Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate Winter Yoga Camping

The flier sat on the counter like a warning.  “Yoga Winter Camping Trip”  Even mouthing the words silently to himself sent a shiver down his spine.  It combined the two worst things he could think of in winter and camping.  At least in the summer camping would feature a brief pleasant window of sitting by a fire and staring at the stars in moderate temperatures.  For a few hours the opportunity presented itself to forget you would soon be sleeping on rocks while being ripped apart by disease ridden insects.  But winter camping and yoga?  The thought of “downward facing dog” while nosing into wet leaves and snow was like something the KGB would construct to break the will of political enemies of The State.

He had developed distaste for yoga that was deeply personal.  In theory he should like it.  The taut women possessively clutching their yoga mats and holding their Starbucks cups like urban batons oozed with purpose.  Young skin slightly flushed pink.  Light brown hair pushed back with Nike logoed headbands.  Swift steps towards whatever essentially meaningless appointment they had chirping reminders set for in their smarter than your phone.  It was a cult of self-righteousness he had only been allowed to see the lobby of, unable to prove his worth for admittance.

His previous girlfriend was fresh from a split from her husband.  The cause of the split was murky and ever changing.  In the end she offered up that he “hadn’t supported my yoga”.  He had never built up the courage to ask how one doesn’t support yoga.  Did that infer that when she announced she was leaving for yoga class he had said things like “That’s a God Damn waste of time!”?  Did he hide her yoga mat, or smear dog shit on it to prevent her from striking poses?  It gnawed at him, but he dared not bring the subject up for fear of being lumped in with the ever growing gaggle of outsiders she kept track of that “didn’t support her yoga”.  He actively avoided doing anything that would place him on The List.

She began taking classes from other yoga “experts”.  A lot of crazy hocus pocus shit.  She fell in with some wacky Indian lady priestess (that later was revealed to be a Guatemalan former maid) that convinced her followers of the healing properties of yoga.  Touch your foot here and heal your back there.  Sit in this pose while facing towards the moon to clear your skin.  Then it picked up speed.  The group had been convinced they could heal with their hands, like some sort of New Age Witches.  The Girlfriend began to speak to him like he was a child, the information she was gathering well out of his sphere of understanding.  She had been given access to great secrets while he was little more than a caveman.  He bit his tongue to not remind her of her glorious flame out at the local community college years earlier while he could prove a college degree if he went into the attic and went through a few boxes. 

It was at this point a transformation occurred.  She thought of herself as possessing great power.  It was an odd combination of yoga terminology, Eastern mysticism, reflexology, and more than just a bit of “The Force” from Star Wars.  She hinted at some sort of “dark power” she could access, and whoa be to those that dared to cross her.  The answer to every problem he encountered could be solved with yoga.  Can’t sleep?  Yoga.  Hangover?  Yoga.  Broken fan belt?  Yoga.  Holy Christ Almighty.  He understood what had broken the ex-husband.  She began to demand that he chant while holding specific yoga poses to heal his headache.  “Jesus… can’t you just hand me the aspirin like I asked?”  That’s when it happened.  He was “not supporting her yoga”.  There was no going back.  Within weeks she had moved out telling murky stories about the derailed relationship while simultaneously taking the moral high ground afforded by her new found understanding of The Universe.

So now this.  The flier stared at him from the counter.  He walked back from it slowly, like it was a snake.  Somewhere in the woods, in the falling snow, in the wind, a small group would be doing headstands shivering in their tights.  A skinny man with a beard that could be mistaken for Russell Brand would sit cross legged by the fire offering some mashed vegan delight to the group.  They would feel the strength of the collective.  Then they would smoke pounds of marijuana, that being OK as it was “an organic strain”.  They would earnestly chant afterwards, and then after retiring to their wigwams the Russell Brand guy would make long tantric love to his ex-girlfriend with what was sure to be an enormous cock.   It was OK though.  He never really supported her yoga anyway.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Christmas Ale Tasting 2

 Elevator Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale- This is a heavy spiced brown ale with a caramel overtone.  This is like a beer one of your buddies in school stole from his parent’s garage and then you all wound up sipping at it in your "fort" pretending it was good.  The "fort"is an abandoned log cabin in the woods with the unmistakable scent of wet decaying nudie magazines on the floor.  Eventually you choke it down and never mention out loud that you didn’t enjoy it.  Later you break the bottle on the railroad tracks as you walk home in the overcast dusk. 

Shiner Holiday Cheer-  I will level with you.  I was ready to hate this Austin beer based on the hipster stamp of approval.  I can already imagine dudes in white sunglasses with ironic mustaches sipping these as they listen to some shitty post punk garage psych band their old roommate put together with some dudes he works with at the artisan bakery/coffee shoppe/performance space.  Sonofabitch though, it was really good.  A surprising sweetness on the nose and palate with an apricot and Necco wafer scent gives way to rich but not overbearing peach.  This is beer, not a peach cooler, so do not be dissuaded.  It’s really tasty.

Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper-  This is a big bottle of a Belgian punch in the face.  It’s like a brown ale that has had a wreath and scented candle soaking in it.  It’s not really something you enjoy.  It’s something you have to get through like a horrible workout involving truck tires and sledgehammers.  I’m sure guys named Rolf and Joekel drink this while they listen to Turbonegro.  10.9% alcohol.  Good luck.

Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale- This comes as advertised.  If you have the desire to get a four year old drunk, and frankly, during this holiday season,  who doesn’t?  …This is your go-to beer.  It is like a bunch of melted down Kraft caramels that somehow made a beer.  It’s really sweet and I think I liked it.  I only drank 4 ounces of it though, so I might not be able to get through a whole bottle.  If the police pull someone over with a six pack of this and a stuffed animal in their car, I think a full background check should be legally allowed.  There needs to be some explanations at least.

Rivertown Winter Ale-  I am not a huge fan of this brewery.  Their beers always seem assembled as opposed to carefully made.  There is an off flavor in this I can’t put my finger on, like if someone poured this beer for me and then decided to squeeze in one single pump of liquid hand soap.  My teeth felt cleaner though…

Smuttynose Winter Ale-  This is a very drinkable pleasant balance of spices, malt, and hop.  At 5.8% alcohol, it is much more civilized than many of the beasts at this tasting.  I could see having a few of these and staying in my shoes at a holiday party.  Don’t lose your mind though.  It's good but I wouldn't kill myself trying to find it. This is The Replacements “Don’t Tell A Soul” not “Tim”…

Heavy Seas Yule Tide-  This is for Big Boys.  It is a rum barrel aged weizen dopplebock ale.  The barrel aging gives it a nice vanilla nose and finish, and I would describe the ale as “assertive”.  I have in my tasting notes that “…this is Deep Purple “Hush” and a dude named Randy is hitting a bong in the back of a conversion van with a unicorn painted on the side.  Some chick in jean cutoffs with high white color striped socks that looks like Joan Jett keeps asking you for cigarettes.  She is really messed up and can’t seem to remember you telling her that you don’t smoke.  Maybe it’s because that Deep Purple’s “Hush” is playing so fucking loud.”.  I don't know for sure what that means as applied to a beverage.  

Ridgeway Brewing Bad Elf-  This is such an obvious ploy to crash in on the Xmas beer market by this English brewer.  It’s like they slapped  an Elf drawing on a bottle of Stella and charged twice as much because they thought they could get away with it.  The Elf drawing is the only thing festive about this beer.  Is it against the holiday spirit to be angry at a beer?

Ridgeway Brewing Insanely Bad Elf-  These are the guys I was mad at for the Bad Elf.  This is horrible.  It is an 11.2% ABV with a maple syrup vibe that tastes like it was made clandestinely in a jail cell.  This is the perfect beer to serve someone if you had decided to tell them off, burn all bridges, and let them know that you thought they were a “dick”.  At that moment have them take a nice swallow of this.  It would be the only way to engage all their senses as you convey completely how much disdain you have for them.  Maybe there’s a market for that?

Fat Heads Holly Jolly-  With over the top cinnamon and nutmeg, it is obvious the debt to Great Lakes Christmas Ale.  It’s really good, and is probably my favorite American Christmas ale of the moment.  It’s in your face like a guy in an elf costume poking you in the shoulder saying, “This is good, right?  Right?”…  It has 7.4% ABV, so don’t pound these down.  No one wants to be “the guy that took his pants off” at the office holiday party.

N’ice Chouffe-  A more sophisticated rounded version of Fat Heads Holly Jolly?  There is sort of an herbal cut to this that must be there to make the drinker feel as if it’s a healthy organic choice to knock back this beer with the 10% alcohol.  This is the most blatant example of the Belgian Beer packaging paradox.  Two cute smiling gnomes are building a welcoming campfire on the label.  These are the gnomes that will steal your wallet and wrist watch, and then leave you to shiver by the fire after you pass out and wet yourself from the sheer amount of alcohol you unwittingly consumed.   This is good.  Really good.  Beware.

Sweet Water Festive Ale-  This is OK, but has too much “bass” in it for my liking.  You know those cars at inner city stoplights that have all the windows closed and some awful rap song is rattling everything inside that poor vehicle?  This is the beer that tastes like that Monte Carlo with the enormous rims.  It is the exact opposite of a Mazda Miata playing James Taylor.

Delirium Noel-  Since 1654 the Belgians have been making this slightly sweet complex ale.  It’s hard to argue with anything that has been made that long and enjoyed by that many generations.  There’s a pink elephant on a sled on the label.  That is to distract you from the fact that if you drink two of these you will pass out and have your fillings removed via pliers by a guy in a leather motorcycle vest that smells like oil and fish.  He will either make a necklace out of them for his girlfriend that looks like Elvira or sell them at the train station for meth.  Either way, don’t drink two of these and try to get back to your hotel in a strange Belgian town.  It will all go bad.

