If they made a “Freaks & Geeks” style television program about my high school years (1993-97) I’m certain this would be the theme song. It seems to capture whatever that time was about (confusion, apathy, Windows ’95). I’d also find Spacehog’s “In The Meantime” acceptable.
Potential plot lines for this program: getting my very first job at Taco Bell and nearly choking to death during my first shift after accidentally inhaling a straw wrapper; the hellish term I spent in summer school trying to pass algebra; all the bonkers stuff that happened during senior prank week (never-ending fire alarms, live mice dumped on our lunch table, a six foot cardboard cut-out of Gumby burned in effigy); various mortifications in attempted dating.
Oh, and there’s gotta be an episode that covers the shock, the grief, the utter despondence that hit my school the day Oasis cancelled the only show they were playing in the area that year. You would have thought another fucking space shuttle blew up. Oh, Noel!
Another lean year, but hey, it was the first. I had no idea what was going on. Nobody did. It was 2008! Justin Bieber hadn’t even been invented yet!
Restricted Words, Phrases, & Names During Meal Time
Crazy-Ass Dream: Curly Audition
Unsolicited Review of The Nine Leaked Guns N’ Roses Songs
Corey Feldman Has Issues (With Michael Jackson)
Fake George McFly Speaks!
Unsolicited Dark Knight Review
Steak & Ale: 1966-2008
Four Very Useless Photoshops
“I Want Him To Sound Like Truman Capote.”
Crazy-Ass Dream: Nirvana Kiddie Concert
Memorable Customers I Encountered During My 2 Year Stint At Taco Bell
Indiana Jones & The Oh Man, They Taste Like Old Cocoa Puffs
Sarah Palin Shoots Chewbacca’s Father Just To Watch Him Die
Uncensored Pictures Of Hot Steamy Greasers
Halloween ’92: Epic Fail
Commenting Upon Various Time Magazine Covers
“Speak Of This Not.”
I don’t know how this slipped by me in years past, but apparently my old employer Taco Bell has this annual program called “Feed The Beat” wherein the burrito conglomerate awards “free food and marketing support to America’s up-and-coming rock acts.” What the suits do is pick a load of bands their kids tell them are cool, gives ’em all $500 “Taco Bell Bucks” for use at any TB location (ostensibly to be used while out touring), and features said bands on FeedTheBeat.com. Quoteth Chief Marketing Officer David Ovens (ironic name alert!):
Our Feed the Beat bands have been showcased via our partnerships with MTV and ESPN, as we work hard to highlight their talent and music. Whether helping to extend the spotlight on their nominations for Video Music Awards, getting them to play at the VMAs, or creating live concerts and soundtrack opportunities during the X Games, the work never stops in support of our bands.”
Okay, great. I’m glad the people who gave the world the Crunch Wrap Supreme are supporting independent rock. Browsing through their list of 2009 “Feed The Beat” winners, though, it’s pretty obvious Taco Bell has a different definition of “up-and-coming” than most people. F’r instance, the Bouncing Souls. They’ve been “up-and-coming” for about fifteen years now. If they couldn’t score a spot on the VMAs at the height of “I Like Your Mom’s” popularity (circa ’94), all the gorditas in the world won’t help them now. Same goes for Less Than Jake, who started their journey together as a band in 1992. I was thirteen years old then. I’m thirty now. That’s a sobering fact nary a ska horn can soften.
The mighty Taco Bell is also throwing a bone to the All-American Rejects, despite the fact that band already has an MTV Video Music Award (not to mention a couple platinum albums and general sales that probably rival TB’s yearly profits). Perhaps the Mexican food giant is concerned about the dwindling weight of Rejects singer Tyson Ritter. Ritter’s been looking rather gaunt lately, even for him, so maybe half a grand’s worth of pintos n’ cheese will do him some good. We’d hate to lose another star to malnutrition. The meat at Taco Bell might be Grade F, but the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh and vitamin-enriched.
To be fair, Taco Bell is helping plenty of bands I’ve never heard of with hilarious names that sound like they were made up specifically to scam a fast food company out of $500. Brian Bonz & The Dot Hongs, Dr. Dog, Jet Lag Gemini, Secret Secret Dino Club, Foxy Shazam, Ha Ha Tonka, We All Have Hooks For Hands, Cross Canadan Ragweed…you know, I wish I had known about this program earlier. I totally would have created a fake band for free dog meat and the opportunity to visit the X Games. My band would have been called Combustible Baby Mustache, and we woulda been an Eastern European ghost core revival act. With banjos. Yeah.
I guess I’m a little jealous people out there are getting free Santa Fe chalupas just for being in a band. Hey Taco Bell, how about helping out some of America’s up-and-coming writers? Byron Crawford and I gotta eat, too, son!
Gidget, the adorable chihuahua who was granted the voice of the guy from “Reno 911!” in the late nineties to help sell various Taco Bell products, died Tuesday at the ripe old age of fifteen. To think, most humans are just starting to really enjoy the pleasures of masturbation and driving with a learner’s permit at that age. For dogs, fifteen is like having one foot in the grave. Did Gidget even remember making all those Taco Bell ads? I doubt it.
I worked at Taco Bell when Gidget was introduced, and I can’t even tell you how many middle aged women and children she delighted by pretending to demand gorditas in Spanish. A certain segment of the American population just went nuts for that dog. One of the most frenzied nights of my entire TB career was the eve we rolled out the talking Gidget plushies. My mom still has hers, encased in glass behind a myriad of high security bank vault lasers.
