Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Country Kike

I'll admit it - I love country music! You'd expect an East Coast Jewish kid from Miami to be the furthest thing from a shit-kickin' country fan. However, technically, I'm from the South - yes, a Semitic enclave of the South, but still more South than Nashville and Texas. And, I'm an agnostic Jew, which means that I can listen to all types of music, in addition to just Klezmer.

My love for country music is not ironic. I'm not one of those douchebags that thinks it's cool to sing Ring of Fire at karaoke bars. I'm not one of those hipsters that grows a wide mustache and wears country shirts because I think it's funny to jam to indie rock looking like Buffalo Bob from The Howdy Doody Show. No, I genuinely dig this shit. Always have.

Growing up, I was the only South Floridian that didn't have a Hispanic babysitter. My babysitter was a southern old lady, like June Carter Cash right before she died. She made me watch Hee Haw and The Mandrell Sisters and Mama's Family. She made me listen to Chet Atkins and Roy Acuff and Loretta Lynn. She also smelled like garlic, but it was worth the odor.

When I watched The Great Space Coaster before elementary school, they always ran those commercials for K-Tel's Country Music Story. I recognized the songs and I made my parents buy me the records. When we went to Disney World, I gravitated to The Country Bear Jamboree. That's where I felt at home.

I jerked off for the first time to Flo from Alice.

As I grew older, I got into Dylan and Neil Young and The Dead. They weren't really considered country artists, but they were country artists. I also started listening to The Pixies, Pavement, and REM. There was country in there too. You just had to look for it.

When I started blogging in '96, I gained my following by publishing to ween.com, on which I was cybersquatting. This was around the time when they did their 12 Golden Country Greats album with the Jordanaires. My readers, who didn't know Ween from their early punk rock glue-sniffing years, thought I was a country guy. Subsequently, they would send me CD after CD of alt-country. That's when I discovered Uncle Tupelo and Wilco and Whiskeytown and The Old 97's.

These days, I listen to to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard and Hank Williams and Charlie Pride and Patsy Cline and Roger Clyne and Kenny Rogers (pre-plastic surgery) and Dolly Parton (pre-plastic surgery). The themes are the same themes of my life. I like to drink. I like tobacco. I like anonymous sex. No, I don't live in a trailer park, but I'd like to. I may or may not have several illegitimate children. I'm somewhat racist (only to Jews).

I do not listen to modern NASCAR Fox News country (Clint Black, Shania Twain, etc.). Modern country is not country music, it's disco with a twang. It's also gay. Chaps and Brokeback - not my in my country (or Miss California's). I also don't listen to Boulder country music (Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, etc.). I'll leave that to the Subaru-driving Whole Foods-shopping yoga moms.

I don't wear a cowboy hat either. Since I'm short and stout, it makes me look like a mushroom.

I hate people who say they love all music, except country. Come on! The lovelorn white trash. The roadhouse outlaws. The beer-soaked poets. It's America! Yes, I'm a Jew that loves country music. And believe it or not, I'm not the only country kike. Kinky Friedman is a country legend. Plus, Jesus, a common character in country music was Jewish. Shit, we essentially started this shit! Yee-hah!

By the way, if you take offense to my use of the term kike, kiss my grits!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Love College

Last weekend, I went to Boulder to see The Hold Steady at The Fox. Boulder is home to University of Colorado and subsequently, college kids galore. Even though most of the members of The Hold Steady are my age (in fact, I took Quaaludes with their lead singer in 1991, when I, myself, was in college), their show was packed with bright-eyed youngsters between the ages of 18 and 22. I have mixed feelings about all-ages shows. On one hand, you get to see beautiful young girls with gravity defying boobs that are never at your usual haunts. On the other hand, you have to deal with post-pubescent douchebags-in-training that haven't yet learned how to handle their liquor (not that I have, but still).

At this all-ages show, those douchebags-in-training were referring to me as "Professor". I thought this was some sort college slang for "old guy". Later though, I found out that I look almost exactly like one of CU's professors. I hoped it wasn't Ward Churchill. It wasn't. It was actually one Professor Quincy Miller, a sociology professor that teaches Sociology 101 for 2000 kids each semester, which means that the majority of CU's population had gone through his class at one point or another. Apparently, he's not a very cool guy, which made it all the more interesting to these kids that he/I was at this hip rock n' roll show.