Kasteel Winter-  This is a thick mocha coffee with a sack kicking 11% alcohol content.  It’s like a liquid dark German chocolate cake with a boozy frosting.  When the beer has 11% alcohol, is it even beer anymore, or is it some sort of thing that is sipped by a fire by learned men that wipe their eyeglasses and say things like, “Dangerous ideas eh?  May I remind you gentlemen that these are Dangerous Times!”.  This is a beer you will either love or hate completely.  If your palate is attuned to think Guinness is too think and harsh, run away from this like it was a dangerous animal.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale-  This is great.  Spicy lively ale with fruity overtones and just the right amount of carbonation.  This is a complicated beer for grown ups.  I can see having one of these in a wide rimmed glass while a guy named Jurgen twirls his mustache after serving you the best stew you ever had by a fireplace.  If that’s not Christmas, what is?  Highly recommended.

North Coast Brewing Winter Time Ale-  Laid back.  That’s what you get when a San Diego brewer makes a winter ale.  What do they know about winter in San Diego?  It’s 75 and sunny every day out there.  They have those annoying Santas in shorts and leather sandals out there strutting around public beaches and piers.  Fuck you and fuck your shorts Santa.

Buckeye Brewing Company Christmas Girl-  This is a Belgian style golden ale that proudly notes “no spices added”.  The obvious question that comes to mind is why is this a Christmas beer?  What’s with the really amateurish drawing on the label?  This falls into the “maybe we can sell these at the peak holiday buying season if we put a chick in an elf costume on it” category.  If I am drinking golden Belgian ale, I’m having a Duvel or a LaChouffe, not this.  Sorry man.

Sam Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout-  I love how Sam Adams takes chances and makes weird beers like this.  The problem is I never actually like the beers themselves very much.  It’s a shame really.  Doesn’t gingerbread stout sound like a really good idea?  You know what else sounded like a good idea?  The band Velvet Revolver, and that wasn’t a good idea either.  Somebody probably likes this.  I don’t though.

Deschutes Jubelale-  This is a dark brown ale that to me evokes autumn flavors.  It tastes like hippies made this.  I have no idea if they did, but it’s from Oregon.  That swings things towards “likely” that a guy named Gary Starshine and his black dog named “Peace” probably had a hand in this beer.  He probably said things like “Dude, this totally feels right to me, like… like… you can feel all of our energy in here!”.  Or maybe it was made by a level headed guy with a beard named Jim that just likes autumn flavors.  I really have no idea.  It was OK, but it’s not Christmas Ale.

Full Pint Brewing Company Festivus-  This is sort of toffee and boring.  I can imagine a friend being jacked up about this and then having to be polite as he said, “This is really good, right?”.  Or maybe you pull one of these out of the fridge at a holiday party, and then abandon it on a coffee table after a sip of it.  There are probably pairs of these beers in the back of many refrigerators in the Full Pint Brewing Trade Zone.  It's the beer you hope a visitor to your home asks, "OK if I have one of these?". Yes it is friend, yes it is...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 15

This is a tough time of year.  Most teams’ dreams of glory have now been crushed, and guys are playing for their next contract while trying not to get hurt.  I try to avoid betting on games between bad teams that have nothing to play for except pride.  Who the hell knows what will happen?  For example, after what the Browns looked like last week, it’s hard not to take a second mortgage out and get on the Panthers.  However, the Panthers really suck and are starting a guy at QB that just got in a major car accident. That’s not exactly an ideal scenario gamblers seek out. The key is to find games where something is at stake for both teams.

I am betting against the Cincinnati Bengals.  That’s right.  I am not betting on the Broncos, I am betting against the Bengals.  Cincinnati has a long proud history of not being able to win The Big Game.  They are 2-13 in their last 15 prime time games.  That’s a lot of sad faces in Cincinnati.  Is this the “Marvin Lewis Factor” of him being completely out coached when facing a quality opponent each and every time?  Is it that Andy Dalton is completely unreliable and flames out when the lights are brightest?  Who the hell knows, but it’s hard to imagine the Broncos taking a loss this close to the Playoffs.  The Broncos are a team that wants to win the whole thing, and they have enough veteran guys to know that a key is to roll into the Playoffs on a hot streak.  The Bengals feel pretty good about themselves after shoving the Browns around last week.  The Broncos aren’t the Browns.  I have seen the future and in it I see a lot of drunk hillbilly Bengal fans trudging back to their cars Monday night after a firm handling of their team by the Broncos.  Denver -3.5

The National Sports Media is all jacked up about the Dallas Cowboys.  Let’s be honest.  The NFL is more fun when the Cowboys are good and Jerry Jones is saying crazy shit on TV.  While last week’s win by Dallas over Philadelphia looked like a big deal at the time, seeing the Eagles just slip by a horrible Redskins team last night took some of that luster away.  Even ardent Cowboy fans will admit that the Cowboys just aren’t that good if you press them.  Their record looks good on paper, but remember the NFC East is awful.  It’s all about headlines though.  People want to buy in.  They have bought in.  The Cowboys are back!

