New Year’s Eve 1998, and I was at this pretty cool keg party (new hypothesis: parties are okay as long as the ratio of both singles-to-marrieds and beer-to-wine is at least five-to-one) in my neighborhood. They played (natch) "1999" right after midnight, but they didn’t have the album version with the ominous voice preceding the song. So I piped up and got to be the Voice of God, the role I’ve always felt was I was born to play. Other fun I had was sneaking peeks at this gal who was wearing an all-brown outfit (dammit brown is hotter than black in my opinion), and who after a couple of beers and a touch of champagne (on my part) bore quite a resemblance to Laura San Giacomo. At some point, I made my New Year’s resolution: during the coming year, I just want to once say "I was born ready."
The best part of this New Year’s blast was when I walked into the little room where the keg was, and there was this trashed, red-faced Packer fan sitting next to the barrel. He had been telling the Purple fans in the room that "there is only one team in football, and that’s the Packers." The Purple fans were giving him shit about their team beating the Pack twice during the last season, and the poor guy had run out of ammo and was just sitting there, taking it. As I poured myself a beer (there is something so refreshing and pure and fountain-of-youth-like about pouring draft beer from a tap into one of those little plastic cups ... you gotta do it once a year just to feel nineteen again), I asked the Packer Fan: "Hasn’t the Pack actually won Super Bowls? You’d think Purple fans would wait until their team actually won a big game before they shoot their mouths off!" Then I of course left the room to the sounds of a rejuvenated Packer Fan laying it thick on the suddenly quiet Purple fans.
Ahhhhh, the life of the instigator - every day, every week, every year brings a new challenge. 1999 is gonna be great.
You know how dreams are? Thing in ‘em change, people in ‘em change, but it’s not until the next day (or next year - sometimes I don’t remember dreams I’ve had until years later) that you realize the dream was sort of shoved together on the run by your subconscious, like it was more concerned with keeping the action moving - it fits whoever it could grab from your memory and experiences into the dream sequence - than in making sense.
Like I had this dream where I was a contestant on Rock & Roll Jeopardy! Being a dream, the show wasn’t quite like the one on VH1. Instead of a TV studio, the show was being taped in a bar. The host wasn’t that E!-like guy on VH1, it was this cool guy who seemed to be Jon Stewart. In the dream it crossed my mind that I probably looked horrible on TV - I don’t photograph well at all (there have only been five good photos of me taken since age five), so it goes without saying that I would not video well. My mindset was that I had to win a bunch of money to offset being a dork on national TV. And although I think the bar was the CC Club - I remember telling the people with me that we could just walk home if it wasn’t raining - the bar was lit like the 400 Bar and the beer glasses were like the 400’s. But then again, the jukebox was all CC.
Some of the dream was focused. Like I remember the other two contestants pretty well - some aged long-haired dude and this rocker chick. The retired hippie was real smug and talked about "indigenous music" which after awhile I finally figured out meant folk, blues, country, and all American music that 1) had been written on extensively in real dry books that were read by postgraduates; and 2) wasn’t too loud or distorted. (i.e. Elvis’ early stuff and most Bob Dylan is indigenous; I assumed Nirvana and the Sonics weren’t.) As for the rocker chick, she was sporting leather pants and a tight teeshirt and I basically hated her because she was beautiful. She was spunky, too, kind of like a Carmen Electra Lite, and used the word "rock" a lot as a verb. Of course, the crew of the show focused much attention on her.
So there we had it: the deliberate intellectual, the party girl, and me - wearing faded jeans, black boots, a tee-shirt and my Pacino-esque leather jacket that my pal Turk gave me years ago. I was half-convinced I was going to win this thing with sheer witty talent and heart, and half-convinced that I would lose in a scenario where Indigenous Guy would build a huge lead on Al Green and Sam Phillips answers, while Electra Lite would beat me out on nerf-metal and teen-idol topics. Indigenous Guy would win the match and collect some righteous bucks, Electra Lite would end up on some MTV beach party thing in the spring, and I’d be sent home with an electric toothbrush and a VH1 Storytellers compilation CD.
