The best thing I ever read was from Bob Zmuda’s tell-all book about Andy Kaufman. At one point, Zmuda was the personal assistant to this batshit insane script doctor in NY that he referred to in the book as Mr. X. The guy would go all over town and fuck with people in all kinds of ways and keep tape recorders rolling as well as a briefcase full of money to bribe people with if things got out of hand. Zmuda had tons of stories about this guy and Kaufman couldn’t get enough of them. I actually am stoked that I found this excerpt online.
“What’s your best Mr. X story?” (Andy) asked.
“I dunno, I think they’re all good,” I said.
“Well, yeah, I mean the story that really sums him up. But you’ve probably told me all of ‘em, haven’t you?” I could tell Andy had gotten hooked on the Mr. X stories. I also saw he was trying to understand Mr. X, to figure out what made him tick, so that maybe he could invest some of Mr. X in his own characters.
“I got one you haven’t heard,” I offered.
“What? What?” he said, sounding just like a little kid.
“The glazed-donut story. I tell you that one?”
“The glazed-donut story? No, no, tell me, I want to hear it.”
“How close are we to this club?”
Andy shook his head. “Doesn’t’ matter. We can be late. Besides, it’s better to keep an audience waiting. Go on, tell me the glazed-donut story.”
I sat back and looked out the window at the lights flitting by and pictured that day: sunny, a few puffy clouds, a generally nice day. Mr. X and I had picked up our cash that morning, nearly 50 grand. It was afternoon, and, as we hadn’t even spent a dime yet, X was getting restless.
“We rolled over to Jersey one afternoon, midday maybe,” I began.
“Like here? Somewhere around here?” Andy asked, trying to place the story.
“No, I think it was like North Bergen, Seacaucus maybe,” I answered.
At this point in my story, Kaufman did something that was unusual. Over the years I would see him do it hundreds of times, but this was the first. He was recording me, not on tape like Mr. X did, but in his mind. Possessing a truly photographic memory, his eyes would take on a wide, distant look, and then the tip of his fingers would twitch lightly as if he were typing on an invisible keyboard. Years later I would witness him memorizing entire Taxi scripts at one sitting using this technique. Not only committing his own lines to memory, but all the other characters’ lines along with stage directions and page numbers. It was just like Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, in Rain Man. Oddly, Andy was somewhat embarrassed by this extraordinary ability and never flaunted it. I asked him once how he did it, think it was something he had learned in a TM course. Slightly flustered, he admitted that the ability came to him suddenly one day after a particularly bad LSD trip. He told me that he had also seen the future on that same trip. When I commented that that was great, he objected strongly, saying we’re not supposed to see the future.
I continued with my tale. “Anyway, so we’re in Jersey, drivin’ along in the limo, and Mr. X sees this baker, says, ‘Driver stop over here, I want a glazed donut. Okay, so inside, it’s midday and there’s a few people in line, so X just blurts out, ‘I want a glazed donut,’ real loud, like they’re all just hard of hearing, and this woman behind the counter, her name badge said ‘Flo’…”
“You’re joking…” said Andy.
“No shit, ‘Flo.’ Anyway, Flo is matronly, an older woman, you know, kind of stern… so she says, “Sir, you’ll have to take a number like everyone else.”
“You don’t talk to him like that,” added Andy, knowing enough about Mr. X.
“Exactly,” I concurred. “But oddly X doesn’t say a word. He takes a ticket and quietly goes to the back of the line.”
“Uh-oh,” said Andy as he pulled the car over, readying for the story to go into overdrive.
“Yeah, uh-oh,” I agreed and then continued. “So Mr. X waits, and finally he gets to Flo, and she says, ‘Okay, now you want a glazed donut?’ and X shakes his head. ‘No, I’ve changed my mind. I want this here. And I want those, and that. And those over there, and all of that. Oh, and while you’re at it, I want those racks of bread back there. All of them.’ And Flo narrows here eyes and says, ‘Sir, please don’t joke around. We’re a business here.’ And Mr. X yells, ‘Zmuda? The case!’ and I step forward and pop it open…”
“Like usual,” Andy added, having heard Mr. X’s Zmuda, the case” line in other stories.