When The Public is going one way, it’s time to go the other.  Dallas is a great team to bet against at home.  The Public will bet on Dallas at home no matter what, so as the money rolls in, the books have to move the spread to try and get more action on the visitor.  I think Indianapolis might win this game outright, but I will take Indy +3.5 just because I love that extra half point.  Also, consider that Dallas is 3-17 against the spread when favored coming off of a win.  Folks just can’t stop jumping on that Cowboy bandwagon.  I think these teams will go up and down the field on one another as Dallas has no pass defense to speak of, and with Murray dealing with a broken hand, it is reasonable to expect the Cowboys to take to the air.  I will watch this game with laser focus in the hopes that Brandon Weeden gets in and singlehandedly provides me with a win.  Indy +3.5  

Season Record 21-13-1

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nurse the Hate: "Modern Rustic"

The home remodelers spoke of their upcoming project proudly.  They stood in front of the group showing slides of the plans.  Big plans.  The goal was to strip the house down to the very basics, and replace all the exisiting amenities with very modern plumbing and lighting fixtures.  The house would be transformed from a traditional country home where Tim Allen movies are always on the TV and pot pies bubble in the oven to one where Moby played assertively from the in house speaker system.  Mountain Dew would be replaced with bottle aged Loire and Vouvrey.  The broken grandfather clock was out.  A distant blonde woman would now speak dismissively of art galleries from a designer chair so uncomfortable no guest would ever sit in it.  This was a complete transformation.  The man was very proud of this plan and waited to deliver the knock out punch in his presentation.  “We call this Modern Rustic”.   Ye Gods.

I may be the only person that was annoyed by this. Everyone else in the room during the Modern Rustic presentation nodded knowingly, but I have a suspicion that was because they were afraid that if they asked the logical question of "If it is rustic, doesn't that by definition mean it is old and not modern?", that they would appear like fools. I didn't say anything because I felt like once I got started in my confrontational aggressive tone, the room would have turned on me. No one wants to be maced in the face at a public relations event. Certainly not over a concrete sink with illogical steel fixtures or an unbelievably weathered cabinet. In this sense, I became part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I thought it was an isolated event, but it was not.  I was recently in San Francisco and made a reservation at the hot new restaurant.  Having spent the day wandering around the city, I was dressed casually in jeans and rumpled shirt.  California is tough when it comes to dress code.  Normally people are dressed down, but in a manner that shows taste.  It’s sort of like how Johnny Depp always looks like Keith Richards dressed him in the dark, but the weather beaten boots he’s wearing cost $1600.  It's confusing.  The people with the most money and power in California look like bike messengers while in New York only bike messengers look like bike messengers.  Still, there is a decorum at a “see and be seen” restaurant.  I didn’t want to look like the Midwestern Rube I normally look like (and am), so I called to get a feel for what was appropriate attire.

The very effeminate man that answered the phone was so over the top I was concerned glitter was going to explode out of my cellphone.  I asked what sort of attire would work for dinner.  “Oh!  We really go for a formal casual look here!”   I have no idea what the fuck that meant, and I know he didn't either.  It just sounded marvelous.   

The "formal casual" thing I couldn't let pass. At first I thought I heard it incorrectly and asked him to repeat it. Formal casual? Would that be like those free t-shirts with a tuxedo print on them that were given out free to kids for prom rentals? Would I wear ripped cargo shorts with patent leather shoes? A thrift store purchased Pavement concert t-shirt with a top hat? A pressed white dress shirt with a bathing suit and flip flops?  What exactly is "formal casual"? My conversation with Michael Fabulous yielded nothing. "Whatever people want to wear that makes them look and feel good!"  He was very excited.  I stuck with the jeans and changed my shirt. I was underdressed. That son of a bitch.

Do the meaning of words now no longer matter?  Have we run out of language that expresses what should be simple concepts?  “I’d like to start with the hot cold soup and then have the steak.  Could you make that rare well done?”  I think that the goal is to appear so cutting edge and trendy that what is possible is redefined.  The key is to ignore logic.  “Modern Rustic?  Oh, it’s like a log cabin, but at the same time is like a German model's Berlin apartment!  It’s changed EVERYTHING!  Let me hop into my moccasins/coonskin cap and take my jet pack to the formal casual restaurant!”   The pressing need to make what is actually very simple seem very complicated runs these people's lives.  "We are re-doing this house by ripping out the old shit and making the interior modern and minimal."  Gotcha.  "It's a half step above casual, but no one will freak out if you aren't in a collared shirt."  Oh, I understand.

