7 Rockabilly Problems.
1. Wallet Chain Incidents.
No self respecting greaser would walk around without his trusty wallet chain. I removed mine to cross the border and I felt naked without it (didn't want to look too greasy, damn pesky Canada Customs) It's part of the code and deeply ingrained into our sense of self. Plus, it prevents the dirtbags and crackheads from stealing our hard-earned dough.
Only problem is that they always get snagged, wedged or hooked up somewhere. Every time I go to a BBQ and sit in those ubiquitous plastic chairs, I get caught up. When I get up for a beer, the chair comes along with me.
I once missed a bus because my chain got really wedged in the the bench. I got up, but was promptly yanked down. Needless to say, I missed the bus.
Nothing will ruin your cool like having people seeing you lurch out of a seat and start furiously yanking on your chain. It's embarrassing to say the least.
Cool to Fool in less than ten seconds. Dang!
You gotta have the cuffs. Unfortunately, the Jeans always tear right at the fold. Although useful for holding a pack of smokes, all manner of crud and debris finds it's way in there.
Last laundry day when I undid the cuffs, all kinds of detritus came pouring out. Included in the pile, $4.36 in loose change, a guitar pick, beer bottle cap, numerous rocks, and what seemed like five pounds of sand. I never go to the beach, where the hell did all that sand come from?
Then there is the debate on how big that cuff should be. There seems to be a strange hierarchy based on the size. British Rockabillies seem to the most adamant about it.
I say West Coast Standard: 4 inches. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments section.
3. Pompus Interuptus.
What most clearly defines the greaser is the pomp. What a freakin' pain in the ass that can be.
Trying to figure out what kind of grease to use. Fussin' and fumin' in front of the mirror for an hour and a half on a Saturday night. It's takes a lot of work to get it right. Almost as frustrating as computers, that elusive, perfect pomp requires a lot of patience.
When you are out, you're constantly checkin' it out in the bathroom mirror, because a lock hair sticking up is more embarrassing that walking around with a booger hanging off your nose.
You see other greasers in Vegas with perfect pomps and ask yourself how the hell they do it.
Then there's the overall greasiness. Ruined pillowcases, designated grease towels, endless arguments with girlfriends over gettin' grease on all her stuff, greasy doorknobs, your barber wanting to strangle you and clumps of greasy hair everywhere.
A lot of dedication, all in the name of coolness. Long live grease!
There will invariably be squares at a rockabilly show. You will be standing around with your buddies and some drunken, white trash sac o' shit will lurch up to you. Slurring incoherently and staggering around, they always wanna touch your hair.
That's when the Rockabilly Recoil happens. You and your buddies will involuntarily lean your head and shoulders back in reaction to this attack on your carefully arranged pomp and affront to your coolness. Usually only two year olds do this, but squares can't handle their booze.
Then you have the squares who always seemed to be threatened by your presence. " What are you guys supposed to be?" seems to be the common question. Some toothless cougar once asked us angrily " Do you guys actually like what your wearing?" Huh!?
Best one I heard was in Vegas, " Why are all these guys walkin' around with those big fiddles?"
Of course if someone at your job blankly stares at you and says " What's Rockabilly?" it's best to just walk away.
5. Mean Ole No Car Walk-abilly Blues.
Having a hot rod is whole other exercise in stress. Needing constant attention and sucking money faster than a Hoover. It takes real dedication to own a hot rod.
On my way to L.A. from Vegas after Viva, I saw a whole bunch of hot rods broken down by the side of the road in Mojave desert.The greasers were peering under the hood, their hankies flapping in the wind. I felt their pain.
My buddy's hot rod broke down on the way to Vegas. Sporting a newly rebuilt hemi, he was rarin' to go, The whole trip was brought to a grinding halt all because of a $9 part, which had to be ordered from North Carolina.
I'm sure there's a million stories like that, but you get the idea. At least you can ride a bicycle when you're drunk.
6. Being In A Band.
Oh the crazy, raucous life of booze and debauchery that is being in a Rockabilly band.
Never mind a touring band, just being a local band can have enough Bukowski-esque moments to write several novels.
From beer-fueled raging arguments at rehearsals, playing in dives, weed smoking guitar players who forget what key they're in to louts at almost every gig who shout "play some Skynyrd", it's always entertaining.
I think every band has had their hecklers and their share of roots rock weirdos who "just wanna hang around with the band, man". I once had a guy jump up on stage, while I was singing, and yell in my ear," play some Zeppelin!". A well placed engineer boot took care of that mullet-clad idiot.
When it's all over, your bar tab is often more than what you made and you have to drunkenly lug all your gear up three flights of stairs at four in morning. By that time all the groupies are gone, but the dude who wants to hang around bands somehow made his way to your place.
Once you get rid of the hangers on you have a few more beers with the boys and go on about how much you rocked. Go to sleep, nurse a hangover and do it all over again next weekend.
7. Running Out of Beer.
Rockabillies don't run out of beer.
That's it for now
So, you're a greaser. You know it, everybody else knows it. What distinguishes greasers from any other sub-culture you ask? The Walk.
