Armed with a self-made soundtrack of songs that seemed to hit the moment, and fueled by three Pre-mission Double White Castles (with no pickles or onions, more on this ‘pre-mission’ stuff later) I could call Operation: Night Bird many things. Just ask Tim "T-Wray" Combs... I spent much of the workweek hammering out my plan talking through fan noise, machine noise and extreme heat. But the operation was, simply put, the late evening placement of the contents of a clearance bought Pink Flamingo 2-pack on the lawns of two good friends that I thought would get an early morning kick out of it as they shuffled to their jobs.
It took the discovery of a clearance 2-pack, seen at just the right time on a trip to see if TRACTOR SUPPLY COMPANY (TSC) had, in fact, could supply a replacement primer-bulb for my Home-Lite weed eater...
They did have the flamingos on sale, so I bought them in anticipation of fulfilling a long ago plan of placing one in the front yard of Andy Brightone as a sort of urban homage to his eclectic personality and loving support for John Waters movie spectacle, Pink Flamingo’s.
Back-In-The-Day™ when the plan was originally hatched, I looked into procuring a single pink flamingo. and I was going to have to spend upwards of $20, for just one. Here, at TSC, there was two (2) for $4.99 (plus tax). This was a deal-steal!
I might have even let Andy in on that that original plan at some time or other, or maybe I just thought I did... Maybe he was paying attention (proly not). Or maybe we had too much, too fast of one of those Heineken Cans, the Heini-Can!
So, also, with the purchase of this 2-pack, just-as-long-time comrade, Liam Dolan, who recently has got married and became a home owner himself, became a target... And over the next week a plan would be developed for the placement of these birds, the plan would be given identity and then, ultimately executed beautifully.
After all, a plan is called a plan because it’s planned!
The decision to make this a solo mission was not easy. At the bare minimum, I felt a wheelman was needed to drive and man the stereo, playing a special CD with handpicked 'action' songs (songs for action). Then, I thought about adding a videographer... Make the operation into a short film... If I had a wheelman, and videographer then I should just go all-in and add a lookout...
So as this planning continued, and my confidence grew in the thinkings that I could find someone for each needed spot, I just decided to go solo... The barest of the bare minimum! Just me and my vision and a blaring factory standard 2002 Chevy Cavalier car stereo and a full belly of White Castles, or WC’s as I like to call them, which is also my fathers long-time CB handle too (fun facts are fun aren’t they?)
Sure they are. Sure.
The mission was un-named until the wee morning hours of 07/20/11, which was another night of insomnia... Which was the last thing needing to be done... This mission had to have an identity, as well ad a purpose...So the evening started off with THE CRAMPS "New Kind of Kick" and a couple of quick text to Twitter that went answered by the Aluminum Brother, Tim "T-Wray" Combs wishing me luck, who had for knowledge of my intentions and knew deep down that if I could afford more 2-packs of flamingos, one would end up in his yard.
I stopped at the local neighborhood White Castle before the bird’s placement, which, I will admit, was a bit out from the original plan. The whole reason I was out adventuring at all was because of another plan that had me taking a Friday off from work to visit my parents in the Kentuckee (traditional spelling) hills. I figured that a victory meal, although prematurely consume BEFORE mission completion, was a better idea concerning the ultimate results of what eating WC’s are known for. An earlier consumption means earlier bowel movements. Earlier the bowel movement the better when yer facing a three and a half hour drive Boo-bee!
(Note: That Boo-Bee thang is a reference to the South Dakota Slim character in Beach Blanket Bingo. Stay with me Boo-Bee…)
Although proclaimed as a victory meal, the burgers were more if an honor meal dedicated to the likes of Gunther 8544 of DIRTY SHEETS and THE RUNG. He waxes ecstatic concerning WC’s and have only partaken of the real-deal a select few times in his entire life... So after sharing operation plans with him during the development stages of the operation, I promised him I would have three in his honor at missions end... And, little does most people, including Gunther know, but partaking of anything at that particular location of White Castle had an element of danger to it. I was threatened with police intervention circa the 2004-2005 season, when I refused to pull forward to the crave zone to wait for a drive thru order so they could wait on someone else.
