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Thursday, March 28, 2002

Boycott! No wait...

It began almost a month ago...a department store ONE DAY SALE! I needed a suit and purchased one in good faith. Alterations would be finished in a week, the confused sales clerk told me. Two weeks passed. No call. When I inquired, I discovered my suit had been lost. Actually, the store had never sent it for alterations. Another week, the sales clerk said. A week passed.

No call.

I called the store. Apparently something had gone awry. The suit had gone for alternations and come back...unaltered. Another week, the sales clerk said.

My boycott blood began to boil. I was preapred to launch a massive strike...anti-store web sites, letters to the editor, massive negative whisper campaigns around town.

Then, I was inspired by the BrotherHamptons...a husband and wife team of poor customer service complaints. They hold coupons for free bags of Fritos as their trophies. They will not let any form of poor customer service go unanswered. They are Letter-Writers.

I wrote an e-mail to company headquarters. The company wrote back. It said it was sorry. I wrote back and said a better store would not offer an apology as a remedy.

Yesterday, the store manager called. Long story cut mercifully short...I got the suit for free.

I did the right thing. I turned around and bought a sport coat, a pair of slacks, two ties, and three pairs of socks in the same store.

Message: When dealing with a multi-billion dollar company, it sometimes pays to be a whiny bitch.

Monday, March 25, 2002


Maybe it is the way the gold lights up the bedroom at 7:30 AM. Maybe it is the way that work no longer feels like a nine-hour chore and instead feels like nine hours of a job (I don't think it will ever return to eight hours of excitement). Maybe it is the way that good bands find their way back on stage after a long winter's nap. Or maybe it is just a cycle of my under-utilized brain.

Whatever it is, I have settled into an ignornant state of semi-bliss. World strife doesn't cause me any worry. Middle East tensions, lax security at our nation's airports, and misappropriated state funds seem like the drivel of news outlets with too little about which to worry.

I realized today that I have slipped into a potentially dangerous state of carelessness. It's been sharpening its claws for about a year now and today reared its head in the form of an English Bull with a boat anchor chain around its neck.

I was standing along the dog's fence line. It wagged its tail deceptively. The old man standing beside me said the dog would rather eat my face than lick my outstretched hand. The dog belongs to a family that isn't coming home anytime soon. The woman and man of the house are in jail, accused of beating the home's 13 year-old to death with a broomstick.

I stood in March sunlight--feeling especially close to an old man I will never see again--and felt sorry for the dog that was sizing up my jugular. The 13 year-old kid wasn't even taking a close second to my feelings for the dog that wanted to eat me. Later--when I realized that I was still thinking about the dog and had almost completely forgotten about the dead kid--I started wondering if I should be thinking about another line of work.

I have started finding happiness in simple pleasures...the coy grin of a nice girl who just said something a little naughty...my dog's drooping eyelids after a long day of fetch...a perfect hook in the middle of an imperfect blues song...a single cold beer when I should be drinking water...a long drink of water when I should be drinking beer.

I've found an ability to ignore things that would usually bother me and bother things that would usually ignore me.

Greatest among my insignificant epiphanies is a sense of ignorant anticipation. Something lies ahead and I have no idea what it is. Usually I have an unexplained sense of doom or an overblown sense of excitement. Now, whatever lies ahead is nameless and lacking in labels of import.

What sits on my mind right now is that sense of ignorant life bliss--the exact opposite of what usually befalls our tragic hero toward the end of October. In the Fall, I care about everything too much and watch most of it pass by. In the Spring I care about everything but don't care what happens...as long as something happens.

So, here's to Spring and antici........pation.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Shutterbug with a Blog

So, I got a digital camera. After months of searching, I decided on the one I liked in the beginning...an Olympus D-510....just like Su's.

Above are a couple of my first few pictures. I turned them black and white...just because.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Giving Up the Ghosts

It was 2AM before I could even consider sleep. When my exhausted head finally let me drift off, I no longer saw his face. That smiling Tyus Edney is no longer a ghost that haunts my Tiger fan-dom. He's just a face and a bad memory. We, of course, will never forget 1995. But as we head toward the Elite Eight, we'll be thinking about the faces of our Tigers as they put the Bruins to bed.

