Friday, September 28, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 3 Gent Sunday Matinee

It is pouring.  We have to meet the club owner's girlfriend to get access inside the club.  She is supposed to meet us at 11 so we can load out the backline into the van.  Unfortunately she is MIA, so Christoph and I just stand in the rain under a leaky canopy hoping she turns up.  I watch sullen women peddle past on bikes.  I send a series of text messages to our friend Bux who has a connection to the owner somehow.  Soon afterwards a grouchy petite woman gives us entry.  We walk in and discover that Leo, despite leaving the club at 5am, has failed to pack up his drums.  I send a text message to Sugar to yell for him to come over as I am not going back out into the downpour.  Leo cheerfully arrives to begin the work while the owner makes us an excellent quality coffee with the standard cookie on the side.  

The show today is at a new club called The Crossover, located right at the foot of a small bridge.  Bux set this up as a motorcycle event as he is ingrained into area enthusiasts.  The constant downpour will not be helpful to drawing motorcyclists.  Yet, as we load in we see a crowd gathering, many of which are wearing Hells Angels and Blue Angels MC colors.  It is a tough looking group of guys, any of them could be extras for Sons of Anarchy.  This is exactly the type of show that could go wrong for a minor cultural misunderstanding.  Yet, you have to do what you do on the stage.  "We must have a lot of Harley enthusiasts here today, right?  Triumph?  Let me tell you something.  Compared to my first bike, those are all pieces of junk.  Total shit.  My first bike blows all of yours away.  Mine was 100 percent plastic and made by the good people at Fisher Price.  It was a BIg Wheel." Then we go into "Big Wheel".  

At the end of that, I figure I will probably know if they will like us or if we are going to get beaten.  It is hard to get a feel for the room.  I think they sort of like us, but there is one guy that is completely disinterested, just looking at Facebook on his phone.  I spend the entire set trying to win over one Hells Angel sitting close to the stage.  I try to break out every circus trick I know.  We play fast ones, blues, hillbilly...  I am just not getting anything back.  It seems to be building steam with the rest of the room.  It is hard to believe it is Sunday afternoon.  The patrons are having a dizzying array of high powered Belgian beers.  When we finish, we get a strong call for an encore.  Frankly, if two motorcycle gangs want you to play an encore, you play an encore.  When we finish at last the Hells Angel guy gets up, walks over to the merch, and buys our records.  Dammit.  He liked it the entire time.  We autograph records and CDs for the next hour mingling with the crowd.

I had way too much beer over the last two days.  The bar offers cava, and that sounds really good to me right now.  Is it a good idea to drink cava in a beer bar with Belgian bikers?  It doesn't seem like it, but that's what I want right now so I go for it.  If you would have told me that I would have been having an in depth conversation on what it is like to be in a motorcycle gang while sipping a rose cava, I would not have believed you.  But I gotta tell you, this member of the Blue Angels was a straight up guy that was remarkably candid while maintaining a murkiness of detail to my increasingly in depth questions.  It was a fascinating conversation.  

When we load out a small incident that would have great consequence occured.  Leo gave me some "all" when we were pushing out Hector's road case and clipped my ankle.  It hurt, but not in a major way.  Little did I know the repercussions to come.  The sun mercifully breaks out for a moment and we drive over to Bux's farmhouse.  Bux has prepared a slow cooked beef stew all day and has amassed an impressive lineup of Belgian trappist, blonde, and wit ales.  I had purchased a bottle of small producer champagne from the biker bar (who knew they would carry that?) and Bux lets me open a Chateauneuf du Pape he has in his wine rack.  Everybody is pretty loose from an afternoon of La Chouffe, Piraat and Golden Draak.  Bux and his girlfriend Anna's hospitality is off the charts.  He has been amazing to us over the years but this trip is beyond even his high standards.  We finish the meal, put on some old punk rock records, and then head to his covered patio for the requisite deep fried delights.  We retire to the various bedrooms of the refurbished old stone farmhouse with full bellies and buzzed heads.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 2 Gent

"I´m sorry I peed on all your stuff."  So begins the ride to Gent.  I feel much more human after a decent night of sleep.  The key to these tours is to not fall behind on sleep.  If you cannot maintain a bare minimum of rest, you will break down and 14 cities in 14 days becomes a Bataan Death March.  Nobody wants to be moving around Europe in the van like a cholera victim.  We wind our way through back roads until finally getting on a Dutch highway.  Our pace is relaxed today after we all take turns arguing on the phone with a WOW Airlines representative about Leo`s lost luggage.  The woman appears to be unable to understand that we will have a new address each day and has a remarkably relaxed attitude about Leo missing most of his clothes and key equipment.  I listen to Leo getting bossed around for a couple minutes and have him pass the phone to me.  The woman spends most of her time telling me her process in trying to get his bag from Frankfurt to where we will be in Belgium for the next few days.  "Listen.  I need you to stop telling me how you are going to do this and just do it.  The only thing we care about is getting the bag in our hands by Monday.  It is Saturday.  Is there any reason you cannot get a bag to Gent by Monday?"  The representative continues to tell me about what process she will use, none of which has any bearing on the bag arriving.  I can see why Christoph had descended into angry German profanity with the woman in about 36 seconds.  I have no belief that he will see this bag in 2018.