If you look beyond the usual aspects of greaserdom, ie: the pomp, The chains attached to big fat wallets, the cuffed jeans and all that grease, you are left with that distinctive walk. Only greasers have it and it has been acquired naturally through many years of just being plain greasy. Here are 7 types of greaser walks.
1. The Standard Greaser Swagger.
This is not the swagger of the poser, hip hop wannabe or white trash idiot. Swaggers are usually attributed to mullet-clad barbarians who need to prove just exactly how stupid they actually are. Picking fights for no reason, other than the fact that they are threatened by everyone around them, the mullet swagger is just a way of keeping their knuckles off the ground.
Nor is it the strutting of the muscle-bound, steroid jocks. Their strutting is due to the fact that their arms are so full of steroids, that they can't put them down. These borderline psychotics are scary and should be avoided.
The rockabilly swagger is natural, not too much chest puffing , just the right amount of lilt and with just the right cadence. There is no insecurity or overt aggression, it's the way they walk. It comes from years of listening to mid-tempo double slaps on upright basses and wearing engineer boots. It has self confidence but lacks arrogance.
The greaser knows not to walk too fast though, because once that swinging wallet chain gets going, it will either snag something or smack him right in the bag.
2.The Brand New Converse Wide-Legged Hobble.
The second footwear of choice for the greaser is the Converse. This has been so for fifty years, and for fifty years they have known that those suckers can be hard to wear at first.
That painful breaking in period can have some humourous consequences.
I made the mistake of buying a brand new pair went I went to Viva Las Vegas this year. Our first day there I figured my new Converse were in order. My traveling buddy, Elvis Jay, decided that we needed to walk to a liquor store in the hot Nevada sun. In Vegas everything is at least a mile away. Off we went to some strip mall booze store all alone on the sidewalk (nobody walks in Vegas it seems).
From a afar it probably looked like Elvis Jay was taking his pet chimp for a walk. Those suckers were causing me pain.
On the way back, I was still doing the wide-legged hobble while drinking a beer in one hand and holding the rest in the other. A limping, alcoholic chimp.
When a bunch of gals in a hot rod hooted and hollered at us, I straightened right up. Cool before pain as you might have guessed.
I wore my well worn boots for the rest of the weekend.
3. The Worn Out Converse Flying Greaseball.
Being almost a prerequisite to greasiness, it is hard to avoid wearing Converse, but cool as they are , they wear out quickly on pavement. Like a worn out clutch, this causes slippage at the most inopportune moments.
The greaser will be walking down the street and without warning, will lose traction and end up looking like a retarded figure skater, or he will hit a patch of wet grass, and it's pomp over ass.
Whether there is injury involved or not, the greaser's first reaction is the same as the chain snag . He will jump up immediately and look around to make sure nobody has seen him, the emergency room can wait.
4. The Ten Beer Tango.
Greasers can hold their liquor, but after ten beers, the swagger begins to wane a little. He will get up and feel a little bit of weakness in the knees. He can still make to the bathroom and the bar and back. Nobody has noticed,which is good.
What does the greaser do? Keep drinking of course.
5. The Twenty Beer Tango.
This one is a little harder to keep under wraps. At this point , slurring of speech has set in and the next trip to the can is definitely wobbly. Now it dawns on him that it is time to go.
If he lives close to the bar he walks or if not takes a cab. Either way there is walking involved and that is never good.
I think we've all seen this walk, two steps to the side , one forward, three backwards and one forward again. Then comes forward and downward acceleration. The forward steps start getting faster and faster and the upper body starts leaning right and eventually downwards.
The acceleration reaches terminal velocity, the right hand comes up to reach for a non existent hand-hold, and down he goes in some bushes, maybe laughing, maybe cursing. In any case, the greaser's instincts kick in and the old chain-snag-upright-bolt-did-anybody-see-me kicks in.
The rest of the walk home may take a while.
6. The Cops Are On Their Way 50 meter Sprint.
Greasers hate running. It doesn't look cool, they might spin out with Converse and will definitely spill their beer.
As it has been known to happen from time to time, greasers will get into altercations ( usually with non greasers, especially mouthy idiots from the suburbs).
Long story short, shit will happen and the inevitable sounds of sirens will soon follow. Greasers know that is their cue to leave, right now.
They will not run though, they will fuck right off real quick. It kind of resembles that power walking they have in the Olympics, but without those stupid skimpy shorts.
When cops arrive, the louts are still screaming and reeling in their drunken state not knowing what happened and the greasers are in another bar, far away, having a few beers to wind down and being thankful that their pomps didn't get messed up.
7. The Ass Hauler.
There are very few things that will make a greaser really haul ass, running in engineer boots dangerous ( I once twisted an ankle chasing a purse snatcher, he got away, that sack o' shit).
Here are a few statements that will get a greaser, and naturally, every other greaser around, to haul ass.
" Dude , there's someone messin' with your ride".
" Some freak just lit a joint inside the bar."
" Some dude just lit a joint outside the bar"
" Some dude just lit a joint near your car".
" Some freakos are playing bongos next to your car".
" Some hippies are playing bongos ON your car."
"Dude , your hair's on fire".
" Holy fuck, they're givin' away free beer! "
Next time you seem some greasers remember these 7 walks, and just think of that Jack Scott song, " The Way I walk Is Just The Way I walk"