mr. grant’s rant: hot dog cures indigestion

You remember Dick Cheney. He’s that scowling, dyspeptic, roly-poly, pasty-faced fellow that emerges every fourth week from some underground bunker bored into the base of the Appalachians to deliver some scripted and very public press statements. Ancient Lone Star wisdom lends that the scowling visage is merely the external manifestation of his vast reserves of intestinal fortitude. I think it’s the byproduct of a double Bacon Whopper®…”

 

 

By the time Friday night rolled around last week I had developed a boiling case of indigestion. And a pounding rockache as well. Not sure what the exact source of these maladies was, but am suspicious it had less to do with work and more to do with information overload.

First came news that our fearless Commander in Chief had decided to sign off on a bill that would stuff a volcano in neighboring Nevada with the country’s bountiful piles of radioactive waste. I suppose shouldn’t complain. The indigestion I was suffering through was nothing compared to what the residents surrounding Yucca Mountain felt when envisioning convoys of nuclear byproducts rolling through their towns and neighborhoods pursued by suicidal, grenade launching hoards of disgruntled militants, terrorists and extremists of every conceivable nationality or persuasion. Seeing as there’s what, a hundred and a half nuclear plants holding these immortal glowing specters sprinkled across the nation what could possibly go wrong?

Not to worry, for this as well as other important issues of our time are being carefully pondered and analyzed by our now openly embraced “shadow government,” a secret society of legislators operating in underground caves (does anyone else find this as ironic as I do?) and lead by the always charming and personable Dick Cheney.  You remember Dick Cheney. He’s that scowling, dyspeptic, roly-poly, pasty-faced fellow that emerges every fourth week from some underground bunker bored into the base of the Appalachians to deliver some scripted and very public press statements. Ancient Lone Star wisdom lends that the scowling visage is merely the external manifestation of his vast reserves of intestinal fortitude. I think it’s the byproduct of a double Bacon Whopper®.

Surely then we have no reason to doubt Mr. Cheney’s clear-headed judgement when it comes to the safety, and well-being of the common citizen? Cheney is after all a fair-minded champion of the “average joe” in spite of what his history of glad-handing Texas oil barons and energy brokers might lead one to believe. His noble, and very adamant refusal to cooperate with officials investigating the greedy fingers of Enron (and their placement firmly in the rectums of our elected decision makers) on the grounds of defending the sanctity of private discourse among public figures and corporate benefactors, is proof of his determination to stand up for what he believes in. Clearly letting Dick and his lackeys operate unfettered by meddlesome legislators, judiciaries and media scrutiny is in all of our best interests. We’re at war after all.

On the popular culture front there’s an overt misogynist selling expensive name brand sneakers (I am not a role model indeed), and people eating piles of cow nards and sticks of butter for cash on the tube. Olympians are injecting themselves with drugs designed for leukemia patients to get an edge in competitions and losing their chance at achieving anything other than notoriety. Women (and men) shoot Botox into their faces to get an edge on the aging process and end up losing the ability to smile or show other forms of emotion. Mike Tyson bites people. Hard. He’s losing his mind. It only seems logical that he should continue his career in Washington DC.

Look around. Stay awake. If you don’t feel a bit queasy you probably aren’t paying very close attention.

I hear you muttering “get to the point Grant, what does any of this have to do with a hot dog?”

Well, let me tell you.

When the head starts to spin and the stomach starts to bubble, Mr. Grant and Mr. Grant Jr. jump into the sputtering road barge and head off to the ice-rink for some hockey: a game played in a substrate where the skates are sharp, the pucks are made of rubber and where good old fashioned wild, west justice rules the day. A sour stomach and throbbing head couldn’t keep me from the critical late season Portland-Kamloops match up Friday evening. Had I known of the healing properties of the hot dog my attendance would never have been in question.

