* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are proud to be celebrating the second half of what we call Michael Fowler Half-Month. Please take note that the heart of rock and roll is still beating, thanks to a pacemaker. When you're done reading Michael Fowler's latest, do check out the link below to purchase his humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne is Dating my Girlfriend."

The Museum Of Rock And Roll Marginalia

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com
http://www.dpdotcom.com/hawthorne/

This year I took my family to visit the Museum of Rock and Roll Marginalia in the small New York town where it has been located since its founding in 1990. They had been clamoring to go, and at last, forgoing a more expensive and better-planned vacation, I gave them their wish. A posh hotel until the end of the jazz age in the fifties, then a gated community for retired horn players from disbanded units like the Bill Bromley Band and former second-tier comedians like Tony Bacon and Zip Downy, the museum is now a crumbling three-story building scheduled for demolition.

The first floor commands the most attention. Until the mid-eighties an impoverished Ramone and his girlfriend lived there, also a Raider from Paul Revere’s defunct outfit, a Pharaoh from Sam the Sham’s sixties-era group, one of the McCoys, a Bangle and her bipolar boyfriend, and an English Trogg on an expired visa. They are gone now, deceased or moved on, their former rooms and suites and the old dance floor turned into exhibit sites containing some of the signs of their musical success.

On display in several refit corners are a fraying Beatles-esque wig and a pair of cracked drum sticks from the Ramone, some badly scuffed riding boots from the Raider, an unraveling keffiyeh and a dented headdress from the Pharaoh, a glittery change purse missing many spangles and an empty pill vial from the Bangle, and an old Danelectro guitar reportedly used on “Wild Thing” abandoned in the US by the Englishman. Also on the first floor is the souvenir shop, which is to be avoided like norovirus. All the same, I bought the two boys small plastic replicas of a Venture’s guitar and Go-Gos’ wigs for the two girls. The museum’s only working restroom is also on the first floor, so take advantage.

On the second floor, to which one ascends by a narrow wooden staircase since there is no elevator, the musical wattage is already grown dimmer, the connection to stardom more distant, and the mementos of lesser-knowns command the space. Here on a small dresser against a peeling rear wall is an Electric Prune’s electric razor, a plastic comb that once straightened the tresses of Terry Knight (of the Pack), one of the New York Dolls’ mascara mirrors, a shaving kit once belonging to a Playboy from Gary Lewis’ band, and, on the floor beside a scarred dresser, a pair of paisley moccasins that once shod a Lemon Piper. A nearby closet, marked by wall-mounted portraits of Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson, holds one of the Pips’ tuxedos, a terrycloth robe that once adorned a Miracle, a cape that formerly swirled around a Fabulous Flame, and, from a different musical genre entirely, a fringed calfskin jacket that used to enfold a Blues Magoo. On the floor beside a bathroom entrance with its Out of Order sign rest a pair of shoe trees that also belonged to a Fabulous Flame — a different one. The tux and the shoe trees are pretty cool, I admit. Those are the highlights, I’m afraid.

In the rearmost room, under a makeshift banner that reads Where The Action Is, are several tables laden with such items as the shaving kit and toothbrush of Billy Joe Royal, a Mindbender’s sequined headband, the pointy boots of an Amboy Duke (which happened to be my size, of all things), and the spread miniskirt of one of the Jeff Kutash Dancers circa 1967. Near the stairwell, the Leslie Gore Room, said to be arranged the way the diva liked her hotel suites to be arranged when she was on the road, is kind of boss. We’d never seen so many pink pillows, and none so grimy as these.