We make a stop in a Dutch gas station.  They have a different gas station situation than the Germans, the most noteworthy of which is their "Wall of Deep Fried Delights".  An entire wall of the gas station is an automat with tiny little windows.  Patrons can place a 2€ coin in a slot and pull out whatever brown deep fried rectangle they desire.  I can't be sure but it appears to me that all the rectangles are made of the same meat spread which have been breaded in different shapes.  Person after person gets out of their cars armed with 2€ coins and a taste for culinary adventure.  There are about a dozen folks munching on deep fried brown sticks standing around a counter.  

The show is at a place called Jan Van Gent.  It is a small cafe with dark wood interior and tasteful candles at back room tables.  The club has provided us an apartment about 50 meters away and even gives us a nice quality bottle of iced cava as a welcome.  This offers stark contrast to most American clubs that want bands to "put your shit over there".  Hector is in culture shock.  Christoph and I take a corner bedroom upstairs which offers a quiet corner but also forces us to use the "straight edge stairs" to gain access.  The people of Belgium and Holland are full believers in creating staircases that have stairs thinner than a normal man's foot and angles roughly that of ladders.  Trying to navigate these stairs in cowboy boots hauling up a roller bag is a death defying feat.  There must be dozens of deaths weekly as senior citizens plunge to their doom on these staircases.  Come to think of it, I can't recall seeing anyone older than the age of 65 in days.  If I have more than one Belgian beer, this will be my final resting place.

There is great difficulty getting the sound dialed in.  We appear to have two options.  Either the system can squeal horribly forcing anyone within a mile to seek shelter, or I can have no vocals.  It is one or the other.  That's it.  At one point we get it close to something that seems workable, but the second I give the "OK", the man running sound immediately makes an adjustment that puts the vocal back to howling pain or silence.  Oh well.  We will see what happens.

The set is well received.  I have no idea if I am in key or even close to the band.  I just try to move around a little bit in my Two by two foot stage area.  My favorite person in the crowd is a balding thin man that would have been described in a 1973 movie set in Times Square as "an old fruit".  He is having the best time perhaps anyone has ever had at any public event.  He is dancing and moving around the club running his hands on everyone.  When we take a set break he starts tickling his hands up this English rock writer's back and neck.  He must pull this type of behavior so often and is so obviously harmless that everyone ignores him.  So as I am talking about the Drive By Truckers with this writer guy, in the background I see the smiling "old fruit" playing around with his hair.  The English writer guy keeps apologizing for him saying "we ran into him on the street, and he´s my friend and I knew he was drunk as shit.  I´m sorry.  He does this."  When we start up a second set I have my own personal #metoo moment as he runs his hand way up my thigh as I am singing.  He’s harmless, so I ignore him like everyone else.  When we kick into some high energy material, another man runs through the crowd, picks up a strange girl and then falls into the stage sprawling them both at Sugar and my feet.  It reminds me of when I was at an out of control Belgian Biker party years ago and a man said to me "there is much freedom here".  We are in Belgium, it is Saturday and there is a lot of freedom in this room.

After the show a DJ takes over which leads to Sugar launching her second consecutive "dance party", which as far as I can tell is her dancing by herself with a hazy smile unless some other people wander over to join in.  I see Leo and Chanda join in and then some locals get involved including a woman with black severe bangs that Sugar claims "tried to jam her tongue down my throat".  She is code named “Eva the Tramp”.  Leo falls in with some locals and gets intense.  I slink down the street to the band apartment hoping to high hell that I don't have to take a leak in the middle of the night and have to go down the straight edge stairs.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day One Wilhelmshaven

Wilhelmshaven is a small tough little town on the North Sea.  It feels like it could be an off shoot of Toledo.  Our booking agent Jens is based out of here, so we have played The Kling Klang club a number of times.  It is a place that feels vagely like home where working class people let off steam and drink too much.  The comparison is particularily strong today as the weather has turned gray and windy.

We are very late arriving.  In what should have been a five hour drive from the Frankfurt Airport, disappointingly it has turned into a near eight hour slog of stop and start.  This is especially brutal after a redeye flight in.  It is Friday early evening and I last slept Wednesday.  We roll up to the club and unload right into a soundcheck.  Chanda and I take the bags up to the club apartment while the band tries to figure out their rental gear.  The staff seems slightly annoyed but not outright hostile at our unbelievable lateness in arrival time.

The plan is to do one long set.  I write it out sitting on Leo´s drum stool pulling on a crisp Jever beer.  Jens is fully multi tasking, even running sound tonight.  It is a good sounding room.  I like playing here.  It is bizarre to have to play a set at full energy after almost a full day of total inactivity.  It is a challenging switch to flip.  There is a decent crowd assembled though, and they seem to remember us.  I didn´t know how that would go as it has been almost three years since our last tour here.  We kick it off and it feels good.

