Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Week's Band No One Has Heard of But Everyone Needs to Listen To: The Weeks (See what I did there?)

Ever heard a song and thought, "Why, on God's Green Earth, is this not a hit?" Yeah, me too. This is that song. The Weeks are a band from Jackson, Mississippi (is that not the most ridiculously spelled state?), and they're solid. I'll spare you the experience of reading me wax philosophic about a band I really don't know that much about, but I'll also urge you to give this song a listen. Because they're from a southern state and sound a certain way, they have garnered their fair share of Kings of Leon references, but that's just because people need context in which to describe them, "People" meaning music fans and idle bloggers like myself. This is sort of the curse of being a new band or new writer or new painter or new poet or any other new artist. I once described The Kooks as the musical progeny of an orgy between The Cure and The Rolling Stones, lack of female sex organs aside. As inadequate as a comparison often is, it's all a new(ish) group has. So without further ado, The Weeks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gospel According to Duke

One of the consequences of going to a Christian university is that the young, curious mind is inundated with all manner of Jesus talk. This is especially true if said young, curious mind is, like mine was, a bit of a tabula rasa when it comes to talk of the Big JC. It's not that I was raised a pagan, as some of my more earnest classmates would have had me believe, but that I did not grow up attending vacation Bible camps and was not already firmly satisfied that I had a firm grip on Absolute Truth at the tender age of 18 (By the way, 18 year olds who feel this way are scary as hell. Just saying. They're sort of like an older version of Mordecai from Children of the Corn).

Whereas I initially found talk of finding Jesus in all that I encountered on a daily basis cumbersome and a bit naive, I eventually thought of it as a sort of tongue-in-cheek intellectual game. It was sort of like spiritual hide-and-go-seek. Jesus H. was out there hiding in my morning bagel, political science classes, and Wednesday margaritas, I just had to get in the right frame of mind and he would jump out at me with an "Aww, shucks, you found me" grin and embrace me with the grace and tenderness of The Lord. Kind of like a Jack-in-the-Box...but a Jesus-in-the-box!

This was especially true one evening when some of my more irreverent friends and I were sitting around a table at the local coffee shop snarkily commentating on an article that had appeared in the university paper about a student who had a deep and aiding love for all things Dukes of Hazzard. I can't believe the article can still be found online, but there you go.

Anyhow, our snarky commentary eventually led to a serious and well-reasoned Christological interpretation of The Dukes of Hazzard. I know, I know...$30,000 a year to discuss Jesus as he pertains to one of the worst TV shows of the late 70s and early 80s. Sorry, Mom and Dad! But I still think we were really on to something. Allow me to elucidate:

First let's talk about the theme of the show. Bo, Luke, and the Duke family and friends were, at best living on the fringes of Hazzard County life, yes? I mean, they were just some good ole boys, never meaning no harm, but they'd been in trouble with the law since the day they were born. It's even in the theme song. Fact. What were JC and his early followers if not on the fringes of early Judaic law? Lepers, hookers, outlaws, heretics? And they certainly didn't mean any harm. They were just trying to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. The whole show is all about the Duke boys trying to do the right thing even though they're desperately misunderstood as petty criminals and hell raisers.

Once that understanding of the shows driving thematic element is pinpointed, it becomes pretty easy assigning roles to the characters. Let's start with the bad guys:

Boss Hogg

As I recall, there was some debate about whether Boss Hogg was more of a Pontius Pilate or a Caesar. I went with Caesar. Look at the guy! All white (just like a Roman toga), cigar smoking luxury, and that fat, tanned and greasy look of a man living in the lap of ill begotten wealth. It's not too much of a stretch for me to imagine Boss Hogg being fed grapes and drinking wine...ok, maybe pork rinds and Boone's Farm, but you get the point.

Roscoe P. Coltrane

In my Gospel According to Duke, Roscoe is the Pontius Pilate figure. If it were up to him, he'd just wash his hands of the whole Duke boy situation and get about the business of patrolling Hazzard County. He really never thought of the Dukes as being all that bad, but he had Boss Hogg...er Caesar up his ass all the time demanding that something be done about those wily rabble rousers so he really had no choice.

Enos Strate

Enos was sort of a minor character and was Roscoe's deputy so that automatically qualifies him as a Roman Army henchman. Having said that, he had a thing for Daisy Duke and really kind of liked the Duke boys. Chalk it up to a disinterested Roman Legionnaire who got stuck out in the boonies because he signed up for the army. He just wanted to put in his time and get back home alive...and also bang Daisy. Isn't this sort of a typical enlisted man's plight?

On to the good guys!

