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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blogging Your Face Off

As a filler for all (whoever you are) who wait for my eventual "breakthrough" inaugural blog entry, here's a look into the sick world of fantasy football taunting. This is my first weekly round-up for my league, and I'm sharing it only to give any lonely soul reading this an idea of the tone this "blog" will strive for. Sure, you won't know who any of these people are, and you won't understand any of the inside jokes. Still, you'll at least get the tone and jokes about Poison.

Until that first, original entry, enjoy:

As I write this, I'm listening to The Beatles' "Back In The USSR."

Why? Well, I wanted to get into a mindset of familiarity to write this stupid fantasy football shit for the 15th year in-a-row. I've been listening to The Beatles since my fat head emerged from a Jeanne Farrell c-section back in 1978, so do you see the parallels?

It's time for another year of jokes about Sam's affinity for Aerosmith, stone-wash jeans, and slanted, blanket statements, like "Terrell Davis is the best running back of all time." It's time to discuss Abe's love for marijuana, even though his old lady has straightened him out to the degree that he now owns multiple pairs of pressed chinos -- and wears them regularly. "Big Guy loves liquor" jokes will follow, as will digs at Phelps, Oneida, and Colin, who most of us only know as "the guy who works with Baker, wears a Red Wings hat, and has a shitty team every year."

And, as usual, there will be no jokes about Thielman. JT is my Buffalo Messiah, and this rule is my 11th commandment.

Without further adieu, let's get this thing rolling. In honor of Baker's new Jersey land acquisition, Springsteen's "The Ties That Bind" is now serenading this typing, this week's Farrell Four.

1. The Man vs. The Machine - During our on-line draft in August, Sam poured himself a nice, crisp glass of Powerade, put a pencil behind his ear, and laid out his resources across the Man Room floor. He gave Kelly enough copies of US Weekly to last well into the Nutley night. Then, amongst his commemorative plates and freaky Don Mattingly figurines, he started to draft the catalysts who would unite as Vick's Doggy Day Care. In Week One, he faced a man who handed his draft over to technology, disappearing into the Charleston night to drink his weight in rum. Would Sam's savvy picks of Brandon Jones, DJ Hackett, and Tony Scheffler pay big dividends? Absolutely not. BG stomped Sam "Bill Polian" Konz (81-58) on opening week, holding that aforementioned trio to 1 point. Ol' Shawn even had the audacity to start fantasy poison Eddie Kennison (0 points), who hasn't been good since Crystal Pepsi was cool (which is to say "never").

2. Points Are Pointless - Both Abe and Colin's team lit up their respective scoreboards in Week One, posting 106 and 101. Unfortunately, neither have a "w" to show for their explosions. Still, I Haven't Pissed Since 2/2007 established himself as a force to be feared, giving his Phelps Phoes and loathsome league champions Fear Chuck a scare without relying on large numbers from LT, Alge Crumpler, or Deuce McAllister (who was only drafted to appease Abe's iron-fisted old lady). As for The Steamed Hams, they could make noise this year, but will not depend on Plaxico Burress to hump out 35 points per week. With Travis Henry in the backfield, they will produce -- and reproduce. If there were points awarded for illegitimate children or pending paternity suits, I would give The Steamed Hams the money now and seek shelter from the downpour of Henry-ish kin.

3. Points Are Pointless 2 - In the war of attrition that was The Electric Mayhem's battle with Ice Tray Warriors, the points were hard to come by. Stephen Jackson fisted my squad with one point, Vernon Davis laid an egg, and Matt Jones took his own pointless dump on JT's sidelines. Though his lust for Asian prostitutes is still unmatched, Shayne Graham was held out by Mayhem management, causing a dearth of points in the kicking game. Still, his squad squeaked past the Warriors 55-48, in what was the worst game of any kind since the Bills' 9-6 Orchard Park win over the Dolphins in 1988. With this match-up behind me, I'd like to petition the commissioner to see to it that I'm no longer forced to face Thielman. In every one of our tilts, I feel like we're replicating the scene from "Braveheart" when the Scottish approach the Irish for battle: as Buffalonians, we're always fighting off the cruel hand of regional fate (i.e. the Everett injury and last-second Elam kick); when asked to face another man of my ilk (even Northtown trash), I'll always lie down my sword (or mouse). That's why I told Phillip Rivers to take a shit against Chicago and to take Vince Jackson with him; this at least made the game closer. Thielman, we should unite the clans and we'll be unstoppable. Unite us!

4. The "Fell Asleep In A Parking Lot" Boner Of The Week - In honor of Big Guy's asphalt slumber party a few week's back, I'm giving out this new award weekly. The first one goes to Hiscox who, instead of assuming Randy Moss would light up the Jets' secondary like Sam's Zippo at a Poison concert, he started Kevin Curtis and Jerry Porter. Moss went ballistic, scoring 27 points, and would have led NRD to a Week One triumph over the unpredictable Boat Racerz. Instead, Curtis and Porter combined for seven points, leading a drunken Hiscox to his own parking lot of shame. Spooning this week's isolated lamp post and reeking of gin, he should be ashamed.

Until next week, get ready for Smash and the Dillon Panthers, do not videotape defensive signals, and buy multiple copies of my book (Week One cheap plug) at