More to come.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Seven years ain't that long

The young men who will play the game tonight in San Jose (10:15pm EST) were junior high or high school students when two other teams established the importance of their roles. They were the street game on-lookers when those older men established an unlikely rivalry between West Coast and Midwest. Tonight, fate has lent the ghosts of those 1995 teams a night to re-live...and perhaps change what happened. Even the match up of a number eight seed with a number 12 seemed unlikely a week ago. But in a mere seven hours, ten men will sweat California sweat and give hope to a legion of Missouri Tiger fans who seven years ago at this time were preparing to throw things.

I've never been much of one to throw things. It always seemed silly and slightly infantile to me. I once dated a girl named Tasha. It was a relationship with all the power and destructive intensity of a thunder storm on the Great Plains. It was born of a cold and warm front and ended in the destruction of several small trailer parks. She was a thrower. I still can't remember why I thought it was at all romantic to buy her a blown glass--or maybe it was crystal--dolphin. But I can remember its demise...a slightly happy-looking dolphin smashing through a petty argument and into a thousand dolphin pieces. Tasha was a thrower and maybe that's why it never worked out between us. I don't like to throw things.

March of 1995 was a different kind of month. I was fresh out of a frustrating relationship with the daughter of a fireworks stand owner. I was just back from a hedonist's adventure to New Orleans. And the Missouri Tigers were a mere 4.8 seconds from beating the team that would go on to become the national champions. I sat in the corner of a sectional sofa that my parents gave me. That corner held a lot of memories for me, some good, some bad. I had every hope that what I was about to experience would be something akin to what my brother caught me doing in that corner one night with the girl down the street.

The complicated possiblity that Missouri would actually be "in" at that point in the game was too much to handle. I was clutching a plastic/rubber shark. It had traveled with me back from New Orleans, out of a grenadine-colored drink called the Shark Attack. I was giving the little son of a gun a real workout. As UCLA Bruins' Tyus Edney took the ball (we didn't know at the time that his coach had told him that the game was his to win or lose), I clutched the shark by its tail.

Edney might as well have been on wings. He flew down the court and laid up the ball. It drifted over a set of Tiger fingers. One person later said if Grimm had cut not cut his fingernails that morning, the game would've belonged to the Tigers. As the ball slipped through the net and Tiger Juilan Winfield started to cry...I let little sharky fly. I threw that son of a fish harder than I'd ever thrown anything. It sailed across the house. I don't think I ever apologized to it or the roommates I almost beaned in the noggin.

According to published reports, Edney now plays ball in Europe. Team Benneton or something. He's in Barcelona for a game tonight and plans to turn on his TV at 4:00am (Spanish Time) to see what happens.

At the same time, Missouri Fans around the country will tune and try to fix what has been broken in their hearts for the last seven years.

Few of those young men who will hit the boards tonight will truly know their fans' emotion. Those young Tigers have a whole new set of emotions to experiece tonight. We as fans will watch them play and hope that we can share that excitement and mainline adrenaline with them. They will make their own history and try not to care about what happened seven years ago. And we as fans should encourage them to play their own game.

But as we watch that clock tick toward 4.8 seconds, we will feel that tightness in our chest, that sweat on our upper lip, and the pain in our hands as we clutch whatever is within clutching distance. And if anything even remotely similar to what happened in 1995 occurs, the people around us better duck. Seven years ain't that long and two heartbreaks in seven years is enough to turn a weakling like me into major league hurler.

I've got to go look for my shark.

When the wind won't blow...

...there ain't much to distract me. The house won't stink, the dog won't bark, and the wife won't redecorate. It's a little after midnight and the rain is falling straight down. There's no Spring breeze to push it on to the window and remind me that I don't really want to be outside. There is no Spring wind to howl though the cracks of my suburban tract home's vinyl siding and make me think the world is coming to a damned end.

It's this kind of quiet that drives temperate men to drink. It's this kind of quiet that inspires a mad artist. My most profound art floats midway up in a bottle of something amber.