Uncle Jesse

Uncle Jesse was the patriarch of the Duke clan and the font of wisdom that kept the Duke boys on The Path. He's the tangible legacy through which the Duke line could be traced back to the early days. Therefore, Uncle Jesse has to be The Stump of Jesse. I mean, it's in his freakin' name! Isaiah 11:1 reads: There shall come forth a root from the Stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. This is a horticultural parable for the growth of the Davidic Line that eventually spawns a one Jesus Christ. Jesse was David's father - Does anyone else think 'Jesse' is the least Biblical sounding of all the Biblical names?! - and is the guy who sort of started it all. Nothing says, "I'm the God damned pater familias," like a massive white beard and transcendent Southern wisdom.

Daisy Duke

That feathered hair! Those sultry eyes! Those incredibly short, short, short shorts! Daisy Duke = Mary Magdalene or I'm a monkey's uncle. Mary was a woman of ill repute who was taken in and forgiven by Christ. Despite her appearance or past actions, she was a good woman who eventually became the Apostle of Apostles. Daisy was Bo and Luke's right hand woman. Dressed like a ho, but had a heart of gold. Yeah, she was flashing ass all over Hazzard county, but she also helped the Dukes spread the good news. Bonus points for having a badass white Jeep.

Bo and Luke Duke

As the main characters of The Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke have to be Apostles. I know, I know, why isn't one of them Jesus? Well, firstly, there are two of them. You can't have two Jesuses, that would be Jesi. Secondly, the main characters of the story of the spread of Christianity are actually the Apostles. They did all of the writing and all of the promotion of this kickass guy named Jesus who was crucified for all of our sins. By the time the Good News was being spread like wild fire, JC had long since lived, died, and been resurrected. It was left to remaining 12 to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. Bo and Luke drove all over Hazzard County doing good deeds, foiling Boss Hogg's nefarious plans, and looking out for the downtrodden and disadvantaged. If you're like me, you never thought of Bo and Luke as early purveyors of Christianity, but there you have it.

The General Lee

So who's the General Lee? You guessed it, Jesus. I do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Amen. How many times were the Duke boys in a tight spot, an impossible spot, and The General Lee got them out of it? How many leaps of faith did they take in that Dodge Charger to escape the clutches of evil men? I mean really, it's like the whole of Hazzard County was comprised of a road system predicated on dirt ramps set on either side of a creek. And that "01" emblazoned on the doors? Who's Christ if not number 1? Also, did you ever notice how the Duke boys seemed to be the only ones capable of driving The Lee? Remember that one episode where Boss Hogg tries to get in The Lee and he gets stuck in the window because the doors are fused shut? Mark 10:25 - It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter The Kingdom of God. You can see my logic is unassailable here.


I'm probably going to hell for saying it (let's face it, I'm probably going for all sorts of things other than this), but Cooter is The Holy Spirit. Cooter is the guy who kept The General Lee running. He was a mechanic who helped the Dukes with all things technical and repaired The General Lee when the Dukes had taken it for a few too many creek jumps on the roads of Hazzard County. You could say - and I'm going to here - that Cooter breathed life into The General Lee and gave the Dukes the pick me up they sometimes needed to continue to spread the good word.

Waylon Jennings

Most people forget that Waylon Jennings was on The Dukes of Hazzard as the omniscient voice who narrated the Duke's adventures. He sang the theme song at the beginning of the show, knew everything that was happening with all characters at all times, and could FREEZE LIVE ACTION before the show went to a commercial break. Waylon Jennings was God. Think about it. All seeing. All knowing. Knew the Dukes and all of the other characters better than they knew themselves. Plus, I like to think God would talk to me in a deep Southern drawl. Waylon Jennings, who art in heaven...

Related posting: Ancient Economics

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Crushing Reminder of Failed Romance Available to Best Offer

So, I've been meaning to post this tale of romance, woe, and Craigslist sales for quite a while now but have just not mustered the energy to do so until now. Years ago (yes, years) I was engaged to a delightful young woman but things just didn't pan out. This can be attributed to a variety of things, but youth, naivety, and fundamental differences would front any list entitled "Why It Didn't Work Out."

The thing about ending an engagement is that after all of the heartache and upset there's still the matter of an artificially valued ring that neither party involved in the breakup has any use for. Fortunately for me, the Ex in question was classy enough to return said artificially valued ring and I didn't have to swallow the entire cost of the diamond and band. Unfortunately for me, the diamond industry is comprised of some nefarious bastards who convince women and men that shelling out three months' salary for a not-that-uncommon stone is de rigueur and essential to asking someone to spend the rest of her life with you. This is all well and good until things don't work out and the jilted lover (me in this case) is left with something that is really only worth a tenth of whatever three months' salary fetched at the original purchase. I was in grad school at the time so three months' salary wasn't a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but that's not really the point. The point is that I spent way more than I could afford, got my heart broken, and then was left with a considerably depreciated rock I had no use for. So I turned to Craigslist. My ad:

Here's what I have:

One white gold, lady's, solitaire ring; set with one, transparent, white, princess cut, natural diamond. Substantiated weight: .72 ct. Proportions and Finish: Good. Color: H-I Clarity I1. Comes with Carte Blue Evaluation and appraisal.

