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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Clerks 2 Review

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Miss Dawson, where have you been all half my life?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fool In The Rain

The story, repeated countless times, begins:

"OK, little one, I have to get used to you. But you're going to have to get used to me, too."

This is immediately followed by the clunk and thunk of a heavy automatic turntable, the kind with the thick spindle and arm that let a stack of 45s drop one at a time. The stack is populated with RCA Elvis, Bobby Vinton, Little Richard, Kitty Wells, etc. It's loud. That's the point.

It's the story of my first day at home, as told by my mom. It's a black and white world, and JFK has less than 60 days left to live.

------

It's sort of that way with this bike of mine. While I'm getting used to it, it's going to have to get used to me, especially my fits of irrational behavior. Last night is a case in point.

The energy-sapping humidity had me emerging from an afternoon nap in a drool pool that would have made John Merrick envious. I had one thing in mind, and that was to ride, with zero wait, zero prep, and zero fucking around. A quick weather check revealed a line of storms well above M-59, but close enough to maybe catch a fireworks display.

The plan was to drive west, dare Mother Nature to step across M-59, enjoy the cool breeze, and Michigan U at the slightest hint of precip. I made it maybe 20 miles, just short of the M-23 split, before the wind became unbearable. I flipped around and came east about 5 miles before getting pummeled by a blinding rain. I could manage 30 mph, tops. Someone, no doubt a fellow biker, had the grace to escort me through it, minding my backside but never tailgating.

The attack from the west was merely a feint. She had played a Schwarzkopfian mind game and attacked from the north, cutting off my supply lines and leaving me stranded at a Quickie Mart. I had to work my way back a block at a time, and I admit being scared to death. The rain I could handle. The rain combined with supergusts was another story. It was like bringing roller skates to an ice rink.

I made my last stop at around midnight, ducking into a Mobil station close to home. A very dry customer remarked "Fun ride, huh?" Which reminded me of the day before, when someone remarked "Hot enough for you?" Where does one begin...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dear Dr. Z

[Cue the standard-issue anglo with crew cut, ballcap and Oakley shades]

Dear Dr. Z -

Does the new Dodge RAM have increased capacity for turning a motorcycle into an unidentifiable, smoking pile of twisted metal and plastic? And if so, would it be possible to coat and reinforce the grille so that no cosmetic damage occurs? I've found that a direct, head-on collision is far more effective than a perpendicular approach.

Jason in Bloomfield Hills

------------------

[scene shifts to a backyard barbecue in a leafy neighborhood]

Jason, we invented Forward-Looking Infrared Radar! This gives you the ability to lock on to zese pesky motorradists day or nacht! And with 36" of ground clearance, the cyclist is guaranteed to get sucked into at least one of several large, exposed, rotating drivetrain components. Also working in your favor is our patented turn signal auto-shutoff circuitry, which renders turn signals inoperative whenever a two-wheeled vehicle of any kind is detected within 200 meters.

Oh, and about your grille. Where do I put zis case of bratwurst?

[fade]

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Frankie Say Best Wishes...

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This is a story about a practical joke gone exactly far enough. Somewhere along the line, it took an erratic turn, lost its original, slightly mean-spirited mirth and morphed into something special. An anti-joke, I suppose. It's about hipness and how it's not always in the eye of the beholder. Me, what do I know from hip? At my age, when I think of hip, I think replacement--lower-case "r" and singular.

I arrive at work one day and find at my desk a framed, autographed picture of an absolutely gorgeous local businesswoman whose picture had graced the cover of a local trade rag. Athena incarnate; hair for miles. God knows what her business actually does, which was the origin of the gag in the first place. The accompanying article was apparently written using technology buzzword refrigerator magnets.

I let it stay for a week or so, playing along and having fun with the few slackjawed people who stopped by and wondered aloud how I had landed such a creature. Or landed any creature, really, given my policy of omerta where relationships are concerned, and because my cubesphere has been historically devoid of all things personal or self-congratulatory. Hell, I think at that point, my cubesphere was simply devoid of all things.

