I just flipped on the annual Daytona 500 on Fox. Lo and behold, it's my protege Brad Paisley. You see, everyone in this god forsaken town has a Brad Paisley story. Ohh, I used to change Brad's diapers. I used to go feeshun' with Brad out the crick. His first girlfriend Jenny Jeffers is my aunt Jenny. Yeah, I get it. Trust me, I get it.
But here's the real truth. I was the person who jump-started his musical career. And I probably deserve monetary compensation but I'm willing to let it slide. When I was a junior at Linsly High School, we had this annual event called The Linsly Extravaganza. And what a festive celebration it was. This "extravaganza" was held every year at the venerable Capitol Music Hall in glorious downtown Wheeling. A glowing crowd of parents, mostly lawyers and physicians, would fill the venue and endure this crap. When I say "fill," that's a generous exaggeration. I'd say the place was about 63% full. That's around 1,200 out of 2,000.
Anyway, this was the once a year event where all the Linsly boys would get to "let it all hang out." Probably not a wise choice of words since 1/4 of the faculty is gay and about 15% of the students were trending homo. Linsly was always interested in harnessing everyone's creativity (as long as it was an attempt to raise funds for Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign against Walter Mondale... probably a suds filled student car wash would do the trick). Once again, not a good omen unless you're a movie director specializing in gay porn. My point - this is was the opportunity for every young man at Linsly to shine (and sparkle, in a Liza Minellish kind of way).
There was all kinds of entertainment at the Extravaganza. Usually there would be a comedy skit. This would evoke a triumphant spattering of polite applause. I remember one occasion. It was one of those mind numbing "who's on first, third base" routines. Cumbersome. Weak.
Then you'd have the tumblers. This was about 15 guys who would do athletic stunts. For the finale, one guy would leap in the air and somersault over everyone. This was actually pretty impressive. At the time, I was surprised nobody ever broke their neck. Not sure if you could get away with that stunt these days in WV, the self professed litigious heck-hole. What a horrible manner in which to experience paralysis.
"How did you end up in that wheelchair?
Poor thing. Hmmm, the Linsly Extravaganza. Hmmmm.
As you silently think, "Not much honor there."
Then there would be a group of shirtless men with faces painted on their stomachs. In retrospect, this was pretty comical because it was always the fat kids with larger guts. Speaking of guts, I've always been a major proponent of trying to normalize the word "gunt" which is a combination of gut and cunt. In a similar vain, I'm trying to mainstream the word "gock." Gock is simply the long overdue manifestation of gunt: Gock being a combination of gut and cock.
Then there was probably a 13 year old magician. Ohhh, how he would dazzle the crowd with card tricks from an absurd distance. Or how about some dumbshit kid with a yo yo. Honestly, it would have been cool to have some "mild" renegade hecklers in the audience. This has always been a secret dream of mine. Sometimes on Maury, you hear the roar of the crowd. They are booing with such ferocity. Right at the end when the noise dissipates, you sometimes hear "SLUT" or "WHORE" often disguised as a cough. The all-time triumph was when someone muttered "PEEPING TOM." I wish this blog had sound, because the manner in which it was said, the tonal infusion... well, it was truly a work of art. An auditory achievement of absolute mastery and perfect cunning.
Participation in the Extravaganza was mandatory. So everyone had to get involved. The lamest were those who worked "behind the scenes" with the props or set-up. These were the self-admitted losers with absolutely no talent whatsoever. A close runner-up was the background choir. See, if you didn't want to do shit for this shit, you'd join the chorus. I was a member of the chorus.
Finally, onto the country music sensation/Marshall County hero of unparalleled proportions. He'd get up and sing that "Bye bye Miss American Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levy, til the levy was dry, Spend all day drinking whiskey and rye, sayin' this will be the day that I die, this will be the day that I die" song. I've always hated this anthem. It just drones on way too long. And worse yet, it encourages a group sing-a-long dynamic. It's not that I don't like a good sing-a-long. Hell, I have very fond memories of Jew sing-a-longs.
Draydel, Draydel, I made it out of clay, Draydel, Draydel, so let's go out and play.
Perhaps an exhausting rendition of Dayenu.
How about that Ha Va Na Gilah, Ha Va Na Gilah, Ha Va Na Gilah be'en Yisrael excrement?
The worst one I recall is a passover recitation where you repeat this never ending Jewish version of the 12 days of Christmas. This one ends with an old man regaling us with the virtues of thriftiness. It closes with what he bought for 10 "Assuzim" or "Messuzim" or something that ends in "uzim."
Anyway, Brad would sing that Don McLean song for 12 minutes and the crowd would shower him with adulation. I must admit, the kid sounded good. I was a junior at the time, so I think he was probably in 8th grade. Everyone would heap lavish praise upon Brad. But there was this one asshole who proved to be the exception. I was that asshole.
A few times when we spoke I'd say, and I quote, "Brad, you sound great out there, but you really need to work on writing your own material." He would respond with, and I quote, "I know Eric, I'm working on it." We had this exact conversation at least twice. Other than that, we didn't have much interaction.
So it was me. I was the one who didn't stroke his ego. I was the abrasive mentor who didn't pull any punches. I was the one. So the next time you hear that "Mud on the Tires" tune on the radio, think of me. Or maybe think of Gil White's mom who drove over my hill and then into Fuckface's pool. She got a little mud on her tires. But in all honesty, I always liked Brad. He was a nice guy with a pleasant demeanor. And as far as the pop cunt-tree music genre goes, he's pretty damn good. Way better than the Kenny Chesney douche baguette.
One final point regarding the Passover Seder. I'm often asked, "Saf, out of all 10 plagues, which one is your favorite." The answer, "#2 - Plague of Frogs." Here are all the 10 deadly plagues. Readers, feel free to choose your favorite!
1. Plague of Blood (דָם): Ex. 7:14–25
2. Plague of Frogs (צְּפַרְדֵּעַ): Ex. 7:25–8:11
3. Plague of Gnats (כִּנִּים): Ex. 8:12–15
4. Plague of Wild Beasts (עָרוֹב): Ex. 8:20–32
5. Plague of Pestilence (דֶּבֶר): Ex. 9:1–7
6. Plague of Boils (שְׁחִין): Ex. 9:8–12
7. Plague of Hail (בָּרָד): Ex. 9:13–35
8. Plague of Locusts (אַרְבֶּה): Ex. 10:1–20
9. Plague of Darkness (חוֹשֶך): Ex. 10:21–29
10. Death of the Firstborn (מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת): Ex. 11:1–12:36