Best Show 4 Life!
"Me and my little ABBA box. It's all I got. It's all I got in this world. Little ABBA box. Isn't that right, ABBA box, with all your tiny little albums inside? It's all I got." -- Tom, finding solace in his collection of Swedish pop
"I might as well just put in on my GPS system 'Count Dracula's Castle', that's what it felt like I was driving to." -- Tom on his unintentional journey through Transylvania
"Seriously. Come on. It's art! It's art! Learn!" -- Tom, urging a Tommy Bahama-clad piece of Shore Trash to fill a gap in his adult knowledge
"There's gangs in Belleville?" -- Tom, discovering the rougher side of Essex County
"I think I was putting Iraq like where Spain is. Embarassing. I'm an adult. I'm a full-grown adult and I can't even look at the map of the world, and I can't even put cities where cities are and countries where countries are." -- Tom on his lack of Geosense
"Is there anybody running around in a diaper and a Foghat t-shirt?" -- Tom trying to figure out if a caller is stationed in Williamsburg
"I'm actually ready to loop around with Caddyshack to start quoting Danny Noonan." -- Tom, coming full circle on the links laffer
"I'll never be a physicist." -- 42-year-old, mojito-soaked Ian from Rockaway Beach, finally giving up hope on a career in the sciences
"What? How am I eating this? With my hands?! In my mouth?!" -- A confused old man, becoming a reluctant 'Zabra at a pizza place in South River
"He's handsome." -- Tom on Blue Collar comedian Ron White
"He's not rednecky enough for me. He seems a little tame around the edges, you know?" - Zach, telling Jeff Foxworthy that he might be a redneck if ... he tries a little harder
"I'm not saying you weren't creepy, but we had creepier fans." -- Big Dipper guitarist Gary Waleik, putting Tom's die-hard fandom in perspective
"I might do all four. That'll creep you out again. I wanna bring back that creepy feeling. Bring back that late-80s creepy feeling. Tom will be back scaring the members of Big Dipper again." -- Tom, threatening to prove him wrong
"You know curse words. We get it. You know how to curse. Duly noted! Logged. You can stop now." -- Tom on Bob Saget, newest resident of The Best Show Hate Pit
"No, you know what that implies? That implies insanity from the father. Wolfgang. Name your kid Wolfgang. What's wrong with you Eddie Van Halen? Wolfgang." -- Tom, disapproving of EVH saddling his son/new bassist with a name better suited for a classical composer or celebrity chef
"I don't know, when I'm eating my tuna melt, I don't wanna watch two guys beating the crap out of each other." -- Forrest, leaving the UFC at his local diner
"I'd like to take him, cover him in gravy, and let Dogmo go to town." -- Tom, issuing his own sentence for disgraced dogfighter Michael Vick
"The world's changing. We gotta change it back." -- Tom on the dwindling paper trail of life
"I think I killed a guy. I think I ran over a dude." -- Phily Boy Roy on his horse-and-buggy rampage on route to buy cigs
"Look. This is what I do. What're we gonna do? I'm here. I'll be here. When it ends, I end it." -- Tom, courageously fighting the status quo on his terms
Imperial Teen - "Sweet Potato"
( Click here to buy The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band)
Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra - "Future Talk"
( Click here to buy Space & Time)
Tranzmitors - "Plastic Genocide"
( Click here to buy Tranzmitors)
Soccer Team - "Cavity Called Home"
( Click here to buy 'Volunteered' Civility and Professionalism)
Travis Morrison Hellfighters - "Saturday Night"
( Click here to buy All Y'all)
Golden Boys - "Yeah I Wanna Know"
( Click here to buy Whiskey Flower)
Babylon Dance Band - "Baby Boom"
The Endtables - "White Glove Test"
( Click here to buy Bold Beginnings: An Incomplete Collection of Louisville Punk 1978-83)
Volcano Suns (ft. Gary Waleik) - "Nature and Me"
( Click here to buy Farced)
The Embarrassment - "Drive Me to the Park"
( Click here to buy Hey Day - 1979-1983 from iTunes)
Now is the time for us to gather together and celebrate those things that we like and think are fun:
The radios are battlefields in the fight for the good fight. Tuesday night. And the enemy turns the FM dial to the right, or the satellite. One man has the courage to fight the status quo. 91.1, Tentpole Radio -- The Best Show. Good Guys win, Bad Guys die. Good Guys win, Bad Guys die. Good Guys win, Bad Guys die. Good Guys win, and the Bad Guys die. Yeah! 91.1, Tentpole Radio -- The Best Show. (Tent. don't. stand. without the tentpole!)
Tom's back for another installment of the program, and he's got a new sponsor. Arista Records joins Mennen and Voit in supporting the three hour-extravagonza of mirth, music, and mayhem. Look for hott new Arista releases this fall from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, Bay City Rollers, Crash Test Dummies ("recorded" by Steve Albini), Dixie Dregs, Krokus, Melissa Manchester, Kenneth Gorelick, and the Candy-Coated Sugar Smacks, the latest signing to their new Power Pop imprint, Bonk! Tom warns that there will be no fun tonight, but there will be a couple of surprises, including a change in Best Show management.
Thrilling Miracles!: Sure, British people can fly, but can they screen calls?
Mike the Associate Producer is apparently on some kind of sea cruise, a supposedly fun thing he'll probably never do again. Tom says he was very secretive about his plans for his fortnight away. He thinks Mike may be up to something devious because his Netflix queue indicates some kind of instability. In Mike's absence, HOFer Jason is holding things down on the other side of the glass. Since Mike rewired everything to suit his weird needs, Tom wants to do a test call to get the machine rolling so he and Jason can learn the telephonic technology. However, the phones are silent because everyone is watching a rerun of High School Musical.
- Joe calls while driving illegally by talking on his phone. Tom GOMPs him because it's a law-abiding show. He does give him credit for driving his own car unlike the "limousine liberals" who refuse to do anything for themselves.
