BACK IN THE ’80s, Belane and I were living in St Helena in Northern California’s gorgeous Napa Valley. Aside from selling records through the mail with ads in Goldmine magazine, I made a few extra bucks by doing handiwork for neighbors. I could fix a lot of things, mostly minor repairs. But I was always available and didn’t charge much so I got a few gigs.
So I received a call from Joanie, a friend of a friend. She asked if I repaired stereos, as her turntable wasn’t turning. Coincidentally, it was a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000, just like the one I had at home! I said I could come over and take a look-see. 1
What time do you want me there? I asked.
After we agreed on a time, she gave me specific instructions on the phone: where the key would be hidden, how the turntable was acting, even what was in the fridge.
“Are you scared of dogs?” she inquired.
“Not even big dogs?” she added.
Not even big dogs.
“Okay then, don’t worry about Jaco. He won’t bother you.” Then she added, “But whatever you do, do not under any circumstances talk to my parrot!” 2
Gotcha! The dog’s okay—the parrot’s not!
She said it again, “I have to stress this: do NOT talk to the parrot!”
So the next day I walked over to her place. Sure enough, Jaco was the biggest, meanest-looking dog I’d ever seen. But just as Joanie said, he just laid there on the carpet, just watching me work.
But the damn parrot was something else! It never shut up! It drove me nuts with non-stop squawking yelling honking cursing babbling. 3
Finally I snapped, Shut the hell up, you gawddamn f*cking bird!
I mean, BIG mistake.
The damn bird looked at me and I swear the little shit smiled.
It was a BIG smile as the bird said, “Get him, Jaco!”
Thank Grommett I was a fitness buff and ran five miles every day—because BIG Jaco could only run three!
Later that day
When I called Joanie later to explain why she had to bring her B&O to my place, all she said was, “You’re just like my ex! Do men ever listen when a woman tells them anything?!!?”
FEATURED IMAGE: This delightful photo was found on the BBC Newsbeat website accompanying an article titled “Staffordshire bull terrier takes parrot for walk in Leicester.” Finally, I’d offer a valuable Marvel No-Prize to everyone here who knows where the curse words in the title (“gorram frakking parrot”) originate—and there are two origins to these two words, not one—but I don’t think that Marvel manufactured enough of them.
1 “Not just a matter of style over technology, the innovative Beogram 4000 turntable embraced both stunning design quality with state-of-the-art materials and technology. A heavy platter driven by an electronically regulated servo motor linked together with two arms read the grooves of the record being played via tangential tracking. This method of playing discs was carried out in reverse of how the original master disc was actually cut in the first instance.
The technology went back to basics and then improved upon it. The second arm ‘read’ the tracks of the record, ’seeing’ the gaps in between. In this fashion it ‘knew’ just where one track ended and another one began. It also automatically sensed the size of the record being played and set the speed accordingly.” (Beophile)
I could never have afforded such a piece of equipment new, but had got mine when I bought a record collection at an estate sale a couple years earlier.
2 Joanie loved Weather Report and especially Jaco Pastorius.
3 It was one of those babbling African gray parrots that I wrote about elsewhere.
Joanie’s BIG dog was named after Jaco Pastorius, who was arguably the most inventive and most influential electric jazz bass-player of the past forty years. His flair in both playing his instrument and in onstage performance earned him the nickname the ‘Jimi Hendrix of the bass.’ He came to prominence for his solo work and for holding down the fusion flights of Weather Report from 1976 through 1981.