Bad news for a New Orleans jazz club. Only it has nothing to do with the hurricane:
Farewell to the Funky Butt?
Friday, August 19, 2005
Last Friday, the Funky Butt hosted a de facto jazz funeral for itself -- minus the jazz -- as the night's scheduled act, bassist Jim Markway and his band, gathered outside on North Rampart Street to bemoan the once-popular modern jazz venue's decline.
Richard Rochester opened the Funky Butt in 1996, then sold the business to trombonist Sam "Big Sam" Williams and Williams' fiancee, Shanekah Peterson, in the spring of 2004. The club closed for two weeks that June, but the summer of 2005 has been far tougher. Beset by a broken air-conditioning system, a dwindling staff, little advertising and consequently few patrons, the club has frequently been dark.
Sizing up their prospects last weekend -- working in a sweltering, empty room for no money -- Markway and company opted not to perform.
The Funky Butt's future remains uncertain. Williams did not return messages left on his cell phone this week, and the club's phone has been disconnected.
The French Quarter, the high ground of New Orleans, was one of the few parts of the city with minimal flooding. But wind damage was everywhere.
At St. Louis Cathedral, where the large outdoor clock was stopped at 6:25 a.m. Monday, an alabaster statue of Jesus with his arms upraised -- called Touchdown Jesus by some locals -- survived with only a broken thumb.
Surrounding the statue were giant branches of live oak and magnolia trees uprooted by the hurricanes.
"I am not a religious man. I am a pagan, actually. But seeing Jesus still standing was awesome," said Ken Hallober, a Melrose Park native who works in New Orleans selling statues and making Mardi Gras beads.
Hallober fled the city before the hurricane but came back after the storm, swimming through floodwaters under the Interstate 10 overpass to get back to his French Quarter apartment, which only lost its shutters.
Arnold Steinbrenner, 47, was riding out the storm in his second-floor apartment next door when bricks began falling into his building. He said a woman who was in the collapsed structure emerged unscathed.
"They were in the process of renovating it," he said. "It was coming along. It just didn't get there fast enough."
In the courtyard behind the 278-year-old St. Louis Cathedral, two massive trees toppled, their roots pulling up a 30-foot section of iron fence. Carrie Hanselman marveled at how the branches straddled a marble statue of Jesus Christ but, miraculously, knocked off only the thumb and forefinger on its outstretched left hand.
"He was right in the middle of it," the pastry chef said. "Jesus and his mother were watching out for us. I had that candle burning all night."
Salad Wife and I were in New Orleans last September and saw this park as we were walking back from Court of Two Sisters restaurant. We stopped and marveled at how beautiful the park was.
Most people photograph the front of the church - and we did - but there was something peaceful the way the sun was peeking through the trees that day.
Sad to think that such a lush sanctuary is now destroyed.
You learn something every day.
Apparently, you can retire hurricane names, the way you do jersey numbers in sports:
WASHINGTON - The widespread destruction and deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina are likely to lead to retirement of that name from the list of storm names.
The final decision is up to a committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
But the National Weather Service notes that names are usually dropped if a storm is so deadly or costly that future use of the name would be inappropriate.
Sixty-two names have been retired so far, from Carol and Hazel in 1954 to Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne last year.
Four is the most names retired in any year to date. In addition to 2004, that occurred in 1955 (Connie, Diane, Ione and Janet) and 1995 (Luis, Marilyn, Opal and Roxanne).
Three names were retired after 1964 (Cleo, Dora and Hilda), 1996 (Cesar, Fran and Hortense), 2001 (Allison, Iris and Michelle) and 2003 (Fabian, Isabel and Juan).
In addition to 1954, years with two names retired included 1961 (Carla and Hattie), 1974 (Carmen and Fifi), 1979 (David and Frederic), 1985 (Elena and Gloria), 1988 (Gilbert and Joan), 1990 (Diana and Klaus), 1998 (Georges and Mitch), 1999 (Floyd and Lenny) and 2002 (Isidore and Lili).
Other names retired are Audrey, 1957, Donna, 1960; Flora, 1963; Betsy, 1965; Inez, 1966; Beulah, 1967; Edna, 1968; Camille, 1969; Celia, 1970; Agnes, 1972; Eloise, 1975; Anita, 1977; Allen, 1980; Alicia, 1983; Hugo, 1989; Bob, 1991; Andrew, 1992; and Keith, 2000.
It's sad how few of these I remember during my lifetime... Bob? Alecia? Anita?
I love football. I love my Nissan Titan. I love tailgaiting at football games with my Nissan Titan. And I love cooking and grilling.
