26 May 2006

Jaco And The Corn Flakes Box


I wanna tell the people who read your mail that one story about Jaco Pastorius. Hold on. I'll be right back. And try not to butt in!

Hey You Guys:

You may not know this about my brother Greg, but he has many talents other than being a genius inventor and loveable old crank. He is also a very talented musician and luthier, so he not only plays basses, he makes 'em, sometimes from the remains of old Chris Craft cabin cruisers, sometimes from fine endangered hardwoods, and sometimes from crap that's just laying around the house.

Take the time he made a bass with a Corn Flakes box for a pick guard. Way back in 1984, he had this piece of shite '62 Fender p-bass reissue that he wanted to turn into a fretless jazz bass. So he took a pair of needle nose pliers one day and yanked out all the frets and filled in the neck with plastic wood.

(Greg: Oh I did not! Me: Shut up! I'm telling the story!)

No, honestly the thing looked like hell. And it didn't have a pick guard. So he just up and cut the shape of one from a Corn Flakes box (those were MY Corn Flakes, by the way, you breakfast stealer!) and then just freakin' poured Verathane or whatever the hell it was all over it right there on the kitchen counter...and spilled some, too, thank you very much!

(Greg: I cleaned it up! Me: Like hell you did! You thought you could make it dry up by blasting it with my blowdryer - which died, thank you - and that didn't even work. So we had that gummy patch on the counter forever. And you guys over there, stop snickering about the blowdryer. It was the 80s. Men had blowdryers. And Greg, I never got my deposit back on that apartment, either. Greg: That's because our roommate Kelly burned the kitchen down. Me: Well, that's another story.)

So yeah, so now he's got this petrified Corn Flakes box cover that he screws to the beat-to-shit body and multifariously-pigmented neck of this Frankenstein of a bass of his. Then he put a different tail piece on it and some different pickups or whatever. Actually, he coulda put curb feelers, chrome spinners and ermine mud flaps on it for all I know. I don't know much about stringed instruments.

(Greg: I'll say. The only thing you can play is the stereo. Me: Shut up!)

Okay, so then he gets accepted to the Musician's Institute in Hollywood and goes down there and is all wowing 'em with his amazing musical prowess - and LO! Who should come to the Institute for a bass clinic but JACO PASTORIUS. Okay, a bunch of you in the front row are scratching your heads, so let me spell it out for you: Jaco is considered far and wide to be the greatest bass player who ever lived. No, seriously. 'S'a'fact. And so Jaco sees my brother over there playing his bass, going Bow-bikka-bow-bikka doodley oodleyoodleyoodley - bweeeewuuuwweeewuuuuh! on his FrankenBass, and he's all like, "Hey man, you're a pretty bitchen bass player, and that's a pretty freaked out bass you got there." And Greg's all, "Yeah I made it out of groceries that I stole from my brother."

(Greg: I did not! Me: Shut up! I'm telling the story! You wanna tell the story, go get your own blog, call it How My Brother Ruined My Jaco Pastorius Story dot Blogspot dom Com, and friggin' tell the story yourself. Greg: I'm going to punch a sheet of my stationery as hard as I can. Then I'm going to put it in an envelope and mail it to you. When it arrives, take the sheet of stationery out of the envelope and apply it to your nose.)

So then Jaco's all, "Hey man, can I play the FrankenBass?" And Greg's all, "For a dollar. PSYCHE!" And Jaco's all, "Check out your razor-sharp wit, man!" And then Greg's all, "Here you go, knock yourself out." And he hands Jaco the bass.

What happened next is history.

So then Jaco is like, "Hey man, that's the best bass I've ever played. Can I have it?" And Greg goes, "No." And Jaco's like, "Why?" And Greg goes, "That box of Corn Flakes was the last one that Kellogg's issued with the planar-geometric rooster illustration on the front. It's, like, priceless." So Jaco whips out a Sharpie and signs the pick guard. Later, Greg busts out some more Verathane and ruins another apartment when he laminates over Jaco's autograph.

The really sad part of the story is that although Jaco was a musical prodigy, had serious troubles with drugs and alcohol, not to mention mental illness. On September 17th, 1987, outside a club in Ft. Lauderdale, Jaco was beaten to death by a bouncer when he tried to get in without paying.

My brother Greg, on the other hand, came down with a strange illness that afflicted his hands. Now he can only play the bass and dial the telephone, but somehow inexplicably cannot answer correspondence. His hands just curl up like that witch's feet in The Wizard of Oz - you know, the one the house fell on - whenever he tries to pick up a pen. It's called gregorian hand-withering syndrome. And it must be stopped in our lifetime. Send donations to: GHWS, 40 Knucklebone Lane, Sho' 'Nuf, Shackabama, 24242.

