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Cooter wuddn't thankful for shit this holiday season. Not even the ordinary stuff like family or homestead.
His home was a room over the stables, with a rickety rooftop that sent a steady dribble of everything from acidic rainwater to acerbic toads rainin down on his country ass.
And family? Har! Most of his kin hated his guts worse than they did homosexuals...or hygiene. All his brothers—Floyd, Duke, Doc, Forrest, Garth and Bodean—showed him no kind of attention save for sticking fingers in his asshole while his sister, Eunice, held him down in the hog pen.
Even then the only reason they touched him was so they could holler their cruel nursery rhyme. Here comes a cooter/Zit-face full o' cooties/Stick his snout inside a pig pie/And you will smell his booty/Here comes The Cooter/Shit-pants full o' manure/His face smells like manure/'Cause he drinks straight from the sewer!
Cooter hated that song almost as much as he hated being the only black kid in an otherwise all-white home for orphans.
Every time his hilljack brood were mean he'd shout, “I swear, one o' these days I'ma straight snuff yer asses.”
No one believed it. They had the guns. They had the numbers.
Not a Gat in sight, just JR with his buck-shot and Nanna with her antique armaments with cobwebbed barrels more backed up'n ole Floyd's corn-shoot after a bindin meal.
“I'll get these crackas yet,” Cooter told himself as he sobbed into his pillow and pawed at his scabrous anal fissures.
The next morning was Thanksgiving, the day white folk celebrated the annniversary of their raping and pillaging of the country's native sons.
As his bastard brethren pictured the cranberry sauce and turkey flambe they had to look forward to at supper, Cooter had fevered visions of his own, first of the Trail of Tears, calloused caravan of decrepit Injuns marching to their death by whites, then images of arrowheads and spears bubbling up in their place; he saw himself brandishing a tomahawk and splitting the dome of his youngest foster brother, peeling his scalp back and pissing on his skull, and the others good and well skull-fucked by the fright of it, scurrying for the nearest exit in tears and sheer terror. And him laughing after them, spraying the whole room with venom-tipped arrows from his quiver as he smiled and smoked some strong kush from a peace pipe.
This reverie was rudely interrupted by the accosting musk of Floyd's sweat-drenched pubes as the eldest of the orphans body slammed young Cooter and trapped Coot's mug in his massive armpit.
“Har! Har! Teach ya to be dreamin' yer clammy dreams while we're s'pposed to be doin' chores,” Floyd yapped. “C'mon, Brillo-head. Paw wants you. Now git or he'll tan your nappy hide!”
Cooter scooted off the soggy, yellowed mattress he shared with the studs and scurried across the barnyard to the house.
There he found Paw sprawled out in front of the idiot box, empty fifth of Jack Gagger whiskey in his hand and a boweevil gnawing at his naked gut, a hairy mound of grease with a deep cleft in the center out of which spilled lint fit for a nest.
Paw was a corpulent slob who useta work for the railroad til he got athlete's foot and started collecting disability. Ever since he drew that welfare check he'd been a slab of immovable meat in that very same seat, a mess of coiled springs and torn fabric that had once resembled a La-Z-Boy.
There he sat, a crooked Merkin on under a grime-encrusted trucker hat, eyes glued to that goo tube, rabbit-eared TV he'd shot enough wads at to qualify for world record of gerkin jerkin.
“Hi Paw,” Cooter said softly. “H-happy Thanksgiving...I guess.”
“Don't hi me, nigger! What thanks do I get? Put a roof over y'alls heads and get four hundred measly bucks a month for puttin food in your ingrate gullets? Shit on that arrangement, pal! This's the last time!”
Cooter's hands curled into fists. He hadn't seen a dime of that money. Not one new shirt, not even after his brothers used the one on his back as a cum rag twelve months runnin. He was ready to strike Paw in his pregnant drunkard gut when...
Doc, the cross-eyed runt of the litter, scampered in from the kitchen and threw himself into Paw's arms. The force of the child's weight against him knocked his bowels loose on the shag carpet.
Luckily, the family dog, a mongrel with one leg and three wonky eyes, ran over to nip at it, fixing himself whatever meal he could make out of the steaming clump.
Doc whispered into Paw's cauliflower ear. A hush fell over the room. All eyes fell on Cooter in muted awe.
“What, maaaan?” Cooter had had enough.
“Nanna wants you.” The old bitch in the kitchen. But why? Cooter wondered.
“You heard me, boy?!”
“Then git! 'fore you taste my boot!”
Cooter crept into the nook and looked up at the geriatric, her varicosed vag lips dragging on the dusty linoleum floor like a gorilla's knuckles, breasts swinging like floppy pendulums. He could smell her senior stink, but also something else, overwhelming.
“Blackberries?” he asked.
“Sagacious nose,” the old crone crowed. “That's why I picked you.” Jabbing a pointy skeleton finger in his forehead. “You're sharp. Not like my kin. You're a good boy, that's why you're gonna get to make Thanksgiving supper with me.”
“But I wouldn't know how,” he said.
“Sure you would,” the fossil said, flashing grizzled grin. “You want them to taste yer shit as much as I do. So let's give 'em what we got, make 'em thankful they got strong stomachs, eh?”
And with that the caustic cook was on.
Cooter handed Nanna a lightbulb and she broke it under her house slippered foot. He brushed up the bits and she dumped them in with pits. She jerked him off real proud and he produced a quart on a trowel, she sopped the rest up with her tongue and spit on a ladel and into meatloaf it went.
Soon all ingredients were in the stew, potatoes mashed with cheesy feet and gravy's giblets made from poo, fresh dumpling from both their bowels, each doled out with that trowel.
With starters done they licked the main course, hoisting the turkey up and slamming it down where Nanna could clamber up on to the counter and scissor herself with the drumsticks while Cooter plucked dingleberries and cheered her on.
When all that was done, Nanna worked on the sauce—scooping Sissy's premenstrual snatch pad outta the trash can for cranberry color—and told Cooter to select a special ingredient for their dreadful dross.
“It has to be something that means something to you and also to them.
Something'll get the goats of your slut sister and bastard brothers.”
Cooter nodded, knowing just what to do. He slunk off with a two-pronged fork and returned to the living room.
When Cooter returned, his Nanna was so taken with his selection that she pressed him to her bulbous bosom and they each sprouted an erection. And so it was that Cooter and Nana joined hand in hand and humped the kitchen counter, taking turns at pumping the turkey's neck-hole.
For the piece-de-resistance, every year, Nanna made her specialty—the Turducken, a de-boned duck inside a de-boned game hen inside a plump Butterball. Only this year the birds wouldn't be free of bones and the butter would not be believed as butter...
Cooter was ugly and unpopular, this much was true. And he was a Negro, which set him back a ways in these parts. But drop some logic on those fools he did this holiday season. As he and Nanna wheeled out their Thanksgiving supper, all stood in dour honor and hunger, heads bowed in admiration for Cooter, the chosen grandson.
After a prayer, they each dug in, ravenous as they buried their slick faces in slimy strips of browned skin and fluffy taters. Those gray curlies made delicious sprouts! And everyone—Floyd, Duke, Doc, Forrest, Garth and Bodean, and lil Sissy—licked their fingers clean, mming and ooing as they inhaled their plates.
Then their mitts fought over scraps, snatching the last of the bird and one made the fatal mistake of asking, “Why's them sausages so thick all knotted up in this here ribcage?”
And as Garth gobbled and swallowed Cooter hooked his thumb in the air, gesturing to the La-Z-Boy where Paw sat, gutted. And that's when everyone seated at the table puked in a hue brown, green and yellow—brown from the “giblets,” green from the globules, and yellow from a mixture of Nanna's piss and Cooter's jizzurp.
Nanna brought up her cane, waving it in their faces, saying, “Grab yerselves some straws, now, brats. An' show the good Lord you ain't ungrateful.”
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"Gasoline, saccharine/I got no reason for the state I'm in/But I know what I am/They know what they are/So let me be." So go the opening lyrics to the first brazen song I hear from Band of Skulls.
And it goes on about hotels and Taco Bells, these are two of my favorite things, so it's definitely for me and I think the clap stop tambourine duet bepop 'tude of this tune is for a lot of other cats too. And it's only a set warmer, but damn if it doesn't throw sparks! With stomps and chants it's got everything that says, "We are legion, I dare you!" A strong case for individuality if there ever was one.
"Fires" comes on like a bellyful of butterflies and breath mints, a star-crossed homage to that fleeting, urgent sick sensation of anticipatory love that every one of us is lucky to experience at least once or twice in our lives.
