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Thursday, August 18, 2011



I don't know much about rap music, other than that I never hear the term anymore except when uttered by people who don't know much about rap music. It seems to be called "hip-hop" now, which could give a person the serious misconception that it is written and performed by bunnies. The lyrics don't bear this out, since they deal in very un-bunny-like themes, such as self-glorification, cop-killing, drugs and fornication with large rear-ended women. It's all part of "hip-hop culture," and how those two words found themselves in the same sentence is one of the great mysteries of the world.

Live performances of these artists rarely result in actual music being played by actual people. Luckily, there is singing. Well, not exactly singing, but there is lip-syncing during the parts where a tune is in danger of forming. It's as if the artist considers himself extremely fortunate to have hit the correct notes one magical time when they were recording the song, and doesn't want to press his luck at the concert. If the singer is feeling brave enough to attempt to actually sing, the microphone he uses is always a "pitch-correcting" device that figures out the closest note to the one he is trying to hit and nails it! A less gifted singer myself, I tried a pitch-correcting mike, and when it actually shrugged its shoulders I got the hint.

You don't need to know how to play instruments, as long as you know how to play records. The "DJ" can usually be seen wearing a pair of headphones on one ear only. If you talk to an off-duty DJ, make sure you stand on the non-deaf side. The DJ is the one who makes those god-awful scratching sounds incessantly during a perfectly good song. Another piece of advice, don't lend him any of your records.

If the group does not have a DJ, odds are that it will instead employ an "MC," or Master of Ceremonies. Most of the ceremonies include self-glorification, cop-killing, drugs and fornication with large rear-ended women. The foremost MC that I can think of was MC Hammer. The ceremony that he is most famous for mastering was the pilferage of Rick James' "Super Freak," which he took credit for writing, since he yells out "U can't touch this!" (he wrote that!), smack in the middle of the chorus.

Rap music has spawned an entire industry on the creation of beats. You can now buy a beat, if you don't have any of your own. When I found that out my heart skipped a beat, and I had to buy it back. The service comes in handy if you use the "rhythm method" of birth control. You can now even lease a beat, provided you return it in good condition. Back in the olden days there was a device called a drummer that provided much the same service, but it was unreliable and was expensive to lubricate.

If there are no instruments or live singing, you are probably wondering what all those people are doing onstage. Those are professional gyrators. If the rap artist is a male, there are at least five female gyrators with large rear-ends, and if the artist is female there are a minimum of five male gyrators, hoping to at least pass for bisexual.

And it works: all the dancing is infectious, and without an antibiotic it is impossible not to dance to some of these tunes. One time I busted a move out on the dance floor, and since no one could fix it I was forced to return to my seat.

There are certain bands that perform a mixture of rock and hip-hop, like Linkin Park, for instance. These hybrid bands are intriguing in the way they cross over socio-artistic boundaries, and also because they save on gas.

I didn't know who Usher was when he first burst on the scene, but I knew he was much more talented than those others who didn't make it: Valet, Gas Station Attendant, Electronic Integrated Systems Mechanic, none of them had what it takes.

But I think I do. In every rap song, during the un-rapped parts, there is always a guy going "UH-UH-UH" in the background, as if someone was repeatedly dropping a D-cell battery on their foot. Sometimes he repeats what the rapper says, in case you didn't realize how important it was. I am mastering the art of ceremonies, including the posturing. I made the mistake of practicing those rap hand gestures outdoors, and a plane landed right next to me.

I will need a name. "Lil'" this or that is popular, "Lil'" being short for "Litl'." I am not small enough for that: "Me'm" would be better. Anything with a "Q," "J" or other high-scoring Scrabble letter is good. If your name sounds goofy, change it: Puff Daddy thought his rap name sounded foolish, so he adopted the much more intelligent-sounding "P-Diddy." Work the word "ice" into it if possible, to symbolize street toughness. You never know when you might encounter death on my street, since deer are not as swift as one would think. Use "z" at the end of anything plural and "K" to replace anything that starts with a "C." So call me "MC DJ Kool Ice Q-bez," especially if you are the I.R.S....

