Does this beard make me look fat

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marty Mc Fly's Nike's or how Buffalo Bill stays lit

I know this guy and we'll call him Samson. Samson sells weed. Not by the boat or truck or bale load but enough to warrant a lengthy stay in any one of our country's fine correctional facilities. I asked Samson if he ever considered the possibility that the law of average would indicate he may very well get arrested one day? Samson didn't like this. Samson told me that "players and hustlers don't think like that. It gets in the way of the game. And just my bringing up the notion was bad enough." The only reason I even mentioned it to Samson was I'd be greatly concerned about Samson's abilities to hold his own in the penitentiary and that all the things you only saw in prison movies and heard mentioned in NWA lyrics would most certainly befall upon Samson within his introductory week of incarceration.

I asked Samson why he doesn't just give up "the hustle" now, while he's felony free and unversed in sodomy? Samson says it comes down to shoes. His shoe fetish is a lavish one that can only be satiated through the procurement of more Nike's and Jordan's. His dream is to buy a pair of the replicas of the shoes Michael J. Fox wore in Back To The Future, but he says he'd have to sell weed for the next decade to be able to afford them. I had to find a picture of these highly coveted shoes, and they are in fact, hideous and reek of geek from a minimum of 10 yards. They tell the onlooker "Yes, I know what a jigawatt is. And yes, I have a gold medal in masturbation." But I can't throw footwear stones cause I wore Doc Martens for the better part of the nineties and Doc's say "Yes I'm edgy and yes my parents bought me these boots. Now hand me my nose ring."

Over the years I have referred some people to Samson. I don't especially care for this at all as I'm the poster boy for squares. I don't smoke anything, don't drink all that much. My only verifiable vice is caffeine and it is a monkey I continue to try to shake yet manages to fling pooh, start working the hand cymbals only then to jump right back on my back and instruct me to order something vaguely Italian sounding with a shit ton of superfluous words that could be boiled down to "coffee, with milk and sugar." So when I refer any future clients to Samson, I do so with the best intentions coupled with zero accountability for how bizarre or text book druggie they might turn out to be.

Take Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill is a friend of a friend of a friend who moved to town and needed to be on an altered mental plane to deal with a town that boasts a pyramid, towering clown and a pirate ship as landmarks. I referred Buffalo Bill to Samson who discovered Bill was a cross dresser with a hard cold Star Wars penchant. But he didn't love Lucas' intergalactic money maker in it's entirety. No, his adoration was solely focused on Darth Maul. This love is demonstrated and displayed by Bill's Darth Maul tattoo that spans the better length of his arm. And the cross dressing? Bill routinely opens his front door in panty hose, hastily applied make up and do-rags, which is a weird pile up of hip hop fashion, gender bending and Star Wars geek on the highway of life. Samson's thoughts: Buffalo Bill's a weirdo but his money spends like anyone else's.

Another guy I referred to Samson was a guy we named Dapper Dan for his affinity for slicking his hair back in the same fashion that George Clooney does in "O, Brother Where Art Thou". Clooney used the fictional hair pomade "Dapper Dan", hence the name, "Dapper Dan". I worked with Dapper Dan, and he seemed alright. So I sent him to Samson. Samson said Dapper was an alright guy. That is, till Samson went to Dapper's house recently and the strangest thing I've ever heard transpire in the midst of a drug deal occurred. Samson and Dapper had smoked some of Samson's self-proclaimed heroically potent weed when Samson got up to head for the door. Dapper got up behind him and told Samson to hold up a second. As Samson turned around, Dapper grabbed Samson's butt.

Now, I don't know if it was a pinch, or a full on hands on both cheeks stereo grab of user on dealer sexual harassment, or just a blink and you'd miss it poorly thought out attempt at joking around. But Samson had to inquire as to what the intention of the pinching of his derrière by his client was, which sounded exactly like "Dude, did you just grab my ass?" Dapper could only blame his badly received pass on the potency of Samson's weed. Samson left immediately and called me. I had to ask if this meant Dapper would be cut off? Do dealer's have a code of conduct or policies that are in place as to circumvent the occurrence of such acts? If this was workplace harassment, does that mean Dapper's living room, festooned with black light posters, KFC buckets and X-BOX 360 games is Samson's workplace? Is a 10% fee for contending with future pinches absurd? Samson said he'd still take care of Dapper but he'd no longer go to Dapper's home as he couldn't count out the possibility of anything else happening. I told Samson to keep his back to the wall at all times, then he'd be good. He said that's an idea.

I hope Samson gives up the hustle and bustle of selling weed. I told him to get a job at Footlocker, then he'd get great discounts on shoes and he'd be making an honest dollar. He said you can't buy a Benz with money made selling Keds. Samson offered to put me on "the payroll. I told him I wouldn't make a good dealer. I'd spend my time telling people to eat more fruit and vegetables, less processed meat and to phase out the marijuana. I would however openly encourage them to try angel dust as I've read it's the closest you'll ever come to having super powers.

Love yer high on life pal, LMF

Monday, August 15, 2011

Naiveté in the face of Cherry Pie

Jani Lane, the former singer of Warrant, died last week somewhere in a Comfort Inn, somewhere in California. I stopped celebrating Jani's music sometime after the 7th grade, so I can't say I was heartbroken but it did remind me of my brief hair metal fandom and how all signs indicated I wasn't long for a world ruled by leather trousers adorned with codpieces, men with pursed lips and Tom Keifer. Tom Keifer is the lead singer of Cinderella. Tom was created in a lab by combining the DNA of an ugly woman and a Steven Tyler scarf for he is both not a looker and dresses like a gypsy.

Hair metal was mostly tuned to the frequencies emitted from eager groins and that was never disputed. Yet all the sexually charged innuendo flew high over my head as my naivete is strong and knows no limits. I watched the video for "Cherry Pie" and thought, "These guys must really love desert, particularly cherry pie." Or my enormous poster of Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue wearing a shirt that said "Suck it". I'd look at the poster of Nikki and think "Yeah Nikki, you tell em' to suck it, whoever they happen to be and regardless of what "it" was."

You got the sense that hair metal bands lacked quality control, or any inkling that their demise was nigh with the release of Nevermind. And why or how could they? They were occupied with more pressing issues like fitting into leather pants, shipments of Aqua Net by the crate full, and stretching the traditional limits of mother and daughter relationships. And yet, for all the glory Warrant and their ilk enjoyed for the lion's share of the 80's and sliver of the nineties, there's was a temporal sound simply because it was all groin based, lacking thought or sincerity. It breaks down like this:

If the Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Radiohead, Tool, etc...are the brains of music; Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, etc..are the heart of music; The Clash, MC5, Public Enemy, etc..are the hands, namely the middle fingers of music; you could continue working your way down to the rectum and that's where you'd find Warrant, lining the rectum of music.

But I guess I feel sorry for Jani Lane after seeing an interview where he talked about being coerced into writing a song similar in style to "Love In An Elevator" while never anticipating that the song he'd write "Cherry Pie", would come to define him, saying that he could shoot himself in the head for having written that song. I dunno, I think that's harsh. That song about "whip my hair back and forth" is equally terrible. Everything Creed ever laid to wax is horrendous. There's plenty of things to be more ashamed of than writing "Cherry Pie" like: Bad breath, and by that I mean halitosis. A real cringe inducing breath. Or baloney. It deserves disdain. Or guys that wear clown wigs to sporting events.

If Jani Lane had never penned his Cherry flavored opus, then the strippers of the world would still be resorting to the ever weary, old stand by of "Girls, Girls, Girls" to shake down hapless married men to. Let's assume said strippers heart is aglow whilst dancing to Motley Crue's musical ode to those who disrobe publicly in three minute intervals, isn't that what matters most? Making a stripper's heart glow? Well, that and incorporating a third tier desert into a rock song. I realize there's nothing sexually charged about tiramisù or a cannoli but they both have it all over cherry pie. I realize I'm digressing, but still, my brain never got past how gross literal cherry pie is. Maybe that's why I never full embraced "Cherry Pie" in the first place.

So Jani, where ever you may be, I hope your afterlife is a non-stop reiteration of 1990, and you never have to face up to having written a song just slightly worse than "I Touch Myself".

Your former fan, turned sympathizer, LMF

Saturday, July 16, 2011

For Clarence

Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for the E Street Band for 29 years, died last month at the age of 69. I'm not sure if that qualifies as a ripe old age, or even at what age someone begins to ripen, or if you'd even want to ripen, but either way, the man was 69 when he passed. And I'm not one to get worked up when people I don't know and have no connection to pass. I'm not being calloused or cold, I just can't get too worked up when one of the remaining Golden Girls passes. But there are exceptions and Clarence Clemons is one.

Many Springsteen tracks utilize the "wall of sound", more is more, approach. I've read Born To Run had more than 30 guitars on it. And yet, amidst the slightly cacophonous sound of the best E-Street tracks, Clarence's horn was easily discernible, reliably moving and never the novelty many a band's horn man can be made out to me.

In all actuality, Clarence was the fingerprint of the E-Street. Bruce is the voice, certainly, but it could be said that Clarence's horn parts paired with Bruce's voice indicated that their blood and soul coursed through their music. That the target was hybrid soul steeped in brotherhood and ethereal white noise without a scant trace of temporal fodder. The sax solo near the end of Thunder Road that follows the lyric "It's town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win" could be a number of things, but maybe its a call to action, a bellow of possibility in the face of unsavory circumstances and it remains one of the single most moving recordings I've ever heard.

Obviously the E Street will find a guy to stand in for Clarence, to fill the chasm left in his absence, that goes without saying. His horn parts were an integral portion of the bands sound, but it's a damn shame he's a gone. He brought such a wonderful element of balance within the sound of the E Street with his melodies drenched in heavenly light in contrast to the multi guitar assault his sax encountered for nearly three decades.

And so Clarence has shuffled off this mortal coil, dissipating into the ether, taking his place amongst the cosmos. But know that long after time has had its way with us all, someone somewhere will listen to Thunder Road, and it'll change them and they'll harness that change and do something with it. And what's better than that?