Everyone knows about Tom's love of soup, which is only rivaled by his love of rollercoasters. He's wearing his new peach satin jacket with the ACE logo emblazoned across the back. Tom wishes there was another ASE -- American Soup Enthusiasts. Tom enjoys Campbell's Chunky soup and the occasional Progresso offering, but the classic, all-time HOFer is, of course, Campbell's flagship condensed soup line. Tom found out that the guy who designed the Campbell's soup logo, Andy Warhole, has an entire museunen (I think they have like pictures and food and stuff in there) dedicated to him in Pittsburgh. Tom gathered his ladyfriend, Jillian Barberie, and they drove their own car to Pittsburgh to see what all the fuss was about.
Tom thought the drive from Newbridge to Pittsburgh was divine. The sights included trees, trees, mountains, trees, and also a few trees. Tom feels that he can now die without seeing Transylvania because he saw the next closest thing to it en route to Pittsburgh. Tom says he could have just entered "Count Dracula's Castle" into his GPS system and successfully reached his desired destination. He urges everyone running all of the the cities from the edge of New Jersey to Pittsburgh to step it up with the scenery. Tom knew he was in trouble when he and Barberie got excited about the countdown to a tunnel coming up in 45 miles. They arrived in Pittsburgh six hours later and entered the Andy Warhole museum.
The first thing Tom saw was an unpleasant piece of modern pop art called "Shore Trash" -- a visitor wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a Tommy Bahama t-shirt. Tom admits that he wasn't walking around dressed in a pinstripe suit and boutonnière a la PFT, but he was wearing half-respectable attire for an art museum. Tom believes this guy was underdressed for the boardwalk. He predicts someone would have counseled him about disrespecting the strict Point Pleasant dress code -- oversized Scarface t-shirts or t-shirts with filthy slogans. Tom wonders what parent lets their 12-year-old buy a shirt with misogynistic phrases on it. Tom's not sure if the shirts with the obscene slogans are worse than the shirts with the cocky warnings like "You're gonna get shut down if you step onto the court against me!" Tom thinks an NBA player would be a little embarrassed to advertise this level of arrogance on their clothing. He bets these kids are awful basketball players. While they may warn potential opponents to "come strong or don't come at all!", Tom doubts a 4' 2" mutant will be much of a defensive presence in the paint. Tom has No Fear about their shot-blocking prowess. He's also pretty sure that a fat 11-year-old with a corn muffin hairdo isn't really one of the "big dogs" that would keep someone on the safe confines of their porch. Tom heard that his "shore trash" riffs showed up on someone else's website as their own material. Tom reminds everyone that shore trash started on The Best Show. For shame, Gilbert Arenas! I read a recent interview in which Arenas said his torn MCL made him "madder than a rattlesnake at a Thai wedding." Tom says that if the guy at the museum was wearing a shirt that said, "Make sure the skeeball machine's got enough tickets in it and shut up," he would have been fine with it He would have also supported a shirt that said, "Make sure my funnel cake is hot and covered in sugar." Tom imagines the guy debating about checking out the Warhole museum before or after attending a Sammy Hagar concert.
Tom entered the museum, and it was filled with product samples like a Costco. He noticed some boxes of Brillio Pads, so he started ripping them open to get some freebies just like anyone would do. Tom doesn't think he was out of line at all. The boxes were empty, and Tom got yelled at by an museum official. Tom was told that the Brillo boxes were the actual art. At this point, Tom finally started to get what Warhole's work was all about. Tom tried to redeem himself for the Brillo mishap by impressing his ladyfriend, which is something he enjoys doings. He spotted an installation shaped like an elevator and began lecturing Barberie on its symbolism. Tom argued that the elevator represented the Industrial Age, although he's not sure when said period started, or if it's still ongoing. Then people got out of the elevator. It was an actual working transport device for patrons, not a work of art. Tom admits that he doesn't know art.
He also go to see a special Lou Reed: New York photo exhibit. Tom acknowledges that Reed took some nice pictures of the city, but there were others that relied on an "artistically blurry" look that could have been taken by anyone with a digital camera. Tom points out that the squiggles of light will appear on every eighth photo take with such a device. He then saw his beloved cans of Campbell's soup, and then he went home. The return trip was even more delightful since a thunderstorm was hanging over his car like the The Gruesome Twosome's Creepy Coupe 02 from Wacky Races. The Kid's back in New Jersey, safe and sound. Tom adapts a bit of "New York, New York" by Ryan Adams to express that he still loves his home state.
Oh, yeah, Ws and Ls are gone from The Best Show picture. If Tom shows up, it's a W. He asks Jason what he thinks about that, but he appears to have left*. Jason returns to say, "W Forever." Tom thinks Mike may be out of a job.
*He was probably off preparing a full breakfast.
Tom was playing on online geography game called Geosense, and he was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge. In his skewed vision of the world, he confused Iraq with Spain. Tom thinks that he should be able to look at a map and correctly locate cities and countries. He turned his humiliation into tonight's first topic, which I'm calling Giant Blind Spots In Your Knowledge As An Adult Human On This Rock We Call Earth. Tom wants to find out about these things.
- Mike from Summit 07091 calls to start things off, but Tom wants to take a brief detour into his town's culinary landscape. Mike says his favorite local spot is the classic Summit Diner, and his favorite item on the menu is the New Jersey delicacy of Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese. Tom wants to know what he's doing eating artery-clogging junk like that. He fears that Mike will have a heart attack, and he thinks Mike is better than that.
Mike, 25, is very embarrassed that he has no idea how the stock market works. He thinks he's a pretty smart guy, but he doesn't even know what share of a stock in a company represents. His 401(k) only has $40 in it, so he doesn't have an urgent need for this information. He says he might peruse the E*TRADE help topics to school himself. Tom thinks it may be too late and GOMPs him. He's not sure why he hung up on Mike.
- Karen calls from Belleville, the nation's bread basket, although she'll be moving to Wayne soon. She considers it a bit of a move up because she's been noticing a lot of graffiti in Belleville. It looked innocent at first, but she then determined that the suspicious scribblings were gang-related. Tom is shocked to discover that gangs prowl the streets of Belleville. Karen tells Tom there are gangs everywhere. Tom seems to initially dismiss the potency of these suburban gangs, but he realizes that he's not the one who has to get terrified in his socks in dark alleys. Karen has worked in the inner city, so she's familiar with some gang rituals, such as the Thursday night initiations that yield the graffiti in question. Tom saw a scary, gripping documentary about this stuff called Judgment Night. He recommends that Karen watched it once she moves to Wayne and has her current ordeal in her rearview mirror. Tom explains that the documentary is about four guys who end up in a rough neighborhood and get tormented by a gang. Tom is getting chills just thinking about how scary the gang leader was in the film. Tom confirms that he's not being facetious.