We are playing well and the crowd is responding in a typical German way of nodding heads and attentively watching.  People here notice small things.  I have been scolded more than once for flubbing lyrics or being flat on a chorus.  Still, I would rather have people engaged and paying attention than being background.  We play a 21 song set, even encoring with an energetic "Shah" after getting a nice ovation for an encore.  I jump off the stage and head back to the merch area to avoid an extended "one more song" situation that will never end.  Chistoph looks at me with his usual malaise to downplay our obviously well received set.  "Eh, it was all right.  I can see you have been working on dynamics."  He is referencing our last set here in which our volume was roughly that of Motorhead in 1982.

I am accosted by two very drunk German girls.  They have decided they want to buy my gig shirt for one of their boyfriends.  They have the drunk repetitious thing going on which is only compounded by a limited vocabulary of what one of the girls says is "schoolhouse German".  It doesn't bother me as I have no language skills to speak of.  I am just glad they aren't jabbing at me in German.  "You give us shirt.  We give you Euros, yes?"  I explain that I am not selling the shirt.  This has no impact.  "We give you twenty Euros, yes?"  They obviously know this is not going to be accepted, but are just having fun.  I then switch over to my one size fits all Eastern European voice and loop Christoph in.  “You take shirt.  We take girl and goat.  We take goat and make party."  The negotiations break down when the band dinner is mercifully served and I can escape the merch area.

I had signed a number of posters and LPs.  While doing so, people asked me where Leo and Sugar were as they could not locate them for their signatures.  I know with concrete certainty that Leo had made a beeline for the band apartment to get into the weed he had secured earlier.  Sugar had been fed Jager shots from the crowd, knocking back four in the set alone.  This seems much too aggressive, like breaking out in a sprint when embarking on a marathon.  Little did I know the chain of events that had just been set in motion thanks to the friendly couple that had decided to befriend Sugar.

After a nice meal of chicken and vegetables, I asked for an Ardberg scotch to help me mellow out so I could sleep.  I was in that overtired phase but still jacked up from the show.  I slunk off soon afterwards taking my mic bag upstairs to try and fall asleep before the inevitible "outside voice" of Leo arrives in the space.  There is no way he is going to let the party stop, especially on the first night of the tour.  Thankfully, I fall asleep in moments.

The band apartment is two rooms with bunk beds.  I take a lower bunk, "my bunk" from previous tours.  One of the challenges of touring is waking up in the middle of the night having no idea where you are.  It can invoke a slight panic until the mind can arrange the setting of the strange room.  I felt very pleased with myself.  I had arranged my luggage in a systematic manner on the floor nearby, ready to go when morning shone through. My world was set up perfectly.

I don´t know what woke me up.  I was in a deep sleep so even now it seems like a dream.  I remember what it thought was a blonde woman standing in the middle of the room near my suitcase.  We talked for a minute but I didn’t know who she was or what she was talking about.  I saw her suddenly squat down, with purpose.  Then I hear liquid hitting the floor.  This woman is peeing. It amuses me that she is so confused.  She must be peeing in the flowerpot housing the plant.  I fall back to sleep, never really waking up or understanding there is no flower pot.  And this is not a stranger in a dream.  And that woman is Sugar.  And she is peeing all over my luggage.

When I wake up in the morning I see a bunch of towels smashed up by my bag.  That is odd.  Then I step in something wet.  It then hits me that the strange dream I had wasn’t a dream at all.  Sugar pissed all over my luggage in a sleepwalking dream state.  Fuck.  A merciful Lord has spared most of my suitcase.  My mic bag wasn´t as lucky.  It is no way to start a morning pulling out pee soaked personal items from your bag.  Sugar wakes up and can't believe it.  She is embarrassed but doing the best she can in what I will call "The Attempted Reconstruction of My World".  At first she is in denial.  It begins to dawn on her that this actually happened.  She vaguely remembers getting towels to clean up what she thought was spilled water last night.  That is definitely not water.  "No!  It can`t be!"  Smell my bag.  "Ewwww".  There is no denying it.  This has happened.

It´s Day One and everything I own has urine on it.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Euro Tour 2018 Prelude

I have been in the last crush before this tour.  Everything has come to a head in one snarling chaotic tension filled froth.  I handle essentially everything.  Coordinating dates with the booking agent.  Pressing a special tour LP.  Printing different shirt designs.  Booking flights.  Coordinating van and gear rental.  Coordinating promotional efforts in a language and culture I barely understand.  I am the go-between for everything.  It’s a great deal for most people to handle on their own, much less working full time with the responsibilities of a semi-normal “adult” life. 