Everybody wanted to buy him/me drinks. I'm not one to turn away free liquor, so I didn't correct them on their case of mistaken identity. As the shots of Jägermeister and Rumple Minze flowed through my system, I embraced my new identity. However, I wanted to change the students' perception of this guy. I got rowdy. I funneled beers. I smoked bowls. I moshed. I crowd surfed. I showed my testicles. It was an all out party and Professor Miller was the star. He/I became the Spuds Mackenzie of CU professors. With all this attention, I suddenly realized that I might like being a professor. Shit, all I'd have to do was teach a couple of classes during the day. Then, I could party like an undergrad all night.

The next day, in a cloudy fog of a hangover, I came up with the brilliant idea to give professoring a shot. So, I called up my buddy who teaches E-Business at The University of Denver and asked him if he needed anybody to lecture. You may laugh, but I am, after all, a successful entrepreneur and Web innovator. Plus, my buddy owed me a big favor (in return for getting him out of a bind involving a couple of midgets, a deer, and a late-model Buick).

He scheduled me for for the following Tuesday, which came a lot quicker than I'd expected. Just like when I was in college, I went out the night before my class and got ripped (yes, on a Monday). Just like when I was in college, I did absolutely nothing to prepare for my class. Why should I? I bullshitted my way through four years at UF, I could bullshit my way through 2 hours at DU. Anyway, how hard could it be to teach a bunch of young punks? Y'know what they say - those who can do, those who can't teach, and those who like looking at nubile co-eds teach college.

I put on my prescription-less horn-rimmed reading glasses, I put on my corduroy blazer with the suede patches, and I grew an academic looking beard. All of a sudden, I was Donald Sutherland in Animal House and I was Russell Johnson on Gilligan's Island. I looked good. And I sounded good too, for the first fifteen minutes. After that, I ran out of things to say. So, I did what any decent professor would do, I asked if anybody had any questions.

Instantly, my class turned on me. Despite my valiant efforts to sound smart, they knew I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. They questioned my credentials, they questioned my statistics, they questioned my assertion that I created The Times New Roman font, they questioned my assertion that it was my idea to put the colon between the http and the backslash backslash. It was bedlam. The more I floundered, the harder they hit. They asked questions like, "Do you even have a computer?" and "Why is my Daddy paying $42K a year for me to listen to your foolishness?". I almost got mauled when I left the classroom and went to the student union.

As I sat in The Union wearing a beret, rolling my own cigarettes, reading Nietzsche and texting my adviser, I realized that I don't want to become a professor. It's way more work than being a CEO. As a CEO, I have to tell people what to do. As a professor, I have to tell people things that make sense. Well, at least I could still party with the collegians, right?

That night, I went to the bar that I told my students to go to for my lecture after-party. It was empty. Nobody wanted hang out with this poor excuse for an educator. On the way home, I passed another bar and, lo and behold, sitting there with my entire class was a good looking older man doing shots and acting out scenes from The Pineapple Express. It was none other than Professor Quincy Miller, my doppelgänger. It seems that his reputation from the other night had spread from CU to DU and now everybody wanted to hang with him. Fucker! I went home with my tail between legs. From now on, I'll leave the academia to the academics.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rebel Knell

There's this scene in the 1953 film, The Wild One, where, sitting on a motorcycle dressed in all leather, Marlon Brando is asked, "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" He coyly responds, "Whaddya got?" If he were asked that same question today, he would probably answer, "I'm not sure." Our world has become so integrated and so progressive that there's really not much to rebel against. Rebellion, like Marlon Brando, is dead (but, not morbidly obese).

What happened to the race wars? What happened to the anti-war movement? What happened to abortion rights and gay rights? What happened feminism and drug legalization? What happened to the beatniks? What happened to the hippies? What happened to punk rock? I'll tell you what happened - all the whining worked. Everybody got what they wanted!

