Sunday, May 24, 2015

Guardians of purity

We can all conjecture about whether homosexuality and fornication are sins. But it’s universally recognized by reasonable people that violating a child is a sick thing to do. Josh didn’t give a shit. He and his fame whore family would rather prevent gays from getting married, tell you what to do in your sex life and while they’re at it, how to worship.

You better not be one of those United Church of Christ people or you aren’t a true Christian. Wrong interpretation. Hell, you’re probably a secret Muslim.

Sure you expect these kinds of things to happen. It’s only a matter of time before Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum get caught sending erotic text messages to a mistress or in the black book of some gay male hustler. I know I’ll laugh when the other shoe drops on them, but I feel no sense of schadenfreude at the Duggar revelations.

If one of the 19 kids were found to be gay or it were revealed that one or two had marital relations before the wedding (did you see the picture of Jenna Duggar and Josh Dillard's "first kiss"? Looked like Christian porn.) 

But children were hurt by Josh Duggar’s “mistakes” made “when he was a teenager.” I wish it would’ve never happened. Let ‘em hang themselves some other way. Not at the high expense of a child’s emotional life.

I’m not going to going to cast aspersions on Duggar or the wickedness of his act. I’m afraid I’d sound like them. We all agree. You don’t have to believe in a Supreme Being to see that as sin. Let’s leave it at that.

But I feel perfectly comfortable talking about the hypocrisy going around. I’ve never watched a full episode of 19 and Counting, but I’ve seen videos of it on YouTube. The kids appear pleasant and refreshingly polite. The parents seem nice too. Although it looked creepy (or at least 19th century) when the young guy asked Jim Bob if he could marry his daughter.

That’s all good and well, but I feel the parents, behind all the smiles and congeniality, stand for – and promote – cruelty, crucible-like Puritanism and dangerous, un-democratic theocracy. They hang out with Mike Huckabee. Every day that guy is saying something new and nasty about people who don’t share his limited worldview. “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” Even the title of his book sounds gross.

                                          Henson Cargill -- "Skip a Rope"

Do the Duggars care that Huckabee’s son tortured an animal – a dog, a poor old domesticated dog, man’s best friend – and Rev. Huckabee abused the power of his office (as Arkansas governor) to keep the heat off his murdering sadist of a son? Is that mitigated by the fact that he’s vehemently against same sex-marriage, that he thinks it will lead God to go Sodom and Gomorrah on the United States, that his friends think Pres. Obama will bring on the Second Coming? Armageddon, or Christ’s return, can be a good or bad thing, depending on how they’re framing their arguments this week.

Before his resignation, amid the allegations, Josh Duggar worked for the Family Resource Council. Does that Christo-political organization’s self-professed Christianity and opposition to homosexuality and any other “impure” sexual acts and/or relations assuage its origins? FRC President Tony Perkins got his mailing list in 1992 from former KKK wizard David Duke. Does pre-marital intercourse between a man and woman trump racism, you know, that hateful feeling that’s inspired lynchings, bombing churches, burning flesh and rape?

Is hating your neighbor for the shade of his skin a worse crime than, say, seeing a rated R movie? Is racism one of the lesser sins, equivalent to driving past the speed limit? Is that why they all collectively shit their pants when Obama was elected? Barrack Husein Obama doesn’t play by the rules, not like that “good negro,” Ben Carson who compared the “troublemakers in Ferguson” to “Islamic fighters.”

To be fair, the good Christians on The Right recognize the egregiousness of Duggar’s sin. Forgiving people that they are, they recognize we are all imperfect, but there is repentance.

“I believe that everyone makes mistakes,” a woman wrote on Facebook. “I think a lot of siblings do things like this because of maybe what they saw their parents doing…I truly do not believe he meant to hurt anyone…but kids are curious…It was a long time ago, you were just a kid.

 Christ paid for our sins on the cross. So stop throwing stones. It’s like Huckabee said. The Duggars are victims of “insensitivebloodthirst.”

They’re not like the Obamas, letting their kids listen to Beyonce’.

                                                Beyonce' -- "Single Ladies"

It's a good song. Figure this is a good excuse to play it. When my daughter, Gabby, was 5 or 6, she used to dance around and sing it, but then we're a sinful family.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The universe is indifferent

Late spring 2007. The buzz was about The Sopranos, one of the greatest shows in television history, ending. Would Tony Soprano finally bring on his own destruction? Would there be redemption?

