August 30, 2006

Fanny feedback, and the angriest cities in America.

I got quite a few emails about the Fanny Pack Crisis America is facing at the hands of designers who have spent too much time doing coke and being ironic and flamboyant, and I thought I'd share a couple with you.

It seems I'm not the only one who's noticed this resurgence of fanny accessories. Jason wrote:

"There was a young woman that came in my work with a fanny pack, more of a hips sack, like makeup counter girls wear. We had a discussion about it. We determined that the fanny pack/hip sack only works if you are European. Just my input."

Okay, fair enough. European men can, after all, get away with riding on Vespas and carrying man bags while being straight, and european women can get away with not shaving their underarms, legs, or upper lips and smelling vaguely of cheese and patchouli. So I'll give you that, if only because they're doing so much else that's hideous that I can't bear to fight the fanny pack battle with all of Europe.

But how awkward was that conversation at your workplace, Jason? I mean, we're in AMERICA. And by the end of the conversation, you'd determined that the poor woman sporting the ugliest bag known to mankind better either take it off pronto or buy a plane ticket to Prague! Ouch.

The way you say "we had a discussion about it" makes me uncomfortable - like when my friend's father sat me down to have a discussion about sex -- when I was 19.

I have to say, I still tend to identify with Pat (of Texas -- land of ten-gallon hats and frat-dicks with striped polo shirts and spiky hair), though, who writes:
"um...fanny packs were NEVER really in. Like, I had one to carry my herd of carnivorous dinosaur toys in second grade."

Word, Pat. Fanny packs were purely utilitarian even before we had a sense of style. Pat rocked the pack to carry his plastic dinosaur toys, so when he got his ass kicked on the playground for bringing plastic dinosaur toys to school, he could run using both arms without risking dropping them.

He knew they weren't cool, but he carried it because when you get sat on everyday at lunch by Big Dan, the somewhat special kid who weighed 150 lbs at the age of 7, you knew you weren't going to be cool, so you might as well be practical.

Good luck with that, Pat. Rock on.

In other news, my buddy Dave sent me THIS , which you must check out. It's an article on MSN listing the top 150 angriest cities in America.

The most angry city? #1 goes to Orlando, Florida. In fact, Florida has 5 cities in the top 12, and isn't listed after that. So basically it's a pretty pissed off state, in general.
And you know what? I'm not surprised. All those fucking hurricaines and alligators in the ditches and the stifling, deadly humid heat, and the toll booths everywhere -- they'd piss me off, too. Add tourists and voter fraud/the recount (see angry mob, pictured at left), and you've got yourself a city built on rage and resentment.

Seattle comes in solidly in the middle of the pack, which I attribute to the fact that while we do have 4 solid months of gray drizzle, we are typically well-medicated (antidepressants do wonders to allay anger and depression) and quite fit as well as caffeinated. So it's all about balance, really.

Check it out. And enjoy the three-day weekend!! I'll be at Bumbershoot, watching Zero7, Kanye, Atmosphere, Speaker Speaker, Steve Miller Band, and my favorite group of all time: A Tribe Called Quest -- front row, probably sans shirt and three sheets to the wind. God, it's going to be epic. Will give you the full report upon my return (and after one full day of sobering up/hydrating).

Until then...

August 24, 2006

Fanny Pack Freakout

Please, God. Not this.

Look, I am relatively fashion-forward, when my budget will allow. I know, I know, I'm a consumer whore -- and how! But I like fashion and accessories and shoes and delightful girly goodies like that. It makes me happy, because it's pretty and shiny and new. I make no excuses for this whoreism.

But I'm afraid the trendy buck is stopping here. It is coming, in fact, to a screeching fucking halt, and this is why:

It's. A. Fanny. Pack. "Waist bag" my ass.

Speaking of ass, like mine needs another one (in the form of a fanny-pack) resting on top of it! What the hell?

Who has ever looked good in a fanny pack? Maybe Lindsy "Skeletor" Lohan or Nicole "Breastbone" Richie, but honestly, if you technically should be hospitalized, I don't think you count, here. Right?