But so much in the dream was just fragments, and its characters kept shifting in emphasis and presence. Like early on in the dream, I remember my brother Randy being there, he bought me a Leiny tap and was going over how much to bet during Final Jeopardy. He had this formula down pat, it was in three steps, and it all made sense in the dream. Then at some point, my brother may have been there somewhere, but Turk was standing there, big pint of beer in his hand, laughing at me. And then my friend Joel was there and he asked how much beer I had had, mostly so he could turn the talk into a conversation about The Hustler and the part where Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats stay up all night playing pool and Eddie loses while getting drunk and somebody pointed out that I’m no Paul Newman, but that the Tom Cruise character in The Color of Money always had his shirt unbuttoned and untucked just like I did for years. Then I pointed out that Forest Whitaker was in The Color of Money and that he had hustled Paul Newman and I said that Forest had also been in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I had brought this up just so I could say "I thought he just flew in for games," then Joel pointed out that Forest had been in Bank Robber and that both Lisa Bonet and Olivia d’Abo had gotten naked in that one, and Turk groaned because he hadn’t seen that movie yet, and the conversation then got turned into one about The Wonder Years and I said that the episodes about butthead-brother Wayne were the ones that invariably made my eyes moist - like the one where Kevin threw a party that trashed the house and Wayne took the blame, the one where Wayne wanted to join the Marines, and the one where Kevin had an affair with Wayne’s girlfriend...
Then I’m sitting in a booth in the CC getting my makeup done and Turk advises me to "be a Brooks and not a Woog" and Randy is saying "remember that Boston did finally release that third album," and I’m thinking about how this is my curse, my destiny to be on TV, my fifteen minutes. And I think of being a junior in high school and somebody tells everyone at the lunch table that I "spend my entire evenings reading album notes," and I try to tell them that it’s not true ... it’s not true, I just read them after I buy the album and are giving it that first listen, that I just read a lot and absorb a lot and I just happen to remember that Neil Young wrote "Powderfinger" for Lynyrd Skynyrd and that Jackson Browne co-wrote "Take It Easy" and that Lee "Scratch" Perry produced "Complete Control" and that Thomas Dolby played keyboards on Pyromania under a pseudonym. I am cursed to remember this stuff and now I want to cash my curse in on some cable network’s Attempt To Be Cool. And as it happens in dreams, suddenly there was a fast-forward and I was behind a podium in the middle of a Rock & Roll Jeopardy! match.
And the topics on the Jeopardy! board weren’t nice. They weren’t nice at all.
Overrated Rock Stars For $100
A: Placed on Time’s cover in 1989 and declared "Rock’s Renaissance Man"; ironically his music has influenced absolutely no one.
Me: Who is David Byrne?
Hey Sarah, Duchess of York: shouldn’t you make those commercials AFTER you lose some weight?
Recently, my hero Dan "The Common Man" Cole on KFAN has been espousing his theory on why he doesn’t go to company events: why spend your free time with people you have to work with all week long? Long ago this became my theory as well.
I used to be such an idiot. I used to voluntarily drive half an hour to some gathering just to hang out with the same people whose lame jokes, prying questions, and isn’t-this-company-great? attitudes bedeviled me all week long. (Just another reason I’d love to go back in time and kick the ass of the twentysomething Wyman.) My former employer used to have these two-or-three times a year gatherings at these cheesy suburban hotels where you’d go, hear the big shots talk, they’d pass out some awards, and then you’d get to drink free beer and eat appetizers. (If you could get to the food and drink - y’know how tough it is to try to get to the table of doughnuts in the break room on Friday morning when the already-quite-well-fed people are blocking the table like Mike Commordore in front of Karl Goehring? Just try to get a beer from the mobile bar or a couple of chicken wings when those folks are around.)