That situation worked out (I was given my money back and told never to return) but I did go back! Not for me, but for Gunther. In Gunther’s name! I wasn’t eating these burgers for me, I offered myself ad proxy for Gunther.
"Wolf Dick" by KASPAROV matches the moment as I hand the cashier a dollar bill rather than the $5 that I intended to grab. That action could be misconstrued as a con. I quickly realized that and I think that the cashier expected as much.
I could have apologized. Maybe on any other night or time, I would have... But something seemed wrong with the aesthetic of apologizing for anything while I was running a mission. So I didn’t. I watched humongous moths fly around the drive-thru’s adjacent walls bright light while the beat of KASPAROV cut in and provided their soundtrack as well....
I feast on my pre-victory meal as I drove to procure fuel. After a quick stop at the bank for an ATM withdraw, I had become taken up in the moment of my actions, all-be-they seemingly meaningless in nature, and chose the most expensive fuel station I could find to purchase fuel from.
I was looking for the WORST deal... Warning lights began to flicker indicating I was down to a few remaining miles worth of fuel as EINSTEINS RICEBOYS "Bloated Life", "Golden Shame" by BIG DIPPER and KILL THE HIPPIES "Cei-U" tells me in their own way, that my decision to hunt the most expensive deal is a solid one.
After all, you get what you pay for don’t you?
Sure you do… Sure
Ask yourself, what have you done for big business lately? And maybe you can find it somewhere in your selfish being to do something FOR them, rather than TO them.
Gas? Triple check.
Did I fail to mention that two people cut in front of me at the fuel station? The clerk also didn’t know how to charge me with double-tax to stimulate my countries economy, which I also offered up...
I decide to hit Liam and his wife, Lisa's place first. They live at what I would perceive as the bottom of a hill. So after deploying their bird, it would be an uphill struggle from there, something I was familiar with.
I turn the stereo up, all the way. A position it would remain for the rest of the night. "Metal Postcards" by SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES wail. I roll my window down, the volume and window being part of the plan, to add an element of danger and risk to the mission. Cause there’s gotta be risk and danger... Plus, it was cool. Loud stereos are always cool. If it’s important to turn up, then whatever it may be is worth some merit. I’m inspired by “Metal Postcards” basic, primal drive and the breaks of Siouxies voice...
A quick drive-by to get the lay of the land. Part of the plan… A car almost hits me head-on as I turn around for the birds’ placement… Danger abounds, apparently. As defined by my relative nature.
Despite what I perceived as their living room lights being on, I went on with the plan. "FM" by THE SLITS began to play on the stereo. By time I grabbed the first flamingo (Bird-1), exited the car and began my 'sneak-walk' with the flamingo under my arm, the pulsating beats and layered vocals of THE SLITS were loud. In fact, echoing from Liam and Lisa’s across the streets neighbors.
Yeah, 'sneak-walk' looking like some live version of some dick-hole from a Scooby-Doo movie... With creeping, bent hands and on tip-toes... I would catch the idiocy of this walk halfway through Bird-2’s placement and decide that the particular style of walk was doing nothing more than making me look like an idiot. So I ceased its use.
Up the driveway... Must have been Lisa’s car parked there. I think Liam’s Subaru, with its beautiful cargo-hold, was street parked. There was a slight risk of being detected a number of ways. From my car the stereo, despite being 'factory' was still loud. THE SLITS hit their first chorus like a hammer. Every time I hear this version of "FM" from their amazing debut release Cut, I am floored. Its damn near the perfect song...
There was a slight probability that Liam was out front burning a wire (my new, clever way of saying 'smoking a cigarette'). I remember him saying that he and Lisa’s first self-rule was no inside smoking... Well, except for one place, after a specific act... But Liam could have been outside... He wasn’t.
