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Spurred To Writing Greatness 

In the meantime, Zappa and Nature Boy live on

My heroes have always been cowboys. . . Cowboy hats. They look good on cowboys, naturally. The look good on women, albeit in a Cowboy Ugly, Madonna kind of way. They somehow manage to make Garth Brooks appear a bit more palatable, and sometimes musicians in general, as evidenced by singer/songwriter Phil Lee's 10-gallon hat Friday night at his Double Door gig (minuscule Phil's hat was about 5 gallons bigger than he is). But as an overall fashion statement, I don't understand it -- and half of my Texan relatives wear the whole uniform. Outside of a ranch, though, what's the point? Been out all day punchin' dogies on the trail? Ridin' a horse in the rain, maneuvering your way through a flooded river? Fine. If not, get real. And spurs. Don't get me started on spurs. What the hell does a guy in North Carolina, at a frickin' bar, need with spurs? To impress some chick by opening a beer bottle with em? Or maybe to razor, James Bond-car-style, any "homysexuals" who might be getting too close behind him in the line for the bathroom? Not to make light of the idiot with explosives in his shoes, but isn't this just about as dangerous? At least aesthetically?

Keep it greasy/So it'll go down ea-sy. . . Sorry. Can't keep that damn song out of my head. If you never got the chance to see the great Frank Zappa, who once said his biggest influences were doo-wop music and electronic composer Edgar Varese, don't miss the chance to see Project/Object next time they land here in Charlotte. Descending into the Visulite Theatre Saturday as if from outer space, the band now variously features post-Mothers guitarist Ike Willis, singer/saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock, and the occasional turn from original Mothers freak Bunk Gardner. Opening the show were Gardner and Don Preston as the Don and Bunk Show. Preston, looking eerily like William S. Burroughs in a toboggan, scarf, and long coat all in one color ("I like cobalt blue," he told the rabid crowd), waited all of about two songs before playing the keyboards -- with his face. If you've never seen an AARP-eligible guy play the keyboards with his face, well, you just haven't lived. After a set featuring a nice mix of improvisation, the odd Mothers song, and some sincerely performed doo-wop, the band gave way to the headliners - who, if this show was any indicator, make me wonder just how much freakier Zappa himself could have been. People were so disoriented from the show that I caught more than one young acolyte playing air guitar throughout the show -- during the saxophone solos. Besides Brock and Willis, the band also boasts a keyboardist who's a dead ringer for Friends star David Schwimmer; a frail guitarist named Sea Hag who looks a lot like the typical Euro-centric version of Jesus Christ; another guitarist whose fashion sense looks like it was co-opted from Buckwheat (or at least Eddie Murphy's approximation of), and a fat keyboardist/drummer attired in boxer shorts and a large bra (on his head, natch). The band ran through Zappa favorites with note-perfect intensity until past 2am, even matching the original Zappa band between songs, bantering inanely and pestering the crowd to throw bras on the stage (Question of the day, courtesy Ike Willis: "I know what oil is, and I know what of is, but what the fuck is Olay?"). Some of the undergarments on stage looked way too big to not be props, but considering the size of said pieces, I was too afraid to try and do any investigative reporting and find out.

Return of the Nature Boy? Thanks to a recent TV commercial for the NBA and Charlotte Hornets, it looks like former pro wrestler Ric Flair may be making a comeback. . .or at least his infamous holler is. Evidently, the commercial, which has the former "Nature Boy" coaching Hornets guard Baron Davis on the appropriate way to let out a "WooOOO!", has prompted fans who actually show up for the games to do the same. On Saturday, a crowd of about 11,000 (a figure I question, but that's what was reported on the stat sheets available in the Crown Club after the game) were on hand to watch the Hornets take on the New Jersey Nets. And it didn't take long to figure out that everybody's hip to the call of the Nature Boy, which echoed throughout the arena all night long. But despite the vocal support and an increase in attendance (remember the previous home game saw snow and less than 1,000 in the stands), the Hornets couldn't pull out a win. As for the folks who were left in the stands as the final two minutes ticked off the clock, the fella seated behind me scoffed at those heading towards the exits in a street-preacher tone, "We're witnessing the death of a franchise people, and you're worried about getting stuck in traffic?" Another seated nearby wondered out loud if Flair's newly found fame would prompt him to run for public office or consider team ownership? I don't know about you, but I'd love to see Shinn and Wooldridge try to negotiate with Flair. . .WooHoooo! *

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