Karen is also not joking when she says she's very embarrassed that she has no idea about the politicians who represent her. She is unable to name the current governor of New Jersey. Karen does know that it used to be Jim McGreevey, but she is not familiar with his successor, Jon Corzine. She admits that this is sad. Karen says she doesn't like to listen to the news, and she decided to take a more aggressive ixnay on the ewsnay stand when her brother went to Iraq. Tom can understand that. She wants to get more involved and take more responsibility for changing things by contacting her representatives instead of just sittting around and complaining. Tom thinks this is the easiest way to complain about stuff. Karen says we live in a great country and should take advantage of the process of government. Tom wants her to name the country she lives in. She says it begins with a "U". Tom GOMPs her because it begins with an "A". It's America, not Uruguay.
- Colin, who is normally from Westfield, N.J., calls from what the locals refer to as "Brooklyn". Tom asks him if he can see anybody running around in a diaper and a Foghat t-shirt. Colin cannot see anyone fitting this description. He also confirms that there are no armies of people marching down the street banging on cowbells and singing at the top of their lungs. Tom knows where he's not. Colin says he's in Greenpoint, so there's just Polish people. Tom rules the 21-year-old an adult, so Colin reveals his lack of knowledge about money beyond it's ability to let you pay for stuff that your parents don't pay for. Colin says his only real job involved getting paid "under the table" with an envelope of cash, but he assures Tom it wasn't shady. He worked at Kim's Juktmicronics in Jersey City, and Tom doesn't think that sounds shady at all. Colin doesn't know what he would do if someone gave him an actual paycheck, but he suspects he should take it to a bank. Tom can appreciate trying to learn new things, but he thinks that you know by age six to take a paycheck to the bank. Tom wants to know about other potential destinations for this theoretical check, such as cash-checking huts along the highway. (Maybe Wilhelm's Wire Transfers & Waffles at Newbridge Commons?) Colin is aware that those places were an option, but Tom says that unless he has a drug habit, he should stick to a traditional banking institution. Colin does have a bank account that his father opened for him when he was 13.
Colin was doing a lot of reminiscing about The Best Show this past week, and he remembered that the first episode he heard featured a segment on countering the dopey AFI list of 100 best movie quotes of all-time. He didn't call in during the 6/28/05 show, but now he's ready to contribute a few to the list, which stalled after about 30 quotes. Tom points out that this is one of the rare Best Show projects that didn't get resolved. He also wants to make sure that Colin is about to participate in a call-in segment that took place 26 months ago. He will accept the tardiness because Colin is a polite guy who prefaced it by noting its insanity. Other mongrels will just start blabbing about their opinions on some ancient topic (see The Paul Weller Guy). Colin says he's not looking to relaunch the topic, but he does wants to offer some quotes for himself:
1. "Spalding, get your foot off the boat." - Judge Elihu Smails (Theo "The King" Knight) in Caddyshack
Tom is willing to accept anything Ted Knight says in the film. He's at the point where he's ready to start looping around on Caddyshack to start quoting Danny Noonan.
2. "Charlie don't surf." - Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now
3. "I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos." -- Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski
Tom loves The Big Lebowski as much as the next guy, but he's ready to put the film on ice (presumably with Kaluha, vodka, and milk) for awhile.
Tom wishes Colin good luck with his checking account. He correctly guesses that Colin received some savings bonds as gifts. Colin says he just cashed some in for a "bunch of extra money." He appears to be confused about whether he got 70 cents on the dollar or the full face value.
- Ian from Rockaway Beach calls with a bit of a swagger because that's how they run things down there. Ian, 42, understands checking accounts, but he's got a mental block when it comes to physics. For example, he was consistently baffled by the 1985 Caltech telecourse The Mechanical Universe. Tom didn't see it because he doesn't have cable. Ian says he can't accept nem theorems, and the concept of gravity throws him. He announces that he will never be a physicist.
I used to be equally lost on this complex subject, but after a few months of tutoring sessions with Pudge Palfner (complete with extensive, rapid-fire quizzes from his Titan of Trivia father, Kip), I've become a respected authority on quantum mechanics. We're about to co-author a lidblower for The Physics Report about the Laplace operator, which represents the kinetic energy term of the Schrödinger equation. Pudge thinks it's all kinda stupid, but I think it's ok and stuff. I 'unno, it'll probably like turn the Helmholtz equation on its head or something? I hope everyone didn't get too comfortable in their Euclidean space because it's all about to change! Or not.
Ian also wants to say that Philly Boy Roy faced his inevitable clash with the Amish with something close to poise. Tom thinks PBR will appreciate Ian's words of kindness if he has access to a radio in Kutztown. Ian starts giggling and says, "Amish Nights!" Too bad he wasn't in that church when PBR tried to start a singalong of his new tune. Ian's having a party, and he admits to being a little bit drunk. He had four mojitos. Tom's analysis: drunk. Ian apologizes, but Tom says he's not judging him. He was just trying to extract the truth about his condition. Tom gets rid of him because he doesn't want to encourage drunk dialing.
Owwwww!: Fran can't do this without injuring herself
- Colin's partner-in-FOT Fran calls from Greenpoint, although she's from New Jersey. She's gone undercover to expose the dark secrets of the borough, much like Cameron Crowe's research for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Frans says she never learned how to snap her fingers, and she only recently began winking. Tom wonders if she was housed in a cage as part of some childhood experiments. Fran says she lacked proper socialization because she was a latchkey kid taught by television. Over the years, instructional efforts have failed because the snapping hurts her fingers. Fran sometimes works with five-year-olds who brush her off because she lacks proper snapping skills. They prefer to move over to the toybox to pick their nose. Tom imagines that Fran would injure her fragile hands while attempting a rendition of the clap-based, children's singalong, "If You're Happy And You Know It". He recommends holding her hand over an open flame like G. Gordon Liddy to toughen up her skin. Tom also suggests sticking her hands in the oven, but Fran seems reluctant to go that far in her quest to be able to do execute simple childhood maneuvers. He wants her hands to look like the weathered skin of Ron Imus. Tom censors Fran because he thought she said a bad word, but she actually said "like a sunken balloon." I'm not sure what she was referring to, but that imagery seems appropriate in the context of the I-Man.
