Another Post Where I Make Fun of Musicians

Here’s how I pick a restaurant.  I walk up, see this sign…

20190807_091114

…and then I pick another restaurant.

If I’m out to dinner, I want to be able to chat.  I’d like to unwind and delight in some sparkling conversation.  I have really important things to discuss with my dinner companion, like how unfair it is that Eva Gabor was the most talented Gabor sister, yet Zsa Zsa is the one everybody remembers.

“But!  But!!  Green Acres!!”

Zsa Zsa Gabor was not on Green Acres.

Eva Gabor.  Eva Gabor was on Green Acres – and I’m sick and tired of having to snottily set people straight when they say otherwise.  It makes me look reeeally petty, especially when I pull out the charts and graphs, and pettier still when I make them wear a sign around their neck for the rest of the evening that says, “I should have stayed in my lane as a merely casual classic television watcher.”

So!  There are two issues I have with this live music at restaurants.  (I should note that bars and clubs are fine, so you don’t have to throw one of your classic hissy fits, Axl Rose.)

The main issue is that I am a musician.  I know many musicians.  Oh god, so many musicians.  Like a plague of locusts in tight jeans that have been raining down on my withered soul for decades.  Like a bucket of hot dogs being thrown at my face every time I walk out my front door.

And they’re all too goddamned loud.

When they’re so loud that it’s splitting your eardrums while you’re trying to enjoy your fish dip on the patio at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez (your better Florida-style restaurants are named after midlife-crisis fishing boats), it’s because they think they are way, way more important than anything you’ve got going on at your table.

More important than your right to sit and have a pleasant dinner with someone at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez.

More important than Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez losing business over how loud they are.

Your attention must be on them at all times, fish dip enjoyment be damned.  If you don’t pay attention to “local legend” Shreddin’ Steve up there wanking away at that cover song like he himself invented the guitar, then guess what?

Shreddin’ Steve
Would be just fine
To have you leave

^
|
|
|

Poetry.

I can’t even tell you how many grown adult musicians I’ve known, who when they’re finally told to turn it down by the manager of the restaurant, unplug their gear in a huff and storm out the door, their straw fedora all rumpled and askew atop their Counting Crows chin-length faux-dreadlocks, the clanging of their thumb ring knocking against their guitar case as they borrow someone’s cellphone to call their mom to come pick them up.

Oh no!  Now I guess I’ll have to just hum Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to myself since Phil Spector here has absconded with his magical talent machine!

Which brings me to my second issue:  Song selection.

I realize these things are regional, I am in South Florida after all, but I swear to god if I have to hear some guy in a Hawaiian shirt barf out “Margaritaville” at Ballz Deep-Seafishin’ Depot one more time, I’m driving straight to Jimmy Buffett’s house and bulldozing it – with a parrot on my shoulder the whole time – because I like poetic imagery and stuff.

Ohhh, Jimmy Buffett.

Look, I don’t have a problem with the man personally, not at all, but by the 818,000th time you’ve had to endure “local legend” Jammin’ Joey at the Flick The Beanz Café playing Dance to The Left with an acoustic guitar and a drum machine at 200 decibels while you’re just trying to eat a breakfast wrap and chat about last night’s episode of Green Acres, it takes everything you have to not want to go back in time like The Terminator and push a young Jimmy Buffett out of a tall coconut tree.

And as for the blues, let me tell you.  I am a blues fan.  Bury me in Memphis – please!  I’m not a blues snob, either.  I can admit when something “newer” is good.  It doesn’t have to have been recorded prior to 1950 for me to like it.  And for the record, blues snobs think anything recorded after Truman left office isn’t “real blues”.  < eyeroll >

That being said.

You would think, based solely on the live music that is played in South Florida at restaurants, that Stevie Ray Vaughan is the only blues artist who has ever existed.

And not just Stevie Ray Vaughan, who recorded like twenty albums.

Two songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan:

  • Pride and Joy
  • The Sky is Crying

That’s all you get.  Occasionally, you’ll get Cold Shot, and even though you’ve heard that one 56,000 times, it will seem like a breath of fresh air that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will reach to the sky, arms extended, to thank the stars that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will give all of your worldly possessions to charity to show your gratitude to the universe that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will have a baby just so you can fly to Hawaii and chuck it into a volcano as a sacrifice and say, “Thank you, Pele, Goddess of Fire, for not making me sit through Pride and Joy again.”

