Now that you've all had time to celebrate my demise, it's time to get back to work. Natch, this week it's What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Part 1).
There sure is a lot of America out there, really a lot of Americas. We drove to Georgia, slept, drove to Lexington, Kentucky, and arrived at a motel at about 8:00, in time to catch the end of the Rockets-Knicks game. We signed in, and I ran across the street to a mini-market. I grabbed a cold six-pack and placed it on the counter. The prim woman looked at me strangely: "Sir, we aren't allowed to sell beer on Sundays." The next day we made it up to Detroit, where we hung out with my friend of more than twenty years, Ben Bank, his wife, Nancy, and their little son, Simon.
Downtown Detroit is just like downtown Miami, except it's all brick instead of all glass and there's a big river instead of a big ocean. We rode the Motor City's version of the People Mover (called the Mugger Mover up there), and it made me think our own elevated train ain't that bad -- the thing chugged and rattled like something from another century. The Fisher Building is tall and looks like something took a bite out of the top of it. GM Galactic Headquarters is a pretty big building, not overwhelming. Except for one thing -- there are four buildings that size composing GM's corporate hangout. We went to Detroit Race Course to see the horses run, but instead they had donkeys. Oh, okay, so they were horses -- $4000 claimers that hadn't won in a year. A mile-long dirt oval and an overall spartan ambiance -- really made me appreciate the beauty of Gulfstream, Hialeah, even Calder. But we won a little money, with Ben especially scoring a few nice cashes, and then we went back to his house and barbecued one of the losers.
When you stand outside the Joe Louis Arena or the Renaissance Center and look south across the Detroit River you see Canada (yes, part of Canada is south of Detroit, USA -- weird). You see the Windsor Casino, which offers a critical lesson for those states (ahem) considering the idea of legalizing just one megacasino. Doesn't work. You have to wait in line for a seat at the $25 blackjack tables. Sick. You have to wait in line to play dollar slots. You pay $25 to park at the casino. You have to pay for your drinks -- that never happens in Vegas, I can tell ya. Gambling at Windsor is tricky because first you have to change your real money into Canadian money (much like Monopoly money) and then convert that into tokens or chips at the casino. The coolest thing about Canada is that you can buy beer that's six, seven percent alcohol, more than twice as potent as American brews.
The centerpiece of the trip was the Mafia wedding in Muncie, Indiana, of Mr. Lenny "The Pro" Pronesti and the lovely (and really cool) Susie Grunin. Juan Casas (part of the family, as it were) rented a limo for the bachelor party -- Juan, Lenny, me, and the bride's brother, Greg, cruised over to Indianapolis. As soon as the limo driver found out Juan and I were outta Miami, he asked to hold the plastic. When we loaded up on beer, we walked out before collecting the 50 cents change. "That's okay, keep it, we're rock stars."
In Indy we hit a killer blues bar with a decent band, and I remarked that the place reminded me of a young Tobacco Road. Young? The Slippery Noodle, I learned later, was founded in 1850. Not 1950, 1850. Then, at some dance club, Lenny told me that the next time I saw Juan to tell him Lenny was waiting in the car. I spotted Juan rapping with three attractive young women (is that the politically correct way of saying "babes"?). I walked up to him and in my hoarsest semiwhisper said, "Mr. Pronesti is waiting in the limo." The three women bolted.
The wedding itself was beautiful -- nondenominational and summery -- and the reception was, of course, even better, although I couldn't persuade the DJ to play any Snoop Dog. Buying beer in Muncie is a mindblow. One place told me they didn't have beer -- "Can't you see the church across the street? You can't sell beer next to a church, you Miami idiot." They have a law that says convenience and grocery stores can sell only warm beer. Liquor stores can sell cold beer, but they aren't allowed to sell cold soda. Also, they have something in Indiana called earwigs -- bugs that bite, or as Ben explained to me when we returned to Detroit after the wedding, "Earwigs are centipedes with attitude." We don't have earwigs in Miami, thank goodness. We also don't have the placid ease of life in places such as Muncie, where nobody sweats nothing.
Not in Erie, Michigan, either, which is right on the Ohio border, next to Toledo. We spent a couple of days there, visiting Brad and Nancy and D.J. at a big old house on a big old lake. (There's a lot of water out there in America -- because Lake Erie bumps places such as Toledo and Detroit, you see marinas and boats and fish markets and bait shops. Just like Miami -- in fact, the water near Brad and Nancy's house is suffering some bizarre contamination for which scientists were testing and such. Dirty water is universal.) Brad's son, Chris, age seven, helped me fish the lake anyway, just for fun. (It was Chris who, about five years ago, when he was first learning to talk, renamed our cat Lenore by calling her "Norrs.")
Then we drove to New Yawk. Wait. This is getting boring, huh? I'll pick up the rest of the story in next week's coly, but for now I have big, big news: The Chant, the greatest rock band of all time, will play their tenth anniversary Last Waltz show on Saturday at Churchill's Hideaway. They say it'll likely be their last show ever. Don't miss. Day by the River plays the Church tomorrow (Friday).
This Sunday at North Beach Park is a huge local musicathon I heard about on Jaz McKay's radio show, which had as guests Crunch Symphony. Jaz's band, Alien, the Symphony, and about a dozen others will play for your traveling pleasure.