It also could be argued that I have an unnatural affection bordering on an erotic obsession for the Costco discount warehouse chain. It's understandable since they let me return whatever I buy there for full price, whether or not I have a receipt and no matter how much time has passed. I've bought and returned four cell phones (and upgraded each time) and more than a half-dozen digital cameras (which I've also upgraded each time).
So with those things plainly stated, this following item e-mailed to me by Costco is like giving heroin to Courtney Love:
Cook's BBQ Kitchen Tailgate/Backyard Ultimate Tailgate & Backyard Cooking System, Fits All Full Size-Size Trucks W/48" Clearance
How much might it be?
Damn, it's good that I'm po'. Especially after I read the specs:
The Complete Cook's BBQ Kitchen is ready for any cookout. Whether in your back yard, at the beach, hunting, fishing or tailgating, you'll be able to grill, chill, clean and store in one easy to use system and make any event more enjoyable.
Each unit comes equipped with a 90,00 BTU BBQ unit, three grill boxes with lids, griddle, mini fridge, microwave, built-in light, circuit breaker protected outlet box, two-tub stainless steel sink with water pump and docking station. And it is so simple to open and close that experienced users can have it set up in under a minute.
Also with your unit you will get a training video and a truck installation kit to make sure that you have years of hassle-free enjoyment from your kitchen.
Cooks BBQ Kitchen includes:
BBQ Unit w/ Equipment
Fridge & Microwave w/Light
Stainless Steel Sink & Counter
90,000 BTU BBQ Unit: (3) 30,000 BTU burners, cast iron grilling surfaces, vented oven cover, full size griddle, galvanized metal w/powder-coated finish, stainless steel cabinets & counters
Fridge and Microwave w/ Light: 1.9 cu. ft. fridge w/ice cube trays and ice corner, 600-750-watt microwave w/turntable, 17-watt light produces 60-watts of illumination
Docking Station With Storage: Roll or carry, galvanized steel with powder-coated finish, stainless steel runners, heavy-duty neoprene locking casters, 14 cu.ft. interior cabinet space
Stainless Steel Sink and Counter: 2-tub stainless steel sink, plumbing fittings, chrome faucet, drain hardware, built-in stainless steel topped counter, 2-sided cutting board, storage drawer
Includes: Circuit breaker protected outlet box, training video and truck installation kit
40" W x 47.5" L x 57" H
Weight: 530 lbs.
Beer + chicken wings + football + free wireless Internet access + 458 televisions ------------------ Fantasy football draft nirvana
So without further delay, I introduce to you...
YOUR 2005-06 SIDE SALADS
Tom Brady (NE - QB)
Jake Plummer (Den - QB)
Torry Holt (StL - WR)
Donald Driver (GB - WR)
Isaac Bruce (StL - WR)
LaDainian Tomlinson (SD - RB)
Brian Westbrook (Phi - RB)
Todd Heap (Bal - TE)
Mike Vanderjagt (Ind - K)
Atlanta (Atl - DEF)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pit - QB)
Ronnie Brown (Mia - RB)
Terry Glenn (Dal - WR)
Jerome Bettis (Pit - RB)
Pittsburgh (Pit - DEF)
On August 22, 1992, Jane and I were having lunch with a friend in a little cafe in Stuart, Florida. Someone mentioned that the first tropical storm of the hurricane season had formed. I'd never been through a hurricane, and I used a baseball metaphor to make a quip that I thought was terribly, terribly funny at the time: "So they finally got around to throwing out the first tropical storm of the season," I said. "It's about time."
24 hours later, Jane and I were in absolute panic, a couple of rookies staring down the barrel of Hurricane Andrew, totally clueless as to what one does to get ready for one of these things. I did stuff that day that I would never, ever admit to now, not even under oath after an injection of sodium pentothol, you'll never get it out of me so don't try. Luckily, the damn thing made landfall 120 miles south of us. But we didn't know where it was going on that unforgettable Sunday afternoon 12 years ago, and we were totally freaked.
I was convinced that Andrew cranked up from a tropical storm to a Cat 5 overnight because I dissed Mother Nature. So since then, I've never cracked wise about a developing hurricane.
But Jeff, it's not your fault -- at least, not yours alone -- that Katrina blew off the charts during the weekend. I have friends in the Keys who were ignoring the thing, who didn't even bother bringing in the lawn furniture, and as it blew by offshore, it took the roof off a hangar at the Marathon airport. One friend on Big Pine Key says he and his mate went to bed expecting some windy rain and awoke to reports of a tornado touching down not too far away. Another friend on Key Largo says his carpet is soaked because he didn't board up and the wind blew the rain beneath his doors.
So Katrina's ungodly strength may be inversely proportional to all of the razzberries it received as it approached Florida. Until NOAA proves me wrong, no one can really dispute that theory.
