while being “fun” to drive in a sick-challenging way, was obviously living on borrowed time. When it finally died and was sadly towed away one afternoon, the money paid for the parts was used to acquire “The Sock”.

We never took to The Sock the same way we took to The Seedmobile, as it lacked the obvious scruffy character of going in whatever direction it pleased.  Still, it was somewhat reliable transportation, and that did count for something. We had taken it for mostly local journeys until a spur of the moment road trip to go see PiL at the Agora on the tour behind whatever record had “Seattle” and “Rules and Regulations” on it.  I don’t remember too much of the show except for the amazing charisma of John Lydon of PiL, and the strange glam metal attack of the band.

The real action of the night started on the way out as I ran into my old girlfriend, who had been treating my current girlfriend terribly.  This should not have been a big surprise to me as my old girlfriend was the roommate of my current girlfriend.  In my defense, my old girlfriend had broken up with me in May and I had not started seeing the new girlfriend until after a three-month hiatus from the area.  I felt that as that I was the one who had been spurned; certainly some latitude could be given to me, like hooking up with her current roommate.  I even had a discussion with the old girlfriend to gain “permission”.  I was way too young and too stupid to understand that when a woman says, “It’s no problem if you want to see her.  I don’t care.” translates roughly into “I will be so angry with both of you if this happens, I will do everything in my power to make you both miserable”.  I can also say without hesitation that even if she had been that frank with me I probably would have moved in the same direction anyway, but as I had “clearance” I felt as if I had the moral high ground.  This was an error in judgment, but it was how I felt at the time.  Live and learn.

As we start filing out of the show, I unexpectedly spot my ex-girlfriend.  The surprise of running into an ex-girlfriend that you are angry with coupled with the adrenalin of seeing a loud in your face band led to a rather unpleasant exchange.  I spoke intently with very plain language on how I expected the treatment of my girlfriend to change immediately or I would start doing terrible things of my own.  No one in the general area was quite prepared for what transpired, but I felt then, as I do now, that her bullying had to stop.  I will not stand for that kind of nonsense and I am intensely loyal to those in my circle.  It was an ugly little incident, but a purpose was served.

This is where karma may or may not have kicked in.  Perhaps I had been the bully in my decision to go Def Con 4 on the Ex, because when my roommate and I drove home from the concert a red light went on in the dashboard.  “Hey… what’s that light?”  It couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds later that the car stalled out and lost all power.  The lesson to pull over as soon as you see the “low oil” light had been painfully taught.  We were on the side of the road at 1 a.m. in a dodgy part of Cleveland with no real game plan.  Seeing some sort of gas station up an embankment, we worked our way up the steep urban obstacle.  I was disappointed at the top when we reached a fence we had to hop.  I would say I was even more disappointed when I sprained my ankle after jumping from the top of it.  I struggled over to what turned out to be a police station. The police, “protecting and serving” in a manner I was not expecting, wouldn’t let us use a phone and directed us to a pay phone ¼ mile away.

The only person we could find to help us after several payphone calls was another roommate that was 30 minutes away in his girlfriend’s Nissan 300Z.  We worked our way back to the car and waited as trucks roared by.  It started to rain.  My ankle started to swell.  When our ride finally showed up in the two-seat car, his girlfriend was inexplicably in the passenger seat.  We launched Operation Clown Car.  My friend sat shotgun with our mutual pal’s girlfriend in his lap, and I was smashed into the hatchback like some old laundry, my sprained ankle throbbing like a beating heart.  I couldn’t move as I was packed in like a canned ham.  It was not my favorite drive of all time.

We worked our way back to the car the next day.  The engine had seized.  The car was essentially worthless.  We officially abandoned it on the side of the road on I-77 after unscrewing the plates.  It was the last I saw of that flat black Chevy Citation.  At least I think it was… While the Citation today was black, and certainly faded in a manner consistent with The Sock, it couldn’t be the same car.  At least, I don’t think it was…  Could that have been a PiL sticker on the back?

Nurse the Hate: Hate Jam Bands

The perplexing world of the Jam Band Universe has become even more confusing to me.  Although I have felt a rather loose grip on this secret society in the past, I realize now that I have no idea what constitutes the Jam Band Universe.  It was once gospel that all bands that hoped to consider tapping into the live music gold mine of summer festivals and college campuses must have some sort of direct line to the Grateful Dead.  The Dead was always the top of the flow chart where all bands that wanted to noodle around on solo sections lasting 17 minutes must pay homage.  That country rock with the twinkle in the eye had always been the jump off point.  What the hell happened?  Where did the Cosmic Cowboy of yesteryear go?   