I look upon the other band members with some envy.  They only need to pack their bags, show up and it’s all been handled.  For example, the only thing Leo is required to do is get on the flight I booked for him and land in Frankfurt with a snare drum, cymbals, sticks and a bass drum pedal.  That’s it.  If you get down to it, he could buy a toothbrush and underwear when he got there.  I feel confident that he has almost no idea of any of our destination cities, much less clubs.  Sure, he probably knows we are playing some of our favorite places like Stuttgart, the Wild at Heart in Berlin and Finnegan Shinnegan.  He’s likely overheard talk about Bux setting us up in Belgium.  However, it’s all vague.  Whatever happens, happens.  This is why receiving a text message from Hector in Iceland saying “Leo didn’t bring his snare” was almost the death of me.

A drummer literally has four things to remember.  I had 117.  Yet at 1035p the night before departing, I suddenly had to try and find a snare drum in Northern Germany that we could use for two weeks.  I thought I was going to have a coronary.  I would have felt badly about my death having the tour cancelled, though I suppose it could have gone off with “Whiskey Daredevils featuring Greg Miller’s Corpse”.  While maybe not as exciting musically, this version of the band might have outdrawn us with more curiosity seekers checking it out.  I can see it now as one German sipped a long crisp pilsner, saying to his friend, “Diese Band mit dem toten Kerl war etwas besser als ich erwartet hatte.”  (That band with the dead guy was better than I expected)

This will be a point of bitter contention and arguing within the van for years.  Leo has taken the position that he told me well in advance that he was not planning on bringing his snare and would instead just get one from where we rent the gear.  This explanation is a bit shaky as I knew weeks ago that we would be getting the gear from a different source, and he might not have the opportunity to take a snare drum.  A snare is personal to most drummers, the key to their personal sound.  It’s like asking to borrow someone’s retainer.  Leo asking me to secure a snare would have stood out in a “you want to get you a snare?  Seriously?”.  He is firm in his position, confident of his memory, despite decades of evidence pointing to the contrary side of the argument.  It is very well documented that if Leo “remembers” something, it is likely a wild guess at what he hopes might have happened.  It will be a bitter dispute that will never be resolved, like the DMZ in Korea.

The real lesson is I need to relax.  I did all I could to try and make this trip successful.  The die has been cast.  I should at least capture a sliver of joy out of it.  The bottom line is that playing songs you wrote halfway around the world to enthusiastic music fans is incredibly fun.  It is absurd that I was ever able to do this, much less after all these years of already having done it.  I need to work more Leo into my head, something I never thought I would type.  It will all work out somehow.  It always does.  Leo knows it, so why don’t I?

I’m about to leave for the airport.  I will provide as full an accounting of this slam though Germany and Belgium as I am capable.  Look for the Euro Tour Diary 2018 in this space.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Nurse the Hate: John Lydon at LAX

I saw this photograph of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) yesterday landing at LAX Airport.  I would imagine you had a similar experience I did when seeing it, perhaps even muttering out a “wow” yourself.  The jokes popped into my head immediately.  Anarchy in the BK.  God Save the Dairy Queen.  Granted, Lydon is in a bit of an unfair situation.  Almost every photograph published of him is from 1978 when he was a lean 21 year old, the embodiment of personal freedom and the rebel spirit of punk rock. The point of comparison for Lydon as an amazingly overweight senior citizen in a track suit pulling his roller bag is especially cruel.  Let’s agree that it is an unfair situation.  However… 

Lydon is in LA to promote a documentary about his time in Public Image Ltd.  John is there on business.  John Lydon is in the “Johnny Rotten/John Lydon business”.  He only has two things he needs to do in that business.  1) He needs to be a grouchy iconoclast. 2) He needs to bear, at the very least, a passing resemblance to John Lydon.  That’s it.  That’s all he has to do.  He needs to tell some stories, say some outrageous things, and be the man the book is about.  He can’t show up like a fat old guy you feel sorry for because he gets winded walking the terminal to Cinnabon.  

I can already hear the apologists getting warmed up.  “That’s what makes him so punk!  He just doesn’t care about your expectations man!”  Stop it.  He didn’t become an enormous guy in a track suit because he was making a statement.  He became an enormous guy in a track suit because it was easier to eat shitty food and/or drink 11,000 beers than it was to maintain a semblance of his appearance.  To me the biggest tell is that he still has that orange dyed hair.  He lets it all go and essentially gave up, yet still keeps the orange hair.  If he wasn’t still putting a thin effort into being “rock and roll”, he would have just tossed on a little cap.  The orange hair lets you know that despite looking like a Benny Hill extra, he’s still “subversive”.

I watched an interview he gave yesterday on a digital platform I have never heard of with the director of the PiL documentary.  John gave it his best in his flannel shirt and sporty all black skater shoes, but with his fleshy face and accent he reminded me of an angry London wallpaper hanger that you stumble into a conversation with in a workingman’s pub.  “You a Yank, eh?  Wol I’ll tell ya bout these sods in powah.   Buying me a pint are you?  Noice!”  I couldn’t believe the transformation from even the Lydon of a few years ago.  The guy in this photo carries himself like an East End cab driver.      

