As a young boy in the 60’s, my connection to the music world came in the form of a handheld transistor AM radio. It had a little carrying strap on it, and you tuned in the stations on the little dial with your thumb. There were numbers visible on the dial, but you just mostly spun until you heard something you liked. In northeastern New Jersey, there were two stations, 77 WABC, and WMCA 570 (“First on your dial”). I was into music a little more than my friends, who were very focused on baseball. I was too, carrying my mitt on the handlebars of my Stingray-style bike wherever I went. We wore “dungarees” then, usually with rolled cuffs on the bottom that would accommodate growth spurts, relieving moms from tailoring duties.
Why do people have to preface whatever there are going to say with the actual thing they are doing? Is it to get our attention? Why wouldn’t you dive right in and save some drama without the setup? Whenever I hear someone say ”Let me tell you something”, the situation immediately deteriorates. It is never spoken in calm, even tones. It probably comes at you from an irate person, while they point a finger in your face.
Another time waster is “Can I ask you a question?”. It should be “ Can I ask you another question after this one?” Why ask a question about asking a question? Ask the question for fuck’s sake! Another peach is assaulting the person you are conversing with the verbal diarrhea news blast stating that you just said something: “Having said that”, after saying something, is completely useless. It’s just another way of saying you are going to blather on some more. It’s just filler to connect verbal sausages links of hot air. Another gem is the king of all setup lines, “To tell you the truth”. This indicates that all of the above was and probably is a boatload o’ bullshit, and that everything you just spoke about was an assload of lies. Whenever my ears pickup this line, my mind hears “I usually spend all of my waking hours talking to people about the grand delusions constantly running in my head, and I choose to take this microsecond to speak the truth”. It is usually delivered with the person leaning in towards you a little, in a hushed tone. As if someone else within earshot hears it, they will call them out on it because it is indeed some more bullshit!
Wouldn’t it be great if just once, while you were on the receiving end of this tripe, the caped crusader Captain Bullshit jumped in out of seemingly nowhere. He would swoop in, grab the swill spewing verbal assailant by the shoulder and spin them around, face to face and scream: “Let me tell you something, can I ask you a question? Why do you waste the time of tax-paying citizens with your vocal vomit? Having said that, you will now be escorted to The Land Of Mindless Chatter. There, you will be in the company of other simpletons, where you can yammer till the end of time”. He would then grab this person by the waist (pending girth) and fly them away.
There was a time back in the late 60′s and early 70’s, before iPhones and instant access to everything, when rock bands played without massive hi-def screens and laser lights behind them onstage. Visions of paisley, hippies, and psychedelic music were deeply threaded into the social fabric at the time. Amidst protests against the war and marches for civil rights, rock bands and artists spoke for and to the masses with their music. No description of the 60’s is complete without mentioning the monumental cultural venue of all venues: The Fillmore East. Featuring some of the biggest acts in rock music at the time, The Fillmore became the defining icon for psychedelic light show backdrops as a moving, living art canvas. The Pig Light Show, under the direction of Marc Rubinstein, became the house light show at the Fillmore until the venue’s closing in 1971. He recently took some time to do an interview with me and promote his new project, The Pig Light Show Experience. I’m sure readers of Teflon Slope will enjoy it as much as I did.
So it’s Friday night, watching Total Recall 2012. My wife and I are in the den, I look over at her on our U-shaped couch facing our 50” widescreen plasma TV, and notice she’s asleep. No surprise. It’s been a long week; she’s wiped after a hard week teaching 6th graders and being judged on it. The two semi-adult boys are out with their buddies. Our Yorkie Renny is looking at me with his “what about me?” turned head. Laundry going. Dryer going. Kitchen’s a post dinner plastic-container mess, since neither of us wanted to cook. It was a pay week. The takeout food did not include our son’s dinners (they were out, remember?) I was in a rare feeling generous/lazy kind of mood, so earlier I tossed each of the boys twenty bucks apiece in exchange for future chore duties around the house, knowing I wouldn’t follow through. I’ll teach them a lesson on the value of money and work performed next week. It’s January and 23 degrees outside, and I’m thankful the oil tank was filled recently at $574 for 150 gallons. The electric bill is paid too, so I’m not running around shutting off lights as usual. What the hell, splurge and turn the hall light on and find your way back to the bedroom, live it up. Oh yeah, Total Recall 2012. Read More
After the year 2012 has passed, some of us will look back and wonder what it’s all about, again. Another year of missed opportunities, dashed hopes, and shattered dreams. After getting to the stage in life where I can refer to myself as crusty, I’ll say that many of us are luckier than we think. You’re sitting on your computer or smartphone reading this, I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop writing. It could be worse. I’ll take the known world we live in now, today, versus the promises of politicians and religious figures wearing costumes. Another sunny day or cleansing rain works just fine right now. I’ll bet there will be a few of those in our collective futures. Nothing hard to figure out there at all. Happy new year.