Allow me to explain… 

A friend of mine came over to my place this weekend that drags his eight and five year old boys to hippie festivals all around the East Coast.  While we can debate the point about calling social services about his clear parental irresponsibility exposing the kids to drugs and topless hippie chicks, this guy is somewhat in touch with this scene.  He is one of those white collar suburban guys that listens to Sirius Radio “Jam On” 24/7, and has somehow been programmed not to find bands like Umphrey’s McGee, String Cheese Incident, and Disco Biscuits utterly reprehensible.  I don’t know how something like this happens, but I assume it has something to do with a lack of parental direction at key times in his own life.   

Let’s say that this guy goes to five of these multi day/camping/magical hippies-in-the-woods events every year.  He’s on board.  Here’s the weird thing.  He can’t ever tell me who he saw.  He doesn’t remember.  I find it odd that he is excited enough to travel to these shows, yet retains absolutely no memory whatsoever of who performed at the event.  He literally cannot tell me more than two bands at a 73 band festival, and I would like to stress that he is not smoking weed.  I think it is because every band sounds almost exactly the same, and he just likes the idea of camping with his kids in the midst of something fun he used to do.  Now he is an observer, and probably not much different than a bird watcher, with the exception of a well-stocked cooler of microbrew and dudes named Electric Dave walking around selling acid. 

I don’t know where the joy is in attending shows where you cannot recall any of the performers or performances.  It’s not my thing hanging out with 20 year olds that think they may have been the first ones that have ever discovered pot.  While the multitudes of stylishly unwashed upper middle class college students arrive in their import sport utility vehicles, poorly cut sundresses, and ripped cargo shorts, I think we can agree that the drug intake is probably a bigger deal than Moe’s set list.  It’s a party, and as long as you can ignore the fact that most of the music isn’t actually doing anything, there’s a good time to be had in the mud.  It’s just not my good time. I don’t want to shit in either 1) the woods or 2) a port-o-john. 

It was on Sunday while I was being driven to an ill-conceived breakfast at an iHop with his children that I heard some of these shitty rap influenced jam bands on his radio.  When did this happen?  This crossover between rap and jam bands is very odd to me.  Rap fan and hippie fan are like hyena and seal.  It’s just two things that shouldn’t go together.  Peanuts and bubblegum.  Asparagus and peppermint.  Table saws and nitrous oxide.  These are things that have their place in the wild, but never should cross pollinate.  Groovy hippie dancing is one thing, but then if the downbeat gets too crazy and arms start flying around?  Look, it’s just too much…  I hate it. 

When the jam band universe is derivative of American roots music, I can deal with it.  The Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty” and “Workingman’s Dead” are just really good country records.  That’s the stuff.  So the Allman Brothers want to play “Whipping Post” for 28 minutes?  OK.  At least 16 minutes of that is going to be really good.  However this new “wacky hippie” situation where the pointless noodling around is tied together with nonsense lyrics and flimsy pretense? The repeated rituals where everyone yells out snippets of lyric...  “Hey man, we were in Chicago, and they totally played that song where they mention Chicago in it.  Far fucking out!”  Then on top of that you are going to have a DJ?  I’d rather watch a guy in a beret play a six string bass before I see white college kids in dreadlocks dance in the mud to hippie hip hop.  I think the whole thing is a crime against nature and must be stopped. 

I realize that this lack of understanding is clearly a generational gap.  I understand that I would probably like some of these bands if I was willing to go camping in the mud and load up on hallucinogens.  This is the crux of the issue.  I am not willing to camp in the mud, much less with a head ready to explode on acid slipped to me from Cosmic Larry in a jello-shot.  That train has left the station.  I always have enough on my mind now anyway, much less having to worry about what some stupid String Cheese Incident lyric means.  If I was twenty and worried about what dorm I was living in next year, I’m in.  You think I need to listen to never resolving jams standing in a field of daisies with a skull full of bad vibes?  No way.