I get it though.  It must be extremely tiring to pretend you’re still 24 when you’re at retirement age.  Can you imagine how many times Ronnie Wood must have thought, “Godammit, I don’t want to dye my hair black, toss it up in a rooster cut, and climb into these tiny size zero black jeans.  Can’t I just put on a pair of Dockers and get some fish and chips?  Can’t I just take a bus trip to a casino with people my own age and play video poker?”  It must be exhausting.  How many man hours are spent making Paul McCartney look like he is frozen in 1985?  Cher is a 72 year old woman.  She looks the same as she did 30 years ago.  She must be 85% plastic and wigs now.  However, no one is buying tickets to see a woman that looks like Granny Moses sing those terrible songs in a sports arena.  The illusion must be maintained for business.  Hell, even Elton John is in better shape and he's a disaster.

Maybe John Lydon is more punk than ever because he is confrontational and does what he wants.  It's a thin agrument, but it's an argument.  Still, I'll tell you this.  I am not paying to see a London wallpaper hanger try to belt out "Rise" in a track suit.  I would trust his opinion on Arsenal though. 


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 2

I’ve been busy this week trying to get my life together.  It’s been a full week of “rope a dope” as I take body blows trying to outlast my opponents and cobble together whatever constitutes something resembling a win.  Thank God for the illusion of control that sports gambling affords.  Sunday afternoons can once again be moments of self medicated peace as I rail against the injustice of an inevitable roughing the passer penalty that will cost me some hard earned American Green.  It’s the little things…  Now, onto the games.    

I have a hard time understanding what is going on in Buffalo.  The team made the playoffs last year for the first time since the War of 1812, and they immediately cut bait on Tyrod Taylor without a tangible plan.  I had to call Leo to see if he had become the GM over there, which would have been better than the current state in Western New York.  “Yeah…  we released Tyrod Taylor as QB…”  But Mr. Love?  Who is going to be the quarterback?  “Ah… Ah… Well… It’s a little fucked up.  But… It’s going to be great.  What the fuck were we talking about again?”.  This appears to be The Plan in Buffalo.  The Bills will have to choose between running Nathan Peterman out there, who I consider to be “The Poor Man’s DeShone Kizer”, or Josh Allen, who is a new version of “Rookie Blake Bortles”.  Neither of these options are conducent to winning football bets. 

The Bills are a much better team at home than that abortion they trotted out in Baltimore last week.  This is probably due to the fact that 40,000 dudes in beards have been drinking Labatt Blue and pissing in the woods surrounding the parking lots in Orchard Park since Thursday.  There is an angry blue collar Viking mentality that seeps onto the field that will probably freak out the SoCal vibe Chargers.  This might even last until the second half, at which point someone on the Charger sideline will realize “Hey, we’re playing the Bills.  Let’s win this and get back to LA and get organic free range hemp smoothies.”.  I don’t know how the Bills can score enough to keep pace with the Chargers in the event they score more than 7.

As the Chargers generally play poorly when going east playing at 1pm, I don’t love them giving the 7.5.  I don’t know why these guys can’t adjust to flying a few hours east.  I do red eyes over to Germany, drive around in a van, and then play a show after waiting around 8 hours and drinking 17 beers.  Then again, I don’t have a point spread on “OVER seven lyrical mistakes Miller in set 1”.  Regardless, I’m going to tease the Chargers with the Eagles. 

Philadelphia played that NFL Thursday night kickoff TV special clusterfuck that seems like 2 years ago.  Meanwhile Tampa stunned the Saints away last week with an improbable asskicking from the manly beard of Ryan Fitzpatrick.  I love Fitz and I love his flowing beard.  That beard makes you forget he’s a Harvard Man slumming it for some cash until he slides into some Old Boy Network finance gig to suck from the teat of Wall Street.  Fitzpatrick as an NFL QB is the same as me as a cowboy.  All are not as they appear. 

I think the Bucs spent this entire week giving each other high fives saying “Bro!  We won Sunday!” forgetting that the Eagles are coming in to break their bones.  The Eagles, even the Nick Foles Eagles, will bring Tampa back to reality this week.  I seem to recall the Eagles winning the Super Bowl last year, which suggests to me that they might be good.  The Eagles also have had an additional three days to rest and prep for this game.  I think the word most sportswriters will use to describe this game on Monday will be “dispatch” as in “The Eagles dispatched the Bucs Sunday”.  Chargers -.5/Eagles +2.5

The Redskins v Colts line has moved from Redskins -3 to Redskins -6.  Whenever you see a line move three points that quickly it means The Public has poured money onto one side.  I will continue to preach to anyone that listens that The Public doesn’t know anything.  A lifetime spent in advertising has taught me that no matter how stupid you think the general public is, you haven’t even begun to grasp the lack of basic reasoning out there.  Spend a few minutes and watch any video interview that is described as “Trump supporter defends president”.  That’s about half of the country that is armed with that type of brain.  Even as you read this there is a guy in a red MAGA ball cap that is shoveling money across a betting window on the Redskins.  His belief is that since the Redskins beat the shit out of an awful Cardinals team last week, they will beat the shit out of EVERY TEAM they play in the future.  This dope has no idea that the Colts were one freak play away from beating a good Bengals team last week and the Redskins are still the Redskins.  I’ll take the points here and assume that Vegas is once again fleecing The Rubes.  I’m not betting ON the Colts so much as betting AGAINST the wisdom of the American People.  Colts +6   