Going through a few hurricanes changes the way you relate to the world, doesn't it?
Indeed it does, brother.
The latest vitals on Katrina:
* Winds: 175 mph sustained
* Gusts: up to 190
* Possible storm surge: 28-feet
* Rain: Potential for 15 inches
* Waves: As high as 60 feet at the eyewall
* Disturbing wire service paragraph No. 1: "Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system, swamping the city under a 30-feet cesspool of toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.
* Disturbing wire service paragraph No. 2: Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said some who have ridden out previous storms in the New Orleans area may not be so lucky this time."I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard," he said.
* Latest quote of doom: "New Orleans may never be the same." - Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center director.
* Say goodbye to: Tony Peterson leaned over a balcony above Bourbon Street, festooned with gold, purple and green wreathes as Katrina's first rains pelted his shaved head. "I was going to the Superdome and then I saw the two-mile line," the 42-year-old musician said. "I figure if I'm going to die, I'm going to die with cold beer and my best buds."
Disturbing image of the day, viewed in the cereal aisle at Publix this weekend:
The latest on Hurricane Katrina is sickening. It's like watching one of those slow-motion punches in "Raging Bull":
* Maximum sustained winds of 175 mph
* Expected to strengthen before landfall
* Bigger than Hurricane Andrew
* Interstate 10, which was converted Saturday so that all lanes headed one-way out of town, is totally gridlocked.
* The storm has the potential for storm surge flooding of up to 25 feet, topped with even higher waves, as much as 15 inches of rain, and tornadoes, the National Hurricane Center said.
* Only three Category 5 hurricanes — the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale — have hit the United States since record-keeping began. The last was 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage. The other two were the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys and killed 600 people and Hurricane Camille, which devastated the Mississippi coast in 1969, killing 256.
* "This is a once in a lifetime event," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said. "The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this magnitude hit it directly."
* Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says that if it came ashore with the intensity it has now and went to the New Orleans area, it would be the strongest we've had in recorded history there." He said loss of life was "what inevitably occurs" with a storm this strong.
As I've said before, the Salad minions are numerous, and they're armed with digital photographic technology, so be on your best behavior.
Jolie the Supergoddess sends along this report from the field. Apparently something caught her eye at Boston's Haymarket and she felt compelled to share, what with the Salad Bowl's reverence for inanimate objects with phallic tendencies:
Sent: Saturday, August 27, 2005 2:46 PM
The Eggplant Penis!
A closer look provides all the pertinent details:
Then again, it looks almost Nixonian.
About this photo, Jolie writes:
Jeff, if this photo doesn’t represent Salad Devotion, I don’t know what does.
p.s. That second photo? The Eggplant Penis with French Tickler.
Devotion indeed, my dear Jolie.
Last time we heard from my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), was that he had some uninvited houseguests chomping on the vintage at his homestead on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.
While a moose in your front yard might stand out in, say, Florida, that sort of thing is moderately common in Alaska.
There's plenty to do between moose visits.
Apparently he's upset about the cookie jar in the foreground.
As Pete tells it:
About an hour after taking the Mt. Redoubt pix, I looked out our front window and yelled for Cecile. ""LOOK WHO IS OUT HERE!!!!!!"
This is the baby moose that is all alone. Must have got lost from the momma that has been eating Cecile's flower arrangements and lettuce. We are glad... this is the Moose Food Bank!!!!
Of these next two photos, Pete writes:
Our Baby pulled over the flower pot and it scared her. She took off.
Jermaine, Ruud, Bidwell.
You were great, but your teammates
Couldn't stop Ricky.
Hey there, Jon Gruden.
Three games, and no touchdowns by
Your starters. That sucks!
Jon, a suggestion:
Consider an offensive
But a Caddy with no help
Ain't runnin' nowhere.
When your star player
Is a veteran punter
Something big is wrong.
As randomly seen at the Latest Post section of LiveJournal.com
Burly, balding and bespectacled, Xavier was nonetheless a hit with the ladies during the 2005 Medieval Times Servers Reunion.
MIAMI - Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday after hammering Florida's crowded southeast coast with hours of fierce winds and whipping rains, leaving 2 million people without power and killing four.
Katrina, which was downgraded earlier on Friday to a tropical storm as it churned across the swampy Everglades, regained hurricane status as it moved into the Gulf.
Katrina dumped up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) of rain after coming ashore just south of Fort Lauderdale on Thursday and then began a slow and punishing trek southwest across southern Florida, said the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami.
In its wake, Katrina left flooded neighbourhoods and streets carpeted with tree limbs and leaves.