I don’t think I can save my friend.  Maybe I can save his kids.  They need a trip to the Muddy Roots Festival or Heavy Rebel.  Fast.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Marcel Proust

I have made two (2) disastrous attempts at reading Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way”.  It is the first of seven volumes of the novel "Rememberance Of Things Past".  I have made these attempts with the best of intentions.  The most noteworthy of these failures was when I had traveled to Paris and thought to immerse myself in the famous French author and philosopher while strolling Saint-Germain-des-Prés would be a grand extension of the Parisian experience.  I had not counted on the fact that most of my reading would be done in cramped coach airline seats with an old woman coughing directly on my shoulder.  It is not a simple task to digest forty line sentences dedicated to the way a light shines on a blanket when someone is gagging up peanuts on your person.  I find this not to be a criticism of Proust’s weighty prose but more of a lack of foresight on my part.  It is perhaps too much to ask to weigh matters of memory and perception when you are sardined into one of the planet’s most uncomfortable resting spaces, that on a middle seat on an American Airlines jet in coach class.

I wound up storing the copy of Proust into my luggage, and instead read a large book of turn of the century pornography that I purchased in a tiny bookstore near a café where I had been drinking a heroic quantity of house Rhone.  If you find yourself interested in looking at a gigantic book of black and white photographs of pudgy people engaged in a variety of sexual acts while dressed like pirates, soldiers, and in the women’s cases almost exclusively distressed maidens, please let me know.  I believe you will find the surprisingly in depth historical perspective on the photographs interesting, as well as the almost total lack of sexual interest you discover while looking at page after page of half erect pirates and very hairy ladies with open thighs in distress.  

This book obviously did me no good on the flight home as I would have been labeled a deviant and not allowed back into the United States thanks to an advance radio message from the flight crew to The Authorities.  No one wants to look at turn of the century soldiers emotionlessly entering hairy vaginas from behind and most certainly not on a lengthy transcontinental airline flight.  This is why I also purchased a copy of Kerouac’s “The Subteraneans” at the same time I purchased the pornographic book of interest.  My Rhone fueled thought process at purchase was that I would appear to be some sort of open minded beatnik to the completely disinterested cashier, and not like some sort of American pervert (which I clearly am).  I’m not sure why I was so concerned about the perception that the cashier had of me at the time, but ironically if I had read Proust I probably would have been able to sort that out more effectively.  That Kerouac is not much of a light read either, but I at least tackled that on the flight.  Proust would have to wait.

I have just finished Alain de Botton’s “How Proust Can Change Your Life”, which is a distilled take on what Proust was about as a person and his ideas as a writer.  Who knew that a guy that spent 11 years in bed would have such well founded ideas on such topics as choosing a doctor, understanding interpersonal relationships, and living life in the moment?    Despite the fact it was almost impossible for Proust to travel due to a mind numbing list of maladies and psychological problems, he’s also got great ideas on travel.  On one hand Proust convinces easily on the concepts of appreciation of the moment, finding beauty in the everyday, and making your life more enjoyable in the process.  The downside is that you need to remember that this advice is coming from a guy that was a Mama’s boy and a hypochondriac who was unable to effectively cultivate normal relationships.  So there’s that…  Regardless, if you can hack your way through the dark jungles of 1910 French proper society and maybe some questionable translation choices, there are some timeless ideas here.  It must also be admitted, the task is daunting.  

Reading Proust is one of those things that really seem like a good idea until you are actually doing it.  These things include snowboarding, gambling on roulette, drinking whiskey in an airport, rec league softball, and ice fishing.  Reading this novel is volunteering for hard work.  It’s a task for which there is little appreciation by anyone when you have finished it.  It’s just you out there all alone being told by a long dead bedridden somber Frenchman “In love, there is permanent suffering”, "We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full", and sentences in the fifth (of seven) volumes that if stretched out would run four feet long.  It’s not for the weak.  It's madness.
I am committed.  I will embark on this novel again.  I will fail.  Again.     

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Got Juice?

Yesterday I was walking the hounds lost in thought, as I normally am on a Sunday.  Sunday is often a day of reflection for me, and this Sunday was no different.  The hounds enjoyed chasing a snotty young buck and a small groundhog, and I enjoyed an unexpected field of daisies we came across like they had been placed there by a Hollywood film.  It is good to have time by yourself to try to come up with solutions to life’s great problems and mysteries.  Yet, as much as I try, I cannot come up with the solution to as why LeBron James now appears to have the physical strength of a comic book villain.

