Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Fighters of Foo Make Me Spew Goo!

"Why don't you turn me loose? Turn me loose? Turn me loose? I've got to do it my way ...OR NO WAY AT ALL. Why don't you turn me loose? Turn me loose? Turn me loose? I've got to do it my way. I wanna fly..."

So I staggered in very late Friday night, riding a wave of excited enthusiam from watching the ever-evolving Cleveland Browns team and super nova exploding in a fit of joy because my favorite band in the universe, The Foo Fighters, will be coming to town here in Cleveland on Oct. 8th!!!

And I got tickets! Not only will the Fighters of Foo be stopping in my hometown, they'll also be playing at the $55 million dollar fishbowl down at my old alma mater, The Cleveland State University Convocation Center (I just knew that building had some other important purpose besides being built solely for my college graduation ceremony!).

And then it happened. That flashing red light on my answering machine happened. Blinking and blaring at me like my own personal Batsignal in the dark Gotham sky - like the red phone in stately Wayne Manor that Commissioner Gordon used exclusively to contact Adam West and Burt Ward back in the day. I don't suppose that this could be some late night Bat-booty call, could it-? Nope, it couldn't. It wasn't. It was just a blast from the past...

"Hey, this is Pete," the voice announced innocently enough, shredding the silence of my townhouse. "I'm calling from The Beachland Ballroom..." And I'm afraid I've got some bad news, The Riddler's back in town, I imagined he might add.

Pete is an old friend from college. We've come up through the ranks - and sank down to the depths - of local Cleveland "journalism" together. Until recently, I hadn't spoken much to him for the last 2 years - He became a newlywed and ditched his rock n' roll writing career for a lucrative, but mind-numbing, grinding corporate gig. I, in the meantime, took my meager "golden parachute" and went spelunking off the top of The Jane Scott Memorial Tower (um, formerly the BP Building) and into the satirical safety net of The Second City - that saved and restored what's left of my questionable sanity - after the Enron-in-arms accounting firm I worked for ran out of things for me to shred...

"Plum Island Journalism Disease Research Center. Sounds charming..."

But that's all water under the Detroit-Superior Bridge. Just like Hannibal Lecter and Agent Clarise Starling, Pete and I just can't seem to get enough of each other when it comes to the world of writing. I'll phone him from some unnassuming Tiki bar patio just as he is accepting the "Edward R. Murrow/Maury Povich Award" for excellence in journalism down at The Society of Professional Journalists and Loyal Order of Water Buffalos lodge...

He'll come running to my plexiglass cell with his cheap shoes and good computer handbag, carrying a plate of extra-rare lamb chops when he needs advice about something - it's all fun and good in the end. Just as I often used to back in the day, this fateful evening Pete left a heavy-hearted soliloquy about the state of Cleveland jounalism on my unsuspecting answering machine. It's all good - I am guilty of the same crime.

The state of Cleveland journalism, I wondered??? You mean just because we've got Eartha Kitt covering Browns' games and giving her "in-depth analysis" about it-? Why, the way I see it, Pete, the state of Cleveland journalism is absloutely "purr-fect!" (Cough). Just like England used to send their convicts to Austrialia, so it goes with the rest of the U.S. sending their castoffs to Cleveland...

Pete goes on with his inner and outer monlogue as I listen as intently as one can focus at 2 am on a Friday night. "What do you want, Clarise-?" I ask the answering machine matter-of-factly.

"I don't know anymore-" Pete interjects from the little black box.

"You want what everybody wants! What everybody craves! Advancement..." I reply, washing out the dried-up remnants of Coca-Cola Zero from my Ohio State Buckeyes' mug in the kitchen sink. Hey, even the chronically insane have chores!

"I need your help, Dr. Lecter!" Pete shouts from the machine.

"What do you want, Clarise-? That lucrative writing job for Rolling Stone-? Do you want Buffalo Bill, Clarise-? I'll help you catch him!" I imagine is what he wants me to say, but at this point I am just tired now, both literally and figuratively.

I have stepped in and out of the writing world circle so many times - mostly because, after awhile, I just got sick of hearing myself talk - saying the same things over and over again (Hey, even now I'm just getting nauseous typing this entry into my blog!). Don't get me wrong - whether I'm good at it or not, I love writing. And I've been extremely lucky to get paid actual money to write hundreds of articles on subjects I love, like sports, movies and pop culture. But there just comes a point when you need to try something new.

And trying something new isn't such a bad thing - after seeing my words acted out on a stage at the old Second City theater before my very eyes was a dream come true. But it never would have happened if I hadn't shut the door - or it closed on me - and was forced to take another path down Bob Hope Way.

Even now I have friends who constantly implore me to move to Chicago. "You'll love Chicago!" the exclaim with glee. "It's your kind of town! There are so many more opportunities there - it will make your head spin compared to Cleveland!"

Hey, I love my hometown - born and bred here - but at times it becomes tiresome, especially in it's current sad state of disrepair. But as long as I am here, I make do with what I have: The Browns, the Indians, the Cavaliers ...Mentor Headlands ...the rock n' roll venues ...the serenity of the May 4th memorial in Kent ...and, most importantly, all my close Cleveland friends.

So I guess when my old buddy, Pete, calls me again, I hope it's not to dwell on something as foolish and frivolous as "a journalism career." If you like to write, there are many other venues, and half the fun is just exploring them if you're willing to just "let go" and take that chance. Hey, look at it this way: You WOULD go crazy doing the same thing over and over again for the last ten years, no matter what the profession, let alone one where your words float around your head constantly like some bubble in a Far Side cartoon.

I have no problem discussing writing - or anthing else - in or out of Cleveland, so bring it on! And when I say "I'm having an old friend for dinner" ...I want to mean it in the most traditional sort of way - with actual food, appetizers and drinks at Around the Corner or something!

I mean, if you don't know Pete and I, than you wouldn't know that we are the sometimes-scary spitting images of the Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer characters on Two and a Half Men. I, the shallow one of this dynamic duo, drink too much and whittle my life and talents away as my sidekick in journalism constantly frets over nothing and childes me to "grow up" - AND he hides my ice cold Coronas from me as punishment when we squabble over petty things, say, writing careers.

As Charlie would so often eloquently say: "Life is short, little brother why not have a little fun?" Actually, I think Dr. Lecter said something to that effect to Agent Starling, as well. Huh, go figure!

In the meantime, I have a fantasy football draft and outdoor barbecue party to get to in Mentor. And since no one will read this because they all have their noses stuck in a fantasy football magazine somewhere, I'll let you in a little secret: I think running backs Julius Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Kevin Jones (Detroit Lions) are going to be the steal of the draft! And I'm going to steal them!

Just don't be foolish enough to draft Michael Vick unless you are into fantasy track and field. Go Tribe! Good night and good luck...


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