Friday, January 29, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The Bull Shark Dive Idea

So I have made arrangements to dive with Bull Sharks.  When I saw the advertisement, I thought it was a mistake or some sort of deceiving ad claim.  It seems like a remarkably bad idea if it was true.  These sharks are generally bad news like Def Leppard coming on the radio.  Also like Def Leppard, Bull Sharks have a Wikipedia page.  It says the following:  The bull shark is known for its aggressive nature, and predilection for warm shallow water.  They are probably responsible for the majority of near-shore shark attacks, including many bites attributed to other species.  A maximum size of 11 feet and 400 pounds is commonly reported.  They may be more dangerous to humans than any other species of shark, and along with the tiger shark and great white shark, are among the three shark species most likely to bite humans.”

The good news is I have now made arrangements to dive with some guy named Alvaro into the ocean where these bull sharks congregate at around 70 feet.  I should also note that we will not be in a shark cage, but rather completely out in the open.  Just a couple guys swimming around on the bottom of the ocean with some sea monsters.  I will also be diving with nitrox which will allow for greater time spent in the water and allow for a controlled ascent, or being able to hide from a big aggressive monster in a cave for a while if necessary.  This is about the scariest thing I can think of to willingly do, which is of course why I immediately committed to the trip.

If headlines show up in your news feed like “Jackass Tourist Loses Leg To Shark” or “Man Loses Both Arms In Shark Diving Mishap”, there is a pretty good chance it was me.  Still, as long as I don’t die or lose my limbs, a nice shark bite is just the thing I need to start out my 2016.  This will become my entire focal point as I will weave it into every single social interaction I have from that point on.  I can see myself now, walking into a crowded room trying to loosen up my shoulder.  “What’s the matter?  Did you sleep wrong?”  No, it’s just this damn shark bite left my with a lot of scar tissue that hasn’t broken up.  Oh, you didn’t know I was bitten by an 11 foot bull shark in the Gulf?  Here’s what happened…  (Eyes roll, people that have heard the story 117 times struggle to get out of the immediate area, almost stampeding one another to prevent hearing the increasingly grandiose tale spun yet again…)

I am really excited about seeing nature’s perfect predator in its natural habitat.  Sharks have such grace, power and beauty.  The challenge of keeping my cool while something that dangerous comes to check us out is exhilarating.  And really intimidating.  This is a test that is clearly pass/fail and I will not fail. The key to the entire thing is to not freak the fuck out and start flailing around.  Keep it together, stay still on the ocean floor, and don't make any aggressive moves.  They are like enormous dogs.  Well, enormous dogs that can kill you and have evolved over millions of years to be perfect at it.  The allure of seeing this gigantic amazing creature up close is the draw for me.   

Now, don’t be mistaken, I do not want to see this predator so close that it makes me a meal.  Between you and I, if it makes a meal out of Alvaro while I swim away quietly like a coward, I can live with that.  Sorry Alvaro.  I’m sure I will come up with some cover story that sounds believable enough to CNN.  Sure, the locals there will know I left a man behind, but what are the odds that the network sends a translator?  Budgets are tight in media now, and most of these reporters are following Trump around anyway.  I will play the odds on this one.  (this will be the line quoted in my obit by the way)

I will post a full report soon…

Friday, January 22, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The Miami Storm

By the time the fever had begun to sink in I was completely committed.  I was one of a handful of people flying into the hurricane watch zone while the rest of the Orlando Airport was nervously heading north.  I sat at the airport bar at a bit of a crossroads.  The chill had begun to sink into my bones and I knew the next four hours of travel would be somewhere in the range of “unpleasant” to “slightly preferable to death”.  I decided that if I had a couple of whiskies it would provide some sort of medicinal relief to allow me to travel the rest of the way to my wildly discounted Miami hotel room.  It was a gamble.  

I sipped the whiskey watching the worsening weather reports in the background.  People had nervous eyes.  It reminded me of footage I had seen of journalists killing time in African nations at hotel bars during coup d’état violence waiting to see which side would win.  Being resigned to absorbing whatever bad news is coming your way does provide a certain freedom.  Anything less than the worst case scenario is a pleasant surprise.  Once the realization is met that no possible action or planning will help, that brief calm before the disaster is actually a nice moment.  It’s like that serenity when you’ve lost control of the car and you’re waiting for impact.  The cards are all on the table.