I watched the highlights of the NBA Finals last night with a passive interest.  I don’t like the NBA as there is about as much drama in the proceedings as there is in watching Jaws 2.  Most of the players seem like assholes.  The games are bad TV shows that never seem to end, and now one of the main characters (LeBron) has grown so large and muscular he makes Jose Canseco seem like a beanpole pussy.  Even if you don’t like the NBA, and I’m sure most of you reading this could care less, take a second and watch the highlight of the LeBron James block of the dunk in the fourth quarter of Game 2.  Can someone explain to me how a normal man without the aid of considerable pharmaceutical help can stop a ball being thrown down with as much force as a 6-11 240 pound man can muster as if it hit a brick wall?  How does one jump in the air, and not have their hand move more than an inch when facing that kind of force generated by another world class athlete?  Can somebody legitimately check this guy for steroids already?

I will go on the record and say that I dislike LeBron James as only a Clevelander can dislike this man.  I find his lack of character and sense of entitlement off putting to say the least.  I am happy when he fails.  I find his need to stack the deck to create a scenario where he can win the ultimate argument that ends discussion about his place in the pantheon of great basketball players.  Most ESPN talking heads will go on and on and on speculating about where LeBron ranks all time, how does he compare to Jordan, blah.  Let’s get some interesting talk going.  Is this guy on the juice?  How long has he been on the juice?

I think it is logical to think that a player that has shown a pattern of trying to gain unfair advantage of playing only on glorified All-Star teams would be very interested in stacking the deck any way possible.  I think it is also logical that a player that is under the huge amount of scrutiny that James is would want to gain any edge to live up to the insane standard that has been set for him.  I also believe that the NBA, and their culture of promoting “superstar players” over teams makes it impossible for them to effectively police the monster stars that they have created.  Why would the NBA teardown a player like James when they have spent so much effort to build him?  This is why no marquee players every test positive for anything.

I find it hard to fathom that the only NBA player to ever use steroids is Hedo Turkoglu.  Every other major sport has their biggest stars under the microscope and being found to have had help with their superhuman exploits.  The only exception is of course the NFL, which obviously every single guy in the league is on enough juice to kill a rhino.  We all know this, but we don’t care.  Let’s be honest.  However in our other sports, we want an even playing field.   So if Alex Rodriguez can’t shatter 75 years of baseball records, Roger Clemons isn’t a better pitcher for 15 years than Sandy Koufax in his prime, Lance Armstrong can’t win 37 Tour de France’s in a row, and NFL lineman can’t suddenly be 325 pounds and run 4.6 40-yard dashes, why does anyone look at the NBA and think, “Well, certainly there would be no reason to take steroids if you wanted to jump higher, be stronger, and run faster!  Why would you want to do that in the NBA?”  If you watch the NBA game, you see things that don’t make sense from a historical perspective.   

Maybe Lebron is a guy that really has been hitting the weight room.  Maybe we should just ignore the fact that announcers keep saying things like “he is doing things we have never seen before”.  Maybe I just haven’t seen a man jump in the air, and without leverage, stop another man his size in midair despite the obvious force that was created beforehand.  Maybe I just need to watch more NBA and buy into the myth.  Maybe I just need to pretend, just like everyone else, that it’s just another highlight and not a piece of evidence.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Music Business

After a period of inspiration, the Whiskey Daredevils have a new batch of songs together. Presumably this means we will go to the studio and record “an album”. This is a bit of a Catch-22 as I don’t know if anyone but me still acquires music in that type of format anymore.  Music is now a free computer file that drifts around on your email until it is loaded into whatever device it is you carry these files around in.  At any time you can load into your device a lifetime’s worth of complimentary music in 60 minutes with even a simple search of the web.  There has never been a better time to be a music fan.  This is the Golden Age of Music.  All hail the death of music! 