The get-together of timbre, atmosphere annd mood is perfectly layered, textured in cherubic background coos; This is what really sells the package, the soft and somewhat somber love potion that gives us the same progressive wind of the Sixties. This would be in good company alongside "Telstar" by The Tornadoes or "Nights in White Satin."
This same track reminds me why I love the London Suede and why Blur never lived up to their full potential. They were on too many downers to convey the full spectrum of emotional possibility. Band of Skulls might be able to succeed with this. Sentient Rock is much different than what now passes as Emo, and that's crystalline from hearing this sampler of tone and topic married to powerstrip.
"Death By Diamonds & Pearls" is either an overt tribute to The White Stripes, in musical and vocal concoction, or some producer or label rep's take on an appropriate single-worthy entry into the batch.
If it's the former, then the end result is fluid and well-crafted and perfectly dead-on. If it's the latter, well, that's kind of short-changing the band's obvious ability, but right on! It works, man. Who is to judge? Every great band had to produce something somewhat insincere to make good.
Look at Modest Mouse's licensing their songs for bullshit commercial TV spots that have nothing to do with the substance of the material or Korn whoring themselves in underwear ads in teeny bopper magazines back in the day.
Before the groundbreaking "Follow The Leader" there was "Life is Peachy," a borderline pointless EP whose purpose was to get 90's kids to buy the same clothing their older brothers or uncles wore in the 70's, on the basis of a grade school play on initials (All Day I Dream About Sex). The Stones recorded several worthless records that meant shit. It kept their name prominent.
Something in my gullet speaketh: Band of Skulls will never have a problem with this. They'll never attain prominence in the first place, not with radio programmers playing the detritus they now play. Their hope lies in satellite and kooky showcases. And thank Haile Selassie for that! There are cafes full of crunchy people ready to sway.
The fervor of Stereo Alligator is something that any true music fan is constantly searching for, a sound with mettle, with energy and with moxie. You need to be on some serious stuff to be able to keep up with the blistering trampoline wonderment of “Blow Away,” a song that would make Billy Idol proud and envious simultaneously. I was on Methadone, Vitamin B and two 24-ounce cans of Budweiser when I first heard it and I felt like a spider monkey in the middle of the Night of Pan.
This is the kind of banger that has the potential to be a universal groove-maker like the Red Hot Chili Peppers used to do—get everyone jumping up and down and flailing like a bunch of whirling dervishes on meth, whether the person is a Raver, a Scene Kid or a firm Hip-Hopper.
Some would define it as a crossover song, but that sounds like it's mixing genres to make everyone happy or something. That is not what Stereo Alligator are up to. They're simply making their kind of music and manufacturing it with such passion that the razzmatazz can be felt by one and all.
The theme is on the humanity tip, with singer Miguel Gomes imploring the invisible Omnipotent to wake him up (no doubt from a dose of understandable escapism) to let him know that he's not the only one. The only what? I don't know. Maybe the only cat who sees how flagrant the status quo is? How the Bernie Madoffs and Eliot Spitzers of the World are leaving a devastated and denigrated society shit thick in financial and moral bankruptcy? Or maybe Gomes is asking to be told that he is not the Holy One, which would make even more sense given the trituration of the modern landscape around that society.
The message or the question, more appropriately, is presented in a straight forward and simplistic way that enables every human being with ears and emotions and any level of intellect to receive, process and ponder it for themselves. This is the kind of unpretentious, all-inclusive Universalist musical poetry that the mainstream is lacking and would benefit from.
“Ruin” comes on like a pristine Tears for Fears call-back, seeping with White Town phantasmagoria and epic vocal modulation. Dust Bowl guitar language carries the envelope along as gently and subtly as a tumbleweed rolling down a desolate autobahn and underscores the chorus of “C'mon, take me away.” This is an antagonistic outcry for Transcendence, the better to drive home the concept of a day and age so dense in a sinkhole of irredeemable follies that the only real solution is dissolution.
It doesn't slow, it doesn't let up, and nobody with any CHUTZPAH would want it to. A set this consistently electric and dauntless shouldn't be curtailed by any switching of unnecessary gears.
The EP closer “Lifting Up” carries the New Wave sound a step further until, in its abrupt denouement, Gomes' impassioned voice reaches a volume of such blood-vessel-popping velocity that the song's precipitous end leaves you feeling like something, maybe even your own concern, has slugged you in the center of your torso. This is music that leaves a bruise.
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