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Top 10 Guinness Pours in Tucson Revealed!

Mick Zano

Tucson is an interesting town. I immediately got a sense of the local color here, which is beige. All color in Arizona, local or otherwise, is some derivative of beige. Upon pulling into town I was greeted by a man yelling out of his car window, “Pick a lane, asshole!” and I thought, “Wow, I’m home.”

In comparison, Phoenix is akin to some giant retirement community. I think over the years all the freaks were driven south and I mean that lovingly (the under-cactus railroad?). After only a short time wandering the streets I decided it was time for a follow up to my Best Guinness in Vegas Revealed feature, as a bartender from The Hut explained, “Tucson takes its beer seriously.”

But first an important cultural observation:

Nearly every couple in Tucson had a homeless/mentally ill panhandler following them. It’s as if everyone had already paired off, into threes, or as Arizona calls it: the Jan Brewer Model. I eventually found a nice free couple and started babbling to them about ancient aliens, the Rothschild family and alternate street parking. They seemed appreciative and I made a fast buck.

Ground Rules:

I don’t rate on the six Guinness pouring principles. I rate on taste and taste alone, and I am not going to mention those establishments that didn’t make the cut, because that would be completely Maloneyious of me. So without further a-brew, onto our Guinness winners (in reverse order).

Number 10: O’Malley’s

Drinkable, but let’s move on, shall we? Had I had more time in this town, this one would have likely been dropped faster than some psychedelics with Hunter S. Thompson at the Fremont Experience.

Number 9: The Shanty

Fourth Street Tucson has a variety of cool enough sounding bars, but unless you like country and western, or Coors and Budweiser, keep moving. The closest bar on Fourth Street to my hotel, however, The Shanty, poured a decent pint of Guinness. The place allegedly has a pool table and a nice patio, but I was only able to find one of these. (Hint: don’t try shoot pool on their patio. They hate that.)

The Shanty, giant moai

Number 8: The Hut

This place spared no expense having a giant mo’ai transported all the way from Easter Island. That’s dedication. It’s a great tribute to Guinness, as I believe the mo’ai acquired the original Guinness recipe from the leprechaun’s after storming St. James’s Gate during the Alamo. Did I mention I failed history?

Anyway, The Hut is a great beach-bar-themed joint and they pour a pretty darn good Guinness.

Number 7: The Hotel Congress

Whereas I love this hotel, I didn’t have any hope for a winner here. The bartender poured my pint in about 11-seconds (and not into an imperial pint).

“Because our Guinness pours go to 11!”

—Nigel

Being quick on the draw is important in the old west, but not so much when we’re talking about a proper Guinness pour. Despite this fact, it was a surprisingly good. It reminded of the Orlean’s in Vegas. Full story here. Beginner’s luck? A fresh keg, perhaps? Not sure but it was only one staircase away from my room and any hotel with four bars in the lobby gets a Zano four star rating. Coincidence? No.

Number 6: Mulligans

This joint is not downtown, but it wasn’t too far from my conference so I decided to venture Guinnessward. Sure beats going to a conference. As the barkeep poured my drink, I thought, wow, she’s letting this Guinness settle nicely and then I realized, wow, she just forgot to top me off and abandoned my drink entirely!

So I eventually walked back over to claim my beverage and then her cohort, in charge of table deliveries, proceeded to spill half the foam onto my seat. It was like the passing of the baton—near the end of an Irish barcrawl. This method may work well in porn, but not so much during a Guinness judging contest. I kid the help. The Guinness was tasty…well, the part I didn’t sit in.

On a side note:

If this is my boss reading this, I went to the conference.

If this is my probation officer reading this, I wasn’t drinking.

Number 5: The Red Garter

The Red Garter is the kind of place I spent most of my undergraduate work frequenting. The Guinness was poured into a pint glass, not an imperial pint, but it was still a force to be reckoned with. I later heard the Red Garter is always steep competition each year at the perfect pint competition.

But Are They Sithing the Point?
Imperial Guiness Darth Vader
WTF? Even Lucas’s Imperial pints aren’t imperial!