The flight to Miami didn’t cancel.  I boarded the plane.  The flight had several delays.  The five other passengers had begun to get edgy.  Thunderstorms made it impossible to take off.  The temperature in the plane increased.  The air became very heavy and stale.  I had begun to have chills.  By the time we took off, I was in declining health.  The nearly abandoned Miami airport was a foggy blur as I slowly plodded to get a cab.  I couldn’t understand much of what the cabbie said though his thick Haitian accent beyond his surprise I was traveling towards what was expected to be the epicenter of Superstorm of the Century.  He dropped me off at the hotel and I made my way up to the room to hopefully sleep off the sickness.  There were confusing instructions at the front desk of what to do if the situation deteriorated completely.  I was very sick now.  I had to get to a bed.

While the hurricane technically missed Miami, the impressive storm made the hotel tower sway.  Sheets of rain pummeled the windows.  I was deep in a fever, twisting in my sweat on the bed.  It was impossible to get comfortable.  I was in a state somewhere between sleep, fever, and unconsciousness.  Dreams and reality merged.  It was one of the worst fevers I’ve ever had.  I woke up briefly at 3am.  Palm trees bobbed back and forth in the heavy winds.  Lightning flashes made the world electric blue gray momentarily before sinking back to dark.  I closed my eyes again.  I woke up 11 hours later with the fever gone and a massive headache.  The storm had passed.  

My muscles were all sore from convulsing in chills the night before.  I walked to the lobby looking for something to drink.  A waiter left to fetch me an orange juice as I unsteadily made my way to the pool area.  Two men faced the large task of clearing all the storm debris and worked with the sluggish pace of a never ending task.  I knocked some palm fronds off of a lounge chair.  I sat in the sunshine.  The warmth of the sun felt good on my skin.  The waiter brought the juice, maybe one of the single best beverages I have ever had.   I turned my face into the sun.

An older man sat down two chairs to my left.  He gave a little huff as if gauging my interest in conversation.  Another moment passed.  He spoke up.  “Heck of a storm, huh?”  Yeah.  I slept through most of it I think.  I got some kind of a fever.  “Fever?  Huh…”  Another couple moments passed.  “Where you from?”  I’m from Cleveland.  I thought I’d get some sun for a couple of days.  It hasn’t gone according to plan.  “My first wife was from Cleveland.”  Oh yeah?  “Yeah.  She was the best piece I ever had.  Seriously.  The best piece.  She left me though.  For some French guy.  She lives in Paris now.  She sent me a letter once.  Told me that I treated her like shit and how happy she was with him now.  Fucking bitch.”  

Huh.  Where did she meet the French guy?  This guy looked like a manufacturer’s rep for sockets or something.  The waiter came back over and asked if I wanted another juice.  I did.  The older man declined to order anything.  We watched the waiter walk away.  “OK.  I gotta go.”  The man got up with a grunt.  He turned after taking a step.  “Hey, my first wife didn’t really leave me for a French guy.  It was some guy she worked with.  I thought you should know.”  Oh.  That’s OK.  He seemed relieved.  The man walked away.  The waiter came over a minute later with an identical juice to the first one.  It wasn’t nearly as good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nurse the Hate: RIP Glenn Frey

I was horribly shaken by the death of Glenn Frey, and by “horribly shaken” I mean almost completely unaffected.  There aren’t too many celebrity deaths that merit more than an “Oh?  He died?” as I have already painstakingly noted earlier when I was equally unaffected by the death of Lemmy, David Bowie, BB King, etc.  I did not know Glenn Frey.  I do not know anyone that was particularly close with Glenn Frey.  I refuse to become upset about someone that is at the very least three full degrees of separation from me.  Example:  “Wow, this Glenn Frey thing really threw me for a loop.  I know how upset Nancy is who is Glenn’s sister-in-law’s dental hygienist.  I better give her a call…  I’m devastated as she is devastated by how devastated Glenn Frey’s sister-in-law is right now…  The whole thing is devastating.”.