The fact that there is so much music out there and it is so available has made it essentially worthless.  A MP3 file attachment is just another piece of content in a world completely overrun with content.  There is no tangibility.  At the risk of sounding like an eighty year old man, “it’s not as good as it was back in my day”.  When I first got into music, I would scrap together enough money to buy an album.  This was a carefully considered purchase, as you did not want to blow your money on a shitty record (like the ones in the back of the stack in your bedroom you never listened to.  Elvis Costello “Shipbuilding”, I’m talking to you!)  There was so little information available to help you decide if Van Halen’s “Mean Streets” made more sense to buy than the Scorpions “Blackout”.  (It did) You would stand at the bin, sift through the options, and pick up the record carefully examining the cover front to back.  Maybe one cover looked cooler than the other… Maybe that one song you heard on the radio meant the whole record would rock just like that one… It was an investment not only of $5.99 but of time and consideration.  You cared about that record by the time you got it home.

I liked the fact that you would put the record on, and this magic would burst out of the speakers.  You could sit and hold that record sleeve while reading the notes on it trying to figure out “who the hell are these guys?”.  You never saw a picture of Mutt Lange, but if you read the liner notes you knew he hung out with and somehow helped your favorite bands make this miracle on the record happen.  What the hell does a producer do anyway?  In the movies they sit at a mixing board and yell at people… I wonder if Mutt Lange is like that…  Hmm… 

The Age of the File means that now there is nothing to investigate.  People import the songs into their hard drive, and maybe never even listen to the songs in order as one piece.  Their MP3 player in constant shuffle, they wonder “who was that?” when a song floats by.  Listening is a solitary experience spent with ear buds.  There is no interaction with the world of the ear bud, no exchange of opinion between friends.  Each person is left on their own to discover music they like unless they are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have friends pushing their favorite music on them.

Is this good or bad?  I don’t know.  It’s just different I guess.  On the one hand, music becomes less communal.  On the other hand, each person can connect to bands solely on a personal basis without the overwhelming bias of peer group and/or fashion.  Each individual song becomes the test, and not a group of songs.  The attention span of individuals in American society is about 4 seconds.  What’s on that channel?  Click. Next.  Don’t hook them in during the first notes?  Click.  Forward to next song.  Simultaneously web chatting while texting while watching satellite TV with the ear bud from your iPod in the right ear.  What?  You have the new so and so record from that band?  Sure.  Send it to me as a zip file.  I’ll get around to opening it sooner or later.

The advent of Pro Tools and home studios means anyone can record and “release” music.  While this will produce the occasional diamond, it mostly creates a sea of crap that would otherwise never have seen the light of day.  There was something to be said about a barrier to entry into the marketplace.  The old system of labels at least insured that someone had to be interested enough in what you were doing to consider risking money to make it available commercially.  In the "good old days", if you were in a band that had a record out, that meant you were pretty legit.  Now?  To attempt to wade through all the shit out there and find good music is a full time job.  It’s not as simple as the idea of, “Oh, this is on Estrus Records.  I’ll like this.”. 

Things to tend to go full circle.  It has become like 1961 all over again.  The cost of gas keeps bands closer to home, so live music becomes more regionalized.  Instead of bands trying to release great albums, the focus becomes on getting that lighting in a bottle that is one “hit” song that cuts through the clutter.  Can you make just one song that people add onto their personal playlists?  That they will watch a youtube video of?  Something they will send to their friends and tell them "they absolutely have to check this out"?  That will convince them to download the rest of the songs and actually listen to them and maybe… just maybe… come see the band live?  It ain’t easy.  

If given my druthers, I wish the marketplace would allow us to record 7 inch singles and release full length albums in one format that would serve everyone at a scale that was economically viable.  I love the packaging of the 45.  The band puts their best song of the moment out every three months or so.  The B-side is a total fuckaround cut like a bizarre cover song or original that doesn’t otherwise have a home.  The challenge is also making a great looking cover that convinces someone to take the $4 risk to buy that single.  Then the band has about the three minutes of that A side to either win that person as a fan, or lose them.  If not for the “Girl From 62” 7 inch, you know how much money I would have saved on Billy Childish records?

From a selfish point of view, I know we will record a full length.  It’s how I like to listen to music.  I know that this group of songs works together and captures a particular time/place.  Hell, I even think they are good songs too. Will anyone else listen to these songs that way in the manner we intend?  Does anyone care?  Who knows.  We are just doing what we do.  The genie is out of the bottle.  The consumer won.  I guess they did anyway.  There is a sea of crap out there.  And we are getting ready to add just a bit more…    

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Captain America

I have never been a fan of Captain America.  I say this with great confidence even before the filming began here in Cleveland of the latest shitty Captain America movie, a film geared towards this planet’s Moron Majority.  Captain America always seemed like a desperate reach of a character that was a way to show the patriotism of Marvel Comics while not quite admitting that they already came up with all their good ideas.  Once you get past Superman/Spiderman/Batman, the characters get pretty flimsy, don’t they?  Who’s down with The Green Hornet?  Anyone?  Ghost Rider?  Let’s just agree that all of it is pretty fucking stupid and a total waste of time.

