Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NO CARE PLAN: Hospitals VS Bars

The amount of Americans currently lacking proper affordable health care is startling. I, myself, have been a card carrying member of the NO CARE plan since 2001. Leave one little job to follow your dreams and the electric blanket of co-payments and marked down dental work is replaced with the wet napkin of, "If it aint broke don't fix it. If it IS broke and you can't fix it yourself, you're fucked because YOU'RE broke." During the passed seven years I've willfully endured financial hardships in order to dedicate as much time as possible to writing and performing music. I've chosen to work countless, actually I could probably count them, freelance jobs in order to barely make ends meet and now consider this portion of my adult life without health care to be, "The Saving For The Big Operation Years." People who hate their jobs are sometimes afraid to aspire to something more in tune with their true interests and passions because leaving would ultimately entail the relinquishing of certain benefits deemed to be survival necessities, i.e. steady income, health care, pension, etc. These earmarks of stability are by no means anything to scoff at. I'm actually jealous because the "independent contractor" position down at the Bluetooth office doesn't exactly come with a built in benefits package.

I want affordable health care. I'd even take free health care and then tip the doctor, as if he or she are a bartender, depending on how personable, adept, and thorough they are. Then, the amount one tips determines how one is treated the next time one returns to the doctor's office just as how much one tips a bartender determines one's "buy back frequency" at any given bar. I'm running under the assumption here that the universal buy back round for all bartenders when serving a well established tipper is the second round. This, of course, is wishful thinking on my part. To follow suit, let's say one visits one's family practioner for a routine check up. During a previous visit one throws down a twenty spot as a tip for the old MD. A perfect world would have it that big tippers don't have to sign their names on waiting lists or make advance appointments. Big tippers can just roll up, "Yo, what up Huxtable? You mind taking a peek at my bum leg real quick? I don't have time to wait for an hour and a half. I gots hot tracks to make. Y'heard?" By this logic, a local clinic is considered the equivalent of a well kept neighborhood pub whereas a free clinic is akin to a dive bar. Hospitals can be compared to certain bigger bars/venues/clubs, the Webster Halls/Henry Fonda Theatres of the medicine world. Doctors with better booking agents get placed at better venues and eventually become big name surgeons. Seeing a specialist like a proctologist is the equivalent of going to a high end wine bar like Terroir. You're paying for the best, no surprises. Doctors cut off and refuse care to hypochondriacs just as bartenders use their discretion in deeming when a patron has had too much to drink.

It is not esoteric knowledge that paying for an emergency room visit out of pocket is not exactly cheap. It pretty much costs a thousand bucks just for them to clasp that little plastic bracelet with one's name and DOB to one's wrist. I went to the emergency room three summers ago, just finished making my fifty dollar a month bare minimum payments, and aside from making me wear the requisite assless paper half-robe the only thing they did for me was give me ass cream. The visit literally cost me eighteen hundred bucks. You scream. I scream. We all scream for ass cream, the expensive kind of course. On that day, amidst the pain, little did I know I would eventually wind up paying almost 2 G's for the Ben and Jerry's of ass creams, not cheap.

All kidding aside having no health care is no laughing matter. So, at the end of the day I can sleep assured knowing that, at the very least, I have the NO CARE plan going for me. Mark my words, you will hear about the NO CARE plan during the upcoming 808 Sounds Great Presidential Candidates' debates. Furthermore, the NO CARE plan at its very core is precisely in tune with Barack Obama's defining message of HOPE in that, "I HOPE my fuckin' thrombosed hemmorhoids don't fall out of my ass on Kennedy Boulevard because if they do I'm fucked." Have you ever seen a pair of Christmas balls the size of two grapes? One may pose the question, "Well if you knew you didn't have health insurance why the hell'd you go to the emergency room Einstein?" A fair inquiry. The easy answer is, of course, a question, that being, "If you looked at YOUR own ass and saw something resembling a Christmas ornament coming out of it where exactly would you go?" In times of dire circumstances when experiencing severe amounts of pain or in times of fear for your life the right thing to do is ALWAYS to seek immediate medical care. And surely the older one gets the less one wants to fuck around. It sucks that on top of experiencing the anxiety of not knowing what one is in for physically coupled with knowing exactly what one is in for financially one without health care is thereby forced to leave the hospital, no matter how much better one may feel, with brand new pains, courtesy of the hospital, in one's nose, from it having been paid through.