“Yeah, so I say, ‘Madam, this man is Mr. X, a famous writer, he’s written a number of major motion pictures, and he’s a millionaire, he’s very eccentric, and I can assure you he’s completely serious. This case?’ I point into the case, which is open and showing all the cash. It has over 50-thousand dollars in it, and Mr. X is ready to pay for anything he wants so please help him.’ Well, Flo realizes this is probably for real, so even though she already hates him, she starts ringing stuff up, and now the manager comes out of the back to see what the hell’s going on. So Mr. X introduces himself while I’m lugging boxes of rolls and bread and shit out out the limo. We fill the limo, so X goes, “Get on the phone and get a truck over to pick up my baked goods.”
“You hired a truck?” Andy said, his face going slack in amazement. “What? You just called a trucking company and said, ‘Come over and pick up our donuts’?’
“Exactly. And they came, a full-size fucking deliver truck. Meanwhile, Mr.; X’s bought so much stuff we have to send for another truck. It’s the Marx brothers. We’ve hung out the Closed sign and cleaned out the whole front of the store. Now Mr. X goes into the back room. He starts buying all their back stock as well as the shit coming out of the oven — it’s still hot – not to mention all their butter and flour and salt and sugar, everything. Meanwhile, the owner, he’s at his calculator, and he’s in fuckin’ hog heaven, he can’t believe this guy, buying his place to the walls, damn near.
“So now Mr. X goes to work on the employees. First the bakers, there’s like three older guys in white outfits, and he says to one of them, ‘You must be pretty hot in that, it’s hot back here. I’ll tell you what, take off your clothes down to your underwear and I’ll give you 500-bucks. Zmuda, the case!’ So I hand over the cash and the old guys strips down to his skivvies. Mr. X checks him out and says, ‘Listen, for another 500, take off your underwear.’ So the old guys drops his boxers, and he’s bare-ass naked. So Mr. X turns to the others and says, ‘I’ll give you each a thousand if you do the same,’ so two minutes later the bakers are nude, and X turns to the ladies who were working the counter and are now watching the old guys strut around naked but a thousand bucks richer. X says to them, ‘Take off your clothes, only down to your underwear, and I’ll give you a thousand each.’ Well, they’re in their underwear, bras and girdles, in about three seconds, and I’m handing them money. All of them except Flo, she’s the holdout. Mr. X can’t break her. She hates him. A test of wills. Flo versus Mr. X.
“Mr. X takes the challenge, he says, ‘C’mon, Flo, just take off your blouse, leave your bra and girdle on, but take off the blouse. I’ll give you two thousand dollars.’ She says, ‘I can’t do that,’ and X says ‘I’ll make it three thousand,’ and the other ladies are saying, ‘Flo, do it, it’s fine, it’s just your blouse, it’s okay,’ cause they’re standing in their girdles and bras and they’re one grand richer. Mr. X ups the ante to four, then five. Now Flo’s sweatin’, the manager is yelling at her to drop her top, and her girlfriend’s are saying she’s nuts Mr. X keeps going until he finally says, ‘Flo, lemme ask you this, what does your husband make a year? Flo won’t answer, but one of the other ladies says Flo’s husband, Alex, drives a delivery truck and makes about 19-grand. So Mr. X says, ‘Flo, take off our top only, leave your bra and girdle on, and I will give you 19-thousand dollars. It’s as much as Alex, your beloved husband, makes in a year. Think of his face when you bring home that cash.’
