Clowntime Is Over.
"I don’t like to be disciplined, I like to discipline."-- Spike, displeased with the role reversal
"I'm the one and only, but I'm not from Olney!" -- Philly Boy Roy, dropping an inside joke for the Phillyites
"But Roy, I am psychic!" -- Roy Ziegler, Jr., revealing his powers to his father
"Oh, the stories that seat could tell." -- Philly Boy Roy on the Murder Junkies-soiled back of his cab
"They toast nem rolls over there!” -- Philly Boy Roy, discovering the ills of the competition
"Last week's show was excellent." -- Fred, a fan of the "57th Best Show On WFMU"
"Yes, I am." -- Thomas, coming clean about his drunkenness
"Look out, here comes Denny Doherty wearing a Nehru jacket.” -- Tom on The Mamas & the Papas trying to follow Jim E. Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival
"Sorry hippies, I’m still not on board." -- Tom giving a double thumbs-down to Festival Express
"What're gonna just roll in the theory of selling it?" -- Tom, the victim of a cruel Propeller tease
"You don’t drop your guard with your fans!" -- Mission statement of Dane Cook, Inc.
"While it's a step up from the devices that Ben Franklin and, say, Billy The Kid used, it’s still positively barbaric." -- Judge Montgomery Davies, on the flaws of the early devices used by Babe Ruth
"Let's have a device-a-thon, just you and me." -- Judge Davies, requesting some kind of duel with some kind of device
"This is a long story, you need to calm down." -- Matt, Goshen's finest storyteller, asking for some patience from The Kid
"Come on, nerds, you can’t live on just Crunchberries. Get your act together." -- Tom, lobbying for a healthier, more balanced nerdiness
"You know when I worked on Fraiser ... Owwwwwwww!" -- Kelsey Grammer, getting hot wax in his eye while becoming Beast
( Click here to buy Night Ripper, the plunderphonics party record of the summer!)
Kanye West (ft. Common) - "My Way Home"
( Click here to buy Late Registration. The critics really missed the boat on this one -- it's actually pretty good.)
David Axelrod - "Holy Thursday"
( Click here to buy Bakesale)
Sebadoh - "Gimme Indie Rock"
( Click here to pre-order the 2-disc re-issue of III)
NEW! weekly recap feature: Youse Are On Notice! Each week, three members of The Best Show universe will be put -- you guessed it -- "on notice". Repeat offenders will be sent to Spike's dungeon for a series of disciplinary sessions. So without any additional adieu, here it is: YAON #1. [Note: I consider the Boring Goshen Mutants and "Fred" to be on permanent notice, so they are exempt from the weekly slate.]
The Kid Returns: The "S" stands for ... SCHARPLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The 6/27 show went down as a big, fat "L". The Bad Guys won. Tom recharged his batteries last week, pulling a Scottie Pippen and taking himself out of the game to ride a little pine. A good 'ol self-benching. He also needed to spend the July 4th holiday with people who like him and take in the annual Laser Pollard spectacular at the Newbridge Space Center. (I was able to catch this back in 2002, and the laser beans traversing the interior of the domed ceiling in perfect time with "Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox" was as moving as the final purging scene in Pukeadelphia, which is to say: very. Trivia: Trader Vic was in the audience that night!) But, like a superhero's return to a troubled metropolis, The Kid is back to battle The Best Show villains, pluck the Good Guys from the earthquake fissures, and reclaim his rightful radio turf.
On the technical side of things, the start was a little muddy and murky. Did the time off yield a bass boost that made Tom's pipes even more stentorian than before? Is that even possible? Or is it just that his headphones were acquired for $4 at National Wholesale? Hard to say. However, there's no debating that he came back blazing, sending a clear message with an opening sonic salvo: The Fall's "Creep", David Axelrod's "The Fly", and Elvis Costello's "Clowntime Is Over". Do the math. Tom vows to notch a "W" even if it goes down ugly. Does our Man of Steel prevail?
- A mellow Spike calls (starts at 29:49), and Tom asks him what the topics would be if they were to have their normal conversation. Spike says politics, quality televison, and quality music. But Tom translates the response as meaning that they’d basically end up talking about doo-wop music and Chucky movies. Spike agrees, and mentions that he wants to see The Devil Wears Prada. Tom tells him it’s not horror, but Spike’s seen the television spots and was intrigued because Meryl Streep’s character kind of reminds him of Cruella DeVille. It sounds like Spike is a bit winded, and he reveals that he's drinking water during the call, not because of nervous dry mouth, but in an attempt to get over a cold. The germs are disciplining Spike down in the dungeon, and he doesn't like it.
Tom gives him some marching orders:
1. Get some rest.
2. Get back on top of the world.
3. Call during the next show with a prepared segment.
Tom suggests that he view The Devil Wears Prada and review it to lend a some focus to his calls and break free from the slasher-and-doo-wop rut. Spike is interested in the idea of becoming the The Best Show's Critic-at-Large. Tom says that Spike would be the show's Rex Reed, though Spike said he'd lack Mr. Reed's flamboyance. Tom says Spike has his own sense of style and might be more like Jeffrey Lyons. Spike mumbles something in response indicating that he’s really dragging. He admits he’s not up to par.
Tom dismisses him, saying, "Go feel better," which he never thought he'd say to Spike. Tom wonders what the world has come to when he's wishing Spike well. It makes sense, though. When you’re under siege from Goshen mutants and filthy junkies, you need your loyal buddies more than ever.
- Philly Boy Roy leads off (starts at 34:10) with a brief tribute to Syd Barrett, noting that he saw Pink Floyd, sans Syd, on the Animals tour. He then says that he's "the one and only, but I'm not from Olney," indicating that there is only one Philly Boy Roy who calls the show and he does not hail from town of Olney. The phrase is an inside joke for the "Phillyites" and PBR plans to make stickers featuring the slogan.
