Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I will do my utmost to keep any joke, remark, comment, non sequitur, jest, aside, fun or frivolity to myself. It's obvious that you think I'm a jackass, so I'll stay out of your way.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The Buggy Wheel
It’s official. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, we’re in a recession. “Finally!” says I. After all, we’ve only been talking about it for a year. Now we can at long last heave a big sigh of depression and blow the head off the top of our beers. Seriously—if there is business that stays, uh, busy regardless of the economic climate, it’s the booze biz. Or the beer biz, anyway, if you happen to own the Buggy Wheel. Situated along the Jacksboro Highway where the fabled road blows through Sansom Park, the Buggy Wheel is a “beer-and-wine-bar,” where you can watch a game, shoot some pool or knock back bottles of Schlitz for a mere $1.75.
When you walk inside the Buggy Wheel, it’s a little bit like walking into a roadside bric-a-brac emporium. In other words, there’s a lot of tenuously-related junk on the walls, including a framed-and-autographed picture of the Temptations. My research team (comprised entirely by Lifters’ bassist, Cliff Wright) postulated that perhaps the Temptations photo was a gift following a performance, given the slightly elevated part of the room that appeared to be a stage. Anything’s possible after all, especially in a bar where you can ostensibly bring your toddler, at least until 5 pm (it says as much on a posted sign). Unless, of course, you want to order liquor, which is actually not possible. Well, you can order it, but you won’t get it from the Buggy Wheel.
I’d run into the phenomenon of the “beer-and-wine-bar” before in Longview, when my band played a particularly bizarre gig at a place called Benny’s. When I ordered my usual double whiskey soda, the bartender icily rasped that Benny’s was beer and wine only, but that I could go down the block, buy my own whiskey and she would sell me the soda. Obviously, I was baffled, especially when they told me I could take my drinks out to the parking lot. Everything was backwards, from the booze rules to the teenage metalcore band burning our ears from the stage (which also featured a robed, plastic skeleton identified by paper signage as “The Previous Comedian”). I just figured that Longview is in the Twilight Zone (along with Temple and every gas-pump-and-a-stoplight town along I-10), and did as the Romans. So when I made the same mistake at the Buggy Wheel, I surmised that Sansom Park exists in yet another pocket between science and superstition, especially given that its neighbor bar, The Wrangler, had the same alcohol policy.
The Buggy Wheel might inhabit the Fifth Dimension (as vast as space, as timeless as infinity and where Bud Light is inexplicably cheaper than Schlitz), but it is not without its charms. Did I mention the cheap Schlitz? Not only is it cheap, but at this bar, it is delightfully devoid of irony. And while the service was initially as cool as the beer, I chalk that up to personal gaffes: first, ordering booze when none was for sale, then attempting to open a tab when cards aren’t accepted and finally having to run down the block to an ATM, leaving Cliff to temporarily fend for himself. Once I stopped being an awkward tourist, the bartender was a little friendlier.
While the Jacksboro Highway’s days of secretive poker rooms and gangland power struggles are long gone, there are a slew of hidden dives to be found in between the used car lots and sagging apartment buildings. Stay tuned for more reports from the field, when the Last Call Team tackles The Wrangler’s Sunday evening country jam.
The Buggy Wheel
5704 Jacksboro Hwy
Fort Worth, TX 76114
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
But I'm okay now. Not great, but well, who really is? Alexander was, I guess, or so his title would suggest. King Cyrus of Persia, also. But they're long dead, so they don't really count. In any case, I'm in a better mood. I'm really glad it's Friday.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
without a car
having bad dreams
learning to play "Jump in the Fire"
Spending too much time in my head
making crappy artwork
feeling so lonesome surrounded by friends*
(but jokes aside, I'm pretty lonely)
getting insufficient sleep
full of regret
embarrassed that I'm writing this in a public forum, but aware that I need to air it to someone, and that it might as well be anyone and everyone
*this is a NOFX lyric, proving that despite other things, I have not lost my sense of humor.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"You can't choose your circumstances," she said, "but you can choose how you react to them."
That's sort of paraphrasing, but she said it in response to my tirade about how the bad guys stay on top, God doesn't really help and wah wah wah I have to fix my van again. It's really changed my outlook, and lo and behold, there is a silver lining if you don't get pissy and forget to look for it. And as it turns out, I've got a goal to look work toward and tons of opportunities to make it happen.
If you view Some Kind of Monster, A Year in the Life of Metallica, and Cliff 'Em All in that order, and it's a little bit like watching the Star Wars saga in the order of episodes IV-VI and then III-I, focusing on Darth Vader, except if episodes I, II and III weren't frustratingly lame.
