Tater's Dream House
Frank Zappa and Tater used to hang out in the holler when Frank
wanted to get away from it all. Frank was a pretty funny feller,
and he he could play just about any instrument you put in front of
him, except the fiddle. Couldn't get the hang of it. But when he
played banjo with the Kern's Holler Boys, tell you what, folks
stopped to take a listen, on account of he had a real peculiar way
of pickin that thing. Good on the washboard and the washtub bass
Frank had real bad breath, though, and after he played that jug,
didn't no one want to pick that thing up for a hour or so. Tater's
pretty sure it was on account of all the coffee he drank and
cigarettes he smoked. You know, Zappa almost burned the church down
there when he left his cigarette on the organ and it fell into the
waste basket. Good thing Marshall McLuhan was there to put it out.
Marshall was OK, but he insisted don't nobody call him Marsh, which
was real natural for Tater. Don't like anyone whose name sounds like
law enforcement. Yeah, Marsh was a kind of a tight ass, but that boy
could drink, yessir. One time him and Tater was discussin James
Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on one of them New York
intellectual talk shows, musta been the old New York Tonight, or
somethin like that. In them days they broadcast that from up in
Humbert, to save on costs. Well, it seems that Marty (that's what
Frank used to call Marsh) had replaced the tea with brandy, and it
looked like he was bangin down the tea, but it was brandy, and Tater
didn't know it cause he don't drink no tea. Wouldn't you know it,
pretty soon Marty starts doin a striptease, winkin at the camera and
makin kissy faces, and James Joyce, he was dead at the time, come back
as a makeup gal, and she was so gul durned mad at Martha (that's what
Joyce called McLuhan) that she strangled him to death with his own
makeup bib on the break. Well, Tater weren't gonna let this ruin the
show, so he called up Lenny Bruce there in LA and got him on a phone
line to start riffin on Joyce, as sort of a distraction.
A lot of folks don't know it, but Lenny Bruce was one of the world's
foremost scholars on Joyce, and a damned fine analytical chemist too.
Third degree Buddhist too. That boy could wrap his argument around
your head and you wouldn't know you was enlightened or gonna throw up.
Had them a studio gopher name of Bobby Dean Dobson. You wouldn't think
Tater would remember his name, but that boy was so full of hisself,
every time you told him to go get you this or that, he'd remind you of
his full gul durned name. Bobby Dean Dobson, Bobby Dean Dobson... tell
you what, Tater got sick of that. But they kept him around cause he
worked for free. Well, not quite... he actually paid to sweep up and
fetch you coffee or cigarettes. Paid in butt sex with Norman Mailer,
who was the station manager at the time.
It weren't out of the ordinary for celebrities and scientists and such
to come down to the holler for a rest. Bein tops in your field can be
a strain, and sometimes the papa-rotsy just won't leave you alone.
Now, you might know that Sharon Stone is more than just a prettyy
actress -- she's also real smart, got a great big ol IQ, so when
Steven Hawking come to the holler for a week of rest, he invites her
down there for a little get together. They all know about the round
table we got over to the Chick'n Fry, and everyone wants to get in
that booth and get in on the conversation.
Now this was before Hawking had his accident, put him in that
wheelchair. Hardly anyone knows this, but he don't have Costello's
disease, or whatever they call it. He's in that chair from tryin to
drive while gettin, uh, let's see, gettin sexy. Him and that Sharon
Stone had been drinkin over to the Capital Bar, and they was, oh
shoot, Tater's gettin ahead of hisself. Back to the main story.
Anyhow, Hawking and Stone and Tater and Norman Mailer and Roy Cooter
was at the round table and we was talkin about physics and such, and
the subject of music come up. Well, sir, Tater's arguin that tonal
music gonna make a comeback, and that 12 tone serialism was a dead end
that set music back 50 years or so, and Norman Mailer was sayin tonal
music was already back, and that we had Jerry Garcia to thank for it.
Now, Tater he likes Garcia, but not as a musician. He's a decent
feller, but he always holds back, so the music don't flow out of him
like it does from, say, any of them Stanley Brothers. And when Hawking
agreed with Mailer, you coulda knoked ol Tater over with a feather.
