Friday, April 11, 2014

Southern Exposure

Thursday April 10th, 2014 – Chicago, IL

   The next time I say something to bash The South, someone needs to give me a swift kick in the hush puppies to shut my mouth. And while I am not necessarily a fan of the culture as a whole, I do know quite a few truly sweet people that are natives, and I need to keep quiet out of respect.

   James Gregory is a proud Southerner for example, and he is anything but an idiot or inbred. He does not dip snuff at the dinner table, and always wears shoes. James could buy and sell me like a can of hominy. He does like pro wrestling - but so do I. That’s one Southern trait I do embrace. 

   Sammy Marten and John Marks are also comedian friends of mine that happen to be located in Memphis. I think John is from not far away, but Sammy is from New Orleans. I have always had a disdain for that horrific stench ridden city filled with drunkenness and debauchery, and I never liked their putrid cuisine as a rule either. But Sammy is a great guy, so my opinion is softened.

   There are two more New Orleans area comedians I’ve worked with over the years named ‘Red Bean’ and ‘Mutzie’ respectively. No joke. There was also a guy that passed away by the name of John Schnauder aka ‘The Silver Fox’ who was as gentle of a human as I have ever encountered.

   Out of respect to all these people, I don’t feel comfortable lighting into Southerners like I may have at one time. There are always exceptions to any rule, and I guess I am a shining one myself. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I have never had a beer in my life. That’s rare, but true.

   A shining example of a Southern gentleman is not only my friend Rick Wey, but his father too. Rick is a hilarious comedian from Nashville, but has a great corporate job that he has stayed with to feed his family. Rick is one of my favorite people, and I can see where he inherited his class.

   I met Rick’s dad at a ball game years ago, and could instantly see how on the ball he was. He’s now 80, but I’d think twice about tangling with him mentally or physically. He would likely kick my ass quite thoroughly both in a scuffle and in Scrabble. I can only hope to be that with it at 80.

  Rick had to come to Chicago for an annual meeting for his job and brought his dad with him so they could see a baseball game at Wrigley Field. They’re both rabid sports fans like I am, but the thought of being able to see a game like that with my dad is far beyond my realm of imagination.

   That kind of treat was never in the cards for me, but seeing Rick and his dad have it put me in a terrific mood. That’s how life is supposed to be, and at least somebody was smart enough to pull it off correctly. Rick showed me the picture of them together and it almost made me shed tears.

   Even though he’s a few years older than me, I could still see the kid in Rick’s eyes proud to be hanging out with his dad at a baseball game. I was happy for him, and flattered that his dad asked Rick to ask me to dinner with them. I happened to be off, and drove into the city to hang with the both of them. We had a lot of laughs, and just a spectacular evening of fun. Friends like that have a top spot in my heart no matter where they are from. The Wey family has solved life’s puzzle.

My friend Rick Wey happens to be from the South, but he'd be a gentleman no matter where he was from. He learned it from his father. What class acts they both are.

The Great James Gregory is another Southerner that is anything but stupid. He is one of my comedy and marketing heroes. MUCH respect!

Sammy Marten from New Orleans is not only a funny comedian, but a world class chef.

His partner John Marks is also a sharp business mind and excellent promoter. Love working for both of them.

I worked with Mutzie from New Orleans on Carnival Cruise Lines, and he was wildly popular with the crowds and fun to hang with off stage.

'Red Bean' is another funny and nice guy from New Orleans I worked with in my travels. I never have liked the town itself, but the people I've met from there have been absolutely top shelf, all.

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