- Tom was recently at his usual diner, which he wont't reveal because he likes to eat there. He's overhead many intriguing conversations over the years, and on this night Tom was listening to an old guy riff about an exciting new food product called "pizza." He told one of his dining companions, "You know that pizza place down in South River's somethin' else." Tom was shocked he didn't use the term pizza parlor. The old guy was amazed that the restaurant was flexible enough to accommodate customers with anything they wanted as toppings -- sausage, pepperoni, or even meatballs. Tom thinks these are pretty standard-issue items. He jokingly suggests that the restaurant might want to do a test run to see if the meat catches fire (why?) when placed atop the pies. Tom would have been much more impressed with this crazy South River joint if they were doling out ice cream, shoelaces, duck a l'orange, clams casino, or candle wax on their pizzas. Tom thinks Pops might be new to the genre. While Tom's bizarro toppings are certainly interesting, none of those beat the shredded newspaper pizza I had a few years ago at La Giorno's in Ann Arbor. After a few minutes in their Blodgett, it tasted a lot like tobacco -- it had a real zest and a zing. Totally hit the spot after seeing that Cheap Trick cover band at the Blind Pig -- they were passable, but their version of "Come On, Come On" was atrocious. Tom imagines that this confused old man was shocked to discover that you pick up a "slice" of pizza (oddly spelled sans "t") with your (trembling) hands and guide it into your mouth for consumption. He wonders if pizza was ever treated like a weird, thrilling miracle, not unlike the early days of the iPod.
- Zach in Philadelphia calls, and Tom wants to know who the most exciting Zach out there is right now. In a bit of an upset, Zach picks 23-year-old Vancouver-based visual effects specialist Zach Lipovsky from the hit FOX show On The Lot. Tom can't get enough of this programe. Tom proposes Zach Braff, but Zach has not seen his work in Scrubs or Garden State.
Zach's blind spot is his inability to tell a joke. Tom's shocked. Zach says he always messes it up by laughing before he tells the joke. Tom says a lot of the greats, like Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling, do this. Zach is not familiar with Martling's work. Tom wants to know what entertains Zach so he can get a better portrait of the man. He likes Caddyshack and tends to lean on 1980s comedies for his material. Zach also likes Wayne Butane. Tom thinks he may be some kind of Larry The Cable Guy act. He's not, but Cable also makes Zach laugh. Zach asks Tom if he's seen any of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Tom's seen four shows in the last 18 months. Zach's impressed that Tom's seen them live because he's only seen the DVDs. Tom tells Zach to catch them live because Larry The Cable Guy fires sleeveless t-shirts out of a canon. Zach thinks this sounds even better than the produce sledgehammering of Gallagher, but Tom says a child got hit in the face with a propelled t-shirt. Tom says the kid was taken out on a stretcher, and it drained some of the momentum out of the show. Luckily, Henry Cho came out and got everybody pumped back up. Zach wonders which of the Blue Collar guys is Henry Cho. Tom says he's an auxiliary act, not a full-fledged member of the collective.
Zach is a big fan of the Ron White bit where he's talking about airplane turbulence. He screws up the retelling by starting with the punchline. Oops! Zach says he generally finishes his trinity of comedy mishaps by trying to explain the joke he couldn't tell. Tom thinks White is handsome. He tells Zach not to sweat it because he's probably meant to just sit back and be entertained by pros like Ron White doing their thing. He wants Zach to rank the four core Blue Collar comedians, and the results are somewhat surprising:
Tom can't believe that he's putting Foxworthy last because he's the Chuck Berry of the slob comedy scene. Zach says he's not rednecky enough for him -- a bit too tame and clean-cut around the edges. He thinks Foxworthy needs to be a bit more haggard. Tom now understands why he's such a White enthusiast. Zach says White looks like they just pulled him out of a bar. Tom thinks he looks like he was pulled out of a coffin. Zach is a fan of the drunken corpse look, which explains why he liked that deceased deadpan comic. Tom suspects he's talking about Imus, but Zach insists that Ron Imus is not dead. Zach is actually referring to Mitch Hedberg, the converse of Sam Kinison.
- Dan in Northern New Jersey calls to see if Tom saw America's #1 smash-hit comedy Superbad this past weekend. Tom did not see the latest Apatow filth-with-heart triumph, but he's looking forward to it. He's a fan of Michael Cera. Who isn't? Dan thought Cera was funny in the film, but he found some of the toilet humor offputting. Tom suspects that Dan is an Arrested Development nerd who couldn't understand why the characters were cursing. Dan disputes that, but he says he has been trying to ween himself off dirty comedy. Tom says that if Superbad is as filthy as Dan claims, he will organize a protest against it. Dan plans to join him.
Dan and Tom share an affinity for Flight of the Conchords, a family-friendly Home Box Office comedy from New Zealand. Tom is disappointed that we have to look to other countries for clean entertainment. Tom gets Dan to say, "Its a sick, sad world," but Tom doesn't believe him. He tries again. Still no conviction. Tom gives up and takes a sip of VitaminWater. The ABBA box tells him to take another call.
- Someone claiming to be Gary Waleik of Big Dipper fame calls, but Tom doesn't believe him. He quizzes him:
Q. How many Volcano Suns albums did you play on?
Tom answers his own question, but the caller says this isn't true. Since he's really Gary Waleik from Big Dipper, he's right. He played on Bumper Crop and on the Farced track "Nature and Me". Tom was correct in that Waleik never played on a Volcano Suns album as a full-fledged member. Waleik was an original member of the Volcano Suns with Peter Prescott and Steve Michener. Waleik and Michener left the band prior to the recording of their debut LP, The Bright Orange Years, in 1985. Tom wants to know why they were replaced by Jeff Weigand and Jon Williams prior to recording anything. Waleik says they were working on recording some material for a Homestead Records EP or LP, but Michener couldn't sing to save his life. Prescott got really mad, an argument ensued, and that was it. They decided it wasn't fun, and they wanted it to work because they were in a band with one of their musical heroes. Waleik says Prescott was under a lot of pressure to prove he could do something worthwhile after the dissolution of Mission of Burma. Waleik doesn't think he and Michener handled the pressure very well since they were in their early 20s and in their first real band.
