Brad’s Corner is a monthly commentary written by Brad about whatever he feels like. It’s supposed to be funny, interesting and thought provoking, but most geniuses are misunderstood. Check out the June 2005 edition of Brad’s Corner and see what’s on his mind. DISCLAIMER for Sgt. Nick from Katy–For Entertainment Purposes Only!
June is the kickoff of family vacation season. And what a joy those can be? As a kid we loaded up into my dad’s suburban or grandpa’s van for a multi-week run each summer even if it was not very far. So, as I saw this family at the gas station the other day fueling up it prompted me to remember a couple memorable moments from vacation past.
I was probably 5 or 6 and we had taken a family vacation to Tennessee. On our way to Nashville from Texas we stopped off in Memphis and my parents wanted to check out Graceland. I was too young to know who or what Elvis was. I just knew he wasn’t there anymore and that it was special to be there. I saw middle aged women with bouffant hair crying their eyes out, Asian tourists taking pictures of everything that flashed, and a lot of somber awe from everyone touring the grounds. My distinct memory of Memphis was of the world champion nose picker we got caught beside at a stop light. That gentleman had to be reaching his brain. Onto Nashvegas we went. My grandparents just had to stop at Conway Twitty’s Twitty City museum. I didn’t know what the big hubbub was about Tweety Bird. My favorite part of Nashville was the tour of stars homes. Sure, I was only 5 but I could appreciate a big ass mansion. The most bizarre thing about the star home tour was the band Alabama. At the time they were the biggest thing on the planet. For my teenage sister they were right up there with Duran Duran and Billy Idol in coolness. So when we got to lead singer Randy Owen’s house she shrieked and freaked out like a girl on TRL who just got to touch a member of O-Town. Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook also had nice spreads. Then we approached drummer Mark Herndon’s house. He lived in a duplex. There was a corvette in the driveway but it was in a regular neighborhood and it was a duplex. That’s always stuck with me. It was at that moment that I realized I too could be a rock star. Somewhere during this trip through the smoky mountains I picked up a shirt that had a rebel flag on it and said “the south shall rise again”. I had no idea why my parents were mortified that I wanted that shirt or why they were mad at my grandma for buying it for me. I just liked the colors…”just like the General Lee” is all I thought. The ramifications of wearing a rebel flag did not strike me at the time. We went to eat at this old style Inn as I wore my shirt. All the servers were African-Americans. All the looks I got were of shock and astonishment. I remember our waitress asking me about the shirt and I just said “I’m Luke Duke!”. Then she smiled and realized I enjoyed the Dukes of Hazzard, not the Dukes of David.
At some point, I think my parents just gave up and agreed to do whatever my grandparents wanted to do because there were several years in a row where our summer vacation consisted of Branson, Mizzou. I don’t know if any of you have ever been to Branson but it’s like the white trash, redneck version of Atlantic City or Vegas. Washed up stars of yore playing their hits and covers in grand ballrooms with their names outside in broad neon’s. Branson is the land of fanny packs, Shoney’s buffets, cheesy jokes, overpriced crafts, and a ton of blue hair. It was in Branson that I first encountered bumper boats. In my youth, I raced 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, BMX and go-carts. Despite my dirt track successes, I was not yet acquainted with boats. As I set out on my maiden voyage of crashing into other kids my age and middle aged men getting jolly’s from smashing little kids I was excited. I quickly realized how lame it was. Upon exiting this adrenaline packed excitement I decided to go swimming. So after all the boats were parked, I just went for a swim in the pool. The 15 year old kid that ran the ride for minimum wage was actually gonna have to earn his pay as he chased me through the gas fumed water. My father’s stern yell from the side of the pool caused me to hop out of the water and dry off. I knew I was gonna be in trouble, but for a young kid that was about all the joy Branson held. I had no interest in seeing Shoji Tabuchi fiddle between his legs, the Baldknobbers tell bad jokes or see Boxcar Willie blow in a wooden pipe. Coming home from Branson was always fun. I remember losing our brakes on a mountain road one time. So kids, if you’re headed out on a trip you don’t wanna make, make the best of it. Trust me.
Those are just a couple of the many memories I have from those dreaded family vacations of days gone by. They’ve been glamorized in movies like National Lampoons and the one with Cedric the Entertainer. They’re as Americana as apple pie and baseball. Somewhere along the way as we grow older and before we have our own kids, these family vacations turn into reckless road trips. Where as long as you have a full tank of gas, some good cd’s, some better friends and an open road you can make anything happen. This month I’m off to Vegas with some good friends and I hope to God Shoji Tabuchi isn’t performing on a bumper boat at the resort we’re staying at.
-We lost a brother in kind to all of us involved in Texas music last month with the loss of Kirby Standley. He was a tremendous guy and if I could 1/10 the man he was I’d be 1,000,000 times a better man. He had a great sense of humor and we used to swap jokes via e-mail and he’d always be one of my first proof readers of all things Brad’s Corner. He’d let me know what jokes he liked and what he didn’t. I’ll miss you, as we all will brother.
-The 2nd Annual RRB River Float is this month. New Braunfels is still recovering from our revelry last year. Remember the lesson we learned from Mr. Rogers. Kids, if the front desk calls with a noise complaint, just act groggy and say that you need a wake up call and blame it on the room next door to you.
-Hit Me Baby One More Time is a hit show on NBC. They take bands that were big back in the day and bring them into an American Idol type competition. They perform their biggest hit, then cover a song that’s currently a hit on the charts. I’d like to see Michael Jackson compete on this show. He could do “Billie Jean” or something. Then cover an Usher or Justin Timberlake song. Tell me you wouldn’t pay good money to watch that train wreck!
-The masterminds at Anheuser-Busch have developed a great beer in Budweiser Select. I’ve been drinking it for quite a while now. It has no taste. It’s like water, but not as crappy as Natty Light.
-I heard a good joke about a priest, a rabbi and a young boy the other day. Insert your own punchline.
-This month’s recommended movie is: In honor of Anne Bancroft passing away, we’ve gotta go with The Graduate. If you haven’t seen this, do yourself a favor.
-This month’s recommended album is: In honor of his move back to Nashville. I’m going to recommend y’all all pick up my friend Peter Dawson’s Live at Coupland. It’s a great live record and nobody has a better voice than Peter. Track 5, “Clay Pigeons” is now the most played song on the jukebox at DJ’s in Elm Mott, TX, and has Peter said himself upon me informing him of the news, “I have now arrived”.
-Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.-Mark Twain