Read the following and that comparison will make more sense.*
Watching the Metallica docs in reverse order gives you the following portraits:
Some Kind of Monster: Metallica in 2002-03, when they've pissed off each other, pissed on their fans and saddled with the hassles of making their worst album. Worse, they unintentionally portray themselves as the sort of out-of-touch rockstars on which their collective 20-year-old selves would levy withering and palpably demoralizing contempt. By the time you watch Cliff 'Em All, you'll wish for the power to travel time for no other reason than to journey back to 1983, kidnap Cliff Burton and whisk him forward twenty years to whip Lars' ass while he's watching his Basquiat get auctioned for $3 million at Christie's. To wit: they have a "fan appreciation day," as if they are the fucking Oakland A's. Lars sells art while sipping champagne. James goes to rehab, and cuts their days short so for family time. I can’t necessarily fault him for this, and frankly, it is nice to see him come to grips with what is really important to himself. On the other hand, you kinda wish they’d just hung it up. I bought their “comeback” album, and while it’s pretty good, I wouldn’t say that it’s necessary—in fact, what it inspired me to do is listen to Kill ‘Em All a lot more, and consider that …And Justice For All is a good album after all. So you see a band losing its way and sort of finding it, but not really. If that doesn’t sound tragic enough, SKOM also features plenty of shots of Bob Rock, their longtime (since the black album) Canadian producer and human diaperwipe/ballsucking music industry cliché. With his layered Jennifer-Aniston-bob, pirate earrings and mid-life crisis paunch, he looks like an old lesbian. But way worse than both of those elements are the therapy sessions. To the tune of $40K a month, the band talks about their feelings with a Cosby-sweater-wearing psychologist whose last name is Towle, which probably rhymes with "coal" but which I will forever pronounce like the thing you wipe your hands on after you use the toilet.** Hearing James Hetfield say he's "not comfortable" with something is like hearing a baby talk about the death of an ancient civilization. It's mind-boggling and amazing in a really unsettling way.
A Year in the Life of Metallica: Metallica in 1991-92, when they are recording their berzillion-selling self-titled album (if you are unfamiliar with this album--and how has your stay on the Moon been, by the way--it's the one with "Enter Sandman" on it, which you've probably heard as bumper music between turnovers at an NBA game) with--guess who--Bob Rock. Here, his hair is longer but just as lame (it's ponytailed, for starters) and his name-dropping is alternately astonishing (D.O.A! The Subhumans! How did that happen?!) and embarrassingly believable (Loverboy, Motley Crue). Metallica are at the top of their game and on the cusp of going from enviably rich and successful to rich and successful on a Croesian level. The second half (or tape, if you got this when it was released way back when on VHS) is the supporting tour, where they still seem to be all about the fans and all about hanging around in towels backstage after concerts, which is at least as weird and surprising as it sounds. But if you were a teenager in the early '90s, you'll probably remember exactly how you felt the first time you saw the video for "Unforgiven," or "Sad But True": that these guys were totally badass and didn't take shit from anyone, and that in a past life, James Hetfield might have slain Conan the Barbarian. In other words, this is Metallica at the height of their power. Say what you want about the Black Album, but they were totally at their peak. And then the next fourteen years with Bob Rock happened. With the exception of the videos for "Whiskey in the Jar" and* "St. Anger," I can't think of a single Metallica moment that was even on the same continent as awesome.** Year in the Life gives you a good indication of the kind of douchebag Lars would become a decade later. He holds up recording sessions with long showers. He whips around Hollywood in a Porsche. He pokes holes in his snare heads when he gets mad. In other words, he’s kind of a real prick. Way worse, but also way more interesting, is when the band hassle sJason Newsted, deceased bassist Cliff Burton’s replacement. In SKOM, he’s been fired/quit and is sorta bitter-but-not-really about it, and he kind of mentions how he was always picked on in the band, never welcome, blah blah blah. When you see the band throwing pies at him and making what appear to be good-naturedly snippy remarks, it’s obvious that there wasn’t a lot of good nature in them at all.
Metallica in 1981-84, when they had Dave Mustaine for a little while and Cliff Burton for a little while longer. Apart from a show in a smallish club opening for a band called Raven, there is little indication that even in their nascence, Metallica were ever a small band. Young band, sure, but never a small band. James and Kirk play flying Vs (until the Master of Puppets era, when Kirk switched to cheesy Jacksons and James to some kind of ESP modeled after Gibson Explorers), James has yet to sling his axe down by his knees, and you get a inkling about what the band would have become had Cliff survived their tragic bus accident in 1986. They’re confident, they have tour buses, but they’re not assholes. No one drives a Porsche. They seem to subsist on Coors Light and Grolsch and while they’re kinda sloppy, they’re lean and hungry to conquer the world. Dave Mustaine looks weird playing with them, and you’re glad he got booted. And Cliff Burton. Jesus God, he is amazing. When wanky bassists wax poetic about Victor Wooten, Stanley Clarke and Jaco, if they neglect to mention Cliff Burton, they’re betraying their ignorance. Watching him play in the band makes you think about the hole left with his untimely demise, and while Metallica might not have gotten to be the “biggest metal band in the world,” they would probably have remained one of the best. While Cliffemall is kind of a scrapbook with not enough Cliff Burton, it’s still a must see if you’ve seen SKOM, because you realize that James and Lars were not always a couple of dickweeds fractured by fame and haunted by the ghost of a great friend and amazing bassist.