Well, the scene is now insane. Here’s the truck drivers loading our bread, the manager’s delirious, looking for anything else to sell, here’s three old men, nude, three or four older ladies in their underwear, and everyone is yelling at Flo to do it. Flo is in tears, but she stands firm. So Mr. X gets bored trying to break her and heads into the cooler, where he finds a wedding cake. ‘I want this,’ he says., and the manager goes white and says, ‘Sorry, Mr. X, but that’s a wedding cake, it’s custom made, and I have to deliver it in a few hours, and they’re a lovely couple.’ And X says, ‘I don’t give a fuck, I want it. Zmuda? The case!’ and I count out another three thousand, and it’s ours now. Meanwhile, the bakers are still nude, and they’re partying with the counter ladies on some beer we had delivered, and the manager is now about 30-thousand bucks heavier in the wallet, and he’s on the phone to the wedding couple to tell them about the tragic accident on the freeway where their cake got ruined. And speaking of ruined, Flo is destroyed, her life could have changed, but she wouldn’t cave in to the will of Mr. X. I say to him, ‘What are we going to do with all the food?’ and he says, ‘Fuck it, let it rot,’ so I get on the phone before we leave and have the truckers take it over to a food bank. So now we’re done. X goes out and gets in the limo, and I make a final pass to survey the wreckage, the party is going full swing, and the place looks like it was looted by rats, not an edible thing left in sight, like it was never a working bakery. So I walk out the front, and as I do…that’s when I see it. All by itself in the front display case, not even a crumb to keep it company, sits one…solitary…glazed donut.”
Andy was totally mesmerized. “He’s a genius,” he pronounced finally, without irony.
“KoЯn’s 1998 album “Follow The Leader” contains 25 tracks, the first 12 of which are hidden tracks containing five seconds of silence each. This makes for a full minute of silence before the first track plays. Singer Jonathan Davis did not like the fact that the album would have ended on the thirteenth track (due to superstition), so they preferred to start that album on that track instead. The first track on the back of the album is listed as “13. It’s On!”, which implies that the CD begins at track 13.”—
“When the two lovely and charming yelpers (yelpettes?) Mary Kay S. and Laura V. invite you to one of their famed Mexican outings, you just don’t say no! I was lucky enough to tag along for one of their famed South of the Border Queso (or Guacamole) Comparison, Culinary Discovery Tour and Gastronomic Extravaganza outings (affectionately known as SotBQ[oG]CCDTaGE). Before I begin, I will freely admit to copying SotBQ[oG]CCDTaGE from Mary Kay’s review. There’s no way I can remember this abbreviation on my own. It scares me. It takes me back to high school math classes, which I sucked most ferociously at. “Okay, who can solve for SotBQ[oG]CCDTaGE using X as a constant? Anyone? How about… Jason? (cue sinister music: duh duh duuuuuuuuuuuh!)” “Um, yeah, okay…*puts down algebra text strategically placed to hide a shitty Forgotten Realms novel and snaps out of his daydream of fighting a horde of orcs and a ferocious blue dragon to rescue a winsome, ample-chested princess who rewards his valiant efforts with hot, sweaty sex*. Well, first you take the, ah, renumirator and, uh *starts to sweat*, place it over the, uh, suppository, and uh, solve for the Coefficient of Friction, and uh, umm, umm… OMG Miz Jenkins! Lisa’s in the corner being a communist!!!”+++ Laura and I rolled up to La Union on a particularly grey and drizzly Sunday evening. La Union’s warm and subdued lighting offered the perfect respite to the depressing weather outside. While Laura and I settled in and waited for Mary Kay to arrive, Nelson, our waiter, promptly took our drink orders and brought us a bowl of chips and salsa (which, when Mary Kay arrived, we proceeded to make short work of—that salsa was good!). To crib from Fran Lebowitz, steak is probably my favorite animal. And when you combine that with eggs, it becomes my favoritest animal EVAR! So when I saw the bistec ranchero (skirt steak with two eggs, side salad and rice) on the menu, I knew immediately what I was gonna have—cooked medium rare with the eggs over easy. Mary Kay opted for the beef fajitas while Laura went with the shrimp fajitas. We also ordered queso to go along with our tortilla chips. The queso was definitely lacking. Mary Kay compared it to Cheez Whiz, but I personally think Cheez Whiz