He says some of the recordings of that lineup made their way to Boston and New York radio, but they broke up without putting out any vinyl. Waleik has been compiling it over the years because he thought somebody might want to hear it. Tom is interested, but Waleik warns him that the bulk of it stinks. He always harbored the notion that it was a great lost treasure of the rock world, but when he listened to it a couple of years ago, he was disappointed. Tom says he was one of the guys who had them convinced that it was slab of seminal post-punk gems. After years of percolating, it achieved the aura of being the missing piece of Boston rock history. Waleik says there are 4-5 pretty good songs, including a version of "Cornfield" that blows away the Weigand-Williams version that appears on The Bright Orange Years. Fightin' words! Tom's not surprised by Waleik's bold statement because he remembers that he wielded an axe shaped like a machine gun. Tom studied the band's every move.
Waleik is making a full-circle call because from January through April 2004 Tom engaged in a very public campaign to re-unite Big Dipper. He was initially turned down cold and humiliated. Waleik fondly recalls the discussions with the band, and he's ready to announce that The Kid did it. He commends Tom for a very farsighted and wise plan that is finally bearing fruit.
Big Dipper Reunion
When: Wednesday, April 23rd - Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Where: Boston (smallish club show) - Brooklyn (Enid's) - Hoboken (Maxwell's) - Boston (Middle East)
[Check their Myspace page for updates and confirmations.]
Tom thinks this sounds like the perfect itinerary, bookended in Boston, where the band ruled the roost. Waleik points out that they also did very well in Lawrence, Kansas, home of Bill Goffrier's The Embarrassment (I wonder if Goffrier every ran into Ronald Thomas Clontle at Jave the Hut?), Chicago, Maxwell's in Hoboken, and CBGB's in NYC. Big Dipper was one of the last shows Tom saw at CBGB's, and he speaks for the members of Big Dipper in saying good riddance to the now-defunct filth pit. Waleik says they were always treated well there and made a little money. He praises the monitors, PA system, and stage, and he won't put it down for being a dump because they always had a great time. Tom was trying to stoke the fires, but he remembers that Big Dipper was never a controversial band. Waleik says they were proud to be the band that replaced the soap, made their beds, and did a little vacuuming at the Motel 6. Waleik says they had a touring vacuum. If you listen really, really, really closely, you can hear it's whir on "Ron Klaus Wrecked His House" from 1988's Craps.
Big Dipper packed it in for good in June 1992, but that followed a couple of years with Waleik and Goffrier carrying on without the original lineup. That lineup last played in August 1990. Despite doing some worthwhile things with subsequent lineups, Waleik says there's still a special affection for the original because they got along very well and had complimentary talents. Tom compares it to The Beatles. Waleik says if that were the case, he wouldn't be talking about a 17-year gap between shows. Tom says it's true. He was there. Tom saw the band a few dozen times whenever they were in Philadelphia, New York, or Hoboken. While Tom's dedication was certainly creepy, Waleik says they had creepier fans.
Waleik recalls playing a show in Philly or New York where a woman approached them with an autograph book. They asked for her name and personalized the autograph along with some funny quips. She tore the pages out and requested just the signatures. She was an autograph collector looking for a potential score if Big Dipper became a Nirvana-like sensation. Waleik found this obnoxious and creepy, but they were nice American boys generally attracting nice American (boy) fans. Tom estimates that Big Dipper only had three or four female fans, but Waleik puts the number much higher. He was just going through a box of letters (his home address was printed on their Homestead releases), and the first letter the band ever got was from three female fans somewhere in Massachusetts. They included a picture of them wearing skimpy lingerie. Waleik thought this was a nice entree into the world of fan mail. Tom will take his word for it. He thinks he may be projecting himself standing there like a doofus onto his perception of the gender ration of their fanbase. Waleik says they also attracted a lot of tech-school geeks who liked the UFO angle. He guesses that any females were there to see Jeff Oliphant, the band's hunky, Roger Daltrey-lookalike drummer. They were particularly entranced by him when he came out for the encore (sometimes stripped down to his boxers) to sing on the band's cover of Husker Dude's "The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill". Waleik says that during a show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. a woman walked onstage in the middle of the set and handed him a note. It was her number. Waleik says this didn't make the rest of the band feel too good about themselves. Tom doubts Big Steve was getting any digits passed to him during "Easter Eve". Waleik says the Catholic girls may have connected to what they believed was a nice religious song.
Tom wants to know how much credit he can take for this reunion, and Waleik says he can take a lot of credit. Tom understands that everybody has their lives and families, but he was still humiliated when he made his first attempt. Waleik says he never could have imagined four years ago scraping together the resources for one reunion show, let alone four of them. His kids were much younger at the time, and he couldn't pick up a guitar without hurting his fingers since his callouses were gone. (He should have tried the G. Gordon LIddy technique.) He also forgot how to play some of the songs. When the band members were in their early 20s, they could sleep late and work in a more relaxed day-to-day existence, which allowed the imagination to wander its way into more productive songwriting. He's been pretty musically active recently, recording songs with Bob Fay of Sebadoh (Bakesale and Harmacy) in his basement and workig on radio jingles with Bob Beerman of instrumentalists Pell Mell. A few months ago, Waleik got together with Goffrier to put the finishing touches on a song they wrote about 15 years ago. He's also been playing and recording with the Cambridge, MA band The Lavas, who just released their first album.