I recently watched Get Thrashed, about the birth of thrash metal, and it has plenty more of the Metallica of eld, plus plenty of Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth. Oh, and a bunch of other bands that might not have been as good, but were at least as crazy. I remember some older dudes in high school who cut school on a Friday to go to an Exodus show in San Francisco, and the following Monday, they looked as if they had had a transcendental experience. Apparently, it really was that gnarly, and the documentary confirms what those guys were talking about.
* Maybe.**No, I don't pronounce "Towle" as "pants." Or "hair."
***Okay, I thought of one. Robert Trujillo is at least a better bass player and suitable replacement for Jason Newsted, and at best, he is a serviceable replacement for Cliff Burton.
Monday, October 27, 2008
We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and
we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon , Washington ,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We
believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to
the people of the new country of New California .
To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.
We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You
get Alabama .
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states
pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the
Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a
bunch of single moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war,
and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If
you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids
they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and
they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's
coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs
turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent
of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple
and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of
America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state
dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech
industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods,
sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Cal,
Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88
percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care
costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the
tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern
Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh,
Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite , thank you. Additionally, 38 percent
of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a
whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the
death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a
theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent
of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then
By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt
weed they grow in Mexico.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Last night, I paid a musician money out of my own pocket because she did her best to promoter her performance, she drew the most people and she was nowhere near meeting our overhead requirements for bands to get paid. Why else did I pay her? Well, for starters, she had to take off work in order to play her slot, and as such, she now has her budget compromised. And I've been in situations where Darth Vato brings a certain amount of people and then gets paid a fraction of what our draw merited, and I know how much that blows.
But here's the thing:
Because I paid her (and one of the other bands, who came from out of town), I basically ended up working for free last night.
Never mind that I will probably have to buy an alternator this week.
Never mind that I am trying save money.
Never mind that I will probably have to buy a new car.
I guess that makes me a nice guy, right--a paladin among promoters. A guy who puts himself in someone else's shoes, who puts other people first, even if it means personal inconvenience. Someone who really cares.
Well, that would all be true if I had opened my wallet with a kind heart. But I didn't. I wanted to say, "Yeah, it sucks not getting paid when you did your part to get people in the door. It sucks to get put on a difficult bill. Sometimes it sucks to be a musician. You know what you should do? BE SOMETHING ELSE." I wanted to tell her that you either have a solid back up plan or you learn to eat shit if you want to make your living from making art. I wanted to tell her tough fucking luck.
But I didn't. I didn't tell her any of those things, and she was grateful and thanked me and I appreciated it, and I felt like a total jerk for having those feelings. At the same time, I felt like a chump, because why does she get paid and I don't? I am supposed to collect 10% from the door, yet somehow, I ended up paying 5%. She made $30 for strumming a guitar for 50 minutes. I made zero for standing behind a bar for 5 hours.
And after being mad about feeling like a chump, I felt bad for getting mad. So what if I lost $50 last night--I have other avenues of income, soI don't need that extra money. And sometimes it sucks to be a bartender or a promoter or an astronaut or whatever and not make any money. You know what I should do?
BE SOMETHING ELSE.
I'm trying man, I'm trying.
On Friday evening, I fell asleep watching Darkon, a documentary about people who deal with the doldrums of regular life by dressing up as fantasy characters and whacking each other with padded swords. At 1:30 am I woke up. I guess it didn't matter--I'm still without wheels, so it's not like I could've gone out anyway. I'll walk 3 miles to the bar for work, but I just can't bring myself to do it for fun. I ended up doing some "artwork." Pretty crappy, but whatever. At least I'm drawing again.
Today (or yesterday, if you want to get technical), I slept in until 11 or so, and I walked to the Texaco to drop off my keys so the van could get looked at again. On Monday, I had the shop look at it. "It needs a new battery," said Ruben the mechanic. "We can't get it until Friday." I asked if I could just go get a battery and change it out myself, and he said that would be fine. So that's what I did. And the battery solved the problem of the van not starting. Unfortunately, upon starting, the engine basically screamed, denoting another, more serious problem. It was so loud, I couldn't walk in front of the engine to see if anything looked abnormal, like if there was something stuck in it like a cat or a demon or some bullshit. Since there weren't any guts or whatever demons have inside of them leaking onto the pavement, , there is obviously some kind of mechanical baloney going on. My dad suggested it's the starter, and then he suggested it might mean the alternator needs new bearings. Both of these sound like reasonable diagnoses, especially since I know exactly fuck-all (look! Britishness!) about cars, though through these three vans, I have learned about what a few dire noises mean.
Anyway, after that walk, I walked some more to Blockbuster to return Forgetting Sarah Marshall and then to Tom Thumb to get shampoo. While I was there, I picked up a corn dog and some fried potato wedges. Then I walked home, stopping at WalGreens for a redbull and instead buying a box of crackers and an US Weekly because the cover sought to convince me that Jenny McCarthy cured her son of austism. I know that magazine is for 30-something women and all, but when someone claims to do the impossible and makes the claim in the pages of the magazine, I feel compelled to buy said publication whether it's The Economist or People or fuck, even Highlights. If Highlights had an article where Goofus and Gallant built an electric car or did something more amazing than washing their hands before dinner, I would have no choice but to buy it. Of course, now I have an unread US Weekly on my counter. I also do not have any shampoo, as I totally forgot to buy it. Potato wedges are nothing if not distracting. They are also nothing if not delicious.
