Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Louis Fowler

Atomic TV's Adopted Son Visits Bawmer

East Meets West...at Golden West

OK, so maybe the timing was off - both Scott Huffines and I were suffering from colds and sinisitus, Melissa and I had to work the next day, and Scott and his wife were taking off for NYC the next morning - but when our Wayward Western pal Louis Fowler - he of the legendary Damaged magazine, Damaged 2.0 blog, Damaged Hearing radio show and Not Lame Records fame - survived a 12-hour bus trip to stop by Baltimore on April Fools Day (no foolin'), we had to suck it up and meet our greatest and coolest fan, the impressionable lad who once called Atomic TV "probably the greatest TV show I have ever seen in my life." We were Lou fans as well; after all, he's a great writer, a Rod Lott (Hitch Magazine)-mentored Oklahomie who hit the nail on the head when he brilliantly described singer Bjork as a "Chinese-looking elf with Down's Syndrome."

Damaged goods Louis was stopping in Charm City as part of his East Coast "Devastator Tour '09" (sponsored, in his words, by "by Midori Brand Liquors! All the queer, and none of the rear!"), a Greyhound bus station-to-station tour book-ended with stops in Indianapolis for the Horrorhound Weekend (March 27-29 and Cleveland for the Cinema Wasteland Movie and Memorabilia "Spring Spectacular" Expo (April 3-5).

It's shame we didn't have more time to show Louis the real Baltimore (like the Tyson and Read Street corner where Divine ate dog shit in Pink Flamingos, Al Capone's Syphillis Tree outside Union Memorial Hospital, and so on), so we settled on meeting up at the Golden West Cafe "On the Avenue" in Hampden, our Hipster Mecca.

Louis, Tom and Scott on The Avenue

Melissa and I were the first to arrive, as Scott was supposed to pick up Lou at the bus station but somehow his iPhone GPS went awry and it took him an hour to get there. While we waited, Melissa - a veteran thespian not only of Atomic TV but several John Waters movies and a recurring role on The Wire - showed me her brand new Screen Actor's Guild card:

Melissa shows off her new SAG card.
(She let me snap this photo without paying union scale!)

Louis was elated to see Melissa, who in her starring role as savvy bachelorette "Chastity Darling" on Atomic TV's "Dating Do's and Don't's" episode captured the smitten young Okie's heart. In Damaged #6 (Spring 2000), he decribed her as "one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life...Jesus, is she hot. I think I am in love."

Louis and the girl of his dreams, Melissa.

Thank goodness for Melissa putting together a last-minute Welcome Wagon while Scott and I sneezed, snorted,and post-nasally dripped. She had the foresight to put together a "Baltimore Goodies" bag for Louis that included a crab lollipop, Goetz caramels cremes, and a Mary Sue Easter Egg. I forget if a Berger's Cookie was in there.

Melissa gave Louis a Baltimore goodies bag.

Louis opens his goodies bag

Louis with a Mary Sue Easter Egg.

Louis waves his Crab lollipop.

More culinary delights lay in store for Louis the next day, when he planned to meet up with The Hungover Gourmet zine editor Dan Taylor and visit Baltimore's legendary downtown soul food emporium, The Lexington Market. Wish I had known that next week's City Paper cover story ("Gun Market," CP 4/6/2009)would be about the guy who was selling guns out of the market's Utz Potato Chip stand - I'm sure Louis and Dan would have loved to visit that stall!

When it came time to order drinks, Louis asked to try Baltimore's iconic swill Natty Boh, which he politely ordered as "that Bohemian beer."

Louis says "Yo!" to Natty Boh, the perfect crab lollipop chaser.

He really liked the taste of Boh, but grew green with envy when he saw what Scott ordered, the artery-clogging Bacon Bullet Bourbon Shooter, a drink concocted of Bullet bourbon, molasses and a stick of bacon.

The Bacon Bullet Bourbon Shot

Scott says Grace before ingesting his Bacon Bourbon Shot

"Mmmm that's good!" slurps Scott.

Aftertaste: "Hmmmm, bacon and bourbon?
What God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder!"

"Eww," looks like the missing half of John Wayne Bobbitt's willy!"
Tom observed of the drink's bacon twist.

Undeterred by my observation that the slab of bacon looked like the missing half of John Wayne Bobbitt's willy dipped in the drink, Louis ordered one himself.

He was in Heaven!

Scott ordered a second.