Season Record: 2-1

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Nurse the Hate: A Short Story About That One Night

When Victor and Christina came on the scene, things picked up.  They moved back from their Mom’s place downtown into their Dad’s place out here by the lake.  He wasn’t “on” the lake technically, but lived a few houses down on this access road where the neighbors were all cool and the cops left you alone.  It was close enough to the lake that the midges were a real pain in the ass and you could smell the white bass rotting on shore.  They had both moved in with him after he got that Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  I never met him when he was normal, but you could see glimmers of what he used to be like shine though for a while.  He got worse pretty quick but that summer he was OK and he never gave me any shit.

Victor was fun to party with, and we started hanging out over there so he could keep an eye on his Dad.  I was failing out at community college during the day and partying most nights.  I had a usual crew.  We would start out by rolling over there and getting a solid base going.  Victor would give his Dad a beer and put the Beach Boys on the stereo to keep him settled.  His Dad wandered around the house while “Good Vibrations” boomed out of the Pioneer speakers.  You had to put Beach Boys on or his Dad would fucking start to lose it.  Victor always played that Greatest Hist disc over and over.  

Victor’s sister Christina was sexy as fuck.  She kind of looked like Suzie Quatro, but there was no denying that she sort of looked like Victor in a wig.  Those two looked like twins but Victor was a year older.  They had that weird brother sister thing where they looked so similar that it was easy to imagine the other one with a flipped gender.  It used to fuck with my head.  She was quiet and would sit in the corner while most of the guys tried to impress her by doing stupid shit.  I hardly ever talked to her cause I never knew what to say. 

So we were over there like normal.  Good Vibrations is booming.  Victor’s Dad is mumbling the words to the song walking around the house holding a Stroh’s tallboy.  I’m with Mikey and Little Mikey, even though Little Mikey is a pain in the ass, but he drove so that was that.  I’m standing in the kitchen leaning against the counter drinking a beer and Little Mikey keeps blabbing about “This town is dead!  This town is so fucking dead!” and Victor is smiling like he always is saying “Maybe we should get some coke” and I’m already fucking bored.  Then Mikey starts to wrestle Little Mikey and Victor is doing some WWF announcer voice and I’m like “this again?” when Christina says to me “You like books?  You read, don’t you?”.  I’m like “I can’t believe Christina is talking to me” but I’m trying to play it cool and I say “Yeah” because I do read some, way more than these other assholes.  So then Christina says, “C’mon.  I want to show you my books.” and we walk down the hall to her room.

Christina walks me in there and shuts the door behind her, and I’m totally freaking out.  I’m thinking for sure Victor is going to go fucking apeshit because he is totally protective of his sister and he’s going to think I was doing some backhand shit.  Still, I’m trying to play it cool and all when she walks me over to this little bookshelf to show me her books.  She had some bullshit up there but it was kinda surprising bullshit like Tolkien and Vonnegut paperbacks and I’m leafing through it pretending to be really into it but really I’m freaking out trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do.  She is standing really close behind me and I can smell the soap on her, like really good smelling soap girls use, not like that Irish Spring shit.  And just like that we start making out.

It’s not that I’m not into it, it’s just that my head is still all wrecked from this girl I used to see named Lisa.  Lisa wanted to move to Montreal and wanted me to go, and I loved her but it’s not like I knew French so what was I going to do in Montreal?  She drops this ultimatum on me and says “Either you go to Montreal, or we are done”.  I don’t want her to go so bad my whole body starts to shake but I don’t want to look like I’m a bitch so I just look away and say “whatever”.  Now she’s gone in Montreal and I’m driving around getting fucked up with Mikey and Little Mikey thinking about her all the time, so when Christina starts making out with me I feel like I’m cheating on Lisa.  The last year has been like I’ve been in a car and I missed the exit I was supposed to get off at with Lisa but I just kept driving the wrong way and now I’ve driven too far to turn back around to get her.  What are you supposed to do when you get one chance in life and you fuck it up?  Then I start to roll around on the bed with Christina.  

At this point I’m thinking “this is fucking awesome” but at the same time I’m thinking “make out a little bit but don’t do anything else” as if that would be enough to keep Victor cool if he went mental on me and it wouldn’t really be like cheating on Lisa who doesn’t give a fuck about me at this point anyway.  Then it starts to really get going.  She’s rubbing my dick through my jeans and I’ve got her bra off and she looks fucking hot as hell and it’s all going really fast.  I pull off her jeans and she has this little black triangle of pubic hair and I’m like “holy shit” and say the dumbest thing ever “I don’t have a rubber”.  She is pulling me back to her and she whispers in my ear “get one out of my nightstand” so I start fumbling around blind with my left hand in that drawer while I’m kissing her and fingering her with my right hand and I’m not doing either very well.  I can’t find the fucking thing in that drawer.  I keep pulling out hair brushes and batteries.  She starts huffing in my ear “just put it in me!  Just put it in me!”  and I just say fuck it and I do it.