Number 4: The World Beer Market

I ran into Kiva somewhere and she suggested I hit her alma mater, the World Beer Market. The World Beer Market was an arduous journey from my hotel room, aka, across the street. The pour there was very creamy and it tasted like a winner, but there was a bitterness that began soon after the initial sips, a bitterness that kept this puppy from the medal round. I’ve had this happen before, but I’m not bitter about it. It was still a damn good pint.

giant palm

Number 3: The Frog & Firkin

This is the view from my Guinness, well, were I to fall from my chair and pass out on my back—which, incidentally, I did while snapping this picture. Nothing says Guinness like palm trees, well, if you’re an idiot. The Frog & Firkin has a great draft selection and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a great pint. Kudos! This establishment earned its medal round status. These last three are all winners. Mmmmm Guinness!

Number 2: The Auld Dubliner

The sister bar of this Tucson pub scored 4th in my Vegas Top 10 feature, here, so I kind of figured it would be a contender. I do like the layout of the Lake Las Vegas Auld Dubliner better. This place has the football cranking and was set up more for the college students over at nearby U of A.

Key point: People should really consider my needs when opening businesses. It’s amazing how often this doesn’t seem to be the case. This can likely be attributed to their keen desire to stay open.

To Clint’s credit, though, he beat out his Las Vegas brethren. I have been to the Auld Dubliner in Vegas several times but I think his pint is a step better. On a related brewery note, Clint talked me into trying an Iron Maiden ale, a limited edition type thing:

Maiden Beer

It’s a good beer, but as far as novelty UK beers go, Monty Python’s Holy Ale wins that contest.

“All right, we’ll call it a draw.”

—The Black Knight

Oh, and this very beer helped me catch a ghost in my haunted Hotel Congress feature, here. Onward to our winner. Come, Patsy!

Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Number 1: Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Doesn’t that beer look good? I want to head over there and get another one, right now! The beer depicted in this picture wasn’t the winner. I went back to tell Andrew the good news and he bought me a pint, which gives me a diabolical idea…hmmm. No, I wouldn’t do that…well…maybe. This pour was truly one step above the competition. Bumsteds is hidden deep amidst Tucson’s Fourth Street rabble, but I had gotten a tip they poured a mean Guinness and it turned out to be the hot tip of the trip.

Congrats Andrew! In the immortal words of Douglas MacArthur, “In war there is no substitute for victory!”

No wait, the other one, “I shall return!” In fact, maybe next weekend.

Dolphin Mothers Boycott Discord

Alex Bone

Philadelphia, PA—Dolphin Mothers Against Humans Nailing Aquatic Beings In Theatrical productions or D.A.G.N.A.B.I.T protested outside of the Daily Discord’s Philadelphia Tower today. Hundreds turned out to see these underwater mammals hold signs proclaiming the evils of dolphin pornography and push rubber balls with their noses.

Zano immediately went home after a dolphin sprayed his shirt with water, so I interviewed Discord contributor, Tony Ballz.

“I used to work at D.A.G.N.A.B.I.T.,” said Ballz. “It was pretty cool.”

When I told him it was not a record store and asked him to comment on the protest, he looked out the window and said, “Who cares? I can’t understand a thing those *&^$%(    %^$*%^#@ $%#&^%@ are squeaking.”

(Incidentally, Tony managed to say all of Carlin’s 7 things you should never call a dolphin.)

Our CEO, Pierce Winslow, was off ‘recruiting’ Discord writers in Maui so I asked our field reporter, Cokie McGrath, what she thought about Dolphin porn. “I can’t see why everyone around here is so into it, but then again, my colleagues still play with Hot Wheels and eat ice cream for dinner. Oh, and I saw Alex Bone’s New Year’s resolutions and they included killing more crawdads, building a bridge to the moon, and learning how to piss like a fire hose. So nothing surprises me.”

William Lynn was also on hand and had helped organize the event. “You wouldn’t believe the effort it took to transport all of these aquariums here and carving tuna into the shape of Pierce Winslow was no easy feat either. When asked why he was so passionate against dolphin porn he said. “Oh no, I love Dolphin porn. Can’t get enough of the stuff. Actually, I have a subscription to Blow Hole. I just hate the Discord ever since they published that piece about how I was the founder of The White Elders for Twilight fan club, or T.W.I.T.s. And I’m still really pissed about that Harry Potter-jammies post while watching Day of the Dolphins. A shred of decency, that’s all I ask of these clowns.”

I did get one quote from our CEO to wrap this story up, “If anything is damaged in or around our property I’m stringing you looney tunes up! I’ll admit this protest looks worse than the Ukraine thing…well, at least it does from my iPad by the pool.”