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I did on my 32 year vacation and how it pertains to line dancing

I turned 32 today. Not a real impressive age to become. Well, it's impressive to little kids, cause that's this many (flashes hands a bunch of times) and that means you're ancient. But in the grand scheme of things, 32 isn't really a land mark age. 30 has some significance because when you think back to when you were younger and you thought of 30, you thought, holy crap, that's damn old. And then you hit 30 and you take stock of things, your life, your hairline, your expanding waist, your bank account that constantly flirts with overdraft fees and you go "eh, it comes with the turf of your 30's" and you roll with the punches till the next mile marker age of significance, mine being 35.

To me though, it seems like you should take something from each year that passes. You know that reflectiveness that comes over people on New Years Eve when they're wearing hats made of paper and glasses spelling out the number of the approaching year (maybe not the attire for the deepest of thoughts). And you start thinking of the road behind you and the remaining portion ahead. And that's how I get on my birthday.

So what have I learned over the past year? Well, I learned that Nevada has a terrible health care system when my pregnant eye socket was put on the back burner via insurance companies. I learned the Pixies still have it, in all their quiet loud quiet glory. I learned that, try as you may, you will eventually no longer fit in size 32 pants and that the reason men's styles become more JC Penny/Home Depot and less Abercrombie and Fitch/American Eagle is heroin chic bodies don't normally belong in sweats and Dockers. So you adopt your father's fashion sensibilities not voluntarily per se, but out of necessity as that's all you can find in your super sized mature man pants size. I learned that eventually all the footwear you adored in your youth will fail you in terms of providing you the adequate support to carry you through your daily routine. Your Doc's and Chuck's will give way to Nike's and New Balance's. I learned that not all cops are pigs when a cop stopped traffic to let me cross in the crosswalk. I learned that it will take a mountain of some random oil barren's money to get the Afghan Whigs back together (per Greg Dulli).

But most importantly, I think the vital takeaway from 31-32 for me is the realization of the importance of the individual in the grand scheme of things. What choo talkin' bout Willis? Well, what I'm saying is don't discount the breadth of your presence in other people's lives. Know that you can impact other people's lives in positive ways and let that impact be your reward. So many people put the emphasis on the superficial be it money, booty....hmmm, there's a big drop off after those two things as it could be said that they both run the world. But you get what I'm saying, homes. You give just a little of yourself and that sliver balances out the depravity. It reminds you that mankind isn't a cancer. Sure mankind is responsible for a great deal of heinous things, like, you know, wars, state fair foods, country line dancing, stuff like that. But you start to realize that all people are redeemable and it makes your heart swell and your eyes well but it feels good because you know you're right and that this world is actually not that bad.

Has the Beard come across the Richard Simmons pills in the medicine cabinet and foolishly consumed the whole bottle? Not really. I just realized that I have a great deal of wonderful people in my life and what matters most in life. Nothing against booty and money, if either of them took offense, I apologize. Now get out there and do something meaningful and tell them the Beard sent you.

Your slightly older, not necessarily wiser friend, LMF

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Devil don't dabble in produce

It's Father's Day! If you're celebrating that means you got it together long enough to convince a woman that your stock is of top shelf quality and that all the other heathens pale in comparison to a man of your undeniable charisma. Your magnetic charm. And you, yes you sir, have been chosen to usher another human being into our crowded elevator world teetering on the brink of overpopulation. But you know what? You got clothes to remove, alcohol to drink quickly, and moody 80's records to trip the lights fantastic to first. And then, one ill-timed thrust later, yer a papa son. And that ain't so bad.

My Dad, Charlie, is a great Dad. A man's man who's only real flaw is his frugality or perhaps his blind acceptance of Wendy's dollar menu as an undeniable value. My Dad Charlie dabbles in staunch, Rosary heavy Catholicism, that leads him to routinely say things like "Fuck Satan" or "What can Satan do? Can Satan grow food? No!" I didn't know the words hypothetical, goateed nemesis ever even gave the notion of farming any thought what with war, cancer, premature ejaculation (yes, I blame the devil, it's just easier) all on the Dark Prince's eternally burning front burner.

Charlie has 10 children, which means he's all about the ladies and virile. Highly virile. When we lived in Northern Arizona, we had a house out in the country, with some acreage, and a farm. Charlie would raise and slaughter animals, one execution of which I got to witness. It was a random chicken I had no emotional attachment to outside of general sympathy for the soon to be headless fowl. As the ax was raised, I tried to initiate a stay of execution but my Dad said "this chicken's name is dinner" and chopped his head clean off. And you know, if you played the Benny Hill theme song while watching the decapitated chicken's body run around the yard, it'd be amusing in some strange way.

So big up's to the Father's of the world for, you know, chopping off chicken heads, staying the course, digging the heels in when the times get rough and the waters of life choppy, and ultimately for deciding that Jack Nicholson was right when he said that condoms are for those who dabble in deprivation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Older Mike Watt Interview

S: So Watt, how are you?

W: Well, I've been busy lately. I just was in Japan with the Stooges, and then I was in England with the Secondmen, my bass, organ, and drums trio. And for the first time I played the entire new album that will be out August 7th, it's called “The Secondman's Middle Stand.” And that was at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in England.

S: In the spring of 1996, I read a quote of yours in Rolling Stone that mentioned J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. being abducted by aliens. Do you remember that quote?

W: That's what he told me. He told me he had a mark on his leg too to show me, and that a light came down but he doesn’t remember a whole lot. But uh, he thinks he was abducted. He's a great guy, he's very serious too, and so I wouldn’t doubt him. He's a little shy too. He's going to come back out on the road; he's got a band with Dave Skools from Widespread Panic. I’m too busy for that now, but I was in the Fog for a couple of tours. It's very interesting playing with J. He's very loud.

S: You recently came thru Vegas with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who also dedicated "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" to you. Why can't those guys keep their pants on?

W: I go way back with those guys, you know their second gig was opening up for the Minutemen, but I think they just like getting wild.

S: You toured with both Eddie Vedder, and Dave Grohl on the 1995 Ball Hog tour, and they were in your backing band. Did you ever have to reach back and smack the ego out of anyone in that van?

W: That was a trippy tour for me, cause I rode by myself cause Ed was in Hovercraft and Dave was in the Foo Fighters, and so they would ride in their van. But it was cool. It was a trippy kind of situation, a little bit of hype because of celebrityitis, I guess. But that had nothing to do with those guys; it was just some people coming to the shows just to see them. But I never had to smack anyone.

S: You’ll be touring with Iggy and the Stooges through June. Is Iggy laying off the broken glass and peanut butter these days?

W: Yeah, I’m gonna play some some countries I’ve never played before like Greece, Serbia, and Portugal. Even though it’ll be my 52nd tour, there’s always new places to play. But Iggy isn’t cutting himself up, but he is doing stage dives and he’s 64 years old. That dude, man, he’s the bow of the boat. He is something else. Sings his heart out. He tells everybody you know, by the way he plays things, does his thing that yeah, time is gonna try and make you old but it doesn’t have to make your mind old. Yeah, he is incredible.

S: Are the Stooges doing U.S. dates?
W: Soon. Yeah, I mean you would dig it. It ain’t no fucking sleeper oldies act. And this is an intense band. And with the Stooges you go right to the source.

S: What are your thought’s on the nostalgia rock revival we’re seeing in music right now?

W: Well the Darkness is obviously having some fun. And you gotta understand when I was a kid they were pushing Happy Days and American Graffiti really hard. The idea of selling nostalgia is always gonna be around. But just because that’s going on now doesn’t mean it’s a new scam, or hype. It’s just a retread. And I guess the seventies are back far enough that you can be a little nostalgic, wear bellbottoms. A lot of it’s about fashion, and its funny about the word fashion. In the word fashion, the root word is fasha, which is face. And that’s about it. Its just surface. Shallow shit, you know? I think every era has things to teach people, but you got to kind of live in your own times too. So it’s a mixed bag like anything else. It’s always easier to try and reproduce the past though, then forge ahead and invent new stuff.

S: I caught one of your first shows after you were hospitalized for a burst abscess in the perineum, and I was amazed at the resilience of your playing skills. You also managed to shed a noticeable amount of weight as well.

W: Yeah, but I was weak. I definitely don’t recommend the program. That was a hell ride. That’s why I made an album out of it. It’s so intense. That’s what the new record is all about. But I thought the only real way to get back was to jump on the horse and ride. It was really strange. You know I started playing at thirteen, D.Boon and me, and had never really stopped until that sickness. You know I’m laying in bed with tubes and I couldn’t really play bass and when I went to play again I couldn’t do it. And it freaked me out big time. It really freaked me out. So what I started doing was playing Stooges songs, not a lot of chord changes, you know, it’s all about feel. And I couldn’t do scales. I couldn’t do rhythm. I couldn’t do anything. I was really atrophied. Lost all the muscles in my fingers. And so the Stooges actually helped me get better. I never imagined I’d be playing in the Stooges. I first heard them when I was sixteen and its weird how they came back in my life, and really helped me out. That music is timeless. I listen to Funhouse and can’t believe it was recorded in 1970.

S: I feel the same way about the first Clash record, I think it’s a classic.

W: Yeah, that’s the one I like, the green one.

S: The Minutemen never got the chance to tour with the Clash, did they?

W: No, I never toured with them. But I saw them play. D. Boon and me saw them play in Santa Monica with the Dills, and Bo Diddley. They were great. It was 1979. D. Boon and me grew up with arena rock, and what really tripped me out, I mean we were really close, that’s the great thing about punk gigs you know. You can get right up close, even at the Santa Monica Civic. And Joe Strummer’s eyes weren’t blood shot. It was the first rock and roller that I saw that didn’t have blood shot eyes. That was a trip. In fact, people were packed in so close I had to piss bad, and pissed right there between everybody’s legs, and no one could really look down. It was shoulder to shoulder, so I pissed right on the deck and no one noticed. But I was kinda drunk too.

S: It’s been said that some of your most notorious tours were in the early nineteen eighties where the Minutemen were paired up with Black Flag, who were being fronted by a then newly added Henry Rollins.