Waleik says his flurry of activity has made it easier to imagine actually making the effort to get the guys back together to play shows. Waleik says Jeff hasn't missed a beat, and Bill is a better singer now than he was 20 years ago. Big Steve is learning the tunes in Washington state. They are excited about getting their act together, literally and figuratively. Waleik hopes they will be able to put out re-issues of the Homestead albums in time for the reunion shows, as well as an anthology of material that he and Bill wrote and recorded after the band were dropped from Epic Records. Waleik says this largely-unheard collection of 15-20 tracks is as good as anything they put out on Homestead. Tom can't wait. They laughed at him. They mocked him. He was proven right in the end. Waleik says the band fall apart so ignominiously that it was hard to revisit it. They had a good thing going, churning out hott tunes, growing as a live band, and then they made the colossal mistake of signing to Epic. The move to a major caused them to lose their grassroots fans, and they didn't gain any new ones. Waleik doesn't mean to cue the violins, but it was a sudden end to something that had a lot more potential. He's gratified that there's an interest in the band, but Tom wants to know if it would be creepy if he was the only person at all four reunion shows. Waleik says this would in fact be creepy. He recalls playing a show at a huge club in Cotati, California, to one paying customer. They guest-listed their manager and label rep, so three people were in a venue with a capacity 1,500. They did the show and rocked even though they could hear the crickets chirping in between songs. (Suck on that, RP! 3!) Tom says they could have just invited everyone onstage and called it a rehearsal.
The bottom line: Tom's moment of humiliation is now moment of triumph. Tom still thinks someone could flake out before April 2008. Waieik says everyone is excited about it, and he thinks Bill's good experience with reunion with The Embarrassment last August was a shot in the arm. Tom declares Volcano Suns, Big Dipper, and The Embarrassment three of the best bands ever. Waleik thanks Tom for his kind words, and Tom says he's just speaking the truth. Tom plays "Mr. Woods" from Heavens to lead off his second music set in honor of this historic event. He threatens to attend all four shows alone to bring back that late-80s creepy feeling. He will be back scaring the members of Big Dipper again come April 2008. Waleik considers canceling the reunion.
Tom needs a new topic to keep the show moving because he doesn't trust callers. He's driving the bus. He's been letting too many people in the door. From now on, you have to sit down and be quiet on this bus, and you certainly can't saunter up the aisle and grab the wheel. Tom starts a game with an old-fashioned funtime feel: Take It, Leave It. As simple as simple can be. He starts things off:
Take It: The Soccer Team CD he just bought
Leave It: John from Cincinnati
Tom was watching the CNN news channel report on the Oklahoma floods, featuring endless footage of the helicopter rescue where the person lost their grip and fell back into the muddy waters. Tom decides not get into the fact that the mayor of the affected city was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He probably just got back from the Warhole museum. The reporter noted that one person getting rescued almost left their pants behind, followed by a shot of their pants falling down to reveal their "rear end." Tom apologizes for his lapse into flagrant toilet talk. Tom didn't appreciate seeing a blooper reel ("And for the lighter side of the flood ...") from a disaster. He thinks Tom Bergeron might be a good choice to host a newscast. He points out that unlike the viewer-submitted goof-em-ups of America's Funniest Home Videos, this stuff is actually happening. Tom thinks CNN could have come up with better footage than a man's pants falling down. He shames CNN's news division.
Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?: Believe it or not, this clip featuring Bob Saget is NSFW
Tom gets that Saget is different than the fictional character he played on the wholesome sitcom Full House. He acknowledges that Saget knows how to curse, logs this fact, and gives him permission to stop. Tom thinks the disgusting thoughts Saget appears to have are better suited to remaining in the top of his head instead of traveling down to the circle where things come out and people can hear them. Tom believes Saget is the only person fighting the fight to prove that he isn't really the nice dad of those two little twins. Tom drops Saget into the Hate Pit along with Kevin Smith, Matt Drudge, and Mickey Dolenz. Tom was not shocked by Saget's appearance on Entourage back in season 2. He imagines that Saget was excited to play a character who smoked pot and went nuts so people would wonder what was up with the dad from Full House. Tom thinks that everyone assumes that every actor behaves like this.
- Daniel from Boston
TI: Big Dipper reunion
Tom thinks that will be the saddest thing ever. Daniel fears that the teen bassist's voice will crack while he attempts to recreate Michael Anthony's high harmonies. Tom does a rendition of "Runnin' With The Devil" in which Wolfgang's voice goes all Peter Brady. Daniel wonders if the band will get in trouble for having a underage musician play a Jack Daniels bass. Tom points out that Mike already speculated about whether he'd play a juicebox bass shaped like a bottle of SunnyD. Daniel imagines it will be awkward for Edward being backstage with groupies and his son. Tom thinks the reunion is a joke, and he thinks anyone who buys a ticket deserves what they get on this turkey. He's not excited about seeing Wolfgang hold down Anthony's bomp-bomp-bomp basslines. Tom doubts that Anthony will end up in the Bassist HOF, and he puts him next to Gene Simmons in terms of virtuosity on the instrument. However, he says that Anthony was part of the original lineup. Daniel thinks the name Wolfgang implies virtuosity, but Tom thinks it implies insanity from his father. While WVH has enough money to deal with the name, Tom would have been mocked. He's certain it was Eddie's choice. Valerie Bertinelli reportedly lobbied for either Salieri, Ultra Magnus, or Ibuprofen.
- Forrest from Manhattan calls, and Tom declares him an Oasis, which means he was pretty much done after his third appearance on the show. Jason got mad because making fun of Oasis is like insulting the Queen.
TI: TOSTITOS® Creamy Spinach Dip
Forrest says it's not something he's very adept at making at home, so it's very nice to buy it and dip the chips into.
Forrest was recently trying to eat dinner at a diner, but they had UFC playing on the TV. When he's eating his tuna melt, he doesn't want to watch two guys beat the crap out of each other. Tom wants to know if he was at the Ultimate Diner. Forrest says it was just a regular diner in NYC. Tom thinks bored diner staff should keep the customers in mind when selecting entertainment that involves some guy's eye oozing blood. He thinks they should watch UFC in their spare time. Forrest agrees that it was disgusting and almost ruined his meal. Tom thinks he should have complained, and Forrest says he might next time because UFC is playing regularly at this diner. Tom notes that there are three diners on every block in NYC, so the intense competition for customers may work in Forrest's favor.
Tom gets an IM from PFT: Shamrock
- Martin in Edison calls to play the game:
TI: The Best Show
LI: Speedo swimsuits
He just got back from a vacation where 80% of the guys where wearing these things. He didn't care for it. Martin prefers standard swimming trunks.
- POB Erika calls, and Tom assumes her Take It will be crab cakes and her Leave It will be those jerks from The Wire who keep clogging up the streets with their cameras. Not quite.