In 1973, TV sitcoms parodied the absurd and unreal daily lives of the non-rich and famous in the brand new post-Vietnam era. Archie Bunker neatly categorized ethnic group stereotypes into equal parts lazy leaches, living off handouts and the goodwill of Uncle Sam. The Mary Tyler Moore show tackled pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and equal pay for women (man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens played by Betty White was a spritely 51 then). Dennis Weaver played the part of Marshal Sam McCloud, a law officer from Taos, New Mexico, on semi-permanent “special assignment” with the NYPD. The McCloud show could have been a sitcom, since Weaver’s character always wore that big winter coat with the shag rug trim and a cowboy hat. I’m beginning to think we were set up, a long, long time ago. Little did any of us know we were watching the social blueprint of our current society unfold right before our eyes. All of this was going on while we were sitting on the couch, munching on chips and guzzling beers/getting high.
The presidential elections are around the corner, and I’m thinking about other things. Like the extra hair growing out of my ear canals. It seems that every time I pluck one out, three grow back in. There must be a few I can’t get to, as some of the sounds entering said canals are being filtered. Farts, squeaks, and burps all seen to be coming through crystal clear, but somehow the truth becomes ensnared in every follicle. As I tweeze those nasty hairs, the truth clings to them as I flush them down the bathroom sink. The same goes for eyebrow hairs. If I don’t stay on top them, eventually they hang down and obstruct my line of vision. Kinda like looking out from your front porch with icicles in your binoculars. Only difference is icicles are cool and very entertaining when the sun hits them. Do I need to mention wild nasal hairs? No amount of snot cave follicular thatchery can filter the above-mentioned (and unfortunately easily identifiable) ass wind. Read More
Every day I wake up and expect the material world we live in to be a better place. That’s about the most generic sentence ever written by anyone. What is a “better place”? The utopian society promised by presidential candidates for decades never arrived. A year before the stock market crash in 1929 president Hoover was credited with the slogan “a chicken in every pot, a car in every backyard” (it actually came from the Republican National Committee in marketing campaigns). That must have sounded like a dream for people who were allowed to vote at the time. Eighty four years later, it still sounds like a dream. Incredible by today’s standards, Hoover didn’t take a salary for public service, although as Secretary of Commerce and President he was required by law to accept one. In an interview published in the Iola (Kansas) Daily Register in January, 1937, Hoover explained:
“I made up my mind when I entered public life that I would not make it possible for anyone ever to say that I had sought public office for the money there was in it. I therefore kept the money that came to me as salary in a separate account and distributed it where I thought it would do the most good. Part of it went to supplement the salaries of men who worked under me and whom the government paid less than I thought they were worth. Part of it went to charities.” (source: hoover.archives.gov).
Hoover was given the boot in the next election, as economic prosperity didn’t come fast enough for voters. The general populace voted for the “New Deal”, promised by Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Obama’s “Change” seemed Zen-like and simple enough for the masses, even though in 1984 Walter Mondale’s “America Needs A Change” had zero impact as voters put Ronald Reagan back in office for a second term. Reagan’s slogan, “Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?” struck a major chord with voters. I remember my dad, an immigrant house painter at the time, agreeing as he drove his shiny new Ford Econoline van with ladders on roof racks to one of the new housing developments that were popping up all over Long Island at the time. Read More
As the 2012 London Olympics draw to a close, I’ve decided that the world is no better or worse as a result. The ancient Olympics (originating in 776 BC) were held in honor of mythological superstar Zeus, “Father of gods and men”. Athletic competitions, such as wrestling, running, chariot racing, and jumping, mimicked the use of skills necessary in war. They were performed mostly by freeborn men and boys, as married women could not enter the Olympic stadium or attend the games. Virgin young girls, however, were welcomed. Punishment for a woman attending the Olympics was to be thrown off mount Typaeum. Sadly, it would be another 700 years before Leonardo da Vinci dreamed of designing a parachute. To honor the human form, athletes performed in the nude, and even used olive oil to enhance the appearance of their skin. Oiled up nude men wrestling morphed into sword fighting, as a current Google search will return: Hard bodied muscle studs fight dirty. Oh those naughty Greeks. Read More
Just when you thought your eyes were safe from being stabbed by Baby On Board and Precious Cargo bumper stickers, along comes a new warning. No, it’s not Caution, Douchebag At The Wheel, although the effect is the same. Driving along in suburbia, I see these silhouette outlines of families stuck on minivan and SUV tailgates, mirror chrome badges that seem to blurt out “I can haz kidz, looky how many!”. As if it’s not bad enough that dreadful tune from Gotye is playing everywhere, I now am forced to look at these pathetic reminders of soccer-mom and troglodyte dad human reproductive endeavors.
I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, rhymes with douche, will you do the Fandango?
You have a kid that plays lacrosse? How wonderful he or she must feel now that you have immortalized them in action on the playing field in a lovely shade of chrome. Maybe it’s a running position, lacrosse stick raised, ready to make the next college-level shot. I heard that in order for your child to even be considered for a college scholarship, you must plaster images of all potential future stick-handlers on your twelve mile-per-gallon troll sled. This is in addition to kissing the influential lacrosse coach’s ass (to put it mildly). Bonus points if you add My Child Is An Honor Role Student At [insert your favorite wonderful school here]” bumper sticker below the trail of demon spawn silhouettes tracking across the tailgate. Read More