By 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Friday, Katrina was located about 50 miles (85 km) north-northeast of Key West, Florida, and was moving west at 5 mph (7 kph). Winds were near 75 mph (120 kph) and expected to strengthen after earlier falling slightly to 70 mph (113 kph), the centre said.
Even Reuters, paragon of journalistic accuracy and fairness, felt compelled to file their 10:31 a.m. dispatch - more than four hours early. (Note the time on the story and the time in the bottom corner of the screen.)
It would be like if I took up boxing. I could spend a week, learn some technique, maybe spar a little. But it wouldn't make me Mike Tyson now, would it? (Oh, and Reuters, the most anyone got was 11 inches, not 12, and certainly not the 20 inches that was predicted.)
Even my friend Sherri, who lives on Florida's east coast and was without power last year for two weeks, sent this message last night:
It's 11:12 p.m. and I still have Internet and power. This ain't no hurricane!
First there was the turkish guy looking to meet chicks. Then there was the plump kid who lipsynched to "Dragostea Di Tea."
Say hello to the latest viral Web phenomenon: the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Now known by the acronym FSM, the damn thing already has a citation on Wikipedia, which reads:
In June 2005, Bobby Henderson submitted an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education in response to their decision on giving intelligent design equal time with evolution by natural selection in biology classes. He demanded that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism also be given equal time in classrooms, along with the other, more traditional religious creator. Shortly afterwards, he received responses from two sympathetic members of the board. A third response was also received in mid-August.
Over the next two months, traffic on Henderson's FSM website grew steadily. The popularity of the site exploded in August, when the Flying Spaghetti Monster was featured on several blogs and Internet news sites such as Fark.com. Articles in the mainstream media soon followed.
In the "Latest News" section of his website Henderson notes that U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. Senator Bill Frist have publicly supported the teaching of non-evolutionary theories, and infers that they therefore support the teaching of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.
Followers of Flying Spaghetti Monster sometimes sometimes refer to themselves as "Pastafarians" and claim to have been touched by "His Noodly Appendage" and preach the word of their "noodly master" as the one true religion.
A few tenets:
# Prayers are ended with the word RAmen rather than Amen. Benefits of conversion:
# Like the great noodles they worship, Flying Spaghetti Monsterists have flimsy moral standards.
# Promise of a stripper factory and a beer volcano in Heaven.
A rival faction, based on SPAM (Spaghetti & Pulsar Activating Meatballs), has formed and is calling for a Holy War against FSM. SPAMation claims to have the One True Letter to the Kansas School Board.
One of the many reasons I cruise the blog world (I deplore the word blogosphere, mostly because I doubt that it has any round properties to it) is that I hold a deep, dark, craven hope that I will find new voices that inspire me to elevate my prose beyond what you might find, say, on the wall of a Greyhound bus disabled by the side of the road.
Occasionally I find near-greatness. Cherie bowled me over with her close-to-atomic level of energy and exploration. Big Dead Place routinely forces me to rethink the whole subject-verb-object thing. Bunsen makes me cough up blood from time to time, when he's not busy playing the Defamer. I can't even bear to read McSweeney's some times. The writers there are so clever, they force me to consider abandoning the few parts of the English language I actually command, in deference to their greatness.
Now I can add another to the list: My Life As A... Gas Station Attendant.
The writer claims to work in a gas station near Nashville. On the blog, he tells of the customers he encounters from behind the register:
There is a young lady standing in front of my counter; clinically speaking, a fascinating series of events is taking place. The twin clusters of cells that are my eyes are perceiving her dimensions, in their primitive and deeply limited capacity to perceive space and color. They are sending messages to the ancient, instinctive part of my brain called the hypothalamus. The message they are sending can be roughly translated thus: this is a female of your species, of adequate height, with large, bright eyes, indicating perception and inquisitiveness. Its round, full hips and round, full breasts, respectively, indicate excellent childbearing and childrearing capacity. Her colorful decorative attire suggests good grooming status, an excellent ploy to attract mates and keep offspring free from disease and infection.
The newfangled, oh-so-clever part of my brain called the cerebral cortex translates this information into other words so that I can comfort myself by thinking that I am more than a monkey wishing to pass on its monkey genetic material. It gives me a slightly more refined message: there’s a hot, brown-eyed, brunette, nineteen-year-old college girl with a unique, funky sartorial sense about her, standing in front of me looking to buy a pack of cigarettes.
“Thank you Shandra,” my thorax intones, in a voice deep and soothing, looking to allay fears that corrupt so many wild mating opportunities. My cerebral cortex has translated markings on the piece of plastic she has handed me, cleverly inferring her age and name from them. “That’s a very pretty name.”