It is this kind of quiet that could make a man feel grandiose if he weren't so unsure of himself. My grandiosity peaked too early today. It waned as I cleaned in preparation for a parental visit. It is gone now as I sit--much too awake--in a pair of ripped jeans in front of this night's only companion.

I own three guitars and two toothbrushes. I only need one of both. But...toothbrushes wear out and guitars do not.

I keep books after I read them, knowing full well--with the exception of a very good few--I will never re-read them.

Untalented people are self-destructive because they have no hope of finding talent. Talented people self-destruct because they are afraid they will never escape their talent. The people in between help the other two groups along.

Arrogance is the worst human quality that is actually useful.

When the wind won't blow, my mind won't work.

Apparently, creativity's engine is a windmill.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002


Sitting in the back of the dirty bar is a table full of smiling people. They have hats pulled down over their eyes and bottles pulled up their lips. They are sitting close to the back door. It makes quick escape a possiblity. The table is covered in spent beer bottles and scraps of beer bottle labels carefully torn to look like the southern states of America. They are public people, in a public place, seeking a modicum of privacy. They will be noticed soon by either a drunk or a floozy. They will laugh it off. Privacy, they know, is not a commodity they are afforded. They are public people.

Hours later, as they stumble into the streets, they breathe in public air. They are other stumblers around them. People can see them--especially the police. There are people among this group of private stumblers that want nothing more than to escape back into relative obscurity. There are others who are not as uncomfortable. Soon, they will all be hidden in a dark basement or underneath their warm covers. When they emerge, they won't be as concerned about who is watching.

However...there are some who are concerned about The Government, that shadowy body and all that surrounds it. The Government may be watching.


Police in Greenville, SC are trying to install 20 video cameras in in the city's downtown business district. That area has recently been the victim of a marrauding gang of graffiti taggers. Business owners are miffed. Security is a top concern.

Invasion of privacy is another.

There are certain members of the public who believe they have an expectation of privacy as they walk on the city streets. They believe lawful people who unintentionally mingle with the scofflaws should not be subjected having their likeness recorded.

It is a valid argument. It ranks up there with arguments against banking DNA samples of newly born children to track disease, maintaining a country-wide DNA bank of sexual offenders and violent criminals to more easily prosecute them, and installing microchips in criminals so we can track their movements. If we allow Big Brother to monitor our public movements, who is to say The Government will not use its power for evil?

It is the same argument that opponents of gun control use. They take away my AK-47, then they take away my .22 caliber rifle. Then I'll have no way to defend myself from the Government when it's time for the revolution.

If you have not yet figured out how I feel about downtown security cameras...you're not alone. I don't know how I feel about them. I don't know how I feel about a lot of things. I have lurking suspicions about my feelings, but nothing to say for sure.

After all, why WOULD lawful people be afraid of public monitoring? I dunno. I feel like I should be worried about it, but I don't know why.

Here is one definite thing...I don't think we can have it both ways. If we want to give The Government power over our lives...we have to be willing to be able to deal with the power they take. If they want our guns, our bodies, our criminals, and our phone numbers, we have to expect they'll want to take our picture.


The group of stumbling smilers will go back to that dirty bar. They will go with a two-day shadow, a ball cap, and a shirt they wouldn't wear in front of their Public. They know that there is no privacy in that bar, but they will do everything they can to avoid the public eye. That may soon mean walking underneath a parasol on the streets of downtown Greenville.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Black Tie Optional

I opted to wear a silver tie. I wasn't about to rent or buy a tux. A co-worker had given my wife and I the $120-a-plate tickets for the American Diabetes Association gala. I went...reluctantly. Galas aren't my bag.

I walked into a room full of men in tuxedos. I shouldn't have been there. The silent auction was underway and I was underdressed. Black tie optional, my ass.

I was just about into full-blown social anxiety and decided I needed a drink. I asked a colleague--quietly--if the drinks were free or if it was a cash bar. Tux Guy was evesdropping and told me--with a look of uppercrust disdain in his eyes--that beer and wine were free. I could see him secretly ending his sentence with the words "...if you and your cheap suit are too cheap to buy a liquor drink."

I could smell the money in the room. It smelled like silicone breast implants and sequins. I was out of place and felt like a cheap bastard.