Incidentally, some historians believe that rap music came to the U.S. from Africa, and others contend that it arrived from the Caribbean. Either way, it's doubtful that it had a valid passport. The "hip-hop lifestyle" is said to include four elements: rap, graffiti art, break dancing and DJ-ing. For me, any type of dancing is considered break dancing, and my orthopedist will back me up. So if you ever hear that "MC DJ Kool Ice Q-bez is in da house," den itz time to change da lockz.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



Every year I go on a solo vacation to the Jersey Shore. I am a creature of habit, and I always stay at the same hotel in the same town. 200 million years from now they will find my skeleton in a tar pit and they will be able to figure out what a creature of habit looked like, but they will not be able to figure out what I was doing in that tar pit of all places, when there are so many good bars around.

I take Friday off, hop in my car and get in line: The Garden State Parkway on Friday in the summer is basically just a queue for the beach parking lot, and it's a long one.When I got there it was almost 100 degrees- so hot that people didn't even want to go to the beach. They seemed genuinely bummed that there was no air conditioning. There was a lot of talk on the radio about hyperthermia, and heat indexes, and hydrating and real-feel temperature. The real-feel temperature on Friday was two thousand degrees. By the way according to the weatherman they took the temperature that day anally. Citizens were told to stay in their homes and try to do things that would make them feel cool, like piercing their tongues. Little children and old people were warned that even opening the window could cause instant death. I remember when I was little Mom would say it's hot out there, then kick us the hell out of the house without even any sunblock. I should have had the wherewithal to call Child Protective Services.

I enjoy body surfing, and at the jersey shore body surfing means that there is often an actual dead body next to you. Sometimes the beaches are closed due to the washing ashore of assorted medical waste, and if you go at the right time you can window-shop for organs that people have generously donated. Usually there is just a jelly-fish here and there, at least you hope that's what they were.

Anyway, I caught a wave and it was so strong it turned me over in a somersault, then it continued on to force me into a perfect double axel. Since it was underwater nobody noticed, but I stood up and did a bow anyway, until I realized that there was snot coming out of my nose and a crab hanging from my suit.

Incidentally, I was thinking of bringing a hermit crab back home as a gift for my cat Porkchop, but I wondered: by giving the hermit crab a home, wasn't I essentially putting it out of a job? I don’t think it would have forgiven me for it as long as it lived, or two days, whichever came first.

I like to hit the bars at night, and my favorite one is Bar A. It's a lot of hot Jersey chicks with thickets of hair and brightly colored nails, and since they all talk with their hands it looks like a laser light show at the planetarium. Listening to them is enervating but watching them is certainly a noble pastime, although if they see me looking they shoot me a look of piercing disdain as if I was carrying a dead opossum. I don't even notice it. The look, not the oppossum.

The guys there are well-muscled, especially in the head area. They still say things like "awesome" and "bro," and if you get to talking to them for any length of time you sense that you will be involved in a tasing sooner rather than later.

Saturday I am back at the beach. I have my sun-shelter, my umbrella, my cooler, my knapsack, my beach chair, my towel selection, my radio, my crossword puzzle, my book. I'm sure I'm leaving something out. After everything is set up and in order, I pretty much go right to sleep until I wake up at about six, freezing my ass off.

Incidentally, I did not see any lionfish, but they are apparently taking over the entire Eastern Seaboard. The lionfish has no natural enemies because it couldn't be more polite, and also because its spines are venomous. But it will eat anything that swims in front of it- the opening of its mouth creates a vacuum, which is more than I can say for our vacuum. I can vouch for this because I have one in my fish tank; its name is Fluffy, because it's cute for a poisonous animal. Scientists have gotten together with ecologists, marine biologists and chefs, and have decided to eat them. If you remove the poisonous appendages, the lionfish can be a tasty treat. If you do not, don't bother to leave a tip. My only concern is, what if we give the lionfish the same idea? Man has no natural enemies either, except for some women. The lionfish does not even need to remove any nasty spines, either. Just some food for thought, or vice-versa.