I will admit, my placement of 'Bird-1' may have been more on the safer side of the adventure but it wad riskier in more ways than 'Bird-2'. Lisa brought her small dog into the union with Liam and his two cats. I met the dog before, seemed nice enough of a pooch (although its name escapes me as I write this now) but still. One out of ordinary sound and he would just go off...
"...transmits over the air...serving for the purpose...of those who want you to....care"
Bird-1 landed near the big tree and the driveway. About 20 feet from his house, I estimate, but clearly in their yard and NOT a mistake. T-Wray was right about the ground being harder than concrete. Bird-1’s wire legs were difficult to plant into the soil but everything went ok too. Just in time too... "Pick Up The Pieces", a live cut someone recorded of THE CINCINNATI SUDS at my home bar, THE COMET. Came on. That song remains my favorite 'SUDS song outta all of them I ever heard.
The scene held during "FM" but now that "Pick Up The Pieces" was on, I knew if it could fall apart on me, it would during this song. I realized I was on the verge of being discovered... But alas, I returned to the vehicle, and per design, did my best to lay a patch of rubber...
But lets remember, I’m in a Cavalier, so the key word was try...
I drove away as fast as possible with THE CINCINNATI SUDS helping me to move on.
On route to the next target I drove through Northside. My mind raced with thoughts about how I missed THE CINCINNATI SUDS as a band, and individuals the way members of a military unit may grow to miss each other after a conflict. 1Adam12... AJ... Grandaddy... I wonder if they think positively of me ad I do them... I wonder if they miss me…
I drive past all the various doorways, businesses and alleys that mean nothing to most. Past SHAKE IT RECORDS who I wondered if they had a copy of THE ED DAVIS BAND LP on hold for me and on pass my home bar, THE COMET who appeared busy for a Thursday night. It would have been nice to drop in for an Uphill Struggle; seeing that I was set to navigate uphill from THE COMET to Andy Brightone's abode, but that was NOT part of the plan.
The drink could wait. I had work to do!
An early recording of THE WIPERS doing a track called "Misfit" began and was followed by "Nightbeat" by THE BIG BOYS, who, really, are NEARLY tied with THE DICKS for being the ultimate Texas punk-rock band. If you take THE BIG BOYS rather heavily funk thang down several notches (not ELIMINATE, just turn down) and then take away "Dicks Hate The Police" then maybe the story would be different, but its not.
The preliminary drive -by for Bird-2 was mote promising. Not one light on... but still yet, Andy and Patti live with a dog that even though I know extremely well, I wouldn’t doubt that she would be alerted at the slightest sound I made... Nor would I attempt to type out the dogs name. You proly wouldn’t say it right anyway...
During this bird's installment, strange synchronicity. Firstly, "Cannons On 4th Street" by Kent based THE COCKSPANIELS followed up by a even more obscure track that I saved from a dubbed cassette demo of a band called THE SWEATY WEAPONS that I believed to be called "You'll Remember The Missiles from the Midwest". Both these bands were the brainchild of Kenny Halbert, aka 'Kenny Hussie' who has got to be one of the most inspirational punks and people I have yet to meet. Musically, the two bands don’t sound that different. Cryptic lyrics, scratchy overdriven guitars, tight drum rolls... Amazing stuff.
Kenny had THE SWEATY WEAPONS before THE COCKSPANIELS. One begat the other and here they were, on the same mission soundtrack, being played back to back. I thought it was odd when SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES played back to back with THE SLITS. That was nothing compared to the, at random playing of THE SWEATY WEAPONS and COCKSPANIELS… If I were polytheistic, I would say the gods of punk-rock were watching me, trying to send a message.
Bird-2 was placed closer to the house than Bird-1... I suppose the music, which alike Bird-1, was blaring from a rolled down window but there wasn’t as much echo this time. This neighborhood had bigger yards, houses farther apart… Apparently, as I would find out the next morning, this non-echo and maybe a white-noise machine made all the difference.
I drove away extremely fast. Thought about honking the horn as I sped off, trying to lay another patch of rubber, but nah, I just drove off.
The soundtrack still dealt out some hits on the way home including:
"Bone Machine" by THE PIXIES
"Serrated Edge" from THE DEAD MILKMEN
"Cheree" provided by SUICIDE.