W: Oh yeah, the first time the Minutemen went to Europe and our first big U.S. tour was with Black Flag. Not only with them, but also in the van with them. All ten of us. So it was kind of cramped quarters, but a lot of fun. Wild adventures. It was Henry Rollins’ second tour with Black Flag. They were so good. Yeah, it was smoking. It was right when they were doing the “Slip It In” songs. Henry writes all about those days in the “Get In The Van” book. One time we were playing in Vienna, and the first note of the first song all the power goes out. And it comes right back on and I’m covered with used condoms. I had been hit in the face. And a couple of kids were throwing paper bags of shit and vomit up at us that would rip open when they hit the stage. It was pretty intense. But still, like I said it was an adventure. And for any hell there was, it was well worth it. Yeah, I was laughing. I couldn’t believe what they would throw, hanging on my bass, on my chest. It was gross.

S: I’ve read that you have an intense respect for skaters, and have integrated some of the spirituality of skateboarding into your own bass playing.

W: Well, I never got to skate. I had knee surgery in my early twenties. But skating really changed in the seventies. When I was a kid a lot of dudes had to ride these things sitting down, so you had to put so much weight, and lower the center of gravity, and stay on the sidewalk cause even the tinniest rock would flip you. But I have so much respect for skaters. In fact, when I’m playing my bass I’m pretending it’s a skateboard. I love the how when you’re riding a skateboard you don’t just stand there. You gotta put your whole body into it, and that’s what I try to do on the bass guitar. To me, skating is real individualistic expression. You know what I mean? It doesn’t take a lot of money. You can do it anywhere, on any part of the street. To me it’s so natural. So I look up to it. I’m inspired by it when I try to make music on the bass. Cause it’s all a human being and a machine. And some machines lend so much to the individual person. And I think the skateboard is one of them, and just as much as the bass guitar.

S: How did you go about assembling the roster of people on “Ball Hog or Tugboat”? The liner notes read like a who’s who of alternative music icons, with Eddie Vedder, Evan Dando, Flea, the Beasties, etc…. You should Ebay your Rolodex.

W: Well you know, a record you can do stuff like that. It’s hard to fit forty guys into a van, but in the studio what my plan was there was seventeen songs, so to have seventeen different bands. And it was a theory I had that if the bass player knew the songs then anyone could come in and play guitar, or sing, or play drums. So that’s what you had. A lot of those guys hadn’t even heard the song. They’d come in there, and then I’d show them the tune, go through it a few times, and then go to take. They’re all beautiful guys.

S: What’s the Watt view of the political climate right now?

W: It’s pretty creepy. But I think people in their gut can feel they’re being had. But you gotta remember the Minutemen were making music during Ronald Regan’s regime, so I'm kind of used to this. Things come in cycles. And any farmer would tell you if you want a good crop, use a lot of manure. So I say he’s piling it on.

S: So why aren’t you running for president this time around? You seem to be more in tune with the people, then our current commander in chief.

W: I’m probably better on bass; I mean we all got different gigs.

S: And finally, finish this Carpenter’s lyric: What the world needs now is…

W: More righteous tunes. But it also needs a little more humbleness and kindness towards each other, but that would probably come from some more interesting music. I don’t know how exactly it’s connected, but I think it would help. It worked for me. You know, like the Clash, some stuff just changes your life. Gives you different perspectives. But you see a lot of cats can’t choose cause they don’t know about all the choices. So when the choices get out there, then people can exercise their freedom a little more. It ain’t real freedom if you don’t know what’s out there.

S: Well Watt, it was great talking to you, thanks for the spiel.

W: Oh, much respect to you. You asked me some great things. Keep going. You know the knowing is in the doing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life is hard when your god has a hungry heart

Bruce Springsteen played the Thomas and Mack in Vegas a few years ago and considering he hadn't toured in several years prior to that, I figured I should wait in line for tickets lest there be a surge of Las Vegan's wanting to hear "Dancing in The Dark". So I did. Along with several dozens of other individuals, all wanting to experience the full custom gospel of the E-Street. Funny thing is, I like Bruce like I like so many other things which is with a subtle interest steeped in a cup of nonchalance but I figured I should at least see Springsteen once, so I got in line 12 hours before tickets when on sale.

Springsteen fans work in a type of fanaticism that occasionally defies the laws of nature, reason, hope, assorted State laws (depending on where the infraction occurred) and would lead some to believe that the man that wrote "Hungry Heart" could potentially possess the answer to the growing concern over the scarcity of Southern Nevada's water supply.

While standing in line, I struck up a conversation with several men, all Springsteen veterans. One man, whose problematic body hair forced him to shave a neck line in lieu of the hairy turtleneck that would have snaked out of his vintage "Born In The U.S.A." tour shirt, fired the first shot of insanity that led me to believe I was clearly not as emotionally vested in the Boss as the people I was standing in line with. This was the exchange between the man and I:

Me: So, you've seen Bruce a lot? (Stupid question, yes I know, but I knew this guy was loaded with nuttiness and I wanted to hear every last nuance of it.

The Man: (Clearly annoyed by the inanity of my question, but too much a Boss zealot to not acknowledge it) Uhm, yeah, like over 50 times.

Me: What's the best part about seeing Bruce?

The Man: (Honest to goodness, he said this to me) You know, it's not what's great about seeing him. It's what's not great. You know what that is? The day after seeing Bruce you wake up and you realize "I'm not gonna see Bruce today". And you make it through that day, somehow. And the next day is just slightly less difficult. This can continue for awhile. I get up. No Bruce today. And you eventually have to tell yourself you might not see Bruce for awhile. It's hard.

After this exchange, I realized this man was under-medicated and might have a criminal background peppered with violent acts I'd have no ability with which to stop him from committing. So I found someone else to talk to. The next guy was a normal New Jersey native who had also seen Bruce dozens of times. As with the other Bruce fans, I immediately wanted to hear anything the guy had to say about Bruce. So I asked him about all those legendary 80's shows where Bruce would play for just shy of 4 hours and the guy said this:

Boss Fan #2: One time I saw Bruce at the Meadowlands in Jersey. Man it, was raining cats and dogs, just buckets coming down. The crowd was soaking wet, but we didn't care. We just kept shouting "Bruuuuuuce, Bruuuuuuce". So all the sudden, Bruce steps out on the stage and he starts getting wet, right. Well, all the sudden, the E-Street Band starts playing "Who'll Stop The Rain", and God be my witness, the freaking rain stopped. I mean, just flat out stopped. Now I'm not crazy or anything, but before Bruce, we were getting dumped on. After Bruce, no rain. It makes you wonder man.

Was I there in Jersey in 84 when Bruce stopped the rain? No. I'd like to think it happened. I'd love to envision Springsteen as both a rainmaker and rain hinderer. If that were the case, then Nevada State officials could fly Bruce out to the ever-receding shore of Lake Mead and tell him to just go hog wild, and play whatever he wants, just don't stop till the water level reaches a mid 90's, water flowing over the dam, "holy crap, Vegas is gonna have water forever, who likes water sports?" level.

Springsteen manages to cultivate a shaman from Asbury Park aura by being two things: fantastical (that's a word HE made up, which I guess you can do when you're Bruce) and by being aesthetically average, but stealthily phenomenal. Bruce looks like a plumber, or your Uncle. That's why all those guys love him so much. Cause he looks like one of his fans. Bon Jovi, Poison, Ratt. All well coiffed, highly androgynous and responsible for music that boarded on hate crimes. They spent more time choosing what color high heels to pair with their scarves then on what their music was saying. Bruce simply went to K-Mart, found a flannel and recorded Born To Run.

What am I saying? I'm not sure. My birthday is in a few weeks and I'm feeling a little older, a little more "get the hell off my lawn, no wait, don't get off my lawn. I'm sorry that wasn't nice." Age has a funny way of softening you up, of pushing out a newer version of yourself you never knew existed. Like lets say the real rat bastard version of yourself was You.0, then you get older and it's you 2.0. I feel like I'm between a 2.0 and a 3.0. I'm turning into a big softy, I get a little choked up when people compliment me. I get choked up when I hear a pretty song. Sweater vests and Dockers can't be far away.

Love your aging like a boxed wine friend, LMF

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A letter from Tom Waits to a little Palestinian boy

I thought this was nice, so I'm sharing it with you. I love the part where he confides in an unknown youth that he too likes to hear that he has "value and relevance".

You're from Palestine? How did you find time to write….given all the trouble you are having with Israel? Good to hear from you, your sister has good taste, so do you. Allow me to formally encourage to write things down. So when you make it you can say, and I can say, I was in your corner all along. Thanks for all your kind words. Always good to hear from the younger generation telling me I have value and relevance. Stay at it Colin. Lots of good people come from Illinois because it is so flat you have to dream up everything, that's what my wife says….she's from there and lots of presidents are from Illinois. Ok Colin, go out there and take the world by the tail, pull it down, wrap it around and pull it in your pocket.

Tom Waits

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Crying coaches, flaming cars and weeping elderly: a non-sports fan ruminates about professional sports

I've never been a sports fan. Never really been a fan of anything competitive in nature, well save for my fleeting thoughts about taking my bowling skills pro, and competitive eating because really, if you can eat 59 hot dogs in 12 minutes (current record) then you need a ribbon, or a medal. I can get behind San Francisco's "BYOBW"- Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race, which simply put, is a race where grown adults purchase and stylize, "pimp out" or bedazzle the crap out of a child's Big Wheel bike, then proceed to ride the bike down a very steep, very curvaceous hill till A. A hippy gets run over or B. A lone mighty Big Wheel remains functional and ready to roll while all the others had crashed and burned. Well, there's no burning but those insane San Franciscan's sure do crash a great deal during the race.

Sports just never appealed to me on any level. My parents tried their best to sculpt my brother and I into well rounded young kids, entering us both into various little leagues. The first one was a soccer league and our team was called the Strikers. We were terrible. So terrible in fact, that not only did we never win a single game, but at the end of one game we returned to the bleachers to find our coach crying over his frustration in conceding to the reality that we wouldn't, or maybe couldn't, win a game without a parent paying a referee off. I don't know if there's laws against that kind of thing, but it would have been a nice gesture.