AND, as if skinny jeans weren't enough, leggings are back. What is with that trend? Didn't we get enough of it, zipper-ankle jeans, aqua-net and shoulder pads in the eighties? Ooooh, no. I guess not. Because leggings (the ass's worst nightmare) are back, with a vengence.


Alright, I'll admit it: own some. And I even found a great minidress to wear them under, with heels, when I'm in NY or downtown and am feeling like taking a particularly confident fashion risk.

But I swear to God, I'm burning it ALL, now that I discovered the goddamn Marc Jacobs "waist bag" pictured above. I mean, it's worse than the momentary nationwide fascination with UGGS, (retarded "surf boots" made of sheepskin, worn with swimsuits, and intended for barefoot wear), for chrissakes.

I'm hyperventilating, I think. Anyone have some Xanax?

If these things come back I might not be able to leave my house at all this season -- I may be forced to just stay inside and wait out the hideous trends of the moment while doing Buns of Steel and Tae Bo videos in hypercolor sweatsuits, practicing Scientology while accidentally cutting myself on my slap bracelets and eating Dip'n'Dots.


Have a nice, fanny-pack-free, day.

August 23, 2006

Tape a record, go to prison.

Dear Huey Lewis,

I love you. Do you believe in love? Naturally.

I know I ain't perfect, but remember how you told me it's alright? I really took that to heart, and finally I feel ready to tell you how I feel, and why.

It's just that the heart of rock n' roll really IS the beat(n)! And you got me through some really hard times, with boys calling me "prude" and "boring" and "straightlaced" and "crazy bitch", with your theory that it is, in fact, hip to be square. Thank you for that, it changed my life.

I'm so happy to be stuck with you, Huey. I guess what I'm trying to say is... well... I get a little shy, so pardon me if I borrow your more eloquent words for a moment:

So do you love me or what? Do you love me or what? You're just breakin' me up... Do you love me or what?

Please circle one:




(Also, I really, really want that shirt. Where did you get it?)

Love always -- heart and soul,

Your other woman (it's the power of love, Huey. Really.)

Ex and Oz.

During my Legwarmers hiatus of last week, I dinner with an ex. I know what you're thinking: Dinner with exes=pathetic loneliness, romantic regression or "well, we've done it before..." sex. But for once, you're wrong. Thank God.

It was all business, in the friendliest way. And I am fortunate enough that with one exception I've ended up friends with my exes (okay, two exceptions, but the leg-shaving national tennis player ex turned out to be gay AND a birthday-forgetting asshole, so he doesn't count). Which is nice.

But this dinner was with an ex from a VERY long time ago. You could say he was the first (one of two) boy I ever loved. As you can imagine, that particular relationship took more than a few months to get back into the "cool" zone. Really, I'm not sure it ever did, as we both harbored some lingering stuff for a while. I took him out to dinner for two reasons:

1) to reaffirm my gut-feeling that the thought of getting back together with him (though we've both toyed with the idea in the past) no longer has any appeal -- important to establish in order to be fair to current and future Mr. Rights, and

2) to reaffirm my gut-feeling that in fact a critical reason we didn't work then and couln't ever work out now is because he has a quality that is, for me, a dealbraker.

First, let's paint the picture: This guy is scary-smart, kind and good natured, loves his parents, is selfless to a fault, and is, well, dashing.

If you recall my dealbreaker post, you might have noted that apathy is a major no-no for me. I'm rabidly enthusiastic about pretty much everything, (which really means I'm highly opinionated, stubborn and ambitious, but sounds better). Apathy seems to me to be a good way to waste life, which is short, short, short. (Ask anyone who's old.)

Mr. Past has EVERYTHING going for him, which he serially refuses to do anything about. It's like he's the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, but he's just never woken up from a lovely opium-induced nap in that poppy field -- the location of which is so close to the thing he wants most of all.

Mr. Past wants, for one simple example of many, to go to law school. He has always has. He finally took the LSATs, which he only sorta studied for, and did well. But instead of just going, he's working in a small law office 5 days a week, answering phones and crap. He's been fired from this job once already, for sleeping in and arriving late, which is actually the theme of his life. (He has slept through finals in college, and entire holiday family get-togethers for example).

