Guns and Butter
I had the monster averaging 120 mph. Bugs bouncing off the windshield sounded like golf balls. Every once in a while, somebody would pull up alongside like they wanted to play. I\’d tap the gas and leave them like they were standing still, find myself doing a rock solid 140 with plenty to spare. Back down to 80 when I\’d see the bulls and it felt like 20. But the truly impressive feat of driving — all across the deserts and highways of the great American Southwest, was performed by the tag team of Mike and Jared, in the production RV trailing behind. The bloody thing was mammoth, a freakin\’ behemoth, an unwieldy living room, kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom on wheels. You\’d lay on the double bed in the back and the thing felt like it was actually yawing, the ass-end swinging out like a bending licorice stick at 95 miles an hour. No matter how fast I pushed my smaller, faster, spanking new German beast, when I\’d pull over, the RV was only 10 minutes behind me. It was like that early Spielberg flic, \”Duel\”. Only without the killing and the Dennis Weaver sweating and stuff.
The on camera demonstration of high speed butchering techniques and BBQ prep in the RV kitchen caused, I suspect, bleeding brain-sweats at Travel Channel legal department. \”Don\’t Try This At Home, Kids!\” Every once in a while I get to do a show that\’s total playtime. The car? Free (for the duration of the show). All I had to do was drive it. The people silly enough to entrust me with this expensive piece of high performance equipment only asked that I \”have fun.\” \”How does it handle off the road?\” I asked, expecting to frighten them. Nope. I was encouraged to beat the shit out of the thing. And I did my very best.
Loaded up the iPod with a \”desert-driving mix of ZZ Top, Lynrd Skynrd, Taj Mahal, the Stones, Tito and Tarantula, James Brown, John Fogerty, Prodigy, Steppenwolf and every song I could find with the words \”Road\” or \”Highway\” \”Wheels\” in it. Chris, by the way, my supposedly responsible executive producer and head of the freakin\’ company, sitting in the passenger seat? Hardly the voice of moderation. \”Faster!! Faster!!\” he\’d hiss, through spittle flecked lips. \”Make it jump! Get some air!!\” he\’d shriek, urging me on — when already off the road, tearing along at 60 through some dusty arroyo. I gotta work this product placement vehicle racket more often. And I\’m open to suggestions from any gearhead fans on what cars might be fun to misuse next.
Other than my first act of product-related whoredom, the Southwest Road Show was notable for a few other features: The return of veteran cameraman Jerry Risius being the most welcome and obvious. As some commenters have noticed and wondered about, we tend to rotate key crew members on tours of duty. Producer Tracey Gudwin, for instance, has been living in Berlin since shortly after the Berlin show and returns for the Egypt and upcoming Venice shows. Jerry, recovering from the cumulative effects of a nacho-related head trauma in the Texas/Mexican Border show and the Beirut experience, returned for the Road Show — filling in for Zach Zamboni (who was busy shooting the more lucrative feature film Naughty ButtMasters #7).
Nothing is better for a brain bruise and a nervous breakdown than being forced to competitively shove a 72 ounce steak, fried shrimp, bread, salad and potato down your gullet in front of a crowd of hooting Texans (and our cameras). And of course, there was Alice. Cooper that is. About the nicest, most normal guy you could ever meet. It actually makes perfect sense that he own a sports bar — as he\’s a sports nut. And I could have spent ten hours easily shooting the shit about 60\’s era Detroit bands and baseball. I almost worked through some trauma of my own: a Randy Johnson related problem I\’ve had since the Yankees lost to the D-Backs in the play-offs a while back.
It was inevitable, if you think about it, that I should make television, eat BBQ and play with large caliber automatic weapons with Ted Nugent. It was, I think, only a matter of time. In fact, midway through shooting a scene at \”The Nuge\’s\” ranch, I got a text from Mario Batali — inviting me out for drinks or some kind of mayhem. I texted back that I regretted being unable to join him as I was currently unloading a belt-fed M-60 machine gun at Ted Nugent\’s place. His totally unsurprised response was \”Of course you are.\”
I didn\’t seek Ted out, by the way. I was summoned. He called a while back, said we should make television together – -and then told me exactly how. When the Nuge says jump? You ask only \”How High?\” and \”How much ammo will I need?\” In TedWorld, by the way, it all makes perfect sense.
And finally, this was the episode where I, at last, got to settle the score with Switzerland. Perhaps launching an ICBM at them was a bit much — but my skin really and truly crawls at even the sight of an Alpine vista. I don\’t know why exactly. Maybe it has something to do with Helmut, the Swiss/German barber I had to go to as a child. He had one of those wall murals of Lake Geneva with snow capped alps in the background — and I always associate those images with getting an ugly and humiliating haircut from a stern-looking old guy with a scary German accent. Followed by bullying at school. Even Ricola commercials make me break into a cold sweat.
Lederhosen, Alpine hats, cuckoo clocks, St Bernards, cross country skiers and the Sound of Music make me phsyically ill. They remind me of hair clippings itching my nose, a coiff that would make a middle Brady blush, and the feeling of many tiny little fists in my face as from behind, someone goes for the atomic wedgie . So it was with real joy that I initiated launch sequence. Hell, I ain\’t ever making a show there anyhow. And their cheese? It sucks.