One time I went to a propaganda gathering and while I was sucking on an imported brew and yukking it up with a fellow coworker about The Simpsons, my boss came up and made it a point to tell me that I had put a wrong number on some report and that the big shots had quizzed him intensely on it in a meeting that morning. I reminded him that he had told me last week over the phone to change that number to the one I used. He emphatically denied this, and funny - he brought the whole issue up while HIS BOSS was standing right by us, making sure I would be implicated in the fuckup.
You’d think that would have taught me to stay away from these events. But remember - I used to be quite the impressionable moron. What finally kept me away was one time when after all the presentations and awards, they made us break into small groups ("teams", they called ‘em) for quality meetings instead of being rewarded for our attendance with immediate free booze.
What’s a quality meeting, you ask? Well, the quality movement was this eighties management gimmick that of course my former employer adopted in the nineties. It’s basic premise is that management is fucking lazy - management’s job is supposed to be to solve problems; but in a quality company, the working stiffs solve the company’s problems instead. Which means instead of getting your work done, you have to got sit in bullshit meetings and "brainstorm," while some dude or dudette "facilitates." Most times, you get to decide something like what color of fax paper the company should use - then after hours of hammering out the specifics, management overrules you anyway. It gets worse: come raise time, you only get a cost-of-living increase, because now you’re "empowered." Dontcha love teamwork?
Anyway, the lesson of this little diatribe is: when forced between a choice of A) Drinking free Heineken during back-stabbing season, or B) No Heineken, but you get to be a team player; your choice is always C) None of the above - go home and drink a sixer of Schmidt while watching SportsCenter. Too bad it took me so long to figure this one out.
How To Be A Highly-paid Whore For $300
A: This Motor City populist turned down Ford in the eighties, but now turns tricks for Chevy Trucks in the nineties.
Me: Who is Bob Seger?
Another Rolling Stones album was released and for a couple of days everyone talked about it. Rolling Stone gave it four stars, said it was "their best since Sticky Fingers." Jim Walsh gave it a half star in his review. My friends and I bitched, wondering why the Stones didn’t just retire, or go back to their roots and do an album of blues covers. My older acquaintances claimed to have heard some of it on KQ, said it was good. One friend said he heard a song on Cities 97, said it was okay. My brother said he saw their new video and it had some hot babes in it.
One boomer friend bought it because he "has all their other ones," which to him means all the Stones albums going back to Beggars Banquet. (Just as my version of the Stones started with the "Come On" single and ended with Exile on Main Street; his version of the Stones started with the "Jumping Jack Flash" single and continues to this day.) He loaned me the album, telling me "you gotta hear the killer riff on track five." I took it home, popped it in my CD player, and it turns out the album has no music on it at all, it’s just sixty minutes of blank disc time, divided into twelve tracks.
I called him up. "What is this, a joke? There’s nothing on this album."
"Yeah, right, you’re just being cynical as usual," he said.
"No, seriously. There’s no music on it."
"Yeah, you were going to hate it no matter what. Why don’t you just go back and listen to your Black Crowes then?"
Baffled, I went to the Electric Fetus, plugged the Stones disc in at a listening station, and same thing - nothing.
"This Stones album has nothing on it!" I blurted too loudly.
"Where have you been the last twenty years?" the clerk cracked.
I had to get to the bottom of this, sure shit, so I called Jagger up. (Yes, the rumor is true: because I allowed the Stones to name their best album after my zine, I have an in with them. Jagger said I should feel free to call him anytime. I never do - what would I say? "Wanna do lunch??") He answered, we exchanged pleasantries and small talk, then I cut to the chase. Jagger, ever composed, was ready for me.
"Yeah," he said, "I knew you’d bring the new album up. And the thing is: I’m gonna tell you that it’s true - that album is complete and utter silence. I can tell you this, because I’ve read your zine and I can see that you completely fabricate most of the stuff you write, and the things you don’t make up, you steal from others. So even if you write what I tell you, nobody’s gonna believe you anyway, right? Your credibility is shot.