Anyway, he HATES this job. He makes no money and it makes him miserable. He says he does it because he knows if he got a better job he'd never go back to school. But I have a theory. My theory is that he continues to do this job which he says he hates because if he does, it assures that he'll continue to do just okay without every really risking any time, effort or emotional investment.

It's the most frustrating thing in the world to watch, which I told him, but more kindly, of course. I also asked him, point blank, why he acts afraid of success -- why he's constantly getting close to going after what he wants (in life, in love, in his career), and then freezing up, backing out, and blowing it all off for something lesser, easier, and that he doesn't care about.

He actually agreed, in part, with my philosophy, but I also suspect he didn't care to think too hard about it, either, finding agreement easier than real analysis. I don't know. Though overall a positive exchange, the experience was frustrating, and a little bit sad, too.

There's a point where I realize, certainly, that confessing my hypothesis to him so frankly is not only ineffective, it's presumptuous. But consider this:

HE has defined his goals. HE says what he wants, and then fails to take action to get it. I'm not imposing my own set of definitions for success and happiness on him -- I'm only holding him to his own standard.

And I get it. He is ultimately unconcerned by his own apathy, most of the time.

But what I worry about is the restof the time, when he wakes up in the middle of the night and feels sick, realizing he's getting older by the minute and is still so afraid of something that he's settling for nothing at all instead. And that makes me really sad, because he deserves more than nothing. He deserves everything he wants, and I wish I could just will him to have it all.

I guess, in the end, I hoped a little shock therapy might help snap him out of his life's sleepwalk. But it seems he's still dreaming away somewhere in OZ, and I think I've realized that he might always prefer that to those little red slippers and home (with all its risk of slipping into the pigpen or getting sucked up in a twister), anyway.

Me? I'll take the natural disaster, any day.
Hell, I'd even like to BE the natural disaster.

Maybe I already am.

August 15, 2006

Time ran out and down the street. "Come back!" she said.

I usually like to post a little somethin' somethin' early in the week, as I know y'all are particularly bored Monday through Wednesday. But unfortunately I've been having those days where you sit down, start working, look up, and it's 5. It would be awesome if I could do this like it were my job, but unfortunately I have to, like, pay rent and shit. Which means I am work's bitch. Get used to it.

I haven't even been EATING, which is completely unheard of. (And has me fantasizing about chocolate-covered gummy bears, which are the greatest things ever to be covered in chocolate). And while I cross off things at the top of my to-do list, I feel like I have a gag legal pad or something, because somehow the list gets longer by two each time I cross off one item at the top.

In short: I'm burning the candle at both ends, here, people. Hence the neglect yesterday and this very short post. I don't know if I'll get to posting more this week. But I assure you I have many an idea and no shortage of stories, so when I get back to you, it will be awesome.

I've pimped him here before, but I sincerely dig Hugh McLeod's little cartoons. On business, advertising, stupidity, sex, and the blogosphere. Oh, and New York and sometimes London.
As I'm boring you to death today, you should really check him out. He can be found HERE.

Enjoy, and have a good week. And if you happen to live near Seattle and you have any chocolate-covered gummy bears you can spare for a starving, overworked girl, please email me at youwillfindliz at gmail dot com and we'll arrange a dropofff/pickup location.

And possibly sexual favors.

For me, not you, jackass! I'M the one who needs stress relief, remember? Sheesh.

August 11, 2006

Annoyed? Me, too!

I was always afraid to voice my opinion that James Blunt's "Back to Bedlam" album was a bit snooze-worthy, if not irritating, as it seems everyone around me is a rabid fan (sorry, Mom, for the call-out).

But now, I can finally come out into the light and say, with the support of 2,000 Brits with bad teeth but good taste in music, that I, too think James Blunt is, on a list of the top 100 most annoying things ever, more annoying than Jehova's Witnesses #38), stepping in dog poo (#26), and warm beer (#56), thanks to a recent survey sponsored by (wait for it...) a company that makes non-dairy milk for the lactose-intolerant.

(People who cut in line and telemarketers beat out Blunt. Don't mess with the Brittish when they're in the middle of dinner or are almost to the front of the terrible food stand, damnit.)

Also noteworthy: our Earl Grey-swilling brothers and sisters pegged Americans at #46 out of their top 100 annoying things, which means we're more irritating than heat rash, Teletubbies and Scientology. Ouch.