On the third floor, to which the only path is again a narrow wooden stairwell, the pickings are of such diminished contact with greatness that the stardust is microscopic. Here, beneath another handmade banner that says Let’s Have a Hullabaloo, arranged on two long tables beneath flickering florescent lights and covered by flimsy plastic tablecloths, are such keepsakes as a strand of love beads donated by a friend of a Commodore, an aged and discolored tambourine donated by Connie Francis’s studio percussionist, a cupcake pan that once hung in the pantry of Bobbie Gentry’s personal chef, a bolo that once adorned the neck of one of the Shangri-las’ kid brothers, and a pair of oily gloves left in the lobby by Muddy Waters’ driver’s car mechanic nephew. As one examines them, the artifacts grow more and more recherché, their identification signs progressively more remote from rock music. A nondescript bit of porcelain is marked with the tag: “A waterproof tile on loan from the Cowsills’ beach architect’s pool designer.” The high point, or the low point if you want to look at it that way, is a mounted notice affixed to an otherwise bare wall that says “On this spot in July, 1966, after performing in the first floor ballroom, the Shantays jammed with the Marketts and the Stingers while B. Bumble looked on.” There is no memento of the grand jam, not a Champ Amp or a reverb unit or a single bee’s sting.

After reading that, the family and I could only retrace our steps and descend slowly back to the first floor, following the crudely drawn exit signs, for a second glance at the ballroom, or what was left of it. B. Bumble was here!

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are happy to announce the first week of a very special event called Michael Fowler Half-Month. We are also happy to note that this site is often considered a form of literary anesthesia. When you've finished perusing Michael Fowler's new offense against nature, please check out the link below to buy his humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne is Dating My Girlfriend."

Things Go Better With Nitrous Oxide

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com
http://www.dpdotcom.com/hawthorne/

No fan of the dentist, I put off my most recent appointment until I gathered a mouthful of cavities and felt the throbbing need for several root canals. I simply hate the dental chair and the attendant pain, even if the technician is a comely lass with a winsome personality. But after two weeks of agony, I found a young doctor who billed himself as a “sedative” dentist, meaning I could receive not only Novocain and Valium during treatment, but nitrous oxide gas for a truly otherworldly experience. I wouldn’t quite be unconscious as he hacked my jaw to pieces — I’d have to visit an oral surgeon if I wanted the full ride to dreamland — but I’d be in the ozone along with the swinging oldsters at colonoscopy spas and birthing moms riding their epidurals. As it turned out, I emerged from the cubicle of grief with a smile on my lips, a tune in my throat, and although unable to drive myself home, no recollection of anything except the bill, and even that was fuzzy.

That’s when it occurred to me that many more of life’s excruciating trials would improve if only one could be anesthetized to the point of oblivion beforehand, essentially skipping the event. Why is there not a “sedative” tax service, for instance? You lug your box of documents into the office in the mall near the food court, the one with the standup poster of the nerd in a bow tie out front, and green balloons signifying money festooned everywhere, sink into a chair, and pop the Valium. Just as the consultant reaches for your scribbled lists of itemized deductions and coffee-stained W2s, you take a quick hit off the cylinder of nitrous oxide conveniently placed beside his desk, and you begin to feel…well just fine, thank you very much. When you come to yourself, your taxes are finished, your credit card dinged for the fee, and you’re looking forward to a federal refund that puts you $24 ahead. Does life get any better, or at least any more sedate? Why, having your taxes done is now as pleasant as a trip to the dentist!

Anything that leads to one having to wait in line, particularly if shopping is also involved, would obviously be improved by a stupefying relaxant like nitrous oxide. A large communal container of the gas with many hoses extending from it parked by the bascart corral would transform the experience of going to the store from torment to bearable tedium or even near bliss. Valium alone would not be enough, I think, but consider the difference a few sucks on the nitrous hose would bring. It would be a true opiate of the people. Instead of banging your way down narrow aisles for a couple of bananas and a liter of fine wine, dodging elderly creepers and the portly disabled on beeping electric carts, only to wait 25 minutes in the laughably designated “express” line, you could instead careen along feeling only pleasure, or at the worst numbness, and the 25 minutes spent crammed in a queue with the unwashed masses would fly by. You might take to shopping just for the fun of it, if you could completely blot out where you were, and this way you could.