Pope

Tony Ballz

Last month, Pope Francis shocked the world of Christianity by stating the concept of hell was merely a metaphor for being separated from God’s love and was not an actual place where sinners burned in eternal damnation, hosted by the little red guy with the horns and the pitchfork. Yesterday, the Pope had this to say:

“Gosh, we’re real real REAL sorry. We figured you morons would catch on a few centuries ago, what with the Age Of Enlightenment and all that, but it just kept going and no one wanted to let the cat out of the bag. Looks like I’m the bad guy now. Whaddya gonna do?

“So yeah, sorry about the fear and blind obedience and brainwashing we installed in everyone who actually believed this malarkey. Sorry about the skidillions of dollars we bilked out of all those ignorant trolls. Hey, a church has to make a living too, you know?”

From his home in Beverly Hills, Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya stated:

“No hell? Really, he said there was no hell? Well that’s great, just great. That pretty much pulls the rug out from under our thing, doesn’t it? How are we supposed to make a living without a hell to scare the crap out of our fans? What the fuck are we going to sing about, jock itch and canker sores? Ingrown toenails?

“I mean, we even titled one of our albums Hell Awaits, who’s going to buy that shit now? No one. God damn it, I have alimony and child support payments and a mortgage. Dude should stop and think before he starts flapping his gums. I gotta call Danzig, he will be PISSED OFF.”

A representative from the Hell’s Angels had no comment.

Pope Francis has remained silent so far on the existence of heck, Sam Hill, 7734, or H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

Deport Every Politician Thwarting Obama on Iran

Mick Zano

You think that’s bad? Initially I was going with drone strikes. The list of our-dangerously-incomptent-politicians-who-we-must-run-out-of-office has changed. Instead of identifying them via their support for Sarah Palin, we need to switch to all those elected officials derailing our current peace talks with Iran, D or R. Please turn in your flag lapel pins and all those donations acquired illegally before your car is towed.

I am not sure these talks with Iran will net anything either, but to jump directly to an estimated 9-trillion dollar unwinnable war without even trying diplomacy first is insane—even by republican standards.

“We tried nothing and we’re out of options…Bomb!”

—John Q. Republican

In light of recent Middle Eastern military campaigns, to skip diplomacy is another stunning republican position (SRP). That’s all they seem to bleeping have these days. Why is reality such a tough concept for this bunch? Hey, let’s repeal Obamacare again.

“To say The GOP is a one trick pony, implies the one trick actually works.”

—Mick Zano

Here’s a Venn diagram that should explain everything:

Democrat, Reality Republican Venn diagram

Even if republicans think they have a valid point regarding our economy, which is a stretch, I don’t get how they can chime in on foreign affairs with a straight face. To make matters worse, 26 Dems in congress initially broke from the president and called for increased sanctions on Iran. This week, not to be outdone, forty republican senators are pushing for increased sanctions as well—and they want them to start during the State Department’s preliminary deal. What?! You can’t be even less insightful than the last time I posted, you can’t!

The GOP has based their entire foreign policy strategy off a variation of the hairdresser’s code of Rinse, Lather, Repeat:

Bomb, Sanction, Repeat

Juan Cole has a must read post over at his Informed Comment: The 10 Reasons Americans will Regret if Republicans Derails Iran Negotiations.

“It is absolutely outrageous and very rare that Congress would interfere in diplomatic negotiations of the president. They let Bush go around invading countries but won’t let Obama try to forestall a war.”

—Juan Cole

I also agree with Juan in that a war may well trigger another economic collapse, a game ending one. The word “treason” comes to mind. It comes to mind a lot lately. Patriots for Treason? Don’t Drudge on Me? Fine, I’ll work on that one.

How can the people who brought us Bush be allowed to do this? Wasn’t there an election or something? If you don’t understand what Obama’s doing, that’s okay, you don’t understand anything anyway! So relax.

And I didn’t order the fractured Democratic Party or the side order of crazy bread. I know some of you red state Dems are trying to fit a square state into a round Fox hole, but you were elected to do the right [as in “correct”] thing, which in this case means let the maestro work. So if you have a D in front of your name, please purge the propaganda (PPP). I expect the wrong answer from the right, but not from you (hint: it helps me get stuff right).

Just a few weeks ago, optimism was on the rise—at least as far as Obama’s foreign policy legacy was concerned—but now all bets are off as Syria is emboldened, in part because we can’t get our collective shit together. Now talks with both Iran and Syria are straining like Palin on a colonial history pop quiz.

Meanwhile:

“I think that we should proceed with sanctions so that the Iranians know that this is not an American deal with them … this is a Kerry/Obama deal with them and that the rest of Congress is not behind them.”