Okay, enough of the National Geographic version of this story, for a moment.
Shandra (pronounced “Shohn-drah”), as I hand her I.D. back, perks up immediately. “You said it right!”
That’s because I’m not a drooling moron, I think to myself, and I can add one letter to “Sandra,” and take the wild guess that it’s probably going to be pronounced the same way. But she is clearly flattered by my use of her name, a trick I figured out a while back, because people always are. They get attached to their names, are happy when they are used, take joy when people approve of them, and are saddened when their names are not often used or not approved of.
I’m gonna let the whole world in on something that it is probably completely unaware of: that’s the same thing dogs think about their names.
We don’t name ourselves, after all. Our parents give them to us shortly after birth, to satisfy a legal requirement, but more importantly to train us to come when called, to have a presupposed means to get our attention. Over time, as our brains mature and acquire greater intelligence, we come to associate our names, and the tone of voice which pronounces them, with attention, with food, with affection, with reward, just like Spot and Rover associate their names with Jerky Treats and someone stroking their fur. When our dads were angry, we instinctively knew it from the sound of his voice and concluded that perhaps flight might be a safer response than obedience, just as our dogs pick up on the apprehension in our voices when we call their names but they hear “bath time” in the way that we’ve called it.
William Shakespeare, a smart monkey from 400 years ago, had an interesting take on the issue, from the perspective of a young woman talking about a young man’s name that she wasn’t supposed to like. We might all be wise to listen:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, nor any other part,
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
What people don’t realize is that their names are simply words, with a communicative, rhetorical value identical to any other word—a name for a thing, and not the thing itself. I can prove this easily enough: if I say that the word “car” is a stupid, ugly word, and that I have no problem with the vehicles themselves but simply dislike the sound of the word, no one but perhaps a few deeply neurotic linguists and engineers are going to get upset as a consequence. It’s only a word, after all. Next I say that I think the words “Jennifer” or “Kristine” or “Mark” are stupid, ugly words, and watch a bunch of agitated monkeys work themselves into a tizzy over it. None of them had any idea how deeply their programming ran, how utterly brainwashed and indoctrinated they are, until that moment. I can say I don’t like the word “Dan,” and Bob doesn’t get upset, but Dan does. How ridiculous is that? We’ve taken ownership of something as if it were interwoven into our DNA and not a convenient label that somebody else gave to us, getting hopping mad in defense of a concept as rhetorically neutral as “bag” or “drawer” or “potato.”
But back to the ranch. I flirt with Shandra for a little while longer. I really ought to get a phone number out of this, but I’m not feeling very assertive today, and she’s an awful lot younger than I am. I wouldn’t even be able to take her to the smoky dive bars that medicate my insanity nightly, and hence I’d actually have to employ the imagination to find other things for us to do. Well, besides the obvious one, anyway. I’ve already overthought the matter, of course, but as a man who routinely writes six-page stories about two minutes of work in a gas station, such is my custom.
I let Shandra off the hook of my unbending gaze, and she flits out the door, nervous and blushing. That one was mine but for the asking, I realize. I’m sure she’ll be back, in case I change my mind. But my mass of monkey cells has just exerted magnetic control over hers for a couple of minutes, by the bizarre, primal power of name usage and eye contact.
A friend recently gave me, like a wonderful, unexpected gift, a quote from the wizened Chinese sage Chuang-tzu. I will pass this gift on to others: “When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said ‘You get three in the morning and four at night.’ This made all the monkeys furious. ‘Well then,’ he said, ‘you get four in the morning and three at night.’ The monkeys were all delighted.” Sounds about right to me.
Sumfin about a pink wig sent in a press kit makes people wanna try it on.
Behold... The Pink Wig Project:
Big ups to my homey Steve, who's had me up on a blog pedestal for almost two weeks.
Sometimes pain has to be shared. Not like a gift or anything. Just as a measure of dispersing your own emotional debris.
Like the pain I experienced when I tripped across a link to this photo of prop comic Carrot Top working out. (Took a while for my retinas to recover before I noticed the background. Apparently he chooses to work out in Health Magazine Hell.)
Thank God it was in relation to this hysterical story in the Los Angeles Times by Joel Stein, who went to the gym and worked out with Top.
After doing some crunches, Top cracked open a cold can of creatine and we headed outside into the crisp Costa Mesa air. And I thought to myself, why can't Carrot Top be a weightlifter, or even an action hero? Why do we allow ourselves to be completely defined by the sliver of identity we've gotten approval for? Why should I have to end every column with a cheap joke?
Then I looked at Carrot Top's hair and his mascara and his giant arms. The man looked like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float of Lucille Ball.