TI: Dog-friendly Robert E. Lee park
Erika says she like being around happy dogs wading in water on a fun afternoon. Tom's concerned about the depth of these waters because he doesn't know how they roll in Baltimore, but Erika says it's a reservoir of sorts that is shallow. Tom just saw Hairspray, and he thinks the residents of the city may be kinda disturbed. Erika refuses to see the new Hairspray. The old one has a kitschy value because she saw it when she was little. Tom thought everyone liked Zac Efron. Erika will skip it.
LI: The entire state of Ohio
Erika's been there a couple of times, and she's not a fan. She knew a lot of people from Ohio because she lived in Pittsburgh for eight years. Erika is familiar with Tom's boring drive, and she says the Warhole museum is not that great. Tom says he had a good time. Erika says it's alright, and Tom promises to ask the museum curators to do a better job next time. Erika went about six times when she lived there. Tom is pretty sure that just about anything gets boring after six times. You gotta give Ohio credit for these, although re-electing Tom's buddy in 2004 is pretty douchey.
- A rambunctious Jake in SF offers a socio-musical entry:
TI: iPod portable .mp3 players
LI: Wearing earphones every in public
Jakes thinks it's depressing. Tom laments that people are listening to more music than ever, but nobody buys albums anymore. Jakes thinks it's inappropriate to wear headphones unless he's working on a project or by himself. When he's on the bus, he wants to at least indulge in a fontasy that he might meet somebody instead of enclosing himself in a private musical bubble. He wants to mix it up with people in the real world, but all of his peers are trapped in their tangled, white headphone cords, marking their social territory. Tom points out that these headphones will blow your eardrums out.
- Chris ask "Highrise Fanboy" calls to discuss a disturbing takeover of his city:
LI: West Philly crust punx
Chris feels that these dopes are taking over his city, getting a lot of press coverage with cover stories in local weeklies. They're everywhere! Chris says they tend to travel with their bandana-wearing dogs, wear black hoodies, and exhibit poor hygeine. Tom asks the crust punx to leave the dogs out of it. These animals don't want to wear a bandana to hear screeching walls of feedback at a noise-rock show in some dude's grimy basement. Tom guarantees that the only music they enjoy is the rustling of food prep, the sound of water flowing into a bowl, or the jingling of keys going into a door. How long before Roy, Jr. forms a crust band?
- Michelle calls from fancy Burbank, the butt of many jokes from Johnny Carson over the years. Michelle says she's not mad at Carson for his frequent mockery of her city. She hasn't seen Jay Leno driving around in his cartoonmobile, but she has seen tourists lining up to get into his late-night programe. Tom wants to know who does the worst monologue: Leno or Letterman. Tom says that Leno does 30 terrible jokes, but he tries really hard. Letterman does 10 terrible jokes, and he doesn't try at all. Michelle thinks Letterman is much better, factoring in his past history. Tom's heard enough of Letterman, comparing him to Ron Imus. He's ready to can him and put him in the Hall of Unfunny. Tom thinks that if Letterman is that tortured, he should take his $480 million and quit. He thinks $28 million/year is more than fair compensation for sitting at a desk for 45 minutes. Tom would like to see Leno and Letterman have a knife fight with their wrists tied together like in Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video.
TI: Public libraries
Michelle likes the fact that they are filled with books you can borrow and interesting people. She thinks it's a great public service that is underused. Tom wonders if libraries will just be rooms with 40 computers in 25 years. At the Warhole museum, he got to see a paper trail of his life via postcards and handwritten letters. Tom is concerned that in the future these documents won't exist. He thinks museums will just house an iMac where you can check out the person's Safari surfing history and e-mail. The world is changing, and Tom wants Michelle to help him change it back.
LI: Public pools
Home run. Michelle likes the public, but not the pool. Tom likes the pool, but not the public. He thinks the "public" is the flawed part of the "public pool". In general, the pool is refreshing, but the public is yuck. Public + pool = ew, boy. Tom says it would have to reach 218°F for him to take a dip in a public pool.
- Officer Tom calls while patrolling a deserted area with no action. The last call he responded to was some false alarm involving an nervous old lady scared about some imaginary kids plotting a Panic Room-like home invasion. OT lived in hardcore JC for 10 years, but he paid his dues in a rough neighborhood. He's now coasting at his mansion in Rumson. He also has a summer home underneath Lake Newbridge.
TI: Atlantic City/shore in general (I figured he'd go with the first Body Count album)
OT likes the classy Borgata, which is much preferable to the rundown casinos where the prostitutes are waiting for you at the front door. Tom wants some more information about the locations of these ladies of the night.
LI: NY drivers on the NJT or GSP
Tom has argued with NYers who thinks NJers are bad drivers, and he thinks it's indisputable that NYers are worse. He can document their transgressions, if necessary to prove his case. OT says they're lucky he's no longer working highway patrol. He doesn't understand why "Keep Right, Pass Left" is a difficult concept for some people. Jason pipes up in the background, but he refuses to voice his opinion. OT says he's either an English driver or an NJ driver. Tom says Jason is so Jersey now it hurts. He lost his British accent, asking Tom if he wanted to go down Point Pleasant in a Jersey accent. OT is surprised Jason didn't want to go to Asbury Park to see a couple of WW2-era pieces of wood sticking out of the sand down there. Tom's intrigued. OT says there's enough wood to make a little boat that goes in a bottle. Tom's going to check it out. OT's radio blares, so he has to go. He promises to come down for some book reviews. He's also in talks to do another Listener Hour in September.
- Stephen in Chicago 60647 calls, but he doesn't Take his city's eccentric, loaded hot dogs.
TI: Michael Vick pleading guilty
He's happy that "Ookie" will finally face the music. Tom would like to cover him in gravy and let Dogmo go to town. I'd follow-up that up with a nonagan slapfight with Keith Garfinkle.
Tom plays a rockin' sample of the James Gang's "Walk Away", followed by a cover by The Eagles. They slowed it down and drained it of all its juice.