The miracle on ice started between the first and second periods. Junior was hankering for a tub of greasy popcorn and I was hankering to spend $5.50 on a 16 ounce plastic cup of cheap domestic beer. As we strolled the concourse, our individual needs taken care of, the sound of blotchy guitars and poorly mixed drums wafted over the crowd. It turned out it was band night in the Rose Garden, and a dismal affair it appeared, with some haggard 5-piece flea farmer combo trying to keep time on their Dave Matthews inspired compositions while the crowds rolled disinterestedly past them.

We continued on our intermission walk, and 6 sections later came upon another band – this one a group of six or so playing what could only be described as abysmal. Think Night Ranger.  Again, not a soul paid them the least bit of attention –who could blame them really? Twenty-five yards of smooth cement further and, what have we here?… a keyboard duo? Good god!  Can’t recall much. It was horrific I quickly blocked them out of my mind.

Deciding we had suffered enough punishment for one evening, we hurried toward our seats.

It was then that we saw the hot dog. A giant, foam rubber wiener with protruding arms and legs, a guitar around his neck, a bass drum and hi- hat set up at his feet, and a harmonica in his mouth. There was a large, appreciative crowd surrounding this most curious musical appartition and a singular dancer twisted and gyrated in front of him with jerky, Pee Wee Herman inspired dance moves. It was surreal. A giant kielbasa playing the blues – and playing them very proficiently it must be noted. He was singing songs about…well…hot dogs, which I suppose made perfect sense. “Baby, I’m your foot-long dog” I think I made out just as the lights in the arena brightened, signifying the beginning of the second period.

“We got to get back to our seats.”

“Aww Dad, I wanna watch the hot dog.” Junior pleaded.

The second intermission came and we returned to find an even larger crowd. The one-man ax-wielding wiener called himself Frank Furter & The Hot Dogs, a curious moniker for a one-man band, even if it is a one-man band who performs in a foam hot dog suit. Mr. Furter was looking like a boiled Ball Park Frank™ but was laying down some fierce Mississippi blues, growling his lyrics as only a well-cooked John Lee Hooker could. He strummed workmanlike three-bar blues and thumped and crashed his two-legged percussion ensemble to help keep the time. I looked around at the crowd of stunned admirers he’d assembled: two Canadian Passport – coifed visitors who appeared to be working a five-day malt bender following the gold medal won by their motherland the weekend prior; a proper looking middle-aged lady and her tired-looking husband; two young goths with enough iron particles poked into their facial flesh to be considered armed; teenagers, oldtimers, African, Anglo, Asian you name it – the jammin’ frankfurter had the whole crowd, surely with hardly a musical interest in common, grinning from ear to ear.

Frank flipped over his guitar at the conclusion of one number to reveal the words “EAT ME” before dropping it back onto his lap…err…casing…and beginning the spoken word intro to “Baby, You make Me Feel Like A Corndog Sometimes.” I realized that my headache was gone and my stomach felt settled for the first time in days. I was laughing so hard my eyes were watering. Junior couldn’t have pasted a bigger smile on his face if he tried. A weight lifted off my shoulders that hasn’t returned since.

Maybe you think it’s an odd thing that a pork product that plays killer Delta Blues, and whose universe revolves around a sausage-centered philosophy, can give a person a glimmer of hope about the way things are shaking out these days. Maybe you think that a singing wiener is inconsequential and insignificant. But ask yourself this, is it any odder than the inanity of real life: volcano’s stuffed like Christmas turkeys with leftover plutonium byproducts, or a secret underground star-chamber lead by oil-guzzling good-ol’ boys mapping out the fate of the nation?  A musical hot dog may be absurd, but using people’s fear’s of terrorism to jam through contentious environmental legislature is even more absurd, and far more diabolical. It’s a nasty world we’re bringing our kids up in these days. The gift of a honest smile is never to be underestimated. That rockin’ Frank Furter gave the crowd something many probably hadn’t experienced in a good long spell – the catharsis that comes from raw absurdity and collective laughter crossing many social and cultural divides.

As far as that indigestion goes, mom always told me that “laughter’s the best medicine of all.” Damn it all if she wasn’t right again.

Till the next time… have a good laugh and make sure you completely cook them.

 

Originally published:
Issue Eighteen
March 2002

 

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