Following my mostly unsuccessful shopping trip, I had a couple beers in the sun with my friend and colleague Danielle, who has been nice enough to haul me to and from work for the past couple weeks on account of my lack of transportation. I owe her big time; I had to take a cab on Friday, and while the cabdriver B.O. was free, the ride wasn't--a trip to work cost $17.25, which really meant $20 because I am a softy. If you don't believe me, just ask the bands who played tonight at the Moon; despite not even making our overhead, they still got $25 per band. Out of my pocket. I'm about to stop booking the bar because I am now losing money--because it was slow and I felt bad for the bands not making any cash, I basically worked for free tonight. I joke occasionally about being a recreational bartender, but tonight it wasn't all that funny. Recreational bartending is a blast provided you make a net profit. Oh well. Live and don't learn.
It is now 5:15, and I guess I'm tired enought to lie in bed and wait for the sun to come up. Hopefully Sunday will stretch itself out.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
But I sure am!
The joke is getting funnier by the minute.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I'm tired of not being able to get ahead.
I'm tired of feeling guilty for complaining when others are worse off than I.
I'm tired of working my ass off for a band and getting nothing but broken vans and broken relationships for my effort.
I'm tired of the universe rewarding sloth and pissing on effort.
I'm tired of the bad guys getting bailed out.
I'm tired of being whiny.
I'm tired of feeling bad for being whiny.
I'm tired of being fat.
I'm tired of being alone.
I'm tired of being aimless.
I'm tired of being tired.
Monday, September 22, 2008
2. Saw a glimpse of a possible, personal future: gray-haired, cul-de-sac'd,
mustachioed, paunchy dude scribbling an entry into a personal journal at the airport Chili's at O'Hare.
3. Played a show at a new club, tried out my Danelectro DC 3 bass
4. Drank waaaaaaay too much whiskey, to the point where I was later foiled in an
attempt to cut pork chops at Ol' South.
5. Watched Some Kind of Monster; left with a feeling of pathos for James Hetfield that conflicted directly with my flabbergastment that these guys used to be the toughest, fastest, leanest band from my childhood and teenage years, and now they sell Basquiats and talk about feelings to a guy who wears Cosby sweaters. And furthermore, one of the most awkward things to watch in a rock documentary is when they show the frontman writing lyrics and recording vocals. For whatever reason, this totally takes away from the magic and power of recorded music, at least where a rock album is concerned. I guess watching some R&B guy do a vocal take isn't that big a deal, but when you see a guy who normally looks like a Hell's Angel working hard on rhyming shitty couplets about anger and then spitting them into a microphone while clad in an Aloha shirt and flip flops, it's worse than finding out how a magic trick works. Or getting excited about Six Flags and then going there.
6. Spent Sunday morning hungover, later played a '74 jazz bass, which was totally
7. Watched the following: Super High Me (decent), two episodes of Firefly ("Out of Gas" and "Ariel") and Crumb (ugh. But totally fascinating)
8. Left dishes on the living room floor, ate entire box of Wheat Thins.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm single again. This time for good (and yes, I know that's what was said the last time, but this time, there's, like, apartment transfers and such). It was mutual, and there are no hard feelings. Perhaps one or two soft, possibly fragile feelings, but no hard ones. I do, however, miss Paxi terribly. Paxi is her dog, and I love(d) him as if he were a son.
My bills have gone up considerably, which means I'm very grateful to have my job(s), even when it (they) bothers(r--fuck it) me. I will, however, be working more at the bar (two or three nights a week now) in order to meet the somewhat aggressive savings goals I've set for myself.
My brother seems to be doing well at basic training, though he has remarked to my mom that (implicitly relative to him) there are a lot of immature people there. Which would suggest to me that he is undergoing basic with a division of infants. But in any case, I am relieved and I pray for him every time I think about praying.
The band continues to fight the good fight, booking shows, trying to get the new album up on iTunes (why is it that major label bands have trouble keeping their songs from being put on iTunes early, while nobodies like we are can't get our record up for download on time or, now, two weeks late? Wait, never mind), and searching for the exact right balance of booze and execution.
To that point, here's a graph:I've been journaling a lot, though not where anyone can read it. In general, it helps me remember things that happen, because there are lots of things I forget, like, for example, that I intend to write things every day, seeing as how entries are often a week or so apart. It's good at reminding me of my various adequacies and inadequacies.
The Fort Worth Weekly thing is fun, mostly, though my editor often translates my submissions into Dudebro, sometimes resulting in adjudicated intentions and ruined jokes. But, like Homer's idea of what a pelican should say when being used as a cement mixer, "it's a living."
I'm also trying to get a D&D game going.* For reals, even. At 30 years old. Having never played it before. What? Is that weird? I drive a van, too. And I ate a whole can of bean dip with Wheat Thins the other night. I know, I know. I'm quite the catch. I'd love to meet your beautiful daughter, too, but right now I'm just not in a good place.
