Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Short Subjects - Thin White Rope, Politics and Negronis

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, August 03, 2008)

Today you're going to get several short subjects. I was extremely busy this week and didn't get around to finding the time to write anything well thought out and long. So this is what I was able to throw together at the last minute. Excuse me if it's a bit sloppy.

Next week will probably be close to the same, as I'm just swamped with both work and play. We're going out every night for the next 8 days and I have boxes of CDs and LPs that I need to get into data bases and sell. Whew! At least money is flowing in fairly well right now, although I don't expect that to last long since its flowing right back out again.


The other day I was walking up to my nosebleed seats in the Hollywood Bowl when I felt a sharp pinching on my hand. I looked down and there was a bee stinging me right between my thumb and my forefinger. I flicked him off and pulled out the stinger and that was that, although it itched a bit throughout the night. Fortunately, I'm not allergic to those pesky things. But the whole thing reminded me of a Thin White Rope tour story I had forgotten.

One day, we were driving through Italy on our way to a show at some small town. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying having the windows down in the van to take in the great weather. We were having some conversation about something mundane, as we tended to do, when all of a sudden Roger cried out in pain. We stopped talking and turned our attention to Roger, only to see that a bee was on his wrist. It had flown in through the open window and stung the hell out of him. His wrist was already swelling up in an ugly way. Roger immediately started in about how he was allergic to the usually helpful creatures and was worried that if his wrist continued to swell, he wouldn't be able to play the guitar that evening, and that would be a major disaster as we hated to cancel shows for any reason. (I can only remember two shows ever being cancelled, one in Paris and one in Texas, because we couldn't get to them due to van troubles.)

But leave it to our Italian tour coordinator, Tony, to come to the rescue. He claimed he knew what to do and seeing a vegetable stand on the side of the road ahead, he told the driver to pull over. He and the driver, Claudio, walked up to the old man selling stuff off the stand and asked for something. As is usual in Italy, this turned into a rather loud argument. Tony and Claudio headed back to the van empty handed. But before they got all the way back, they turned around and started arguing with the guy again. For the second time, they gave up and started towards the van, only to turn around and once again argue with the man. After this third argument, he finally relented and gave the two something they brought back to the van. (We found out later that that "three argument" rule was also typically Italian. After the third argument, one side or the other always seemed to relent.)

During all this, Roger's wrist was getting bigger and he was in quite some pain over it. We were all beginning to panic when the two guys arrived with the object the man had given them. This object was a potato. Tony cut the tuber in half and placed the raw potato on Roger's wrist. Immediately, the swelling started to go down and within half an hour, the wrist was pretty much as good as new.

We were all very surprised by this. None of us had ever heard of the potato remedy before. It was a genius bit of folk medicine information that I have never forgot, which is why I wasn't worried about this bee sting at the Hollywood Bowl. If it would have turned serious, I would have headed to the onsite restaurant and a potato later, everything would have been fine.


And, of course, let's talk politics for a moment. I want to make sure that nobody is taking "Not-My-President" Bush's statements about off shore drilling for oil seriously. As usual for the man, he is lying about the oil companies needing offshore and protected land in Alaska to drill in order to bring gas prices down.

Right now there are some 42 million acres of public land that is leased to the oil companies for drilling purposes. Of that 42 million, they are only using about 12 million of those acres. About one forth of the available lands they have go unused. And despite half-hearted claims to the contrary, that unused land contains a lot of oil. The oil companies are greedy and are using this new gas price crisis to try to get their hands on land they want, whether they actually need it or not. Being an oil man himself, Bush knows this, but being dishonest has never stopped him before and it certainly won't stop him this time.

But more distressing than having to deal with Bush's lies again was hearing that Obama is now hemming and hawing over this subject and is claiming that he may be open to reversing his objection on it, as he has done with so many other subjects in search of votes for his Presidential Campaign. So I did some research on the subject and in truth, although he's saying he would be open to new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, he is also saying that he would do so in exchange for stripping oil companies of their tax breaks and extending tax credits to investigate alternative fuel chooses. I would rather he do the latter two things without any new drilling, but I do know the nature of our particular beast and it might just be a viable compromise. It always seems to be two steps forward and one step back (or during the Bush administration one step forward and two steps back), so I think I understand and approve of what Obama is trying to do here even if I don't particularly like it.

And don't even get me started on John McCain and his already forgotten promise not to campaign negatively. His new ads comparing Obama to Britney and Paris Hilton are embarrassing. He's a foolish old man and should be ashamed. But shame is something most politicians don't recognize.

On other fronts, I would like to thank Alaska Senator Ted Stevens for once again proving the stereotype is close to the truth. I would also like to thank conservative columnist Robert Novak for almost making me believe there might be a mighty and just God up there.


There are a lot of reasons I hate living in Los Angeles. There are also a lot of reasons I like it here. Going to the bar at Mussos & Franks in Hollywood is one of the reasons I love it here. It's the oldest surviving restaurant in Hollywood and many of the bartenders have been there since the dawn of time. They always have a story.

The other day, Skip and I popped in for a fast drink before dinner down the street. I ordered a negroni, one of my favorite current drinks, especially if I'm going to eat Italian, as we were this day. When the bartender brought it, he explained to me that every time someone orders one of these drinks, it reminds him of Marlon Brando. The last time he saw Brando at the restaurant, he was sitting in the corner (he pointed out exactly what table in what corner) with his son, Christian, and daughter, Cheyenne, and all three where ordering negronis like they were about ready to become a rare item. They were having a rather animated conversation. That night, they went home and that was when Christian killed the abusive boyfriend of Cheyenne, his half-sister, in a drunken rage.

I love stories like that. They make me glad to live where I do. But I also realize that maybe I better watch just how many negronis I drink at one time. There's always a moral.

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