Do I have a problem with Stevie Ray Vaughan as a person and musician?  Hell no!  Does hearing the beginning chords of “Pride and Joy” for the 2,654,925th time make me want to rip my own ears off and throw them at “local legend” Rockin’ Randy whose playing a $2,500 guitar but arrived at The Salty Dogbonerz Bistro on a borrowed BMX bicycle?

One time, I swear I melted out of a dining chair and rolled onto the floor when the first chords of Pride and Joy started – because it was the second time I’d heard it that day.  Then it turned out I was wrong, and it was actually The Sky is Crying, so I turned into booger slime and escaped from the restaurant like ooze down a storm drain, Rockin’ Randy crooning out “Can’t you see the tears rooooooolll down my noooose?” as a fitting soundtrack.

No.  No, I can’t see the tears roll down your nose, Rockin’ Randy.  Because I am in my car, speeding away from Mermaidz Tittiez Raw Bar like it’s on fire.

Also, none of this applies to my current band because we are awesome and don’t even know any Jimmy Buffett or Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.

It definitely applies to my previous band.  Times one trillion.

I Am Not Molly Ringwald. At Least Not Yet.

It’s been a wild and crazy year so far here at RCDJ headquarters, and I couldn’t be more thankful that so many of you take time out of your week to come hang out here with me.  If you don’t, that’s okay (you’re dead to me).

Here are just a handful of reviews I’m so grateful to have received this year, with only a couple of them resulting in sleepless nights of terror and/or restraining orders.  “Blessed” is the word you’re looking for.

Matt from Poughkeepsie, NY:

“Ur funny 4 a girl.  Send pics of feet.”

Natalie from Ogden, UT:

“Before I found your blog, I was at the end of my rope and I didn’t know where to turn.  That’s mostly because if you’re at the end of a rope, the only way to go is down, so turning isn’t really applicable here, unless you mean like turn in a circle?  This is a terrible analogy.  I loved you in that movie with Duckie and that other one with Farmer Ted.”

On a related note, I had two people approach me last week and ask if I was Molly Ringwald, as opposed to the one a week I’ve been getting since I was 15, so my Ringwalding must be speeding up as I get older.

Oh, and this is how smart-ass bartenders put my name in the point-of-sale system when they think they’re being cute:

20190315_163727

Matt from Poughkeepsie, NY:

“Still waiting 4 pics of feet.”

Suzanne Somers (Chrissy) from Three’s Company:

“I never thought I’d find someone who loves Three’s Company as much as me, but seriously.  It’s just a television show – it’s not a thing you should base your entire identity around.”

Jenilee Harrison (Cindy, replacement for Chrissy) from Three’s Company:

“I never thought I’d find someone who loves Three’s Company as much as me, but seriously.  It’s just a television show – it’s not a thing you should base your entire identity around.”

Priscilla Barnes (Teri, replacement for Cindy) from Three’s Company:

“I never thought I’d find someone who loves Three’s Company as much as me, but seriously.  It’s just a television show – it’s not a thing you should base your entire identity around.”

Cody  from West Palm Beach, FL:

“Haha – Weren’t you in that band that opened for Hoobastank?  I didn’t even know Molly Ringwald was in a band!”

YOU KNOW WHAT, CODY?  WE ALL MAKE HOOBASTANK-RELATED MISTAKES IN LIFE.

Once Bitten, One Million Times Shy

I suffer from debilitating shyness.  I know this is confusing to people who used to jam into dirty clubs and watch me hold court onstage over a room of sweaty drunk people, but what you were witnessing was a stunning display of acting.  I never started a single show in nearly ten years without a broken record playing in my head, screaming, “You cannot do this.  People are looking at you.  Run out of the building right now and never look back.  RUN!”

Thankfully, right when I was juuust about to fake a stomach cramp to get the hell out of there, the drums would start.  I would focus solely on the drums (because they were the only thing that was ever on time in that band (zing!)) and then, somehow, I would manage to make it through the set without nerve-vomiting on someone.  The other trick was to pick out one person in the crowd, and taunt them relentlessly the entire time.  That way my brain only had one thing to focus on, instead of focusing on a pile of people who were staring at me.  If I didn’t always have one exterior thing to focus on, I would have most certainly lost my shit and made a break for the closest exit.  It was like a miracle every time I pulled off a show without running out of the room in terror.

