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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Little Richard Says He Likes It

Frank

Trivia time ya bastids: What medical oddity did Little Richard and Frank Zappa share?

Tell you in a minute...

Richard

I believe my music is the healin' music. Just like Oral Roberts says he's a divine healer, I believe my music can make the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf and dumb hear and talk, because it inspires and uplifts people. I've had old women tell me I made them feel they were nineteen years old. It uplifts the soul, you see everybody's movin', they're happy, it regenerates the heart and makes the liver quiver, the bladder spatter, the knees freeze. (Little Richard, The Rolling Stone Interviews, p. 93, in 1970.)
In September 2013, Little Richard announced his retirement. Plagued by sciatica and a bad hip, Little Richard announced he was through performing, this following a concert in June 2012 he could not finish. It wasn't the first time the man has announced his retirement—he retired shortly after his career began. But considering that this announcement came at age 80, it's a fair guess, I think, that he means it this time. Little Richard's provenance includes one of the most stellar performers to have ever graced a stage: Ladies and gentlemen, please witness Sister Rosetta Tharpe:

From our perspective, Sister Rosetta may seem here like an entertainer on the margins, but once upon a time in America, Sister Rosetta was a star. So known was she that they recorded her third wedding and released it as a record album. I am not making this up.

PBS did a Masters episode on her in 2012. They refer to her as the "Godmother of Rock and Roll." It's accurate, except that they get the lineage wrong; they keep talking about how Elvis "channeled" Sister Rosetta. Bullocks. In this story, we don't give a rat's ass about Elvis, not so long as Sister Rosetta was responsible for offering Richard Wayne Penniman his first paid gig.

He details it to biographer Charles White in The Life and Times of Little Richard, how he as a teen working at the local auditorium in Macon selling Cokes started singing "Strange Things Happening Every Day" while Sister Rosetta was in earshot.

She came over and talked to me. She asked me if I wanted to come up on stage that night and sing a song with her. During the show, in front of everybody, she invited me up to sing. Everybody applauded and cheered and it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Sister Rosetta gave me a handful of money after the show, about thirty-five or forty dollars, and I'd never had so much money in my life before. (The Life And Times Of Little Richard, Charles White, p. 17)

If Sister Rosetta rubbed off on anyone, she rubbed off on Little Richard.

You dig?


Richard Wayne Penniman was supposed to have been named "Ricardo," but there was some bureaucratic SNAFU, so his name became "Richard." Good, I guess. "Little Ricardo" just would not have been right.

He was born with a "deformity" that would haunt him well into his teens; he was teased for it by his brothers and downright tortured over it by his father: One of his legs was shorter than the other.

Frank Zappa lived with that same condition for the rest of his life after recovering from being shoved into the orchestra pit at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1971.

It's no Jesus on a slice of toast. But it is kind of fascinatin'.


Every year during Zappadan, I recognize Little Richard on his birthday. He's 81 today. Happy birthday, maestro.

Recognizing Little Richard during Zappadan is warranted of course because Little Richard is the originator of my favorite Mothers recording of all time, "Directly From My Heart" on Weasels Ripped My Flesh, featuring the vocal and fiddle stylings of Don "Sugarcane" Harris. The song was written and originally recorded by Little Richard (on The Fabulous Little Richard, released 17 months after he left Specialty Records).

Otis Redding called "Directly from My Heart to You" "the personification of soul." I like that, but the only modifier that comes to my mind is "sublime." I am close to naming it as my favorite musical effort ever.

I usually gloss over Little Richard in this piece, I usually am like yeah, happy birthday and thanks for the song, and now here's Fenton Robinson doing it. I don't want to do that today.

I want to beseech you to take Little Richard seriously.

Because I don't think we really do.

By way of example: A waspy couple enters a Las Vegas wedding chapel and are going through the menu of which celebrity impersonator they're going to have marry them. Liberace, they vote, or Little Richard. The establishment's procurer indicates that the Liberace impersonator is ill and not available. They settle for Little Richard and are led into the ceremony room.

And it's actually Little Richard. And they're like wow, he's really a good impersonator. The husband eventually cops that it actually is Little Richard. And she just can't believe it.

It happened on "The Young and the Restless" in 2008.

The real Little Richard working in a Vegas marriage chapel? Really? It just seems that the man has been a bit relegated to the status of eccentric character and isn't remembered so much as the guy who, is called by many the "architect of rock and roll."