If all this works out and Palestinian Bluetooth's vision for a greater health care system comes to fruition you will be able to buy gift certificates for your husbands fortieth birthday colon examination at participating Outback Steak Houses across our beloved nation. It'll be great. The whole family will go out and suck down ribs and scrimps on the barbie with fudgie the whale cake for dessert or whatever the fuck... And then after the whole Outback staff sings Happy Birthday and little hubby blows out his candles the staff will say, "And here's your voucher for your free Outback Steakhouse Fortieth Birthday Colon Exam On The Barbie sir. Enjoy." Eventually one might even be able to earn reward points or frequent flier miles toward hospital visits under the Palesinian Bluetooth health care umbrella.

Palestinian Bluetooth's model for reconfiguration so that hospitals and clinics are more like bars while doctors and nurses are more like bartenders and barmaids can solve problems that extend far beyond our nation's current health care dilemma. Think about the repercussions for people's sex lives. Fellas, if you're really looking to impress that lady you've had your eye on at the office, who finally agrees to accompany you for an evening about town, don't foot the bill for dinner at Hearth. Take her to the emergency room of the local hospital and say you refuse to let her health insurance pay for it. If you think she'll be impressed when you splurge for that 2003 Bordeaux, how do you think she'll react when you start the evening off with a little His & Her saline IV injection? Buy two bags of IV and you're in there like swim wear. "How are you both doing? I'm Robert. I'll be your doctor this evening. Can I start you two off with some drinks? Might I recommend the saline IV apertif with a little hint of Nexium for the nausea?" For the price a hospital charges for a bag of fucking salt water you'd think you were being injected with Austria's finest Reisling.

In earnest, all I'm saying is that hard times call for reliable coverage. Perhaps it's time that we start thinking in different terms when thinking about coverage. Palestinian Bluetooth already has. I urge you to do the same. Ladies, and gentleman interested in female wigs, all the answers to your coverage problems await you at Learn more about "America's natural choice for beautiful hair." Considering that a wig company is in essence peddling artifice, the antithesis of 'natural,' one cannot help but be reminded of the old line, "Who are the ad campaign wizards that came up with that one?"
So, in closing, as the hairline of our current health care system recedes beyond repair we each need to ask ourselves, "If I were choosing a quick fix wig for myself, would I go with a wisped away kind of feel, with monofilament parts, open ear tabs, and a hand tied front with a neck extension while deep down inside knowing that I'm only masking the symptoms, offering the perceiver a seeming sense of 'all's good in the hood'?"

And furthermore, "Would I feel comfortable wearing a hair piece that bears a human name?" For example, "Hi, it's nice to meet you. My name is Rose. The wig that I'm wearing is named Iris." If you can answer these questions honestly then you'll be OK when it's time to cast your vote for 808 Sounds Great Presidential Candidates ElectorATEs.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Embracing Black Outs

Justin Angelo Morey is a magnet for black-outs. On the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death me, Morey, and Wiley get caught in the maelstrom of a Pearl Studio power outage. We take solace in the fact that for once the absence of electricity is not caused by Morey's First Class hair drying apparatus. It turns out that the culprit is a faulty transformer which PSE&G apparently fixes the day before, apparently being the key word. We arrive thinking PSE&G's presence a second day in a row to be a bit strange. At first, the power in our room seems fully restored. The false sense of restoration lasts less than an hour. Lo and behold, the Black Hollies persevere against absurd conditions as the band finalizes a song arrangement in the hallway of their rehearsal space, at first under the hazard lights of the building's exit signs and then eventually in complete and utter darkness. The band notes shortly thereafter an investment in candles to be of utmost importance.