You can see the whole list HERE.

Have a good weekend!

August 09, 2006

Strange but true: grocery store celebrity run-in

You know my thing for grocery stores? Well, now I've got another point to add to the list of what's fabulous about them: you're more likely at a grocery store than anywhere else to inconspicuously run into a famous person.

I've run into Dave Matthews before at a Whole Foods, but didn't bother saying anything other than "hi" in passing, because it was crowded and he's a regular there -- I figured I'd save the mobbing for later.

But last night, there I was at the grocery store, in the aisle with all the soups and sauces and whatnot, when I looked up, and the overhead lights had been blocked out by a gigantic man holding a box of macaroni, pushing a teeny tiny shopping cart and with a teenier tinier young woman next to him.

It was the (very large and somewhat famous) Bob Sapp.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bob Sapp, here's a rundown:

Defensive Lineman for the UW, before being drafted by the Bears and then leaving the NFL because of (gasp!) steroid use.

He's also a kickboxer, world champion wrestler and general martial arts guru.

He appeared as the enormous convict in "The Longest Yard" with Adam Sandler.

Neck-to-head ratio? Ridiculous (clearly).

6 feet, 7 inches, nearly 400 pounds.

He's been nicknamed "The Beast", and has made it big in Asia as a fighter, where apparently they think he is a terrifying ape-like creature, per this video, which actually has some pretty crazy highlights in it, after you get over the part where he eats a plastic baby doll's head off its body.

"Hey!" I said, (in retrospect, not very polite, particularly as he's huge and could crush me with one hand...) "I know you!"
Bob grinned and then actually giggled, which surprised me. It was sort of a melodic, silly little giggle for such a large, imposing man. (Like Tyson's lisp. What is that all about, anyway? Big men with little, wussy voices and mannerisms -- it's weird, and almost formulaic, like huge black men:wussy voices as little fuzzy rabbits:fluffy tails.)
"Well," I stuttered a bit, "I mean, I don't really know you, of course, but you're Bob Sapp, right? Longest Yard? Football? Fighter?"
"Yeah, that's right!" Bob said through a widening smile, almost like he was surprised I recognized him. This exclamation was followed by another giggle, which I discovered he would use as regular and consistently surprising punctuation every time he spoke from then on out.
"Well, I'm a big fan!" I said, though I'm pretty sure recognizing him doesn't really constitute 'big fan' status.

(I mean, I didn't want to hurt his feelings with a 'Well, I know who you are, but only care a little as you're presently the only celebrity in sight. Now, if William Shatner were to suddenly appear, I'd drop you like Britney Spears' baby in favor of him, but...')

I continued: "What was it like beating The Refrigerator? Is Adam Sandler cool in real life? Do you really take steroids? How in the world do you have sex with that tiny asian girl who is clearly your girlfriend who is shopping with you without permanently damaging her?"

(Okay, maybe I didn't exactly ask that, but you get the gist.) Poor guy giggled and answered and giggled and answered some more before I realized I had unexpectedly become a weird fan, and apologized, saying I'd let him get back to his shopping.

Later, he actually hunted me down in the produce section (that part's not a joke -- he seriously came and found me to chat some more) to tell me about his upcoming movie with Rob Schneider (who, strangely enough, I referenced in my "Naked!" post a week or two ago).

"I've got a movie coming out in 8 months with Rob Schneider," said Bob.
"Really? What's the plotline?" I asked.
"Well, that's the problem," he said/giggled. "If I tell you, you might not see the movie!"
"Try me," I challenged.
"Well, Rob plays this guy who's trying not to go to jail because he doesn't want to get fucked in the ass," said Bob, making a thrusting motion when he said "fucked in the ass".
I swallowed, and tried not to laugh. "Go on..."
"And, well, I am the guy trying to fuck him in the ass," he continued. "But I get beat up in the end."

Yeah, maybe not such a sophisticated plotline, but now that I've met the guy in person, I've gotta go see the movie, of course. So I'll let you know, in 8 months, how it is watching Rob Schneider run around covering his cornhole for an hour and a half.

In the end, he drove away in his F-150 (no obnoxious rims, or tinting or anything!) after we each checked out and chatted a bit more, and that was it. Just me, my groceries, and yet another reason to go shopping again tomorrow: Close (if a little strange) encounters of the semi-celebrity kind.

August 08, 2006

How not to get a ticket, though you totally deserve one

I, Liz, author of Legwarmers and generally cool girl, otherwise, drive a Pontiac Vibe.

(Can't you just hear the browsers of men across the globe clicking closed right now?)

I chose this vehicle a few years ago when I was doing guerrilla marketing work and traveling by car along the west coast for weeks on end, lugging materials, samples and the like around. I needed a car that was easy to get stuff in and out of, had backseats that would lay down (giving me the cargo room of a pickup truck), and wasn't a gas-guzzler (I'd like to say this was because I'm environmentally conscious, but in this case I was just broke as a joke. Sorry to dissapoint).

A Vibe it was. And while I get lots of "wagon" jokes from my friends (also the "when are you due?" jokes, as it appears to be a car for a girl in a family way), I love the little sucker. It just reminds me of a good-gas-mileage-getting baby SUV. Practical, practical, practical. Decent sound system. Sunroof. And easy to park. So that's the car.

Now, while I'm reasonably good about knowing my way around cars (I used to drive a 1976 Chevy 3/4 ton pickup truck that was constantly needing belts changed, headlights out, flat tires and -- admittedly operator error -- running out of gas) I'm no mechanic. And, while I'm great at getting things done and staying organized at work, I really suck at taking care of myself.

Bills, for example. I have the hardest time just sitting down and paying them. Also, much to my mother's endless frustration, checkbook balancing. I mean, what? (I know, I know, Mom. Very irresponsible.) Even more heartstopping for my parents was when they realized I basically made up my taxes last year and sent in a random check -- the day after they were due -- in the hopes that I got close enough to the right amount that they wouldn't notice that I completely made stuff up. Well, they did. (Who knew those particular government employees were so dilligent? Huh.) My family almost had me convinced I'd be doing prison time for that one. And, of course, mailboxes. But the point I'm trying to get to, really, is my car.

The Vibe regularly gets her oil changed. And sometimes on a slow sunday, I'll get her washed. But since I drove her off the lot two years ago, she's had the same tags (yes, they've been expired for two years) and no front license plate (very illegal in Washington state). Also, while I always pay for insurance (THANK YOU, GEICO, for letting me do that online, and with a credit card!), I only put the proof in my car maybe every other year or so.

So that pretty much sets up this story. Exhausted yet?

The Vibe doesn't have what you'd call a huge engine or anything, so when it accomplishes huge feats of speed or power, I always give her a little pat on the dash. This weekend, on our way to the cabin (again), my friend L and I did just this after the Vibe crested a steep mountain pass at a respectable 65 miles per hour, seemingly without trying.

"Good girl," we both said, patting the dash like a small child, and turning up the music so we could sing again without hurting each other's ears.

Our windows were down, the sunroof was open, I was halfway through an iced Americano, and things were going just dandy. Heck, we hadn't even had a near-death experience yet. Which may not seem like a big deal to you, but please remember: I'm a pretty bad driver.

As we cruised down the other side of the mountain pass, I looked down at my speedometer.

"95 miles per hour, Linds! The Vibe is totally kicking ass!" I screeched, as if the Vibe were driving all by herself. I braked a little, reining in the wild wagon, to a much more reasonable 75.

"Wow,"I said. "Good thing there weren't any cops around!"
"I didn't know she had it in her," laughed L. <"Has she ever gotten a speeding ticket?"

And that's when I saw it. White car, coming towards us going the opposite way. Three lights in red, white and blue on top.

"Shit!" I breathed, braking hard. "COP."
"Be nonchalant, be breezy," said Lindsey.
Good thinking, I thought. I tossed my head and smiled, hands at 10 and 2, still braking hard. Be breezy. Breezy. Nonchalant. Noncha--

Siren. Before the cop had even completed his U-turn, the lights and siren were on.

"Fuckfuckfuck," I hissed bewteen clenched teeth, in my most ladylike voice, as I was still trying hard to be nonchalant, unsuspecting, breezy. "Motherfucker, I'm going to get a ticket." (Again, think very sweet voice, innocent expression.)