The next league I found myself in was a baseball league. I disliked baseball a great deal more and naturally my dislike for the sport was apparent in my approach to how i played the game. To be honest, I was afraid of the ball. I liked under hand baseball. There's less chance of injury and more for emasculated glory in the name of avoiding a line drive to the face. The coaches knew and acknowledged i was being forced into playing the game, so they agreed to use me as little as possible, unbeknownst to my parents. I appreciated this act of acquiescence tremendously though there was an unforeseen draw back to being voluntarily benched. One of the coaches, an older guy named Bob, wore these unacceptably short shorts that all but coaxed his gray hair adorned, flesh toned, deflated prune-like testicles out of one side of his shorts. I have to assume that at some point, probably in the fifties or sixties, some woman or, to be fair man, was very satisfied with Bob. I however, felt that Bob's bench-side attire was better suited for a swingers club or perhaps in a bar where Bob could go-go dance for other geriatric baseball enthusiasts.

Is it the sports fan instance on using possessive's when referring to their team's exploits? That's part of it. When you're referring to what two groups of men accomplished or failed to accomplish as the case may be, in an arena far, far away, you can't logically insert yourself into that scenario no matter how many jersey's, ball caps, pairs of underwear festooned with your teams logo (tell me they don't make them in men's sizes cause you know they do). When you say "we" did anything, what you mean is "Kobe lost the game, while I had a Hot Pocket and watched the game at home." Let's say I came to you and was talking about R.E.M. and I proceeded to speak of their upcoming tour. And in the midst of the conversation I begin to talk of how "we might tour Europe but we really need to focus on our Stateside fans because we never really regained traction in the U.S. after Automatic For the People". You'd say I needed to be medicated. How is this any different?

And the players? They don't know you. They'll let you park their cars and serve them drinks, but personally they don't know you and they don't want to. I met Michael Stipe and expected a flurry of high fives, chest bumps, numerous "How ya been sweeties". I got an awkward man, in odd eye glasses, in an expensive suit, who simply said "Hello, I'm Michael". I thought, hell yeah you are. You're Michael Mothertrucking Stipe. Co-creator of college rock, singer for one of the best god damned American rock bands in history, giver of hope to rapidly balding men everywhere. I said hello also, then proceeded to take the worst photo that could only be compared to when Ralphie meets Santa then blows his chance to seal the deal on the BB gun in terms of how terrible that photo looks. In it I look as if I was stranded on a desert island and lived off of an endless supply of Little Debbie cakes. It was a matter of the angle, not that I had just let myself go and looked to beef up my chin count.

Also, there's a level of emotional investment that sports fans extend to sports that is mystifying. I saw a documentary about the curse of the Red Sox where it was mentioned that the elderly would make pilgrimages to the graves of their loved ones to tell them about how the "Sox" were doing in the season. I can't imagine (if there's a little one in the room give em a dollar and tell them to wait for the ice cream man.....good? Ok.) that the deceased give a shit about how the Red Sox are doing simply because, well, they're dead.

Which brings me to the flaming cars, which yes, I realize is not a customary practice at sporting events. Just sporting events in areas where people like to engulf things to express their discontent with the outcome of the evenings baseball, basketball, football, ping pong? (it could happen) game. Again, back to the R.E.M. analogy. If they forgot to play "It's the end of the world as we know it" would I walk up to the first vehicle I saw and light it on fire? Probably not. Then again, I think the custom is to first turn the car over, then ignite it and R.E.M. fans just don't have the upper body strength, even in mob-form, to turn a car over.

But there is a catch to all my anti-sports leanings. If you're team is composed of unequivocal losers (i.e. the Red Sox for the better part of the last century, and the Cubs since baseball was created) then I want you to win. I think every one should get their day to shine, that one triumphant moment where all the efforts and losses and doubts coalesce into an endless ticker tape parade of confetti, congratulatory booty and Jager bombs. I watched a little bit of each World Series the Red Sox won and I thought "Well, good for them." And I hope the Cubs get theirs one day as well.

So what was it that killed the zeal of sports for me? I can't say it ever existed. But Bob's uncontainable testicles, weeping coaches and all those flaming cars in Los Angeles didn't help. But if wearing a clown wig paired with a painted face while holding a sign exclaiming "Brett Favre, you broke my heart" make the flames in your heart burn deeper, brighter with a slight hue induced by light beer coupled with hot dogs, then really, who am I to begrudge you? I just toured Europe with R.E.M.

Friday, April 29, 2011

And how did that make you feel: 50 ways to prepare chicken and my aborted MMA career

Hello dear constituents, tribal members and pushers. It's been a bit since the last Bearded blurb, but "the shits been heavy", so there's been a lull here at Bearded Inc. But as the mighty Ween says "I'm coming back, so don't give me no slack".

Sometime around the Spring of 2007, I came to the conclusion that I needed to enter therapy as I had begun entertaining the idea that true happiness was only attainable through the participation in cage fights, televised or not. This was more or less the end result of the mental degradation I had been experiencing after my dad had gotten into a debilitating motorcycle accident and I had come to a point where I wasn't quite ready to pick up an axe and proclaim "Here's Johnny", nor was I ready to go count cards at Caesar's Palace with Tom Cruise while waxing poetic about the virtues of K-Marts underwear. I guess I had just bottomed out mentally and I remembered how a friend of mine from high school had told me that he had an accident after high school in which he suffered a blow to the head that drastically altered his personality. So I reckoned, if a blow to the head worked for that guy, then surely I could reap the rewards of a series of cranial blows.

Having never been in a fight, I knew I'd have to enroll in Ass Kicking 101 somewhere, so I decided to call my friend Chris and ask him if I could fight him on his day off. He had every right to ask me what he had done to have me want to fight him, and rightfully so. I just told him I needed him to lay me out, which he say he'd be more than happy to do, just not on work nights. Eventually Chris informed me that he couldn't bring himself to "light me up" as we were friends and asked me why I needed someone to lay me out. I told him I had seen a MMA fight and it seemed like those guys took an impressive amount of shots to the head and that's probably what I needed. He said if I put my mind towards having sex with more women and maybe drank a little bit, I'd be a new man. I told him I hardly believed that. I then found myself with all the gear one needs to get into fighting other individuals seeking both a bludgeoning and cauliflower ear (namely head gear, a mouth piece, and those gloves that have the fingers cut off that tell you the guy that wears them gives people speech impediments by trade) but no sparring partner who would acknowledge my girlie calls of "Uncle, Uncle, UNCLE!!!!!" when the pain was more than a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

The absurdity of seeking out someone to knock me out eventually registered in my mind and I then headed for the therapists office. The therapist I ended up with was an affable guy named Roger, who was fueled by Jesus and worked for the state. The thing that immediately struck me was that apparently none of the money that was being made through appointments was being allocated for building maintenance for while I would wait for my session, I could hear other peoples grievances being aired through the walls that were severely lacking in the insulation that would have prevented me from hearing dysfunctional tales laden with infidelity, yearns for divorce, yearns for love, hell even yearns for someone to want them around. Truth be told, I felt better simply by overhearing what other people were contending with, and by the time I was seen I'd have settled for a milkshake and a lap dance to bring me to my state of bliss. To be honest, probably just the milkshake. Something saddens me about girls dancing to Motley Crue songs to make their way through life. Even if they danced to music I actually do like say, a Jesus and Mary Chain or the Clash's London Calling, I'd still settle for a well made sandwich over a girl shaking her money maker to a Whitesnake song.

So I went through dozens of sessions with Roger, over the course of which I started to detect a hint of LDS-ness emanating from Roger. I guess it was his predilection for Utah combined with his uber-religiousness that led me to believe he was once held a missionary position (not THAT missionary position, sicko.) You know, white shirt, black tie, cheap bike, ill-placed in North Las Vegas all pounding the pavement to spread the word of the lord. I can respect that. I can't get behind the anti-gay sentiments, but I can respect their audacity to pedal their way into unsavory locales such as Northeast Las Vegas expecting to convert and dodge bullets.

One day Roger and I got into a discussion about marriage. He said he's never been happier since he's been married. I told him I always thought marriage was tantamount to eating baloney for the rest of your life. I don't mean to single out the meat shrouded in mystery that is baloney, it was the first thing I thought of at the time. Roger then says "Well, you like chicken, don't you? I said I did in fact love chicken. He said "well, could you see yourself eating chicken for the rest of your life?" I said while I love chicken, I also love prosciutto. He said I was losing sight of the point. He regrouped his food based marital bliss analogy and said "You know Luke, there's lots of ways to prepare chicken." That sent my mind reeling. He had reduced many a man's fear of commitment to a simple shortsightedness in the myriad ways to prepare poultry. And he left things at that, a statement about being satisfied to be with what you know, albeit steeped in poultry preparation, but he was right.

Inevitably therapists have to cut you loose as insurance companies can't rationalize footing the bill for two men to converse about areas of the countries with houses with big porches and such. And it feels as inherently awkward as all classic "dumpings" go. Everyone gets dumped once in their life, I've had my fair share. But this dumping was different. I was dumped because I more or less normalized and had depleted my cache of nutty things to say to Roger. But the funny thing is, he dumped me just like someone you were in a relationship does. "You know Luke,, this is difficult. This is always the hardest part. (I had heard variations of what was around the bend, so I started to think about whether I had loaned Roger any money or cd's I might be wanting back). You know, I like talking to you. But the logicality of us continuing to meet isn't there. I think you're relatively normal at this point, so I'd say your treatment has concluded. But I'd still like to be friends." My butt. Who remains friends after a breakup? So I said I'd like that, paid my dues on the way out and that was that. I never did learn how to hold my own in a cage fight, but I learned how to appreciate your chicken. And for a delicate man like myself, that's probably better.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweating the edge off or questioning the Diet Coke

I got into an accident recently and subsequently had to go to the doctor. The nurse that took my vitals told me to step on a scale and per my standard practice, I emptied my pockets (reasoning that the contents could push my weight reading from "Huh." to "Oh hell no", then I stepped on the scale. The scale read 199 lbs. Holy moly, I thought, a wardrobe composed entirely of sweat pants surely lay right around the corner. Doctors call my weight gain a result of "age weight". Saying it just comes with the 30 something territory. I sat there looking at the digits on the scale and thought to myself "who had double crossed me?"