My beef with Captain America is not focused on the slightly dangerous nationalism the character feeds.  It is also not based on the fact that I couldn’t sit through 20 minutes of the movie even while captive on an American Airlines flight while crammed into a window seat next to an enormous hairy Turk.  No, my hatred of captain America is based totally on the fact that City of Cleveland officials decided to close one of the major roadways into the city to allow the studio to film for two weeks.  My sort of annoying daily commute has now become a nightmare commute for two weeks all so we can add one more horrible movie to the regrettable canon of Hollywood comic book movies?  Fuck this.

Even now someone is probably preparing to send me a nasty little note about how “Hollywood is bringing in all sorts of tax dollars and money into the city!”.  Really?  You mean like the Casino and Browns Stadium?  Why after the windfall of cash those two shakedown schemes brought in, it’s hard to believe that every road I drive on within the city limits looks like it was recently shelled by militants.  Perhaps after this financial gift we won’t have feral dogs and homeless wandering around beautiful “Midtown” like it was the zombie apocalypse.  I don't own a hotel or a restaurant.  I'm not going to make a dime off of this fucking thing.  It's also not going to reduce my City Taxes.  It's all just a major hassle.

The city approved at $9.5 million dollar tax credit for the filming.  In theory, the trade off in having the studio not having to pay the same taxes I have to pay for “the privilege of working in the city” (as a tax official once explained to me) is that they will inflate the economy with so much money to over compensate for this upfront expense.  This is further explained as paying lighting, costume, crews, and extras.  That’s great news for anyone you know that has been involved in regional theater productions, because apparently the next time you see them they will be drinking out of a jewel encrusted krunk cup whereas before they were moonlighting in a bohemian coffee shop.  Those security guards standing around roadblocks must be making so much money; I wish I owned a Porsche dealership so I could take in some of their windfall down the line.  And here I was thinking that people traveled in for the work...  Here we are with a bunch of unemployed movie whiz kids ready to leap into action!  Thank you Hollywood!  No need for you to pay taxes like everyone else!  I noted that the last film shot here, parts of “The Avengers”, made $1.5 billion dollars (with a “B”), so why should the studio pay taxes?  Those people are barely eking out a living creating triumphant statements like “Captain America: Winter Soldier”.  Cut ‘em a break!     

The good news is that Hollywood cares.  Sunday Chris Evans, the lead in this cinematic endeavor, sent out a message that he was sorry about the traffic hassles, and how much he loves us.  Of course he does.  I saw that a local restaurateur immediately sent out a Tweet (which in itself is annoying) about how “not all of us in Cleveland mind the traffic” and rideyourbikeCLE#.  Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t give a shit either if I was catering dinners out the ass for these people and making a mountain of money off of them.  And by the way, I live in the real world and can’t ride my fucking bike 20 miles to work while wearing dress clothes.  Look around.  Most of us are in the same boat.  Get a clue Hipster.  Hash tag.

Let’s be honest here.  The only reason anyone green lit this obvious civic madness is because it is a movie, and people love the idea of celebrity.  The population gets tingly between their legs thinking they just might run into a major talent like Chris Evans, star of such impactful works as “The Nanny Diaries” and “Not Another Teen Movie”.  Even the off chance that they might see a cast member walking out of a restaurant gets folks giddy with excitement.  “I saw Kevin Costner walk out of that Starbucks over there.  I was like, “Dude, that’s Kevin Costner” and my buddy was like “no way” and then it turned out it was!”.  This story or one just like it will be repeated for decades.  That is the tradeoff for allowing these pirates into the city to rip us off and fuck with everyone that has to drive in to a “real” job.  They get to waste 10+ hours of my time, and I get to say “Yeah, did you ever see Captain America: Winter Soldier?  You didn’t?  Oh, well part of it was shot in town here.  It was that car chase that looked like it was in Germany?  You don’t remember?  Oh.  Well, that was shot here in town.”   

Fuck you Captain America.