Maybe I'm the one that doesn't understand.  Perhaps everything has been done and it is now just about placing a new label on the familiar.  It's an Emporer Has No Clothes situation, and the only one not in on it is me.  Maybe I need to write some slow uptempo neo-cowpunktry songs, have an ice cold warm beer, and relax in my formal casual clothes in a modern rustic chair.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 14

When I was a kid my family had season tickets to the Buffalo Bills.  My father and I would drive up in December, my mother having abandoned the idea of it being fun sitting outside in Buffalo weather in the winter.  Intelligent lady that one... I spent many Sundays in December brushing snow off a steel bench seat and then literally freezing my ass off watching bad Bills teams lose low scoring games.  Every season trusty QB Joe Ferguson would sport All Pro stats in October and watch them fall away as the seasons changed.  It's a tough place to play.  It's not only that it is cold, but the stadium is a friggin wind tunnel.  Balls sail all over the place while the league's ugliest fans scream horrible things from their fur lined snowmobile suits.  It's a real scene.  That's why I'm on the Bills and their legit defense over the Packers this week. It's a weird game for Green Bay, and they are due for a let down.  At home versus New England?  Jacked up.  Jumping on a plane to play in Buffalo?  Oh, we have a game this week?  Buffalo + 4.5

There has been an insane amount of coverage on how JJ Watt and the Texans defense are mutants that rip off opponents scrotums and laugh at the writhing victims.  I have no doubt that The Public believes the Texans are going to hang close with the Colts this week.  I am not of that belief as I am clearheaded in my vision of Luck and Co. dropping 40 on the hapless Texans.  The Texans have looked OK of late, but only because they have played shitty teams at perfect times.  The Colts are a handful at home, and there is no way Houston can score enough points in this.  Indianapolis is 67-3 against the spread at home.  OK, that is a total lie, but they are pretty good at home, especially in division games.  Indy -6.5 all day.

Season record:  19-13-1

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nurse the Hate: I Saw AC/DC

I have been to an astounding number of rock concerts.  I have seen almost everyone of note in the last 35 years with the exception of Dave Mathews, who it would take a team of wild horses dragging me nude across Public Square to make me enter the facility where he is playing.  I do not understand why he is popular and people willingly attend his shows.  Hell, even Leo, the most agreeable man on the planet told a soundman in Cologne Germany to “turn that shit off” when the guy blared it from the PA during set up.  The authority with which Leo barked out the order caught even this German by surprise, a man that lives like most Germans in a state of constant confrontation.  So allow me to be upfront about not seeing Mathews, and God willing never seeing him in a live setting.  (Note, I will confront him about his unbelievably shitty Dreaming Tree wine if ever given the opportunity though.  http://nursethehate.blogspot.com/2014/05/nurse-hate-hate-dave-mathews-and-his.html )

I think all men are by nature collectors.  As a boy I collected matchbox cars, then baseball cards.  I became a voracious record buyer.  When I got into wine, I amassed an admirable cellar.  It’s how I am coded.  This has led me to see certain bands well after the point where I was enthusiastic about them anymore as a way to “check the box” that I had seen them.  Look, I’ve seen Flamin’ Groovies, Loverboy, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage well past their expiration dates.  I took no particular joy in attending these shows, but I really needed to know in my mind that I had been there, done that.  It was in this scenario that I first saw AC/DC.

I would have really loved to see AC/DC in the early 1980s when they seemed impossibly dangerous.  All parents reflexively gave a frown at even glancing at the “Highway To Hell” album cover.  They sang about all kinds of things that seemed like a lot of fun but I hadn’t actually had any exposure to whatsoever.  And that guitar sound sitting on top of that perfect rhythm section!  Many ill-informed arguments raged in my high school gym locker room over who was the superior guitar player, Angus Young or Jimmy Page (while the answer was clearly Johnny Ramone).  Every single high school party I attended in my last three years had “Back In Black” playing to distortion from whatever shitty stereo was nestled in the corner by the Stroh’s.  That record was in the background in every stupid memory I have from that time.

Living in Erie PA has many disadvantages.  The weather is absolutely awful.  There is almost no culture to speak of.  The roads are filled with potholes.  Restaurants at every price range put french fries on everything as a nod to the long dining tradition in NW Pennsylvania of starch +starch= Happy Customer.  AC/DC would never come to what is politely referred to in the industry as a “tertiary market”.  In Erie we got Nazareth/Blackfoot and one time Aerosmith when they were at their rock bottom of drug addiction and commercial appeal.  I had no chance to see AC/DC when they were a big deal in my world.

By the time I got to see AC/DC I was a jaded music fan in his late 20s.  My girlfriend at the time, a sort of scary sociopath that had a murky past that definitely involved a high school “smoking lounge” and keg parties in the woods with “the bad kids” was all in on seeing AC/DC when it was announced they would play the sports arena.  I worked at the Rawk Station (make devil horns with your hands now) so I had easy access to comp tickets.  What the hell.  I’m in. 