He asks Tom if he saw him on the news since he was all over the local Philly press after he won the annual Running Of The Cheesesteaks the previous Saturday. Tom's not familiar with the event, so PBR explains that it's like the running of the bulls in France, but instead of being chased by a bunch of cows, participants get chased by a bunch little people dressed in cheesesteak costumes riding nem mini-4 wheelers through the streets of Yardley, a suburb of Philly. PBR then refers to the little people as "nem midgets". Tom tells him the term is offensive, and PBR apologizes.
The goal is to try not to get run over by the little people, who are also swinging shellaced cheesesteaks, known as "steakchuks". A lot of people do get run over. PBR, however, was able to elude his pursuers and won a 200-lb. cheesesteak. He thinks it will last a few days, but maybe not since he already tore into it and polished off one-third of the massive Philly delicacy. Tom's amazed that he’s already put away 65 pounds of cheesesteak. PBR says he'll let the kids get into it later, but "Daddy gets to Christian it." Tom corrects him and says the term is “christen.” PBR thinks it’s the same thing and didn't know that he was talking to a "lexonagrapher".
PBR gets a sense that Tom thinks it’s a bit weird to eat that much cheesesteak in one day, but PBR has a much weirder tale to tell. Tom recaps the Running of the Cheesesteaks story details, doubtful that anything could be more weird. PBR says that there was nothing incredible about that story: “This is Philly, this stuff happens all the time.”
The other night, Roy, Jr. and PBR were watching Court TV's Psychic Detectives. PBR found it fascinating and really wild. He was amazed by seeing a woman close her eyes and get images of crime scenes and who might’ve committed nem crimes and stuff. In passing, PBR noted how it would be so weird to be psychic -- to see into the future and know stuff that other people don’t know. Roy, Jr. then chimed in: “But Roy, I am psychic!” Tom picks up on the fact that his son calls him "Roy" instead of "Dad". PBR is not pleased with this lack of respect, but doesn't know what he can do about it. Tom says that he should be a parent, but PBR says that Tom doesn't know Roy, Jr. like he and the rest of the residents of Roxboro. He has to give him some leeway because he’s special.
PBR was totally skeptcial of his powers so he wanted Roy, Jr. to prove it. Roy, Jr. said that he could see exactly what PBR had for lunch, so he closed his eyes and went into a trance. He guessed it exactly right: a hoagie, potato chips, grape Frank's soda and TastyKakes. Tom wonders if it was really that hard to guess. PBR says that he does have that just about every day. Some days, he’ll change it up and go with Frank's sasparilla.
Tom doesn’t think that proves anything, and PBR also remained doubtful, telling his son: "You’re pulling my leg there, young man." Roy, Jr. was unphased and closed his eyes again. He said that he could see that the lights in the room will go out really soon due to some kind of power overload. PBR thinks he’s a faker, but sure enough nem lights did go out. PBR says it was creepy and paints a scene of the room during this psychic occurence. He was sitting in his La-Z-Boy per usual and the lights went out like Roy, Jr. was Moses or something. Roy, Jr. was leaning up against the wall, and Tom suggests that he might have been near the light panel. Now that he thinks about it, PBR says that Roy, Jr. was standding right in front of it. Tom thinks it's likely that the Biblical-grade feat may have just been a covert flick of the switch. PBR tells Tom that he shouldn't speak ill of Roy, Jr. Tom doesn't think he is, but PBR thinks he sort of is.
The next morning, there was even more weirdness. PBR wakes up to Roy, Jr. hovering over his bed. “What’s the matter? Didn’t you hear it?," Roy, Jr. inquired of PBR and Rhoda. He said that lightning hit the house and caused a switcheroo right out of Freaky Friday: Roy, Jr. is now PBR and PBR is now Roy, Jr. At first, PBR didn’t believe him, but then he reminded PBR of the powers he exhibited the night before, so PBR had to believe him. Since he had already proven himself a legit psychic, PBR had no choice but to give him his checkbook and credit cards -- he would need them to pay the household bills.
PBR did not feel any different, but could do nothing but get ready for the first day of summer school. Tom wants to know if he actually went, and PBR says that he certainly did because truancy would lead to being grounded by his son. He didn't want to go, but Roy, Jr. started glaring at him with those psychic eyes, so he immediately got dressed. Roy, Jr. then drove PBR to school, and Tom can’t believe he fell for it. Roy, Jr. gave PBR a quarter for lunch money, which was insufficient. Back when PBR was a kid, you could get milk and a soft pretzel for that sum, but not anymore. Other changes include a ban on smoking in the bathroom. PBR set off the smoke detectors and got in got in trouble. He tried to take the classes but couldn't figure out none of nem theorems.
Roy, Jr. picked him up at the end of the school day with a mini-catamaran on top of the car. He had called in sick at Wawa as PBR and went down the shore, buying the boat using the checkbook he received that morning. Tom wants to know if the switch has reversed back to normal. PBR is not sure and aks Tom to imagine how mad he must have been about the unauthorized purchase by his son-father. Then again, the joke's on Roy, Jr. -- there wasn’t enough money in that account to pay for it. PBR is sure that they are going to come after Roy, Jr. for the money and celebrates with a fit of madcap laughter. Tom tells him to ease up on the celebration because his name is on the account. It now dawns on PBR that the joke's still on him (isn't it always?). Tom doesn't understand why PBR is so susceptible to his son's ruses. PBR says he's helpless because he's got nem powers. Tom says it sounds like his only power is his consistent ability to delude his father and make him think he has powers.