In the meantime, I set about planning a retaliation worthy of my Strategic Air Command roots. The perpetrator had been identified early on. What were his weaknesses? What were the pillars of his pride? The CIA had once gone after Castro's beard...what was the equivalent here?

It was simple. This person prides himself on knowing what is musically hip three days before the musicians have composed it. Knows when the freshness date has expired. Can tell you the BPM of a Scritti Politti song with a margin of error of +- 4.

So I scanned the thrift shops for the most dated, bizarre, embarassingly unhip records I could find. Liberace. Roger Whitaker. German polka. And the above-pictured LP by Frankie Laine. I have no idea why I picked it out of the lineup. The self-deprecating, "welcome to the club, you lounge lizards" expression, I guess.

I carpet-bombed his cube with them. And they stayed--for a long time. Even more slackjawed visitors. It confirmed a lot of suspicions--apparently the office sycophant loves Roger Whitaker and didn't get why all his LPs were now on display.

But the Frankie LP was special. It stood out somehow, and it warranted further investigation. Maybe I could take this a step further by getting a real autograph instead of the faux one that had been inked onto my picture. Surprise #1 was that Frankie Laine is 93, still kicking in San Diego, and still makes appearances. Surprise #2 was that his publicist/assistant, Mary Jo Coombs, is a sweetheart and was totally supportive in making it happen. Not only did she get it autographed, she sent tons of literature and photos as well.

So I think with this, I have officially retired from engaging in speculation or debate on what is hip and what is not. Frankie Laine, as it turns out, is as hip as it gets. His father was Al Capone's personal barber, fer Chrissakes. He had a single that topped the Brit charts for 18 weeks, a record that still stands. He crossed the color line to appear on Nat King Cole's TV show in an era when such a move was career suicide. And where did the Blues Brothers go when they were truly in a jam? "Rawhide" by Frankie Laine, baby.

Lesson learned. I spent a quarter for an album that began as a goof, but for all I know is now worth $17,000. It would serve me right.

For those who wish to dig, dig:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Laine

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Case For Less Cowbell

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B


I don't know what was going on in the 1950s, but I'm pretty sure they had chrome shower curtains. Or at the very least, chrome shower curtain covers. It there was a space that could conceivably hold a piece of chrome, a widget was invented to occupy the space, and said widget would be deemed hideous and incomplete without a chrome cover.

In the case of two 50s icons that made the trip into the 21st century, there are two parts that survived the process of natural selection. I don't know why, because they are almost universally recognized as tacky and useless. The Fender Telecaster "ashtray" bridge cover gets ripped off the guitar quicker than hubcaps in a bad neighborhood. That's because people like to actually play the guitar and occasionally put strings on it.

And nothing says quality finishing touch quite like a Harley horn cover that flops around when the motor's running, looks like it'd fall off at the slightest provocation, and forces your knee out into the wind.

And so the other night, as I was eliminating a cowbell similar to Exhibit B, the time got away from me. Or rather, I had a more flagrant disregard for the time than usual, with my sleep cycle being flipped and all. As it turned out, it was 2:30 AM.

I had tunnel vision focus. This cowbell had to go. So I didn't really pay the police car much mind when it creeped up. I didn't even bother to look up when the officer walked up and was 5-6 feet from the bike and spraying me with flashlight. I was actually kind of glad to have the additonal light to work with. But i was so not in the mood for the Bloomish Inquisition.

"Excuse me, is this your bike?"

"Yeah."

"May I ask what you're doing?"

"I'm taking this thing off"

"It's a hell of a time to be working on a bike, isn't it?"

"Well, I'm not really dismantling the motor or anything, I'm just tightening down some accessories."

"You know where I'm going with this, right?"

"Yeah, I totally understand, but look, can we get this over with, I wanna get this done. My wallet's upstairs."

"What's your name, I'll run it against the tag."

[runs name, radio chatter, walks back]

"OK Mr. Porter, as you were."

---------

AS YOU WERE? Thank you SERGEANT ROCK, what am I, the boogie-woogie bugle boy from Company B?

Anyway, cowbell free again. Hit it, Gene.