Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Price Of Rockabilly

Maintaining a certain lifestyle costs dough, that's just the way it is. Even hippies, hypocritical and self-delusional as they may be, need money to keep up their filthy lifestyle. Their sporadic lack of employment limits their budget, but all they really need is a few bucks for patchouli, replacement skins for bongos and very large bags of pot. The rest they just scrounge in dumpsters, alleys or the Salvation Army. There is a also a readily available source of crap at any hippie house where there always seems to be big piles of crap, twenty or thirty broken down bicycles and candle stumps. When the hippies get stoned, they can't remember what belongs to who, and usually wake up with a new found tattered sweater and some piece of shit Sears bicycle.

Not so simple for Rockabillies, not by a long shot. You wanna be greasy, it's gonna cost you. I've never tallied up the total cost, but I suspect that a fair chunk of my hard earned dough is transformed into greasy accouterments and the resulting hole in my bank account always leaves me puzzled.

I will try to figure out what the associated costs are, but I won't even venture into the money burning domain of hot rods. The tales of horror that I have heard from hot rodding buddies would frighten the bravest among us. I will muse upon the day to day activities of your average greaser. As for greaserettes, well, all I know is that they own many, many pairs of of shoes, and I suspect that they spend way more cash than greasy dudes.

1. Hairy Stories.

Oh, that damned hair. All the fussin' and a fightin' with the pomp and the grease. Squares and non believers are always perplexed at the complexity of the rituals associated with a Rockabilly pomp. It's a waste of time to try to explain it, it just is.

It usually costs a bundle to get a decent haircut form a barber who innately understands 50's high and tight haircuts. I'd rather have a good 40 dollar cut than a shitty 10 dollar one. This was proven to me in no uncertain terms a few years ago when a buddy and myself thought it was a good idea to get a 6 dollar haircut. The resulting butchery forced us to wear a hat for the following three weeks. It was akin to the kind of haircut that one would get just before getting a lobotomy. We probably would have gotten a better haircut at the local prison, and it would have been free. There is no amount of grease that can fix a haircut that shitty.

Now that I have located that rare master among barbers, I no longer have to worry. I endure a two plus hour wait and idiotic banter from his not-so-cool customers. I always bring lots of beer to alleviate the pain, and then enjoy the fact that there nothing quite as amusing as getting a haircut while half in the bag.

2. It's a Greasy Thing.

One of the absolutes of Rockabilly is that you will need grease and lots of it. All your shit will be greasy and arguments with your significant other will ensue because all her stuff will get greasy as well. Might as well budget for lots of new towels and pillow cases. Having a dedicated grease towel helps to alleviate a lot of tension.

Hundreds of dollars will be spent trying to find the right type of grease. The right hold, sheen and pure expression of hooligan like greasiness are elusive and one must experiment.

Living in Canada can make this even more challenging: it's just hard to find cool shit up here. Years ago on a road trip, I entered a drug store in Alexandria, Virginia. As I looked around I stumbled upon an entire section dedicated to hair grease. You know those movie cliches when someone has an epiphany and they mix in angelic voices and bright white light? It was one of those moments. I was scaring old ladies as I was crouched down, opening all the jars and poking the contents and muttering to myself. Upon my return, the border guards looked suspiciously at the twenty jars of various hair grease. They grilled me for a while, but luckily did not confiscate them. They never did find the bottles of whiskey that I had stashed in each boot.

3. Shorts and Beers

No self respecting Rockabilly ever runs out of beer, but this can be complicated in Canada. They just love to tax everything up here and make it difficult to have fun. You will pay 20 to 25 bucks for 12 beers, and in true Soviet-era style of government run retailing, the beer will be warm. You can go to a private store and experience capitalism at it's most finely honed form. You will pay 16 bucks for a six pack and they're even open on Christmas.

Another astounding revelation occurred to me a few years ago in Seattle when I got 24 cold PBR at a Chevron for $10.99. It was 2am and it  was cold ! Where's that green card when you need it?

Pabst has licensed their brand here in Canada to a large brewery. This unpalatable swill looks like Pabst but tastes like ass. To add insult to injury, it is a strong beer(5.5%) . You will get hammered quickly and it will be an ugly hammered, not unlike the hammered you get from drinking really cheap whiskey. There will be staggering, beer farts, occasional threats and the odd "Whut'r yew lookin' at?"

Official beer of Rockabilly or not, the Canadian Version of PBR is not for the faint of heart. You will have to budget a few extra hundred dollars for underwear. PBR will give you a real bad case of the green apple two-step and you're gonna need lots of clean shorts.

4. Shut Up.

You should probably budget about 100 bucks a year for throat lozenges, because you will end up yelling at a lot of idiots. Whiny hippies speaking way too loudly and talkin' shit will cause involuntary reactions as you yell at them to shut the fuck up. you will have to yell even louder when they start an impromptu drum circle next door at 2 am.

As discussed in a previous post, there will always be some drunk retard somehwre who always feels it necessary to touch your hair. "Get the fuck away from me! screamed at 120 dB will irritate your throat after a while.

Now if they only made Jack Daniel's flavored throat lozenges.

5. Threads.

Your basic Rockabilly clothing needs are quite simple if one doesn't covet vintage clothing. E-bay, among other things, have made the price of anything old skyrocket. I would not pay 800 bucks for a shirt. It may be cool, but not 800 bucks worth of cool. I would probably spill beer on it, or get it snagged on a guitar string. I would feel even more idiotic if I had gotten into a scrap wearing said 800 shirt ( although I once witnessed two guys in suits having a brawl, I think my laughing made them angrier).

Several hundred bucks a year is all you need. Those cuffs on jeans may look cool, but they will rip and disintegrate right there at the cuff. The five pounds of rocks that accumulate inside the cuffs probably help to accelerate the process. You will spend a lot of money a black band t-shirts, because you will feel the need to get them all. One word of warning: There is always one guy wearing the band T-shirt of the band that is playing that night. Don't be that guy.

You will probably have to allow five or six pairs of Converse per year, because cool as they may be, these are really crappy shoes and they wear out quickly. Might want to include some money for a good physiotherapist, because these over priced slabs of rubber will destroy your back and other body parts.

6. Other Stuff.

You'll need a few hundred bucks for miscellaneous items such as replacing busted combs, replacing wallet chains that were left behind wedged into park benches, bail money for those Saturday nights that got a little too rambunctious, bribe money for the bouncer to let you back in after said Saturday night, various shit that you will lose when you're drunk and maybe the odd tiki that looked cool when you bought it. Just make sure you don't run out beer.

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