PBR wonders if Roy, Jr. will take the family to Laser Allin at the Planetarium later that night. Tom has no idea what that is, and PBR explains that it's similar to the old Laser Floyd shows where you'd go to hear their music played at full volume as laser beans were shot at the ceiling because you were on dust. Or ‘ludes. This is the same concept but with the music of his old friend Kevin Allin. The name doesn't click with Tom, and PBR says he probably knows him as GG Allin. (PBR borrowing a page from The Music Scholar's book on that one.) Tom thinks it sounds insane and calls Mr. Allin's work some of the most unpleasant music ever made. PBR says he doesn’t know what he’s taking about. Tom can’t believe anyone would attend such an event. PBR insists that Allin was a "good dude", which Tom wholeheartedly disputes.
PBR became "total buds" with Allin back when he drove cab in the late 80s in Philly. He picked GG up one night when he was on his way to play a show in West Philly at a basement club called The Crypt. PBR had ever seen nothin like it. He also met his GG's brother, bassist Merle, and the rest of the Murder Junkies. After the gig, he took the whole band back to the house they were staying out in South Philly -- a total awful dump area. PBR had to hose off the back seat after they got out. Yuck. PBR hints that the seat could tell some juicy stories, but Tom does not want to hear these debauched taxicab confessions.
PBR and GG hit it off and stayed in touch over the years. PBR ended up promoting what was to be his last show in Philly. Tom does want to hear this story, and PBR directs him to strap himself in and buckle up. GG was having a hard time booking a show in the area in May of 1993 (he passed on a month later) and called PBR for help. He explained that he couldn't get no shows booked down in Philly, not even a gig at JC Dobbs. PBR didn’t know the first thing about booking bands, but told him he’d try. His strategy was to think about where the most people would be on a Saturday midnight. It hit him: Geno’s Steaks on Passyunk Ave. Tom is not familiar with the street, so PBR calls Tom a "Philadummy". He will make stickers featuring the phrase and put them on Tom’s car. (And his face.)
PBR admits that the show went kinda bad. He figured the gig would be the perfect symbiotic win-win for both parties. Lots of GG fans would go to Geno’s and buy cheesesteaks, and lots of people there to dine would see GG Allin and love his music. The problem was that he never really OK’d the show with Geno’s. He assumed they'd be cool about it due to the likely business surge. As show time approached, GG and nem Murder Junkies set up their gear on the sidewalk, but it started to rain, so they invaded the kitchen. This is when Geno and his staff got really, really, really mad. A big fight ensued and Merle got his trademark Hitler mustache singed off on the stove. The band didn't play any songs because when GG started preparing what he called his “special cheesesteak sauce” (Tom doesn’t want the ingredient list), all hell broke loose and people started running away from Geno’s. Tom's not surprised by any of it since it's par for the GG course. PBR never saw GG again because he had to hightail back home. He also no longer eats at Geno's, opting for Jim's or Wawa.
PBR was really looking forward to Laser Allin becaues he wanted to see what they would do when they synced up laser beans to classic tracks like "Expose Yourself To Kids", "I Don’t Give An F---", "Legalized Murder", and "Watch Me Kill". He spoke to a dude in Western Maine who saw Laser Allin, and he told PBR that during "Drink, Fight and F---," they project a giant GG on the ceiling and he shoots laser beans out of his you know what. Tom tells him it’s “laser beams”. PBR insists it’s laser beans, which are like the little point of laser light the former President Bush referred to his his famous “a hundred points of laser beans" catchphrase.
PBR has to go soon because he thinks he saw John Q. Law driving by. Tom wants to know why he’s running from Mr. Law. In a nutshell, there's a new Quiznos up on Roosevelt Avenue. Philly Boy Roy went in to check out the competition. This was his first trip inside of Quiznos, and he was horrified to discover that they toast nem rolls over there. Tom is familiar with the their culinary technique as it's the centerpiece of their advertising campaign. PBR says thinks it's "sick" and ruins the experience of nem sandwiches. He believes a soft roll is required; Tom thinks it’s just a matter of personal taste. Even worse, the Quiznos lacked any Philly-centric tchotkes like those on display at Wawa.
PBR told the employees that they needed to put up pictures of the Philly legends: Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, Julius Erving, Bam Margera, Tina Fey (the Pride of Upper Darby), John Oates (the Pride of North Wales) McFadden and Whitehead (PBR is not sure where they’re from, but I think it’s Fishtown), The Dead Milkmen’s Dean Clean, Angie’s Donna Pescow, Jim O’Brien (“Action News, you dummy!”), Robert Hazard, and Andy Kravitz, a session drummer who played on Urge Overkill’s “Sister Havana”. Tom is baffled by the inclusion of Kravitz as a "legend", and PBR hopes that Tom would not argue that Blackie O played drums on the studio recording of the song. Tom never gave it much thought. PBR says it’s one of the best drum tracks ever laid down.
The Quinzos staffers told him that they had to consult with the home office up in Schenectady, N.Y., before they redesigned their wall art. PBR told Roy, Jr. about his reconnaissance mission's findings, and he went nuts. He demanded that PBR returned to get restitution for their lack of Philly respect. PBR initially told Roy, Jr. that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but Roy, Jr. looked at him with psychic eyes. It was like nem laser beans was going right into his mind. From there, PBR's memory is hazy, but next thing he knew, he saw a report on the news about the Quiznos getting burnt down to the ground. The report said that two people -- one short and one tall -- were seen fleeing the scene. He’s worried and wonders if Roy, Jr. put him under a spell and made him do it. Tom thinks he’s using Roy, Jr. as an excuse: PBR was insulted by Quiznos and comitted the act of arson. PBR said he may not have been operating under his own psychic will.
Officer Guiseppe Harrups arrives at the door. Tom tells him there’s an Officer Harrups in Newbridge, and it’s not clear if they are related. PBR will ask him after he’s done runnin’ from him.
Captain Beefheart - "Fallin' Ditch" [Recidivism's top-shelf Research Department made an interesting discovery regarding Rocket Morton's fuel source in this track's opening dialogue snippet ...]