*This is hopefully to charge my imagination with fantastic inspiration. Plus, honestly, it sounds fun.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
But more importantly, NOFX is playing the Democratic National Convention! Winter of 1994 Steve doesn't know how he feels about this. On the one hand, NOFX is his new favorite band (they're so funny! Not like those grouchy Bad Religion guys), but they're playing for the Democrats? Like, for the Clintons? Summer of 2008 Steve, however, thinks this is pretty awesome, though he wonders if Fat Mike will tone down the cocaine references. He's just guessing, but he doesn't hold out hope. Rich guy hubris usually trumps having enough sense to keep one's mouth closed for the greater good.
Also, Lagwagon's new album has the best title ever:
I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen to Lagwagon.
It sums up how I felt the last time I went to the Warped Tour.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
"What's your day look like today?"
"Well, right now, I'm trying to get through this song by Sahg. They're a melodic Swedish death metal band. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?"
"What do you need?"
"Have you made any progress on that interview draft?"
"You mean the thing I tried to tell you about yesterday in the meeting, but didn't get to because you were talking and talking?"
"I'm totally on it."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ever heard that saying about how little man really knows about the ocean? You know, how he supposedly knows more about space than he does of the ocean’s deepest, darkest depths? Well that’s sort of how I feel about the Mid-Cities. I honestly think I know more about Los Angeles and its surrounding environs than I do about the mysterious suburbs northeast of the Fort. Once, a long time ago, I referred to them out of frustration as three large growths metastasized around the main artery between Fort Worth and the airport, choked and throbbing with chain restaurants, sports bars and about 8,000 clogged onramps. So I sought to better understand these enigmatic wastes and unlock their potentially beautiful secrets, in this case, three legendary dives, The Starlite Lounge, the Den and Volcano’s.
My previous drinking experiences in the Mid-Cities involve two house-parties about twelve years apart, and at both of them, I was so hammered I could have been hanging out in the fields of Mars for all I knew. But I did find people to drink with, which meant that there must be places to get drinks other than some dudes’ refrigerator. I got in the Erin Gray (my van, repurposed here for the purpose of research and exploration) and set out at 9:30 for Volcano’s. At 10:30, I still had not found it. I’d like to point out that my disorientation was not the fault of the bar’s. I’m just terrible with directions. But, I reasoned, these places aren’t that big, so maybe if I just exit somewhere, I’ll bump into it eventually. This succeeded about as well as you’d think, and my next thought was, Jesus, did that sign just say “Colleyville?!”
At this point, I was desperate for a beer, and finally, I saw some green neon. I exited, parked, and, encouraged by the sound of “Stranglehold,” wandered into Papa G’s Sports Bar. Now, I generally don’t like sports bars, but what with the aforementioned desperation and all, I swallowed my inner snob and bellied up for a Pacifico. The joint was packed, but I felt totally out of place, so I downed my beer and returned to my quest. At 11:30, I was on the right track, though I was beginning to feel as if I had entered the eerie, evil weirdness of Stephen King’s The Wastelands. But low-and-behold, there, across from the Bell Helicopter plant lie The Starlite Lounge. And it looked pretty divey, though it smelled like Chinese food, probably on account of the fact that it serves Chinese food. Anyway, I was confronted with a heretofore unknown (and probably apocryphal) fact: HEB bars often have gambling facilities. There was a poker game going on, and some slot machines, and from the juke came a cover of “Viva Las Vegas.” Not quite what I expected, but whatever. I finished my beer and headed to the The Den.
Now, since The Den is on Industrial Parkway, I had to make a decision to either look for it or give up and go to a strip club. But I soldiered on, to my eventual disappointment. If the Starlite Lounge was not quite my cup of tea, The Den was like a glass of motor oil. Or marbles. There. Was. Karaoke. And in between the “performers,” there was… Nickelback. Of course, the song was “Rock Star,” broken up into snatches of bumper music, and the entire bar was knowingly signing along. I was the proverbial square peg at Papa G’s, but at the Den, well, I was a guy who doesn’t like Garth Brooks and Nickleback in a place where they are revered as gods.
I never did find Volcano’s, though I hear that it is more up my alley. And to be fair, all the folks in those other bars were having a blast. If you’re into poker and karaoke, you know where to go. For me, I’ll let the Lost Dives of the Mid-Cities stay that way.
Friday, July 25, 2008
"I'm a lead guitarist in a metal (all kinds, death, black, thrash etc.) band
called Tears Bring Fire..."
TEARS BRING FIRE?
I had no idea! In my experience, tears have brought sympathy, embarrassment, pathos, derision, comedy, commiseration, joy, schadenfreude, capitulation and of course, sodium chloride, but obviously, I have really underestimated their carrying and delivery capacity.