Was it the ice cream? Was it all that pizza I ate? Was it the deceptively healthy whole wheat pasta? I suppose it was a conspiratorial effort aimed at the expansion project that is my waistline. And the real kick in the ass is that I go to the gym and yet, despite all those miles on the treadmill, all those pop videos that seared my retinas, all the ill fitting spandex, all the triangular shaped men, here I was. A fatty in the making, destined to take my place in life's grand tailgate.

And about the gym. Its a strange crossroads for someone like myself to find themselves in in that I watch everything as if it were an ant farm. I can't hear the din of the gym from underneath my headphones cranked up to tinnitus. Its better that way. If you watch all news stations or pop videos without the sound, you can fill in the blanks and take away something more meaningful than 3 wealthy politicians (in all honesty, they're just professional wrestlers in less spandex. But do you want to see Biden, or Bush or Pelosi in spandex? Would they fill it out accordingly? ) arguing over minute details pertaining to a scenario they have dubious interests invested in but the exchange is designed to present the facade that any of these three actually give a shit about you. When they don't.

Or the pop videos where its mostly just a beautiful girl singing a song with a beat, some hooks, some auto tune and generous helping of pelvic thrusts. What choo talkin' bout pelvic thrusts? Well, I think it was NASA that came up with the equation that states that the number of pelvic thrusts in a pop video exists in direct proportion to the level of mediocrity of the song depicted in said video. If the song is truly the aural equivalent of a bowel movement in your ear hole, the number of pelvic thrusts required to generate interest increases exponentially.

Sometimes I see Siegfried and Roy at the gym and sometimes I even work out near them. I sit there working out looking at both of them, wondering if they ever foresaw a day when that tiger would exact redemption for all those fiery hoops it jumped through, all the gold lamé it had to wear, all those weekends it had to work double or triple shifts when all it wanted to do was luxuriate and lick itself.

And the takeaway is right now someones enjoying a baconator with a large fry, and a diet Coke (question, you've already ingested a pile driver to the heart. Why soften the blow with diet coke? ) and they're content. They've acknowledged the fleeting nature and guarantee-less premise of life and have super sized it. I've seen the articles about fried oreos and it just seems like the thing to do if all else has failed you. And maybe that's my calling in life. To try everything I've never tried as an adherence to a code that dictates that if I gorged myself silly of fried twinkies I'd one day wake up only to look down and see that I had lost site of the nether regions. And it'll happen. The belly gets so big it'll obscure the goods from the upwards view, or in more severe instances, it develops into a fanny pack of sorts. But thing about getting fat is, once you're past the point where people say "hey buddy, looks like you're gaining a little" and you enter a new day and age of wearing strictly moomoo's and enjoying the preferred parking that comes with being that size, it opens up a lot of doors. Competitive eating, fat, funny next door neighbor in a sitcom....that's about all I can think of.

What am I getting at, sisters and brothers? Hell if i know. Like I mentioned before, I was rear ended and now my back is aching and I'm heavier than I ever was. The doctor that saw me was wearing a yamaka, and had a huge beard that was jet black the last time someone rear ended me (2008) but now was more salt than pepper. He told me I had " very bad posture". His graying beard reminded me that it's a finite life kiddies, so get out there and grab the bull by the horns. Out lift one, no both of those tiger tamers at the gym and if the mood strikes you, order a deep fried chocolate chip cookie burger (oh yes they do exist) cause life is short but sweet for certain.

Damn you age weight, LMF

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Luke Vs. The Blues Explosion or what it means to be Stiped

A quick one.

I had the good fortune to see the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in 1998 at a long shuttered club names Fat Daddy's, located on Boulder Highway. The club was a 21 and over club so this was a problem as I was 18 at the time. A friend of mine knew the owner, a guy named Chris Funk, and he put me in touch with him. it turned out that Chris was an avid taper of shows (bootlegger is what squares would call us) and he had missed the recent Morphine show at the Huntridge. I told him I had in fact recorded the show and ended up with a nice copy. He told me he'd sneak me into the Blues Explosion in exchange for a copy of the Morphine show. That seemed fair.

So Chris snuck me in through a back door and I found a nice spot to tape the show from. The Blues Explosion started off with 2 Kindsa Love and right in the middle of the song Jon Spencer calls out a guy standing right next to me for video taping, without even breaking stride. His exact words were "you betta turn that camera awff." The guy quickly did that, it was probably for his own good.

So after the show I waited around to get a poster signed by the Blues Explosion. I thought it was damn fine poster, replete with JFK assassination innuendo rendered in animation form. I went up to Mr. Judah Bauer and the guy had this to say to me: "So after you get this poster signed, how many Korn cd's do you think you can get for it" I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Apparently these guys had been backstage yelling at poor Chris Funk over the low quality of the alcohol they were supplied with.
I worked my way through the three guys that make up the Blues Explosion and it became apparent to me that just because a band is small time, playing small clubs, doesn't mean their incapable of acting like dicks. Which Jon Spencer and company most certainly are. But I can't begrudge only Spencer for that. Ronn Benway coined a term for when Michael Stipe treats you like a lesser being. Its called being "Stiped". Feel free to use that one freely. I'd like it to enter our lexicon, but it won't. It doesn't have the appeal of, I dunno, talking shit? or trash maybe?

For the record, when I met Stipe I wasn't Stiped. He was nice to me. But you know who is fully capable of Stipe-ing you? Perry Farrell. A friend of mine that worked at the Huntridge saw Porno For Pyros era Perry look at the label of a bottle of wine, blurt out "Oh this year (as in the wine's year of make) is shit" and throw the bottle against his dressing room wall. I guess if you wrote Jane Says you can hurl sub par bottle of wine. I guess that makes sense. Jane Says is a great song. Maybe one of the best to come out of the 80's.
Be good kids, and don't let anyone Stipe you.
Your non-Stiped friend, LMF

Friday, March 25, 2011

Throwing pop grenades and rubbing doesn't help.

My friend Adam likes to throw what I call pop culture grenades in my lap then retreat. And maybe it speaks to the tick-like burrowing that bad pop music does to innocent bystanders and how that translates to commerce. I'm very much the old man next door who occasionally steps outside with his bathrobe sometimes regrettably agape, always wearing black socks with sandals, smelling of turkey soup and guessing how much a Spree scooter costs on the Price Is Right. My figurative lawn is my sanctity of musical travesty proof existence. And when I hear something like Rebecca Black's "Friday", my only course of action is to yell at someone to get off my lawn. Namely just the songs. But they won't and they don't and therein lies the prowess and cruel nature of pop music, both good and bad.

When something is popular for all the wrong reasons, like cancer or the NRA, then you know evil abounds and only then need to know how to exorcise the demons. I suppose what makes this song terrible is the refrain of "Friday, Friday, kicking it on Friday", adorned with copious amounts of auto tune. But consider that grown men write these songs before placing the blame on the mouthpiece. All those songs Avril and Brittany and Christina and now Rebecca assail your earholes with? All penned by men. Very wealthy men, who spend their money on furs and exotic cheeses and their time in clubs with other men who write for teenage girls.

But sweet Jesus, is this song terrible. And there's no glory in taking shots at a 13 year old girl, I'm sure she just wants her slice of the Fluff Pop pie, and its hers for the taking now. But now I find myself watching her video, along with the millions of other victims, and I'm still wondering what makes it so damn terrible. And all I can say to my friend that enlightened me to this unfortunate song is I hate you, I really hate you. Well I don hate him, he's just doing a variation of "wow, this stinks. Hey buddy, you gotta smell this." It's like he re-gifted something horrendous to me. Or passed along a disease that's not leaving my body for a few weeks. Oh it burns, it burns. There's no real moral or witty way to tie this one up grasshoppers, I think it was Abe Lincoln that said "When bad pop music is emitted from the phonograph, many things happen. An angel loses its wings. The Indian in those anti-littering commercials cries one additional tear. A man stuck in traffic in Los Angeles on the hottest day of the year finally snaps and goes on a rampage across the city where no one actually dies, except him and the Nazi, but everyone he meets is impacted for better or for worse. Wait that was Falling Down. Where was I...Oh right, but mostly, when bad pop music is created, everyone loses."

Oh it burns, it burns.

Monday, March 21, 2011

If only for the sake of topicality

My friend Adam said I needed to be more topical. Ruminate about current situations and interests. That's not really what I do, but I got to thinking about Charlie Sheen and the wild interest in the man who seemed destined to live off the royalties of Hot Shots and Major League till the gods of horrendous tv programming smiled upon him and ushered him into the cosmos of hit television and further ascension into syndication. I'd like to tell you I have an explanation for why a show featuring Duckie from Pretty in Pink and Charlie struck such a cord with people. I just don't. Just like I'm puzzled at the continued interest in seeing a guy self-promote his self-implosion.

For me, the idea of rooting for Team Train Wreck lost a great deal of appeal a long time ago. I suppose you get older and the simplistic existence outshines the crash and burn, shimmer and fade collision course folks like Chuck find themselves on. When you're a young buck you think the great drinkers, risk takers, train dodgers are capturing the true essence of life. Grabbing their life bull by the horns and riding it till it bucks them. And maybe they all had a plan or the instinct to know that their own demons served them and served them well and they wouldn't have it any other way.

But I've come to realize that the true greats are the ones that are built to last. The hard to kill. Those that hunger to live. Guys like Chuck Berry, Keith, Jerry Lee Lewis, all the crotchety seniors of the world, my weight lifting 71 year old Uncle Vince, those are the people that merit a second thought. There's a fire in their bellies that keeps em going. All the rest, the Charlie's, the burn outs, it's all an empty story built on bottle rocket momentum, rapid acceleration leading into rapid combustion.