It sounds archaic now, but I belonged to this AOL chat group dedicated to discussing The Sopranos, to analyzing the hidden clues, meanings and symbols. One of the group leaders was an English teacher at some community college, I think, in California. Her user name was Greenlight – after The Great Gatsby, I surmised. Real name was Jill. (Nobody ever knew my real name.)

“There’s this new show coming out that’s supposed to be really good,” she wrote. “Mad Men about ad executives in the early ‘60s.” 

I was skeptical. Did I really trust television to get a period drama right the way a well crafted movie would, say George Lucas’s American Graffiti or Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused?

What was a TV period drama for me? Not like I was watching Upstairs Downstairs when I was a kid. It was Pinky Tuscadaro wearing bell bottoms on Happy Days. Not exactly Eisenhower-era authenticity. Even my beloved That ‘70s Show looked less and less like the ‘70s as the sitcom wore on.
I had to check this new show out.

                              "One for the Road" -- Frank Sinatra

Now it’s the end. You binge watch all seasons and the wild ride is like an acid trip. The cars, fashions, architecture and music have all been historically accurate, but they have unraveled so gradually you barely notice. Like life, like people, they have changed so gradually over the seasons you’ve barely noticed.

I couldn’t take the show seriously if it was blighted by anachronisms, but it’s the unraveling of characters, more than the culture their stories coincide with, that has kept me hypnotized by the story. We see all the characters struggle with demons, but no one more than Sterling Cooper ad agency Creative Director Don Draper.

The house where you live

Over the episodes, the plot unfolds like a book. We find out the man isn’t who he says he is. His character is the closest television has ever come to a Jay Gatsby – someone who escapes a poor background, assumes a new identity in a place where nobody knows him and achieves the American Dream.

He thinks he can obliterate the past as if it never existed. But does anyone honestly believe we can do that? Can we live forever in denial? Never feeling conflicted and without peace? Can we erase all the shame, guilt, pain and scars of our lives? Completely change the story?

People do it every day. Or try, at least.

Maybe you’ll cruise by for awhile. Don has the perfect job, a beautiful wife, adoring children and a nice house. “We have it all,” a neighbor tells him in an early episode. “Yep, this is it,” Don answers, an undertone of dissatisfaction in his voice.

One of my favorite moments in Mad Men is when he’s in bed with his lover (extramarital), Rachel Menken, and reveals that his mother was a prostitute who died giving birth to him. His wife and kids know nothing about his early life.

I love the way prostitution is a recurring theme in Mad Men, how it parallels the advertising business. Selling out one’s creativity, the beatniks – later hippies on the show might say. But Don doesn't buy into that view. I guess I’m most fascinated by the unique philosophy of life Don brings to his job.

You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it.

Advertising is based one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.

(That quote was from the first episode, set in 1960 when Don and Roger Sterling are nearing their pinnacle. Think of this quote and think of the scene from the recent episode, “Time and Life,” set in 1970. Both men are washed up. They’re in a hotel bar, drunk, and Roger, pretty much Don’s father figure, kisses him on the cheek and says, “You’re okay.”)

Don Draper is the most existential character in television history, and I love it. He’s this guy who dropped out of high school, stole a dead man’s life, went to night school at city college (Pete Campbell went to Princeton) and he reads book’s like Dante’s Inferno.

hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie, there is no system, the universe is indifferent.

We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.

People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.

I love the complications of this character. He was raised in a whorehouse by a woman who never let him forget who his mother really was. He was verbally, emotionally and physically abused. Is it not completely correct that writer Matthew Weiner made Don a guy who cheats on his wives? Of course he does. You don’t come out of a background like that without problems. It goes with the whole idea of a man who has secrets and lives a double life. Yet, he has this moral code – loyalty to clients, respect and compassion for people others ridicule, propriety when other guys are talking crudely around women, manners.

As you can probably tell it’s the writing that most intrigues me. Of course that’s the kind of thing that’s going to give a guy like me a hard-on; what do you expect. Mad Men is one of the key works marking the TV Renaissance.  When I was a kid I’d watch The Brady Bunch or My Three Sons and lie to myself about it being real life because I wished it was, but Weiner – he cut his teeth writing for The Sopranos – has given us the truth. To say he has influenced me would be an understatement.

I’m going to go outside and play with my kids now. I don’t use time wisely and I’m afraid of being a failure as a father. I haven’t even probed the other Mad Men aspects – that lovable rougue
 Roger Sterling (don’t we all need a friend like him), Salvotore’s closeted life; Peggy Olson and the glass ceiling; birth, death and suicide; tripping on acid... 