I submit that tears might also bring:
nothing to the table
enough for everyone
paper plates and napkins
a world of pain
a message of peace
about a paradigm shift
a change of clothes
invasive, foreign fauna
way too much luggage for three days
the wrong maps
their own dice but no Monster Manuals
your ex along, much to your chagrin
the dead to life
the wrong cables
up who she's sleeping with now
that one guy who's totally sketchy
you Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz plus $2-wells and $4-Jagerbombs!
an end to the suffering, at least
By a man riding a horse.
I fucking hate the stockyards.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Tour diet sucks. Especially when your tour takes you to Hermosa Beach and you are surrounded by people who exercise constantly.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Oh and also, if you've ever been in a 7-11 and contemptuously wondered who on earth eats those taquitos that have been rotating all day, well, you've obviously never been drunk and in need of an afterparty-powerup booze sponge. I will concede, however, that 7-11 drunkfood is pretty low-rent. I guess I have very little shame.
Despite my best efforts, I am still at 37" around the gut. And by best I mean worst.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
What do you guys think?
Answer: Hemp sanctimony!
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
There is an obvious solution.
It is actively ludicrous.
It's not impossible for me to quit drinking beer; I did it in 2007 for almost a month, and I also did it for a few weeks in January. During those periods, I also did a lot of jogging, and I lost a noticeable amount of weight. Darth Vato goes on tour in a few days for two weeks; making a healthy routine during that is not a reasonable expectation, but I'm committing to seriously pursuing one when we've returned to the real world.
What a boring post! I hope that if anyone reading this is trying to lose weight, you focus on the regimen and discipline, and also, change your metric. I suggest ignoring the scale and using a measuring tape around your gut or butt or wherever (chins? Can you measure chins? You can certainly count them!) as a bar. While the results are not as immediately dramatic and rewarding as seeing the scale's needle dip a pound or two every few days, losing inches is much more demonstrative of your progress. It helped me last year, and I know it will help me again when I hit it hard in a few weeks.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
But anyway, I got roped into bartending last night, and because I felt cheated out of a weekend night, I stayed up drinking beer with Eric until about 6 am. A funny thing about getting hammered at someone else's house is that when you wake up (and it's always no more than four hours later), it's always such a surprise. It never fails--every time it always takes me a minute to determine who I am, where I am and how I got there. It's a little like Jason Bourne coming to on the Greek freighter, except that your mouth tastes like a litterbox and you don't wake up mysteriously able to speak French. In fact, it's more likely you have forgotten English; try articulating yourself to a Whataburger drive-thru after a night of heavy drinking--you may not have wanted onions or sweet tea, but oh well, that's what your getting.
And that's another thing--is there anything worse for a hangover than sweet-tea? Ugh. It's bad enough sober, but when you're hammered or post-hammered, it's such a huge disappointment. Imagine being in a Whataburger drive through at 3 am, drunk, desperate and deliriously thirsty, listening to George Noory tell you about some water heater he endorses because regular people only tune into Coast to Coast AM during its crappy commercials. And it's hot, and you're exhausted, and all you want is some grease to sop up the booze in your stomach and a little bit of caffeine to keep you awake and more or less driving between the lines, and so you start to dream about that Whatasized tea--it's so cold and strident and that first sip will be like jumping through the waterfall in those old Irish Spring commercials, and who knows--maybe that tea will totally sober you up, provide you with winning lottery numbers and teleport Adriana Lima into your bed. And so you wait. And because this is Whataburger, you wait some more. A lot more. Fucking eons. You can feel your tongue swelling. This might be what dying of thirst actually feels like. You try to focus on the local plumbing service commercial crackling out of your door speakers, hoping against hope that it will end and George will be back to coax some shocking truths out of an alien abductee who has also been raped by a ghost. But he's not. This time it's a commercial for bee-pollen capsules or some bullshit. You wonder if bee-pollen capsules makes you sober. Or handsome. And then the Tahoe full of dimwitted sorority girls ahead of you pulls forward, and you're one step closer to quenching your thirst, to putting a little bit of food on your stomach and to passing out on your bathroom's amazingly cool linoleum with your pants around your ankles. And by God's immortal and forgiving only begotten son, you are so fucking thirsty! You think about that fucking meathead doublefisting Skyy and sodas and ice-waters. Remember how you inwardly mocked him? Remember disintegrating him with glares of withering disdain on account of his muscles, and chiseled good-looks and the 20-year olds in thigh-length sundresses hanging on his every word? Oh how they laughed! And at what? Some rehashing of a Family Guy episode, probably. Of course, you thought, if they would only talk to you, they'd see what real comedy was. If they could see past the bags under your eyes and the gut under your t-shirt, they'd discover your boundless wit and bathe in your intellect as your jokes and remarks flit between scathing commentary and undeniably hilarious self-deprecation. But no, they were laughing at him, and he was beneath your contempt, what with his responsible drinking and hydrating and all.
By Christ! If only you could get that fucking iced-tea!
And finally, after what seems like an eternity, you see an orange-and-white-striped bag extend through the window, and a tanned, skinny arm reaches out of the Tahoe, and oh thank Jesus in his fabulous mansion, THEY HAVE GOTTEN THEIR FOOD. And then you see it: the Whatasized beverage. It is not so much passed as magically floated from the drive-thru window into the car and you think about how the driver, oh how spoiled and clueless she is! will probably plop it down on her coffee table and eventually forget about it, or worse, drunkenly spill it on her lap! But for that instant, of all the jealousies you harbor for that girl, her cold, life-saving beverage is what you envy most.
