Monday, May 15, 2006

Our Mrs. Pac Man Hero

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2006 at 4:49 PM

When I told my coworkers today that I had met the guy who drives the '80s sedan with the slogan "PENTECOSTAL CLUBBIN' [and in smaller text] HIGH SOCIETY STYLE" emblazoned on the back windshield, I was met with blank stares. Didn't surprise me — I'm the only person around here who knows what's going on. (Yeah, all those bylines you see in the paper? Half of them are pseudonyms for Jason F. Harper. Me, baby, ME.)

I had always wondered about that car, which I often see parked in the neighborhood just west of Westport, across Southwest Trafficway. In the past, I've Googled the slogan and various permutations of it and gotten nada. I can't tell you all the details of how I met him because I'll scoop about half of my column that's coming out this week, but I will say that his name is Mark, he's white and friendly and (forgive me) somewhat nerdy, and he's planning to open a Christian dance club in the West Bottoms. Well, stranger things have been devised, I guess. From the way he went through those records, the Holy Spirit'll be getting down in Mark's club, if it opens.

Speaking of getting down, you all missed a good show last night at P. Ott's, even though it started ridiculously late due to equipment mishaps. It was the Lucky Graves, followed by Be/Non. The Lucky Graves are a power trio (why are all rock trios called "power trios" by the way?) led by Adam Stotts and propelled by bassist Ben Ruth and drummer John Cruz. I'd seem them once before, months ago, and thought "oh, he has a nice voice," but that's about it. This time, however — I don't know if it's because they've improved or I just had funky-junky wax in my ears last time — they blew me off the barstool with confidence, swagger, tight musicianship and memorable hooks. I'd check them out if I were you. You should become their Myspace friend, too, as they only have 77 — and only 3 comments! (I can't believe I actually said that. I must totally be a Myspace bitch now. LOL.)

I have to admit, however, that during the last few Graves songs, I wandered upstairs where I found all the members of Be/Non who are not Lucky Graves (Cruz, actually, is the only Grave who's not in Be/Non) playing Mrs. Pac-Man. I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually play that game well, and I got way into it. I mean, what's more compelling than a giant, anthropomorphic spherical eating head (and female, no less!) racing to devour a maze full of pellets and bouncing fruit while being chased by deadly ghosts? Whoever invented that game is a genius. Doubly so for making Mrs. Pac-Man the fast one. Whenever John or Mike (the two Be/Non guys who were trading off at the game) finished a level or executed a narrow escape, we all cheered. And whenever a player misguided his poor charge into the clutches of a villain and suffered the subsequent dissolution, we sighed. It was riveting.

(By the way, if you're ever in a bar and see a man enthusiastically cheering on a stranger playing a video game, it's probably me. I kind of have a weird fetish, like that guy in the sucky early Christopher Nolan movie Following who, as the title suggests, shadowed random people around London until he got involved with a burglar and the mob and ended up framed for murder. I doubt that could happen to me in the arcade circuit — at worst, I might get pushed.)

Credit: Brett Gilbert

When Be/Non played, things were a little shaky, as the band in the process of training a new drummer, the aforementioned Mrs. Pac-Man hero, Mike Cochran. In fact, bandleader and guitarist Brodie Rush played drums and sang the first few songs. It's always cool to see a drummer sing, or a singer drum, that is, and Brodie can do it... mostly -- I mean, he's no Don Henley. (But, really, who is?) Luckily, when Mike took over, he ruled, and even though the performance was a bit shaky owing to a recent dearth in practice time, there's still no band quite like the Be/Non. If the Flaming Lips had flourished in the early '70s and had about six times more band member turnaround, that'd be pretty close to where Be/Non is.

Sadly, I had to leave early because I think someone had drugged my enormous beer. Not really, but I was not feeling good, and I was hungover as hell this morning, as was a co-worker, who — full disclosure! — is dating one of the Lucky Graves and was at P. Ott's last night, too. Hmmm... maybe I better search her desk for roofies....

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