The real genius in all this is Jon Cryer (Duckie). He knows what he has, he knows a good thing when he sees it. And as great as 7 gram crack rocks and a (I'm not sure what the proper term for a whole bunch of prostitutes is, murder, gaggle, flock? Lets just settle on grip, keep it old school) a grip of prostitutes must be, gainful employment and not turning into a punch line seems so much more enticing. Not to discount the crack or the prostitutes, great men have sworn by both, and I'm sure they're both an equally great time. But i gotta say Duckie's playing it smart.

As for the whole "winning" business and what not. Something equally or more insane will come down the internet pike and you'll forget about Chuck and his "winning" attitude and his abysmal show. And then? Who knows. Who cares. I'm just glad Duckie has a job.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don't let the rosary fool you, he's a stone cold killer

A few months ago I was driving the street and noticed the lane to my immediate right was beginning to taper off, soon to merge with the lane I was in. No matter, I kept on keeping on. I didn't notice the hatchback family wagon that was apparently trying to speed ahead of me till the right lane was at a near end. The driver of this family wagon, now incensed that he failed to beat me to the next light, feels compelled to pull along side me while we both careen down the street, only then to roll down his window to convey his feelings about what he felt had transpired by extending his middle finger. But just one, because while he might suffer from road rage, he insists on keeping a least one hand remaining on the wheel. I could respect that, but both middle fingers would have really said to me "wow, he's really worked up".

I spotted an assortment of rosaries hanging from this man's rear view mirror. You could ascertain from this that the man: A. struggles with the enormous guilt gifted to him for being a Catholic, B. consults the lord prior to going batshit crazy about seemingly innocuous vehicular maneuvers, or the most likely C. Is driving his Grandmothers car, and thinks that while it might look cool when Lil Wayne wears a couple rosaries, he can't understand why Granny is always sitting around counting the beads on her rosaries when she could be doing whatever it is that the elderly like to do. You know, make turkey soup, talk about when bread was a nickel, how things would better if Nixon was still in office, things like that.

I took comfort in knowing that if Mad Max was driving with a fistful of rosaries, then he was a man of faith and thus, could weather the reciprocation of mankind's favorite go-to gesture when a situation arrises when you absolutely have to tell another human being to go fuck themselves in the shortest time possible. It is the closest equivalent to a red sheet in regards to contending with other bull drivers in the great motoring bullfight. So I did the obvious, I flipped him off.

Mad Max proceeds to speed ahead of me, then cut me off, then slam on his brakes. After putting his car in park, he gets outs of his car and reaches behind his back. I'd like to have thought he was reaching behind his back to give me directions to a bitching party, business venture he's excited about, or more likely in Las Vegas, pamphlets depicting REAL GIRLS DIRECTLY TO YOU!!!! Take out all the pesky business of getting out into the big bad world to commiserate and find your love, when you could just rent the girl of your dreams for, an hour? You stud you.

He reaches back only to pull out his right hand that had now been fashioned into a pistol. You know, middle finger's the barrel, another gesture of kindness that more or less conveys a message that says " I would very much like to kill you right now, but my glock is in my car, not my Grandmothers." Seeing how I had clearly decided to flip off the pissed off motorist that I day, I didn't wait to see if he might have a consolation weapon, perhaps a butterfly knife or molotov cocktail, so after he pulled out his fully loaded hand pistol, I swerved around him and sped off.

I was quite relieved to know this man wasn't carrying around a pistol this day. But at the same time, I felt I had been duped by Grannies rosary collection and it inadvertently had putting me in a real nasty situation. And it got me thinking that maybe those rosaries could be color coded to indicate just how strong your faith is, and where your convictions reside. Cause you know, the rosaries would lead me to believe that outside of the concealed indiscretions the church has been accused of, if you're rolling around with ol Jesus swinging from your rearview instead of a nice smelling little tree, or a pair of fuzzy dice, that you actually subscribe to that particular religions teachings. And you're not, you know actually on parole and driving your Grandmothers car.

Does This Beard Make Me Look Fat: a promo reel

Monday, March 7, 2011

Somebody told have Luke's stuff

(Disclaimer: I'm only writing this because a friend of mine asked me to as he found some sort of comedic relief in this matter. I guess you could call this a request, and the Beard takes requests. So now you know.)

A long time ago, in the land of Las Vegas, I befriended a drummer. We'll call him Ringo. Ringo and I had met in passing while I was shopping for metrosexual shoes at Aldo in the Desert Passage shops and Ringo was working a bicycle taxi, peddling drunken tourists around a faux-Saharan setting. We started talking and realized we both worshipped at the alter of Tom Waits and understood the value of Soul Coughing lying beyond their brief moments under the pop culture sun. Ringo told me that we was in fact a drummer, which I knew as Ringo had been a visible fixture of the Las Vegas music scene for sometime .

Ringo invited me to bring my upright bass to his house and maybe bring over a bunch of live records to listen to, so I brought damn near everything I could think of in my collection of rare records and thought nothing of leaving them with Ringo. Eventually, I started to see less of Ringo as our schedules differed and he found other musical ventures to involve himself with. I did however, leave some of my things, of both musical equipment and rare record nature, with Ringo. This was partially due to my regrettable superpower of procrastination but also Ringo had loaned some of the records to a local music writer with equally exquisite taste in music who made me fall in love with him when he played "Jockey Full Of Bourbon", easily one of Mr. Waits' finest recordings.

As time went on, I started to think it wise to gather my possessions from Ringo, so I called him up and he told me he was busy with a new band he was in and that hopefully he'd have some free time soon so I could get my stuff back. I asked him what the bands name was. He said the Killers. I said, "huh, I've heard of them". "Yeah", Ringo said? "You like them?" I said someone said they sounded like the Strokes. His response was wonderfully simple: "You dick".

Needless to say, the next time I called Ringo to retrieve my stuff, it was a little different in that Ringo had changed his number and his address. Sensing I was in the midst of a reaming at the hands of the man who would one day keep time on inescapable tracks begging inane questions like "Are we human, or are we dancer" or stating ponderous 4th grader prose like "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier", I thought to act quickly and get in touch with mine and Ringo's music writer buddy. The writer buddy told me to meet him at a pub where he played and he'd get in touch with Ringo for me.

This is more or less a breakdown of the sweet, succinct convo between the writer and Ringo, all from the writers end"

Writer: Hey Ringo babe (I guess when you get famous, a non-negotiable is that everyone calls you babe), I gotta ask you a question. Woah, Bono's doing what? Is that legal? Hmmm. Yeah, you're right, he did write Joshua Tree, I guess he can do whatever he wants. Well, you know the Irish, sometimes they don't wanna wear pants. Can't blame em, really. Well anyways, I got Luke here, and he's wondering if you can take a break from the euro trash hookers and cocaine to get an assistant to retrieve his stuff from your house Hmmm. I see. Yeah, hmmmm. Ok, I'll tell him. Later babe."

"Well, Ringo says he has no idea where your stuff is, and he's sorry for your loss".

I hit the roof and told the writer to tell Ringo I thought he was an asshole. I wasn't pushing a demo, a cookbook, a script, blue prints for a functional, affordable version of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. I just wanted my mother f'ing stuff back. Then the writer said something that absolutely floored me: "You know, you're kinda starting to bother and annoy Ringo".

Now you gotta realize, at this time, the Killers were inescapable. If you took a leak, Mr. Brightside wheezed out of the overhead speaker in the john. If you called the DMV, Somebody Told Me in muzak form assaulted your ears. I read that Island Records bought out the rights to many babies first cries and had All The Things I Have Done dubbed over them, yes the parents were compensated for the inconvenience. One time I went bowling with my brother, and though he was oblivious to my beef with Vegas' favorite sons, he kept leaning over to me and whispering in my ear "Hey man, I got soul, but I ain't a soldier". Around the fifth time I had to tell him to knock the shit off. I started to theorize that Jesus had joined the band and was manning the keyboards and singing background vocals as their omnipresence was undeniable. I awaited the day when I opened Rolling Stone to read the band had cured herpes and was working on leprosy.

In my darkest stage, I contemplated going to a Killers show with a sign reading "Ringo, give me my f'ing stuff back". Well not really, I'd have to buy a ticket to their show, and I wouldn't do that, I'd like to. And honestly, I think I shine my brightest when I'm pushed to the edge. Funny thing is, even when you're right in life, sometimes you're wrong. Me? I'm right baby. A thousand percent. Like my friend Ronn Benway said "Yeah, he's in the Killers, but he's still just a human in a band. That's it. What makes him better than you?" But from the average perspective, I'm embittered and holding onto a grudge. And you know, I have a gold medal in grudge holding. I water my grudges till they become mighty oak trees of disdain. Not something I'm proud of dear reader, really.

I eventually managed to chop my down my tree of disdain and embitterment. I tracked down some of the things Ringo took from me ( not from Ringo, mind you, I found them elsewhere) and in my mind, it evened things out. So in a sense, I shed the resentment about the stuff and can now objectively dislike Ringo's band on the premise that their core audience is mid-teen girls and all their gear has been beddazled.

And as a parting gift reader consider this: Sometimes in life a strange, inexplicable tear in the universe occurs and you find yourself on the opposite fence of sanity, leaning more towards "Here's Johnny" Jack from the Shining and less towards the typical you. And the only thing that placed you there was your insistence on maintaining principles. Its a strange, strange reversal of the roles when the magnanimous and the mild mannered morph into the calloused and the cold as a result of assholes like Ringo. But like the guy in Crowded House says "don't let them win". Well, he says that after he says hey now, hey how a whole bunch of times, but you get the idea. Don't let the future pop stars of the world steal your sunshine, baby. Vegas' favorite sons are Seigfried and Roy, not those other sonsabitches.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Julia Robert's mustache and my friends derailed career as a Michael Jackson impersonator

I used to walk by this mom and pop video store on my way to the convenience store when I was a little kid. There would always be posters for whatever movie was about to be released on then VHS (after beta, before DVD, feel old yet?). Most of the movie posters or the stars featured in them failed to capture my attention. Not Bruce Willis in a wife beater, hiding from European terrorists while dropping corny one liners like "Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker", a phrase that experienced a long after life on the play ground of my elementary school. You'd be playing four square and the kid whose parents thought it ok to let their nine year old watch that movie would pull a move on you that would send you back into line to wait for another turn. After which, he'd say "Yippe ki-yay motherfucker". Or the poster for Ghost with Patrick Swayzee and Demi Moore. Again, nothing too eye catching there, but I did notice that when Whoopi is possessed by Patrick in the movie, who proceeds to make out heavily with Demi, in all actuality, its still Whoopi. And as funny as she may be, you just don't want to visualize Whoopi in that situation. But I digress.