And finally she leaves, off to probably bang that fucking meathead, he of the abs and head full of thick hair and the polo shirt and the bright and successful future, but at this point, you don't care any more, for your Whatasized iced tea is nearly in your grasp, sequestered within the bricks and under an orgy of frantic beeping and neon lights. And by Christ, George Noory is back! And he (and you, since he always says "we") are talking with the lady whose past-lives were murdered by chemtrails, and while it's fascinating and all--OH MY GOD!!! HERE IS YOUR FUCKING FOOD!!! NO YOU DON'T NEED KETCHUP!!! AND NO NAPKINS EITHER--DO YOU LOOK LIKE YOU USE NAPKINS--CLEARLY YOU ARE ALREADY WEARING PANTS!!! AND OH YOUR GOD IN HEAVEN:
HERE IS YOUR ICED-TEA!!!
Never before have you ever delivered a look of that is as simultaneously abject and full of gratitude as the look you deliver to the guy in the window, who, incidentally, is named Cody and whose hand tattoos indicate former gang-membership.
You put the tea between your legs but realize that it is sweating with condensation, which you don't want on your pants but that you do want on your forehead, so you hold the cup up and boy does it feel good--if it feels that good on your head, imagine what its contents will feel like sliding down the balsawood tunnel of your throat!
So you pay, ignoring the fact that you've probably overdrafted, and you drive off. And as you pull into the street (careful to keep the dotted line about a foot to your left and always a foot to your left), you think, well, we need to sober up but fast! so you cram a mouthful of piping hot fries into your mouth and mash them down with a chicken strip so hot that a geiser probably escaped when your teeth tore it open. A piece of skin burns on the roof of your mouth, dangling like the isosceles flags flapping over a used car lot. You have a murmuring afterthought that maybe you should have waited a minute or two before stuffing your face with scalding, still-congealing grease, but never mind that, because there is THE TEA.
As the straw punctures the pre-cut X on the lid, it makes that comical creaking noise, causing you to chuckle. And George Noory's disembodied voice chuckles along with his guest and everyone is having such a great time! Who knew that straw noises and government cover ups could be so goddamned funny! But they are, and it's all because of the palliative powers of your Whatasized iced-tea, so brown and a little acrid but refreshing and curative, lapping briskly over ice chips that look like frosty stones in a merry, babbling brook. And the straw goes between your lips, and it creaks again (this time the sound makes you think of a clown's bicycle horn) and you take that first, miraculous, ecstatic sip, a sip that sends the tea to the back of your throat and maybe into your very soul.
And you choke.
You choke and you spit and you look at that cup and chunk it out your window in disgust, because due to some communication foul up (maybe Cody's, probably yours) you received not the refreshing, rejuvenating Whatasized iced-tea you were anticipating, but a mockery, an aberration, an open sore on the scalp of universal order and goodness.
They gave you a Whatasized SWEET TEA, which is like being served 32 ounces of someone else's slobber. Because that's what sweetened tea tastes like.
Sweet tea is like those "chest-mimic" creatures found in D&D. You think your getting something awesome, but it's actually a nasty, dangerous, party-killing surprise.
This is why you shouldn't drink.
*overslept. i'm ripe, desheveled, perfectly unkempt.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Anyway, I measured the beer belly this morning, and it's inching (haha) back down toward the 37" mark. I'm sure that wasn't an immediate response to a couple of jogs, but it's encouraging. Moreover, I managed to make it through the entire day without eating anything bad, i.e. chips, cookies, or bits of broken glass, which are often high in saturated fats.
Interestingly enough, I received a letter from the Lodi High School Water polo team, inviting me to participate (through a donation or, um, physical activity) in an alumni tournament in August. After the grueling 30 minutes I spent swimming laps a few weeks ago, I can't imagine how hard playing five minutes of water polo would be. Needless to say, I'll likely send a check. To underscore this point, I had a dream where I played in an alumni tournament against a squad of dudes who played against me at my rival high school. Upon waking, I sort of laughed because in the dream, I was afraid of guarding the same people, who, fourteen years later, had still maintained the same brute strength and killer instinct.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Yeah. "A" for effort, right?
Another awesome thing that happened this week is that this local bar aficionado/drunk sack of crap bestowed upon me the title of "Worst Bartender in Town." And while you might think that hurt my feelings, I was grateful and even gave something of an acceptance speech.
Here's the thing:
I like bartending, particularly since it is no longer my primary source of income. In fact, it's almost a hobby. I've been doing it off and on since 2002, and while six years might seem like enough experience to really make me a pro, I'm the exception to that expectation. In other words, I've never really learned to make shots, because I really don't care.