The meal was high-dollar. Seven courses of gourmet bliss, capped by a Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Cake wedge. Children with diabetes gave heart-felt appeals for donations. "Your help will make sure my legs aren't amputated like my grandfather's," an ten-year-old youth advocate told the rich crowd.

In a moment of pure embarassment, I bought a ten-dollar raffle ticket. I had to throw some money somewhere. The big-ticket auction lots were about to hit the block and I foresaw thousands of dollars flowing from the tables for ten.

The auctioneer (also wearing a tux) hit the block. His southern drawl mixed with jackhammer auction calls led my wife to dub him "Bubba McNasty." He was the auctioneering rapper.

I planned my escape. As soon as the first two thousand dollar bid hit the block, I was going to hit the road.

Then something happened. The rich folks sat on their wallets. The purses were wrapped somewhere in a chastity belt. The rich folks--decked out in high-dollar dresses--didn't want to pony up for charity. They liked seeing and being seen...but they weren't about to throw any money toward the cause. Sure, they bought their tickets and drank the free wine, but their half-million dollar salaries didn't afford them the ability to throw a little extra around.

Suddenly, I was feeling less embarassed for myself and more embarassed for everybody else who was there.

I didn't belong there.

But as it turns out...neither did anybody else.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Sheep's got the Moo

If you mix one part madness with two parts Woo...you've got the Moo.

I admit...I was skeptical about the appeal of having first and second round tournament games in town. It had all the components of a full scale horrorshow. Parking cops sprang from demon seeds, lackluster teams invaded my personal space, and angry mobs of media complained of one too many stories about the big story. It was a recipe for manslaughter and everyone was loading their shotgun.

But there is something brewing in this town. It will be short-lived and probably insignificant in the grand scheme, but it is something out of the ordinary. Scrambling among masses bent on workaday normalcy, there is a sublime current of excitement. To vocally deny it is a sign of fear or ignorance.

The weekend promises more fireworks for both my town and my sense of anticipation. Downtown Greenville will host a street party that will be unlike many others it sees. The streets are famous for springtime after-work drink-offs, but it rarely sees an influx of out-of-towners bent on having fun.

Tomorrow, The Missouri Tigers will play the fourth-seeded Ohio State BuckTeeth. I can only hope the Tigers can prove their worth. The game starts at 3:20 pm...and I'm already rowdy.

I have seven hours of work left to do before I can start thinking about letting the Moo really kick in. I am surrounded my soothsayers, naysayers, and doomsayers. They are afraid of the masses. They are disgusted by their busted brackets. They are imploding under a sunny Friday workload.

There are times when a man can let his MooWoo fade under the pressure of tired, spent malcontents. This, however, is not one of those times.

I am reminded of a man I knew in college. His name was "G." He was never one to let his Woo fade. And if he couldn't collect a party, he found one on his own. He called it "Raging Solo."

If forced into the situation, I am fully prepared to act on his example.

Go Tigers

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Madness and the Modern Man

My brackets are in about six pieces. I can't see straight. What's worse, my town has the madness and it's turning into malevolence.

The NCAA Tourament invaded Greenville this week. Our local arena outfitted itself with NCAA logos. Parking Nazis started patrolling the town borders looking for drivers who have brown eyes and brown hair. The Nazis herded these people into a parking garage and charged them their tonsils to park for a couple of hours.

Bomb dogs are roaming through the arena hallways. Ticket scalpers are sharpening their daggers. Police are installing bomb-proof barricades along the sidewalks.

Teams confused by a new pod system are wandering through the streets, drunk on basketball and hopped up on main-line adrenaline. Shop owners have torn down their doors and invited the masses in to sample eighteen different kinds of cheese. They are especially looking for the people who don't care how fucking runny it is.

Excitement is tempered by anxiety, though. Something just doesn't feel quite right.

It may be that Greenville drew some unexciting matchups. Sure, the Blue Devils are here and they brought the Cameron Crazies with them. And yes, we have a Big XII team in town as well. But that's about it, as far as I am concerned.