By this time in my life I was all about club shows with amazingly obscure bands that I would champion to my completely disinterested friends.  It didn’t occur to me that not everyone would love The Mummies, Mono Men, or Uncle Tupelo if they were exposed.  My time of stupid arena rock had passed.  This filled me with some concern as I drove to the arena.  Would I destroy all my good memories of AC/DC in one fell swoop, like when you see the Prom Queen at the High School Reunion and she is revealed to be just another horsey looking farm girl approaching middle age?

We walked to our seats in the sold out arena.  What is now the Quicken Loans Arena seats 20,000 or so people.  At this show, there were 19,867 dudes.  My poor girlfriend was looked at like a piece of meat as all social niceties had gone out the window 7 beers ago for most of the concert attendees.  We sat down in our row next to black t-shirt guys on either side.  I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me.  He had an IQ of about 80.  This event was maybe the biggest thing that had ever happened to him.  We sat and made small talk waiting for the show to start.  The houselights dimmed for AC/DC.  That’s when it happened.

The guy turned to me and said, without a trace of irony, “Time to get up…. Time to rock.”  He wasn’t kidding.  Not even a little bit.  He then stood up and proceeded to unashamedly rock out to every stupid AC/DC song in their freeze dried time tested live show.  I thought he was going to burst into flames in some sort of excitement driven spontaneous combustion when they rolled the cannons out “For Those About To Rock”.  He almost killed the people in front of him grabbing at the paper money that was dropped during “Money Talks”.  I was sorta bored.  This ship had sailed for me.  I wasn’t that bummed out through.  The goal was accomplished.

I saw AC/DC.        

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Again

It is a very odd December for Browns fans.  Normally it is time to attempt to give away unwanted game tickets and sullenly drink cans of Bud Light in the cold municipal parking lot as the wind blasts your skull off of Lake Erie.  After a long processional walk to the stadium with little conversation and the dull thudding of rubber soled boots, the reward is a teeth clenching wait in a men’s room line where getting your cock out to piss is like unwrapping a complicated holiday gift box under 13 layers of clothes.  Finally you sit in the chilly plastic seat in the half empty stadium where you will grumble “…Fucking Browns…” for the next 3.5 hours until the inevitable loss.  This year is different though…

Amazingly the Browns are in the playoff hunt.  Granted, it’s a long shot, but they are still in it.  The long awaited QB controversy has once again reared its ugly head, and the team finds themselves mentioned once again on national sports coverage, albeit negatively.  The injuries have begun to mount and the Browns are really starting to look like “the Browns” again.  This has resulted in a staggering 80+% of the money being on Indy this week as the Colts visit Cleveland.  I can’t argue with The Public coming to this conclusion.  It completely makes sense.  The Colts should drop 31 on the Browns and it appears unlikely that Cleveland can score more than 13 points with Hoyer leading and offense that looks “Weedenesque” at times over the last few weeks.  It's all so obvious.  It’s the perfect storm.  This is forcing my hand.  God damn it.  I’m on Cleveland +3.5.

It makes no sense.  Andrew Luck is a machine.  The Colts are a legit team.  The Browns have the stench of impending doom all over them.  I know.  I know.  But take into account that the Colts are a good home team in the dome, not so good road team at 12-11 on the road in the Luck era.  Think about that.  That includes going to Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee every year.  Now they have to run around on the soggy grass in Cleveland where the Browns defense has actually held opposing QBs to the lowest QBR in the league.  Who knew, right?  Also, as I rail again and again, ALWAYS bet against public opinion.  ALWAYS.  People are little better than simple apes.  They don’t know anything about anything.  Faith in them will always disappoint.  It’s that damn hook in the 3.5 I’m counting on.  With great misgivings, I’m on Cleveland +3.5. 

I think New England is the best team in the NFL.  I think they are so good that they decided not to show everything they had versus Green Bay last week because they think they might play them in the Super Bowl.  How about that for a good conspiracy theory?  This week the Patriots stay on the road and head to San Diego to play a pretty good Chargers team.  The Chargers have that feel of a team that will beat the fuck out of whoever they play in the first round of the AFC Playoffs and then flame out 24-10 in the next round.  Afterwards everyone in San Diego will go “That was fun.  Hey, want to go to the beach?” and the Playoffs will continue on without much notice. 

It is hard to remember a time when the Patriots weren't an elite team.  Check out these stats.  The Patriots are 30-10 after a loss against the spread.  They are 21-9 against the spread when not laying a touchdown or more.  This indicates that they are a really good team and have been a really good team forever.  I will take the really good team over the pretty good team and give the points.  New England -4.5

Season Record 17-13-1

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate Kent OH

I will be playing a show in Kent tonight, making this the first time I have returned to the university area in years.  I always feel a sense of irritation when I see the “little kids” that go to school there now in “my” bars.  How dare these children swagger around on these streets where I cut my teeth?  Those ungrateful sons of bitches…  Have they any idea of how much cooler my friends and I were then they are?  The amazing ability of a college town to remain frozen in time and scrub the memories of those that have passed before it is remarkable.  Like the current batch of students that inhabit the area now are convinced this is their own personal playground which has been constructed just for them, I was sure of the same thing and am now just an intruder.