–GOP congressman (R-CA), Duncan Hunter.

Hunter Deported to Sweden, Claims He’s Not From There. What movie?

This man is not a fringe character, he was in the republican primaries a few years back. I remember listening to his version of foreign policy issues back then, thinking, wow, how does someone manage to seem even less insightful than other republicans? Oh, wait, that was his dad. I guess the ACORN doesn’t fall from the Tea.

Many on the right now believe the wars and the state of the Middle East is predominately Obama’s fault. I can’t make this up; they really think that. I like Kaplan’s response in Obama Isn’t Disengaged from the World:

“If only he’d kept a few thousand troops in Iraq and made an open-ended commitment to Afghanistan, they claim, the insurgents would be cowed, the central governments would be stable, and the people would be prosperous and secure. To believe these claims requires a twisted view of the two wars and a deep misunderstanding of power in the modern world.”

—Fred Kaplan

What it really is, is the republican’s ongoing disengagement from reality. This is what I blog about, because unlike what they blog about, it tends to be relevant. You folks need to remember the context; I watched a president do everything wrong for eight years, and I knew it at the time. Now I’m watching a president, who I voted for, struggle to do what’s right and the same people want us to jump the shark again. Give it rest, people. Tell you what, if you win the presidency in 2016, you can end the world then. Deal?

More people are identifying the deep delusional state of our GOP, but will having a handful more journalists figure this shit out really matter in the long run? I encourage any voter considering a Republican for office to first consider just how radical they have become. Believe me, they’re not your grandfather’s Republican Party…well, they are a lot like his last few years when he kept putting his keys in the toaster.

Religion Added to DSM-V

Alex Bone

Collapsing Shack, AZ—In an unexpected move, the authors of the new DSM-V, which provides an overview of the many different types of mental illnesses and soup recipes, have decided to add religious disorders to its Axis-II category.

Psychiatrist David Cardonis said, “Axis-II personality disorders such as anti-social tendencies, histrionics, and Fox Television Viewing (FTV) now have some new siblings. We psychiatrist types feel that fundamental religious thought fits in nicely with the other existing disorders from this category.”

The sub-diagnoses added include:

1. Pentacaustic Personality Disorder (PPD)

2. Rational-denial Syndrome (RDS)

3. Obsessive-Confessional Character Pathology (OCCP)

4. Repetitive Flagellation Psychosis (RFP)

5. Crucifixion Dependence (CD)

6. Borderline Evolutionary Functioning (BEF)

7. Post-catechistic Stress Disorder (PCSD)

8. Archangel-typal Personality Disorder (ATPD)

9. Paranormal Personality Disorder (PPD)

10. Major Repressive Disorder (MRD)

11. Genuflexia Nervosa (GN)

12. Orthodoxicosis permanentalis (OP)

13. Reality Deficit Hyper-rigidity Disorder or RDHD (primary Biblical subtype vs. primary Koranic subtype or the yet to be discovered combined variant)

Dr. Sterling Hogbein, of the Hogbein Institute and Dry Cleaning, added, “Some of the hard data on these diagnoses are pretty suspect, as the subjects included only a few nuns and a homeless person, but that shouldn’t stop the progress of labeling people for ease of billing,” said Dr. Hogbein.

The religious right was far less sedate. The Revered Mark “Man-Mountain” Conway spat these words in my face and I was later diagnosed with hepatitis. “This will not stand! We have nothing in common with inflexible individuals that repeat formulas that have failed thousands of times.”

He then repeated that sentence for about an hour before adding:

“We only avoid all evidence that points toward facts out of a primal fear of change. We have evolved beyond the need for facts and we have learned to ignore any data that contradicts our beliefs. Oh, wait, we don’t believe in evolving. Crap.”

Jack Primus was hiding from the cops in my basement and agreed to be interviewed as long as I didn’t dial that last 1.

“I worked as a tech in a psych ward back in the day,” said Primus, “before Vile Darken turned the clients into hopping giant slugs, so I suppose I can diagnose individuals as well as anyone. And although I’d love to break Dr. Cardonis over my knee after he dropped me into that pool filled with flesh eating otters, I have to agree with him on this one. The only humans more nuts than people cursed with Religiosity are those who believe Republicans are good at balancing budgets. Oh, wait, I’m being told they’re the same people…never mind.”

