Guy making a mean face holding a guitar and giving us the middle finger

I recently looked in the mirror and decided it was time to name my column, 'Yo, Grampa."

Yo, Grampa, what was the Alamo like?

Well, you impudent lard bucket, the music was lousy. If it weren't for the Mexican army's marching mariachi band, we would've been screwed--as if we weren't already by usurping foreign sovereign property. Crockett had an eight-track unit built into his coonskin hat, however. The sad bastard only had one tape, though--Elvis Live At the Sands. We would turn up Viva Las Vegas which the Mexican infantry liked. But how many times can you do that? Eventually it was back to hillbilly fiddle around the fort fire at night and Stephen Foster's Camptown Races. Really sucked, I'll tell ya.

Yo, Grampa, dja ever see cops beating hippies at rock concerts?

Akron Rubber Bowl, 1972, Jefferson Airplane. There'd been some fracas-ing throughout the day so the scene was set for the Airplane's revolutionary up-against-the-wall-motherfucker acidic San Francisco folk rock. Sho'nuff-and-yes-they-did: about halfway through the show, the Akron police thought it wise to shoot tear gas into the crowd on the field. You've never seen 8,000 people shift from a non-lethal yet hostile cloud on the 40-yard-line so fast. Comments were made by Paul Kantner and as the group regrouped backstage, a whole lotta night-stickin' went on. Somehow the band was allowed to return to the stage and of course they launched into a fist-pumpingly aggressive Volunteers ("gotta revolution/GOT to revolution"). Most of the band got arrested, a cop car got turned over, feelings were hurt, etc. But I didn't participate. I was making out with a Cleveland Italian girl on the grassy hillside overlooking the bowl most of the show as the Airplane serenaded us with Have You Seen The Saucers? Even though I loved Abbie Hoffman and the entire Chicago 7 at the time, some things are more important than politics. I was 16.

Yo, Grampa, have you ever been experienced?

Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful--I remember it well. I was watching an early video of Johnny Cash for his version of the classic Kris Kristofferson song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, its haunting lyrics "On a Sunday morning sidewalk/I'm wishin', Lord, that I was stoned/'cause there's something in a Sunday/that makes a body feel alone..." coupled with haunting images as the camera showed in black'n'white Johnny huddled in a city doorway in the gray, unfriendly morning rain, looking as forlorn and forsaken as a man could be. To me, Johnny was like a cross between Abraham Lincoln and a redneck Jesus with a streak of the Devil down his back. A beautiful, complicated man who did more to invent punk rock than any ten Sex Pistols ever could. That was an experience, seeing that video back before there was hardly any concept of promoting music via videos. Another time was seeing James Brown's shiny patent-leather-seeming shoes as he danced and sang Papa's Got A Brand New Bag on Shindig; and yet another time was seeing Waylon Jennings, a very big man who dwarfed his Telecaster and whose larger-than-life presence jumped out of our television screen when I was a little boy. Some things you never forget. So, yes, I have been experienced. We all were. Now we're just stupid.

Yo, Grampa, why do morons love conspiracies?

I remember when the notion Paul McCartney was dead first popped up. It was momentarily fascinating. But after about six days it seemed the dumbest thing in the world. The only thing infinitely dumber is that it's popped up again on Facebook and in more than one place. I gently teased one (local) dinosaur rocker about his idiotic obsession and he went ballistic, threatening to block me. Jesus! But there is another guy from God knows where who puts even more professionalism into it--today's was examining a vein in Paul's left hand. The photos were a few years apart. In one, the vein was pronounced; the other, barely visible. He neglected to note Paul's hand was hanging down in the first and held upright in the second! Apparently the frickin' nutjob doesn't understand gravity--another conspiracy with some people.

Yo, Grampa, why do 21 Pilots suck so badly?

Sonny boy Jim, any band that first gets together and consciously decides to become the biggest arena band in America before they've even played The Distillery at Bernie's Bagels is a band that needs to be immediately deported to Canada for single-payer soul transplants. Uninteresting though predictably enough, they've achieved their dubitable feat by piling 'artistic' gimmick upon gimmick upon gimmick: stylistic attention syndrome (example: speed rap repeatedly morphing into maudlin piano-looped Euroweenie pop within the same song); the drummer's spring-loaded bouncing drummer's stool; the singer's full-throated ukelele nauseam. They are essentially Garth Brooks in his alter-ego Chris Gaines rodeo-clown-meets-pajama-boys-outfits. But what the hell, if they hate Trump then all's good, right?

Yo, Grampa, is it true you have a tradition of listening to the nearby Grandview Ox Roast entertainment stage on Saturday night Labor Day weekend while taking a hot bath with your rubber ducky, Ricardo?

Yes, sweet child o' mine. I was relaxing my 90-year-old sore muscles in a foot-and-a-half of Columbus's purest filtrated H2O heated to a deeply soothing 130 degrees Fahrenheit as Ricardo floated aiml, listening to a replay of a You Tube best of Bill DeBlasio speech excerpts on the NYC's disrupted subway system (it ain't his fault, people!), when my ears picked up groove and funk wafting up from my backyard (tub's on second floor) from the ox roast a hundred yards away. The lead guitarist was playing a blues scale up the neck and then down the neck, like the ticking hand of a metronome but slower. Every fret up....every fret down...over and over...and over. Every song. I was soon writing my first Bad Review From Grampa's Bathtub in my head. Ricardo my rubber ducky kept dunking his head for ever more prolonged periods of time, I thought I was going to lose him. Finally, the guitarist's bullshit culminated in an instrumental version of Wild Cherry's 1976 hit, Play That Funky Music (White Boy). I thought I was going to go out of my mind. I did drown Ricardo. But the judge understood the mitigating circumstances and I only have to do community service: picking up doggie doo at the next Comfest.

Yo, Grampa, why does music suck nowadays?

Glad you asked, Dim Bulb: someone's stamped out the roots. When Mussolini unofficially outlawed folk music, Italian pop became undiluted pasta, the worst in the world and the only thing I can't stand about that otherwise wonderful country. What made American music so vital for the 20th century's first 72 years was its ethnic rootsiness. If it wasn't based on Afro-American idioms--jazz, blues, gospel--it was based on Celtic-Irish, or folk. Every great white artist of the legendary '60s had deep, hard, soul-connected folk at its base--on both sides of the Atlantic. Or black-based, particularly blues. Hell, even Miles Davis said the heart of jazz was the blues. Nowadays music is based on nothing--literally. And it's easier to be a corrupting, mindlessly nihilistic message on top of music that has no link to human or even American experience. I can't think of another culture I'd rather belong to other than the one which could invent jazz, the blues, Howlin' Wolf and Bob Dylan and Leo Fender.

Yo, Grampa, whadja think of Vietnam?

Music was great, so was the weed. But the food was better at the Alamo.


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