The interesting thing is that I don’t feel different than when I lived there.  I am essentially the same person, much to the chagrin of many that had hoped I would ‘grow up” over the resulting years.  Above the venue where I am playing is where I sold magazine subscription renewals over the phone.  I used to change my name depending on what the magazine was, “Paul” for Catholic Digest and “Rusty” for Field and Stream.  When I discovered I could make more money selling magazines in four hours than the eight hours of construction earned my roommates, school then became just about enjoying myself to the maximum extent.  How hard could a sales job be?

I played my first ever show at Mother’s Junction in December of 1990 in front of about 11 disinterested people.  The load in was up a steep flight of stairs in what was probably the worst load-in across rock until The Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh stole the crown.  I didn’t know what I was doing then, but was really excited to play rock and roll on a real stage.  I still don’t know what I am doing and I still get excited by the way.  I would like to apologize to the people in attendance that night as I was horribly off key on a couple songs, this being well before we learned of the option of switching the key to one I could actually stay in.  The sheer amount of beer we drank helped shield me from the embarrassment.  I am still sheepish about it now though.

I used to go to the bar downstairs, Ray’s Place so often that when I went back into the place a full decade after being there last, the bartenders (who somehow never change) recognized me and slid a Bud longneck to me without me even placing an order.  While that was certainly a badge of honor in my twenties, I think it might be a cry for help now.  It was in that room many social catastrophes occurred including the time we dragged in a drunken buddy like a corpse and placed him for safe keeping passed out under the pinball machine.  I would go there with my friends after “pre-gaming” at our house and attempt to be charming.  In retrospect, knocking back a bottle of tequila and a case of beer with four guys was not a recipe for charm.  Once again, I apologize.

Across the street was The Pufferbelly, the only nice sit down restaurant to go to with your parents during a “Parents Weekend” visit.  I ate there once with my father who swung by on a pickup on our way to NYC for the holidays.  I don’t remember my mother ever visiting while I was in college until the day I graduated.  This is not an indication of her lack of interest, but more of a result of my asserting my independence and not allowing them to sniff around my domicile to see what I was up to.  I stand by that decision today.  There were many things going on that would have been uncomfortable to discuss for all of us.

If Ray’s wasn’t happening, there were two bars in the rotation in either direction.  The Venice Café was owned by an old no nonsense couple of some indeterminist immigrant origin.  They may have been the only establishment in NE Ohio to offer Duke, a crappy Pittsburgh cheap beer.  This was served in crummy 8 oz. glasses for .60 apiece.  It was the only beer available on draft.  Every single time I went in there I would ask for a Budweiser draft.  “No Bud. Duke.”  (said in the Belushi “hamburger hamburger hamburger” accent).  Oh, OK… Can I get a Miller Draft?  “No Miller.  Duke.”  Oh…  Do you have Molson?  “No.  Duke.  Only Duke.”  This would go on for five minutes every single time I walked in there.  He never showed more than his normal irritation.  He should have pistol whipped me.  I wish that guy was still running that bar.  I’d go in and ask for anything but a Duke.

In the other direction was The Loft.  The Loft was most noteworthy for having the worst men’s room in the three state area.  The rusty metal trough from the back corner men’s room had a sour reek that met you as soon as you stepped through the front door.  This was sort of a hillbilly version of Ray’s where the jukebox was always stuck in 1978.  It’s hard to believe that enough patrons wanted to hear .38 Special and Skynyrd to keep those artists as almost house bands in constant rotation.  I often ate pizza from the tiny area downstairs, which made the entire venue essentially a toilet that added a pizza oven.   

A small diner called Jerry’s was a block away, a real Kent landmark, that was later knocked down to make what I can only assume is a CVS Pharmacy location.  Any landmark of interest in the United States that has been knocked down has done so to make way for yet another CVS location.  They are a worse scourge than Wal Mart in many respects.  I used to go to Jerry’s after the bars had closed and drink pitchers of black coffee after a “garbage plate” of eggs/potatoes.  There were always lots of crazy people in there including a woman that liked to show squiggly ballpoint pen drawings from her notebook of what “chaos” looked like.  To tell you the kind of place it was, one time a customer asked the cook behind the grill for a saucer for his coffee.  The cook wiped his dirty apron and said in his loudest voice, “Get a load of this!  This guy wants a saucer at Jerry’s Diner!  Hahahahaha!”.  The man slunk out soon afterwards.