As a result of the recognition of these new disorders, psych wards across the country are expecting a huge influx of new consumers. The state of Arizona immediately responded to the increased need for services by cutting mental health provider’s budgets in half.

On the upside, if my in-laws get to uppity at our next holiday meal, I can probably have them committed. I think I’ll go with Rational-denial Syndrome.

Haunted Tucson: the Hotel Congress

Mick Zano

For this investigation I was forced to go it alone. The Hotel Congress wasn’t my first accommodation choice, as anything called Congress evokes a visceral response from me. In fact, while I was there I found myself strangely unable to pass anything, even with the aid of high fiber cereals.

Tucson is where even tumbleweeds go to die. It’s so far west Horace Greeley even said, “I didn’t mean this far west, young man.” Tucson has three major historical periods, which can be summarized briefly as:

1. Agricultural Native American settlements.

2. Spanish explorers looking for gold.

3. Brewpubs.

Ok, ok…I failed history. But the Hotel Congress is pretty sweet. It’s the typical historic Arizona hotel, no elevators, no televisions, no room service—not too dissimilar from the Monte V. in Flagstaff, the Hotel St. Michael in Prescott or the Copper Queen in Bisbee. But don’t let the historic part fool you, these places rock. My Monte V. ghost story here. Speaking of the Monte V, there’s some kind of direct time portal between these two old western hotels.

Congress and Monte Vista Hotels

Not convinced? Each morning I ran into a Flagstaffer in the lobby. No shit.

Day one:  Scott Heinonen (the owner of the Tinderbox/Annex).

Day two:  Glenn (one of the main baristas over at Macy’s coffeehouse).

Day three:  A little old lady from Flagstaff. Her friend might have been from Pasadena.

I picked the Congress because it lies in historic Tucson, right in the thick of things, and it is also known to be quite haunted. Shortly after checking in I hit Tiger’s taproom to unwind, at least I think it’s Tiger’s. It’s written in a blue neon script so it could be Lieger’s for all I know.

Tiger's Taproom

Hey, I don’t get paid to research this stuff! Anyway, check out this important historical picture!

Desk
The very spot where John Dillinger was captured

Well, it would be the very spot, had I booked the right room. But this IS the very spot—about ten rooms or so down the hall. Look, I’m not a planner, okay! The place was booked solid. I’m still at Lieger’s with some wicked Congress constipation, so cut me some slack!

Then something incredibly strange happened. My laptop unplugged of its own….wait for it…accord. I was not moving at all when this happened. I thought, “OMG! Something is finally happening!!!” Then, over the course of the next few days, I realized just how incredibly loose all the electrical sockets were. In fact, I think it would take the aid of a ghost to actually hold any plugs in place. So much as a sneeze and they’d drop to the floor like The Ghetto Shaman at last call.

Undeterred, I started interviewing the staff. The receptionist, Clair, had the best story to tell. Unfortunately it was not a firsthand account, but apparently one of the cooks had recently told her he arrived early for work one morning only to be greeted by a blood curdling scream from an empty walk-in cooler. My theory? They had run out of beer. Briefly, I believe ghosts require ectopilsner, an as yet undiscovered substance that helps ghosts manifest from beer. Full explanation in my Colorado ghost investigations (Durango here).

Still not buying it? I focused my investigation on the four bars on the ground floor of the hotel and, yep, someone was hanging around other than me:

Bar Orbs

I also brought some bait into my room in the form of a cask conditioned Iron Maiden ale. What? Huh? Whaa?

Maiden Beer

Look, do the math. This is a rock bar and ghosts need the energy from beer to manifest. I figured any ghosts who stuck around this joint might be extra enticed by some rock-n-roll libations. So with my limited edition bait in place…

Room Orbs

Here’s what showed up right above it! And they call me mad, just because of the pile of fresh corpses in my basement. Ok, the orb is kind of faint and blends in with the wall, but at least this ghost can accessorize. After drinking the Iron Maiden beer I concluded that…well, take it away, Georgio.

Giorgio Tsoukalos

All hell broke loose during my last night at the hotel. I think it was some kind of a techno-DJ night. I felt like I was stopped south side at a traffic light all night—a real wall rattler. Anyway, besides that, something truly intriguing happened. The video below is perhaps one of the most startling pieces of paranormal activity ever captured on film…at least by a spoof ghost investigator (SGI). I will end this post here and let this important evidence speak for itself.

