Chapter 5, Karaoke

10:16PM. Saturday Night. October 16, 2010.

Overlooking Formosa Bay, on the Atlantic Ocean. Sitting at the outdoor cafe of Nomad Seashore Hostel in Buzios, Brazil. Drinking beer: Bohemia Cerveja Pilsen, Desde 1853, A Primeira Cerveja Do Brazil. Listening to Rage Against The Machine antagonize an audience by yelling, “Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me. Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me.” The music is loud, overtaking the ocean waves as they crash on the shore; the lyric is a guiding light, causing the stars in the sky to shrink with embarrassment; the love for this band is mythic, forcing the man-in-the-moon to realize his uselessness in the universe and wish for an eclipse.

The boats in the bay are dancing. Even though they’re anchored like dogs with their balls snipped, for want of a bitch. I’ve been there. I’ve been neutered. So I know how the boats feel, tied down, waiting for permission, wishing they could break free; like Amelia Earhart, who dared to taunt the Bermuda Triangle, who disappeared while facing down her fear of what’s on the other side of the horizon.

The Monster on the other side of the horizon is conformity. The Monster across the border is a different language, and brown skin. The Monster just around the block is McDonald’s, which is even bigger here, in Brazil. That’s right, you heard me right, the Big Mac, the Monster everyone pretends isn’t a Monster, is even bigger in Brazil. It makes me want to rebel by starving myself, putting on a pair of leather pants, dreading my JewFro and starting another band.

Yes, I did. I played music. Yes, I did. I started a band. Yes, it’s true. I was a cliché. I wanted to break on through to the other side. In spite of my voice; in fact, because of my voice, which everyone who heard my band couldn’t wait to tell me, and my bandmates, how much my singing sucked. Just like they couldn’t wait to tell me how much the name of my band sucked. Just like they can’t wait to tell me how much the name of my blog SUCKS.

I get it. Thanks, pal.

It’s amazing how quickly everyone wants to offer free advice. Even though, if you were to take an honest look, at yourself, maybe the next time you’re shaving, you might realize, when it gets right down to it, in your own life, what you’ve accomplished isn’t exactly on par with being anointed “Lizard King.” Instead, if you took a look, you might be honest with yourself and admit you’ve become Conformity King. Sorry but, “I am Lizard King, I can do anything,” is slightly sexier than, “I am Conformity King, I can squash anything.”

Take it in. You’re welcome, pal.

Gumption Trap was a terrible name for a band. Jim Morrison read “The Doors of Perception.” He called his band The Doors. Greg Morelli read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He called his band Gumption Trap. We never stood a chance. We didn’t set the night on fire. I didn’t look good in leather pants. I looked like a bow legged Jew. Rage Against The Machine and Bono never called and invited me to join them on a South American Tour to End Poverty…and ROCK.

In the Summer of 1996, my band got invited to play Lollapalooza. Instead of making it all about my band, I invited everyone I knew to get on stage, and share the moment. The in fighting was overwhelming. Instead of being grateful, everyone I invited to play fought with me about getting as much time as they could on stage. It wasn’t about putting on a good show. It was about putting on a long show. They felt it was their due. They felt it was owed to them. There’s an attitude going around, even in Punk, of entitlement. These so-called Punks think they’re special. But Punk wasn’t about being special. It was about being gloriously ordinary. It was a reaction against 4-part harmonies, pitch perfect voices and the business of making music.

On the 2nd day of Lollapalooza, disgusted with all the musicians, even the ones in my own band, especially the ones in my own band, I decided to make a statement. So when my band got our turn to perform, I made it a point to walk off the stage after playing only 1-song. My bandmates were furious. They were entitled, like the Tea Party, to be angry, because things didn’t go exactly the way they planned – boo fucking hoo – we were supposed to have 44 consecutive mostly irrelevant white men as president – boo fucking hoo – we were supposed to make more money than our parents and have better lives – boo fucking hoo – my band was supposed to make it, my band was supposed to get noticed, my band was supposed to play as long as we felt like playing because we were the ones who booked Lollapalooza.

Don’t know what happened, but somewhere between the 1st and 2nd day of running things, and making everyone else happy, suddenly, I grew a pair.

I became more tyrannical than the Lizard King. As I hit the stage, in 1996, years before Zach de la Rocha thought about raging against his parents, let alone machines, as I hit the stage, with my bandmates demanding a 2nd song, with the so-called Punks resenting me for not seeing how much more special they were than me, as I hit the stage, I let go of my better self, the self who was always nagging at me, “Take your LSAT’s, apply to law school, become a lawyer, exploit loopholes, over bill clients.” Instead, I turned off my better self. I turned off the noise. I orchestrated a coo. Selfishly, I took the kingdom of Rock ‘n Roll for myself, whispering, “Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me. Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me.”