We got our president, a mulatto who may or may not have a Muslim past, proving that racism is no longer an issue. Our economy tanked, which made us pretty much forget the fact that we have two useless wars going on. Abortions are so legal we're being overrun with a deluge of random bloody fetuses. Gays are wearing fabulous tuxedos and denim pant suit wedding dresses in Iowa and Vermont, and more and more states are on the way. Women are considerably more powerful than men. Pot is basically decriminalized, and every other drug isn't worth fighting for.

Sure, everyone's broke, but that's not really a rallying point. It does suck, but you can't protest it. Yeah, yeah -- I know about Darfur, but it's too damn far away to really care. And the environment? Come on! That's a fucking pussy cause! It's also the hottest industry in a time when there are few industries that are hot. The environment will be just fine.

Everybody's content, except maybe the religious Republicans, but no one gives a shit about them. Religious Republicans wouldn't be rebellious anyway, they'd just be assholes.

I'm not saying there aren't people trying to be rebellious. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd think our whole country has joined the underground. Upon closer examination though, you'd realize that it's a farce. Subcultures are the new mainstream. Rather than being domains for the disenfranchised, they've become actual franchises.

Hippie music used to be the soundtrack of those who turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Now, bands like Phish and Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic are the soundtracks of suburban mothers and junior investment bankers. Hip-hop used to be a rally cry for inner-city kids kept down by The Man. Now, it tops every chart (including Christian Adult Contemporary) and it's about being The Man, not overthrowing The Man.

Punk rock used to be for angry malcontents that didn't fit in. Now, it's for pre-teen girls. The so-called punk rockers of today are good looking and talented. That's not rebellious or punk rock. The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were ugly and talentless. Also, these so-called punk rockers of today go to fashion shows and the Kids' Choice Awards. GG Allin would never go to the fucking Kids' Choice Awards!

Rebellion or, more appropriately, pseudo-rebellion has become a huge industry. Thanks, MTV! What was once Music Television is now a dumping ground for ads and product placements creating the illusion that mundane consumables are actually "subversive" or "extreme". They're not. Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters are in every mall perpetuating the myth that you can buy your way into non-conformity, which, through pervasiveness, becomes conformity.

Even shit that was once considered rebellious has become pussified. Tattoos are no longer statements of individuality, they're fashion accessories for middle-class middle-Americans. Same with piercings and mutilations. Harleys are no longer tough. They're now environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Come on! Harleys were not intended to be green, except for Harleys that were painted the color green. Cigarettes, once the mainstay of rebellion, are now too expensive for rebels to embrace.

Because of Shephard Fairey, graffiti is now displayed in museums and galleries. Because of Johnny Knoxville and Tony Hawk, skateboarding has become gayer than rollerblading. Because of the Wii and the iPod, teenagers have become lame. Hell, there hasn't been a real school shooting in ten years.

We need to bring back rebellion. There's still still stuff to rage against. And I'm not talking about the new Facebook design either. Social networking should be called conformity networking. On Facebook and Twitter and MySpace, we're trying harder to fit in than ever. We create our profiles and make our posts with our "anti-establishment messages", but really we're just desperately pleading for acceptance. No, we need real causes.

Personally, I'm rebelling against shirt tucking and loafer wearing. Damn right! And this law against cell phone usage in the car without hands-free devices? It's total bullshit! I'm also rebelling against stupid people getting pregnant. The non-intelligentsia must stop breeding. They're bringing down our collective IQ and I, for one, won't stand for it.

And what about Jew rights? There are less Jews than Blacks and Hispanics. Why don't we get special treatment for college acceptance? And how come the Germans and Egyptians don't give us casinos like the Indians? We were enslaved AND persecuted. And why can't I get a minority-owned business designation? Jews are getting screwed. I may dress like a Hasidic to show solidarity for my downtrodden brothers and sisters.

Look, I guess it's good that we've made progress in our country. Still, it's really boring not having anything to fight for. The people of America need to get off their asses and fuck shit up. Then, and only then, will we deserve to consume the products of rebellion that are so prevalent in our society. Hear me roar, motherfucker!