So one day I was walking past the video store and saw a poster that caught my prepubescent eyes. It was for a movie I knew little about other than Roxette recording a song called "It must have been love" for it and that it was about a hooker. I didn't even know fully what a hooker was, or what they did. But I liked the poster. It featured Richard Gere standing next to a nice lady in ridiculously long boots. Her smile was blindingly white, which would tell you that even if she were a working girl, she took time out of her day of soliciting sex to brush vigorously at least twice a day. And floss. And flossing is a pain in the ass, but she must have done it cause her smile was flawless.

On the strength of the smile and boots alone, I knew I wanted/needed that poster. My bedroom walls were bare as this predated the wallpapering of my walls with vaguely homoerotic images of Motley Crue wearing shirts that said things like "Suck It", while puckering for the photographer, who was probably a man, not a woman in fishnets and high heels as the look on their faces that screamed "First I'ma rock yer asses, then I'm taking on five of you at once" would lead you to believe.

So i started regularly asking the owner of the store if I could have the poster and he'd always tell me that it wasn't time yet. The general public hadn't fully soaked up the story of a hooker with a heart of gold, who just wants to be accepted by the guy that showed his junk in American Gigolo and his high society friends, particularly Jason Alexander who really had no room to be particular as he wasn't blessed with great looks himself. But then one day I walked by the store and the poster was replaced by a poster for a movie where Sylvester Stallone strives to arm wrestle his way into being a decent father. I immediately inquired as to what happened to the poster. The owner knew I had been stalking the poster and rolled up, then handed it to me.

I put the poster up immediately. And then it was just me, and Julia. And her boots. This was a great while prior to my hormones kicking in, so nothing nasty transpired between me and Julia on paper. I just looked at the poster, sensing there was a reason why I liked it, just not knowing why. Like when you'd see footage of Michael Jackson concerts in foreign countries and wonder why people were crying. They didn't know why either, I mean, he wrote Beat It, but he wasn't a Beatle. And so it was with Julia and I, completely platonic, utterly innocent.

Then one day I came home to look at my lovely lovely two dimensional Julia, only to discover that, much to my horror, (and I'm sorry if any kids are in the room but I can only phrase this one way) some dirty fucker had drawn a substantial, impressive mustache on Julia's upper lip. I knew my brother had something to do with this, and thought to draw penises pointed at the mouths of all the players faces on his baseball cards. Particularly Ricky Henderson, who continues to talk in the third person. Eventually I found out that my brother had been aided by my friend Chris' brother Mike, who was then entertaining delusions of grandeur of being Michael Jackson. He'd moon walk, then grab his junk, then expound at great length how Michael Jackson was pretty much responsible for everything great that ever happened in modern society. The combustible engine? Michael. Vibrating beds in hotels? Michael. Diffusing gang violence by interjecting yourself in a near brawl, then dancing while wearing a heavily zippered jacket? Michael.

I told them both they were rotten bastards, then turned to my now mustachioed Julia. She was still smiling, with her uncomfortably white teeth. But I knew that beneath her pink tube top, her heart was breaking. So, I took the tape off the four corners of the poster, rolled it up, then dropped it in the trash. I loved Julie but seeing her after she had grown a Geraldo Rivera stache was too much for me. Too, I dunno, weird.

Soon after that the walls were plastered with images of men flashing the devil horns, while wearing codpieces. I missed Julia, but I was comfortable staring at the men who wrote Dr. Feelgood, well at least for a little while. Yes, even in tights and codpieces amidst women who wore nurse outfits when I sensed there was no way a licensed nurse would be allowed outside a hospital in high heels, a mile of cleavage and micro skirts. And in the event I found another poster, I kept a space next to posters of Tommy Lee with feathered hair, just in case a mustache-less Julia entered my life. Here's to you Pretty Woman.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stickin' around for the great sleep and who really killed the radio star?

My friend just had to have his pet euthanized which I've only had the misfortune of doing once. I had a cat that developed a taste for anti-freeze, which ending up destroying the cats vital organs and I was forced to put the cat down. But that was the only time I personally played a role in helping a pet shuffle off this mortal coil. Most of my pets, bless their lil' hearts, did a variation on the treatment the Eskimos sometimes gave to their terminal elderly and that is shoving off into the great unknown without any intention of returning. I realize the Eskimos shoved Grandpa off on an iceberg, where as my cats simply chose somewhere other than being with me, and subjecting me to their inevitable medical bills and subsequent misery attached to the conditions those bills were addressing, to greet the grim reaper at. I respect that.

In all actuality, I've all but sworn off pets in the future. Regardless of the nature of care, the degree of attention they demand or cost, I see pet deaths as tremors in the grand death earthquakes of life and no doubt plenty lay ahead. I'd have a monkey though. Monkey's are funny, and if the pet was funny, then his death would be something I could fathom enduring. Monkey's need diapers though, so I'd have to think about that aspect before dropping the four grand monkey's will cost you. What does euthenasia have to do in relation to abhorrent quality of FM radio? I just don't know.

I don't know what popular tastes say about the country they originate in, but I have to think that China might one day consider overthrowing our country, prior to which great, intense discussions in low lit rooms with fancy tables would transpire about the logistics of such a thing. And then someone hoping to make a case for the idea would lower a screen and play a video of Will Smith's kid video (you remember the Fresh Prince? Yes, of course you liked that show. Who didn't? I mean, it was awesome. Well the Fresh Prince had several kids and one of them had a song written for her about the glories of whipping your hair back and forth) followed by a video montage of men and women trying to eat 6 saltine crackers in a minute or less. Great murmuring will ensue, with everyone wondering how the same country that generated Kerouac and Hendrix, Chaplin and The Ramones came to this? And you need only listen to the radio to hear what Elvis (not the fat one) was singing about when he said the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel.

I try to remain ensconced in a bubble impervious to pop culture, which is a difficult thing to maintain if you go to the gym. The gym is a crossroads of many things, horrid musical tastes, ill fitting clothes, triangular shaped men, men chomping at the bit to get naked in front of other men cause thats the sole joy and purpose of a locker room, right? And its at the gym where the likes of Will Smith's brood, Shakira, Avril, Creed and others desecrate the sanctity of my ear hymen, robbing it of its innocence. I try to offset the evil by listening to my ipod, but there's still the visual element. And I only avoid it so intently, because I'm the broken model listener. I know there's not an ounce of sincerity, nothing at stake and in the grand scheme of things, I gotta give my listening time to where its most deserved.

In all honesty though, I don't get too worked up by pop culture as I once did. I've come to realize people are retarded and lazy and willing to consume whatever in mass quantities providing the edges are rounded off and it smells nice. The faceless populace that drives pop culture reminds me of a paraplegic on their side, waiting for something to roll into its mouth. Where's this going? I'm not sure, partner. I've been sick for awhile. I need a hug. And something to make me feel warm and fuzzy. I guess whatever Lou Reed took to make himself feel warm and fuzzy. Peace out readers. Keep on keeping on.

Yer potentially virally infected friend, LMF

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Valentines: Phil Lynott and Bruce

Readers, esteemed colleagues, and members of the jury, the time is nigh to make your case for love, lust and your desire to be with the person your longing for long enough to begin forgetting things together. This Valentines Day, I'm a lucky guy in that I have enough love to evenly disperse across many hearts. First, Jacquie, part saint, part sinner, part saviour. A diamond in the rough. And then my other two. First is Phil Lynott. Deceased lead singer of Thin Lizzy. Writer of such hits as Jailbreak, Whiskey In A Jar, and Boys Are Back In Town. Phil was and remains a first responder to heartbreak. You get dumped, you throw on Thin Lizzy, pump a fist wildly in the air, maybe then glance at the photo of you and your former significant other dropping down a roller coaster ride in which you mostly just look old and goofy flashing dual devil horns. Then cue up Boys Are Back in Town as to finalize the break up and say that yeah, you left me devil woman, but things will get better. They have to. Right?

Cue the Boss. This is a multi step process. Phil Lynott is the first on the scene, then the Boss assesses the damage and diagnoses the problem. Anxiety in life? Born to Run, maybe Thunder Road. Really, really want to sleep with a girl you just know has seen Jerry Maguire? Secret Garden. Wanting the girl back, but not sure how to convey the feelings of playing host to the impending void and really, really not wanting to go back to "self-servicing" as much as you once did? Hmmm, Beautiful Disguise, Human Touch, I'm on Fire (more likely about sleeping with your neighbors wife, but still). I love Bruce because he sounds and looks like a mechanic that just has a great handle on everything in life and talks like he's from the rural South and not Asbury Park. Bruce is your ring man, squirting water in your mouth, wiping off the blood,sweat and puss resulting from the boxing match that can be a relationship, telling you to get back in there and take this one home, son. And you will. Because you'll be empowered by the Boss. He wrote Dancing in the Dark, so listen to him.

Now take her easy, especially if you live upstairs. You know the neighbors have to get to wondering when the bumping of the feet of the bed take on a certain pulsating rhythm.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beetlejuice: A ginger, a patriot and the best damn cat you could ever pick out of a box in front of K-Mart

It's coming on a year since I last saw my beloved Beetlejuice. A butt licker and bird murderer to some but a damn fine friend to me. If I was in a war and the army allowed me to bring a cat onto the front lines, I'd have brought Beetle Juice. He liked nothing more than to lick my dirty, dirty arms and to be honest, I loved nothing more than the feel of his slightly wet sandpaper textured tongue gliding down my forearm. Kinda like when you go to the primate area of a zoo to see the monkeys and such do really nasty things as their inhibitions have yet to kick in or form and all they do is sit there and lick each other or pick off dander and bugs. Only, I'm not licking my cat. That was purely a one way street. But he seemed to experience a obvious level of euphoria from doing so and a cats life is already predicable and bland so who was I to rob him of such a simple pleasure?