Hotel room Kthulu

Hef and the Dead

Tony Ballz

Hugh Hefner needed to be hip. The Playboy magnate could not let the times pass him by, he had to stay abreast of what the youth were into. The survival of his magazine, his empire, and the Playboy lifestyle depended on it. Uncool was not an option.

In 1959-1960, Hef hosted Playboy’s Penthouse, a program broadcast locally in Chicago which purported to recreate a typical night at the Playboy Mansion with celebrity buddies “just dropping in” to drink martinis and crack jokes and ogle the girls.

Hef signed a deal with CBS in late 1968 to host Playboy After Dark, a coast-to-coast version of his earlier show, but recast as a sort of bridge to the hippie culture overtaking America. The guest stars were the usual tired showbiz geezers, but the musical acts were first-rate: James Brown, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, Three Dog Night, Harry Nilsson, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, and more. It was Hef’s ticket to hipness.

Playboy writer/cartoonist/oddball Shel Silverstein was introduced to the Grateful Dead, the hippiest of the hippie bands, in 1968. Shel asked if they were interested in performing on Playboy After Dark. The Dead, who had never done a TV appearance, were intrigued; not only at the exposure, but at the chance for a great prank. They met Hef and all was groovy. A date was set for the taping: January 18, 1969.

The Dead’s live soundman and chief prankster was Bear, aka Augustus Owsley Stanley III. Bear came from a privileged background: his grandfather (Owsley Stanley The First) was a U.S. Senator and Governor of Kentucky. After falling in with Ken Kesey’s crowd, the amateur chemist found his purpose in life: to turn on the world. Between 1965-1967, he manufactured over a million hits of exceptionally pure LSD, which were distributed free. Among the recipients were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. For years afterward, “Owsley Acid” meant quality product.

When the Dead played Kesey’s Acid Tests, the LSD was located in a punch bowl, open to all. When they started performing in concert halls, they had to figure out new ways of turning everyone on. If a communal dispenser wasn’t available, Bear and the band would sneak around and dose people’s drinks on the sly. No one was sure what the scene at Playboy After Dark would be like, but Bear was bringing two loaded eyedroppers just in case.

Hef did not learn of the Dead’s backstage antics until after they were already booked. Despite all his attempts to be hip, Hef was scared of getting dosed. He had never taken LSD and wasn’t about to start now. He brought Shel Silverstein into his confidence and Shel offered to be his beverage protector.

Coca-Cola was Hef’s drink of choice. His contract stipulated two cases always on set. They were watched over by an aide who opened each bottle and handed it only to Shel, who delivered it directly to Hef and then kept his eyes peeled for any hijinx.

The Dead arrived at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles with freak flags flying. They found the atmosphere a bit stodgy and uptight. The women were attractive, but all wore cocktail dresses. Except the two Token Negroes, every man present was wearing a tux or a suit jacket/turtleneck/slacks combo. None had hair past their shoulders. Bunnies on loan from the L.A. Playboy Club circulated with hors d’oevres. The place felt like a dentists’ convention.

The band set up in front of an impressive-looking wall of ceiling-to-floor stereo equipment. Intrigued, keyboardist Tom “TC” Constanten removed one of the panels to peek behind it. There were no wires or anything attached. The entire backdrop was a false front.

At the time, the Grateful Dead were a seven-piece: Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir on guitars, Phil Lesh on bass, drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, TC on keyboards, and conga & organ player/vocalist Pigpen. With such a large group, balance issues were important, and Bear assumed he would be working closely with the studio crew.

To his dismay, Bear was told that CBS ran an all-union house. Not only was his advice unwelcome, he was not allowed to adjust one microphone or even be present in the control room while the Dead were playing. Although Bear was older than several of the techs, he looked like a weirdo and the CBS guys openly snickered at him. Bear stalked out of the booth, fuming.

This was the deciding moment. Time to change the channel, folks. Lock up your daughters, the freaks have taken control. Bear strolled over to the catering station and casually dumped the eyedroppers into the coffee urn. He then went up to Garcia and murmured in his ear:

“It’s in the coffee. Both droppers.”

“Out of sight.”

The word spread. The Dead and co. all partook, except for abstainers TC and Pigpen. No one outside their camp was clued in. Many of the extras were returning from dinner and enjoyed a cup or two. By the time the shoot began, the whole room was vibrating and Bear’s mood had lightened considerably. He and the band grinned at each other.

“Say, this is some good coffee!”

“Really gives you a lift, doesn’t it?”

“Ladies and gentlemen, KLSD is on the air!”