Dead Milkmen - "Nitro Burning Funny Cars"
Urge Overkill - "Sister Havana"
- Fred hung on for the entire duration of the PBR call so he could ask (starts at 1:04) Tom if he was talking about him with the trio he played in his opening music set. Tom confirms that he was referring to him, amongst others, because clowntime is in fact over -- The Best Show has taken enough lumps from filthy drug addicts and the numbskulls up in Goshen. Fred doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he does want to say that that last week's show, featuring fill-in Stefan, was excellent. He’s not sure Tom is getting him. Tom does get him and asks him why he doesn’t listen to another show.
Fred claims he previously told Tom that his radio is locked on WFMU. Some guy who stayed with him for four days welded his dial to 91.1. He also welded his antenna, and Tom assumes that his only television option is Spike TV's Blade. Fred is not familiar with the network, and the only "spike" he knows is the spiking he does to his veins to insert his filth juice. Tom is building a dossier on all of the mutants and will run them out. The Best Show’s got no time for guys like Fred.
Die Beste Schau: Thomas from Germany prepares for his call by downing the fifth of seven beers at Ye Olde Bierhaus in Upper West Newburg.
- Thomas from Germany calls (starts at 1:09) on a slight delay since he's listening via the stream at 3 a.m. his time. He came home just in time to hear Tom’s DJ taking some serious calls, and he thought he needed some kind of assistance. He then unleashes the first of many tipsy guffaws. Tom wonders where he will get assistance with these horrible calls and Thomas suggests that he -- a normal, down-to-Earth German -- is the solution. Thomas especially admired the DJ’s listening skills when dealing with the lady from Philly with serious problems. Tom wonders why the connection from Germany is louder than any call he’s ever taken. Thomas pins it on the solar spots.
Thomas is recovering from the World Cup, although he shed no tears when Germany was knocked out. He's proud of the way his countrymen went out, suggesting it’s rude for the host to win all of the games. They made a respectable exit by losing to the eventual champions in the semifinals and showed politeness in allowing the guest to advance. Thomas thinks that in the States nobody is “buzzering” about soccer, but Tom vigorously disputes ("Au contraire!") that notion. He attended a World Cup extravagonza on Sunday, and it spilled out into the street when Italy won, shutting down traffic. Thomas wonders if Tom was in Berlin or Rome. It was NYC! Thomas has American friends who tell him that nobody cares about the sport. Tom says that people don’t care in general, but do enjoy the World Cup. Tom wants to know who Thomas roots for during the regular season. He says he’s a "complete soccer idiot", but he follows his hometown team, who play in a lower-level league. He slurs something else and starts laughing again. This prompts Tom to ask him if he's intoxicated. Thomas's response is simple and direct: “Yes, I am.” He says he only drinks beer because hard liquor will cause him to drop dead.
Tom asks him what he thought of Zinedine Zidane pulling a Wesley Willis on Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the second overtime session of the World Cup Final. Thomas did not like it, but he understood it because his girlfriend has a French passport, which makes sense. This was the second reference to the passport during the call, and it appears this document serves as a kind of Rosetta stone for unlocking the great mysteries of the world. Perhaps someone should contact this gal to see if she has any information on the prolific-but-MIA Seidr Records. Tom takes his word for it and thinks he’s about nein beers behind him. Thomas puts the number at seven.
Thomas says it’s difficult to hang up on trouble callers, so Tom hangs up on him, proving it's easier than it may appear to the untrained observer. Immediately following the call, Trent L. Strauss cast Thomas as the villain in his next film, The Oktoberfest Massacre 3.
- Stephen Baldwin (the actuh?) calls. He’s GOMPed for, um, being Stephen Baldwin?
- Dan from SF calls (starts at 1:17) to apologize for
his dull story about preparing dried tuna for the Portland Trailblazers chit-chatting instead of calling two weeks ago when Tom was surrounded by mutants. He deeply regrets his failure to provide proper backup. He points out that if Fred can call from the railroad tracks while he cooks a hot dog on a stick with his bum buddies, the more upscale FOTs can certainly pull it off. He compares Thomas from Germany to Dracula.
- Tom discussed (starts at 1:20) his exciting week off, which included some movie watching. Mike the Associate Producer lent him a copy of Festival Express, a documentary featuring the likes of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and The Band traveling through Canada aboard a really fast train. Tom read from the back of the DVD box:
"Set in 1970, Festival Express was a multi-band, multi-day extravagonza that captured the spirit and imagination of a generation and a nation. What made it unique was that it was portable; for five days, the bands and performers lived, slept, rehearsed and did countless unmentionable things aboard a customized train that traveled from Toronto, to Calgary, to Winnipeg, with each stop culminating in a mega-concert. The entire experience, both off-stage and on, was filmed but the extensive footage remained locked away -- until now."
A few days before, Tom viewed Criterion's 3-DVD Monterey Pop set, generously given to him by former Associate Producer Matt. Set only three years later, the differences are vast. The Monterey doc showed clean-cut musicians compared to the street trash from Jerks On A Train -- no outrageous, sloppy facial hair. The bands are well-dressed and the hippieness was generally contained. Country Joe & the Fish? Just one guy with mutton chops. Tom dug Big Brother and the Holding Company's "Combination Of The Two" (screen it above), Jim E. Hendrix killing it, and could even stomach Jefferson Airplane! When the camera pans the audience, it reveals pretty girls.
