Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Debut of "The Pink Dreidel"

Joe and Monique from Ronkonkoma (Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- We were somewhere near the Pecos, in the heart of the desert, when the droog kicked into the newsroom like a king of kings. Except he was skinny and didn't have a shirt on, and he might have worn guyliner to match his black nails.

"Who the fuck does this dude think he is, Dave Fucking Gahan!?" was my first thought as Roybal, a pixie if ever there was one, strutted toward his desk in composing, giving the few of us others in the newsroom half a peep show of his hairy chest and nipples.

His was a man's strut with the air of, yeah, I just fucked her -- got a problem?

For a few seconds Roybal was that rock 'n' roll combination of explosive confidence with so much cool, like Dave Gahan singing his devastating Depeche Mode songs.

Ten years later, Tophat and I razz Roybal time and again for that Gahanesque moment. Tophat was the night editor then. He was in the newsroom that afternoon.

So yeah ...

... When Joe and Monique walked into Fiddlehead at Four Corners today, I had a flashback: Roybalesque, shirt open to the fifth button, hairy chest exposed, strut.

Who the fuck does this dude think he is?

His name is Joe, and he is a rock 'n' roll superstar. Musician, anyway. His look is a little Rezner with a dose of Sid although the half-buzzy and half-long hairstyle kind of screams post-emo. He balanced that with many black-dominated tatts on his torso.

Tatted rocker-type chick on his arm. Monique. Orange nails. Cutie-pie smile. Eyes.

Joe said he's in a band. We'll get back to that in a few.

Joe and Monique walked around the store, enjoyed the art, especially Joe when he started to pling and pluck the wood piano boards. Of course, he's a musician.

Monique bought a rock soap. As they stood at the counter I showed Joe "The Pink Dreidel" -- which is my first attempt at book authorship. It arrived in the mail today. It's a paperback that may or may not be a children's book, based on some early feedback. Above all of that, the publisher forgot to print my name on the cover.

I explained the premise of "The Pink Dreidel" to Joe and Monique of Ronkonkoma, New York, which is pronounced ron-KONK-oma and not RONKON-koma as I pronounced it. Monique smiled when she heard me say it that way. But anyway.

Joe and his doll had nothing to do today so they decided "to drive north" and somehow they landed in Bennington, Vermont. Bennington seems to be a magnet for that kind of thing. Anyway, Joe and Monique said they never saw a dreidel and wanted to know its significance. I showed them the pink dreidel I used in the book and explained that dreidel is a just a spinning top used in games during Hanukah.

Monique said, "So it's a gambling thing then." Actually, it was a gambling toy.

I explained what the symbol on each of the four sides of the dreidel stand for -- gimmel (take everything in the pot), hay (take half), nun (take nothing), shin (put 2 in) -- and then handed the famous pink dreidel to Monique.

"Go ahead, spin it."

She spun. It twirled, tumbled and landed on shin. She spun again. "Go, gimmel, go! Go, gimmel, go! Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimmel!" It landed on gimmel. She raised an arm and "WHEW!"

Joe told me to spin it.


Monique said dreidel could become a great drinking game; indeed, fare thee warned be who lands on shin and must down 2 shots of 180 proof. Or maybe the person who gets gimmel must down all the shots in the middle. Wicked.

The possibilities of "Drinky Dreidel" (copyrighted) are amusing to ponder.

Before she spun the dreidel, Monique thumbed through the book and said I can improve it by doing this, this and this. I agreed.

Here is Monique's quick take on The Pink Dreidel:

I signed the inside cover and gave it to Joe, who seemed touched by the gesture. Or, he was just bullshitting me.  

"It's going in my bookcase between Bradbury and Twain."   

To which I responded "Bradbury ... Twain ... Kulkin."   

Jesus Christ, I thought, Ray and Mark are turning in their graves.

As for Joe and his rock stardom, he's a guitarist who says he owns a Schecter 7-string and a Gibson Les Paul.   

"I'm a frontman," he said. For years he was in a band called Green Vale.   

His new project is called Machinelake Sleeper which, he said, is industrial slash prog rock, a cross between Bjork and Nine Inch Nails at the intersection of Tool and Rush.   

Joe's other influences are The Cure, Pink Floyd, Mazzy Star, P.J. Harvey, Elliott Smith (who is dead), Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Page, Tears for Fears and yes, even Depeche Mode -- and that would make Roybal giddy enough to rip off his shirt and strut the streets of Santa Fe baring his chest and nipps to all.  

I'd buy the music Joe sells. My kind of music. Check out more of his work HERE and ...