Pink Death

Pink Death

My pal Penn Jillette once owned a vehicle named Pink Death. It was a Ford Bronco painted a color Penn invented, called “Stripper Inner Labia Pink.”  So candy-colored pink was this car, that the guy at the body shop made Penn stand there and watch as they gave his formerly butch truck something like a hundred coats to get it the right blush of “Inner Labia Pink,” which is, “Stripper.” There is actually a paint-chip named Stripper.

Damn I love this country.

I spent a week zipping around Vegas with Penn on assignment from Playboy and it was a holy hoot watching people’s reactions to Pink Death. It were as if the goddamn thing were radioactive. Even twenty years ago in Vegas this was regarded as weird.

Penn is full of funny traits and quirky observations; one of the benefits of being his friend is, though we are polar opposites in some of our political beliefs, we never fail to crack each other up. He is also one of the smartest people I’ve ever known with a searching intellect and endlessly inquisitive mind that wants to know the nuances of every single thing that interests him.

For years, Penn and Teller have had a bit where a rabbit winds up in a chipper and for years, Penn convinced me that they actually just threw the fucking rabbit into the chipper.  “Rabbits are CHEAP,” Penn would explain, and I believed him. That’s a bad habit of mine; believing Penn when he’s pulling my joint.

He once staged an elaborate subterfuge to get me to believe that everyone we knew got a discount from Federal Express, except me. He surreptitiously emailed all of my friends to get them to go along with the gag and I believed them.

So, like an asshole, I called FedEx and asked them if they thought I was a fucking mark. I told them that I used FedEx almost everyday and that I should get the discount that my friends enjoy.

They asked me what I was referring to. That while they valued my business, their rates were their rates and everyone paid the same. I told them I wasn’t some douche-bag or a mark; that I knew how this game was played and I wanted in on the discount, and to quit working my stick.

The woman, Nora, assured me that there was no secret discount and that I was mistaken, which just infuriated me. I started yelling, “I’m not a sucker, lady. I’m not some fucking hick you can jerk-off like Dickie Dope. I’m not a mark.” And I added “Now don’t fuck around with me Nora. I’m in no mood!”

She asked me who told me this and I said all of my friends had told me, in fact, Penn…

PENN! Mother-fucker. That Mother-fucker.

Then I got it. I swear I could hear him laughing his Newfie ass off all the way from Vegas.

The “Tony Called FedEx” story was born and all of my friends know it. And at every opportunity Penn relates it, with great relish and much embroidery to entertain all who are present, including me—the Sap who called FedEx.

I used to draw rabbits for my mother. As a kid, my sisters had them as pets and they got huge. They were also not as gentle as you might think. I saw one of our bunnies kick the holy dog-shit out of a wild rabbit that had come into the yard and attempted to eat some of his food. They’re nasty little fuckers and territorial as hell. Whenever I felt the need to get out of the doghouse with my mom, I’d draw her a rabbit or a bird and she would then become convinced of my better side long enough to get me out of the house and back on the street with my friends. I was good at charming my mother. I once sold her a baggie full of Cheerios by telling her they were “donut seeds.” She gave me a buck. Even I, as a child had some of the Penn Jillette carny-trash in me.

In the city where I live, you mostly see squirrels, though lately I’ve noticed a lot more rabbits. I like them. I love drawing their odd shape and when I spot one, the stillness of them is almost eerie. Often they freeze right in the middle of the road and get creamed, which is kind of a dumb-fuck way to get killed. At least squirrels run away.

I found out later that Penn and Teller don’t kill the rabbits—cheap or not, they actually treat them quite well. As Penn explained, “Hey, the little fuckers work six shows a week.”

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Published in: on July 31, 2014 at 1:58 am  Comments (1)  
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Star for the Night Radio

Star for the Night Radio
For about a decade, I had a job working in radio.  Not really a career, as I was only full time for about a year, mostly I reviewed horror and crime movies with my pal, Buzz Kilman and did various fill-in jobs for other hosts when they were on vacation or otherwise absent.  For a long time I really enjoyed it.  It was getting paid to fuck off and have a good time.  WLUP paid for my movies and then paid me to talk about them.  It was great.  Buzz and I had the same taste in films; we loved horror movies and action movies and slowly I found out we just loved movies.  In the beginning, we only reviewed horror films and action films–our kind of movies–but as our show grew more popular we were forced to review shit like When Harry met Sally and other “chick flicks” and found that our show was good, maybe even better, when we didn’t want to see the movies.  Siskel and Ebert we were not. Actually, we  enjoyed extolling the virtues of splatter films that those fine men abhorred.  We loved a good “quality kill;” an exploding head a la Scanners, or a protruding pineal gland, like in Basket Case.  We were kind of the anti-critics and we never confused movies with real life like many of the bone-headed censors do.  I’ve never thought life much imitated art, but quite the contrary.  It was a fun job.  I always thought one could do amazing stuff with radio as a medium if  the right imaginations were involved.  Not that I ever did any.

Regrettably, most of the radio I was involved in besides Drive-In Reviews was standard run-of-the-mill FM drivel that did nothing to distinguish itself.  It is one of my great regrets that I squandered this opportunity.  Especially in light of what others have done with it.
Studs Terkel dignified the medium for 50 years.  Ira Glass reinvented radio as real-life theater with This American Life and every day Terri Gross delivers illuminating interviews and intelligent perspective on Fresh Air.  I feel like I could have done more with the opportunity I had.

I quit in 1997, over a decade ago and remarkably, people still recognize my voice from “The Loop.”  I quit after I noticed the mean-spirited shows coming on and beginning to hold sway over this country.  Not that we at the Loop were gentle; we could be thoughtlessly cruel, and I regret what part I had in this as well.  Sadly, I was not above this.  Were there targets deserving of this pillory?  Mostly. . .yeah.  I still don’t  feel bad about the merciless pounding Penn Jillette and I issued to a “radio psychic” one night who had it coming and decided to take on Penn.  Mr. Jillette pounded the snot out of this guy but good.  He was one of those “cold readers” whom sad and lonely people would call with real life problems that required real professional help and not fakery.  Any number of these folks sounded like they could’ve benefitted from a psychiatric professional or medical help, and the “psychic” quacks can do real damage in this setting.

After I quit, I more or less stopped listening to the radio, other than NPR in the morning and news radio once in a while.  I mostly listen to music.  When I’d tune in once in a while, I was appalled at the level of hate radio; the Limbaughs, Becks, O’Reillys, Savages and a whole bunch on Air America as well.  Left or right–it was vicious.  Talk radio had become the worst neighborhood in our country.

Radio seems to thrive on instilling fear of each other into the atmosphere.  In my drives across country I’ve heard the most racist, anti-semitic, homophobic crap on the planet, the religious stations of the South and Southwest being among the worst of them.  These folks scare the holy dog-shit out of me.  There are times when I stare at the radio and I suppose this is the desired result.

There are other times when I listen to the classical station late at night and they’ll be playing Chopin nocturnes or Mahler or, on occasion, a furious storm of Shostkovich, and the radio is a great balm to the end of a hard day.  On Monday nights I listen to my pal Tom Marker’s Blues Breakers and the radio takes me to humid places where I can smell BarBQ and sweet tea.  Marker is a student of the blues and nothing escapes his notice; one of those great radio DJs that loves what they do, like the great Dick Buckley, Johnny Mars and Herb Kent, The Cool Gent.  Those voices I remain grateful for; out there like ether, in the night  air.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pink Death

Pink DeathMy pal, Penn Jillette, once owned a vehicle named Pink Death.  It was a Ford Bronco painted a color Penn invented called “Stripper Inner Labia Pink.”  So candy-colored pink was this car, that the guy at the body shop made Penn  stand there and watch as they gave his formerly butch truck something like a hundred coats to get it the right blush of “Inner Labia Pink,” which is, “Stripper.”

I spent a week zipping around Vegas with Penn on assignment from Playboy and it was a holy hoot watching people’s reactions to Pink Death.  It were as if the goddamn thing were radioactive.

For years, Penn and Teller have had a bit where a rabbit winds up in a chipper and for years, Penn convinced me that they actually just threw the fucking rabbit into the chipper.  “Rabbits are CHEAP,” Penn would explain, and I believed him.  That’s a bad habit of mine; believing Penn when he’s pulling my joint.  He once staged an elaborate subterfuge to get me to believe that everyone got a discount from Federal Express, except me.  He surreptitiously e-mailed all of my friends to get them to go along with the gag and I believed them.  I called Fed-Ex and asked them if they thought I was a fucking mark.  I told them that I used Fed Ex almost everyday and that I should get the discount that my friends enjoy.

They asked me what I was referring to.  That while they valued my business, their rates were their rates and everyone paid the same.

I told them I wasn’t some douche-bag or a mark; that I knew how this game was played and I wanted in to the discount, and to quit working my stick.

The woman, Nora, assured me that there was no secret discount and that I was mistaken, which just infuriated me.  I started yelling, “I’m not a sucker, lady.  I’m not some fucking hick you can jerk-off like Dickie-Dope.  I’m not a mark.”

She asked me who told me this and I said all of my friends had told me, in fact, Penn. . .

Then I got it.  I swear I could hear him laughing his Newfie ass off all the way in Vegas.

The “Tony Called Fed-Ex” story was born and all of my friends know it.

I used to draw rabbits for my mother. As a kid, my sisters had them as pets and they got huge.  They were also not as gentle as you might think.  I saw one of our bunnies kick the holy dogshit out of a wild rabbit that had come into the yard and attempted to eat some of his food.  They’re nasty little fuckers and territorial as hell.  Whenever I felt the need to get out of the doghouse with my mom, I’d draw her a rabbit or a bird and she would then become convinced of my better side long enough to get me out of the house and back on the street with my friends.  I was good at charming my mother.  I once sold her a baggie full of Cheerios by telling her they were “donut seeds.”  She gave me a buck.

In the city where I live, you mostly see squirrels, though lately I’ve noticed a lot more rabbits.  I like them.  I love drawing their odd shape and when I spot one, the stillness of them is almost eerie.  Often they freeze right in the middle of the road and get creamed, which is kind of a dumbfuck way to get killed.  At least squirrels run away.

This piece is called Pink Death.  He is a radioactive rabbit.  His power is when he pisses on something in your garden. . . it dies.

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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