has actual flavor :) Very, very flavorless. Even when we doused it with the rest of our salsa, it tasted lifeless. Fortunately, the same could not be said for my meal! The steak was incredibly tender and flavorful, to the point where you could almost cut it with a fork. The eggs were the perfect accompaniment, the runny yolks complementing the taste of the steak nicely. The salad was pretty good too… nothing adventurous, but the greens were nice and fresh, and the dressing they used (musta been some kind of house dressing, as I couldn’t place the flavor) gave the salad a decent kick. The rice was okay. I’m not much of a rice person in any event, and while the taste didn’t wow me overmuch it wasn’t bad at all. For dessert, I ordered the fried ice cream, which consisted of a scoop of battered vanilla ice cream on a fried tostada sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and lightly covered in chocolate syrup. It was a novel excursion, and while I wasn’t blown away, I have to say it was pretty tasty. The verdict: a solid 3.5 stars. There were definitely enough yummy-sounding things on the menu that will no doubt entice me to return again. The service was prompt and friendly, and the prices were reasonable and the portions filling. If you’re looking for good Mexican/El Salvadoran food in Arlington, I can easily recommend La Union. +++This was back in the 1980s, when you could still accuse people of communism.”—
“Instead of having a big national contest over what health care system, why not try single-payer in one part of the country and radical deregulation in another? Switzerland, which is about the size of Maryland, has different health care systems in each of its 20-odd cantons, which are about the size of Maryland counties. Surely it must be possible to try different health care approaches in Texas and Massachusetts.”—Why the U.S. is Ungovernable
“ABC News and NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! radio program interviewed Terrifica, a New York City-based woman who patrols bars and parties in an effort to protect inebriated women in danger of being taken advantage of by men. Since the mid-1990s, Terrifica has donned a golden mask, Valkyrie bra, blond wig, red boots and cape, to distract the men she tries to dissuade from seducing drunk young women. She carries a utility belt containing pepper spray, a cell phone, lipstick, a camera to photograph alleged predators, a journal, Terrifica fortune cards, and Smarties for energy. Terrifica has an arch-nemesis, a self-proclaimed philanderer who calls himself Fantastico.”—
“A union’s problem is painfully obvious: organized strikers must shut down the enterprise, close the market to everyone else—uncooperative workers, union members, disenchanted former strikers, and employers—in order to force wages and working conditions above free-market rates. If too many individuals defy the strikers … then unionists often resort to force. Unionists ultimately cannot impose noncompetitive wage rates … unless they can prevent employers from hiring consenting adults on terms that are mutually satisfactory. Unions must actively interfere with freedom of trade in labor markets in order to deliver on their promises. Thus, strikes—and unions in general—represent a conflict between unionized and non-unionized labor much more than between unions and management.”—The Myth of Voluntary Unions
“is there anything worse than writing a cover letter for a job you don’t want? finding all these unique ways to kiss the ass of someone you have never met but know you will hate, if you’re lucky enough to even get the chance?”—it’s been one of those days
“In an interview, Van Zandt recalled, “We got stopped by these two policeman and…they said ‘What do you do for a living?’, and I said, ‘Well, I’m a songwriter’, and they both kind of looked around like ‘pitiful, pitiful’, and so on to that I added, ‘I wrote that song Pancho and Lefty. You ever heard that song Pancho and Lefty? I wrote that’, and they looked back around and they looked at each other and started grinning, and it turns out that their squad car, you know their partnership, it was two guys, it was an Anglo and a Hispanic, and it turns out, they’re called Pancho and Lefty..so I think maybe that’s what it’s about, those two guys..I hope I never see them again.”—
“The long-awaited second album S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor is set to be released in March 2010 on the renowned British independent label 4AD. According to Nikolaisen, it sounds like a “rock’n’roll chamber of magic.”—