As I said, I felt the need to disperse this visual toxin to friends, each of whom recoiled in horror after seeing the link I'd sent them.
Best response came from Rich at work:
Dude……Carrot Top shaved his chest. He looks like a freakin’ Abercrombie ad.
Must gouge out eyes.
……all good fodder for the “Behind the Music” style documentary of his eventual slide from the pedestal of comedic greatness.
Okay, so the Buccaneers 20-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was kind of lackluster. To say the least.
But a trained eye would easily have spotted the best play of the night:
He drops back to pass..
But it's not over.
She disappears out of the frame.
Woman is again shown being bowled over.
TV announcer says, "We hope the woman in pink is okay." He displays his own professional abilities by not relaying the avalanche of laughter now erupting from the boys in the replay truck.
Uh oh. The sharks are circling. There's blood in the water.
For the first time since the Ray "Atilla" Perkins era, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not have a prime-time game.
Training camp attendance was down 40 percent. Tickets are easy to pick up for the first time in a decade.
Now reporters are flying across the country to write about how sucky the coach is doing. That's a problem.
Sure, plenty of guys in town have been doing just that, spilling ample amounts of ink trying to predict the boy-king's downfall.
But when the Los Angeles Times puts a reporter on a plane, pays for him to be in a nice hotel a couple of nights, pays for his high-priced Bern's check and bloated bar tab, pays for his rental car, pays for his long-distance phone calls and his numerous SpectraVision choices on the hotel TV and then ponies up for his Mons Venus bills disguised as massage therapy receipts just so they can poke the team in the eye with a story that has a headline, "Buccaneer Patch Job," that's a very bad sign.
Especially when death metaphors are being bandied about:
The coach who once held the NFL in the palms of his hands now has those hands gripped tightly around the steering wheel of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, doing what he can to regain control of a franchise that has drifted far off course.
Jon Gruden, two seasons removed from pro football's mountaintop, is determined to resurrect a team that has gone 12-20 since throttling the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003.
"We're getting through the clouds now," Gruden said. "I see the sunshine out. But it's hard when you don't have the players and the salary cap is knocking on the door every day."
As for the knocking, that has dropped off in a big way. The scowl that launched a thousand ad campaigns — the one that earned Gruden the nickname Chucky, after the horror-movie doll — is now a justifiable grimace. The Buccaneers have the lowest two-season winning percentage of any team coming off a Super Bowl victory.
Two years ago, Gruden arguably was the most marketable personality in the nation's No. 1 league. He wrote a bestselling book, "Do You Love Football? Winning with Heart, Passion and Not Much Sleep," was a guest on "Late Night with David Letterman," was the subject of a Playboy interview, rang the opening bell on Wall Street, had lucrative endorsement deals with Marriott and Florida Citrus Growers, and commanded a $50,000 fee on the motivational speakers' circuit.
But as the Buccaneers faded, so did demand for their coach. The ads on national TV appeared less frequently, Gruden's sneer less prevalently. He still has a large following, of course, but other NFL players and coaches — among them Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb and Bill Parcells — are at least as popular, if not more.
"That's what happens if you don't have success," Gruden said. "You have to roll with it. I understand that."
His agent, Bob LaMonte, who represents eight NFL head coaches, says Gruden, 42, remains among the top five most marketable personalities in the league, even if demand for him has cooled a bit.
"There is no death of Chucky," LaMonte said. "Chucky's too young, too dynamic, too good to die. Chucky isn't a 70-year-old man riding off into the sunset."
I have an odd fascination when it comes to vintage photos of Florida. Not the 30-foot-dead-alligator, mosquitoes-so-big-they-could-carry-off-a-man vintage type, just the kitschy kind. I grew up in and around St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille and Gulfport and I'm old enough to remember when women wore bathing caps, when certain bridges were still intact across the mouth of Tampa Bay and when you could still see the Gulf of Mexico instead of condos when you drove down Gulf Boulevard.
My favorite trinket: a Florida alligator sitting up on its haunches with a glass snow globe in its stomach and two water skiiers on a teeter-totter inside.
So every so often, I'll throw some of my favorite old Florida photos on the site from the Florida Memory Project and give you a glimpse of how truly weird-to-the-core this state has always been.
First up (with the original caption):
Mr. von Moser (right), an unbathed German "nobleman", said he had captured the largest python in the world in Brickell Hammock. Hundreds naively paid a dime to gawk at the snake while it gradually starved to death. A Miami News reporter revealed that von Moser had bought the snake cheaply from a New York zoo because it refused to eat.
Woody Allen used to say that the ultimate rejection was when your hand would fall asleep durin...