I could write some other damn thing later, but maybe this is all that there is.

                                          California" -- Joni Mitchell

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Demented moon

Black hours. Around 5 a.m. Shortly before I woke up. I was laying in bed, dreaming.

I dreamt Mom had been cured of dementia. She had her mind back. Mental faculties, cognition -- all in place. Even her former look had returned. Her hair was dyed red like it used to be. She looked middle-aged, around my age actually. Possibly a bit younger. Mom always was rather youthful looking. Her face looked smoother.

At the assisted living facility, the workers say, "Vickie's a sweetie." That's how they see Mom -- as a sweet old lady. Except on those occasions when she becomes restless or someone or something rubs her the wrong way and she goes nuclear, unleashing a tirade in which she hits things and swears like she's in an NC-17 movie based on a Henry Miller novel.

"Did she cuss a lot before?" the facility director asked me.

We joke around a lot, Mom and me. "You and your mom have something. She can calm you down," says my mother-in-law, whom I also call "Mom."

It's a close, but not uncomplicated relationship. Back when she had this younger, fuller look, there were times when Mom could be a real bitch. I guess every mother is at some time or another. We'd have terrible arguments.

And that's what happened when she re-claimed her younger self. It was as if the renewal of her intellect restored some mechanism in her brain, freeing her to be disagreeable, feisty and unyielding again. It was almost like I'd forgotten some younger years. We had some disagreement. I was probably being caustic and not thinking before I talked -- if I were to contemplate on it and all. And Mom was being unbearably bitchy.

Then I had a bad thought.

"I want sweet old lady back. Bring back Dementia Mom."

Naturally I felt guilty. My wife says I like to feel guilty.

That's about the time I woke up.

                          "Came a Long Way" -- Heartless Bastards

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I want to represent you in city council

Your future City Councilman -- Jeff Guy

Old newspaper pals, family members, the gang at The Buckhouse and fellow members of the various civic groups I belong to have urged me to run for City Council. I decided to throw my hat in the ring and announce that ol' J. Guy is running for Jett, Kan. (wink, wink) City Council as a write-in candidate.

I was raised here in Jett, Kan. (pop 4,000 in the '70s). I remember bike rodeos at Robinson Elementary, Little League games at Garvin Park where I played right field, bowling at Holiday Lanes and hanging out with my friends Hyde, Eric, Donna, Jacque and Fez, spray painting a special leaf leaf on the city water tower.

I’m running for city council because I believe public service is a noble calling for a man. Or a woman, hermaphrodite, whatever. My point is I’m a people person and that’s given me the skill set to serve my community. I honed my communication and business skills in the early ‘90s as a car salesman. You’d see me at the lot on south Broadway in Wichita, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sitting on the hood of a 1970 Mercury Comet.

I further honed my skills as a communication major at WSU. Don’t believe what you’ve heard about how it’s a worthless major where you can get fucked up every weekend and still get by. My education has helped me connect with people. Also, when my wife and I have an argument, I say, “You’re not fighting correctly. Please. I have a degree in communication.”
My community service has included washing police cars and picking up trash in the park. Yes, I was court ordered to do this, but it was still community service, right?

Now for the things I plan to accomplish as your city council man.

·        Water is a huge issue in our city. Archaic contracts with an inferior city over shared water. An aging infrastructure. I want you to know water concerns me as three-fourths of our bodies consist of water and good ol’ H2O is needed to sustain life. Water. Water. Water. I have been a proponent of water for years and if it makes you pee a lot, that’s okay because a chiropractor friend of mine said, “That’s good for you.”
·        Liven up our city’s cable access channel by airing reruns of Seinfeld and Friends.
·        Take a page from Andover’s playbook and hold annual summerfests featuring awesome bands no longer on the charts (e.g.) NWA, the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice.
·        To show a lighter side of city government, every quarter, each council member will read mean tweets about themselves like they do on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Remember Gwyneth Paltrow reading, “Gwyneth Paltrow looks like the kind of person who smells like cat piss.”
·        Bring a Freddy’s Frozen Custard to town. I’ve met Freddy. Nice guy.
·        Capture the religious diversity of our community by not only having Christian ministers deliver opening prayers, but also including Jewish rabbis, Islamic mullahs, Zen Buddhist dudes, Wiccan priestesses and the First Church of Cannabis. Really, my friend M.J. got her cannabis mister’s card online from Indidana.
·        Which leads to a page from Wichita’s playbook. I support a resolution that would make marijuana, not exactly legal, but a civil faux paux that can be rectified by a $5 fine and possibly negotiated down to planting flowers in the park. Furthermore, I hope to be our council’s legislative contact, working for the legalization of pot. It will be good for our economy. You see, people get stoned, get the munchies and that opens a market for donut shops, cupcake stores, cannabis dispensaries and a plethora of other businesses.

