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11:04:22 - 2001-01-08

I just lost an incredibly long entry because I gave it a title that I had already used before and when I went to hit my back button it was gone.

I'm currently cursing Andrew, Al Gore and anyone else who may be remotely responsible for this travesty of misjustice.

But...you came here to read a diary entry.

Or something.

Very well then ... here's an old column I had written from the last time I deejayed, back in 1998.

And...just to rest your weary head...the lost diary entry was pretty stupid anyway.

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AWWW YEAH, MIXMASTER UNCLE BOB ON THE STEEL WHEELS

Somebody, and I think it may have been Dracula, once said "Music soothes the savage beast." I will go on record as saying that guy must have a crack in his microwave and the thermo-nuclear waves (or whatever it is that fries food in a heartbeat) must have seeped into his brain patterns, leaving the guy borderline goofy. Because in my professional opinion, music turns ordinary people into savage beasts.

For most of the 1980s, this big lug was a club deejay for Stagger Lee's here in Montgomery. Some of you may remember the popular nightclub for its high energy and madcap fun. Others may remember it as the place where you met that woman who ... well ... wasn't quite a woman if you get my drift (we all remember that gentleman well). Still others (like myself) remember Stagger Lee's as the establishment where love flowed freely and long lasting relationships bloomed. I should know ... I met Mrs. Uncle Bob there on a quiet evening in 1986. And she hasn't left my side since. Ohhh... lucky me. I still pinch myself every day, trying desperately to wake up from this nightmare.

But what I remember most about Stagger Lee's was the constant fear that I would have one of my vital organs handed to me at any given moment by somebody who had to hear Clarence Carter's "Strokin" one more time that evening.

After six years of receiving hateful, drunken stares and handwritten notes on soggy napkins threatening to do extremely strange things to me (none of which were overly appealing), I left the business and struggled through the occasional odd job (selling vacuum cleaners, working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, puppy pimp) until landing on my butt at this newspaper in 1991.

So when the fine people at the new nightclub Celebrations gave me a call, asking me to come in on Wednesday nights to be part of their Stagger Lee's Reunion night, all the bad memories of cleaning total stranger's vomit off of my record album collection went out the window. I committed to helping them recapture the magic that was once Stagger Lee's. Or at least ... spin a few scratched-up records, see some old friends and put myself in the envious position of battling drunks.

I soon found out that after eight years, things hadn't changed a bit. Except the drunks got drunker.

The first night back behind the turntables, all the old laws of deejaying came back to me like a bad case of herpes. Now ... for those of you who have always secretly desired to get up in the deejay booth and throw your own party, I have one steadfast rule that you must remember at all times:

The customer is ALWAYS wrong.

Unlike any other business where the customer's patootie is zealously smooched so that they don't cry like a baby and threaten to take their business elsewhere, nightclub customers are usually slightly intoxicated and have no concept of how to deejay. But that never stops them from telling you how to do your job. I've had people swear on their mother's grave that if you were to play "Crying in the Chapel" by Sonny Till and the Orioles, a frenzied wild party will break out that will leave people believing they had just witnessed the Holy Grail of parties.

It is your job to laugh in their face and throw things at them until they blindly stumble away from the deejay booth and let you do your job. But that's easier said then done. Any club deejay will tell you, on any given night, ninety percent of the customers in the building think they can do a better job playing music. Because they KNOW what they want to hear and you, playing the part of the deejay, stink.

The truth is ninety percent of the time what they want to hear will cause the most negative reaction since Bill Clinton cut loose in a Sorority house.

There is a loophole in the "Customer is always wrong" rule. And that's when the customer is waving paper money in front of your nose along with their request. At that point, it is quite acceptable to morph into a cheap musical prostitute, grab the duckies, and play whatever your new best friend wants to hear.

Case in point ... one late Saturday night at Stagger Lee's, while I had a full dance floor trying their sloppy drunken best to do the Electric Slide, a gentleman came up to me and requested "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin.

After I stopped guffawing in his face, I pointed to the dance floor and quickly explained I was not going to stop this party dead in its tracks so that he could sit at his table and snap his fingers in time to the 50s classic.

Then, once I stuffed his crisp one hundred dollar bill in my pocket and the opening strains of "Beyond The Sea" floated out into the club, the 350 groans that filled the room were falling on deaf ears. As I watched the crowd gather their belongings and bolt for the door I was mentally spending my big tip and asking the gentleman if there were any Doris Day tunes he may be equally fond of.

My new best friend had a goofy grin plastered on his face and was lost in his own little finger-snapping world. I stood right there with my goofy grin, snapping right along with him with one hand and waving goodbye to the hundreds of customers with the other. And as they filed out the door in disgust, I got on the microphone and casually reminded people that money talks and people without money walk.

Fast forward eight years. My first night back in a deejay booth at Celebrations was going alright until a lady walked up to the deejay booth with a simple request.

"Can you play 'Taking Care of Business' by Bachman Turner Overdrive?" she asked.

It was a simple request. The song is still popular today and could probably generate a decent dance floor.

"Sure," I replied. "I will play it during my next set."

"Thanks," she said and walked away.

Now for a song like that, I don't need any cash. As I said, it's still popular today and people dance to it. Unlike "Beyond The Sea" which may have worked in 1958, but stops people dead in their tracks today.

One thing that I was forced to remind myself: The average person has no idea what a "set" is. A set is a 45-minute long series of uptempo music that will a) get people to dance, b) get people to get thirsty and c) get people to spend good money with our bartenders.

My little Bachman Turner Overdrive fan certainly did not know what a set is. As the current song ended and the new one started up, she came running back up to the deejay booth, her face flush with anger.

"Where's 'Taking Care of Business'???" she demanded with a demonic look on her face.

I swallowed and explained to her that I would be playing it in the next 45 minutes.

At that point, she laid into a tirade that would have had a drill sergeant in tears. She let me know that I was not only a worthless piece of trash, but that rock-and-roller Randy Bachman himself would tear me a new orifice if I didn't play her favorite song next.

As I am now eight years older, my standards are a bit different than they were when I was 28. I scurried to find the record, slapped it onto the turntable and announced that this one was going out to my new friend.

And, of course, the woman never even acknowledged the song. She was too busy playing quarters with her table of friends and telling them what an idiot I happened to be.

So the next time you go out to an establishment and there is some poor pitiful soul in the deejay booth who looks like he lost his best friend, chances are good, he just had a painfully bad request. It is your duty to leave him alone all night, let him do his job and give him a thumbs up on the way out.

________________________________________

Heh heh heh.

I bet you're kicking yourself for reading all that.

Tee hee!!

(Uncle Bob clicks his heels, cackles and runs out of the room)

________________________________________

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What uninteresting fact about yourself would you like to share?

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