Less than 24 hours from now, basketball bedlam will eat Greenville, SC. It will have less to do with the excitement of the games, and more to do with the circus that surrounds them. Downtown street parties, alumni mixers, and counterfeit t-shirt salesmen.

As my social anxiety disorder progresses into a full-blown mental illness, I fear I will lock myself in my upstairs bathroom and weep for 48 straight hours.

I wish I had the foresight to take vacation this week. My chosen profession will thrust me into the thick of this madness, a microphone and a Glock 9mm in my hands.

Forgive me now as I climb my brackets up to insanity. Somewhere in the Sweet 16 there is a siren calling me toward the jagged rocks. She is a beauty like few others and I only meet her once a year. This year, however, she is closer to home and I fear the proxemity will age her eyes and sag her breasts.

If you don't hear from me in the next few days, you'll know the siren's call was worth the worry.

Monday, March 11, 2002


The man's head reflected the bar's dim light He announced his name over the small PA system.

"I'm the Fat White Boy and you're at Johnny's Beanery," he said across a small bar filled with rickety tables and cheap beer drunks. Some were students. Some Wal-Mart employees. One was an old guy who the bar patrons called Knobby. They would scream his name in unison when he walked in the door.

A 23-year-old man with beer on his breath and unexplained happiness in his eyes looked across the room. His friends were there.

There were his roommates, his brother, his girlfriend. In that booth sat his drinking buddies. He could hug just about anybody in the bar and recall the names of at least 80% of the people he was embracing.

Beer Breath Boy knew these people, even if he didn't really know them. With some, he shared a common life. He lived with some of them, he slept with others, he drank with the rest of them. Over the years, he'd watched some folks fight in the parking lot and he'd watched others set city-wide drinking records. They were all living an unhealthy lifestyle and almost all of them knew they'd have to stop it eventually.

But for that night (and that night was just an amalgum of countless nights that fused like condensation beneath a beer bottle), it was a lifestyle of definition. The bar defined most of these people. The few that realized that simple fact were the happiest of them all. It wasn't the drinking, the sing-alongs, or the late night confessions of love. It was the simple bond of people who find a common place. It was a timeless place and even if everybody didn't know your name, it was still your place. The bartender knew what everybody drank. The guy with the magic dollar knew what everybody liked to hear on the juke box. And when the end of the night drunken swaying to "Piano Man" got too unsteady, there was almost always somebody to drive you home.

I'm gaining an appreciation for things of value. Health, an appreciative pet, the humor-potential of a late night MC Hammer dance parody, good friends, quiet evenings, and self-awareness.

I may be getting closer to figuring out who I am. Funny thing is--for good or bad--I haven't changed much since those nights in Johnny's Beanery.

I'm quite sane, but I'm coming to realize that my psyche may be trying to explain to the rest of me about who I am. I'm developing low-level social anxieties that I'm powerless to control. If I am in some version of Johnny's, I am at ease. If I'm surrounded by a bunch of people I will never know (or care to)...I am far from fine.

I used to feign a universal comfort. I pretended to be the guy who could fit in anywhere. That was a lie.

There are places I fit and there are places I am the polygonal peg. That was true many years ago and it is just as true today.

No moral...just a little personal reflection. I need to do that every once in a while.

Final note: If you didn't watch 9/11 on CBS last night, you should have. I don't like to applaud CBS for anything and I'm sure there's a lot of behind the scenes crap that would make me appreciate the efforts of the network and film makers less. Regardless, you should have watched it. There was value there.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Pear Boy

The mustard-based BBQ sauce dripped through my fingers and onto a plate full of slaw-droppings and baked beans. I'm sure the sauce was collecting in the corner of my mouth. I might have had some on my forehead. Free BBQ is hard to come by unless you live in Neshoba County, MS during an election year. I thought I'd get my South Carolina BBQ while I had a chance.

My colleagues and I were preparing to listen to a political expert lecture on some upcoming South Carolina elections. Free BBQ and pol-talk lured us into the room. I was neck-deep in pulled pork when my boss popped in a video tape from the year 2000. It highlighted our political coverage of the election that year. I played a bit part in that coverage. I looked forward to seeing my contribution.