Now, you know Norman Mailer. He don't back down on his argument, no
matter the evidence. But Tater don't neither and he can get real
passionate when he's got a point and some facts, so he's layin in to
Mailer and Hawking, pullin out all kinds of esoteric facts from
historical music theory, and the physics of sound and psycoacoustics,
and Mailer is sputterin, and you can see Hawking comin over to Tater's
side, and Roy Cooter is just leanin back in the booth chuckling, and
then Tater feels someone's a rubbin on his leg, and he looks over at
Sharon Stone, and she's got this sly grin on her face and she kinda
lowers her eyes when Tater looks at her, but not all the way... and
Tater figures she's warmin up to him, and now he's thinkin of how to
get out of there and get alone with Stone, when Mailer, who's losin
real bad, grabs the relish disk and throws it at ol Tater's head, but
it misses and hits Hawking right square in the temple, and he's moanin
and bleedin and Mailer's screamin and Roy's laughin like he's at the
circus, and Sharon Stone she stops rubbin Tater's leg and starts
ministerin to Hawking, who's hurt worse than Tater'd'a thought, cause
he started talkin in that computer voice he uses now.
Well, Tater don't take it kindly when someone gets violent over to the
round table, so he and Roy grab Mailer and take him out back and hog
tie him and toss him in the trash bin. When we come back in, Sharon
Stone and Steven Hawking ain't there, and Gulley says they left in
Stone's car. That's the very same car got in that wreck paralyzed
Hawking later that evening, but that's all the time Tater has for now.
He'll get back and tell the rest of that story after he gets some
Tater's pa asked Tater to help him find the missin bread wall.
Seems pappy had ordered a wall made of Wonder Bread that was supposed to be a prop in a presentation his company was givin, and the folks that made the bread wall said they'd delivered, but pappy couldn't find it nowhere. Pappy was gonna be in deep trouble if they didn't have that bread wall, so Tater looked all over pappy's cabin to see if he could find it. Problem is, pappy had so many things made of Wonder Bread that it was hard to tell if one of em was the wall.
While Tater was lookin, he found a catalog from the company made that wall, and in it they told the story of how the bread wall had been stolen by aliens to build a giant robot. But that robot was supposed to be made out of cake, so they just frosted that bread, but you could tell from an x-ray they had that the inside was just stacked Wonder Bread.
Well, sir, this was all Tater needed, because if they knew the wall had been stolen, they couldn't a delivered it to Tater's pa. Tater told pappy about his discovery, but pappy dismissed it. He said
"You show that catalog in court and they'll dismiss the charges on account of them boys is crazy."
And ya know what else? The last page in that catalog was an ad for the Church of the Subgenius.
Tater dreamt of nenslo.
Tater was hangin out with some other SG, it mighta been Chuck Keys, cookin some pancakes or some such, and started talkin about nenslo's comics, and when Tater looked up there he was -- Ken Devries in the flesh, except he had shaved his beard off his chin so he had great big sideburns connected by a mustache. One look and Tater realized nenslo was a growed up childhood pal! Tater says "You was little Kenny! Tater used to sit on you to calm you down when you was a squirt!" Nenslo nods his head and says "Yeah, I remember you, Tater. You were the fat kid we called Blub."
So Chuck, now Tater's pretty sure it was Chuck, he puts them pancakes on the plate and pours on that syrup and just as we was about to dig in, nenslo jumps up and says "I've got a big surprise for you. Come on, get in the car." So we got in the car and nenslo took off like a bat out of hell.
We was in Georgia, but it had been snowin like nobody's business, and the streets was all covered with ice. Nenslo took an exit onto the highway and revved her up, a slippin and a slidin, weavin in and out, runnin cars off the road. Tater was sure he was gonna die. Well, sir, we was goin faster and faster, and as we topped over a hill, nenslo lost control and we rolled off the side. That was some crash, tell you what, but nenslo wrenched hisself out of the car all bloody and banged up, and threw out his arms in a triumphant gesture and said "Taa Daaah!!!" with a great big smile.
Then Tater woke up.
It really was a big surprise.
Tater had a big ol' boil on his neck, and when he popped it there was a gaping hole opening into a long corrugated tube, and there was a sort of peach colored light at the end, so Tater crawled in and sorta swam down the tube. When he rubbed against the sides it made a sound like a pig squeal played backwards, except really resonant and throbbing. As Tater came nearer the end of the tube, it started blooming, kinda spreading out like the cap on a mushroom, and so did Tater cause he was "one" with the tube. As he spread, the tube closed behind him, and Tater found hisself back where he started, looking in the mirror at the big ol' hole in his neck.
Tater can't make sense of this thing nohow.