 Residents of Jett, Kan., my aim is true. Together, we can make a better, more enriching and invigorating community. So vote for me and I'll make your wildest dreams come true.

Okay, you got me. April Fool

                                        "Fight the Power" -- Public Enemy

But I really did meet Freddy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not standing by

I meant to write about this last weekend when it was still fresher in the news, but what the hell? The man's still around. He's going to run his mouth again. I guess I feel compelled to write about Phil Robertson's (the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch's) latest rant because I have to express how sick it made me feel.

You probably heard. He went on a disgusting diatribe about an atheist family getting raped, mutilated and murdered to make his point that only people who believe in God (and I'm sure he means the white evangelical Christian god) have any sense of right or wrong. There was a fire and brimstone-like cruelty to what he was saying, the way he was saying it, almost like he was hoping hell would rain down on this imaginary atheist family.

I do believe in God, not the cruel, wrathful, genocidal god Phil does, but I do believe He exists in the universe. I just decided, after years of personal torment and struggle, that God is love. But that's my belief. I'm not going to deny the dignity or humanity of someone who doesn't believe. I'm not going to say anyone who is an atheist or agnostic is devoid of a moral compass or a sense of right or wrong.

When I hear this hate rant, I think of all those people on Facebook who liked the "I stand with Phil" page after he caught backlash for saying disparaging things about gays in an interview with GQ. (Oh, no gays in that magazine, I'm sure.) Something about the way people - many of whom I went to church with - liked that page stuck in my craw.

I could never like something that makes a bigot out to be a martyr. It would be like condoning the mean things he said, like saying I agree with him. And I don't. I don't want to be anything like that guy and I'm damn sure not raising my kids to be that way.

Did all those people standing with good ol' Christian Phil approve of the way he talked about blacks too?

"We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Like blacks in pre-Civil Rights Louisiana would've uttered a word of complaint to a white person. That was enough to get a black person lynched. Not like the racists needed much reason. But yeah, all their negroes were happy. Ol' Pastor Phil said blacks were better off before they had Civil Rights, that welfare is a worse form of slavery than the real slavery they endured -- you know, where they were kidnapped, beaten, whipped, chained up, separated from family forever, raped, tortured, dismembered and burned alive. Oh, but that wasn't as bad as having to accept public assistance to get some food.

I figure if a person is prejudiced against one group, he'll probably be prejudiced against another. Christian Phil doesn't like gays, is condescending toward African-Americans and now we hear him speak violently of atheists. Phil has a habit of demonizing anyone who doesn't share his views.  A few days after unleashing his blood-splatter fantasy (at a prayer breakfast nonetheless), he made news for saying liberals are worse than Nazis.

Pastor Phil thinks people who feel strongly about civil liberties, education, equal rights for everybody, social safety nets to raise all ships and achieving peace over war are worse than the murderous perpetrators of the most horrific tragedy the world has ever known. 

Phil isn't the only one. Not even the only to resort to gruesome imagery. Not by a mile. There's the Colorado state legislator who said a woman's rape was part of God's curse on America for legalizing abortion. Phil's grotesque hate-rant just got to me. 

I remembered all those people and their "I stand with Phil" pages. Well I don't stand with Phil. I no longer go to church with any of them. Many of them are good people and I wish only good things for them and no ill will. I didn't give up on God or Christianity. I just couldn't abide belonging to an organization in which people promoted hatred.

I'd just had enough.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Here in my pants

Five years ago when I started this thing I didn’t know what it would be. Just knew I wanted to write some shit. I read other blogs.

I saw an educational blog called “My vag.” Every one of this woman’s blogs had to do with her vagina. There’s a lot to say about the orifice, which Wikipedia describes as “a fibromuscular tubular sex organ that is part of the female genital tract.” 

There’s all these parts you learned about in ninth grade Health class – labia majora (inner part), labia minora  (outer part), which I guess was shown in Bernardo Bertolucci’s final film, The Dreamers. Roger Ebert gave it a rave review.