I screamed out loud. I threw my sauce-covered fingers over my eyes. There I was--on the screen--dressed in an unflattering sportcoat. I was 20 pounds heavier and looked like I had a pig hiding underneath my belt buckle. My buddy leaned over to me and whispered, "You were...um...bigger then." I was Pear Boy.

I was bigger. I was obese. My neck fat rolled over my collar. I had a small colony of lemurs living in my belly button. They had mistaken it for Madagascar.

In the months before that video was shot, I had been on a eating binge. Long John Silver was my daddy. Ronald McDonald washed my car. The Burger King let me wear his crown. I drank more than 100 ounces of Coca Cola a day. I was a fat bastard.

It was just aobut that time that I realized that if I didn't change my habits, I would soon have a pretty good amount of shade over my nether regions. My regions like the sun...or at the very least...a dim lamplight.

The first order of business was a Coca Cola ban. I grudgingly switched over to Diet Coke and Diet Mountain Dew.

I also began boycotting McDonalds. I have never gone back.

I lost a quick 20 pounds and was proud of myself. I looked good in my wedding pictures (in part becuase misplaced anxiety killed my appetite for the three weeks before I said "I do").

Last night, I forgot about a second pork sandwich. I sipped a Diet Coke and listened to the political talk. I was set to lose another ten "let's just be safe" pounds.

Then I went home and ate the fridge. Not just the contents. I need a new ice box.

I fear I'm a junkie. I don't need food. I like it, but I don't need it. Last night, I wasn't even hungry and I ate my house. The dog looked scared and hid in the back yard. I need a new house now. So does the dog.

My brother is getting married this year. I have no anxiety about that. But, I do have to wear a tux again.

So, if you see a bunch of lemurs on a boat form Madagascar, tell them my belly ain't for rent.

And do you recommend a Frigidaire or a Maytag?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Numb Noodle

My think-noodle grew numb about five years ago. That was about the time I started waking up with the rest of the world instead of the rest of the drunks.

When I was a nightowl daysleeper, the noodle worked constantly. During the afternoon, I was productive. Late at night, I was creative, During sleepytime, I was psychotic.

The dreams should've scared me straight long ago. They were full of madmen with my face and sane people who died mercilessly. They would carry over from night to night like a sociopathic miniseries. I considered for a while that I might have a mental illness.

Then I started working for a living. You know it...that workaday grind that depletes all creativity and inner drive and leaves you wanting nothing more than to climb into bed and die for six hours. Creativity--stifled. Psychoses--eradicated.

I lived five years of relative sanity. I conversed with the rest of the world and understood that I probably was on the verge of mental breakdown during my early years. While everybody was living in a world of numb, jaded complanceny, I was experiencing nightly horror shows in my dreams and living grandiose dreams while I was awake. Then, for five years, I was just as numb as everyone else seemed to be.

But it is back.

I'm still waking up with the rest of the world, but I'm not sleeping that much. As caution points me toward bed, the think noodle unscrunches itself and kicks in a schizophrenic and grandiose afterburner. It makes me believe I can accomplish more than I am now. Hours tick by and by the time most of the world has been asleep for three hours, I'm cooking up schemes that promise to end in new accomplishment and untold reward.

Then I fall asleep and go half-mad. I have dreams of federal agents, shot and bloodied in domestic combat. I see planes crashing into trains and body parts strewn along a highway shoulder. The women are unavoidable temptresses and the men are my enemy. It is hell and heaven on an unachievable plane and I have no choice but to live it for a few hours while I sleep. When I wake up, it fades like a passing thought and by the time I am out of the shower it is almost completely forgotten. I am sane for another fourteen hours or so.

I don't know why it came back. Part of it, I think, has to do with the fact that I'm writing again. I had stopped for a while. Part of it, I'm sure, has to do with the uncertainty of my professional life. Part of it, perhaps, has to do with my dog removing half of the feathers from a formerly-full pillow. I think she is a bird dog in her dreams.

Fear not. I am not on the verge of breakdown. I am not a madman in a "going to freak out and murder my friends" kind of way.