A week after Lollapalooza, I renounced the throne. Turns out, it’s not good to be the king. I broke-up my band. In the end, looking back, it’s pretty amazing how true we were to our name, Gumption Trap, which is something you leave unfinished.

After 10-years in a band, the day after it was over, I have to admit, never in my life did I feel more lost, more adrift. Turns out, the pay-off awaiting me on the other side of the horizon wasn’t even worthy of an Oliver Stone Movie. No, we’d never write a classic like “Fat Bottom Girls.” No, we’d never have animated groupies in a rock band video game named for us like Green Day. No, we’d never have a poster on a teenage boy’s wall next to Mark Wahlberg.

Has it dawned on you? Has it slipped into your awareness? Have you stopped to notice? Turns out, things are so much more interesting than your younger self ever could have imagined.

I’d never even heard of Buzios, Brazil. That is, until last Wednesday, when my brother got into a conversation with a friendly hooker at a bar in Rio de Janeiro called Balcony. She gave him advice: the best scuba diving is in Buzios (oh, and that she had lambskin condoms, so if he wanted to fuck her, and cum, he should ditch the latex kiddie condoms, grab his nut sack, man-up, and go lambskin). Grandpa Bernie always said, “Free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.” In case you’re wondering, this cost my brother $200 Brazilian Dollars, at a conversion rate of 1.73, that’s roughly $150 American Dollars, for the advice of a hooker.

I know, I know, hookers are terrible people. I know, I know, this is terribly embarrassing to my North Shore Mother. I know, I know, I should have taken my LSAT’s, gone to law school and fulfilled my destiny to be a lawyer with an ex-wife and a couple kids in therapy. I know, I know, my brother should be a big-time famous Chef, by now, with Joey’s Brickhouse, his very 1st attempt at a restaurant, being more popular than McDonald’s. Those are all the things my younger self believed. What a brat!

If I let go of my younger self, I have to admit, right now, as a man of 42, who’s 2 months shy of 43, sitting here, overlooking Formosa Bay, 2 hours and 56 minutes into Daylight Savings Time, after eating 1 overpriced dinner at the oldest restaurant in Buzios and drinking 7 beers: Bohemia Cerveja Pilsen…

As I look across the Atlantic Ocean, with the eyes of a man, instead of a boy, instead of a brat, right now, more than anything else, I’d rather have a 3-way with Emilia Earhart and Jim Morrison in a bar & grill on the other side of the horizon called Devil’s Triangle, where the boats have no anchors, the stars don’t pretend to matter, the man-in-the-moon is grilling Chilean Sea Bass, and Rage Against The Machine has the most requested karaoke song, “Killing In The Name Of!” That is, the 2nd most requested karaoke song, right after Kelly Clarkson, with her classic, “Since You Been Gone.”

Oh, by the way, in case my Mom is wondering, since her father, Grandpa Bernie, died 1-year-ago, today…yes, Grandpa Bernie is there, too, on the other side of the horizon, at Devil’s Triangle Bar & Grill, passing out lambskin condoms. Even though, in heaven, you don’t really need a condom since the only thing contagious, the only thing known to cause a rash, the only thing unforgivable, is regret.

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0 Responses to Chapter 5, Karaoke

  1. Vince conformity king says:

    Only an adolescent thinks in terms of conformity and non-conformity. Just like all of the punk rockers who conformed to the other punks, there is no island left to be an original on. “Life is what you make of it, so make it,” a wise woman once told me. So, I have only made it what it is.

    I am about to take a shave before heading to my ordinary job so I can lead my not so sexy life. I will take a hard look in the mirror though. I thank you, pal.

  2. Vince conformity king says:

    I was not truing to criticize the name of the blog, even though I guess I did. I like this writing very much and thought the time of self-deprivation might have passes. Just as you gave up the life of Joey’s Brother Greg, …. Well, I got your point. No more criticism from an ordinary guy. Thanks.

    It was a good shave. Only five cuts. I wasn’t looking where I should have been.

  3. BrutallyFrank says:

    At least I understand this one. Lallapalooza, Gumption Trap, the past. Anything new on the horizon?

  4. steven says:

    i thought he was talking about kip

  5. Babs says:

    Great pictures!

  6. Gregor says:

    Vince, you’ve always been looking exactly where you should be, which is why you’re the biggest Rock Star I have ever known. Turns out, you’re an original. I’m a copy of a copy of a Fight Club copy; and to prove it, here’s your receipt for your receipt.

    The best advice isn’t free. The best advice costs a lifetime of friendship. When I was smart enough to shut my yap, and listen, I got that kind of advice from Grandpa Bernie. He was tough as hell. But he was self-made and earned the right, Goddamn it.

    Turns out, Vince, you’re a lot like him. I’ve read about Rock Stars like Jim Morrison and Bono. But I’ve been lucky enough to love two: Bernie the Scorpion and the Slugfest Heavy Weight Champion of Gainesville Florida, VinVegas!!!

  7. Gregor says:

    No, it was about Vince. He took it in.

  8. Gregor says:

    Nope. Nothing new. Thanks, Dad.

  9. Vincent Pravato says:

    You don’t need to pump me up. I get it. Got it. Good. Your rhymes are ripe. I wished ya would.

    Keep writing. It is smart, interesting and fun.

    No recipt necessary. You got it all.

  10. Rich says:

    Bro, you are where? Formosa Bay? I’m looking on the map. Why did you leave me at the hotel? I guess I passed out for two days. Doode, I have to be honest and say they charged it to your credit card, it was your room. I had some drinks and food to survive alone. You know, I was solo waiting for you guys to get back. So some drinks and food are also on the tab. It can’t be more than $1,437.98 American. I get ya back in the states. So I’m grabbing a cab to Formosa. I told them you’d get the cab. I think a hooker stole my wallet. I’m not sure. If I find it, I call. the 212 number right?

  11. Hooker says:

    I didn’t steal your wallet. I took what I earned. This wasn’t love, Rich. This was a business transaction. Never understood why men have a problem paying hookers but seem to really get off on paying their lawyers. At least we give release!!!

  12. Attonrey Vincent J. Pravato, l says:

    Steve, I hope you are still checking this blog. I would like to provide you with meaningful insite to an issue you posted last week: Obama’s administrations actions against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

    President Barack Obama opposes the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, so why are Obama administration lawyers in court fighting to save it?

    The answer is one that perhaps only a lawyer could love: There is a long tradition that the Justice Department defends laws adopted by Congress and signed by a president, regardless of whether the president in office likes them.

    This practice cuts across party lines. And it has caused serious heartburn for more than one attorney general.

    The tradition flows directly from the president’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, says Paul Clement, who served four years in President George W. Bush’s administration as solicitor general, the executive branch’s top lawyer at the Supreme Court.

    Otherwise, the nation would be subjected to the spectacle of the executive branch defending only laws it likes, with Congress intervening to defend others.

  13. Attonrey Vincent J. Pravato, l says:

    the executive branch’s top lawyer at the Supreme Court.

    Otherwise, Clement says, the nation would be subjected to “the spectacle of the executive branch defending only laws it likes, with Congress intervening to defend others.”

    I hope this helps you understand how the game is played.

  14. Attorney Wannabe Greg A. Morel says:

    Vince, when you talk like that, I get an intellectual stiffy. I suspected something was going on underneath. But I didn’t exactly know what was the precedent being followed to justify defending a policy I know President Obama believes is rooted in bigotry.

    If for no other reason than better understanding the game, and being able to be more like you, I crave law school and cannot turn off my better self, no matter how much I try to pretend to be a rocker or a writer or Joey’s Brother Greg.

    As for Steven, who I love, I have noticed, over the years, he’s a lot like a Wing Nut. He starts with a conclusion, then backs his way out of the argument. Any evidence which lessens his conclusion, he fully disregards. I must admit, thought, I do admire his curiosity.

  15. Babs says:

    Lawyer Pravato-you be a good thing to have around! You explained in an easily understood way exactly the reason behind what the Pres is doing. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the talking heads on both sides could do the same!

  16. VinVegas says:

    I am a black belt, not in karate, but in real life.

  17. Rich says:

    Does anyone watch the Jersey Shore. Greg, you should definitely watch the Jersey Shore. Here is an article about why every writer should watch.

    And by the way, thanks for abandoning me. I’m at the airport. I have few calls to some people to wire me some dinero so I can get home. If you want to help me, anyone, just email me and I give you wiring instructions.

  18. Gregor says:

    WARNING: do NOT help Rich. Unless you’re a Black Belt in Life. In which case, maybe guidance counseling Fucktards is an appealing hobby.

  19. Vinvegas says:

    Only a smelly wet dog would help. Maybe not anymore.

  20. smellywetdog says:

    WUF: which is doggie for “Hell Fucking No.”

  21. VinVegas says:

    Ahhhh, you may be on vacation, but we are waiting on chapter 6. Joey said you are writing day and night. What are you writing, a new menu”. Chapter 6 soon please.

  22. Gregor says:

    Almost. Chapter 6 is shaping up to be long and pivotal. Give me another day, please. Thank you.

  23. Vince says:


    I am anxious to read it, but I am joking around with pressuring you. Have fun, be relaxed, I’d say bang cocktail waitresses two at a time, but you have a lovely gf waiting for you.

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