Friday, January 4, 2013

Johnny & The Monkey: A Tale From Louisville

I have a friend that I have known for about 30 years that I want to tell a story about. To protect this person, I'll call him Johnny. He's a good dude. He likes people and is generally a friendly person. Johnny likes to do some of the stuff I do. Watch sports, laugh with friends, eat, and get in a really good feeling zone sometimes. Johnny has a favorite beverage and to protect the beverage and "Johnny", we'll call the beverage "whiskey and coke". Although I'm pretty sure that Johnny doesn't enjoy the whiskey and coke as much as he used to, this story takes place at a time when he really loved his little beverage. 

I'm sitting at home on an autumn Friday night some years ago. At least ten years back (now that I think about it, it was at least 14 or 15 years back as neither of us had kids at the time), as I lived at my old address. High school football had the playoffs going on. How do I remember that? I'll tell you how. Johnny called me and told me he was bored at the football game (no shit, you're a 35 year old man at a high school football game) and to come get him. I was reluctant, knowing that getting Johnny early in the evening could mean that I too would be out looking for beverages, even though it wasn't what I had planned. I politely tell Johnny no and go back to whatever I was doing. Probably watching soft core porn or Father Knows Best.....I don't remember which. 

A couple of hours later, the phone rings again. Guess who? Yep, you're right kids, it's Johnny. He tells me that he is at a restaurant across from the stadium (we'll call that restaurant "King of Burgers" to protect the identity) with no ride home and I have to come get him. I know that he would do the same for me, (but not really since he left me stranded at work with no way home at least twice in our lifetimes) so I throw away the tissue and(....ah, yeah...OK, I remember now....soft core porn....that's what I was watching...)I get off the couch, get dressed and go pick up Johnny. 

I pull up to the Burger King, King of Burgers, expecting to have to go inside to get him, but Johnny, most graciously, was waiting outside to be picked up. Well, he wasn't REALLY waiting, it was more like wandering. He was trampling around in the landscape shrubbery in front of the Burg....King of Burgers and there were at least two police cruisers in the parking lot. Johnny looked a little like he wasn't completely sure where he was or what he should be doing. I pull up and ask Johnny what the hell he was doing and he walked over holding half a cheeseburger and half assed surprised to see me says "Hey.....Freddy....what's up!!!???" Really? What's up? Hell, he just called me to come get him. I lived in Okolona, did he think I was just crusing Burger Ki....shit....King of Burgers on a Friday night? (you know....he probably did, I wasn't much of a party dude, even when the wife and kids were out of town)

Johnny gets in the car. I don't remember what kind of car I had, so, we'll just call it "car". I maneuver around and get us on Preston Highway. Johnny has obviously abused his whiskey and coke privileges for the evening and will not shut the fuck up. Not even for a second. He's not annoying me (I love when he tells stories and babbles, he's good company in that way), he's hilariously just running on about this, that, and whatever else. Suddenly, he shuts up and stares across me and out my window as we come to a stop light at Preston and Outer Loop.......

"Freddy!! It's a monkey!!!!! Look, it's a monkey!!!!
 A gawdammed monkey!!!! Look!!!"

I, sensing that indeed, there may well be a monkey out my window, given the urgency in Johnny's voice, turned my head quickly. What I didn't see was a monkey. I saw a mini-van. I saw a woman in the drivers seat. I saw a little kid in the passenger seat looking back at us. I definitely didn't see a monkey. 

"Did you see it?!!!"

Nope. Didn't see it. I started laughing and said "Just how drunk are you?" I then answered myself internally, "At least drunk enough to mistake a child for a monkey on Preston Highway after 10 pm on a Friday night." Johnny gathered himself, but really did think he saw a monkey in that car. It didn't take a lot of convincing otherwise, but still....I had a grown man in the car with me who was seeing monkeys.

To make a short story long, I must tell you the conclusion of the story to properly top it off. All stories need a good ending and Johnny was gracious enough to give it to me. 

We go to my house, because he decides he is really tired and is going to fall asleep. I try to talk him into watching some TV with me because I wasn't tired. He insisted that he was going to fall asleep. I let him have the couch (ha ha) and went back to my room. Shut the door. Went to sleep.


"Freddy, wake up. It's Ga...(whoops).. Johnny! Wake up and watch some TV with me! Wake up! Come on gawdammit!"

It hadn't been an hour. The once sleepy giant had risen from a short autumn slumber and was ready for some TV. I, had not been tired, but was now firmly in dreamland, woke up. So, I got my ass up and we sat and watched television. 

