Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Doesn't every town in the United States have one? I'm talking about a "morning zoo" irritation whose on-air persona is strewn with innuendos and calculated political incorrectness. Once the shock-jock's shift is finished, however, he retreats into an abyss of junk food and prescription drugs. The station's sizable ratings (thanks to a large population of ball-scratchers who couldn't get laid by a crack-addicted he/she on Jefferson Avenue) are only matched by the boisterous DJ's gut. During feel-good simulcasts such as a "living flag" representation to support our country's efforts in the Persian Gulf, "Mr. America" has a smile and handshake for each personified stitch of the Stars & Stripes. However, at less-hyped remotes like a broadcast from some new dealership, the AOR company's point-man bluntly answers a birthday well-wisher with, "Yeah, whatever." Occasionally, though, you'll find enough rope to leave the DJ hanging.

Approximately twelve years ago, Rack 'N' Sack (Farm Fresh's answer to Be-Lo Markets) opened a new store on Kempsville Road. Many booths were set up for free samples. Snack Wells, Bagel Bites, Coca-Cola, Oreo, Tombstone, Oscar Mayer -- no need to drop coin on lunch at the nearby McD's, because super-sized meals were for the taking inside this new grocery. Making laps around the 'Sack, I spotted "The Bull" hunkered in the pits between a Krispy Kreme display and the ATM. He was clutching a stack of FM-99 WNOR stickers (the very ones "listeners" had manipulated to read "MF-69 WOR" on their vehicles) and looking uncomfortable. Did "The Bull's" public turn out in droves to exchange one-liners with the man who'd brought humor into their miserable existences? Not exactly. Sure, a crowd of potential FM-99 types had gathered throughout the aisles of Rack 'N' Sack. But the throngs busied themselves with their wives and kids' free eats in lieu of trading war jokes with the now-sullen radio personality. Upstaging "The Bull" at this stop was a rotund 'n' smiling favorite from childhood...Kool-Aid Man!!! No less than 30 people were constantly at his liquid stand, drinking the flavored sugar-water and shouting "OH, YEAH!" at the walking pitcher. Enjoying a glass-o'-grape, I wanted to join the cheering section (HEY, KOOL-AID -- WYLER'S SUCKS!!!), but someone pointed me in the direction of bite-sized imported sausages from Vienna. Perhaps I should've thrown some non-potato chips at "The Bull" (HEY, BULL -- YOUR PLAY LIST IS SHIT!!!). No matter, since Kool-Aid Man had broken him in the head-to-head at Rack 'N' Sack by capturing FM-99's demographic, it wouldn't be long until "The Bull" was put out to pasture.

Turn the dial to seven or eight years later. I was at my favorite music store shooting pool with its then-co-owner Jeff. Both of us enjoyed several runs of four and five pocketed balls. Jeff asked me if I wanted to be in an 8-ball league with him. "I'll think about it," was my shaky response. As Jeff was setting up the ninth rack, "The Bull" walked in with several boxes of albums. I'm no estimator, but I didn't see much in the way of resale value placed on the counter. Maybe Jack Tripper would've gladly paid $50 for a Pablo Cruise 12" adorned with Peaches' Records & Tapes stickers. Perhaps Paul Hogan could've been persuaded for a cut of "Crocodile Dundee" residuals in bartering Men At Work's Business As Usual (draped in the center by a "Things Go Better With Coke And K-94" label). Amazingly, Jeff was able to find a few worthy items in the stock. He wound up giving "The Bull" forty or fifty dollars for the accepted long-kept freebie promos. I'm sure Jeff's action was charitable, for the DJ had been de-reined from his long-standing plum gig at FM-99 and was doing graveyard or worse at an AA (Adult Alternative) outlet. Bills in pocket, he said muchas gracias to the payer and headed to his Explorer. Five minutes later, "The Bull" reentered the stable to ask Jeff for a jump. His truck wouldn't start. I was in command of overseeing the store until Jeff returned from charging "The Bull's" battery. Alone inside, I counted the words that had been shared between myself and a local celebrity. Zero.

Gunther, you should have been nicer to a man down on his luck. He'd given so much to the community at large. He'd locked himself in a cage for over three days to raise money for the SPCA. He'd brought "bombs bursting in air" patriotism to sympathizers at Mount Trashmore. He'd gone to a Ramones concert on his own dime.

Yeah, whatever.

1 comment:

  1. I'll take the one on the right, though Lana was my favorite "TC" woman.