Jump forward two years to Woodstock and everybody got hit with the Hippy Stick. Tom says the best thing about the train rides is when the Canadian hippies go nuts, calling for a free show. All of a sudden, the notion of the rebellion goes out the window for The Grateful Dead. Tom gets Mike to agree that the blues is horrible, and these guys are playing stoned versions of it. While blues artists have the common decency to halt their songs at the seven-minute mark, the hippies expand that to 35-minute jams, thinking they are breaking new ground. Tom declares The Band's dubious attempts at ROCK 'N ROLL to be the worst moment of Festival Express, their fired-up rendtion of "Slippin' and Slidin'" serving only to drain everything from the genre. Tom was also put off by the apparent "dumb beard race" taking place in the band with Robbie Robertson looking like an Al Frankenesque college professor.
One of Tom's favorite moments in Monterey is seeing The Mamas & the Papas grapple with the unenviable task of trying to top Jim E. Hendrix, who had just shot laser beans from his fretboard, burned his guitar, and smashed it on stage. Then again, they did have Scott McKenzie up their sleeve. Tom plays a clip of their performance of “Monday, Monday” (providing some visuals by noting that Doherty appears to be wearing a curtain) that includes a jaw-droppingly bad note (“Monday, Monday, baaaaa uhhhhhh”) that made Tom feel like he had been momentarily transported to a Jandek show. Tom doesn’t like it … he LOVES it. He wonders why it makes him so happy. [Note to Mr. Doherty: Tom's a fan, so don't take him to task too hard!]
Tom apologzies to the hippies for still not boarding their groovy train. He also reiterates his call for a tip on at least one good Grateful Dead song. My picks would be "Box of Rain" and "Ripple", but perhaps my judgment is clouded by their poignant use in the Freaks & Geeks series finale. I'm pretty sure they are legitimately good tunes, but I'll defer to Bryce Prefontaine.
- An unidentified caller checks in (starts at 1:49) to confirm that The Best Show truly is the best show on WFMU and offer condolences to the Barrett family. He feels the loss of Syd will be felt in the music world for ages and ages to come. He also thinks that Tom has some really weird callers like the woman talking about GG Allin and the sufficiently drunk German man.
He just got off his job as a non-Chinese Chinese food delivery man for a modestly-priced -- yet tasty -- place in Tenafly. He bills the food as not greasy and will likely partake of some white rice and soy sauce (aka "Dinner of Champions") later in the evening. In fact, he promises to eat it exclusively for the next few weeks. Everything looked delectable, but he had a craving for the simplicity of the dish. As a result of his mundane selection, Tom’s not sure if he’s the best judge of the grease content of the food, but the caller assures him that he’s sampled other dishes. He’s also examined the competition and believes their fare is less greasy. Tom suggests nestling “Not As Greasy!” into their existing “No MSG” advertising copy. The caller likes the idea.
He also took the opportunity to thank his patrons for their generous tipping. His best tip came from a woman who dropped $20 on him for a $5 food order. His worst customer experience occurred about 3.5 days ago. He approached the door and was greeted by a man who had just had a huge domestic fight. The man gave him a blank stare as if he had committed an atrocity and was looking for a confession. The caller asked him nicely if he wanted change. The man unleashed a firestorm ("Of course I want change!"), transferring negative energy onto a guy he’s known for 30 seconds. The caller would have felt more dignified if the man simply physically thrashed him around. Tom’s on the caller's side.
Listener Joe calls (starts at 1:55) to promote his recent Listener Hour, which included some Nu-Folk Psych and new techno stuff the kids are playing these days. Joe says his program was better than the controversial effort by Purple Shirt & The Young Rogues. Joe had to turn it off because the kids were not attentive and high on Bolivian Marching Liquid. One of the kids told PS to “Shut up”, and Tom requests sound clips of the public rebellion.
Since he knows that Tom is a noted GBV enthusiast, he asks about the current market price for a copy of Propeller. He’s a bit vague on the particulars, noting that the cover is a collage (oh, that one!) and has some number out of 500. Tom wants him to e-mail him so he can help him out with it. Is The Kid finally getting his most desired piece of vinyl? Yes! But no. Joe quickly deflates this joy balloon: “I don’t know if I can part with it.” He continues: "Why would I?” Tom wonders why he would want to know the fair market value if he's only interesting in rolling around in the theory of reaping the financial rewards of a hypothetical sale. Tom GOMPs him for taunting and teasing and directs people to avoid his Listener Hour stint.
- Mac from Austin, TX. calls (starts at 1:58) to file an update on the condition of Harry Knowles. He's still fat and now requires the services of a wheelchair to travel to the Alamo Drafthouse for screenings of rare Italian Giallo and Belgian "Nunsploitation" prints. He's occasionally wheeled around by local luminaries such as Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Gibby Haynes, and Dell CEO Kevin B. Rollins. Tom thinks that sounds scary.
Mac also has a dorky question for Tom -- he wants to know if he’s attending Comic-Con. Tom was going to attend, but withdrew because the event's hecticness is akin to stepping into a lion's den. The Kid needs to relax. Mac disputes the “L” on 6/27 because the Goshen Kids were humiliated and unmasked as being terminally soft-serve. Mac loved the dressing down, but missed Tom’s perfect set up, failing to spike it with a don't like it/LOVE it retort.
Comedians Of Non-Comedy: "It's technology, it's not magic, you douche!"
Tom is becoming quite a fan (starts at 2:01) of HBO’s Dane Cook documentary series Tourgasm. The show provides a look into the world of the Myspace fiend driving around in a bus with his buddies. Tom would choose to live in any other world other than the world of Cook. Tom points out that nobody ever doubted that he wasn’t funny, but now you get to see him as a weird, Type-A business major who runs comedy like a cutthroat corporation. Cook is the show's star, director, and producer, making it clear that he is indeed the new Orson Welles. (Or, if you prefer, Vincent Gallo. Then again, I think Ed Burns might be a more accurate reference point. )
Cook offers advice to the other members of the tour, like twerpy lapdog Jay "The TLC Killer" Davis, who often tries to pump up the crowd with lame queries like “Hey, Central Illinois, are you ready for Tourgasm?” The other comics on the festival express are Robert Kelly, a fourth-rate Jim Norton, who’s already a fourth-rate comic, making him a 64th-rate comic. (When determining degrees of comedy performers, you add up the initial rating of two comics and then square that number to arrive at the rating for the less-talented one.) Kelly plays the role of the outrageous one, dishing out edgy material involving how to find Osama bin Laden. (Hint: check The Fudge Tub at Newbridge Commons.)