Le Coup rolls into Squeeze tomorrow (Friday).
While trying to dial in World Cup at one motel room or another, I came across this thing called MTV. I'd heard of it, but never really watched it. I thought it was all music videos, but instead it was programs. Anyway, when I got back to Miami I had a note in my box stating, "Hey, I don't watch MTV, but I heard a rumor that Harry Pussy was featured on 120 Minutes and that they even had video footage of them playing live." By the way, Harry has a new seven-inch out. And also, Melissa Omwake, of Miami, won MTV's "Aerosmith on Monster Island" contest.
Not on MTV, but on Channel 2 (WPBT-TV): Gary King and the Dream appear Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Song of the month: "Backstabbers" by the O'Jays.
The other day Geraldo had a bunch of old pop stars on his show. Each lip-synched a classic (Gary U.S. Bonds mouthing "Quarter to Three" was especially pathetic). One guest actually sang over a backing track -- KC. A taster that was for the real thing A KC in concert at the Cameo on July 24.
Tomorrow (Friday) it's Nuclear Valdez rocking the Button South.
A good source tells me that Warren Zevon is currently working with a co-songwriter -- author, Miami Herald columnist, and all-around good guy Carl Hiaasen. Can't wait to hear what they come up with (lots of songs about fishing, I bet).
Cruise down to the Chili Pepper tonight (Thursday) for the big WVUM-FM benefit. Your five bucks will help the station, and you get the alt-dance grooves of super-DJ Carlos Menendez.
Marianne Flemming's special guest tomorrow (Friday) at Nocturnal Cafe is the ever lovable Magda Hiller. The two also will perform together.
That videotape of the Rock-ya-ma-call-it show (on Selkirk Channel 3) came in handy on vacay -- I could show people in Indiana and Michigan and Ohio and New Yawk clips of the South Florida bands that make this place worth living in. Send your videos to Lynn Greco, 644 S. Andrews Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301. Greco also produces a show on Channel 3 called Center Stage, which I recommend you check out each Friday at 9:30 p.m. or Sunday at 9:00 p.m.
Excessive plays tomorrow (Friday) at the Plus Five.
This Saturday is the Miami CD release party for the Holy Terrors Lolitaville at the Gallery of the Unknown Artists, with Cell 63 on the bill. The boys in Cell are calling it "a multimedia showcase" entitled "Once Upon a...." Several paintings by John Wayne Gacy will be on display as well. It's free.
Recipe of the week: (And you thought we forgot about this feature.) My friend JB was fishing off a party boat the other day when his line got cut off. After scoping the types of baitfish near the boat, he asked a mate for a kingfish rig. The mate laughed A there's no kings around here now, you fool. So JB caught two kingfish, both nearly twenty pounds. Here's my recipe for ceviche: Get some fresh kingfish from JB. Grill it lightly (or simply use it raw) and cut into chunks. Take one green pepper grown by my dad in his garden in South Carolina. Chop it up. Take one Vidalia onion from somewhere in Georgia. Chop it up. Squeeze the juice from a few Homestead limes. Add some vinegar (any vinegar), chopped green olives, a dash of hot sauce, and a pinch of sugar. Put it all in a jar for a few days and enjoy.
Drop by Borders tomorrow (Friday) evening at 8:00 for Louis Jurika.
The Baboons play live tonight (Thursday) at the Center for the Fine Arts, which is currently featuring Latin American art. Cuban food will be served up at the show, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. This party is free.
This week's Friday Night Live stars Reunion playing oldies rock at South Pointe, free.
Bob Ronco wrote me a note that says, "Thanks for helping expose Ted Nugent for the brutal, archaic fool that he is! Thanks again." It wasn't too difficult, Bob. By the way, I drove by (did a drive-by?) Nugent's Michigan theme park (for lack of a better term). One thing I noticed on this excursion was several roadkilled deer. This makes me wonder: Why do these hunters crawl deep into the forest, hide out, et cetera? Why not just sit out by the highway at night? The deer are dead (not meat, usually) either way. My dad, sitting on the deck in South Carolina, told me he argues with some of his co-workers, whom he calls, sarcasm dripping, "great white hunters." Dad says, "If they hunt for the thrill, why don't they hunt with a camera instead of a gun? They hunt for the kill. The blood."
The anticipated Rooster Head album should be out in August, the band says, and will include a new song, "Jesus Christ Revisited," featuring contributions from the Baboons.
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This Hollywood Rock, Rhythm and Blues Music Fest at Young Circle all weekend should be a trip. Nil Lara, Mary Karlzen, Natural Causes, Roach Thompson, and about a dozen other great bands will play. Call 921-3399.
Megaforce recording artists Nudeswirl need a new singer-guitarist. Send your tape and phone number to Nudeswirl, c/o Megaforce Records, 210 Bridge Plaza Dr., Manalapan, NJ 07726.
Butthorn of the week: Everyone who doesn't realize the simple solution re: the O.J. Simpson case. There were two killers, you fools.
The media circus: On the road we heard a radio news report concerning a rare quadruple homicide in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "The killings come at the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, bringing thousands of tourists to the area." Killings do attract crowds, I suppose.