Here's what I really have:

This diamond has been tucked away in desks and closets throughout the numerous crappy apartments I have lived in for the past four years. I have resisted the urge to heave the ring, a representation of my painful past, into a lake or ocean or river of liquid hot magma or some other tired cliche of endless reclamation. I have also resisted acting upon the much less dramatic advice of my friend Barrett to take the ring to a jeweler, extract the diamond, and "Get [me] a sweet ass man ring."

Every time I look at it, I feel like someone has punched me in the nuts...in public...and like maybe they'll do it again for a good laugh. My ex-fiancee gave it back to me after I returned from a trip to Argentina as a grad student in 2004. Did I flounce around with some Argentine Tango goddess when I was there? Nope. On the contrary, I spent most of my time wondering why The Ex had broken a lease in my name THE DAY AFTER I LEFT despite telling me the day I left that everything was cool and she was looking forward to moving into the apartment with me. I don't know if you've ever tried, but it's pretty tough sub-letting a loft from 8,000 miles away even if it does have wood floors, high ceilings, and is located in a delightful area just off the prime entertainment strip of a college town. I'm just saying.

Anyhow, we did the "just dating" thing again for a while after I got back (mostly this was just sleeping together and pretending things would work out), I spent an interminable year living with my parents - remember, I'm apartmentless at this point - I took a job working at a Starbucks that was managed by a neurotic and over-protective single mother who also tried to get in my pants (true story), there was much more floundering and gnashing of teeth with The Ex as I tried to extract myself from the sticky mess we had made (seriously, get your mind out of the gutter), and I finally wound up single and happy in the beautiful, Midwestern megalopolis of Indianapolis, Indiana. It's OK so far, but I still don't know what the fuck a Hoosier is.

So what do I want for the ring? Great question. If you have a charming, intelligent, blonde haired, blue eyed, tan, atheltic, angel of the morning laying around the house I'll take her. Check that. I think that's human trafficking and I'm pretty sure it's illegal. How about this? Make me an offer that you feel takes into account the following:

Worth of the ring. Emotional toll. The negative balance of my checking account. 1 year's membership to Match.com. Seriously. Following the advice of another friend, one much less wise than Barrett, I got on Match because it seemed like time to move on. Good grief. Date #1 proudly proclaimed she had been in a Girl's Gone Wild video (the one with Snoop Dogg) and was also a Reds fan (much less forgivable). Date #2 showed up on my porch one night with a psychological study explaining passive/aggressive disorder. Date #3 was a raging bulimic...and alcoholic. And date #4...well, you think I would have learned, no?

So, to the victor go the spoils. Send me an offer and if you wind up the lucky bastard with this ring, then I hope you have better luck with it than I did. I'm just tired of happening on it during the occasional cleaning fit. It's like coming into your living room after hosting a party and finding your drunk friend still on your couch. Go home already. And stop throwing up!

I'm not sure what I expected from posting this ad. I thought I needed to write something clever enough to differentiate my decidedly underwhelming ring from the literally hundreds of other rings being hawked by guys apparently in the same position as myself. I never sold the ring via Craigslist, but I did get a flood of emails from all sorts of people. Here are the high (low?) points:

"Dude, you've missed your calling. Professional storyteller all the way. Something a la Garrison Keillor. I think you should sex it up a bit though with a picture of your ex. Just saying. It would drive traffic to your post, assuming of course, that she was/is hot."

He was probably right. A little pervy, but probably right.

"Is that a bottle of Bell's Oberon Ale? Good beer. Drink more of it."

I'm not sure if this was intended as advice to get over the heartache or if possibly this was sent by a Bell's representative. Potato, potahtoe (that's a tough one to make translate through text), I took the advice. It was delicious.

"Well, I cannot afford to pay anything for your reminder...my last major relationship stole my engagement ring from my exhusband that I was saving to give my daughter!! Sounds like a soap, I know...Sooo...I mean it, I came across this as while trying to find the number of the guy who sold me a 'non working' dryer for 150...'it works great,' he says. I really cannot afford to pay you for your ring, but please don't ever do anything foolish and throw it in the ocean...I am here for you!!! You will feel just as 'free' and a single mom like me could feel special!!! Win, win."

This was not an uncommon theme in the replies I received. Apparently, there are a lot of women out there who just want someone to give them a ring...for free. I had no idea how to respond.

"My daughter and her goofy friends live in Indy (although they are not hot blondes) and are always interested in adding intelligent people to their group."

I got like 6 of these from parents trying to introduce me to their daughters. What parent surfs Craigslist and decides that a guy trying to sell an engagement ring is relationship material for their daughter?!

