jaco and the gorram frakking parrot (or, do men ever listen to women?)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

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!

Big mis­take.

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”) orig­i­nateand there are two ori­gins to these two words, not onebut 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.

  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. 


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Firefly fans for­ever! In the multi-ethnic, poly­glot, and yet modest lingo of that fateful flyer, t’­wood mean “g-d damn f*cking parrot”.

Run away, Jos Whedden fans! And, Jaco - YES - bad­dest bassist electricus!

If’n ahm raht, I’ll be a pickin’ up mah prize next time we’re on the Sunny Funny.

PS It’s not about lis­tening, it’s more about un­der­standing. Maybe.