Stephen goes off-topic to ask Tom if he purchased the Hot Fuzz DVD. Tom has it, but he hasn't watched any of the Special Features yet. He says that buying the DVD is often as close as he comes to watching a DVD. Stephen says Tom's two his favorite people are in the special features: Kevin Smith and Harry Knowles. Stephen says that Knowles's continued existence makes him feel better about his body. Tom can appreciate Knowles's love of movies, but he'd like to see him get up off his seat from time to time. He also doesn't think his facial hair is a soothing balm for the overall horror show of his physical appearance.
- Jason calls from New Brunswick, home of the Grease Trucks. He won't be going there tonight, but he will be heading to The Court Tavern later.
TI: New Jersey, the greatest state in the union
PROs: Proximity to New York and Philly, more affordable, Jersey shore, crappy version of Vegas, wilderness to the west where there are really bad PA drivers
LI: Tattoos, especially on women
Jason says he doesn't want to date the Funnies. Tom thinks it's harsh and GOMPs the judgmental creep.
- Sam from Philadelphia 19143 calls with some revisionist film history.
TI: Zombie movies
He says the original Dawn of the Dead is his favorite, and Tom assumes he's referring to the film that came out in 2004. Sam says he's talking about the one made by former NFL player George Mira in the 1970s. Tom doesn't know what that is. Sam says it involves people getting trapped in a mall, which gives the picture an anti-consumerist bent. Tom says people were trapped in a mall in the one he saw. Sam now claims that this supposed 1970s Dawn was made by George Mara, a member of the family who owns the New York Giants football team. Tom's surprised that he made a zombie film. He's familiar with Night of the Living Dead, but he doesn't understand why it took 30 years to do a sequel. Sam says that Night was followed by Dawn, and then a film called Day of the Dead in the 1980s. Tom thinks it's odd that they made the third film in the series before the second one. Tom saw Dawn in the theater, but Sam says this was a remake. Tom wonders if it was a remake of Night. Sam says it was a slightly different version of another film with the exact same title. At this point, Tom gives up. He doesn't think Sam knows what he's talking about.
LI: Apple's "Think Different" aadvertisting campagin
Sam points out Apple products were not even around when Amelia Earhart and Alfred Hitchcock achieved their accomplishments. Tom says that Earhart had an early Apple computer that was so heavy it caused her plane to go down. It's also common knowledge that Hitch edited all of Frenzy using a beta version of Final Cut Pro.
- Professional rock star and Whirlyball enthusiast Ted Leo calls from Rhode Island via New Jersey. Has Henry Owings started AWE yet? Instead of ACE's satin jackets, everyone gets a black jumpsuit, red headband, and goggles. Ted says he was chuffed to hear Tom say that he had a Miata full of money. (Laurie was actually the one who stored his money in a Miata; Tom went with truckload and then amended that to Go-Kart.) Ted says it's more like a glove compartment full of quarters for the tollbooth on the Parkway.
Good people. Good friends. Good scenery.
LI: The rest of America still making fun of New Jersey
Tom was expecting Iraq, but Ted says he will stand by our President and give it more time. His LI doubles as a Come On, Guys. Tom is with him, noting the stupidity of people making lame quips about big hair and foul odors. He points out that New Jersey doesn't stink nearly as much as New York. Ted doesn't think a kid from Iowa who moves to Williamsburg has any right to make fun of New Jersey. Ditto anyone from places like Mineola or Syosset.. Tom claims anyone from Long Island as part of New Jersey. He's had some run-ins with Black Ops, who was giving him lip about being from New Jersey. He was from Delaware! Tom says Delaware is good for getting him to Maryland, desperately trying to lure him into their one little crummy rest stop. Ted has never played a show in Delaware, North Dakota, Hawaii, Alaska, and Wyoming. Tom tells the people of Wyoming that the gauntlet has been thrown down. 17 people may attend this show.
- Supercaller Dave from Knoxville 37920 calls to say it's been an exceptional show. Tom tells Dave to Take It, but he was not ready for gameplay. No big deal. This is what happens when you eat four bags of chocolate-covered Ruffles and swig some local moonshine while on hold! I'm sure Dave has learned a valuable lesson.
- Philly Boy Roy calls from just outside of Kutztown, and he needs some serious help. Tom tells him that he passed through Kutztown on the way to Pittsburgh to go to the Andy Warhol museum. PBR wants to know who Annie Warhole is, and he seems surprised that Tom went to a musuenen. Tom tells him that it's Andy Warhole. PBR doesn't have time to think about that because he's escaping from his Amish community. He thinks he ran over a dude and killed him. In what has to rank as one of the biggest blunders in Amish history, they let PBR take a horse and buggy out for a spin. PBR says he was riding it around town trying to do wheelies and stuff. Tom doesn't see how you can get a horse to do a wheelie, but PBR says he got a couple of them off. He went to the store to get some cigs and plowed into a guy walking along a backroad. PBR says Tom is the first person he's told, and he hopes that Tom will not tell anyone else. He says the injured man is kind of in a ditch. Tom tells PBR to go help him, but PBR would rather enlist Tom in helping him hide from authorities for a few months.
Tom refuses, and PBR questions Tom's friendship. Tom says he's not his friend and never was. PBR says there's a chance the man might now be dead, but he can't go help him because he gonna quit the Amish lifestyle. Tom thinks that would make it easier to come to the man's aid. However, PBR is further embroiled in scandal because he also stole money from the Amish. He admits that stealing money from the guy he hit would be in bad taste. Tom correctly guesses that the guy didn't have any money on him at the time of the potential vehicular manslaughter. Tom tells PBR to go back to his family in Philadelphia, but he can't because Roy, Jr. is talking smack about him all over town. Tom thinks he should go back to straighten things out, but PBR prefers to come to New Jersey and have Tom hide him. He's looking forward to hanging out at the Short Hills malls to check out nem fancy cars again. While PBR has expensive tastes, Tom points out that he doesn't have the money to afford any high-end merchandise. PBR says he will, and he kinda does. He stole money from the church. He says it was just a 100 ... thousand. And change. The "change" amounted to 200 ... thousand. Tom points out that "change" cannot be twice as much as the original amount. PBR has to split. He says he's coming to New Jersey.
- Petey calls to say he loves Tom.
Tom's here. He'll be here. When it ends, he ends it.
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: Tom shows up. Tom drives the bus. Everyone wins.