Tom dubs Gary Gulman the best of the bunch since he can uncork a few efficient jokes. As for Dane “The Confidence Machine” Cook, he's an Ego Monster and completely unhinged. Tom thinks it’s awesome that under the guise of a testimonial about the realities of The Road, he’s actually giving a peak inside his deluded, Rupert Pupkin-as-a-frat-guy head. Tom thinks it’s great that Tourgasm will serve as a point on the graph of his impending meltdown. In one scene, Jay Davis is working on his taxes on the bus and Dane Cook pours water on his forms, forbidding the activity because it’s Tourgasm, not Taxgasm, and it’s a groundbreaking enterprise. Tom references the episode in which our Hero had to fly to NY for an appearance at the MSG theater and then fly back to L.A. in time for the tour. High drama! Will he make it back in his helicopter? Cook was also sick so he had to get a shot from a physician. Tom says they could have achieved the same level of tension by documenting his pre-show meal decision-making process.
Tom does think it’s cool that Cook does meet-and-greets with fans after the shows. Tom imagines that these are awkward affairs in which fans feel compelled to get signatures from the other three comics even though they only desire Cook’s. They inevitably end up being bullied into getting Jay Davis to sign their ticket stub. Recently Tom was trying to get autographs from a reunited band that had the four original members plus an additional keyboard player for the tour. Tom ended up getting the new guy’s signature despite his complete lack of presence on the bands previous recordings. I’m not sure about the identity of this band. At first, I thought it might be Stryper, since I know one of Tom’s favorite records of all-time is Soldiers Under Command, but then I remembered that original bassist Timothy Gaines is not part of the current touring lineup.
Tom decides to rip a page from The Dane Cookbook (Volume II in stores this fall from Scribner’s; the first one has an AWESOME recipe for "jalapeno ego poppers") and will start doing 15-minute meet-and-greets after the show for autographs or just to hang out with the FOTs. The first event took place at 11:30 p.m. on the escalators in the Exchange Place PATH station.
- A caller (starts at 2:11) wants some information about the Paul Simon concert scheduled for Sunday at the PNC Center. Tom knows nothing about it. The caller was curious about the start time -- the tickets said 7:30 p.m., but he wasn’t sure if Mr. Simon goes on then. He tried the box office, but they were very uncooperative so he’ll have to try some other resources. In the meantime, he wants Tom to play a Simon tune so he can get ready for the show. He’d specifically love to hear “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”. Tom will try to play it, and the caller says he can send it out to him: Montgomery in Newbridge.
Tom says there’s a judge in Newbridge named Montgomery Davies. The caller knows him. Tom points out that the judge was embroiled in a controversy where he got disbarred for using a device under his robe when he was on the bench. The caller suggests that maybe this judge didn’t think he was hurting anybody by using that device. Tom asks him if he’s Judge Davies. The caller responds in the affirmative: “Yes, son, I am.”
Tom has read many articles about the device incident and recalls that his stenographer (Davies reveals her name to be Sheila) described it to the press as a “whooshing sound” followed by a dull, low-impact thud. Nobody in the courtroom knew what it was. Davies confirms the accuracy of the reporting, and Tom asks him how long he was using the device. Davies doesn’t feel that he has to answer to anyone on the issue, specifically Tom, because it’s none of anybody’s business. He reiterates that he was not harming anybody by using it. He finally admits to using the device for 22 years, though he’s gone through many different models. Back in the mid-1980s, the device was in its nascent, more crude form.
The original devices were made of ivory and had a more square shape, while current models are roundish and constructed from either polyurethane or treated birch. The old analog devices utilized a series a small tension rods, a large flywheel, and a small cushion made of either foam or fiberglass. Judge Davies was caught with a late-1990s model that, while good, was not state-of-the-art and left quite a bit to be desired. One of the main issues was the fishing line, which was hard to keep untangled, especially if you did not apply the recommended kind of oil. For some reason, the oil was very hard to find in Newbridge, so Davies hard to order it directly from the manufacturer of the device. It was always on backorder, so Davies was forced to rely on a different weight oil that was only stocked in certain local convenience stores. That oil did not really help out with the detangling efforts and it also left a thick residue ring on the inside of the canister receptacle. As a result, a large amount of smoke could be produced when the device shifted into the next gear.
Tom wonders how the device was smoking. Davies explains that it was an issue of overload. The new high-end models are digital, which eliminates the problem of backfires and stallouts. They also produce a readout, a feature which baffles Tom. Davies confirms that an actual piece of paper prints out. Tom wants to know what kind of information is on the printout, but Davies doesn’t want to get into it. He does say that the new models are also very silent. He ordered one, but it got screwed up at the factory. It was not only the wrong size, but it also came with toggle switches instead of the acrylic push-button controls as stated in the advertisement. Davies did try one of the digital ones and found that it delivered a nice, smooth performance, but the noise of the device he was caught with did him in. He tried various noise filters, but none of them were effective. The battle was trying to keep the water pressure at a good level while prevening the noise of the micro-jets from getting too loud. The one he had on order uses high-density steam instead of water jets, creating a more top-shelf performance.