I'm just thinking a lot more than I have in a long time and sometimes that can be scary. I'm still trying to figure out if think-noodle atrophy can be reversed.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Leaving the building

Elvis is finally calling it quits.

Not one moment too soon as far as I'm concerned. In the last year or so, I've had no emotional attachment to the quarterback of too-few-vowels. He left Arrowhead Stadium to a chorus of "screw you's" and rightfully so. Finally, he is letting the much-maligned Ravens find a real QB. Or more to the point...they're letting him move on. I don't care about the Ravens. And I haven't cared about Elvis for many months now. I'm just glad he's leaving. He is a man who was in the game for much too long and never really went anywhere important. And the places he went, he went on other people's tackling sleds.

Ten years in the big show, coming off a pro-bowl season...Elvis has left the building.

I wonder if five years ago, Elvis looked at himself in the mirror (wondering what it would've been like to be The King) and asked himself, "King, should I be doing something else with my life? Should I realize that I am going to spend the rest of my career fighting criticism, playing the game, and going nowhere? I'm in a slump now. Should I realize that some people--even when they make it to the show--don't ever really make it?"

I'm sure Elvis had a little fantasy somewhere inside that no-sideburned head of his. Maybe underneath that helmet was the think-noodle of a bluegrass musician. Or a prize-winning chef. Or a Bahamian Resort manager. But he jumped on the bus and rode it to the NFL. That bus is a hard one off of which to jump.

Goodbye, Elvis.

Look at it this way: At least you aren't a TV reporter.

Monday, March 04, 2002

The Elitist

I own a foreign SUV, a suburban tract home, and a pound puppy mutt. I bought a suit at the mall this weekend. I am about as far from an elitist as you can get.

Yet, that is not what many of my friends would have you believe. Some say I am a blogging elitist because I do not routinely post lists, quizzes, memes, etc on RER. I don't refrain from such posts because I don't enjoy them. I read many of my daily blogs simply to read such lists. I take the quizzes and enjoy them. I think there is a great place for such things. This just doesn't happen to be one of them. The biggest reason...I write for myself. This is my diary. The neat part is...other people read it.

I digress.

Most every elitist accusation regards my taste in music. This Newsweek column got me thinking about it.

First...full disclosure: I grew up during the days of glam rock and hair bands. Among my first concerts was a rocking ampitheater Tesla and Firehouse show. I once lied about my age to win free radio station tickets to a Motley Crue concert. My dad picked up the tickets and gave them to a client. I'm still not sure what a collection agency client would want with Crue tickets, but that isn't the point here. The point is...I grew up drinking what the music industry put in my sippy cup.

As my musical palate matured, I stopped ordering large boxes of tapes and CD's from Columbia House. I grew to hate MTV (so much so that a college roommate would tape Ace of Bass--or was it Base?--and Snoop Dogg videos and play them in an effort to make me get out of bed). I started trying to convince my garage band buddies (The Flaming Puppies) that we should stop playing our rock and roll standards and start playing songs by a band called Cracker. They giggled. "Crackers," they said.

Now, the music industry is slowly discovering that much of the drivel it spits onto mass-produced CD's just ain't selling anymore. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of perfectly bad music is going unsold, while music that was barely promoted is selling well (ever heard Ralph Stanley sing "Oh, Death?"). Maybe it is because the music-listening public is tired of hearing a new song turned into a car commercial before it is released on CD. Maybe it is because Spears looks really good hawking Pepsi, but doesn't give you much reason to tap your foot while you're sitting on the back porch waiting for the BBQ to cook.

Right now, my CD player loves me. There is no sugar on any of my CD's. As I drive down the road, my player slobbers over Springfield, MO-based Big Smith, the foot-tapping finger-picking blues of Roy Bookbinder, jamgrass artisans Acoustic Syndicate, groovy jamrock masters Donna the Buffalo, and alt-country crooner Charlie Robison. That's only this week. I'm currently off my Eddie from Ohio, John Gorka, and mix-CD rotation. That should start again later this week.

That is eclectic, ladies and gents.

I may not like your Creedy Trains and Your Matchbox 20-somethings, but I am no elitist.

And did ya notice? Three paragraphs ago...I slipped a list in on ya

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license