I do have a theory.  There are two potential reasons to be upset if you are not in the immediate family circle.  If the loss that is felt is primarily over future music that you feel was robbed from you and the world, I challenge you to produce a copy of Glenn Frey’s 2012 “After Hours” record (which I only know exists because I looked it up).  Let’s not lose our minds here.  That isn’t really it.  Isn’t the only real reason anyone is upset is that it signals their own mortality?  They listened to the Eagles in their dorm room and considered the band contemporaries.  The death of Glenn Frey means that you could die too.  Anytime.  Just like he did.  Yikes.

I’m pretty callous.  I’m aware.  If this piece went viral, I’d have all kinds of Eagles fan clubs on my ass.  Oh, I would be justifiably vilified.  I feel I can be very cavalier about the Glenn Frey thing as I worked at a couple of classic rock stations from 1993-2004.  I heard “Life In The Fast Lane” every day for over a decade.  If I ever hear “New Kid In Town” again it will be too soon.  I stood around the “WNCX Prize Wheel” while rubes tried to win worthless prizes as “Tequila Sunrise” played on the speakers 687 times.  I’ve had more than my share of The Eagles and Glenn Frey.  To me he is nothing more than a consumer product I have been force fed since 1973.  Glenn Frey’s music=Diet Coke=Chrysler LeBaron=Snickers.  He’s just “a thing” to me.  I’m sure his loved ones and associates are upset.  I feel badly about that.  Well, conceptually I feel badly about that.  I’d feel worse if I knew you personally.  It’s just that I have only had two marginal encounters with The Eagles beyond hearing “Hotel California” 73,509 times.

I worked with a guy that was in a band that opened for the Eagles on their second victory lap tour in the 90s, which I believe they called the “We Are Charging As Much As We Think We Can Get Away With” Tour.  The gig was in an enormous college football stadium.  The Eagles had taken over the home AND visitors locker rooms for dressing rooms as the five guys in The Eagles would obviously require a facility built to comfortably house 200 college football players in full equipment.  This placed the opening band in the referee locker room, which was snug but adequate.  Prior to their soundcheck the opener had a meeting with the Eagles tour manager.  “Don’t leave this immediate area unless someone from the tour is escorting you.  You are not to go anywhere until we guide you to the stage.  Also, in the off chance that Mr. Henley or Mr. Frey walks into this area on their way elsewhere, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT with either Mr. Henley or Mr. Frey.”  My friend laughed as he assumed it was a joke.   The tour manager frowned at him.  It was not a joke.  Uh-oh.

Mere mortals were not allowed to gaze upon these rock Gods with their naked eyes, even if they opened for them.  Now, I don’t know if this was management creating this policy because they were so sick of those guys bitching about anything/everything to them, or if it was an “artist request”.  I like to think it was yelled through a slammed door at the beleaguered tour manager by either Henley or Frey, but I’m taking some artistic license there.  Maybe it was because of the mountain of cocaine those guys did in the glory days made them edgy.  Who knows…  Such are the ways of corporate rock.  

My only other contact with The Eagles was when I was at Kent State.  Joe Walsh is a Kent State grad.  Well, I don’t think he graduated.  I think he lived in the dorms for a spell while he played gigs at JB’s with The James Gang.  Regardless of his lack of academic achievement, that loose association with the university was enough for the school to ask him if he wanted to be grand marshal in the homecoming parade.  Amazingly, Joe Walsh agreed and actually showed up.  I was a little helper guy.  I cannot ever recall seeing someone that fucked up at 930am before or since.  I had to take him by the arm to guide him to the car.  I will say that Joe was quite pleasant, but more in the manner of a really good dog as opposed to a human being because I don’t think he was capable of speech that morning.  Had I known that “don’t gaze upon us with your naked eyes” policy of The Eagles, I would have asked if he was allowed to look at those guys.  Maybe he could have nodded “yes” or “no”.  