I might walk around a bit before the show.  I like the idea of watching the college students walking by me with a look of “what is he doing here?” as if I had walked into their home in a bathrobe.  They don’t know yet, but I know.  The present is very fragile.  You don’t own that town.  Only in your memory.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate V Squared

I read the New York Times on the weekends.  This is either a statement on how the Sunday Plain Dealer has now become little more than a pamphlet, or how I feel the need to have a vague idea about how the elections in Bolivia went wrong.  I will admit to having an unhealthy passive interest in the reporting on the New York social scene where impossibly good looking people in impossibly expensive clothes go to impossibly expensive parties that are covered like movie premieres.  It’s a very guilty pleasure that leaves me slightly ashamed.

Almost every Sunday there is a full page ad in Section A placed by a special interest group.  Usually it is someone really worked up about something Israel did, should have done, or is threatening to do.  These ads are always poorly done with a Russian novel’s worth of microscopic text railing on about an issue that guys like me turn the page on so quickly the fear of a paper cut is real.  I never care what the fuck these people are upset about.  This Sunday was different.  This caught my attention.  There was a full page ad placed for a band called V-Squared trumpeting their achievement at winning an astounding seven LA Music Awards.  Making this triumph even more incredible was the fact that they were 11 year old kids.  Upon closer examination of the ad, the text read like an amateur PR piece, with just enough professionalism to suggest that someone glanced at a “Public Relations For Dummies” website.   What the fuck was this?

I did a search on the web and found the LA Music Awards website.  As there are a shitload of talented bands in LA, I was sure I would know some of the names on the nominated bands list.  These 11 year old kids must kick some serious ass to beat Ty Segall, Nic Waterhouse, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, or anyone else you can think of in the greater Los Angeles area.  The odd thing was I had never heard of any of the bands nominated, and noted most of the genres represented were definitely out of fashion.  A click on the site quickly revealed this to be a scheme where bands were “nominated” based on paying for a submission and seeing how many votes at .99 cents per vote they could accumulate.  Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but I assume that the LA Music Awards keeps this money for “operating expenses” and urges participating bands to drive votes to further their “career”.  This is the absolute bottom of show business.

I clicked my way over to the V Squared band website.  There I discovered that the full page ad was also purchased in the LA Times.  Holy shit.  Who the fuck is financing this Travel Soccer Team Gone Mad?  Who are the parents?  I clicked on a Rock News Around The Web “Red Carpet Interview” which appeared to be filmed with the intention of aping what a real red carpet interview looks like.  The whole thing is a circle.  The LA Music Awards take you to the V Squared site which takes you to a site called Rock N Roll University that is content exclusively dedicated to these 11 year old kids playing AC/DC covers like, well, 11 year olds.  Rock News Around The Web exists solely to post V Squared videos.  Who is paying for all this?  What do they think is going to happen?

My guess is the very excited fella in the white tuxedo behind the boys on their “red carpet interview” is probably their father.  He must be the bankroll and the “creative vision”.  Why do I say this?  I am guessing that 11 year old kids don’t stumble onto AC/DC on their own, or look to Jack Blades of Night Ranger as an influence.  I dare you to click onto the completely staged video for the fan reactions to their concert.  I double dare you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En0kZVa5LbU

That is exactly what an out of touch father thinks rock and roll looks like, as if it was still 1983.  There has been a mind bending amount of money thrown away on this vanity project.  For example, a full page ad in the Sunday New York Times is $175,000 or so.  LA Times must run about $50,000.  The video shoots for all of this probably run another $50,000.  Two full length albums recorded with a big name producer from their father’s glory days is probably $25,000.  We are at $300,000 right now and God knows what has been spent previously.  The good news is that all this media spend has netted results… Big results.  By clicking over to the VSquared Facebook page, I discovered a grand total of 173 people “like” the band.  Holy mother of fuck.  This family dropped a quarter million dollars on dinosaur media and the result was 173 “likes”?  “Honey, you know what?  Let’s blow enough money to send the boys to USC for four years to promote them playing AC/DC covers at low rent pseudo talent shows.  That will be awesome!”  Can you imagine how many t-shirts and boxes of CDs are in their garage?  And I thought I had a lot of “Think Link Vol 2” records…

I really need to know about the parents.  Who are they?  What do they think is going to happen?  How delusional are they?  I’ve met parents of gawky teens that swear their kid on second string at the shitty suburban high school is going to Ohio State on a football scholarship.  That seems grounded by comparison.  The amazing circle of Awards to Band to University of Rock to Rock News On The Web that yields no real information, only illusion is incredible.  Who the fuck are these people?

It’s great to have enthusiastic parents, but wow has this gotten out of hand…  I have some really bad news for Dad.  If you want your normal little kids to make it in rock n roll, they need to get some of their own ideas, get away from you, jump in the van, and get their teeth kicked in for a while.  A real long while.  Then, if they get really, really good and get a few breaks, they might get lucky and not make any money and get to make music for the sake of making music.  They can travel, pick up some bad habits, make some great friends, and have experiences they can write songs about.  There’s no short cut.  Your quarter million bucks just proved it.  I will admit though, it is completely fascinating.  I can’t wait for their next record release!