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

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.

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