The Bacon Brothers: Scott and Louis bond over bourbon and pork products

"Magoo" Warner uses digital zoom to read his menu.

Finishing up, I had to ask Louis about a masturbation euphemism I had come across in one of my zines. I thought I had heard 'em all, from "shaking hands with the unemployed" to "pounding the one-eyed bishop," but "Oklahoma Karate" was a new one to my ears. Louis chuckled and said he had never heard it either, but that he liked it - "Thanks, I'm gonna use that one!" he promised.

Before we headed down the street to for nightcaps at Rocket To Venus, Scott popped the hood and trunk of his car to show us how prankster mechanic Chris Campbell (former Modern Music Mogul and current Hillbilly Drive-In Programming Director) pimped his ride to prepare it to pass inspection. As you can see below, Chris added extra "rack" to the rack-and-steering...

Some of Chris Campbell's custom detailing for the Huffmobile

...as well as additional junk in the trunk:

At Rocket To Venus we ordered more beers and talked about getting old. Scott and I mentioned that we hardly ever went out anymore and admitted changing into our pajamas the minute we got home from work.

PJs: Change we can believe in.

Louis said he could relate. When we asked him how old he was, he said "30." What a kid!

"You gotta remember, when I discovered you guys I was in high school," Louis said, "So it really blew my mind!" Wow, all those years ago. That would have been like 1997, so yeah, he must have been a teen.

As we looked at the people sitting around the bar and played a mental round of Hipster Bingo ("Hey look, there's a guy with a Fedora," "There's a chick with a bad tattoo," "Lookey, guy with Elvis Costello glasses and sideburns"), I bonded with Louis over my hatred of overly smug pop singer Jason Mraz.

"I hate all these good-looking guys who sing about their troubles getting laid," Louis said.

"I hate that stupid fucking hat he always wears," I added.

Wot a Mraz-hole!

We finished our beers and headed out the door, but not before I ran into my friend (and former co-worker and fellow soccer nut) Kevin Hall, freshly duded out in his Washington Capitals hockey jersey.

Kevin Hall returning from Caps game.

When we stepped outside, we introduced Louis to Rocket To Venus owner Jeff, who was skipping out for a smoke.

Louis, Jeff and Scott outside Rocket To Venus.

Louis with Jeff, Commander of Rocket To Venus.

Out on Chestnut Avenue, Scott ran into some friends and we stood around trying to explain the concepts of of Dundalk and Essex to Louis, including two infamous native sons from those working class Baltimore 'hoods, naughty teacher/sex offender John Merzbacher (an Essex homie whose house was nearby Scott's) and psycho crime-of-passion killer Joby Palcynski (Dundalk). We also tried to explain the Middle River's "Golden Eggs" and why Dundalk and Essex compete in the annual "Toilet Bowl" football game to see which community gets to lay claim to the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant (aka "The Shit Plant").

The Golden Eggs

It's hard to explain in one night.

Alas, the old men had to get to bed to travel and go to work the next day...despite Louis once lauding us in an Atomic TV review with the bon mots "Tom and Scott do and see more in a collective eight hours than I have done in my 21 years of existence," we were sick deadbeats who had to get up early and work for the man and hit the road, jack. Lightweight swingers on the mend.

"Peace out!" Tom and Scott bid Lou adieu.

Louis needed a place to crash, so we drove back to La Casa Clutter in Towson where I apologized profusely as I showed Lou my "guest room," the house's official clutter dumping ground. Spying the big bed and multiple pillows, Louis replied, "Oh man, after riding a Greyhound bus for 12 hours, this is great. I feel like I'm laying down with the angels."

I must say Louis was the perfect house guest. You'd never know he was there. Didn't make a peep (though he claimed he snores!) and left the place immaculate. I just hope he wasn't weirded out by some of the odder artifacts in my far-from-spare spare room/dumping ground, like the kid's "Spinner Toy" promo display ("Stress Reliever!" "Can't Put It Down!") I salvaged when they were throwing it away at the library; I forgot that I replaced the spinner toy with a dildo so that when you activated it, the hands mechanically performed "Oklahoma Karate" (that great "stress reliever")!

A Favorite with Kids: No stress, some mess.

What must Louis have thought?

Next time, I hope he's in town for a weekend when we have more time to spend with him. And we could add to his Baltimore goodies bag with some more essentials, like (Atomic TV cameraman) Chris "The Plumber" Jensen's "Your Poop Is My Bread & Butter" and Scott's "Pirates of Essex" t-shirts.

