Thursday, September 20, 2007

Farrell Street's Heavenly Bar Hop

You’ve heard the question.

“Who would you like to meet when you get to heaven?”

The answers you hear include deceased relatives, friends, and even the random house pet; dogs are a big one. But, if there is a heaven, you’ve forgotten one important fact: You’re probably not getting in.

If you’ve never read the bible or any of the Ten Commandments, check them out. You and all your friends have probably broken every last one of them, weekly. But, who knows? Maybe the standards will have lowered when your turn is up.

Here at Farrell Street, we’re a spiritual bunch. Over the past few years, I’ve always thought the idea of heaven is different for everyone. Each person’s idea of the afterlife doesn’t necessarily include white clouds, pearly gates, and angel wings for all. For example, I have a friend whose ideal heaven would include him, a couch, a plasma HD television, cases of bottled Budweiser, and an endless supply of Buffalo chicken subs from across the street. I think my girlfriend’s heaven would consist of daily ballet classes, endless scrod dinners, and her television showing “Gilmore Girls,” “America’s Top Model,” and “The Office” on a continuous loop while she nestled into a recliner with the cat from “Sabrina The Teenage Witch.”

So, what if? What if heaven consisted of your ideal situation, as long as it was peaceful and decent? Sure, you could chat with your deceased relatives and play fetch with your dog, Mr. Peabody, who was mauled by that passing garbage truck in 1984. But what about activities you never thought possible until, by the grace of The Almighty, you gained admittance into your heaven? You could play catch with Lou Gehrig, play guitar with Buddy Holly, and slow dance with Marilyn Monroe. Pretty crazy, but it’s your afterlife.

If we at Farrell Street could devise such a reality, we’d devise a heavenly bar hop.

A mortal hop would usually be a collection of five of your sociable friends whose personal traits vary, yet mold to form a cohesive and competent drinking unit. There’s your political friend who badmouths the government and its intrusive policies more vehemently with every beer, but does so coherently and intelligently. There’s your financially minded pal who talks about investments, buying property, and the kind of money he’s putting away weekly; there has to be somebody who actually cares about work. Your addict friend is brimming with potential, but he’s there as a window to past days of addled nights and weekends, even though you no longer live them. Luckily, his stories of when you used to share drugs still make you seem nostalgically dangerous. Even though he’s almost 30, your meathead friend still thinks a fight could break out at any minute; even after eight Jack and Cokes, he’s still cocked, rocked, and ready. Finally, your pop culture friend is an inebriated historian, there to make references from film and song with impressive efficiency no matter the booze tally. He keeps the group laughing with quotes and impressions you’ve long since deemed irrelevant. Hopefully, you’re the guy with the sports statistics and vehement hatred for certain teams who’ve always wronged yours. If not, you need one of them as well.

In the afterlife, this representation would have to be bested or matched with a skeleton crew of high profile tilters. Before embarking on this testosterone-fueled tour de force, I’d draft a collection of dead musicians, actors, and athletes to fill the essential bar hop roles. We’d have to move from tavern to pub with the same efficiency and hilarity as our mortal hop would. After all, this is supposed to be ideal, right? I don’t want to drink beers with John Belushi if he’s going to frighten me more than my addict friend; I want him to be an upgrade. With this in mind, here is Farrell Street’s desired roster for our heavenly bar hop:

1. John Wayne – If I wanted muscle with a hair-trigger temper, I’d draft Oscar-winner and American legend Wayne. Originally named Marion Morrison, The Duke played football for USC before a surfing accident ended his football career. Lucky for him, there were horses to tame, vagrants to wrestle, and women to woo on the big screen. When the cameras were rolling, the man never let Indians or native Irish in “The Quiet Man” get the jump on him, so I doubt he’d let some drunken roamer within ten feet of our ale coalition. After seeing his legendary donnybrook with Victor McLaglen in that film, I doubt any altercation would last for more than two punches. Also, Wayne was responsible for the only major motion picture (“The Green Berets”) that actually supported the Vietnam War, so he’s not concerned with being popular. As he’d sip room-temperature whiskey from a dirty juice glass and rip through the first of his five packs of non-filtered Luckys, he’d watch our backs while I asked him why he supported McCarthyism, whether he liked the theme song for his film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,” and most importantly, whether Maureen O’Hara’s looks in 1953 could have single-handedly facilitated world peace. These are the kind of details I want out of the evening muscle.

2. Richard Pryor – Every hop needs a comedian. If you can get one that once supposedly doused himself in high-octane rum, lit himself on fire, then later incorporated the “accident” into his stand-up routine, he needs to be enlisted. In most professional circles, Pryor is considered one of the most influential comedians in the history of the trade, inspiring the brilliance of such household names as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, and Dave Chappelle. His irreverence was groundbreaking, moving a generation of comedians away from standard, socially acceptable fare and toward such taboos as sex and drugs with the gratuitous use of Pryor’s favorite word, “motherfucker.” As a child in Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother’s brothel, where his mother was a prostitute and his father a bartender, boxer, and a pimp. With a background like this, his material had to be edgy or it would have been a lie. As we’d bounce from pub to pub, he could tell us about how he co-wrote “Blazing Saddles,” which is consistently ranked amongst the greatest comedies of all time. He could describe the tension between him and Chevy Chase during their classic word association sketch on “Saturday Night Live,” a clip that remains as controversial today as it was in the late 1970s. And finally, he could tell us what he thinks about his classic 1985 movie, “Brewster’s Millions,” being shown on TBS every week since 1998.