The cop pulled to a stop behind us on the shoulder of the mountain road.

"Linds, quick -- look in the glovebox for my registration. Or whatever," I said.

"Well, what does that look like?" she asked, as she opened the glovebox (which burst open, as if spring-loaded, spewing forth a stack of papers rivaling a standard phone book.) She began to dig, frantically, through the pile.

"I don't know! I don't even know if they're in there! But just look, for God's sakes!"

The officer approached the car. I rolled down the window, removed my sunglasses, and looked up at him.

"Were you watching your speed this afternoon, ladies?"

"Well, I thought we were -- it's actually funny, we were just talking about speeding. And how you shouldn't, and stuff. Plus, we were going downhill, which, you know... inertia... and gravity... makes it hard..." I trailed off, lamely, and gave a sheepish smile.

"Okay, license, please?" The officer didn't seem amused... yet.

"Uh, yeah," I pawed through my predictably unorganized wallet. "See, I just renewed it, so I have this lame paper one for now, but here are my last three expired ones -- which one do you want?"

"That's fine," the officer said. "How about registration? Insurance?"

At this point, I look over to the passenger's seat, where L has been working on finding these super-critical docs for the last 3 or 4 minutes. It more or less looks like a blizzard in the passenger's seat. Where her hands should be there is just a mass of crumpled, multi-colored paper. She's essentially up to her neck in documents, none of which are my registration.

"Is this it?" She asks, holding something out.
"No," said the officer, "That's a service reciept."
"Oh. This?"
"Nope. That's a CD booklet."
"This must be it, then..."
"Those would be a gum wrapper and a condom, miss."

At this point, Lindsey looks over at me, exhasperated and completely convinced we're going to get a ticket that will put me on welfare. I'm hysterically giggling, and apologizing profusely.

"Oh, god. This is so embarrassing. I know it's here somewhere..." L and I both furrow our brows and continue to dig, knowing full well the chances of us coming up with anything are verrrry slim. "Seriously. I think I need to clean out the glovebox, wouldn't you say? I am so sorry. We must be getting close..."

The officer chuckled (I know, I was surprised, too) and walked back to his car, shaking his head.

Finally, "FOUND IT!!!" L had landed her paws on the critical registration document. I held it out the window and waved it enthusiastically at the officer, who was on his walkie talkie and clearly indisposed.

"Officer!! Found it!! Found it!!"

There were cars whizzing by us at easily 70 MPH. I must have been crazy to think the thing wasn't going to blow out of my hands and over the edge of the mountain, lost forever. Somehow, I managed to hang on.

The cop waved, ackgnowledging our find, and came back to the car, after he got off his little walkie talkie thingie.

"Found it, huh?"
"Yep! And my old proof of insurance, too. See, it just expired, but I also just realized something really cool!" I said, like a moron.

Somehow, I thought this man was my friend, and had forgotten entirelly that he had clocked me going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, in a car with no front license plate, 2-year old tabs, no proof of insurance, and a driver with a paper license in it.

"See, I just realized that I could totally call Geico and they could email me the proof of insurance, and then I could show it to you on my Blackberry!!" When I said "Blackberry", I whipped it out of it's little holder in my car and waved it around like it was buried treasure. "Isn't that cool? Want me to? Because I totally have insurance..."

"You could do that, huh?" the cop smiled (actually smiled!), like you would smile at an 8 year old with fingerpaints on his face or a kindergartener who you just caught eating paste or picking her nose. Or a puppy.

"That is pretty neat," he said. "But that's okay. You guys just get going. And watch for the speed trap up ahead -- it goes down to 50 miles per hour there and you don't want to get caught in that construction zone."

"O...kay," I said, in disbelief. From under a pile of paper, next to me, I heard L's muffled voice: "Th-thanks, officer!"

"Drive safe!" He said, before giving the Vibe a little, affectionate, pat and walking back to his car.

So let's recap, shall we?