Author David Kirby describes this problem adroitly in the introduction to his book, Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll (which also clued me in to the soap opera appearance).

You'd think a book with a title like William E. Studwell and D.F. Lonergan's The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from Its Beginnings to the Mid-1970s would give ample or at least adequate attention to the creator of rock 'n' roll or, at the very least, toss him and his music a paragraph or two. But no: "Tutti Frutti" is not listed under "Pioneering Rock Songs" or "Megastars and Megagroups" or even "Best Songs That Never Make Number 1." Instead, the song that changed music forever is in the "Novelty Songs" chapter along with Sammy Davis Jr.'s silly "The Candy Man" as well as "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini," "The Purple People Eater," and others by Petula Clark, the Fifth Dimension and the David Seville who was responsible for the Alvin and the Chipmunk Records. Can you imagine? The rock howler of Macon on the same plane as three musical rodents. (Kirby, page 6)

Omissions like this are puzzling, considering the long reach of testimonials from people we most routinely revere in rock. Check it (from the Wiki article):

  • Jimi Hendrix said "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice."
  • Ike Turner said Tina's early singing was based on Little Richard.
  • "Long Tall Sally" was the first song Paul McCartney performed in public
  • John Lennon said when he first heard "Long Tall Sally," he was so impressed that he "couldn't speak."
  • Mick Jagger called Little Richard "the originator and my first idol."
  • Keith Richards said the first time he heard "Tutti Frutti," "it was if, in a single instant, the world changed from monochrome to Technicolor."
  • David Bowie described his first time hearing "Tutti Frutti" as if he had "heard God."
  • Patti Smith: "When I was a little girl, Santa Claus didn't turn me on. Easter Bunny didn't turn me on. God turned me on. Little Richard turned me on."

Lou Reed, regarding "Long Tall Sally," said: "I don't know why and I don't care, but I wanted to go to wherever that sound was and make a life." Later in the interview, he's asked if he still likes rock and roll. "Are you kidding?" he responded. "It's not an ephemeral thing. I can listen to Little Richard forever." It's mere speculation, but it seems to me that Reed's use of the "I've been told that you've been bold" line in "Satellite of Love" is a fairly not-subtle nod to "Slippin' and Slidin'."

One final testimonial from Mr. Otis Redding:

"If it had't been for Little Richard I would not be here," he admitted in 1965. "I entered the music business because of Richard—he is my inspiration. I used to sing like Little Richard, his rock'n'roll stuff, you know. Richard has soul, too. My present music has a lot of him in it. He did a number way back called Directly From My Heart To You, which was the personification of soul, and he had one out—I heard it in LA a lot—called I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me. Yes, sir. Little Richard has done a lot for me and my soul brothers in the music business." (Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness by Geoff Brown, page 10)

For your further consideration:

The United States was introduced to Elvis Presley in 1956. His eponymous debut contained one song penned by Richard Wayne Penniman: "Tutti Frutti." On his quick follow-up, "Elvis," also released in 1956, Elvis covered "Long Tall Sally," also written by Little Richard. He also covered "Ready Teddy" and "Rip It Up," originally performed by Little Richard (though he does not claim a writing credit).

Four hits that helped launch Elvis Presley out of the gate were Little Richard songs.

Bill Haley, the Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and we cannot leave out the indefatigable Pat Boone, all of them covered Little Richard songs (Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists who Revolutionized Rhythm, Bob Gulla, page 27). Much of the grist for Frank Zappa's earliest gigs were Little Richard covers, as a matter of fact (Zappa: A Biography, Barry Miles, page 28).

The ones we revere most routinely, the ones most frequently rotated in our playlists, they revere Little Richard. That line gets drawn in so many ways to Little Richard because his was the voice that changed everything. Think of any of your favorite rock performers. Robert Plant. Eddie Vedder. Dave Grohl. Any Beatle. Any of them, all of them, reside in a tree that lists Little Richard at its tippy-top. And that's easy to forget because when you're looking back, it's easy to assume that things have always been a certain way.

But that just isn't so. "A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!" created a whole new universe.

That's right. I said it: In rock and roll, Little Richard is the Big Bang.

Enjoy your retirement, Bronze Liberace. We appreciate you.


