Performing at The Earl last Thursday, Hamburger was a different kind of "so bad, he's good." The badness is intentional. His act consists of pretending he's an awful, self-loathing lounge comedian. With damp hair, an old tuxedo and a nasally whine that makes Urkel sound dulcet by comparison, he rattles off a succession of tasteless riddles, most of which are non-sequiturs and attacks on celebrities.
"Why did Mick Jagger stick a carrot up his daughter's ass?"
"He mistook her for a fan."
"What do you get when you cross Sir Elton John and a saber-tooth tiger?"
"I don't know, but you'd better keep it away from your ass."
"What do Guy Ritchie and Doritos have in common?"
"They both come in a plastic bag."
My favorite Hamburger line isn't actually a joke, but a phony plea for sympathy. After failing to get a laugh, he sadly blurted, "Hey, I have cancer." Next time I get a nasty e-mail for one of my columns, I may use that.
Not all of his jokes were nasty though. A few -- such as "Why did the farmer start a punk rock band? Because he was tired of Hall & Oates" -- would fit wonderfully on a Laffy Taffy wrapper. He also broke up the nastiness with a song called "Zipper Lips" (dedicated to audience members who don't laugh) and solicitations to buy his merchandise: "For those of you on the Internet, I've got a DVD for sale."
Remarquable - Veterans Day was invented in 1926 to commemorate the cessation of World War I on November 11, 1918. It was called Armistice Day then, but after World War II did even bigger numbers than the original, they (ie The Man) changed the holidays name so it honored all war vets, not just WW1ers.
On Veterans Day (last Tuesday), I stopped by the Sam's Club in Alpharetta to check out the goody drive Z93 was sponsoring for our soldiers overseas. The station collected endless box-loads of snack food, particularly hard candies -- which has me worrying that if the war in Iraq drags on, the military will soon face a tooth-decay crisis. (How strange to be munching on LifeSavers when your life might actually need saving.) Someone also donated a copy of last week's Atlanta Business Chronicle, and Z93 angel of the morning Mara Davis told me that at least one person tried to donate porn. But the military forbids it. Perhaps rubbing one out is detrimental to our fighting capability.
Heavy petting: On 24 acres of property owned by literary titan I.P. Freely, the Yellow River Game Ranch is a wooded petting zoo in Lilburn. It's filled with happy ducks, carrot-munching fawn, goats, lazy black bears who pop out of their dens for food, and a wildcat (complete with a sign that reads, "Please don't tease the mountain lion"). Safe from the cars on nearby 78 and squirrel-hunting season (which lasts through February), the park's most plentiful animal is the squirrel. From the moment you walk in, they stick to you like furry leeches, waiting for you to drop food. I suppose some people think it's cute, but I find it annoying. Perhaps that's because (true story) a squirrel once broke into my house and stole food from my kitchen.
The park is also home to some celebrities. Georgia's Groundhog Day groundhog, Gen. Beau Lee, Ph.D., is a resident. A general and a doctor, he sounds like an ideal Democratic candidate for president. The ranch is also home to Georgia Red Fox. I guess Saturday's his day off, because he just sat there and looked at me. He didn't even yell out, "I'm coming, Elizabeth. I'm coming." There was a second fox in the cage with Georgia Red Fox. I assume he's Georgia Demond Wilson, but he was sleeping so I couldn't tell for sure.
After Yellow River, I continued up 78 to Athens. My goal was to cover the Auburn game for the column. (Un)fortunately, the plan got washed away by beer. I forgot to take notes and don't remember much of what happened. The only pictures I took were of drunk sorority girls and alumni in red-and-black holding up beers smiling. Come to think of it, that sums up Georgia football games rather nicely.
Gimme some: The Tell Us the Truth concert tour, featuring Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Mike Mills, Lester Chambers and Tom Morello, stopped at the Variety Playhouse Sunday night on the way to Washington, D.C. Through the shows, press conferences and Tellusthetruth.org, the tour is aimed at drawing attention to important trade, democracy and media issues.
The highlight of the first half (I had to go home; this column doesn't write itself, you know) was definitely the singing of Lester Chambers. He's got the blues -- and it sounds like he's had them for a while. Former Rager Against the Machine Tom Morello performed, too. Temporarily freed from Audioslavery, he strummed and sang protest songs against the machine under the name the Nightwatchman. He seems a likeable enough guy, but the lyrics were very junior-high Woody Guthrie. I would have preferred an actual nightwatchman.
Closing the first set was R.E.M.'s Mike Mills. Hearing him sing made me realize that what I thought was Michael Stipe is actually Mills singing prominent backing vocals. He sang a feel-good set about destroying President Bush, closing with Macy Gray's "I Try." It was good sing-along fun, but still not as good as the version sung by William the bartender at Mary's on karaoke night a few months back.
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