“Receiving signal loud and clear … and my TV’s not even plugged in!”

Jerry Garcia had agreed to a short interview before the set. He was instructed to make small talk as the camera moved through the “party” to their table. Garcia, incongruous among the tuxedoed crowd in a rainbow colored poncho with scraggly long hair and beard, was flying on acid and did as he was told.

JG: Well, so there we were. Six or seven of us, armed to the teeth with buck knives …

HH: (interrupting) Jerry, the Grateful Dead has been part of the San Francisco scene about four or five years. Is the hippie scene changing now? I understand that um …

JG: Yeah, we’re all big people now.

HH: I understand the Haight-Ashbury scene has changed a good deal.

JG: Well, Haight-Ashbury is just a place, you know? It’s just a street, it’s not really the thing, it never was the thing that was going on.

HH: It was just the thing that got the publicity.

JG: Right, right, that’s the thing that people could talk about because it’s easy to remember.

HH: Well … about a summer ago, they held a funeral for hippiedom.

JG: Right, right, and that was all of us saying, “We’re not going to tell anybody anymore what we’re doing.”

HH: Start enjoying it again, huh?

JG: Right! Right.

HH: Well, I noticed that with your own group, you’ve got kind of a stereo effect going on here with drums, two complete sets of drums and two drummers … um, obviously for a purpose …

JG: Right. Mutual annihilation.

HH: I see. In other words, the guys kind of compete with one another?

JG: Well, they more chase each other around. It’s like the serpent that eats its own tail and it goes round and round like that and if you can stand in between ’em, they make big figure eights on their sides in your head.

HH: I don’t think I’m going to stand between ’em, I think I’ll stay back a little ways … but I notice that the guys are near their instruments here and the kids have kind of settled down, I wonder if we could get you to do a number for us?

JG: Absolutely not.

(a half-second of silence, then laughter and applause.

HH: Good.

(Jerry walks to stage right and perches on an amp with his acoustic guitar)

JG: You bet, right you are. Uh, Mountains Of The uh … Moon. That’s the one, the big one up there at night.

TC is at the harpsichord, while Bob Weir sits on the lip of the stage with his 12-string, chatting up a pretty blonde. The trio perform a delicate “Mountains Of The Moon” from the Dead’s upcoming LP Aoxomoxoa. The elegant couples sway in time as the cameras slowly pan across them.

Garcia and Weir then strap on their electric guitars and the full band launches into “St. Stephen”. Hef and girlfriend Barbi Benton watch, arms around each other tight with that “we just had sex in the grotto” vibe. The Dead’s two-drummer lineup is louder than hell and the weirdness starts as the acid really kicks in.

Several of Hef’s guests, eyes wide, depart the premises, claiming illness. One of the dancing bunnies disrobes as the group plays. Hef begins to suspect something is up, but Shel (who knows exactly what is up) assures his boss that this is the effect the Dead’s music has on their audience. Hef buys it and puffs his pipe. Bear lurks around, itching to dose Hef’s drink, but Silverstein is watching it closely.

Meanwhile, there is pandemonium in the booth. The house sound engineer is useless, babbling about knobs and dials and electricity to his coworkers. He is sent home and a smirking Bear is found, apologized to, and made an honorary union man for a day. Bear is used to mixing the Dead’s live shows with state of the art equipment while on massive amounts of LSD, and the CBS board, 20 years out of date, is a cinch.

On the monitor, Camera Three has the naked girl’s breasts in perfect focus and will not let them go.

“Camera Three, can you pan to a wide shot of the group?”

“OK, Camera Three, very funny. Now will you move off of her tits, please?”

“Camera Three, hello? Anybody home? George, what the hell is going on down there?”

On the floor, the voices in George’s earphones appear to be coming from another planet in some alien language. George drank a nice big cup of coffee about an hour ago and is enjoying the best day he has ever had at work. He’s never filmed a naked woman before and wants to be 100% professional and capture every moment. This band, the Dreadful Grape or whatever, was pretty darn good too. On one level, George knows that he is operating a camera on a crane, but another part of his brain is convinced he is actually riding a long-necked dinosaur. Just wait until the kids hear about this!

George’s supervisor stands on the floor yelling up at him. George has removed his shirt and headset and refuses to come down. Dammit, he has a job to do! He keeps the camera steady on the bunny’s chest.