I’ve never flown first class, and perhaps that is a pleasure I should partake of one day, so that I can say I’ve completely lived. But I have flown coach, and it’s the same as taking a bus, except the bus drives through the sky. That’s the only difference I can detect, and a whiff of nitrous oxide from the mask dangling overhead would make the whole trip go much faster and be more relaxing. Buckle up for takeoff…now buckle up for landing, and that’s it. Trip done and enjoyed to the maximum that such an awful ordeal can be enjoyed by a sentient being.

The last time I attended a first run film, Love, Simon, I saw within minutes that the whole trial would be much more tolerable with a little more of the good ol’ butter on my popcorn, and a snort or three of the good ol’ nitrous through a tube and mask connected to my seat. That way I could get from the opening scene to the closing credits with scarcely an awareness of the stupefying plot or unrealistic characters. I could focus instead on the truly delicious popcorn, or just take a revivifying nap.

And what an improvement on the trip you have to make to Disney World in order to appease the irritable brats or flighty teens in your care. A well-regarded French philosopher has called Disney World a “ghetto.” Well, it was actually the parking lot Jean Baudrillard bestowed that term upon, due to its crowdedness and distance from the feature attractions, but we’ll skip the Gallic niceties and come to the point. If at the entrance to this phantasmagoria of kitsch and juvenilia, Goofy or Minnie were to totter over and offer up a portable canister of nitrous oxide to pull about and apply your lungs to, you might achieve a euphoria equal to the tots’ at the sight of those Troll things. Or at least you could forget where you where, and the enormous sum it was costing you, until you trudged back to the “ghetto” and climbed exhausted into your sunbaked car.

They call nitrous oxide laughing gas, but let’s be real here. It’s grin-and-bear-it gas, and it’s essential.

 

 

 

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like funny poems about Sir Lancelot a lot.

The Facts About Sir Lancelot Du Lac

By:
efflux@sonic.net

Sir Lancelot liked to dance a lot. (“Watch me do the Nitty-Gritty!”)

Sir Lancelot went to France a lot. (“They should put a large metal tower there.”)

Sir Lancelot saw his aunts a lot. (“Birdie, Flora, I brought you some chrysanthemums.”)

Sir Lancelot took a stance a lot. (“Background checks should be required to buy a sword!”)

Sir Lancelot wrote for grants a lot. (Mainly from the Knight Foundation.)

 

Sir Lancelot was apt to glance a lot. (At Maid Marian.)

Sir Lancelot pursued romance a lot. (“Er…Maid Marian, that’s a very lovely frock you’re wearing.”)

Sir Lancelot wore long pants a lot. (Heavy, metal ones.)

Sir Lancelot watered plants a lot. (Peeing in the woods during long sojourns on horseback.)

Sir Lancelot worked high finance a lot. (At the Camelot International Stock Exchange.)

 

Sir Lancelot was in a guild, and stern with Rosencrantz a lot. (“Rosencrantz, get this guild in order!”)

Sir Lancelot got his comeuppance a lot. (“I guess it’s what I deserve.”)

Sir Lancelot longed for the Renaissance a lot. (“Not sure what it is, but I think it will be wonderful.”)

Sir Lancelot felt ambivalence a lot. (Regarding his love for Maid Marian.)

Sir Lancelot saw The Pirates of Penzance a lot. (An early version, but still quite charming.)

 

Sir Lancelot was in a trance a lot. (“Is it true love — or the awful heat in these heavy metal pants?”)

Sir Lancelot played with ants a lot. (“It gets dull waiting to joust.”)

Sir Lancelot played with Sirs John Linnell and Flans a lot. (“I, too, might be giant.”)

Sir Lancelot made obeisance a lot. (“King Arthur, your humble servant kneels before you.”)

Sir Lancelot hung with a fancy lot. (“Nice greaves, there, Galahad.”)

 

Sir Lancelot inspired this remembrance a lot.

 

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where helping two beautiful people fall in love is our whole reason for being. That and making sure the lawyers on either side get paid. Say hello to the latest from the cynical yet beautiful mind of Barton Aronson.