Postscripts

I should note, having poo-pooed Elvis Presley earlier in this article, that Little Richard expressed his deep appreciation for Elvis and other white artists who recorded his material:

Like, see, when Elvis came out, a lot of black groups would say, 'Elvis cannot do so and so and so, shoo shoo shoo' [huffs and grumbles]. And I'd say, 'Shut up, shut up.' Let me tell you this—when I came out they wasn't playing no black artists on no Top 40 stations, I was the first to get played on the Top 40 stations—but it took people like Elvis and Pat Boone, Gene Vincent, to open the door for this kind of music, and I thank God for Elvis Presley. I thank the Lord for sending Elvis to open that door so I could walk down the road, you understand? (The Rolling Stone Interviews, p. 92)

I just wanted to be careful not to misrepresent the man's attitude. He thinks Elvis was just fine.


I almost forgot: Here's Fenton Robinson doing "Directly From My Heart."


In 2000, NBC aired a miniseries about Little Richard, based on the book Quasar of Rock: The Life and Times of Little Richard. It's not completely horrible. And it can be viewed on YouTube.

One of the best moments in the film is when, on the tour bus, a bandmate complains about having to wear makeup and implies (inadvertently, I think) that his boss is a "sissy." Little Richard responds:

Now, sneaking in the back doors so the white folks don't see us till we're on stage, eating in a parking lot of some restaurant that I wouldn't even pay to eat at the counter at, now *that* bothers me. Being called a sissy? You look-a here! Them white kids, they're dancing to *our* music! Okay, they may have Pat Boone on their record player in case their parents walk in, but they got *my* record underneath their pillow. You know which show we're playing here? You know how many colors have played here? None! You know why? 'Cause they can't! I am the first! I am the only! So if you wanna call me a sissy, go ahead! Knock yourself out, boy! But you make sure you call me a rich sissy. And you do as I do, you all gonna be rich sissies, too. Now, where my eyeliner?

I don't know how much of this is writer's embellishment or if he actually took down a bandmate like this.

Nor do I care. It's fabulous.


The title of this entry is from the liner notes for "Wowie Zowie" on Freak Out. In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IT'S A KITTEH PLAYING A THEREMIN!

Me: I think if you kill someone, you should be hauled in and charged. WTF is happening to this country?

Commenter #1: someone breaks in my house should expect a lead welcome

Me: And you should expect to answer to the law afterwards.

Commenter #2: answer to the law for protecting his home?????????

Me: Yes. There was a murder. I'd like for murders in my community to be investigated, please.

This is an exchange I actually had with a couple of commenters on Facebook.

We were talking about the case of Renisha McBride, a Detroit woman who was shot to death when she knocked on the wrong door trying to get help after a traffic accident. Authorities know who fired the shot that killed her, but no arrests have been made.

What the "stand your ground" statutes have accomplished is a retreat from the notion that if a person is a suspect in a murder, the person should actually have to be inconvenienced by, say, talking to a police officer.

This country is losing its gravity-bound mind.


Now, as promised:

By my count it's 20 days until Zappadan, and I'll tell you what, I have a few nice things planned for this year. But man, that War on Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Encroachment

"In gridiron football, encroachment refers to when before the snap, a defensive player illegally crosses the line of scrimmage and makes contact with an opponent or has a clear path to the quarterback."

It can at times offer a team's opponent a 14-point advantage at a crucial time in the football game. See Bills, Buffalo.



In Other News
Remember when Wolf Blitzer was talking to that tornado survivor and was inexplicably all like "you gotta thank the Lord, right," and she's like, "I'm actually an atheist?" Her whole story is actually pretty charming.

Includes kitteh goodness.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bright Before Me: The Signs Implore Me

Pretty much the only thing I have ever known until now about Claudine Longet is that she mounted a ridiculous defense for a murder rap. And the only reason I knew that is because I was reared on Saturday Night Live. What I didn't know until recently is that one of Longet's standards is one of my very favorite songs. Goes like this:

Only, I usually hear it like this:

I mean, you can spoof on Randy Newman all you want:

But he wrote this lovely thing.

Covers of the song are not uncommon, shall we say. But you haven't lived until you've heard this one:

Just sit for a moment and let that sentiment sink in: Human kindness is overflowing. And, I think it's going to rain today. Then try not to smile. It's really something.
So I've got to thank my Moms for an early birthday present. Have a look.