I too have held on to my Gidget paraphernalia, including a work shirt emblazoned with her disembodied head and a word bubble featuring that hilarious catchphrase, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” I guess there are just too many memories attached to let it go. Sigh. Those really were simpler times back then. Animals didn’t have to be all ironic on YouTube to make us happy. All they had to do was be cute, semi-bilingual, and make witty remarks about Godzilla from time to time. God, how I wish I could turn back the clock.
Rest in peace, Gidget. Say hi to Morris the Cat for me.
1. Taco Salad Bathrobe Guy
This Tarantino-esque weirdo stormed into the dining room a day or two after I got hired wearing nothing but boxer shorts, an undershirt, and an open bathrobe. In his left hand was a pot, like the kind you cook with. In that cooking pot was a taco salad, which I noticed the moment he slammed the cooking utensil down on the counter in front of me and shouted, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?” This gentleman had ordered “extra everything” on his taco salad, it turned out, and he was unsatisfied with the final results. Where the pot came from or why he felt the need to use it to present the salad back to us was anyone’s guess. It took every manager on duty at Taco Bell that hour to calm this guy down. Somehow, the altercation ended with no one getting assaulted or arrested.
2. Fountain Soda Guy
Seven foot tall overall-wearing farmer with a handlebar mustache larger than most billboards and a very pleasant demeanor. He’d usually request enough food to feed a small army, and the last item on his order was always “one fountain drink.” “Oh, and one fountain drink, please!” Like we sold anything other than fountain drinks at Taco Bell. Like this was the Five and Dime circa 1930 and we had a vast array of bottled seltzers behind the counter. Now that I think about it, this guy may have been a time traveler.
3. Super Mario Dad & His Perpetually Costumed Kid
This bald, middle-aged man who bore a frightening resemblance to everyone’s favorite video game plumber came in every Saturday and the occasional weeknight to chow down, usually with his entire family—wife, bored teenage daughter, and a young son who was ALWAYS wearing some kind of ridiculous Halloween costume no matter what day of the year it was. During my two years at the Bell, I saw this kid dressed as a fireman, a ninja turtle, a WWI doughboy, a Power Ranger, and a 1940s detective, just to name a few. I think it was ever-jubilent Mommy who let equally-jubilent Sonny Boy wear whatever he wanted. At least that’s what the long faces on Daddy and Sister seemed to suggest. I bet at least one of these people is in therapy right now as I type this.
4. Punk Rock Dad & His Extremely Hungry Kids
This portly and slightly frazzled dude stopped me in the parking lot on the way into TB one day because he noticed the Dead Kennedys sticker on the back of my car. He wanted to chew the fat about punk rock, despite the fact his kids were so hungry they were practically gnawing on my legs. Our conversation lasted way longer than it should have and I was pretty embarrassed when I had to explain to my manager the guy I was talking to in the parking lot who made me fifteen minutes late was a complete stranger. Punk Rock Dad visitied the Bell a few times, but his shining moment was the morning he came in with pictures of himself with Paul Cook and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols circa 1980. I borrowed these pictures from him so I could scan them into my computer and upload them to my totally awesome Paul Cook fan website (the first thing I ever made on the Internet). I ran into Punk Rock Dad a few times outside the Bell over the years (including one strange encounter sans kids at Warped Tour ’98), but I never managed to get those pictures back to him. I still feel bad about that. Hey bro-ham, if you’re reading this, gimme a holler. I’ll mail those pics to you ASAP.
5. Car Full Of Jocks From My High School Who Demanded I Give Them Free Tacos
Self-explanitory. Tired of being dogged by these wieners during an already punishing drive-thru shift, I threw two handfuls of hot sauce packets into their backseat. This prompted them to come in and whip the sauce packets I had kindly bestowed up on them directly at my head. I sarcastically applauded the meatheads’ maturity while my co-workers wondered what the hell was going on.
6. The Drunk Guy Who Insisted I Looked Like Adam Sandler
One very late night, as I was sweeping up the dining room and getting ready to lock the doors, this drunk guy busted in with his girlfriend, spotted me, and began shrieking like Dane Cook after three vials of crack. “OH. MY. GAWD. YEW LUK JUSH LIKE ADAM SHANDLER!!!” I think for a moment he thought I was Adam Sandler and his mind started exploding. It was actually pretty funny. I mean, mistaking me for Adam Sandler is kind of like mistaking Cookie Monster for Henry Kissinger. Anyway, I tried to tell this inebriated fool our kitchen was closing and he had to leave, but he kept interrupting me with bits from Billy Madison. Eventually his less drunk girlfriend comprehended the situation and dragged Lumbering Sloshed Sandler Fan out of my restaurant.
While perusing YouTube yesterday, I came across this classic Taco Bell ad:
I had completely forgotten that guy with the ridiculous hair even existed. I was sort of obsessed with him when M.C. Hammer first came out. Like, how could anyone have a backup dancer with hair that distracting? It’s almost an eyesore. Is any of it real? How does does that guy sleep at night? Literally, does he sleep standing up?
Well, anyway, I forgot that guy existed and that he was in this commercial. He seems pretty cool. I didn’t realize he had magical pants like his boss. Did everyone who rolled with Hammer back in the day have crazy pants? Man, to spend a day in that posse.
Also, I wonder if Hair Guy came up with that awesome slogan he says. “‘Cause the Border’s in order!” That’s right up there with Terrence Tate’s “condense the nonsense.” I want desperately to believe those four words were of his own creation, if only to justify his presence on Earth beyond that hair.
Okay, I just watched the clip again, and if you look real hard, you can see that, in addition to the vertical nightmare, Hair Guy also has a pony tail. Two feet of hair and and pony tail? Now that’s truly out tha daw.