(The Terms and Conditions Of) Our Beautiful Relationship

By:
bartonsaronson@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Stone:

I am writing to inform you that my client, Madison Jane Terwilliger (a/k/a “Maddie”), has reviewed all of the materials you submitted. We had difficulty getting the hologram to work, but Maddie has decided she that has enough information to proceed. While candor requires us to inform you that she received offers which exceed yours in various particulars, we found your proposed relationship package highly competitive, with the greatest overall potential for enhancing Maddie’s personal, professional, and spiritual well-being.

Accordingly, Maddie tentatively accepts your client’s offer to be his bae for a period of eighteen (18) months, as well as his offer of the Mercedes-Maybach as a “go public” gift. We look forward to working with you.

As we’ve discussed, Maddie is bound to remain with her current boyfriend through awards season. Be assured that statements from Maddie’s camp to the effect that her current boyfriend is still rocking her world are issued solely to comply with current contractual obligations and will not affect our arrangement. If it is a matter of concern, however, we are prepared to offer an anonymous leak to an outlet of your choice to the effect that Maddie was totally macking on your client at the Billboard Music Awards after-party.

Additional terms and conditions are attached hereto as Schedule A.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Rogers

 

Dear Ms. Rogers:

On behalf of my client, Francis Leslie Forsythe (a/k/a “Show Stoppa”) (a/k/a “Tha Stoppa”), thank you for your response. We are excited to work with you. We want you to know that our entire team of lawyers, accountants, therapists, stylists, web designers, photographers, personal trainers, spiritual advisers, transportation professionals, chefs, publicists, security personnel and professional entourage members are here to support your client and ours, twenty-four hours a day.

We must inform you that the video for Tha Stoppa’s recent single, “Harder They Come,” has been banned in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and his tour dates there have been canceled. The resulting cash crunch requires that Tha Stoppa substitute a set of quality steak knives for the Maybach. We regret the change.

Once the relationship is public, my client agrees to participate in up to three couple’s profiles, provided they do not involve outlets with which he is in litigation. Unfortunately, we’re unable to accommodate Maddie’s request regarding Miss Fuzzy Paws — recently surfaced video of Tha Stoppa’s participation in his high school choir has adversely affected his street cred, and as a result, he simply cannot be photographed with a domestic housecat at this time. We can offer a photograph with a (humanely sedated) Bengal tiger as an alternative.

Finally, we wish to assure you that Tha Stoppa has the greatest admiration for Maddie’s music as well as her booty. Unfortunately, the settlement terms of a previous relationship prevent him from tweeting favorably about either for the next three months. We regret the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Stone

 

Dear Mr. Stone:

We are disappointed that Tha Stoppa is requesting permission for twelve out-of-relationship intimate encounters during the period in which Maddie will be his bae. We are prepared to consent to six, which we view as the industry standard, provided none involve the women listed below in Column A (friends of Maddie’s) or Column B (known skanks). Please forward results of his monthly STD test results directly to me.

Photos of Maddie appearing in your client’s Instagram feed must be reviewed for compliance with her endorsement contracts before posting. In addition, Maddie’s devotion to a vegan lifestyle requires that tweets by Tha Stoppa mentioning her name not include the bacon, hamburger, hot dog, steak, turkey wing or spare rib emojis.

Your proposals regarding Maddie’s domestic travel are non-starters. Please confirm your client is prepared to provide Maddie unlimited use of his Falcon G-6 or equivalent. For international travel, first class on commercial airlines is acceptable, but see below for a list of carriers from which Maddie’s mother is currently banned.

We wish your client success with his new venture in sports management. However, polling of 7-10 year old girls — currently 37% of Maddie’s fan base — reveal either extreme anxiety over or outright revulsion at combat sports. Accordingly, Maddie will be unable to accompany Tha Stoppa to UFC matches.

We have reviewed your itemized list of proposed acts of physical intimacy. Items 1-9 and 14 are acceptable in principle, but see below for our counterproposal regarding frequency. Maddie does not engage in items 10-13 without a prenuptial agreement. We are unfamiliar with items 15-26.