So Beetle disappeared and for awhile I assumed he was out sewing his wild cat oats, figuring he'd come back older,wiser, possibly a father of 10. Nope. He never came back. Fliers were flown and I asked several neighbors if they'd seen him, to no avail. Eventually I came to terms with the obvious and began the process of learning how to live life without the best damn cat since the first cat was born. He was probably highly revered in the cat world. I always suspected he had been a Green Beret as hit fighting skills were unmatched and his ability to kill birds was well known around the neighborhood. I intervened in a few instances where a dumb pigeon was about to go to the big pigeon poop covered roof top in the sky, and I tried to steer Beetle down a path of compassion, not blood thirstiness.

Yes, I realize I could reach into a box in front of K-Mart and pull out 10 bastard kittens, take them all home and wait to see which one takes a liking to licking my sweaty, stink arm. But it's not the same.

I don't know where Beetle went, who he's with, if he joined the circus and is wearing a little Kaiser helmet or found his way into a meal at one of those restaurants on Spring Mountain. But I know I miss him. I know I'm a cat widow if it is possible to exist as one. And I hope where ever he is, he's meeting his butt licking and pigeon killing quotas. Carving his way in the world, blazing a trail for future ginger felines to follow but never match.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My time with the Dead: Jerry was Santa's doppelganger and that woman should have had a shirt on

I saw the Grateful Dead a handful of times in the nineties and I if you've never been, then it might be difficult to appreciate the sensory assault that was a Grateful Dead experience. From the onset, my nose was put on high alert for the smell of patchouli and the hanging stink of unwashed hackey sack players. I must admit, I had no real prior knowledge of the Grateful Dead or their history outside of their lone hit on VH1 "Touch of Grey" that garnered them the unwanted attention of a great deal of jocks and weekend anarchists who saw a weekend of the Dead as a weekend of unbridled bedlam and debauchery. I knew the Dead's following had a penchant for VW's, not shaving (this was particularly evident in the female portion of the fan base who almost all had me beat in their wealth and volume of body hair), and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

In the interest of keeping it real, I should say that my main initiative in going to the Dead shows at the Silver Bowl was to sell LSD in hopes of turning a large enough profit with which to buy a bass amp. Not my finest moment, but at least it wasn't heroin or crystal meth, two drugs that are generally frowned upon more so as they've taken out more of your favorite musicians and actors than hallucinogens. From what I saw though, the lone upside of crystal meth is that your cd collection will always be alphabetized and your house will be clean. You might be emaciated and losing teeth, but your house and record collection will be in order. But really, if someone wanted to be hallucinating while mulling over why Bob Weir wears such short shorts or while the mandolin player takes a nine minute solo, all the while Smurfs are afoot, is that so bad?

So there I was, in the Silver Bowl parking lot, waiting for the show to start while I sold LSD to the Birkenstock wearing masses. In an effort to maintain quality control and be able to sincerely vouch for the illicit hallucinogens I was pushing, I gave my friend Robert a complimentary hit from my sheet of acid I had purchased at a wholesale price from some man who looked like he had little regard for general dental hygiene as his mouth looked like a lonely graveyard. I forget what cartoon was on the acid, but I always loved how people who manufactured LSD thought to turn the wholesomeness of childhood cartoons on its ear by placing the likes of Felix the Cat, Strawberry Shortcake and such on sheets of acid. Shortly after Robert took the acid, it was determined that I had been burned by that toothless hippy, putting the score at Hippies: 1, Luke: 0. Fine I thought, I'll sell the bunk acid at a bargain basement closeout rate, then beat it.

As I sold my LSD I walked around the parking lot to bask in the glory of what was referred to as shakedown street". People selling pot brownies of questionable potency, mentioning that the THC the buyer was looking to ingest was "in the butter, man", and that you weren't actually about to buy a really expensive, impotent brownie. People taking hits off balloons filled with nitrous oxide, promptly erupting in violet laughter shortly after. All types cooking anything vegan, raw or otherwise with only the thought of generating enough money to make it to the next stadium to repeat the process.

In a instance that may have been registered in the Cock Blockery Hall of Fame, I was offered a chance to tag along with my friend Randy (a girl), in addition to her friends Junebug and Love (also female) on the next Summer's Dead tour. They told me I could make grilled cheese sandwiches to earn my keep. I figured the grilled cheese market had surely been cornered by some entrepreneur in a Santana shirt, but I believed I could add something to the well worn art of placing cheese between slices of bread. I considered the law of average and how I stood a sizable chance of hooking up with one of them (marginally realistic) or maybe all three simultaneously (right up there with being knighted or driving a Ferrari on my ain't never gonna happen, buddy list). I liked my chances of success on all accounts while following the Dead in a VW van that had undetermined abilities to take us from Vegas to New York and back, and so I asked my mom if this was cool with her. Like the dictator in an apron she was, my mom slammed down an iron curtain of denial and said "Really Luke, think about what you're asking. I'm going to send you off with three girls to follow the Grateful Dead? No. Stop asking." And just like that, I was shot down. No hippy foursome, no grilled cheeses for the masses.

After I had sold off my sheet of fake acid, Robert and I went into the show. Our combined knowledge of the Dead's repertoire was maybe 2 songs, so we were at a disadvantage in terms of being able to appreciate what the Dead was doing. But to the uninitiated, the Dead looked like a bunch of guys from the movie Cocoon playing in a band fronted by a guy that looked like Santa, only after Santa had been present at the Kool-Aid Acid Tests, Woodstock, done yards of hits of acids, pounds of cocaine,weed and his one true love that would come to ultimately bring the long strange trip to a short, obvious conclusion, heroin. Even in his sixties, Jerome Garcia thought it wise to ride the H train from town to town, stadium to stadium. It's when Jerry decided that he wanted to tell Casey Jones to put the brakes on the H train that things went sour and Santa's doppelganger went to the big drum circle in the sky. William S. Burroughs theorized that if a junky remained in a state of perpetual kicking, he'd live exponentially longer through bypassing the withdrawals. Look at Keith Richards and you have to wonder if fully embracing the raging freight train that is a lifetime of excessive ingestion,injection, inhalation and copulation and try to say that there isn't something poetic about sticking to your guns, even if they're fully loaded with vices.

The shows that I went to were on a particularly sweltering weekend in May in 1995 and the heat inside the stadium was accentuated by things I'd never seen at 15 and probably will never see again. I was standing next to a woman who was easily over 200 pounds who was topless. By my estimate, her boobs probably found their way onto her lap sometime while Reagan was in office and she decided to birth the little hippies that were running around her sometime after that. She had a head full of dreadlocks and repeatedly took impressive, heroic hits of a joint. In the distance you could see a line of mic stands hoisted in the air by tapers hoping to capture the show. I could appreciate this. That was one thing about the Dead, that for all their mass merchandising and excesses, they still tried to bring a spirit of their early DIY ethics with them and allowing their fans to tape their shows was an extension of their ethos.

The Dead were impressive players who worked off vibes, feeling and the innate senses band mates inevitably develop over the years, resulting in marathon shows that routinely doubled the duration of most touring bands' shows. Their shows were broken into sets and when they broke for each set, you'd see a sea of people drop to the floor of the stadium to resume a mass smoke out that left such heavy clouds of weed smoke billowing out of the Silver Bowl, you'd thought someone had given tickets to arsonists, and they were having their way with one of the Dead's many t-shirt stands where you could buy a shirt with any combination of dancing skeletons, turtles or bears to commemorate a weekend you probably couldn't remember much of.

And there I was, in the thick of it. The Deadheads were generous were their drugs, you couldn't deny that and at some point someone passed me joints, acid , mushrooms and a balloon of nitrous oxide which I had to pass on as even though I knew I was subjecting my brain cells to adverse conditions, I didn't want to bring the holocaust to a full bloom. I can't recall what drug it was that turned my brain, if only momentarily, into pudding but I found myself in a situation of territorial pissings when I was so high I accidentally stepped on someones blanket, yes blanket, that was laid on the stadium floor and the angry man that looked like an old prospector told me to "step off the blanket".

I eventually found myself back in the parking lot, stumbling from grilled cheese vendor to VW bus converted into an apartment, garage, marijuana dealers office and place to wax poetic about the beats. By sheer chance, I stumbled across a friend who had been attacked in the only way you can be attacked by Deadheads, they had weaved extensions into her hair, gotten her really high, slapped a tye dye on her and had her espousing the glories of free love. She offered to extend some of that free love in my direction and I then knew while I could embrace the times and do copious amounts of drugs, I couldn't shag my friend in the back of a VW bus. For a number of reasons, but mostly the drum circles and nitrous vendors would have proven to be way too distracting and in my state, I'd have seen a garden gnome pull a zipper down the middle of her head and climb out of it.

So, I saw the Dead and they were great! Their fans, for the most part save for the guy that looked like a prospector and the 3 people that sold me fake drugs (yes, after being burned I was glutton for punishment and proceeded to buy 2 more sheets of fake LSD, so in regards to that, Hippies:3, Luke: 0) were awesome. I got to thinking about the Dead and I realized that there were more punk rock than you realize. They were never commercially popular in the pop radio sense, but they kept trucking, doing their own thing oblivious to the rest of their world. I do think what they became was an adulterated version of what they started off as, and that probably added to their end. That the band became this juggernaut of a touring machine, with a mass following knowing nothing else, there might have been an assumed obligation to stay the path.

Did I get my bass amp? No, I'm bad with money and I spent it on drugs, shirts, food, jewelry and gave some to some friends. But I did get an amp eventually when I got a job making pizzas where as luck would have it, I ended up working with a displaced Deadhead who was still coming to terms with the untimely death of his patron saint Jerry. I look back at the shows I attended as reasons for why I'd never make it as a drug dealer and if you're going to assume a career as a junky, stick it out to the wrinkly, Keith Richards "ma, he looks like he was embalmed" ending. Cause you know, if you stop the train too soon, who's gonna sing "Friend of the Devil"?