(Greg: Retard. Me: Corn Flakes stealer. Greg: Tooth jockey. Me: Low-charisma. Greg: Mountebank.... )

24 May 2006

Screw The Internet Already, Okay?

Camp Coot-In-The-Woods: you can almost smell the crankiness.


Screw the Internet. Screw it. It hasn't improved anything. If anything it has made life more difficult. Oh sure, it has its upsides. You can buy stuff that you didn't need faster, and porn comes right into your home almost unbidden. Sure, you get to hear the good opinion of millions of people that you might not even pee on if they were engulfed in flame. Plus, you get bushels of email from other folks that you can tolerate even less and would pay American money for the opportunity to massage with an enraged tom cat. Not to mention that the NSA is able to read all your email completely unhindered by any part of the Bill of Rights, and brew up charges of witchcraft against you by using your own words. But aside from all those benefits, what the hell is it worth?

What is it that has my a wrench in my ass? I've been trying to plan a vacation this summer, that's what. I somehow imagined that I could get all my summer holiday plans put together with a few clicks on Expedia. (No, I'm not linking to those squidgy fuckers. No way. Nope. Why? Because Expedia lies like a ten-year-old.) All I wanted to do is get some airfare and maybe a hotel or something down at Crater Lake. Thirty-six hours and eighty-five hangnails later I got dick. Expedia tells you there are two choices: Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Motor Inn. But because of the magic of the Internet, now every fat granny, weiner dog, and freelance bung-pounder who can pilot a Cheechako Box has clogged the bookings until September ought-twelve. Wanna stay at the Crater Lake Lodge? You're SOL because a retired crap merchant from Delaware named Porky J. Visa McMastercard (+ his weiner dog) has it stolen it with a click of his mouse. This "ease of use" bullshit has made it impossible to do anything you wanna do. It's like living in downtown. Everything you ever wanted is only four blocks away, but you have to drive there and it takes you half an hour. (And of course there's no parking when you get there.)

Hateful Sidenote: I have booked with Expedia in the past. The results? Hotel rooms that share a wall with the roaring counterweights of the elevator. Hotel rooms that look out onto a clattering rooftop industrial air conditioner. Rental cars that either don't work or don't exist. Airfare twice as expensive as I could've got by going directly to the airline. And being misled to believe that Tucson has only three hotels.

Wilson's Cottages are conveniently located between BFE and
Ozymandia in the heart of a vast forest in 19th century Oregon.

So contrary to what Expedi-fucker tells me, there are more than two hotels in the vicinity of Crater Lake. How did I find this out? Total accident. I used a map. Remember maps? Those things with the multicolored lines and wrinkly topographical relief that remind you of gramma's leg after she got impetigo? Yeah, so, there's a place that I found that has been run by cranky old coots since the 1930s, and it's called Wilson's Cabins and they DON'T FUCKING TAKE CREDIT CARDS! Thank you, Jesus. What this means is that in an age where Porky and his ilk can click a mouse easily enough, but would sprain their tongues if they licked a stamp, places like Cranky Cabins has vacancies! Yay! But it's a really strenuous ordeal to secure lodging with them. You have to do things like "call" them with a "telephone" and "mail" your deposit with a "check" that you "write out" with a "pen". Added bonus - they don't have telephones or televisions, either. And you have to share you bed with a pizzly. But it's only one mile from the south entrance of Crater Lake National Park.

So yeah, I'm doing my vacation the old-fashioned way, including the part where I get the kids out of bed at 3AM and stuff them in the back of the car for an eight-hour drive to Bumscratch. I couldn't be happier. I am going to hike the SHIT out of Crater Lake, by the way.

I know I sound like a complete Luddite or Philistine or New Englander or whatever it is you high-falutin' well-educated liberal dilletantes in Nevada call folks like me. (Wait - maybe I've mistaken Nevada for someplace else. Isn't Nevada the place with the maple syrup and the colleges and the Canadians? No, wait, that's Nevhampshire. Nevada is the place with the whores 'n' stuff. Never mind.) Were it not for the fact that Mark Keeney said to me one day, "Hey, you oughtta have a blog", (to which I replied, "Whatsablog?") I would still be sending you these epistles on Crane's 1830s-era 100% cotton rag stationery via US MailSherpa. (Side note: it is because of Keeney's suggestion that I refer to him as The Blogfather.) With Baby Jesus as my witness, when I retire, I am going to completely unplug from this whole "Internet" fad and step back into that magical land that is redolent with the aroma of mimeograph juice and carbon paper. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to pick up my flint axe and musket and go slaughter something for breakfast.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.