I never got used to it, but I found ways to deal with it.  Aside from focusing on one thing, I will tell you this much:  Drinks help.  I realize “drinks help” are the kind of words that eventually bite you in the ass when you wake up all dead and bloated at 27 and teenagers swarm your grave site every year on the anniversary of your death to give each other handjobs on top of your headstone, but I’m 41 now, so I no longer have to worry about anybody making blacklight wall tapestries of my face when I overdose on something in a bathtub.  People only make bad art of your face when you die in your 20s.  Nobody is going to print my face on a flag with the words “The Lizard King” printed under it.  Pressure’s off there!  So have a drink – it’ll loosen you up.

It also helps to pretend that you are not you.  I never, ever acknowledged to myself that that was me standing up there.  It was always someone who was playing a much cooler and confident version of me, but certainly, most definitely, not me.  The person up there is not the same person who hangs up on the pizza guy when he answers the phone when they realize they aren’t emotionally ready to talk to a stranger on the phone.  Definitely not the same person whose hands shake when they have to say “Two adults, please” to the movie theater box office person.  Absolutely not the person who has actually hidden under their desk to avoid having to speak to a customer.  If that person were the same person who climbed up on that stage on any given night, that person would have fainted every time.

I get that some people are just totally cool to be the center of attention – and here’s the thing – I totally am.  I adore being the center of attention, so long as you’re not looking at me, listening to me, or even thinking about me.  Because if I fully realize you are looking at me, or listening to me, or even thinking about me – it will freak me the fuck out.  Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about you reading it, and it’s freaking me the fuck out.

I get why this may be news to you.  Because while I am terrified of people I don’t know, I am capable of putting on a very convincing display when push comes to shove, because at the end of the day I’d rather be secretly terrified by staying in the room than be publicly humiliated by running out of it like a lunatic baby.  I make deals with myself constantly to just be able to stay in the room.  “If you stay in this room right now and keep talking to these strangers, later on I will let you hide in a bathroom stall!”  “If you stay in this room, you can watch two episodes of The Love Boat by yourself when you get home!”  I’m like the Monty Hall of Social Anxiety, but with considerably shakier hands.

That’s why I can’t really blame you (but I still will) for those times when you invite me out to dinner with you, and I show up expecting a relaxed evening of one-on-one conversation, but you had failed to mention you were bringing along ten people I have never met before in my life.  Springing a table of strangers on me makes me wish a sinkhole would open in the ground right under me and swallow me up in it so I can get away.  My palms are starting to sweat just thinking about it.

Keeping up the false appearance of being an extrovert is hard work on a regular day, but it takes a hell of a lot of mental agility to keep the sham going with a table full of people I’ve never met.  I am so mentally and emotionally exhausted after these types of encounters that I feel like a wrung-out rag when I get home, and it takes a full day of hermiting to feel okay again.

Here’s the thing – I like you.  I want to spend time with you.  I can put aside my issues with you looking at me, listening to me, and even thinking about me, because the exchange of your friendship and spending time with you is worth it to me.  I’ve run the cost-benefit analysis on it, and it’s a win.  But with ten strangers staring at me, you have completely thrown off said cost-benefit analysis.

Now instead of spending time with you, the person I know and like, I get to spend the evening really struggling to make small talk with people I’ll never see again, or worse, be forced to endure a one-sided conversation with your cousin who wants to educate me on how he became a Buddhist after he saw The Matrix, and I’m supposed to just sit there with a straight face and not punt a cantaloupe right into his frameless sunglasses.

Do you know how hard it is to stop thinking about punting a cantaloupe into someone’s face after you’ve fully formed the picture in your mind?  It’s not just the picture, either.  I’m imagining the hollow plonky-thump noise that it would make, and it’s the most satisfying thing I’ve heard since that time Steve Bannon said, “I’m going to unshackle you from the hot tub rail. You’re free to go.  Sorry I thought you were a teenage boy.”

I mean, I get it.  You people are natural extroverts.  I am not.  Mine is accomplished through Photoshop and trick mirrors and shit.