I think I might have found a new standard. This is what I got when I tried to post a comment to my own blog:
It can now be certified as a true fact:
There's a new cereal on the market:
What's the definition of trust?
When a man takes a manufacturer at its word that the waterproof iPod case it makes indeed provides the protection it promises.
Or maybe that's blind faith. Guarded optimism? Foolishness?
Saw this license plate on my way back from Newport on Sunday and had to capture it. DJ Fab drives a Volvo. Fantastic.
I took it for my blog, but really it belongs in the Salad Bowl along with all the other Adventures in Traffic.
Do me proud.
So glad I could further the extremely dangerous pursuit of combining highway driving and digital photography.
In related news:
Bill at Blogspot reminds us that:
Word of the day: gridlock. It means the grid is locked, as in north-south traffic remains in the intersection after its light turns red, preventing east-west traffic from moving when its light turns green.
It is not an all-purpose synonym for "congested traffic." You can't have gridlock on a freeway.
So noted. In the future I'll construct my sentences to read:
I wish I drove a bulldozer so that I could push this congested traffic off the LeeRoy Selmon Crosstown Expressway and into the deep, deep chasm.
PREVIOUS ADVENTURES IN TRAFFIC
Beware of the Death Explorer.
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.
My other car is a rocket-propelled grenade.
Live long and prosper. In an Altima.
Just two good ol' boys.
Nicotine is my crash helmet.
Jazz hands moms.
Ugly lug nuts.
My honor student can kick your ass.
Horse and buddy.
Rich at work sends along this note:
You have to admire the inventiveness and psychological manipulation that is today’s modern advertising world.
This is from a media newsletter I get:
Nike effort celebrates the body real
Taking a page from Dove's "Real Women, Real Curves" campaign, Nike has introduced a print effort that features women's "big butts, thunder thighs and tomboy knees." The ads, via Nike's longtime AOR Wieden + Kennedy Portland, features six different parts of the body, including a posterior in an ad that shows a well-rounded butt and copy, "My Butt is big and round like the letter C, and 10,000 lunges have made it rounder but not smaller. And that's just fine. It's a space heater for my side of the bed. It's my ambassador. To those who walk behind me, it's a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales. My butt is big and that's just fine. And those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it. Just do it." Other ads refer to "thunder thighs," legs that "were once two hairy sticks" and shoulders that "aren't dainty."
“The castle in the dream was Duino, beneath whose walls the Penis Carrot had passed during the crossing on his recent journey. It was the same place where, fourteen years later, the Penis Carrot would hear in the wind the first words of his Elegies, in which imagined his death as an interior transformation. In the end, before his own death, perhaps even in his own poetry, the Penis Carrot deceived himself and made others complicit in his deception. While in dreams, he, too, might have longed to deny death, the Penis Carrot would not allow himself to fall into the same error.”
Apparently my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), has some uninvited houseguests chomping on the vintage at his homestead on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.
You have to excuse him. He's the sort of guy who types in all caps:
Yeah!!!!! We go ahead and feed the babies, ---- SEE WHAT THEY DID!!!!!!!!!!!! Just about cleaned us out, and just like they say on the TV commercials -- And That's Not All!!!!!
Then, Cecile looked out the front window and see who is eating her flowers??????? C. worked all summer long trying to get the place looking pretty and WHAMMO, Yeah, Feed the babies!!!!!!
This is on the front deck!!!!! Feed the Babies!!!!!!!!!!!!Oh they are so cute---FEED THE BABIES!!!!!!
Where's Momma?????????? That is her job!!!! They are her babies, not ours!!!!!!!!!!!
WELL, I GUESS THEY FOUND A HOME. THEY ARE SLEEPING IN OUR YARD.
We certainly are at Casa del Ensalada. Tonight we get a little bit of a fix with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Tennessee Titans in their first preseason game.
It's pretty easy to tell when it's game day:
The latest Big Question column is up. Albeit with some sort of lopping of the lead paragraph.
Be sure to vote in this week's poll. Vote early, vote often.
On a positive note, it was heartwarming the other night to see that he had officially learned the official Salad Family Posture, namely laying on his back, legs spread, with demonic eye glare while chewing on something in the living room.
Web find of the week: The blog called Old Grandma Hardcore.
The site chronicles the video gaming interests - and profane frustrations - of a 69-year-old grandmother who plays Playstation 2 all day. And screams foul epithets at her television.
I had tears streaming down my face at work on Wednesday as I read this:
At around 9 a.m. this morning, Grandma was in the kitchen drinking some coffee. "I swear to GOD, if I can't figure out where this FUCKING doll's head is..." Grandma is stuck in Fatal Frame 2: The Crimson Butterfly for the Playstation 2. Apparently she's missing an item and can't continue; she wanders the games hallways searching for ghosts that, at the moment; make noise and do not appear, screaming "WHERE IS THE GOD DAMN GHOST?? I HEAR IT!! DO YOU HEAR IT?? I FUCKING HEAR IT!! IT ISN'T FUCKING THERE!!! FUCK!!!!"