It feels so fucking good I can’t believe it and I’m almost having an out of body experience thinking “holy shit I’m fucking Christina” while I hear Mikey and Little Mikey and Victor all yelling about shit over the fucking Beach Boys outside the door.  Christina’s facial expression changes, like she loses this edge she always has on her.  She looks younger or something, like she took a mask off.  It’s like she decided to show me who she was, like she decided to take a chance with me because she trusted me and then that’s when things get fucked up.

Little Mikey starts banging on the door and he’s laughing it up and is like “Hey man!  Let’s go!  We’re leaving!  We are bolting like right fucking now!”  So for some reason my first thought is “man, that’s my ride” but at the same time I’m still fucking Christina but the magic is all gone because I can hear those guys saying shit to Victor like “I think he’s fucking your sister in there man” and then I just pull out of her.  Boom.  There’s like this one moment where we both sort of look at each other and I’m like “oh shit” cause I know this is really bad.  I start to mumble some excuse about “sorry umm he’s my ride” as I’m putting my boner in my underwear and somehow she’s the one embarrassed even though I’m the one who just did the most asshole thing ever.  She covers herself up with the sheet and I can see she’s trying really hard not to cry but tears are welling up and she’s mad at herself because she doesn’t want me to see that.  I’m so ashamed at myself I’m practically running out of the room because I totally humiliated Christina who is probably nicer to me than anyone at this point but she doesn’t know it’s not her and that I’m still in love with Lisa and I’m scared shitless of her brother and it’s not her fault because I’m totally this fucked up broken person anyway.  I just bolt like an asshole.

Mikey and Little Mikey are out in the kitchen and start to give me a hard time and Victor is like “what the fuck dude?” and Victor’s Dad is just staring at me saying the words to “Surfin USA” which is screaming out of the speakers and I practically run past them to the car.  I climb in back too, and don’t even try to get shotgun so when Mikey and Little Mikey get in the car Mikey knows something is fucked up.  Little Mikey is a dick like always and when we pull out of the driveway he’s like “let me smell your finger dude!” and starts laughing like a fucking hyena and Mikey smacks him and says “chill the fuck out man”.  I don’t say shit the whole drive over to some guy’s place that Little Mikey thinks has coke but he doesn’t so we listen to Skynyrd and drink beers and listen to Little Mikey scream “This town is fucking dead!”. 

I try not to think about that night anymore but I still do.     

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week One

Week one of the NFL means the official start of Gambling Season for me.  I absolutely love betting on NFL games.  It’s like a weekly puzzle to solve while also undeniably providing me with the false sense of purpose.  As my plan to become the Baron of Tasmanian Sparkling Wine in the late 1800s has hit a snag, I now need to provide focus on the dream of one massive windfall thanks to an otherwise meaningless late field goal by the Texans.  We all have dreams.  I am going to need cash to fulfill my destiny as the melancholy man in the exquisitely tailored suit smoking cigarettes in a stately Hong Kong hotel lobby bar.  I guess I’d have to start smoking too, which seems counter intuitive for a man of my now advanced years.  I can worry about that later I guess.  First I need to string together a few winners if I’m going to wander around grand old hotels in Asia.  Hong Kong ain't cheap, and neither are those tailored suits.  I'm going three piece too, so I can put a pocket watch in my vest.  "Heavens, look at the time.  Have Kwan fetch my trunks.  Call The Peninsula and have them reserve my table.  I'm hoping to dine with My Muse this evening."   That scenario has to be better than selling TV spots in Ohio.

Let’s discuss the Browns game this Sunday.  I was privy to an interoffice email from a stocky yet energetic TV weatherman in which he described the weather bearing down on the Browns v Steelers game Sunday afternoon as “the worst forecast I have seen for a game in my 16 years here including snow events.  I have no idea how anyone will be able to sit in the stands, much less play a football game.  Expect 4-5 inches of rain and 20-40 mph gusts.” 

First, let’s go on record and say it is never a good idea to attend a Browns game in person as the stands are filled with dangerous alcoholic degenerates each attempting to see how low they can set the bar for basic human behavior.  I’m surprised that most of the end zone sections don’t spend the game making guttural noises and throwing feces at each other like chimpanzees.  To spend three hours doing that in a Biblical rain storm?  No thanks.  Beyond that basic point, it is important to note that wind, not rain or snow, is the strongest indication of low scoring football.  You can’t throw it accurately in the wind, which means lots of running plays, which means short gains, which also means the clock keeps running. 

When I received that weather email I immediately excused myself from a meeting to load up on the BROWNS UNDER 44.5 and contacted many of my associates to urge them to do the same.  That line has already moved to 41.5 as of Friday late afternoon, and I suspect will continue to drop when The Public learns of our fate here in NE Ohio.  While you all are trying to find a high point total today, I will be building an ark in preparation of building the New World with my winnings.

I am going to take the Bengals.  Not only that, I am going to take the Bengals on the road, give up the points and take the money line.  This is normally an indication that a person has gone mad.  I will admit that the winds have picked up here and the constant battering against the house have taken a toll on my nerves.  I may have gone quite mad, but hear me out.  Public opinion has decided the Bengals are now awful.  They are not awful, but in fact dwell in that NFL Middle Class of teams that will hover between 7-9 wins.  Meanwhile, I am not sold on Andrew Luck being 100% healthy.  The Colts had great difficulty moving the ball in the preseason, and the Bengals roll in with a solid defense.  I just don’t see a guy playing his first real game in 2 years being able to score enough against a Cincinnati team that has legitimate skill position players.  My concern is that Marvin Lewis tries to get cute with the coaching, but at +140 it’s worth a flier.  This all could be madness induced from The Winds though, so caveat emptor.  Cincinnati money line +140.

Each season it is assumed that the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.  I believe that is because the Patriots have won the AFC East every year since the horseless carriage was introduced by Thomas Edison shortly after he landed at Plymouth Rock.  It’s true.  Look it up.  However, this is a team that is not great out of the gate.  They have won 65% of their September games while notching a crisp 85% of December games in the Brady era.  The Hoodie figures out what his team can and can’t do early in the year.  That’s why I love the Texans +6.5.  It’s week one so Deshaun Watson isn’t hurt yet.  The Texans had the #5 offense in football with Watson at QB last year.  When anyone but Watson is QB, they dropped to dead last.  Eventually the Texans will have their dreams crushed when Watson gets horribly mangled and Brandon Weeden comes in to perform The Full Weeden, but for now, they should be a good team.  This game seems like a FG will decide it to me, so I’m taking the points.  Houston +6.5

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL WIn Totals Bets 2018

I have had great success betting season win totals in the NFL.  It's one of my few skills.  The key in these bets is looking for teams that have too much hype, or had too many things break their way in the previous season.  Human nature runs towards people believing that whatever happened in the past will repeat itself, and in something as chaotic as football, that is rarely the case.  There is great pleasure to be had in identifying a team that will underperform and then revel in weekly failure from that team. I enjoy smugly watching a team I don’t care about lose, inching me ever closer towards a financial windfall.        

One of these teams is the Buffalo Bills.  I have no idea what the fuck they are doing in Buffalo.  They cut Tyrod Taylor with no real plan at QB.  They sign AJ McCarron.  They then draft “the project QB” Allen, who looks dodgy at best.  They then trade McCarron to presumably hand the offense to that guy Peterman that tossed five interceptions in the first half of his only start last year.  This does not fill me with great confidence that the front office has a plan beyond daily gut reaction.  Their GM must be an off the rails coke dealer.  Hell, they gave the Browns a draft pick for a guy that demonstrably can’t catch and cut him two weeks later.  Now they’re on the hook to Coleman for 3 million too.  Does this seem like a team poised for success?  Buffalo UNDER 6 wins.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis must not have any close friends to let him know how absurd his haircut looks.  If he had friends they also would have stopped him from giving TV personality Jon Gruden $100 million dollars to coach.  Am I the only one that noticed that Gruden won that Super Bowl 16 years ago with Tony Dungy’s guys?  He’s been doing Hooters ads and screaming into TV mics creating his “brand” while the NFL has marched on.  Meanwhile the Raiders have gotten back to their bread and butter of signing players from the scratch n' dent bin as opposed to replenishing the roster with young talent.  I’m not sure why they didn’t want to spend on Mack, arguably the best defensive player in the league, when their defense completely sucks.  It seems inevitable that the draft picks they got from Chicago for Mack will turn into a speedy receiver that will catch 11 passes in two dreadful seasons and a kicker.  I’m not sure who besides Cooper will make a play on offense.  The Raiders have to play KC/SD/Denver twice and they’ll go 1-5 against that lineup.  This is a gimme.  Raiders UNDER 8 wins.

No one has ever lost money betting against the Browns.  There is an unreal amount of optimism about the Browns.  This is fool’s gold.  The Browns have secured some legitimate NFL players on the roster, which is a complete novelty in Northeast Ohio.  The sentiment appears to be that since there are some legit players, the team will flourish.  I would like to point out that this team has gone 1-31 in the last two years, and improvement is relative.  They will be competitive in streaks, but only if they remain freakishly healthy and Hue Jackson stays out of the mix.  I am convinced that Hue Jackson could take the 85 Bears and go 7-9.  He is an awful coach and will probably be ousted in a coup d’etat by his hard ass assistants by Halloween.  Tyrod Taylor was cut loose from the Bills despite them having no legitimate option at QB.  Yet, NE Ohio seems to believe that the Browns signed Steve Young.  Taylor will be injured or on the bench by Week 6.  Don’t let the glow of HBO’s Hard Knocks fool you.  This is a team in the bottom third of the league where 5-11 will seem like a Super Bowl season but will still give you a winning ticket.  Browns UNDER 6 wins.