The Grateful Dead are only scheduled to do two songs, but they jam for an hour. No one wants to stop them. The studio is full of suburbanites tripping their faces off and dancing like maniacs. Even Hef and Barbi leave their lovers’ nook to boogie. After making sure they have some usable footage, the crew shut down the equipment and call it an early night while the Dead play on. Later, Shel Silverstein tells the group that this was the nearest the show ever came to having an actual party on the set. Hef successfully avoided any surprises in his drink.

A week after the taping, the Grateful Dead record one of their performances at the Avalon Ballroom which is used for part of their epochal Live/Dead LP. The band do not play on network television again until their 1978 appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Playboy After Dark lasted two seasons and 52 episodes before being canceled in 1970. Two best-of DVDs were released in 2006. The show remains a fascinating artifact of its era, a strange attempted crossover where you can almost see and hear the cultures clashing. Hugh Hefner never hosted another variety program.

Plight of the Phoenix: How I Stopped Worrying About On-Coming Traffic and Learned to Love the Valley

The Crank

Here are some of the dos and don’ts when driving around the Phoenix area:

1. First, learn to pronounce the city name properly; it’s FEE-NICKS. There are other names to learn such as Awatukee (Ah-wa-Too-Kee) but that will be included in the advanced (Core-ss).

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph. On Loop 101, your speed is expected to at least match the highway number. Anything less is considered ‘Wussy’.

4. Cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in the East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out, and possibly shot (first offense). Thankfully, recidivism is low.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. EVER.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Phoenix. Detour barrels are moved around in the dead of night purely for entertainment purposes.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cows, horses, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, squirrels, rabbits, crows, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on people who mistakenly honked.

9. If someone actually has his/her turn signal on, wave him or her to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been ‘accidentally activated.’

10. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be ‘flipped off’ accordingly. If you return the flip, refer to rule #6 on honking.

Vegas San Gennaro: Leave the Feast, Take the Cannoli

Bald Tony

Mick Zano was supposed to come for *sigh* yet another visit earlier this month.  Due to circumstances beyond his control he had to delay a week.  Unfortunately I was working overtime, so it looked like things were going to be a bust.  Then, being the good friend and inadequate employee I am, I timed Zano’s visit with a three day suspension.  Whoo Hoo!  So, to be clear, I would not be getting paid for three days AND spending extra money.   Dave Ramsey would not be pleased.

I have enjoyed going to different festivals around town, and attended the San Gennaro Feast several times.  I missed it this May, but September was going to be a lock, especially since it had moved to a more central valley location, the Rio Hotel & Casino.

So there we were, two yutes—well, compared to The Crank—looking for My Cousin Guinea. The SGF is five days long, and I usually go during the week and at night to avoid the huge crowds and daytime heat.   With Zano in tow I broke both of those commandments and went on a blistering sunny Saturday just as the gates opened.  Five minutes later I realized my mistake when Zano proclaimed, “What have carnies done to my Italian grandmother?!”  

San Gennaro Feast

It all went downhill from there.  I should have known better than to bring an Italian guy who only wanted to get to the next Irish pub.

He immediately started with his infamous Longuyland kvetching, “I’ve been to the real San Gennaro Feast in the real Little Italy, and it’s twice as big, twice as many days, no cover charge, more food and drink, yada, yada, yada.” 

I hate to admit when Zano is right, but he had a point.  The first three food dishes we ordered “weren’t ready yet.”  And we did not enter the Feast and run to the food vendors.  We scoped the action for an hour before turning our stomachs foodward.

San Gennaro No Feast

Mmmm, not prepared yet

Did the vendors think people would not eat before noon?  Another disappointment was the lack of entertainment.  At night, there are street performers and musicians roaming the Feast.  During the day it was Rio security and Las Vegas police, which made Zano twitchier than a paranoid schizophrenic on meth (especially with the strip club limo incident fresh in his mind).

We said arrivederci to the SGF barely two hours after entering, by far the least amount of time I have ever spent there.  In order to have at least one authentic Italian experience, I knocked out Zano and stuffed his carcass in the trunk on the way to our next destination.   Instead of drinking with the Irish, he’ll be sleeping with the fishes. 

Next week is the Greek Food Festival.  OPA!  The week after that is the Asian Food Festival. The next week is the Renaissance Festival.  I don’t plan on letting Zano out of the trunk before then.  Actually I think I’ll just leave him at McMullan’s next time.   Oh wait, he’s persona non grata there.  Well, I guess I could leave him at an Irish pub where he’s welcome.  Hmmmm, good thing I have several months to find one.