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22:36:43 - 2000-03-21

MY OLD BUDDY RUSS

I got a call tonight from an old buddy.

"Uncle Bob?" the voice on the other end asked.

"Debt collector?" I asked back.

No such luck. As it turns out ... it was my old buddy Russ.

Or as he is now known as....THE WORLD'S HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPION!!!

Now...I don't claim to know ALL the ins and outs of Professional wrestling ... but if Russ IS in fact, the world champion of wrestling...how come he's wrestling Saturday night in the National Guard Armory in Dothan, Alabama in front of a crowd of less than a hundred?

It seems that even the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion has to start somewhere. And Russ has started as the Heavyweight Champion of South Alabama Championship Wrestling.

As opposed to North, East, West, Central and All-State Championship Wrestling territories.

Russ and I met at Stagger Lee's ... a bar I've mentioned here on numerous occasions, I think. He was one of the many bouncers that came through the club over the years and worked our door.

He was always a little goofy, but menacing. He was good at giving "the look". If a guy was getting too drunk and wound up, Russ would just stare at him coldly until their eyes met. It never took long for the look to take effect and once it did, the drunk would calm down and sober up instantly.

I backed him up in a scuffle one night, which impressed him. He said all the other deejays he had ever worked with were wussys.

Russ would always come up to the booth when I had a dance floor going and request Southern rock.

Lynyrd Skynyrd. Molly Hatchet. Blackfoot.

I always thought he was kidding. I'm playing MC Hammer (HEY....in 1989, you couldn't GET hotter than MC Hammer baby...)and he's wanting "Freebird".

One night he said "How come you never play my requests?"

I looked at him and said "You were SERIOUS?"

As it turns out...he was.

I gave him a demonstration. I had a full dance floor...but the NEXT record I put on would be something HE would pick out. If the crowd dispersed, I never had to play another request of his ever again. If they kept dancing, I'd play whatever the hell he wanted, WHENEVER he wanted.

(Alright...I'll be honest...I knew my shit when it came to deejaying in this particular club. I had been there for years, I knew the clientele like the back of my hand. I can tell you if I played "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones at 9:30, it would pack the dance floor, but at 11:30, it'd clear the house.

... I KNEW my shit.)

Russ picked "Sweet Home Alabama" to follow (the UNBELIEVABLY POPULAR at the time) "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer.

Okay ... I've probably heard the song a billion times, since moving to Alabama in 1984. It's every redneck's theme song here. Grown men, all ages, gather in drunken hugs and sing "Sweet Home Alabama" at the top of their lungs while openly sobbing. To many young rednecks ... it's the new national anthem.

...But you just can't dance to the fucker ...

As soon as the opening guitar lick started, I watched the couples on the dance floor. It emptied like a bomb scare had been announced.

Russ stood there ... mouth agape. Nobody wanted to dance to his theme song.

It was okay though. What I didn't tell Russ was my method of deejaying. If I kept a good dance floor going for 30 minutes, I would PURPOSEFULLY put on a shitty song to clear the dance floor.

Why??

Think about it.

Are you STILL asking why??

....Sweetie...you gotta sell drinks eventually.

If everyone's dancing, they ain't drinking.

If they ain't drinking, cash registers ain't ringing.

If cash registers ain't ringing, we have trouble paying bills.

Duh.

So even though, it was perfectly okay that his tune cleared the dance floor, I couldn't LET him know that was a GOOD thing. So I made him feel like shit, but attempted to comfort him with the words that I still believe in today...

"People LISTEN to good music. People DANCE to shit."

Which isn't true really, because my favorite music is techno/electronica/beat boy stance/Uncle Bob style/funk. I love dem phat phunky phresh beats.

But...in some small way...that statement rings true. I mean...GOOD music is written to be listened to ... grasped, nurtured...understood. It's NOT written for you to grind your pelvis emotionlessly into a stranger's thigh under a blinding strobe light while wondering if that condom in your wallet has an expiration date.

But hey...my bread was being buttered by MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Tone Loc. Who was I to bitch about shit music?

Russ reminded me of that story tonight. I'm glad that bastard stayed sober for the few months he worked there. Because my memory is scattershot at best from those days, as I used to have what the doctors called "a drinking problem" back then.

...My problem was...they couldn't get the drinks to me fast enough.

WHOOOOOOAAAAAA!!!!

BUUUUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

OHMIGOD....OH GOD...OH JESUS.....

(Uncle Bob wipes the tears of laughter from his eyes and cheeks)

Where DO I come up with such funny shit????

....shit...I dunno...I probably stole it from Dean Martin...

The REASON Russ actually called was to see if I would come down to Dothan Saturday night and bring a sound system to play the entrance music for the wrestlers as they came to the ring. He said all the wrestlers had their favorite songs that they came out to...lotta heavy metal and rap stuff, so they'd supply the discs.

Heh.

I said sure, and offered the services of my "professional" deejay buddy, B.A., whose system is much more suited for such an event. So ... Saturday night...B.A. and I are going to drive the 90 miles to Dothan, track down the National Guard Armory ... and watch my buddy Russ ... I'm sorry ... "The Black Angel" ... defend his heavyweight belt.

He just better pray to GOD I don't go all Jackie Chan on his ass and bum rush the ring to bodyslam the dreaded Black Angel.

I'm looking forward to it. It'll be good to see the Black Angel again. I just hope I don't bust out laughing watching him in the ring.

There's one thing I KNOW I will do though...

No matter WHAT he asks me to play...I'm playing "Sweet Home Alabama" when he walks his redneck ass out to the ring.

Just to see if I can bring a smile to a Black Angel's face.

And...consequently...ruin his career.

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