During the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death myself and Morey battle through a half-powered session trying to get ideas to tape without the availability of proper amplification. Our studio is barely lit by half dim X-mas lights as the air conditioner drools at an extremely weak frequency, kryptonite to Morey who is an admitted freon addict. Instead of calling it quits we decide to make due and hash out an idea by taking advantage of the fact that it isn't quite "rock o'clock" throughout the rest of the studio yet, meaning, "Dude, I punch OUT at five from the day job but I punch IN at 7 at the studio where me and the boys try to take it up a notch and let our neighbors know that the 90's were, and remain to this day, a very powerful time for music. Rock o'clock is the only time we can unwind after a long hard day of feeling Minnesota at the office." The jobless members of the Black Hollies prefer to keep early studio hours to avoid the off-putting rock o'clock hour at all costs. It is, at its worst, a time when the sounds emanating from other rooms in the studio produce a mock weight lifting, more specifically bench pressing or quad exercise motioning from either myself or Morey, meaning, "Hell, I drink Bud. I'm strong. My nation is strong. 'Aint no mistaken my fuckin' music is goan be strong. Raaaah!!! Riffs and spliffs, maaan. Candlebox rules!"

So, all the other tenants heed Joe Pearl's, aka the landlord's, notice that the juice in the joint is fucked. Apparently me and Morey miss out on the memo. Not a soul lingers at the studio so I place a phone call in a disguised voice to Joe Pearl's voice mail. I alert him of the power problem in case he is unaware of it. I say in a deeper than usual voice, "Joe, it's Tommy Plascko from The Boots band calling. There's something severely wrong with the power at the Forest street location. Just wanted to give you the heads up..." This way Pearl knows what's up but doesn't call anyone from The Black Hollies.

Distance from a landlord is crucial. It is important to note that myself and Morey avoid all things Joe Pearl related but not because upon first look Joe Pearl resembles a lost extra from the cast of Hillstreet Blues, sporting eggsalad yellow socks peeking over the cusps of a weather beaten pair of Spaulding high top sneakers which match his Spaulding sweatshirt, a paradoxical compliment to a pair of distressed blue denim cut-off shorts which bleed frayed white cascading shag just above the knees. In order to gain insight as to the particular vibes that Joe Pearl unknowingly channels please understand that Spaulding is to the 1980's what the Champion brand is to the 1990's. Pearl's hair is a relaxed curl congregation, the paradigm of Pert Plus in action. When checking any microphone Joe Pearl opts for the industry standard, "Two, two," sometimes straying and adding his own, "Hey, hey... Hey, two." The Black Hollies attempt to avoid all face to face encounters with Pearl because the band is admittedly first of the month challenged and suffers from a severe earning disorder which usually results in Pearl's outrage culminating in a voice mail left on Ferrante's mobile, the gist of it usually, "Nick, it's the 22nd of the month and I still haven't gotten a fucking check. I think you need to make a phone call. Click." To his credit though, Joe Pearl has been entirely flexible and supportive of every incarnation of band The Black Hollies have been involved in for the passed fifteen years, not to mention that Pearl can blow a mean woodwind.

Attempting to defy the power as it sporadically surges from the studio's damaged transformer, me and Morey record a sketch of an arrangement on the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death. We ignore the acid trip like swooping, swelling, speeding up, and slowing down sounds during playback thinking that the next day when the power in the studio is fully restored the aforementioned blemishes will remain undetected. After splitting a jug of southern wine we call it a night, encourage each other that we made the best with what we had, and look forward to working with Wiley on the arrangement the following day.

Deja Vu hits hard on the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death by drowning when the three of us listen to the previous session's distorted play back and go through the same emotions. We curse the lights as they die, not knowing when or if they'll be turned back on. At this crucial point, the easiest thing for the Black Hollies to do would have been to call it quits for the day using the excuse that the entire studio is maim as a result of not having any electricity. The funny thing is that the Black Hollies don't even discuss this option among each other. The band carries on sharing southern wine in the light's absence. While in the not illumined hallway we use cellphones to light our way in order to use the toilet. My camera's flash attests to how we each look ridiculous in the dark affirming once again that we're not dead but alive, not really knowing how far one of us is from the other, listening, and using our ears to determine which moves our hands will use to navigate the necks of our guitars. The best ideas often flow swiftly. So what a bummer it would have been to have to leave on account of a black out. More than ever we refuse to let go of our passion. After almost two hours of renegade operating the repaired transformer restores proper power to The Black Hollies' rehearsal space. The clock struck rock with the coming on of the lights as slowly but surely the other tenants arrived at Pearl to maximize their monthly rates. The Black Hollies celebrate overcoming the night's obstacle by sharing the final sips of southern wine together and putting to tape the structure for what the band considers to be it's most developed work, a testament to Palestinian Bluetooth's ethos that the easiest way is always the most boring and least fruitful.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Women Of Home Depot RIP

Lest you believe that Palestinian Bluetooth is not working overtime to bring you, it's beloved readers, what you crave, guess again. Truth be told, there has been a severe stonewalling regarding one of Palestinian Bluetooth's most revered segments, The Women Of Home Depot, which initially began as a pitch to the Home Depot corporation urging them to manufacture a yearly calendar bearing the moniker, paying me for the idea of course, but turned into a spotlight on blue collar, hard-working, everyday women, actually one woman, Jackie Velasquez. My honest intention was to turn my meeting with Jackie into a monthly segment wherein different women of Home Depots nationwide get the chance to have a little fun, share a bit about themselves, and show people of all walks of life that a woman's place is indeed everywhere. This is not to say that Palestinian Bluetooth garners secret funding from feminists, wink wink. One would think that Home Depot would be into the idea as the megalith itself has been forced to close some of its locations this passed year as a result of fiscal laggings.

During the last week of May, about a month into The Black Hollies passed tour, I eagerly anticipate our arrival to Los Angeles, not to play shows or see friends, but because I have the perfect location planned for the month of May's Women of Home Depot, Sunset Boulevard. Much to my dismay I am shunned by their management as I plead and explain upon deaf ears, those happy kind of deaf ears that love to NOT transmit information from ear to brain to mouth to the saying of yes being uttered from aforementioned mouth. I plan to redeem the segment in the month of June and leave the Sunset Boulevard Home Depot in LA thinking of my failure as a minor set back.

As June begins with a day off in Prescott, Arizona, I figure it as the perfect day to pick up the broken pieces of what The Women Of Home Depot segment has become. I arrive and make contact with one willing female employee who shall remain nameless. I am lead on to believe that I'll have my scoop. Then the always ill fated words, "Let me run it by my manager." Needless to say Palestinian Bluetooth is forced by management to leave the Prescott, Arizona, Home Depot empty handed. Strike two.

After returning from The Black Hollies tour a friend of mine who goes by, The Reverend, voices his disappointment to me regarding The Women Of Home Depot's absence from Palestinian Bluetooth. So, as July swallows June, I venture out to the new Home Depot located just outside of the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City, NJ. I delight in the fact that this particular location is virtually void of customers and believe that I shall redeem Palestinian Bluetooth's lost segment free of hassle. I encounter four female employees congregating in a down time cluster. I introduce myself, explain what I'm there to do, and kindly ask if any or all of these lovely women would care to contribute by offering information about their interests, what they value as individuals, their positions at Home Depot, and whether or not they can offer a comment about the new location in Jersey City, NJ. Again, for the third time, the actual women of Home Depot are ready to bring the heat but their "higher ups" in management burglar the fun for everyone. So as a result, Palestinian Bluetooth is left with no choice but to say, "Strike Three Home Depot. You're motherfuckin' OUT!" Do I have time to spend my days scouring Home Depots for female employees willing to contribute? Actually, I do because I don't have a job... But I won't do it anymore on principle. From here on out it's strictly about The Ladies of Lowes. Home Depot, you blew it. We could've been something together. We could've turned those calenders into Hollywood Gold.