Well, that didn’t take long. I once predicted that within my lifetime a billboard would break the king-hell curseword barrier and use the F or S word. And those of us who objected would be the moldy old squares. L-7. Herbert, man. It’s not as though I’m unfamiliar with the words; I know them well, and they have been in my steady employ for years. But they’re not for polite company. Not for public consumption. Certainly not for a billboard. What occasioned this premature bit of old-man crankery? A series of ads by Chino Latino, a trendy restaurant whose ads seem intent on making you associate their food with uncontrollable defecation.
I’m not kidding. There was the ad that said the food came in three varieties - mild, hot, and I have to go to the bathroom. There was the ad for a Tio Pepe Taco that said “Runs South of the Border.” The latest was an ad that said, in letters taller than me:


Well, there it was. Finally. Granted, it’s in Spanish, but that’s close enough. I’ve no doubt they will open a fusion Italian-Spanish restaurant just so the billboards can say Chinga tu Madre Mia.

Ostrogoths. Bashi-Bazouks.

(Why I briefly channeled Captain Haddock I’ve no idea.)

Another curious ad on a bus shelter: Summit Beer has a new brand called “Grand” - it’s a cheerful beer for the Bud crowd, the people who find hoppy beers too bitter, too harsh, too unbeery. I hear it’s good. The ads have a common theme - they show a picture, titled “Good,” and then show the picture with a noticeable improvement, and that one’s titled “Grand.” The ad on the bus shelter showed Moses with two tablets: “Good.” Then Moses with one tablet: “Grand.”

You don’t know where to begin. First of all, I’m glad I live in America, where I can see an ad that mocks Patriarchs to sell liquor, and I don’t wonder whether the Committee For Hacking Off Hands of Blasphemers arrested everyone in the ad agency and made them draw dotted lines on their own wrists. But why is a beer company telling me that Five Commandments are better than Ten? Which ones would they like removed? I’m tempted to call the ad agency and ask, but they’d probably say something like “Uh, the second one, the one about guns. Also the one about quartering troops in your neighbor’s wife or something. I don’t know.”

Right. Maybe the Ten Commandments is like the Constitution. It’s a living stone tablet.

Saw a bold new crop of premium vokdas at the bottle store today. One of them, “3,” is perhaps the most ill-designed vodka I’ve ever seen. The bottletops have big holes, and they swing from hooks on the floor display. That’s what I want in a vodka: swingability. Many are the days I’m out somewhere drinking straight from the bottle, and when I try to hang it on a tree branch, or the gearshift lever, or the willie of one of those tinkling cherub fountains the Europeans love so much, and drat the luck: the bottle just slides right off. But here’s a vodka you can hang. It gets better: the ads inform us that it’s “Made From Soy.” Oh, well, pour me some of that. Three fingers of odorless, tasteless, colorless soy-booze, please. Didn’t I read somewhere that soy was good for the prostate? There’s a marketing opportunity.

There is a difference between vodka brands. The cheap stuff is all varnish remover, as far as I’m concerned, but in the upper end, the rarified realm where the bottles look like something hand-blown to hold a relic of a saint, the distinctions are quite subtle. I’m a Belvedere man, myself. It’s a lovely marriage of velvet and freon.

In every genre of music you detest you’ll find something you like. No, that’s too strong, and too weak. In every genre for which you couldn’t give a toad’s colon, you’ll find something you love.

No, that’s just plain stupid; sounds like I’m about to admit that I found a great folk-music piece in an amphibian’s digestive tract.

It’s one of those four-column days. Bear with me.

That’s right. FOUR. And this one’s optional, too. I’m not bragging or complaining; when your profession consists of writing columns, four is so much better than zero. Four pays the bills.

Start again.

While in Fargo I perused my dad’s CD collection. His tastes haven’t changed in decades; he’s still a country-western man. I hated that stuff growing up. Too damn twangy. it had that fatal taint from HeeHaw; nothing that appeared on HeeHaw could ever be cool. And its HeeHaw incarnation was so schlocky - these dorks with wide pointy sideburns and ruffled shirts sitting on bales of hay lip-syncing songs about old people having sex. Really, that’s what it was “When We Get Behind Closed Doors” was the apex of the genre, with Charlie Rich, aka the Silver Fox, aka the White Barry White, singing “when she lets her hahyr heng dahn” - no thanks, I’ll take Foghat.

Now I know better; now I love some of the old hardcore country, and the twangier, maudlin and drunker the better. Even like the Countrypolitan stuff; it brings to mind sitting in the truck with dad, driving somewhere, the cab reeking of gasoline and the hired man’s cigarettes. Why, I'll even stand for a lick of Buck Owens, which is what prompted this reverie: iTunes just kicked up “Tiger By the Tail,” which I ripped from Dad’s collection. As a child I conflated that song with the Exxon slogan, “Put a tiger in your tank.” The Exxon ads featured a tiger that looked much like Tony of cereal mascot fame, so now whenever I hear that song I think of Thurl Ravenscroft.

On the odd chance I shoot a home video that needs a song about an impotent Vietnam war vet imploring his wife not to go to town and do some hooking, I also ripped “Ruby” by Kenny Rogers. “If I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground.” Cheery! Socially relevant! Once you realize that they usually followed this song with “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr., you’ll know what a strange stew AM radio used to be.

Okay, I have to go finish #4. See you tomorrow.

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