And that is the tale of Johnny & The Monkey. Every word is true except for the parts I made up. 

Chicken Wings Are Bad Ass!

Alright, I confess.....I thought that the drumette section was a small chicken leg. That the wings I was eating included small chicken legs. Yeah, I probably shouldn't admit it, but it's not like anyone thinks I'm a genius anyhow. So, there you go. I didn't know that the drumette was not a leg attached to the wing. Sue me. You probably didn't know that dinosaurs used to be birds. So suck on that. No, wait.....dinosaurs and, birds used to be dinosaurs. I'm pretty sure that's true. I saw it in a movie or learned it in college. 

Back to the topic at hand though; chicken wings. Damn, chicken wings are really good. I'm not eating a chicken wing right now, I'm just kind of free thinking about wings and writing whatever flows into my head. "Who's Next" on the turntable. Gotta go flip it. Look at this for a second....

Alright, I'm back. What did I miss? Oh, right. Chicken wings. Damn, chicken wings are really good. The meat is so tender and satisfying. I guess it's white meat, with some dark mixed in there, but hell, I don't care. I just know that chicken wings are really good. I'm a hot sauce guy though. Gotta have some hot sauce with the wings. Frank's or Louisiana are great, inexpensive hot sauces. They have kick, but a great flavor. I don't want hot for the sake of hot. I want it to taste good AND make me start to sweat like I was Lindsay Lohan's father getting a phone call from an UNKNOWN number. Hey, don't get me wrong here, buffalo sauce is good, but it just doesn't have the proper kick and it over powers the chicken. Yeah, I've thought about this quite a bit, why do you ask?  

I think I'll go have some chicken wings tonight with my friends. My friend Greg introduced me to chicken wings in college and I've been a fan ever since. Joey likes 'em too, but he's a lightweight. He'll stop after a satisfying 10 or so. He doesn't go to the "I'm never eating again!" stage. I'm not addicted though. As great as chicken wings are, they are not addicting. It hasn't been a gateway food either. You don't move on to harder foods just because you enjoy chicken wings. The chicken wing is good enough. 

No, don't give me any bullshit about "boneless" wings. Those are not boneless wings.....they are just chicken fingers with a different name. Just like our corporate culture, ain't it? Trying to make a sale off the back of someone else. Dragging the good name of the chicken wing through the batter like that! They made the horrible marketing decision by calling them chicken "fingers", don't take it out on the wing and try to steal their part of the market. Appalling and egregious! Get lost with that "boneless" wing. 

Well, that's it. I have hit the bottom of any sort of creative matter that I had in my head. Probably enough to fill a thimble and now it's gone. I'm reduced to writing about my delight for the flight apparatus of a non-flying bird as a source of nourishment. And a good day to you. 

If chicken wings are good enough for Axl, they're good enough for you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolutions & Predictions 2013 Style!

Like most everyone else, I don't keep my New Year's resolutions. I'm not even one who really, in any formal way, makes many. Here I am though, writing while the rest of the world is sleeping, still passed out in a pool of stale beer, blood, vomit, and semen, waking up next to someone they don't even know, or puking their mixed drinks and 'lil smokies from the night before. I am going to  make a couple of resolutions and predictions for 2013 with no intention of working very hard to achieve the goals. 

* Lose 25 lbs
* Lose 5 lbs (at least this might happen accidentally)
* Stop worrying about what's gonna happen tomorrow
*Do 5 minutes of stand up at an open mic (this is now 3 years running)
*Deal with my fear of flying

*I won't do any of my resolutions
*THIS dude that looks like an Asian Ricky Gervais will be long forgotten by 2014

*The world will end on 12/31/13, as the calendar on my wall runs out on that day.
*Abe Vigoda lives on!
*Joan Rivers continues to not realize she's been dead for six years.
*Miley Cyrus comes clean and admits she is also Hannah Montana.
*Hardee's will continue to be in business for some reason.
*Arrested Development returns, is hilarious, and nobody watches.
*I am going to be forced to board a plane for work reasons and it will crash.
*The last seconds of my life will be brutally horrible. 
*Nothing matters much from here now does it?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Paul Westerberg!

I have a lot of "favorites" when it comes to music. I don't think I've ever just targeted one band or one person as the tip-top, but Paul Westerberg is about as close to the top as you can get with me without seeing much competition. 