"The new album? Look, no matter what we do, all of our so-called diehard fans are gonna eat it up, right? I mean, it gets depressing when I think I about - no matter what we put out as an album, there’s this large contingent of people - and many of ‘em have their children roped into it now, too - who are gonna love our record and our tour, unconditionally. And they’ll especially love the concert they see us at - you think even if they’re sitting in the back top row of a Metrodome or whatever and they can’t see us and the sound is lame and they can’t tell whether we’re doing ‘Satisfaction’ or ‘2000 Light Years From Home;’ you think even if they’re having a miserable experience that they’ll confess to it? They’ll maybe only get to see the Rolling Stones once or twice in their life and of course they’re gonna think it was great.
"Then there’s the little purist punks like yourself who are gonna mock us and make Geritol jokes no matter what, right? Because Brian Jones is dead and Mick Taylor is out of the band and fat anyway and we don’t sound ‘authentic’ enough for you. Well, sorry, you can’t just go back; you should be smart enough to know that by now. So the way I see it - we can save some time and money by not recording an album, but release one anyway. We just put some interesting type of decadent-like package together, I’ll call Jann Wenner for a guaranteed four stars, and then once radio and the print media begins their hype, a buzz will begin to build about our tour. Then our diehard fans will show up and your type won’t and so it goes until the next round, right?"
Knowing what I knew, I had to ask an obvious question. "Are you actually going to tour," I asked, "or are you just going to say you are? You’ll sell out all those buildings, everybody will show up to see no one on stage not playing anything, but they’ll think they’re experiencing the Rolling Stones anyway?"
Jagger chuckled. "You’re the cynical sort, aren’t ya?" He chuckled some more, then hung up.
Paul Should Be Dead For $500
A: In a highly hypocritical move, Paul decried Nike for using "Revolution" in a commercial, while at the same time selling the rights he owned of this great artist’s songs - without which the Beatles’ music would not exist - to companies such as Hyundai.
Me: Who is Buddy Holly?
Meanwhile - in the Barry Switzer Has More Super Bowl Wins Than Bud Grant Department...
When someone chokes, do they turn purple? It was with much glee that I watched the Purple piss away their conference championship game against the Falcons. Maybe it would have been sweeter if they would have won and then (inevitably) gone on to lose another Super Bowl, but I don’t think I could deal with two more weeks of that Purple Pride crap or seeing even more of those stoopid car flags. (Which I thought would be flown at half-mast after the Falcons game, but mysteriously seemed to have disappeared.)
So it was probably best to see the Purple blow it in their precious Thunderdome and hear all those fans go quiet. Not that they were quiet the next day: radio shows were full of finger-pointing fans blaming everyone from Robert Smith (who, it should be noted, wasn’t the one who went two-for-seven in overtime in passing) to Gary Anderson (who, it should be noted, wasn’t the one who let the Falcons drive seventy yards to tie up the game with two minutes left.) My theory is that since holy rollers like Randall Cunningham and Cris Carter think that God cares about football, the LORD DECIDED TO LOOK DOWN FROM HEAVEN ABOVE AND HE SMOTE DOWN THE PURPLE.
It goes without saying that Purple fans did not credit the Falcons for never quitting and for playing a smart, gutsy game. Because it wasn’t Dan Reeves who decided to take a knee with thirty seconds left in regulation and two time-outs in his hand. And Purple fans - who once they get shocked into remembering that their team has always been a bunch of choke artists - love to point fingers. Three Deep?? Try Six Feet Under! See ya later, Purple!
You Didn’t Think They Had It In Them For $1,000
A: When asked by Schlitz if his songs could be used to sell their beer, he agreed under the condition that his face appear on their cans.
Me: Who is Steven Tyler?
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