Last weekend was an Edinboro visit weekend, as the previous was the big family reunion. It was grand and both locations are beautiful off the charts. Plus, we had a mission, to get my Granny set up with a compyooter since the provider she's used for years is shuttering. The book seller lady has moved out of the mall onto Erie Street. And the world-famous Edinboro Mall is still sad. But it certainly is beautiful and an excellent locale to scout out some good cast iron. (This pan was a bargain at $22.50.)
More YouTube goodness, a wonderful Nova episode regarding Darwin and evolution:


    Recent Notes, Somehow Related
  • So, if you choose to sit in a public bathroom stall singing a song at the top of your lungs, what is the best song choice you can come up with? I learned today from an actual event that it is: "Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel.
  • Try as you might, there is no elegant way to haul a 36-roll package of Scott Bathroom Tissue across a trendy downtown avenue.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together

I didn't know it was a thing until I read about it on The Blue: Corpsing.

That would be what happens when you are a cast member and one of your fellow players forces you to break character and laugh. As defined: "Corpsing is a British theatrical slang word for when an actor unintentionally breaks character during a scene by laughing or by causing another cast member to laugh."

A compilation of these instances on Saturday Night Live has recently been circulated.

However, I say that an earlier generation of sketch actors makes these guys look like pikers when it comes to corpsing. Here's an example.

Apparently this incident was pretty legendary. Vicki Lawrence tells the story:


One last YouTube hat-tip to the reference in this post's title. Get ready to tug on your left ear:


In Other News

A few nice "Orange Is The New Black" links from Buzzfeed:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Orange Is The New Black Is The New Weeds

If you are a Netflix subscriber and you haven't yet made it through the season of "Orange Is The New Black," you're wasting your $8 a month. Seriously. Cancel your subscription, then take $8 out of your wallet and go flush it down in your toilet. That's what it's like if you have the Netflix and you're not through "Orange" yet.

Sometimes, when a successful showrunner moves to the follow-up project from the smash hit that made them known as a wunderkind, bad things happen. David E. Kelley got progressively loonier until he's now with "Harry's Law," I guess, is that still on the air? Aaron Sorkin went the other way, erring too much in The Newsroom toward ponderous to be enjoyable. It can be a worry when a successful writer marches toward a new project. But from "Weeds" to "Orange Is The New Black," you may trust that Jenji Kohan has not lost one whit of her fantastic sensibility.

Having not read Piper Kerman's book, I don't know how custom-cut the stories therein were for the show, but Piper certainly seems like a perfect fit for Kohan; the WASPy suburbanite woman as fish-out-of-water, as being one who thrives on the razor's edge somewhat, as perpetually quite having it together as a result, and yet as a crafty, and sometimes explosive, survivor, yet not without an inevitable downward trajectory as a cost. Yesh, the similarities are uncanny between Nancy "Pants" Botwin and our new friend Piper Chapman.

But Chapman's character is necessarily subdued by a brilliant cast of characters who are there ostensibly to represent the faces of the terrifying reality one faces with a 15-month stint in prison but eventually to become just as rich, vibrant, and complicated a bunch as were the Botwin clan and allies.

Pay close attention to Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren (pictured, center). Know as you watch that this actress is an accomplished performer in musical comedy (Godspell). Then watch as Suzanne Warren evolves. I mean, all of these performances are like you might have come to expect if you're a hard-core "Weeds" watcher (and, if you are, you'll note a number of actors did carry over from that series). But Aduba is one to watch here.

Regardless of how good the ensemble, the real star is Jenji Kohan's perfect pitch. In the land of creative minds in television, nobody skates the line between the funny and the white-knuckling drama better than does she. This is stormy comedy at its finest and should not be missed.

And blasted, now we have to wait for season two. Though, I'm mighty glad it's coming.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Man of Steel versus The Lone Ranger

I have recently seen two superhero genre films that took seemingly ancient and beloved source material and applied the ol' Reimaginer to it, the first, "Man of Steel," an ostensible attempt to rub a little smudge on the Superman myth, as was successfully done recently to Batman, and today, I went to see "The Lone Ranger."

Now, you might surmise from the art that has headed this blog for some years (which my Mother really likes, as she was both costume designer and photographer), Superman has long been near and dear as a story to me. My first allowance, in fact, was twenty-six cents per week, offered so that I could go up to the local five-and-dime and purchase the very latest Superman comic. I took interest in other costumed crime fighters, of course, but Superman was the core hero to me.

So of course I was intrigued by the notion of giving the "dark knight" treatment to our man from Krypton, and I was equally crestfallen to find that these moviemakers' idea was to take the Superman story and to apply it liberally with "Transformers" level CGI and encounter upon punishing encounter among super hero and/or villains. "Man of Steel" was the kind of film where I sat there begging for its end. It is not so much a bad film as it is a self-inflicted punishment.

And can we please tamp on the breaks with films that now feel free to appropriate September Eleventh imagery? Attention, directors: It's still too soon. We lived through it; you think we need to see it gussied up and ruling the big digital screen? "Man of Steel" is particularly egregious with this.

"Man of Steel" gets it right in spots, as in, it offers another viewpoint of the man Clark Kent was before he donned the cape, it bothers to reflect on what it would mean to be out in the world possessing that kind of power, and, for a while, it realizes that Clark Kent is just as interesting a character as is Superman, if not more interesting.

And, by the way: This isn't an "S," where I come from, it stands for hope? REALLY? FU, "Man of Steel." What a horrible back-bend of bizarre conceit.

So, how could that movie make 2.5 hours seem so painful, while yet my selection today effortlessly held my captive attention for the same time period?

"The Lone Ranger" is a marvel. It is a nearly perfect movie. I have been champing at the bit to see it for months, and it was not as good as I had expected it to be. It was 12 times better. This is a film that adores its source, that paces its story, that plays the action like a well-strummed theremin, that is comedic and dramatic and entertaining and that hits every note perfectly right on through the coda.

Much of this is a credit to Johnny Depp of course, to the point that the movie could probably be re-titled "Tonto." Casting the story with the sidekick as the brains of the operation is a brilliant turn of the wrench, and, when you think about it a minute, makes a lot more sense anyway. And it's this kind of rethinking of story, this wonderful effort at more heavily detailing this canvas, that makes "The Lone Ranger" a more than welcome update.

I know, I know, I know. Some reviewers have panned "The Lone Ranger." I have seen such reviews, and I do not understand them. What I know is that I have seen two perfect movies this year, the first being "Django Unchained," and the second, this wonderful, fun, thoughtful film that reinvigorates a show I watched in reruns on the tube as a kid and that gathered reverence from guys like my Dad and my Uncle Hat.

Eschew the reviews. Go see "The Lone Ranger." And, do not waste your time with "Man of Steel."

Next on my list: "The Heat" and "20 Feet from Stardom."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Captain Io

That you know Justin Bieber but you don't know Linda Morabito is a crying shame. Morabito is the first person to ever have noticed geological activity on a body outside of the Earth. Her discovery led to the realization that the Earth is not indeed the most geologically active body in our own solar system.

That's what I said: The most geologically active object in the solar system isn't Earth. It's not even a planet.

It's Io, one of Jupiter's Galilean moons.

Io is the closest of Jupiter's satellites and therefore is affected by tidal forces caused by Jupiter's massive gravitational power and "orbital resonance" with its larger moon friends Europa and Ganymede.

We've known that Io existed since January 7, 1610, when it was discovered by Galileo. But we've only known it has volcanoes since 1979, when Morabito looked at pictures of the moon and saw this enormous plume. Nobody else was really looking at the moons because they were busy with Jupiter, but as it turns out, Jupiter's moons are, how you say, KICK-ASS.

That was the first discovery ever of volcanic activity anywhere in the universe besides Earth.

I love science.

In other news:


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

I'm so glad that Elantra in the garage that I keep mistaking for my own car wasn't my own car. That owner is going to get a nasty surprise today, in the form of a post-it note that says "the license plate of the car that hit you is..."

Ugh. That and the weird way the couple of to-go boxes were piled near the back tire. Somebody had quite a party there, just hanging out in the garage.

I'm going to have to start parking on 3 instead of 2.

Meanwhile, Happy Independence Day! Texas Gov. Rick Perry believes that Americans have "freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."

I distinctly remember the first time someone used the ol' "freedom of religion not freedom from religion" line on me. 1993, maybe? It sounds just as terrifying now as it did then, especially when it's coming from state executive types who have actually been considered for the White House.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How Allen the Alien Became Jerry Burko's Friend

Jerry Burko had by now come to imagine that the tree he usually focused on when he came here was bowed by fatigue of working so hard for so many years. Holding up the sky, he reckoned, was mighty hard work.

The tree was to the right of his field of vision from the bench where he had taken to sitting. He'd prop his hands on the bench's edge with a lit cigarette clenched between his knuckles. He wasn't the tallest kid in school, but he was considered to be one of the roughest, with shoulder length, unkempt hair, a swarthy complexion and rough workman's hands at only 15. Today, as was often, he bravely wore his Pittsburgh Steelers jersey.

The perception that Jerry was a tough kid wasn't all his fault, but he did nothing to dissuade the impression. When he was little, his Dad was a pretty rough guy. He was tall and strapping and had a booming voice. During the day, he helped the local electric utility check meters. At night when the weather allowed it, he was the only parent who ever came out with the fellas to play capture the flag or kickball. There were many times when the fellas appreciated Mr. Burko's intervention. It often prevented that awkward and somewhat terrifying moment when one of the kids gets kicked in the shins and runs home screaming for Mama. There was no need to fear the rogue tattler. Mr. Burko was there.

But Stan Burko apparently had some problems that went beyond his powerful personality and his wholesome interest in the development of young men. When Jerry was just 10 years old, Mr. Burko ended his life. And, rumor has it and Jerry had never attempted to squash the rumor, that his Dad had been such a tough guy that his weapon of choice was an electric drill.

It was, of course, an incredible claim. But Jerry never said otherwise. And nobody ever dared to question it.

Today was a calm, brisk, beautiful day in his little Ohio town. The river was calm here. The air smelled delicious. And the sun felt good on his face as he closed his eyes up to it. Jerry Burko was really enjoying his day, although he soon would need to wrap up his cigarette and get back on his bicycle. His Mom worried.

His peace was weirdly interrupted as Allen the Alien rode past him on his ten-speed that was too big for him, down the path about 40 feet, and promptly wiped out in a fashion that would be difficult to explain.

Jerry extinguished his butt and put it in his pocket as he got up to see if the smaller kid was okay.

"Don't hurt me!" yelled Allen. "Please don't hurt me!"

"What?" said Jerry. "What are you talking about, kid? I'm just trying to see if you're okay."

Jerry helped the small, fair boy to his feet. He indicated that the kid should sit down, then put out his hand for a shake. "I'm Jerry," he said. Allen was still shaken by the fall and a little nervous about his chance encounter with THE Jerry Burko. "I know who you are," he said. "I'm Allen. And they're going to be here any second to beat me up."

"Who?"

"Sam Garfield and those guys."

Jerry shrugged.

"We're at middle school together. They'll be freshmen next year, so you don't know them. I'm a year behind them."

"Thought I'd seen you up at the high school."

"Yeah, I take a few AP classes there."

Figures, thought Jerry.

"So why are they coming after you, man?" asked Jerry.

"Because," said Allen, "I peed on Sam."

Jerry blinked hard, and then he beamed. "You what?"

Allen's face became worried again as he realized he was actually going to have to explain this. "Sam does this thing to the smaller kids. When you're at the urinal, he likes to come up behind you, grab your belt buckle and move you around. He calls it 'writing on the wall,' though I'm sure he himself misses the irony in him calling it that. So he does this and eventually makes you piss all over yourself.

"Well, I knew it was coming. He was at the one sink and his hoodlum friends were at the other, that's how they set it up so you can't get out of it. So I held back. I waited for him to come up behind me, and I..."

"You let him have it?" Jerry interrupted, laughing.

Allen's face went from worried to laughing and a bit proud. "Yeah, man. I did. I soaked him."

"And now they want a piece of you. Because they're stupid enough to pull a prank like that, and you made it backfire?"

"Yep."

The two took to laughing, laughing one of those laughs that's nearly fatal, one of those laughs that feeds half from the original source material and half from the other fella's laughter. It was cathartic and joyful and it did not stop until three boys rode up on their one-speeds and cut into the dirt with the wheels.

"Hey Jerry, 'sup," said the lead boy.

Jerry looked at the kid, then stood up. Jerry was a bigger kid than any of these, but he was doing the math. There was no way to take them all, and, besides, despite his reputation, the truth was that Jerry Burko had not ever actually been in a fight.

"So, I guess Allen here really gave you a shower today, huh, little man?"

"Yeah, and we're gonna KICK HIS LITTLE ALIEN ASS," said Sam Garfield, and his friends agreed with nods and whoops.

"Okay fellas, sure, have at him, of course," said Jerry, to which Allen objected with a sharp "whoop." "But I'll tell you what. You lay a hand on this kid and I will see to it personally that you, you, and you are known as 'The Piss Boys' when you get to high school."

The chubby little guy blinked his vacant eyes. "That's not cool, man."

"Well, that's the deal. You get your rocks off by your little 'writing on the wall' stunt—which, by the way is rather um...what did you say about calling it that, Allen? Ironic?"

"Yeah, ironic."

"Well, that means that you like to play with piss. So, in exchange for my allowing you to get back at Allen here for turning your own trick on you—which I thought was brilliant, by the way—you three boys will enter high school next year with a reputation of having a penchant for piss. When the upper classmen walk by you in the halls, they'll make a little sssssssss noise wherever you go. And, Sam Garfield, I will make certain that at least eight times during your freshman year, you, too, will experience the joyful event that you have come to call 'writing on the wall,' followed perhaps by a little trick we like to call the 'swirlie.'

"That, gentlemen, is your certain future if you get ahold of this young man today. So, if that's what you want...I'll just step aside and let you at him."

The three hesitated with sour looks on their faces. Then: "C'mon guys, let's go. He's not worth it anyway."

They retreated.

Allen thanked Jerry profusely and awkwardly and went on his way.

Jerry lit another cigarette and thought about his Dad, who was always bugging him to come out and play with him and the other kids in the neighborhood. He never did, not once.

Now he often wished he had.

He finished smoke #2, got on his own 10-speed, and started pedaling for home. It was sloppy joe night, and Jerry liked sloppy joes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weird Scenes Inside the Building Where I Live

A neighbor performed a Jedi mind trick on me this afternoon as I waited for the elevator.

Neighbor (waving his hand mysteriously): "It is chilly outside, and you will need a jacket."

Me: "It is chilly outside, and I will need a jacket."

Okay, that's not how it actually happened.


Meanwhile, the Night Before

Attention, my fellow apartment residents: If you're missing your collection of Hustler, Penthouse, and Barely Legal periodicals, they are sitting in a big pile in the hallway.


Trying To Grok Beef Shanks Barbacoa Tacos Recipe Braised Beef Pasta Sauce Recipe


And Here Are Some Good (YouTube) Poopers

Dikekike, Orpheusftw, Adventure2theUnknown, Attackofthehank, chemistryguy, Keeperof Porridge, kevmcallister, Likety, MrTPoops, ipoop7colors, Deepercutt, DurhamrockerZ

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pay Attention

I used to think that "Question The Answers" was the ultimate Mighty Mighty Bosstones album. I no longer think this. I reached this conclusion while I was driving home from an involuntarily protracted visit to a bulk/warehouse store known as "BJs." I was involuntarily detained in the BJ's parking lot because there was an accident at the light. Right there. I was going to go off to Wal-Mart to purchase a crock pot because I need said Crock for a shank stew I intend to make at some point. However, since I was so detained, I went back into the BJ's and purchased said appliance there. Traffic was still backed up by the time I returned to the car, however, so I figured I would go visit the weirdly unfriendly used CD store nearby. This place is always strangely unfriendly, at least it has been every time I went in there. There always seems to be some guy standing there talking to the guy at the cash register and making what he imagines is incredibly hip observations about popular music, and the cashier has to stand there and listen. Then when the third guy walks in, the other two guys are too into the conversation for the shopkeeper to acknowledge your presence. It's a weird approach to retail. "People will always know who Bob Dylan is," the guy is saying. "I mean, do you think they'll know who Justin Bieber is 50 years from now?" I quickly spy a pretty healthy section of used ska CDs (that means there are about 8 of them), including a Mustard Plug comp I'm drooling over, but I end up picking up a Madness CD I've not seen anywhere and "Pay Attention" by the aforementioned Mighty Mighty Bosstones. As I'm browsing, I decide how I'm going to get back at this fucker for not so much as nodding at his third customer there. I approach the counter with my purchase. I say in the friendliest voice I can muster, “Hi, Jerry. How are you doing?” Then I look at the other fellow, and I say, "George! How've you been?" George looked like he'd like to have kilt me. Anyway. As I indicated. From my summary listen on the way home from that little adventure, I would have to say that I think "Pay Attention" > "Question the Answers." Also, from this point forth, if I don't know your name, chances are good that I may decide call you by the name of a character in "Seinfeld." Just seems like a great way to break the ice.