Winding through the cobblestone streets of Venice (no, not Venice Illinois, Nebraska, or Ohio), down narrow alleyways, across stone bridges, past gondoliers, one can’t imagine a place less likely to contain a water park. With water everywhere, we don’t need no stinking water park.
Instead, we go to tourist central to see of the Basilica and Piazza San Marco. While listening to an audio tour of the piazza, my American wife suggests to her American family (of which I am a principal member) “Let’s head to the canal – the water side.” My nine year old daughter hears this and remarks, “Huh. The canal has a water slide.”
Sounds absurd, until you find that greater Venice (Italy) does indeed have one of those. (Not to mention that they are such good cooks that they've succeeded at frying land here).
Just because my father once owned a business called “Nugent Income Tax Service” doesn’t mean I was ever related to Ted Nugent. I’m sure that disappoints you. It certainly disappointed my friends in grade school. At the time, Ted Nugent was merely an insane rocker who would dress like Tarzan and swing from ropes onto the stage. In my little world of 6th grade boys, Ted was famous for his album Nugent Comes Alive (just joking – it was actually titled Double Live Gonzo) for banter in which he asks the crowd, “Does anybody want to get mellow?” And then adds, “Anyone who wants to get mellow can turn around and get the fuck out of here, alright!” He then launches into his seminal “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” (OK, not really seminal at all). We all thought it was so cool the way he swore and rocked out.
Some years later, my mother had heard that Ted Nugent was against drugs. She told me this because I was in a rock band and she thought that having a famous rocker come out against drugs would keep me from dabbling in illegal substances. My response, as a smart-assed teen, was, “Ted Nugent is an argument for doing drugs, Mom, not against doing them.”
All these decades later, some of us (not me) still think he’s cool, the way he wants you to have whatever kind of firearm you’d like with no restrictions. Others (like me) think he’s a dink.
The only thing you need to remember from this post is that I’m not related to him, nor to Timothy McVeigh, despite the fact that more than 20 years after a truck bomb killed 168 people on Oklahoma City, store clerks still mention Timothy McVeigh when they run my credit card.
Did you get a chance to submit your design for the border wall between the US and Mexico? They were due April 4 to the Department of Homeland Security. I submitted mine. It’s a deceptively complicated plan, even more complicated than this teeter totter wall designed by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello.
My wall is also going to be interactive as it calls for having lots of false doors built into it. And I don’t mean a door here or there; my wall will be nothing but doors, one right after the other, section after section, mile after mile, except that 99.99+% of the doors will open to reveal – you guessed it, a concrete wall. So when one of those bad hombres we’re always hearing about (or a child who is trying to escape gang conscription in his home country) comes upon this wall of doors and pulls on the handle, he is going to be momentarily thrilled when the door actually opens, then emotionally crushed when he sees that it's really a door to nowhere.
Is this art? You tell me. I think it is, and consequently submitted the design plan not just to Homeland Security, but also to the NEA. I was informed, however, that first of all if I’m going to use bad hombres and children escaping violence in my performance art/border wall, the door-pullers are technically performers and will need to be paid prevailing wages, and will also need to sign release forms. Secondly, given efforts to shut down the NEA, don’t count on them contributing to this art of mine.
Needless to say, if I’m going to go through all the trouble of release forms and prevailing wages, I’m going to want to make my wall design even artier. For example, I’ll put some revolving doors in my wall so that technically the bad hombres can step onto US soil (if you think of the border as razor thin, such that you can actually straddle it). Aha, but then they discover that there is no outlet to the American side's unforgiving desert wastelands! There will also be automatic doors like on The Starship Enterprise that open to reveal 2-foot thick concrete, and even some bifold doors like we all used to have as kids in the 1970s, which were constantly coming off their tracks. Who’s going to fix these when they come off their tracks? As far as I’m concerned that's Mexico’s problem.
Finally, somewhere in my wall of millions of doors, I’m going to secretly install a door, maybe two, that will actually open into the US. I can just imagine how shocking it will be for whomever is lucky enough to have opened the correct door and suddenly finds herself in America. I think we should leave a care package at the door, better yet have a personal valet waiting there to greet the visitor to our country, along with a lawyer, ready to help fill out immigration forms.
Just wait ‘til you see what I have planned for the US-Canada wall.
As this is the time of year when we citizens gather up our documents to ascertain whether we have more taxes to pay or are due a refund, it’s only natural for a person to lift his spirits by cranking the tunes during the unhappy process. Classic Rock stations play George Harrison’s “Taxman” over and over on April 15, but to my mind there is a more apropos tax-themed song, especially if you don’t happen to agree with the current administration in power (or didn’t agree with it in 2004, when we were mired in an elective foreign war). Go ahead and find me a better pick-me-up song that this one, by Sharon Jones:
In a hugely unfortunate stroke of ridiculous bad luck, we humans lost the incomparable Sharon Jones last fall (at just sixty years of age for crying out loud!) to that damnable pancreatic cancer. (Remind me not to get that one, as it’s quick and unforgiving). She was just getting a foothold on the music world; friends of mine had passed up opportunities to see her because they figured that there were plenty of opportunities in the future. Just like there are plenty of opportunities for me to see PJ Harvey. Like two weeks from now. Except, wait, I’ll be in Italy when she next appears in Boston. Why the hell does it never work out?
As much as I pity the world for its loss of Sharon Jones (sorry, you ol’ world), I feel a little worse for the Dap-Kings, who had found the perfect front person for their groovy sound, and now must be scratching their heads about what to do next. If they happen to tour again, with some other front person, or just on their own, I strongly encourage you to see them, as they have a great sound and surely could use a pick-me-up, after having donated so many pick-me-ups of their own over the years.