Davies gives some history on the evolution of the device, citing it as a real testament to man’s ingenuity. In the very early days of the device, they were made from a paste of straw, sheepskin, and granite. Davies cannot even imagine trying to use a device made from stone. Davies has seen the version of the device used by Babe Ruth, and while it was a step up from the one used by Ben Franklin and Billy The Kid, it’s still "positively barbaric". The so-called grommets were fashioned out of corn husks and the device used a cone made from coal as a dispersement mechanism. Davies wonders how far they are going to go with designs for the device. Tom says it’s just a matter of technological advancements. Davies is focusing his attention on the future of the device and wants to discuss it with Tom. He just finished a prototype of a device that is "positively space-age" and will change how we think about the device. He doesn’t think Tom will believe it, but he tells him anyway: it’s all one piece and it runs on body heat. It’s also positively sound-free and has noise-canceling shields next to the motor housing. It’s a foolproof setup that looks like a small Formula-1 racecar and will revolutionize the marketplace.
He wants to know if Tom wants to invest some money in a startup effort. Davies needs funds since his lost his pension as a result of the incident. Tom’s not in the market for investing, so Davies wants to know if he would at least model the device for the advertising campaign. Tom immediately refuses because he’s not a client and is not comfortable promoting the product. Davies wonders if it’s because Tom is ashamed of his abs, which will be seen in the promotional pictures. Davies is certain that Tom will become a client and plans to order one of the current judges to make him one. Tom wonders how he will pull that off since he has no interest in using it, and Davies says that several judges owe him for outfitting them with devices. Davies want to do the same for Tom. At this point, a whoosing sound is heard. Davies is using one of the old devices live on the air. Tom thinks he’s disgusting. Davies requests to have a “device-a-thon” with Tom. Tom declines, hangs up, and thinks he needs to take a shower.
- Matt, a rising sophomore at a college in upstate NY, calls (starts at 2:26) to tell a story that has been bothering him for awhile. He figures that Tom can determine which person in the story is nuts.
DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is absolutely true and very boring.
During his freshmen year, Matt had a crazy, eccentric, dancing, singing, bearded, middle-aged, smiley Cubano professor named Diego. Diego is an interesting fella, who was also writing a book about his escape from Cuba. Matt was getting good grades and liked the class. Diego would laugh crazily at his own jokes and his laughter was contagious in the classroom. His laugh would often outlast the class’s laughter, and they would laugh anew at the funniness of his lingering laugh. Diego favored long handshakes and continual eye contact, which Matt found somewhat creepy, but ultimately funny in the sense of laughing at him. He would also often tell students that he was on the verge of getting fired. When pressed for more details, he could only offer something about vague disagreements with his superiors.
One day after class, Matt chatted him up a bit. The next class, he just left without exchaning any words with Diego. The following Monday, he made a borderline offensive wisecrack in the middle of class, and Diego told him to stay after class. Matt assumed he was in trouble and apologized for his outburst.
[At this point, Tom is very frustrated by the five-minute preamble.]
Diego told Matt that it seemed like he wanted to talk to him last week but didn’t because other students were milling about. Diego said he was thinking about Matt a lot over the past weekend, having seen him in a choral performance. He tried to look him up in the student directory to call him. Matt is creeped out and thinks this will terminate his relationship with Diego. But Diego didn’t stop. He kept going even though Matt didn’t want more of it. He kept going way after Matt had had enough. Matt couldn’t take it anymore, but Diego kept going. On and on and on it went without any stoppage in sight. He then asked for his number; Matt refused and gave him an e-mail address instead. He didn’t want Diego to think that he thought he was crazy, so he gave him a flyer promoting an upcoming choral gig that he may want to attend.
Uggggghhhhh. That tired old tale. Eccentric Cuban professor tries to seduce young, nubile choirboy. YAWN. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Tom’s rendered speechless by the story’s glacial pace. Matt tells Tom to calm down and show some patience for his epic tale. Tom says that he requires some entertainment and GOMPs the snooze. He compares the story to the harmonic blip in “Monday, Monday”, certain that it, too, had no enjoyable payoff. In short: “You gotta heat up!”
- Petey calls (starts at 2:34) and Tom reminds him that this was the night that he and his buddies were set to storm WFMU. Petey corrects him -- it was the 18th. Tom's off that week, so Petey reschedules for the 25th. The delay elicits a "whatev" from Petey, a fitting response for what is shaping up to be a decidedly lackadaisical enterprise. Petey assures Tom that they won’t violenty intrude. In fact, they plan to take WFMU over peacefully in the spirit of Malcolm X. Tom would be like a cop, and they would march by until they got their friend who had been beaten up. At the end of the day, he would receive proper medical attention. Tom wants to know if "Raj" from What’s Happening? would be part of the gang. Petey doesn't get the reference: “What’s What’s Happening?”
Tom wants Petey to e-mail him about the invasion. Petey says that if it’s a peaceful revolution, you don’t email the intended target. Tom wants to know who they are revolting against. Petey says they are attacking the underground subculture of WFMU. Petey thinks it’s a good culture, but they are pretending it’s not good to play devil’s advocate. Tom says that disagreeing with something even though you like it is called "being a jerk". Petey kind of agrees with Tom. Tom GOMPs him for unproductive behavior.
Waiting For Goshen: "I'll cheer for you, if you'll cheer for me!"
- Matt calls back (starts at 2:36) to finish his story. He admits what we already knew -- he’s from Goshen. Tom wants to know if he was one of the losers on stage for the infamous Too Many Humans performance of “Rock Lobster”. He was supposed to be a clam, but he missed his cue so he watched the performance from the back of the auditorium, hiding in his shell. In other words, he was too dumb to be in a dumb thing on stage. Tom describes the event as a high school talent show with the saddest kind of propping up of each other and pretending that talent is actually present. Matt says it’s the one moment kids have to be proud of themselves. Tom says considering that to be a proud moment combined with his inability to tell a story indicates then he’s got a dubious future. He recommends looking into the accounting field.
Tom plays a bit of the song to taunt Matt, who is rattled and wants to finish his professor story. Tom suggests that he tell the story into a mirror so he can watch his own visage tell him it’s boring. Tom also gives him the option to tell it to his Richie Rich dad. Matt says he’s poor. His dad is a web designer; his mother is a teacher. His dad usually integrates books and CD-ROMs on the web for educational instruction, but he also designed the website for Too Many Humans, which you can check out at:
Matt doesn’t like the band name; Tom doesn’t like him and his boring story. He recommends that they name the band after him and call it The Snoozefest. Matt offers a Latinate rejoinder: “Quid pro quo, Mr. Tom”. Tom points out that he would have to bore him 20 minutes for the retort to apply and GOMPs him. Tom speculates that Diego is probably normal and Matt is simply processing everything through his Bore Filter.
- A caller (starts at 2:40) wants to know what Tom had for lunch. Tom tells him to shut up.
- Clay calls (starts at 2:40) from Manhattan en route to NJ. He claims to have started modeling when he was 13. Tom GOMPs him for sounding like a Goshen kid.
- Tom saw Superman Returns (starts at 2:42) and thought it was a solid half-hour too long. He wonders why everyone is doing epic-length films, such as Peter Jackson’s three-hour King Kong. The first Kong was 90 minutes, and the new version adds the 90 minutes not shown in the original, which is everything but the action that took place in the original. Tom doesn't get it. His primary issue with superhero movies is that they are often directed by uber-nerds who love the franchise and character too much.
Tom thinks that if the comic book nerds made the original Star Wars now, they would omit the “silly stuff” like R2D2 and C-3PO. Tom was not pleased with last year's overly-serious Batman Begins because it was so dark, he could not even make out the title character. In the five-hour film, he saw Batman for 15 seconds and did not even see him punching anyone. For all Tom knows, it could've been a guy in a duster running around. Tom's desire is simple: "Show me Batman!"
Tom did like a lot of Superman Returns and was impressed by the visuals. However, he laments that the scripts for Superman and Superman II are considered to be carved in stone, lugged around by Moses as example of cinematic perfection. Furthermore, where was Zod? Tom gives an example of what he considers to be a particularly subpar scene in Superman II: Non (“the other big goofball”) blowing people through the streets of Metropolis. Tom thinks the sight gag may have been concocted by the staff from Hee-Haw or Laugh-In. Tom says there is no need to treat the storyline of Superman II as gospel -- it and its predecessor were too slow and looked as though they were shot through a screen door.
In the new film, Tom did like seeing Superman save the day and calls for nerds to think more about the non-nerds when crafting film adaptations. Using cereal as an example, Tom says that it can't be all Crunchberries -- you have to balance it out. It doesn't have to be the aggressive camp of Catwoman, but it doesn't have to be so serious, either. You can have one Crunchberry along witih eight of the regular, yellow, mouth-scraping Cpt. Crunch morsels. Tom points out that an all-Crunchberries product was on the market, but had to be removed because its side effects included vomiting, chapped lips, minor heart stoppage, and semi-permanent death.
- A caller supports (starts at 2:49) Tom’s advice to nerds and thinks they need to earn their right to consume the fun bits of several snack mash-ups. Tom wants to put the phrase "Earn Your Crunchberries" on a shirt. The caller is also very interested in Matt’s story and wanted to see where it was going. Tom GOMPs him for a disappointing detour into pro-Goshen territory.
- Ted Leo checks in (starts at 2:50) to stick up for Superman, which he thinks is an incredible document of late 1970s NY with muggers in knit caps wielding switchblades and decked-out pimps slinging the classic lingo. Tom says it was boring; Ted says it’s cinematic. Tom had to wait two years for the cape to appear and the flying to take off. Ted asks if Tom doesn’t wish for more nuanced storytelling, but Tom says that if it’s a superhero movie, he wants to get the goods a bit sooner. Tom suggests that if current trends hold true, Paul Thomas Anderson might as well direct Spider-Man 3. Tom references the interminable Thanksgiving scene in Spider-Man, preferring an outdoor Goblin vs. Spidey fight instead of the indoor cat-and-mouse game. Tom wins Ted over.
Tom didn’t like X-Men 3, but did enjoy the notion of Kelsey Grammar getting up at 2 a.m. sitting in the makeup chair for 4 hours a day as they slathered hot cement and strips of blue fur on his face as he transformed into Beast. Tom is also amused by the thought of him trying to slurp up an Ensure shake while he told the crew about his days on Fraiser.
Ted’s cranking on the new album, but he’s still thinking a lot about the World Cup. Tom wants him to sing a World Cup song, but he can only muster an English chant: “All you ever eat is chips!” Now that the World Cup is over, Ted has moved on to the MLS. His team used to be the NY/NJ Metrostars, but had to abandon them due to the name change to the Red Bulls. He’s now opting for the punk-friendly DC United. In the Italian Football league, Ted favors the left-leaning Livorno Calcio. Tom wants to know who the Yankees of soccer are, and Ted offers Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as FC Barcelona, who employ Brazilian star Ronaldinho.
Tom decides he will get into futbol year-round instead of just once every four years.
- George closes out the show (starts at 2:57) by claiming that futbol players are "way more feebler" than the fans of the sport. He watched the World Cup and noticed that whenever players grazed shoulders, they would collapse to the ground. Tom sarcastically suggests that futballers are not as athletic as baseball players. George admits that soccer is an endurance test with players kicking the ball. He says "fugettaboutit" and earns an automatic GOMP.
VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Notch the “W”!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good Guys back on top. Clowntime has expired.
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: Spike reviews The Devil Wears Prada assuming he's able to defeat the rhinoviruses dominating his nasal passages, Petey and his band of marauding devil's advocates kind of attack WFMU, and a blitzed Thomas checks back in to give listeners his family recipe for wienerschnitzel.
Shine On Youse Crazy Diamond: