For a short time, Marko and I had a late night call-in radio show on KUNM. A short time because we sucked. I think it was two shows. Maybe one. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. The whole thing seems surreal. Dreamlike. A dreamlike disaster.
Our friend Kelly was a radio intern at the University of New Mexico. She offered us the gig. From 1AM to 5AM, Monday morning. That’s right. Primetime, baby!
We had never done radio, but after a few beers, decided to expand our undulating horizons. This might be fun. Produce a few of our own gag commercials to sprinkle throughout the shift. Take some calls from any bat-chain pullers, Pretty much wing it from there with a beer. What could go wrong? We were guaranteed to be smash hits.
As long as we didn’t get too crazy. Too crazy drunk and out-of-control. On the air.
Okay to be crazy drunk and out-of-control. Just not too.
On the radio.
In order to prevent that, we enacted an iron-clad NO DRINKING rule.
No drinking. Until at least midnight. So that we wouldn’t be too hammered by one. Still be able to do radio shit. Like announce the time.
And not say “fuck” a lot.
It was only the professional thing to do. It’s a tough business. Had to be at the top of our game, so we would refrain from drinking until an hour before our shift. That way we would be less destroyed than normal. Because we hardly had any time.
It was hard, but we did it. Had to rent a cheap motel off Central and hole up in it. Count off the tick-tocks before showtime.
Of course I hated it, but he wasn’t feeling Johnny High-On-Life either. I felt better seeing him miserable. Sitting there in a dirty Albuquerque motel. On a Sunday. Not drinking. Nervous about being on the radio. Nothing to take off the edge. Except caffeine. Sugar. Nicotine. A few small tablets of Ephedrine. Snorted whole off knife-point.
Yeah, it was a lot of laughs, until I realized I was in the same predicament.
Cleaning our finger nails. Sharpening knives. Tossing cards into the toilet. Anything to distract ourselves from the gut-sense of doom. Knowing we were going to be on the radio. Knowing it would be bad. Knowing that whatever happened that night, there would be witnesses. Maybe not too many.
But it only takes one.
Twaz bruttle, bro. Knowing the seediest Albuquerque had to offer was just a cap-flick away, and having to sit there. Sit for a while then get up and pace. Endure a crawling clock. Murder the minutes. With cigarettes. Coca-Cola. And Elvis.
Viva Las Vegas was on one night. We sat there and watched the whole stupid thing. All of it. Without drinking, we had no options. Without our brewed propellant, we were reduced to watching some guy in a pantsuit sing.
Like the rest of America.
It was humbling.
At one point, Marko started singing along. His dad was into The Elvis, so he knew all the words. Strange enough, but more disconcerting to watch him belt it out. So earnestly. With such feeling. Eyes burning. Really trying to sell it. Singing like his whole career depended on it. Like everything depended on this Elvis impersonation.
I’d never seen him like that. Dude was David Lynching me. Laying down a highly-effective creep-out.
What made it scarier was the fact that he was stone cold sober. So this is what happens. My God, he was falling apart. Going full nut-job. Stark raving mad.
I joined him in the chorus.
“VIVA LAS VEGAS!”
At the top of our lungs. Like children would go hungry if we didn’t squeeze out every decibel. And mean every word.
“VIVA LAS VEGAS!”
Sonofabitch we were happy when midnight arrived. Oh, Holy Hour of Magic, Thou Art Come to slake our forsaken thirst.
I remember waiting outside in the parking lot of the station, Marko’s beeping Casio our starting gun.
Right. We have one hour to drink enough beer. Before we go in. Only one hour. We have to drink a lot beer. Really fast. Before we go in. Because once we go in, we’ll keep drinking of course. But we only have an hour, to drink as much beer as we can…before we go in.
“So pound it, mother! Because we couldn’t drink…”
“A beer every six minutes will still only be ten.”
“…all that time before!”
“Every five minutes will kill twelve. But these are twenty-fours.”
“And a whole bunch of …Glug-glug-glah…other good…Glug-glug-glah…reasons.”
“We can kill fifteen. But we’re gonna have to drink pissing. ”
“Don’t waste time doing math…Glug-glug-glooog-gah-glug ghaaach! Pound!”
A determined individual can get pretty intoxicated, even in an hour. But two motivated souls, supporting each other with encouragement, can achieve something really amazing. Something rarely seen.
Gassing the big cans of Heineken straight down the throat. One after another. Non-stop. Like some Indian sadhus showing-off in a beggar’s market. Trying to get into the record books. Trying to become eight-armed Hindu beer-drinking deities. Popping a can with one hand while rolling out an empty to Kelly with the other. To crunch. Put in the trunk. Recycle for cash. Buy more cans.
“Every one of these is five cents we get.”
“Stop counting, fucker. Pound!”
Gatling gunning them. Spitting the casings out on the asphalt . Kelly stomping on them with her big long legs like she’s dancing for rain.
“Are you guys going to be okay?”
“We’re gonna kill the world!”
Looking back, we would’ve been better off just coming in our regular amount of drunk by 1 AM. Instead of pulling the elastic band all the way back, on a Sling-shot Sunday. Then launching the show, after a Blue God Power Hour.
Live and learn, eh? But at least now we were ready. Ready to shine. To radiate our bliss. To bless the masses with our joy infernal.
Confidence restored? Check. Reckless disregard engaged? Check More beers in the jackets? Checkmate. We were ready. For everything. Ready for work. We went in.
I don’t remember the D.J. we took over from, commending us on our professionalism. For not drinking since midnight.
Fuck him. We were plenty drunk now. Thaaat whole caring about what people think wasss…ssomethinggggggg shhtupit 4 4 4 ofer chumfs an peepols wiff aaaahfukinon’t give-vah rattsaasss! Mether feck head. Hitler fecker…head-erhp I benner not say thaaat on a radio. FC…CIA Nazi policituations an shit. Wazz up Alqueburque? Aneee strange stupf in a house? Here putty putty catty. Gha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Pip. Pop. Fizz. Glug.
It didn’t go well.
Really love a rewind.
Don’t get those on live radio. Or life. And since this was both, we were double-fucked.
It was so bad, I hesitated writing this little piece. That’s right, I didn’t want to revisit it. Shit was bad enough to scar, even beneath an alcoholic blur. One of those treats. What I like to call my “special memories.” The gut still tightens when I remember certain parts.
Ah, but you guys are like family to me, so what the hell. I’ll share what happened.
Not ready just yet.
But I will tell you, that not remembering to announce the time, wasn’t the worst part.