I felt good. It’s not often that I feel prideful... 'Pride' is one of those things I like to keep in check. I try to live a humble existence... But on this ride home, after Operation: Night Bird was an actual success and not just a plan, I allowed myself a moment.
I drank the last couple drinks of the BIG K cola I brought along to wash down the pre-mission victory WC’s as I headed north back to the relative safety of my suburban home. As I pulled into the driveway, "New Kind of Kick", the song that started the operation, began to play again.
So I took a minute to update my Twitter feed of the operations completion, of the victory. I kept my Twitter feed up and up with the info from the op (short for 'operation') knowing good and well that my actions could be traced back to me.
I designed it like that...
So the next day, early on I was able to see the direct results of the discovered flamingos firstly by Liam and Lisa then, quickly by Patti and Andy... The trip to Kentuckee was a no-go so I was able to play dumb a few minutes before sending out the big reveal photo to the associated party’s as well as my flickr account and my Twitter feed.
I still claimed victory, and yeah, I was victorious... Sometime in this following morning Liam and I tried our best to tell the difference between a warning and an endorsement... and the bit that follows was the ending statement sent out with my reveal...
Oh yeah, Patti and Andy, I’m told via Julie, are dressing there’s in hats and necklaces. Less than 24 hours since placement. Now that’s an endorsement!
"So, OPERATION: NIGHT BIRD was a rousing success... The stock market had a short-lived rally just after opening bell. The economy has been stimulated through the clearance table purchase of a flamingo 2-pack and fossil fuel expenditures for installation as well as three (3) White Castle double cheeseburgers... Art-Axt for the sake of action. It’s the findings of meaning inside acts (axt) that appear random, and without meaning, where (exactly) meaning will be found. Because all of that wouldn’t fit in a fortune cookie"
ART-AXT (this is a good start)
OPERATION NIGHT BIRD SOUNDTRACK (complete, not in order)
(Please note: Not just a play list, a soundtrack!)
FM by THE SLITS from "Cut"
Woe is Me by THE WALKMEN from Lisbon"
Bloated Life by EINSTEIN'S RICEBOYS from "Civil Rice"
Trouble At The Cup by BLACK RANDY & THE METROSQUAD
from "Pass The Dust, I Think I'm Bowie"
Back 2 The Base by X from "Wild Gift"
(I Make The) Product by BICYCLES from "Title Unknown from Unknown Source"
Cei-U by THE HIPPIES from "Erectospective"
Roy Orbison (Album Version) by THE RECOYS from "Rekoys"
Cheree by SUICIDE from "First Album" [Disc 1
Pick Up The Pieces by THE CINCINNATI SUDS
from "Live at The Comet 02/02/08" (Unreleased Jam)
The Cannon on 4th Street by THE COCKSPANIELS from "...You Die!"
Cry Of A Morning by THE MOB from "Let The Tribe Increase"
Nightbeat by BIG BOYS from "The Skinny Elvis"
You'll Remember the Missiles from The Mid-West
by THE SWEATY WEAPONS
from "Missiles from The Mid-West" (Unreleased Jam)
Golden Shame by BIG DIPPER
from "Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology"
Serrated Edge by THE DEAD MILKMEN from"Big Lizard In My Backyard"
Bone Machine by PIXIES from "Surfer Rosa"
2 Days Off by BY-PRODUCTS OF AMERICA
from "Maybe Use My Knife 1980-86"
New Kind Of Kick by THE CRAMPS from "Bad Music For Bad People"
Revolution by X (Australian) from "Aspirations"
Walking Out On Love by THE BREAKWAYS
from "Walking Out On Love (The Lost Sessions)"
Metal Postcard (Mitageisen) by SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
from "The Scream"
Misfit (Early Recording) by WIPERS from "Is This Real?" (Bonus)
Wolf Dick by KASPAROV from "Tiny Machines" (final mixes unmastered)
Knobs by THE SLOBS from "Live at The Void" (Unreleased Jam)