It was quite personal, this gal writing about her vagina and all, but a blog can have that kind of intimacy. I’m reminded of a 2008 episode of House where Laura Prepon played a patient who blogged everything about her life except her bowel movements. Now Prepon, who I’ll always know as Donna from That 70s Show, plays a prisoner on Orange is the New Black. Her character is a lesbian. “Haven’t you ever gone down on a girl before?” she says in one episode.

Which leads back to the vagina.

For my readers, I try to be honest and real about my life. If terrorists kidnapped me, stripped me nude and poured hot liquid lead down my keister – in effect, giving me a hot lead enema – I’d tell you about it.

Ball sack blues

We were at Fratelli’s Pizza at the corner of Fifth and Main – me and my co-orkers Hank and Jace.

“I have jock itch,” I said.

 “You poor thing,” Jace said.

She’s a kind, nurturing, sensitive type.

That’s what I assumed the incessant itching down below was. Maria told me it was probably jock itch and gave me cream to apply to my balls.

I’m susceptible to sweat rashes when I work out. For two days after being at the YMCA, I had this constant itching on my scrotum. Maria gave me different creams, but nothing worked. It became a familiar scene around the house. The family would be in the living room, watching TV, playing on DSs and phones and there I’d be with my hand in my pants, furiously scratching the never ending itch.

“Did you wash your hands?” they’d ask.

The Masturbating Bear
At work, when no one was around, I would sneak my hand under the desk, into my pants and scratch the evil itch, hoping nobody would catch me and report me as a weirdo. When I went to pee, if nobody else was in the restroom, I’d stand at the urinal, and as soon as I undid my pants, before I peed, I would rapaciously scratch. I looked like the masturbating bear from The Conan O’Brien Show.

I’d be with my family in Wal-Mart or Target.  I’d look for an isolated spot with no people or cameras – perhaps a place by the bread aisle where I could secretly bring myself relief. I was always afraid someone would catch me, that I’d get arrested and it would in the papers and social media about how I was a pervert. Such a thing happened to a well-to-do business man in Wichita three years ago. Said he was just adjusting himself.

I finally made a doctor’s appointment. “What are we here for today?” she asked.
“I have this rash on my scrotum. It’s migrated down to my inner thighs and to my anus. I’m in agony, itching all the time.”

“I think I know what it is,” she said, then looked at it and told me it was a fungal thing. She prescribed this gel to put on the area twice a day. Said I should be okay in a month. She was so sweet about the whole thing. I picked up my medicine at Cooper Drug, here in my hometown of Jett, Kan., (pop. 4,000 in the ‘70s).

It’s like a burden’s been lifted, telling you about my personal pain.  It’ll soon be over.
I value the loyal readers of this blog – all five of you. I hope none of you ever have a fungal, itching thing in the crotch area.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Adam Knapp's Top 10 musical influences, Pt. 4

Editor's note: Well, this is the final blog in Adam Knapp's "musical influences" series. Kind of sad to see it go, but I'll be glad to get back the use of my own blog. He picked an interesting topic to write about. Hearing certain songs for the first time -- music that can alter your perceptions - can be an experience right up there with reading a life-changing book, losing your virginity or getting high for the first time. We all have our own high fidelity-esque mixed tape in our heads. Speaking of changing one's worldview, Adam also picked a compelling and timely subject for the documentary film he's been working on. Coming soon. Look for it.
--J. Guy


2. The Next-Door Neighbor
There was an older girl who lived down the road from us who was really nice to me. She took me to the skating rink. We went swimming in her pond. She tried to be a musical influence on me, playing records for me in her bedroom … but when you’re a boy in the fifth grade, I don’t care how big your breasts are, “Sad Eyes” isn’t going to cut it.

Her older brother was a different story.

Had there been more people out in the country, Les Finstad probably wouldn’t have had much use for me. But I was young, I was impressionable and I was … well, there. Les introduced me to Red Man chewing tobacco. We played tackle football in my basement, just the two of us, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I grasped the concept of four downs – to say nothing of knocking heads.

But mostly, Les made me realize what kind of music I loved. Within days of meeting him, my then-favorite song, “Good Times Roll” by The Cars, had been replaced by “More Than a Feeling.” That was the first song from Boston's first album. Strangely, I haven't liked another Boston song since. But that's inconsequential because of the other group Les introduced me to.


Now … you have to understand the era in which I grew up. If someone my age tells you their favorite band is the Beatles – well, that’s cool. Nobody’s better than the Beatles. But they’re too young to have experienced the Beatles. For me, AC/DC came along at perfect time.

So pretend you’re a new kid in the middle of the country, sitting in a teenager’s truck on a hot summer day.