As you can see, my Eagles association is limited at best.  I will carry on as best I can.  The Glenn Frey passing is more evidence that none of us will live forever.  Damn.  I will tell you this though.  If there is an afterlife and I run into Glenn Frey lingering around the pearly gates, I’m looking him dead in the eye.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Nurse the Hate: NFL Playoffs

Detroit is a bleak city.  I am not sure if I should admire the tendency of the city for flag waving or to laugh out loud at the absurdity.  Detroit a number of years ago decided that they would pretend all their glaring deficiencies were actually rallying points and enthusiastically threw themselves into a campaign of self-promotion (or delusion depending on your point of view).  Like a real estate flier, urban blight was no longer to be ignored but declared “gritty” and “real”.  Area residents aren’t dangerous mental patients but “colorful locals”.  The economy isn’t flimsy.  It’s “an opportunity for growth”.  It sort of reminds me of those enormous women that are always involved in burlesque.  They can offer all the stage smiles and flashy costumes they want, but we all see what’s going on there.   

As far as a recording destination, it’s as good as any other.  We could be on the surface of the moon.  The entire weekend will be spend in two windowless rooms wearing headphones tweaking details on music that no one will ever notice but us.  Just to humor me, please tell me that you appreciate how we got the ring out of the ride cymbal on the new record.  It will make me feel better and help lesson the creeping feeling that it’s only a fool’s errand I’m on.

That being said, I will miss most of the NFL Playoff games this weekend.  That’s a shame, as I always love the divisional round of the playoffs.  This is when it is really getting down to it and most of the straw dogs have been weeded out.  Everyone left in the playoffs has a legitimate scenario in which they can win the whole thing, though some have a much more believable story than others.  I will wager on these games, as not to is some sort of admission of a lack of American manhood.  I look forward to glancing at my computer for scoring updates while doing the ninth scratch vocal to “Wheels Go Round” sometime late this afternoon.  I have no choice but to bet on all of these games, so here we go…

Kansas City at New England:  I like this game for one simple reason.  The casual fan is under the impression that New England has never lost a game and will never lose a game.  They may have even heard that New England is coming off of a bye week, though they might not know what that actually means.  It sounds good though and it must mean New England is going to win again because they ALWAYS win.  Meanwhile Kansas City has very quietly become a dominant team.  The Playoffs are all about who is playing well at the moment.  New England is a shell of the team that it was in October when they actually did look unbeatable.  I think Kansas City is going to win this game outright, as Andy Reid isn’t going to get outclassed by Hoodie.  Still, I will take the points anyway…  Kansas City +5.

Green Bay at Arizona:  The national media has spent all week jacking themselves off because the Packers beat the Redskins.  Am I the only one that remembers the Redskins slithered out of a horrible NFC East?  This week it’s Arizona, and that team is a friggin monster.  As far as I’m concerned, the Cardinals are the team to beat.  Carson Palmer has won 26 of his last 31 starts.  Arizona has been covering the spread at a 2-1 clip with this current incarnation of the team.  Meanwhile the Packers are 2-11 ATS as an underdog.  Let’s not dance around the issue.  The Packers, who have looked shitty for two months, didn’t suddenly get good after beating the Redskins.  That team has problems all over the field and a really good QB.  Arizona has allowed 6 100-yard rushers in the last 43 games.  You think Eddie Lacey is going to get off the couch and roll for 150 today?  I sure don’t.  Arizona -7.

Seattle at Carolina:  This is the game of the weekend.  Seattle is peaking right now at exactly the right time.  Carolina appears to be sliding down over the last three weeks.  I will level with you.  I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen here.  Seattle plays well in December, against winning teams, at home, on the road, etc.  They are just a really good team.  Carolina is 18-8 at home against the spread.  They have outgained their opponent in 19 of their last 23 games, though being outgained in their last two weeks.  Seattle is 19-5 straight up against underdogs.  Confused yet?  I am.  What the hell.  I will take the home team.  Carolina -2.5

Pittsburgh at Denver:  It seems impossible that Pittsburgh wins this game.  They didn’t play a game last week so much as survive a medieval battle to the death with the Bengals.  Roethlesberger has a torn shoulder.  Antonio Brown is probably having a skull operation right now.  I have no idea who is starting at running back.  I just can’t see how they come back after that bloodbath last week and summon up the strength to do that again.  If they do, it will be one of the most amazing feats in sports this decade.  Denver -7.