"I've been composing this email for about 20 minutes trying to think of something witty enough that you'll say. 'Man, that chick should get the ring even though she's happily married and has a kid and probably would just sell it for a bed anyway.' But, unfortunately, I haven't really come up with anything spectacular. I'd offer you my sister, she's a hottie who lives in Los Angeles...but like you said, there are probably some ethical and legal ramifications involved with that sort of transaction, so we better not go that route."

...and a bunch of these trying to introduce me to their sister. The preceding paragraph in this email was all about the Disney Princess bed the woman was trying to buy for her daughter. Apparently, she searched "princess" and my ad is what she got.

"Take your substantial, romantic and loving energies, and give bits of it to the women around you who aren't crazy...but no more than you're comfortable with. Give this energy also to your mom, sisters, grandma, whoever you love and aren't romantically connected with too. Most of us are starved for it, and be aware that some may lunge at you. Begin, slowly, to sort out the women who really appreciate what you give, and who don't take advantage of your generosity, and listen to the women who return your affection. Date them. Listen to them as best you can...just because a woman is beautiful, hot, fuckable, doesn't mean she's good."

This is the most lucid, thoughtful advice about relationships I think I've ever gotten...via the internet...on Craigslist. I'm still wondering what possessed the woman to write it, but wow.

"I have very little interest in the ring, but I might be able to make you an offer on a date with a brown haired, brown eyed, tan girl from the East Coast?"

This was actually written by the tan girl from the East Coast. She wrote like 5 more times. We never went out, in case you were wondering. I'm all about serendipity, but this was just a little too romantic comedyesque for me.

"Your friend who suggested a sweet ass man's ring is a bit of a douche. Men who wear jewelry like that are creepy."

Barrett's no douche, but the general rule here is noted and usually holds true.

"Stay away from Mach.com. My brother used it because he said it's a way to find girls to hook up with. You could do that was a lot less than $35/month by going to Broad Ripple on a Friday night."

This email made me re-up my Match membership!

"My name is Jon aka Wolf I know random bu id liek to tell you something and if you take the time to read this i appreciate it as well but id liek to tell you about a story of a marine adn his ex. I got out of high school and started to work hard for a life better then the one served to me by my folks and make something better of myself. so as it seems i went day in and day out working my butt off for a new car a new place and all and all a new life. one day i meet a young woman she was here for school from cali well we got to know each other for over 2 years i decide she was the one i left everything her sold my truck left my job moved to cali with her when she was done with school. we ended up moving in to geather and thinkgs got really tight so i decided to join the marines to take care of us and know that id be able to supply for me and her. well i made it thru basic adn came back home and asked her to marry me well she was all happy and glade btu i was wrong i got my first station in specnav san diago and hell i got lucky to be able to stay in the same state for my first station and be abel to see her on the weekends well after yr of this i got hurt and discharged from the u.s.m.c.

came back home to find she wanted to be with me for the money nd beafits i wake up one morning to her gone and the ring left on my desk to find out she moved back in with her mom and was with another guy for the past yr and 1/2 while i was in the core i knwo life can behard my friend but beleive me take it one day at a time adn learn something from it i knwo you can nvr really forget the ones we love or loved its not in us to forget because we alwas want what we cant hae but i have been alone not even dating because i dont want to urt againbut im learning to trust woman and im dating this amazong woman that see me for me and nothing more. but i just wanted to let you know it will get better and to take time in life because you nvr kwno when youll lose it all at once adn start all over ppl are the best thing in ones live but the worst as well adn im sry to hear that you went thru almost the same thing but i wish you the best of luck in life and best of luck with selling the ring i wish i could let mine go it still sits in my locker box with my uniform to remind me i guess..."

Jon...er...Wolf? Stay tru.

"My knight of almost 20 years decided while I was out of town working that he felt abandoned...poor baby...alcoholic, mama's boy. Had to go find comfort and picked up some skank...last one left after 'last call' and took her home! First night, bam! What a catch! Of course he didn't have the balls to tell me he was doing us both! Had to find out the hard way!"

I can only hope the "hard way" wasn't a scorching case of herpes. I kind of think it may have been.

"Hey, I'm not interested in buying the ring, but I find your writing incredibly hot. I want to meet you."

Again, we never met. If the other email was a little too romantic comedyesque, this one was a little pornesque.

"Hoosier is a term that originated from basketball. Have you seen the movie Hoosiers?"

False. Clearly the term existed before the movie came out! You can't use the word in question in the definition. I'm still flummoxed.

"Dude, thanks for the laugh. That sucks! Haha! Not sure how I came across your ad as I was searching Craigslist for 'Ass play.' Whatever, it was worth it. Good luck, Bro!"

I wonder how many other anal lotharios I gave a good laugh? But does anyone want to buy the fucking ring?!