3. John Lennon – If one of my hoppers is going to get drunk on Brandy Alexanders and talk my ear off about the ills of the Republican Party, I’d like it to be someone with credibility. Since Lennon was under surveillance by the Nixon administration and was subjected to phone taps, dope frames, and attempted deportations, he’d surely have some venom. When he flies off the handle about the ills of the political machine, I’ll be able to patiently nod while I wait for other information to seep off his liquored tongue. I’d like to know who came up with the “Paul Is Dead” ruse, why McCartney was permitted to ever make the “Magical Mystery Tour” movie, and what was the exact narcotic concoction that inspired “Revolution 9” off The White Album? Why all the Asian women, and why the cover shoot for the Two Virgins album? Also, how pissed was he when Blues Traveler changed the words to “Imagine” on their rendition for his tribute album? Politics aside, Lennon’s presence would provide too many answers to too many questions, so his inclusion would be mandatory. If some of these questions were interrupted by his nihilistic ballad “God” on the heavenly jukebox, all the more appropriate. Actually, all the more ironic.

4. Dick Schaap – A controversial choice? Sure. Why would we want some Cornell intellectual who enjoys his dry martinis or aged scotch more than a dirty pint of Miller High Life? Simple. The guy knows anything and everything there is to know about sports. He’s been involved with the writing of 33 sports-related books, was the assistant editor of sports for Newsweek, the editor of Sport magazine, and became host of ESPN’s weekly roundtable, “The Sports Reporters” in 1988. The program opened the door for the countless sports debate shows that currently litter cable networks; fortunately for Schaap, “The Sports Reporters” still remains the best of its kind. The guy has interviewed every major athlete from Joe Namath to Ali to Michael Jordan, so he’d be able to serve as a legitimate referee for any sports argument that took place. Two years ago, I was on a bar hop in which one of my friends claimed Terrell Davis to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Since Schaap has cast Hall of Fame votes throughout his career, his experience could have defused this debate before it approached the edge of ridiculousness. (That same friend claimed Davis to be the best NFL back since Walter Payton, so you get the idea.) Also, since he’s of responsible ilk, he’d probably remain the most sober on the hop as well. This would serve the group well as it rounded bar #12, with Schaap in tow dropping nuggets like, “In my opinion, the best athlete of all time, without a doubt, is Bo Jackson.”

5. Jerry Garcia – Would Jerry be a cannabis-fueled drag on a bar hop? Maybe, but there has to be one person responsible for keeping everyone relaxed and at ease, so who’d be better? If Lennon gets too militant or The Duke starts throwing right hooks too early in the evening, who would be more calming than Jerry? In the Rolling Stones Altamont Speedway disaster documentary, “Gimme Shelter,” Garcia is incredibly composed and rational when told by a roadie that the Hell’s Angels are causing unnecessary havoc at an intended Woodstock redo. Understandably, Garcia may have had any number of chemicals rifling through his body during that scene, but his tone was so calming that his presence couldn’t do anything but enhance the serenity of our heavenly jaunt. Plus, who is more equipped to handle the evening’s inevitable “still looking for love” talk than the man whose band’s San Francisco performance in 1967 ignited the “Summer of Love”? Who better than a guy who married someone named “Mountain Girl,” twice? The Grateful Dead’s music inspired a legion of vagabond hippies to drop their lives, load into VW vans, and sell cosmic grilled cheese sandwiches as they followed Garcia and company across the United States. Why? All in the name of love, man. And sex. And drugs. And delicious grilled cheese.

So there’s our crew. Will we bond to form the cohesive unit necessary for a successful Saturday afternoon bar hop? With the heavenly guidance of The Almighty, we hope so. But, unfortunately, there’s really no telling what would happen. The Duke might get into a quartered duel with a Mexican soldier and land us all in the clink. After his 9th Pabst, Pryor might try to freebase cocaine after a fan of “The Toy” approaches him for an autograph. John Ono might derail the day by dropping acid and disappearing out the back door of an Asian karaoke bar. Schaap might find himself in a winner-take-all chess match, and Garcia might get into a low-scale hipster debate with a Jefferson Airplane fan about who exactly defined “The San Francisco Sound.” (Was it Jerry’s echoed and transcendent bluegrass guitar picking with The Dead, or was it Grace Slick’s unbridled wailing in the front of psychedelic imagery with Airplane?)

Since we’re not dead yet, there’s no way to forecast. Until the gates of heaven are opened, we here at Farrell Street plan to keep the invitations etched and waiting. To the bars of the afterlife, we ask that you keep your jukeboxes ready, your draft beer affordable, and one leather-upholstered back booth reserved.

You don’t want to anger The Duke.

No comments: