Rest in Peace, Roddy Piper

I was 11 years old.  Right at the age where you **kind of** know wrestling is fake, but you’re still hanging on and suspending disbelief.  I was interested in the feud between Ric Flair and the Macho Man.  It had received a good build with Flair taking deeply personal shots to get under Savage’s skin and I was anxious to see how it ended.  So we ordered one of the only two WWF Pay-Per-Views that has ever aired in my home, and Wrestlemania lit up my TV on April 5, 1992.  I was excited and hoping to see Flair take the win…  He didn’t.  It wasn’t even that good of a match and the ending seemed like a complete blow-off to weeks of build and anticipation.  It was a letdown.

But that didn’t matter.  Because about 10 minutes before that match aired, I had seen what is still the single best wrestling match I have ever seen in my life.  I had seen Rowdy Roddy Piper fight Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Title.

The match was 13 minutes and 51 seconds long.  In that time, I think Roddy Piper changed from face (good guy) to heel (bad guy) three or four times.  Hart would win the title, but in my mind Piper won the match.  That was the moment I became a Roddy Piper fan.

It started in the back during an interview.  Piper was babbling (as he was wont to do) about how he remembered Bret as a little kid and Hart eventually had enough and tried to brush Piper away.  Piper shifted his tone immediately to a gruff, aggressive, “if you want to get tough, we’ll get tough” demeanor and you knew right then it was going to be a stiff match.

Out in the ring, the match went back and forth between being an amateur wrestling clinic to an all-out street brawl.  Piper was getting booed, but was putting on such a show he was starting to get cheered.  The ref got knocked out (like ya’ do) and things got ugly.  Piper beat Hart to within an inch of his pink and black spandex and then went outside and grabbed the ring bell.  Piper stood in the ring with a nearly unconscious Hart at his feet, the ring bell raised, and Bobby Heenan on commentary shouting, “Hit him!  Hit him!  Give it to me, I’ll hit him!” the crowd booing…

Piper looked around, at first looking furious…then his face settled, he looked slightly confused and you could even SEE him wonder how it came to this…  How did it go so far, and why was he even THINKING of doing this to Bret–the kid he used to see running around Stu and Helen’s house that he was so fondly remembering earlier?  And Rowdy Roddy Piper threw the bell away.  He then lost the match, but saved his soul.

I didn’t have to Google any of that.

There’s a turn-of-phrase in the wrestling world.  “Telling a story in the ring.”  If you don’t know what that phrase means, all you’ve got to do is watch that one match.  I don’t remember there being ANY buildup to the match in the previous couple of weeks, although I’m sure there had to be.  I went into it completely disinterested.  I’m sure that the pre-match interview with Piper gushing about how close he was to the Harts was not entirely true, although I believe that in later years Piper referred to the Harts as his “cousins” (which may or may not be an actual blood-relation).  I have my doubts that Piper did have any particular memories of Bret growing up at all…

But watching the match, you felt like you were watching a 30-year-old family feud play out and resolve right before your eyes.  Roddy Piper told a story in that match and it’s stuck with me for over 20 years.

Today Roddy Piper died.  The story is over.

There are celebrity deaths that pass me by and I barely even notice.  Even recently with the passing of The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, I wrote a short Facebook status and about a sentence here and moved along, even though Dusty was one of my all-time favorite color commentators.  (I still yell “DANDY!” at random due to the way he cheered on Mexican superstar El Dandy in a battle royal in WCW.)  I don’t know why Roddy Piper’s death gets a full post while Dusty’s gets a brief mention.  But it does.  Roddy Piper was something else.

It is impossible to mention the Hot Rod without also thinking/talking about Hulk Hogan.  Hogan is in some trouble right now, but if you were alive in the 80s, you spent at least a few hours cheering Hogan and booing Piper.  And if you hung on through the 90s, you reversed those roles, when Piper took on Hollywood Hogan in the nWo (and won).  And one of the last things Piper did in his life was defend Hulk Hogan to the press.  Full circle.

I should mention “They Live,” too, I know…  So let’s go out this way…

Roddy Piper has gone to Heaven to chew bubble gum and kick ass…  And he’s all out of bubble gum.

Kick ass, Hot Rod.  Give our love to Dusty.

“Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occassions.” – Grampa Simpson

