Sunday, May 07, 2017

Big Band and Death Metal

From my journal, Friday, November 15, 2013.

I'm tired on a typical Friday night. We went to a fish fry at the Knights of Columbus in DeKalb and I told Jonny the story about the barf tape at Sahara.

You see, the first job I ever had was bussing tables and washing dishes at my mother's Friday night fish fry, in the basement of Sahara, a biker bar in Loves Park, IL. Bob, one of the co-owners of Sahara, worked the bar downstairs every Friday, and he liked Big Band music and would play it at low volume in the dining room on a tape deck that could play both sides without flipping the tape and also on a repeating loop.

I too liked Big Band music, rather an anomaly for a 15-year-old in the late 80s. Maynerd Ferguson was my introduction, but soon I fell in love with the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, and others. I even played songs by these guys in drum and bugle corps and band.

I dubbed about 90 minutes of Big Band music onto a cassette and had about 30 seconds left on side B. So I had my neighbor and death metal aficionado extraordinaire, Galen, dub some evil riffs and the sounds of someone throwing up. Just awful retching. And someone said, "Dude! It's coming out his nose!"

I persuaded Bob to put this tape on the stereo behind the bar and told him it was some Big Band music I like. He seemed amused that some snot-nosed kid would like this stuff, so he agreed, and it was pleasing to the ear, or at least eighty nine and half minutes of it was. The first time the death metal chords followed by the retching and the "Dude!" played, Bob looked around, wondering if a patron had had too much to drink. It was during the busy rush. Others looked around too, but then, when it stopped, they just resumed their meals in peace.

But later, when it replayed, the place was almost empty and Bob was easily able to trace the source of the cacophony. He got mad at me, the buzz cut Marine Corps vet, and flinged a few choice swear words at me. But I feigned ignorance. He ejected the tape and handed it back to me, shaking his head, lips pursed.

"From now on," he said. "We play music, and only music, from my collection!"

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