Or maybe we can take an Atomic TV field trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado. Louis, if you're reading this, it was good meeting you finally in the flesh - and you're welcome back anytime!

(Oh, included below is my all-time fave Atomic TV review; naturally it's by Mr. Fowler.)

Damaged #6 Spring 2000
ATOMIC TV, Volumes 10-13

In the last issue of DAMAGED, I said that I have seen a revelation and that it was Atomic TV. I was wrong.

Atomic TV is probably the greatest TV show I have ever seen in my life. It has everything that a great TV show should: the crass humor of a good episode of Mama's Family, more guest stars than Love Boat and Fantasy Island combined and more T&A than five episodes of VIP. Add to the mix only the best videos that you will never find on MTV, interviews with people who will never be on Jay, and real-life adventures that even the Croc-Hunter couldn't even imagine.

In the last four episodes of Atomic TV, our hosts Tom and Scott do and see more in a collective eight hours than I have done in my 21 years of existence.

Are you a big fan of pornography? If you are the average DAMAGED reader, then that will be a big yes. Check out Volume 10, "The East Cost Video Show Porn Convention Episode." It is filled with wall-to-wall silicone enhancements and wall-to-wall Ron Jeremy. Porn starlet Rayveness show us how to work and clean her artificial vagina, ex-porn actor Jerry Butler shows us how he prepares his Thanksgiving meal in a disgusting scene that literally has to be seen to be believed. Hot as hell Rebecca Lord is interviewed and drooled over. To top it off, a long lost film with Jean Claude Van Damme as a ball-grabbing Tae Kwan Do testicle tickler.

Volume Eleven is a special episode designed to teach us backwards Oklahomans how they do arty stuff up north. In "Artscape," the boys go under the dress of a gigantic Mrs. Buttersworth, we meet the Thunderbirds Are Go! outcast Bud and see a nun do some crazy ass-kicking for the Lord. Also included are videos from the gorgeous Francoise Hardy, the incredible Air and the banned from MTV video "Smack My Bitch Up" from Prodigy. The second half is from the "Cones and Rods Art Show": people urinating, music by Garage Sale and the Put Outs and lazy hipper-than-thou twenty- somethings shun free prizes from the Atomic Bookstore!

What is this crazy J-Pop that I am always talking about? Well, use Volume Twelve as a textbook and learn for yourself. The extremely hot publisher of Cha Cha Charming, Sheila B., co-hosts with Tom as they give us a run through in the best of Japanese pop, which puts our American shit to shame. Judy and Mary, Puffy, My Little Lover, and best of all, Emmanuel "Webster" Lewis singing in Japanese! That alone is worth the price.

You want to know why I want to move to Baltimore? To be at the next Atomic TV Labor Day Cookout. In Volume Thirteen, we are invited to watch all the insanity and hilarity that ensues. So grab some big- ass hot dogs, put in the microwave and pop this episode in the VCR. Not only do we get to be part of the festivities, we also get to see videos from They Might Be Giants and The Ramones. To top that off, one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life, Chastity Darling, is in attendance. Jesus, is she hot. I think I am in love. Oh yeah, and Tom sucks on some feet. It's pretty nasty to watch. But, in the next hour, we are also invited to Atomic TV's 200th Episode Parry, where more "what the hell are we doing here" fun is had. The incredible short films Worst of Public Access and High Tech Noon are also here, as well as videos by J-Poppers Puffy.

Order episodes at Atomic Books' website at or see the ad in this issue. Do it now and tell `em that Louis sent you.

--Louis Fowler

Oh, and click here to read Louis' take on his visit to Baltimore.

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Anonymous Huffines said...

I gotta go on a fuckin' diet.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Louis Fowler said...

You need a diet? Dude, you're freakin' Jason Statham compared to me.

One thing though--I was pretty nervous and starstruck around you guys, so I probably didn't talk as much as I normally do. I didn't want to come off like a idiot.

Also, Melissa is still super-hot.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Melissa D said...

I JUST saw this, Tom! That's what I get for not checking your blog compulsively the way I should.

You really captured the magic of our way-too-brief rendezvous with Louis.

Again, it was a thrill meeting you, Mr. Fowler. I'm a huge fan of yours and I hope you make it back this way again soon. Just don't take the bus next time!

8:14 PM  

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