Been kind of a long week…  Here’s how…

  1. I got sick sometime on Tuesday between getting up and getting to work.  I felt sluggish getting out of bed, but that’s not unheard of, so I got in the car and started driving in.  When I walked into the office, I immediately went to my manager’s desk and said, “I feel terrible.  I’m not going to be here long.”  I was home by 10:00.  Then I stayed home on Wednesday and went in but left early on Thursday.  Made it the whole day on Friday, feeling a lot better, but stayed home sluggishly sitting on the couch that night and for most of Saturday.  Feel okay today.  Don’t know what that was, but it kicked the shit out of me…and sadly it was the most and best sleep I’ve had in years.
  2. Needless to say, I haven’t caught up at work yet.  Meant to do so over the weekend…but…
  3. My laptop is having some issues.  It keeps freezing up and then shutting down, then it takes a long time to reboot.  I’m hoping it’s just a clogged fan that can be fixed with some compressed air, but I haven’t got any on hand and haven’t really ventured outside much this weekend.  Unfortunately, that made logging in to work problematic.  (Writing this, there’s only a 50/50 shot of me actually completing it before something goes wrong, but it’s less critical than an insurance claim.)
  4. On Friday, I lost a coworker at the office.  (He didn’t die–we just don’t work together anymore.)  I kinda liked the guy and I’m bummed to see him moving on, but these things are unavoidable.  Wish him well.
  5. This has been mostly about work, so far, hasn’t it?  Let’s change gears…
  6. I ordered and received some t-shirts from Jason Isbell’s website.  He had some new designs for the new record and offered price breaks for buying multiple items…so I splurged.  Probably end up regretting it when I see the bank account…but oh well.  You’ve got to enjoy yourself.
  7. I also received my tickets to the DBT and Motorhead shows.  It was nice to have them in-hand.
  8. I skipped church today. The church did its annual (or semi-annual, since it’s not on the same day/week each year) kickball tournament instead of a service today.  I’m less than useless in a sporting environment, so I didn’t even show up.  No one asked me to play on their team either…which there’s a part of me that feels like being asked still would’ve been nice, but ultimately it’s just as well that people knew it would’ve been a waste of breath.  I’m better at sleeping, anyway.  (Think about that…  I’m an insomniac and I’m better at sleeping than I am at kickball.)
  9. I ran out of soda early in the week due to being home on the sick days to drink it…  So I went out and bought some flavored sparkling water.  I like it…but the fact that it isn’t soda means I drink like six of them in a sitting…
  10. Been listening to the Father John Misty record a lot.  It just plays really well to me.  And I bought it on vinyl, so you can really hear the pain underneath, if you turn it up loud enough.

I guess that’ll do it.  Until the next time I have nervous energy before bedtime…

“Y’ello? You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel.” – Homer Simpson

I don’t know.  I’m exhausted, I have laundry in, and I haven’t written yet this month.  So it’s time to do the thing.

  1. I picked up the new Jason Isbell record.  It’s exactly what I want out of a Jason Isbell record.  It didn’t blow me away like “Southeastern” did, but it’s got a couple of songs that will definitely be favorites.  Destined for the top ten.  Top five.  Top two?
  2. Also picked up the new Father John Misty – “I Love You, Honeybear.”  It’s phenomenal.  A gritty and yet beautiful record.  If I had to describe the overall theme, I’d describe it as a really visceral love letter to his wife.  It’s so intense and carries a vibe of “only YOU will get this (honeybear)” that is clearly so much more personal than the listener can understand…so of course it speaks absolutely crystal clearly.  It’s funny how universal the most personal art can be.  Brilliant, brilliant record.  And vulgar.  The first song describes (sorry!) “Mascara, blood, ash, and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love.”  And that’s in the first stanza…but it’s also a touching declaration of love.  How it’s sometimes ugly, but it’s fuckin’ real, man.  It’s a delicate mix of hope, fear, commitment, dread, existential doubt, and almost arrogant confidence that this thing’s going to last forever.  As much as I hate to say it, this might be the record in the #1 spot for the year, while Isbell’s rests at #2.  That’s how good it is.
  3. Been exhausted lately.  Work’s busy and I haven’t been sleeping right.  (Although that’s not because of work.)  And it doesn’t help that they just shut down a major part of the highway for bridge repairs, shutting down access to pretty much the two main roads for the entire city of Ferguson by route of Highway 270.  (I’m sure it’s ***just*** a coincidence that the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s execution is coming up in early August…ahem…)  It’s going to be weeks of gridlock, and I don’t do well with gridlock.  Too much already just-below-the-surface anger to cope with that.  I don’t even NEED those streets, and it’s still adding 20 minutes to my commute.  I started this number with being tired…maybe I mean I’m SICK AND tired…
  4. My brother’s birthday was this past Saturday.  As was my friend Dani’s wedding.  My friend Amanda’s birthday was Thursday, too.  And today was the due date for my monthly student loan payment.  Dates are funny like that.  At least they all worked out pretty good.
  5. I’ve officially got tickets on their way to my house for Motorhead in September and the Drive-By Truckers in October.  Gonna be a loud Fall.  That’s good news.
  6. Been writing some songs,  No idea if they’re any good.  That’ll unfold over time, I’m sure.  I’ll keep you posted.
  7. Working on a project with my brother that I guess is kind of his solo project.  It’s unnamed at the moment.  But it’s goofy, fun pop songs.  Dave wrote the chord structures and whatnot–so it’s his baby.  We’re in the demoing stage right now.  I need to sit and write riffs and stuff…right now it’s just basic chords on a page.  Once Dave has all of his demos done, I’ll hit the guitar stuff in earnest.  Sure I’ll be saying more about that as it unfolds, too.
  8. Did I mention “Becca’s Song” here?  I know I promoted “Outdoor Summer Concerts,” but I think I missed writing about “Becca’s Song.”  It’s a deeply personal thing for me.  You’ll probably get the most out of watching the YouTube video for it, but if you want to go straight to downloading the single, you’re free to do that, too.

I think that’s enough.  Nothing else to see here…