My booze philosophy, especially as I've gotten older, is that when you're in a bar, you socialize, and I've conditioned myself to socialize while holding some sort of liquid-bearing vessel in my hand, be it bottle, glass or alleged cup of Christ. And while shots certainly meet the requirements for holding liquid, they don't do it for very long. When you're 21, this means you end up taking shot after shot after shot, eventually to the point where your friends are hosing puke and Whataburger gravy off you before you stumble into their parent's house at 3 am. And moreover, I just don't like drinking shots. They're sorta, I dunno, gay. I try to point this out to college guys whenever possible.
Me: What can I get you?
Dude-bros: We need two purple hooters.
Me: Why? Are you guys on a date?
And so on. My other issue with shots is that they are tacky and they waste my time. In the time it takes to make a batch of surfers on acid for one polo-shirted dickhead, I could have made regular drinks for the six people waiting in line behind him. Typically the order goes like this:
a dude-bro orders eight shots of something I don't feel like making. And I go make them, and I when I'm setting them in front of the guy, he almost always says, "Oh, hey, can you make two more?" Meanwhile, the line gets deeper and deeper. And then, more often than not, the same guy is back two minutes later for another round; shots are so named for a reason--the turnover rate is astounding. And while the point of working at a bar is to serve as much booze as possible, the frequent fliers fly in the face of one of my cardinal, bartending values: get fools out of my hair as soon and for as long as possible.
To sum, shots are fucking gay and I hate making them.
Anyway, this chick, she is one of those see-and-be-seen types, and she probably goes out every night, and she's also on the later side of her mid 30s, which in my mind is way too old to be ordering spring break treacle like red headed sluts or pineapple fucks. But order them she does, and I make her first round. And her second. And then she ordered her third.
Now, the way I learned to make red snappers is with Crown, Amaretto and Cranberry juice. But at this point, she's been up to the bar three times in five minutes, and I'm simply tired of serving her, so I made my patented yuckface shot. Here's the recipe:
Steve the Put Out Bartender's Patented Yuckface Shot:
1 1/2 oz well whisky
A bunch of cranberry juice
Something else that's red, fruity and alcoholic
Dump ingredients into shaker, think about shaking, pour into plastic cup. Serve with withering contempt.
In this case, the red, fruity booze was actually black. But at least it was raspberry. I made six of these things, served them and waited for the ensuing revulsion. Sure enough, I was rewarded with six simultaneous grimaces and choking noises.
Now my friend Matt, who is an expert bartender, was a lucky recipient of a Yuckface, and he congratulated me on making the nastiest shot he had ever had (which means he hasn't yet had one of my other patented shots, the Total Bummer or a Warm Shot of Pee). And coming from him, that is a complement on par with winning a Perkin Medal. His friend, however, the aforementioned barfly, began to fulminate somewhat loudly about A). how terrible my shots were, B). how terrible my service was and C). how I was the worst bartender in town.
I caught this last part, at which point, I turned and said, "Finally! I thought I'd never get the recognition I deserve."
It's nice to feel like a winner.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
To my credit, I went for a short jog prior to going out, but the good it did was minor compared to the crap I ingested over the subsequent hours. Oh well. I did better today--the only thing I ate out of package were some pretzels. Hopefully, I'll get a run in after I've digested the salad I ate for dinner.
Monday, June 16, 2008
So why am I still up? Well, I'd like to say that I am reflecting on what it means to turn 30, but the simple truth is that I drank a Red Bull on the way home for the grocery store at about 10 pm, and wouldn't you know it, it's kept me wide awake. Thus far, I've done the following:
- Cleaned my apartment
- Walked the dog
- Beaten Contra on Xbox Live Arcade (and I used a sum total of 72 lives-- why did Konami make their games so fucking hard?!)
- Taken a shower
- Eaten a sandwich
- Had faint hallucinations about a bug in the bedroom
- Imagined the light fixture on the ceiling fan turned into a face
Speaking of that, I'm supposed to be up in fifteen minutes, in time to stretch and head to the gym. See, around March, I managed to successfully drop about fifteen pounds (from 197-180ish, give or take) and I got rid of three inches off my gut (from 40 to 37). My weight loss was a slow, steady effort begun in October, and while it took six months, I felt a lot better. Of course, I cut my beer intake to almost nothing and exercised a lot more (mostly jogging), but I kept it simple and burned more than I took in. It paid off.
Of course, three months later, I've totally fallen off the wagon (okay, so really, I fell off the wagon in early April, and now have finally taken stock in the consequences), and while I've only put half an inch back on, that somehow translates to ten or twelve pounds. My goal is to break 170; I entered college at 167, and I'd like to hit that mark again. This is why I bought good groceries, and why I planned to hit the jogging track first thing in the morning. Best laid plans, etc.
Anyway, while today might end up a wash (how's that for positive thinking!), I'm committing to reaching my weight goal. I guess I should also shoot for a gut-circumference goal as well, though I'm not sure what's reasonable. If I could measure 35 1/2 around, that would be awesome. We'll see. I've learned that you can't really crash diet, and you also have to stick with the good habits once they're in place. Anyway, for the time being, I'll be posting stuff about this "journey," mostly as a means of staying accountable. Feel free to read, comment, ignore, etc.