He came out of Minneapolis with his post-punk/pre-grunge, highly influential alternative (when it really was alternative) college rock band The Replacements in the early 80's. Westerberg rapidly grew into an outstanding songwriter and a pretty damned good guitarist. When The Replacements broke down (definitely not "up") he was already well on his way to doing his own thing and continued to write great songs and wear his heart on his sleeve.

He never became a big commercial success by today's standards, but his influence is felt through a thousand bands and he is well respected in rock circles among other musicians and critics. His 53rd birthday is today and I felt like writing a little bit about him in celebration. His influence on my musical tastes can't be measured. Opening my mind up to The Replacements allowed me to drive myself to all sorts of music I may not have otherwise heard. It was like "Freddy, there's a lot of music out there, don't miss it!" The years wear on and Paul isn't releasing as much music to the public as he did in years past, but that's OK. Like The Band, Waylon Jennings, Beastie Boys, The Beatles, and Roger Waters, their music that is already out there is more than enough to satisfy me for the rest of my life. The music is not to be disregarded after a listen. It's timeless for me. I just go back to my LP's or IPod and visit my friends when I'm lonely for one of their songs. 

Happy Birthday Paul! 

"First Glimmer" on MTV!

"I'll Be You" by The Replacements

"Dyslexic Heart" from the Singles soundtrack

"Love Untold" on Letterman! (Tommy Keene on guitar!)

New Year's Musings On Music I Found In 2012

Personally, 2012 was an OK year. I don't keep up with "time" very well and one year seems to slip into the next for me and then I don't remember exactly when something happened. Anyone else let time slip away like that? I suppose it's just natural as you get older, to lose track of when certain events happen. I need a better filing system in my programming. Freddy 6.0? 

I had some great times with family and friends last year and just keep plowing ahead towards the final destination. I have to say though, that there are a few things that were not of 2012 that I'm glad I found for the first time during this year. While others are listing their favorite "this" and "thats" from 2012, I'm going to list a few albums that I experienced for the first time in 2012, but were around way before this year.

Pieces Of A Man: Gil Scott-Heron (1971)

A wonderful find for me. I heard Gil Scott-Herson's name on a superb documentary about Bill Withers called "Still Bill" (which I highly recommend to music lovers and you can find it on Netflix, or watch on You Tube by clicking the link) and decided to find out why Withers and his wife were so keen on him. I listened to several songs on You Tube and was sold. This will be painful and hard for some to take, but I believe this album is better than Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and makes at least as good a statement on the plight of those on the bottom rung of socio-economic status in our country. There are five or six standouts on the record and "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is among those, along with "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and "Lady Day & John Coltrane". If you like soul or R&B, I'd be hard pressed to recommend any album in that line of genres to you ahead of this one. 

Seed Of Memory: Terry Reid (1976)

This is a fantastic album and honestly, my music loving life would be worse off having not heard it. Terry Reid is the guy who turned down Jimmy Page to be the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. One of rocks great blunders, but it gave way to this hidden gem, called "Seed Of Memory". The sound is definitively "70's", but as much as you can hear the well that Reid draws from (Neil Young, Byrds, etc), you can really hear where he was influential to those who came after him. His voice is so good and with the songwriting on this album, it bears repeated listening. 


The Band: The Band (1969)

It depends on when you catch me, but this may be the best album I have ever heard. Over the years, I had heard several songs off the album, but never took it in as a whole until this past year. Lyrically and musically it just delivers with an eclectic batch of tunes that weave into one another seamlessly. The voices of Danko, Manuel, and Helm are earthy, real, and at times, beautiful. It's hard not to love an album with "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down", "Whispering Pines", and "King Harvest" on it. George Harrison once called them the best band in the universe and after hearing this album I can see why he thought so. 


Pacific Ocean Blue: Dennis Wilson (1977)

An unheralded classic that is getting its due now more than it do when it was released. Most of the record is a departure from the Beach Boys sound that he helped create, though you will find some moments here and there that recall the Beach Boys at their best. I think this album has some great songs and it's a shame that it didn't receive more acclaim at the time. Perhaps the momentum from a hit album could have saved Wilson from his downward spiral. There are some beautiful songs on this one, including "Thoughts Of You" and "River Song" (co-written by Carl Wilson with a bit of a Beach Boys feel), but my favorite is probably "Dreamer". 

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2013. I'm sure, like any other year, it will have its ups and downs, but try to take it all in stride. It's just life we are living and I believe we only get one shot at it. With that, I'll say enjoy your family and friends, don't sweat the small stuff (and really, it's ALL small stuff), and find some good music to soothe your heart, mind, and soul whenever possible.