Thank you for sending along the photo of Tha Stoppa’s cousin. There are no openings in Maddie’s squad at this time, but we will keep it on file.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Rogers

 

Dear Ms. Rogers:

There appear to be only a few minor matters to be resolved. Tha Stoppa agrees to accompany Maddie to Fashion Week in the cities you list, except for Sydney, as he is currently barred from entering Australia.

Tha Stoppa consents to appear, without compensation, in the video for Maddie’s single “Thigh High,” provided his abdominal muscles are featured prominently (75% of the frame or more) for no less than nine seconds.

Our client is amenable to the requested twelve “quiet evenings at home” during the course of the relationship. See below for proposed changes to the definitions of the words “quiet,” “evenings” and “home.”

Please let us know if you have any comments on the letter that we have drafted for Maddie to send to the judge overseeing my client’s probation in Nevada.

Regarding the end of the relationship, Tha Stoppa cannot agree to your proposal that Maddie attribute the breakup to his “lying-ass ways.” We request again that you choose either the “careers going in different directions” or the “never in the same place at the same time” narrative. In either case, Tha Stoppa consents to your request that he cover the lease on Maddie’s Tesla Model X for thirty-six (36) months following the end of the relationship. And on a personal note, Tha Stoppa has asked me to ask you to convey to your client that, even after their breakup, he will always love her.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Stone

 

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the hyperbolic and the phlegmatic meet in a weird slow-motion head-on collision, kind of like an Amish buggy hitting an oil tanker. Which brings us to this bit of fun from Graham Techler.

Would You Be Interested In Buying Into My Hype?

By:
graham.techler@gmail.com
www.grahamtechler.com

Ding dong!

Hello! From what I can see of it, you have a beautiful home. As an up-and-coming entrepreneur-DJ, I have been repeatedly told that it is dangerous to buy into your own hype, so I am currently going door-to-door to see if someone else can buy into it for me.

Would you be interested in buying into my hype? I can promise you it’s valuable hype that may even result in a little splashback hype of your very own.

However, you should know that this is a lot of responsibility. An actress from MTV’s Teen Wolf recently liked an Instagram photo of someone (me) wearing the golden sneakers I designed. Would you be willing to saddle the expectation that she and I will get married and live off my shoe-bucks long after her wolf-cash has dried up?

What’s more, the Internet’s “25 to 26 People In Between 25 and 26” recently listed me as a DJ-entrepreneur to watch, in between the ages of 25 and 26. Could you take it upon yourself to decide how many people I should mention this to at my high school reunion or what?

Most importantly, can you share a new headshot every day of the week until my body of work comprises more headshots than new beats or sneakers?

Also, a warning: my hype is a fragile thing that requires an astounding amount of upkeep to keep alive. The slightest disturbance could wreck my hype beyond all recognition. Then I wouldn’t be a DJ-entrepreneur to watch. I’d just be some fucking guy. And we can’t have that.

Just the other day I was mixing beats when, ding dong, a UPS delivery man arrived at my door with an improved pair of my golden shoes. “Package for Jeff?” he said. “It’s spelled Geoff,” I said. If this pedestrian asshole didn’t know who I was, how could anyone? Did I have any hype at all?

So you can see what I’m up against. And, if you choose to accept my offer, what you’d be up against. The UPS incident sent me into a downward spiral and I didn’t mix a single beat all day. This is why I can’t be trusted with my own hype.

I sense you might be reluctant. You’re sliding your glass door shut like it’s weird that I tried the back of your house first. Fine. To sweeten the deal, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my hype is especially exciting and powerful because I basically haven’t followed through on any of it yet. My hack psychoanalyst even says that my hype just a construct I tell myself so I can let myself off the hook for not mixing beats and making sneakers as much as I should. But it’s like how your physicist friends call it “potential energy” instead of just “nothing.”

You’ll need to act fast though. As everyone knows, all hype depreciates in value over time. So what do you say? Can I put you down for twenty shares? Can you open the sliding door? Can I have my fingers back? I need them for two critical activities.

 

 

Share