Grandma wears a hearing aid. She turns up the amplifier so the desk, shelves and walls shake. Her uninhibited screaming augments the explosion of noise coming from the East side of our house. The center of the house vibrates to superhappy J-Pop from Katamari Damacy. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to "get away from it all" when you have to study or, say- sleep for instance. I don't mind, don't get me wrong; a 69 year old video game playing granny is not something one takes lightly. Never had I sat in the living room studying the DSM-IV thinking to myself "You know, I really wish Grandma would stop yelling the word 'cocksucker' while playing Contra."
There is always a solution.
No solution, however, comes without conflict. I may be grooving to Rilo Kiley on the couch reading a book and smoking a cigarette; enjoying a mid-evening cocktail if you will; and I look up to see a frustrated Grandma looking down at me.
"Take off the headphones! I've been screaming and screaming for you! I thought you left!"
"Jesus! Why, what's wrong?"
"I can't find any more ammo."
"I keep running out of fucking ammo! You have to beat this guy."
"I've never played that game."
"Well I can't fucking do it, god dammit!!"
The next stage of this oft repeated ritual usually involves me asking what buttons do what; dying a whole bunch of times and giving up and going back to whatever I was doing. A half hour later or so, a triumphant Grandma will appear in the kitchen.
"I GOT the bastard!"
For a real scream, check out the video clips listed on the right side of the site. For a sample, try this R-rated one:
Grandma's favorite word.
As we've explained earlier, interest in All Things Britney continues to wane.
But then someone like Friend of the Salad Katherine sends us a glorious tidbit to keep the home fires burning. She writes:
From the comments section of The Hollywood Rag, talking about Kev Fed's new hairdo:
"The funny part about this do is that someone knowingly and willingly took Britters money to make KFed look like he as a map of the trailer park where he grew up on his head. Seriously... each row of braids is like a row of trailers; where the braids meet is a main road thru the park and the tail at the bottom is like the driveway into hell!!!!"
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS OF
YOUR MOMENT OF BRITNEY
Gallery of the Absurd.
Brit and KFed, the ill-advised reality TV series.
Lights, camera, Britney.
Britney wears the glamorous life.
Britney takes a palimony suit.
Something old, something new.
Britney takes a groom. Again.
Britney defends her latest love.
Britney marries a childhood friend. For 50 hours.
Britney swaps spit with the Rosetta Stone of Skank.
Britney poses for photos that make her look even more plastic and lifeless than she already is.
Britney, as she would look if she hit the all-you-can-eat Seafood Lovers Special at Red Lobster every night for six months.
Britney runs a restaurant into the ground.
Britney has an evil twin available for parties.
Britney and George cut a rug.
Britney proves the axiom: Beer affects the way males respond to females.
Took Salad Boy to his first concert on Saturday night, the Toby Keith show at the Ford Amphitheatre. Although some serious storms threatened, the evening turned out beautiful, with a coral-colored sunset appearing just as middle act Lee Ann Womack came on.
He later corrected me.
"Don't say cowboy hat, Dad. It sounds like a little boy."
"What do you want me to call it? A Toby Keith hat?"
"Yeah. That sounds better."
Ah, the tender ego of a 10-year-old.
Of course after having to look at it all night right at my line of sight, I was tempted to re-injure it for her.
Dan Marino is being inducted today into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, today.
His achievements are undeniable, including:
• 9-time Pro Bowl selection
• 8-time All-Pro selection
• 6-time All-AFC selection
• 1983 Rookie of the Year
• 1984 NFL Most Valuable Player
Coincidentally, he's also putting his little fixer-upper in Weston, Fla., on the block. You can take a virtual tour by clicking the site.
Asking price: $15.9 million.
Well, Steve's co-writing a new blog, Stuck In The 80s. And even though he writes it for a competing publication, I'm all about showing the boy some love because, hey, we've shared moments of great intoxication together, not the least of which took place while he was a groomsman in my wedding.
I'm not all that nostalgic for the decade, really. For me it represents a time of bad hair, horrific girlfriends, poor academics, mononucleosis, blown-out knee and ankle ligaments and multiple car wrecks (most of which were of my own doing). But I met Steve in the '80s, and I met my bride during the end of that decade, two experiences that redeem the entire experience.
His blog got me to thinking of some '80s movies that wouldn't have been as big a hit with the following names:
A new member of the Salad Family: