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March 2007

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
March 21, 2007

A few odds and ends this week...

Last week in my column about things I would not do for a million dollars, there were a few grammatical errors.

Remember that Arkansas Weekly operates on a very limited budget, so we don't have a full-time copy editor. And with my knack of turning in my columns well past deadline, there are usually grammatical errors galore.

Last week's column was no exception.

For the corrected version of last week's column, please head online to my blog www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

Sorry, but I'm very obsessive-compulsive about that kind of stuff.

* * *

Lately, I've been listening to the radio cranked up very, very loud.

For those of you who have not realized, The Max 93One FM is no more.

The Max, located on your radio dial at 93.1 FM, is a station that I have programmed since 1997. We played a mixture of classic rock and new rock -- the idea being that if you liked Led Zeppelin, you might like a new band with a similar sound.

Ben Johnson, a former member of the W.R.D. Entertainment team who now teaches broadcasting at Cave City High School, always used to tell me that 93.1 should be completely classic rock and roll, that the new stuff could be unfamiliar and perhaps a bit off-putting to some of the listeners.

But being somewhat of a snob, I always resisted the idea of a completely classic rock station. Instead, I thought the new rock would mix well. It worked at first. Then something happened. Most of the new rock started to...well...stink. The grunge/rap/screaming new stuff overtook most of the rock being released, and soon, the pickings of new rock that meshed with classic rock became slim.

Finally, I came to this conclusion: Ben was right. I -- gulp -- was wrong.

So, at the beginning of March, I switched The Max to Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE. It's nothing but 24 hours, seven days a week of classic rock and roll. And though I've always thought a classic rock radio station would be derivative, I find myself listening to the all new Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE all the time.

And, this is scary: If I'm alone, I find myself singing very loudly with the radio.

What's weird about Classic Rock 93 is the fact that I seemed to have completely taken for granted how well the majority of the classic rock songs still hold up. I was too focused on all of the new rock to notice that something like "Stay with Me" by Rod Stewart's early `70s band Faces, Led Zeppelin's "Bring It on Home," or The Beatles' "Hey Bulldog" blow away the majority of the current songs The Max used to spin.

I'm re-discovering the pure, simple rock that emerged when I was just a tot.

Another aspect of classic rock is the fact that the audience is wide and diverse. From the 55-year-old banker whose first album purchase was Sgt. Pepper's to the 24-year-old schoolteacher who is discovering Bob Seger to the high school senior who found a copy of a Steve Miller Band album in his dad's closet and never looked back, the broad range of those who love classic rock is a huge audience Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE targets. Even teens are getting into the rock of their parents. Last year, Rolling Stone magazine devoted an article to the fact that teenagers are turning to classic rock radio in "dramatic" numbers.

So, for all of you rock fanatics, tune to Classic Rock 93 -- KZLE. We have a huge music library, and I'm adding "new" classic rock cuts all the time.

* * *

Our daughter passed this trick on to me. It may be an old one, but it was the first time I had ever seen it.

Grab a piece of paper, a pencil and a calculator. Now, write down the prefix of your phone number and multiply it by 80. Add 1 to that figure and multiply that amount by 250. Now add the last four digits of your phone number. Then add the last four digits of your phone number again. Now subtract 250 and divide that amount by 2.

If it works, the final sum will be familiar.

This trick proves two things: one, arithmetic is amazing, and two, our daughter has too much time on her hands.

* * *

Finally, faithful reader and area caterer Warren Woodbury e-mailed his thoughts on last week's column and, in particular, American Idol, and their habit of showing Idol wannabes fail miserably in their local auditions.

Warren writes:

One night last month, my sister called me from Memphis, telling me I had to turn on American Idol RIGHT NOW because someone she knows was scheduled to be ridiculed. At the moment she called, nary a television in our house was on, and my 5-year-old daughter was sitting in my lap as I read to her. Then my sister, bless her heart, tells me I have to stop and turn on American Idol. The thing you need to understand is that my sister is a librarian. A CHILDREN'S librarian. She has a masters degree in Library Science and has spent 30 years encouraging children to read books. And even she isn't immune to the siren song of American Idol. It must be stopped.

Amen, brother. Amen.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at max@maxfm.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com. Or just click the link on the front page of www.maxfm.com, the web site for The Max 93One FM.


All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
March 14, 2007

We all have our limits.

Whether attributed to our particular moral code, fear, or plain old common sense, there are millions of things we would not do for a million dollars.

For instance, you would never find me skydiving. Heights make me sweaty and full of trembles. Because of our son, I did conquer my fear of going to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but I was not happy while I was up there. And I certainly was not happy when, on another St. Louis trip, his sister said she wanted to go to the top too.

Any type of body piercing is also out of the question -- particularly if it involves my nose, eyebrow, lip, tongue, and more importantly, anything below the neck. I recently had to give myself a series of injections in my belly, and trust me, I've had my fill of needles poking through my skin.

Oddly, though, the thought of a tattoo does not bother me -- especially if the tattoo involves the image of Salma Hayek in a string bikini. A tat like that could take up my entire chest if need be.

(Note to my darling wife if she is reading this column: I love you, sweetheart. You're gorgeous and the rainbow of my heart. Please don't hit me with a frying pan.)

I would never eat any type of internal organ of any animal. Simple meat is fine with me, thank you. At the urging of my father-in-law one time, I ate some fried chicken livers and it took me roughly four months to get the taste out of my mouth.

It's very possible that I would not be able to handle attending a live taping of American Idol. Every time I pass the television set when our daughter is watching that show, I have the strong urge to point some type of sub-machine gun to the TV screen. Is it me, or do that show's production numbers -- when all of the jolly contestants are on stage singing some generic pop standard -- remind you of a 2007 version of Up With People mixed with The Gong Show? One episode of AI and that equally ghastly Grease audition show is enough to make one long for the glory days of The Captain & Tennille Variety Show.

(Note to reader: I just made a horrific discovery on the web. Up With People still exists! When will this cheesy production, full of Stepford Wives and Clay Aiken clones, stop tormenting cities and towns across America with renditions of "Up, Up and Away" and "Copacabana"?)

(Another note to reader: Did you know Toni Tennille appears on the classic rock concept album, The Wall by Pink Floyd? I found that out online as well, I have an entirely new appreciation for this woman.)

Other things I wouldn't do for a million dollars: give Mike Tyson a wedgie; embark on a cross country trip in a Mini Cooper with CNN's Nancy Grace (no relation -- thank heavens); participate in a cage fight; volunteer for any type of medical research involving proctology; learn how to play the harp; enter a motorcycle bar wearing nothing but a pair of white briefs, black socks, a red afro wig and a shocking pink cape; and I would never, ever, run in an election for President of the United States -- unless I could wear a pair of white briefs, black socks, a red afro wig and a shocking pink cape to each televised debate.

(Note to my wife: I know that's your favorite special secret costume of mine, but just think how cool I would look delivering my inauguration speech in that get-up?)

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at max@maxfm.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com. Or just click the link on the front page of www.maxfm.com, the web site for The Max 93One FM.

All Over the Map
by Rob Grace
March 7, 2007

The Statue of Liberty almost became roadkill the other day.

For those of you who haven't traveled down Batesville's ultra-hazardous Harrison Street lately, just about every day there is, for some reason, a person dressed up in a Statue of Liberty costume waving to the vehicles zipping down the road. I think she's there for some tax return business. Lady Liberty stands on the corner of the lot directly across from Burger King. Sometimes Uncle Sam, or I should say another person dressed as Uncle Sam, joins Lady Liberty on the corner. And they smile and wave and smile and wave.

And like I said, the vehicles speed by just a few feet away.

The first day I noticed Lady Liberty, it wasn't a lady at all. It was a miserable looking man, dressed in full Statue garb, looking as if he just lost a bet. That was the last time I saw him. I assume he took his pay at the end of that afternoon, gave his notice and went to the nearest bar. The next day, someone of the opposite sex was appropriately decked out as Lady Liberty.

Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, or the different folks who portray them, seem to be as reliable as the U.S. Postal Service. Cold weather doesn't seem to bother them, and when the snow came last month, there they were waving away while cars and trucks struggled up and down the slippery street.

It's a wonder a vehicle didn't slide into these characters that day -- or any other day, for that matter. Driving down Harrison Street can boost your blood pressure into perilous levels and noticing these two can also take your eyes and mind off Harrison Street.

Which is a dangerous thing, not only for the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam, but for other drivers as well.

The afternoon the Statue of Liberty almost got nailed (please excuse the expression), I was trying to take a left onto Harrison Street from 22nd Street. Like most days, the traffic on Harrison zoomed steadily by in both directions. Down the hill from where I sat, I could see Lady Liberty waving away to the mostly oblivious drivers. One car in the far lane had stopped directly in front of the waving Statue, trying to take a left into Burger King.

Now, as most locals know, there have likely been more car accidents at that particular point of Harrison Street than any other location in Batesville. Drivers zoom down the opposite hills, and many times, smack into other vehicles trying to turn into Burger King or onto the other parking lot where the Statue stands and waves.

This particular day, as I noticed the Statue and the driver trying to get a Whopper, I saw an elderly woman speeding down the hill in the same lane as the car trying to make a left. Not to be mean, but speed and elderly drivers is a combination not unlike a few Jagermeisters and an empty stomach.

Throw in a waving Statue of Liberty standing a few feet from the street, and you have the potential for a bizarre spectacle so bloody and horrific, it's a Drudge Report headline waiting to happen. (STATUE OF LIBERTY MOWED DOWN IN ARKANSAS BY ELDERLY DRIVER! Developing...)

It was all I could do but watch and pray for this not to happen.

Sure enough, right before the car waiting to turn into Burger King would have been bashed in the rear, the elderly driver swerved to the right, directly toward Lady Liberty. At the last second, the woman seemed to see the Statue and quickly cut back slightly to the left before jumping the curb of the parking lot -- just past our Lady.

By now, some drivers had lined up behind me, waiting for me to turn. Harrison was clear both ways, and as I collected myself and relaxed the cheeks of my bottom, I turned and drove by the scene.

The Burger King lady was safely in the drive-thru line.

The elderly driver had carefully pulled off the curb. And, the Statue of Liberty was back in her corner of the parking lot, smiling and waving, as if nothing had ever happened.

It is safe to say, however, that had Uncle Sam been with Lady Liberty that day, he would have been toast.

* * *

I hate to say this, but I have a blog for those of you who simply can't get enough of me. It's sad really -- it's just another outlet for me to express silly thoughts on the state of the world, movies, music, and odd things in my walk through life.

In other words, it's another place where I can call attention to my pretentious self. I do, however, have some fun with it. I try to get my columns up the weekend before publication in the Weekly, and sometimes, they're longer and, well, uncensored.

For the four or five of you who are interested, it's located at the following address: www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com.

Come by and visit every now and then.

You can write Rob in care of Arkansas Weekly, or e-mail him at max@maxfm.com. You can view Rob's blog at http://suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com. Or just click the link on the front page of www.maxfm.com, the web site for The Max 93One FM.

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