1. I have a dorky, underpowered car that I love
2. I am the world's worst driver
3. I completely lack the skills necessary to take responsible care of myself
4. I was going 95 miles per hour in a 60 (in the dorky, underpowered car that I love)
5. An officer caught us, in the dorky underpowered car that I love, with no license plate, expired tags, recklessly driving, with no license or proof of insurance) and with us giggling like unorganized maniacs, throwing papers all over the car and out into the road and flailing technology around like it would save us, and still didn't give us a ticket.

6. I am awesome. Or awesomely lucky. Or both.

Hope your week is going as well as mine!

August 02, 2006

Quarter-Life Golf

Yeah, this is my friend Adam. (Work-safe -- just click it, already.)

He's 24. I cannot explain this behavior, except to say he is also a fan of Michael Bolton, has a karaoke machine at his house to which he sings Elvis songs, played football in college, actually has a fairly large vocabulary, and constantly blames things that go wrong on people "picking on the fat Jewish kid", even though he hasn't been fat since 1997.

Please tell me you know someone like this.


Have a good laugh at his expense, and then a good day!

August 01, 2006

Ruth Brown and all that jazz

Last night, I met the one and only Ruth Brown.

A little on Ruth: The woman is a legend in jazz, and is credited for pioneering R&B. You know the New York label "Atlantic"? It used to be nicknamed "The House That Ruth Built". And you probably remember her as "Motormouth" in Hairspray. She's wickedly funny, and just a few months shy of 80 years old. Oh, by the way, she's got a Tony, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and inspired Bonnie Raitt's career. And her nephew is legendary rapper Rakim.

Though a few years ago she had a stroke and was told she'd never sing again, there she was, like new, voice as big as life itself, sitting in her chair, cracking dirty jokes and crackling with vibrancy.

"You know, they said this old lady would never sing again," she said. "Someone lied. Dirty, rotten puppies. Here I am! Noisy as ever!"

After the show, I went with my friend backstage. I hugged and thanked Ruth, and clumsily expressed that she had moved me somehow, inspired me. Talking to her, touching her -- it was like holding history for a minute in my arms and my ears. A really incredible experience.

And she was so tickled by the fact that we were so young. She reassured me that us being there meant more to her than vice versa, though of course that was a lie. Then, she signed the back of our tickets. Mine is now hanging on the wall above my piano, between The Beatle's "Sgt. Pepper" record and Jimmy Hendrix's "Greatest Hits, Vol. I" record.

"To small Liz with big soul: Love and Peace, Ruth Brown"

It's pretty cool when you get to meet people you've been listening to for, like, ever -- particularly when they're considered musical pioneers and aren't likely to be around much longer. I was fortunate enough to meet Lionel Hampton, the famous jazz musician, and heard him sing "What a Wonderful World" the year before he died, which was another incredible encounter with history; And I've met Edmonia Jarrett, and Wally "Gator" Watson, and Lou Rawls.

There's something about old jazz musicians for me -- their music just seems to me the foundation and embodiment of all joyful, mournful, soulful noise - the first real emotive American expression. It's so rooted in the very essence of the American experience: the blues, ragtime, church music, African drum music, interactive slave chants. And its birthplace is New Orleans -- a hotbed of social, cultural and racial clashing, melding and change during the turn of the century (and thereafter, and on and on...).

These old musicians are the last of their kind -- the last of the founding generation of American music: pop, r&b, soul, rap, even rock. So, in a way, touching them, speaking to them and listening to them play is like interacting with history. How fortunate are we to still have a few of them left?

The opportunity to meet these incredible people and hear what they do, live, right in front of you, is dwindling. If you haven't already (even if you don't think you like jazz), I strongly recommend giving it a try. If a trip to N.O. is in your future, go to Restoration Hall. If not, just look for live jazz that you have to pay for in the center of your nearest city. (No, free restaraunt "jazz" on Thursday nights doesn't count. See the real deal, if only so you can say you have. If you don't get an electric sort of feeling from that experience -- no tingling, goosebumps, inadvertant "Whoooo!"ing, email me. I'll send you twenty bucks.

That's a lie. I won't.

But I wouldn't have to, anyway. You'd dig it, even against your will. Because I'm pretty sure if we cut you open right now and took a careful listen to your insides, they would scat over a 4/4 beat, with accents on the 2 and 4...