                           "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap -- AC/DC!!!!

Look at that album cover. Now listen to “Dirty Deeds” for a minute or so. Tell me some part of your body isn’t moving right now.

This felt like doing something bad - and I don’t care who you are, there is no way you don’t like that song. The rest of the album was more of the same: “Problem Child,” “Squealer,” “Jailbreak” – all of them just gritty, raw, balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll straight out Australia. No ballads with these guys. (Unless you count “Big Balls,” an anthem in its own right. And you wouldn’t.)

Sometime during my fifth-grade year, AC/DC’s lead singer drank himself to death. I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew is that the very same year, AC/DC came out with a new album with a new lead singer, and they became bigger than ever.

I ask you, who has ever done that? It’s unheard of. And one of the songs on Back in Black was “Have a Drink on Me.” Who the hell would do that?

Clearly, the guys in AC/DC had no conscience. Was that part of their appeal? For a kid with a heavy conscience, probably.

I don’t know how much you know about AC/DC, but I promise you I know more. Somewhere on YouTube you can find their VH1 Behind the Music special. It’s 15 years old now. They’ve had a few hits since then and, all right, maybe there’s been a murder plot or two, but it still holds up.

1. The Master

I don’t remember my parents actually listening to them, but they owned several Beatles LPs: Meet The Beatles, Help, A Hard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul. Until I met Frank Walker, I thought the last Beatles album was Revolver.

But Frank took me to the Augusta Public Library, and introduced me to a whole new chapter of the … well, “trippy” Beatles. Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper’s and Yellow Submarine became my new Fab Four favorites.

When I was the new kid at Haverhill Elementary, Frank asked what radio station I listened to. I told him KEYN. He informed me there was a new station that was better: T-95. (Several years later, I would have my own weekly guest spot on T-95. I was supposed to be talking sports, but usually tried to steer the conversation to rock music.)

If the story ended right there, Frank would still be in my top 10 music influences. But he’s No. 1, and I think you’ll agree it’s not even close.

Frank’s home wasn’t big, but it opened up a big new world. It was in that house when I first heard Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” which remains my favorite song.

It was where I first remembered hearing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who I came to love and finally saw in 2008.

It was where I first heard Queen’s epic theme song to Flash Gordon. (“Flash! Ah ah! King of the Impossible!”)

It was where I first learned about Led Zeppelin (that was Frank’s kid brother) … and later, Dread Zeppelin (that was all Frank).

His mom was (and is) a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, a band I knew little about but quickly appreciated, and finally got to see in 2006. Frank adored Pink Floyd, and talked his father into taking us to see The Wall when were 13. Far out.

When we were 14, his parents took Frank and me to my first concert, ZZ Top (warm-up act: Night Ranger). Three months later they took me to my second concert, Huey Lewis and News (warm-up act: Stevie Ray Vaughn).

And so on, and so on. By the time I finished college, Frank and I had raised the bar by seeing rock heavyweights like AC/DC, Van Halen, KISS and Metallica (warm-up act: The Cult.)

Oh right – Metallica. Frank was way ahead of the curve on them. Kids, listening to Metallica in the 1980s was considered more scary than cool. But there Frank was, rocking in his Pinto (and later, his bitchin’ Camaro) to “Whiplash,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Master of Puppets.”
(Note: Frank’s nickname, “The Master,” is because of his reputation of being the go-to source of information for most things, not because of that song. But it is a happy coincidence.)

The list goes on. Ozzy. Megadeth. And yes, it was Frank who introduced me to the infamous 2 Live Crew, at least a year before most of the country knew who they were. Same with Sir Mix-A-Lot. And LL Cool J.

Frank once returned from a vacation in California and gave me a couple of bootleg cassettes – one of them was a Van Halen concert in Germany that ended the 1984 tour. I’m telling you, this guy is just the best.
Public Enemy

OK, so all that stuff happened by the time were 21. And then Frank and I became roommates.
That opened up a big new world again.

Frank was playing stuff like Public Enemy, Living Color, Primus and a then-mostly unknown group out of Seattle called Soundgarden. Yes, he was kind of responsible for getting me into grunge, too. I mean, I was aware of Alice in Chains, but until Frank insisted listen to “Dirt,” I wasn’t in love with them.

I’m pretty sure Frank also introduced to me to Tenacious D and a few other bands, but I think you get the point. And I won’t elaborate about the time I caught him listening to Air Supply. 

That might have just been a crazy dream. 

                                    "Whiskey in a Jar" -- Metallica