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Frying The Baloneys Off of Danica Patrick at the Smog Cutter

November 1, 2014
The Smog Cutter

The Smog Cutter

My friend Myron and I were sipping good, smoky whiskey at the Smog Cutter in the Thai Town section of East Hollywood, while listening to various Burmese chanteuses chirp out ballads on the jukebox. We began the night by bench racing, but ended it by arguing about IndyCar sensation Danica Patrick and female racecar drivers.

Myron is a drag racing writer and is a geeky, greasy-haired academic type with Clark Kent-type cheaters. His goofball nerdiness is mitigated by penchant for pop art t-shirts. Tonight he was wearing a white cotton t-shirt featuring a photo of a vintage Barracuda Funny Car doing a burnout. Through the copious clouds of smoke, the garment is emblazoned with the motto: “I’d Rather Be Frying the Baloneys.”

I asked Sunshine, the brunette Asian bar wench and part owner of the Smog Cutter, who was singing on the jukebox.

“That ‘Hwa Hwa and Bell.’” Sunshine said in broken English. “Famous hit single ‘Oh Oh Oh’ Big seller in Bangkok.”

Myron was unimpressed with Hwa Hwa and Bell and their record sales. For a nerdy-gearhead, he can exhibit a real mean streak that surfaces after a couple of belts of the hard stuff, and tonight was going to be one of those nights.

“I can’t get a buzz and sing along to this crap, Sunshine,” Myron complained. “You got any Kitty Wells or Patsy Cline on that jukebox of yours.”

“Kitty Wells? This no cowboy bar, John Wayne. This Thailand bar. You want redneck girls singing about handjob in pick-up truck, you go to cowboy bar in North Hollywood. Smog Cutter just play music from Thailand.”

“Hey, speaking of Thailand, I hear you can get a virgin for seven dollars over there,” Myron reported. “Or two for twelve.”

Sunshine stuck out her tongue. “You funny guy, Crark Kent.”

I ordered another round of Bushmills. During a lull in the libation and conversation, I looked over my shoulder at the smattering of elderly Thai gents smoking cigarettes and playing pai gow poker with a couple of Vietnam vets. Meanwhile, Myron began thumbing through the new Sports Illustrated and he had had enough.

“Hay-sus Chreest-o,” he blathered. “Can’t I get a friggin’ drink in a hole in the wall in a godforsaken section of town where nobody speaks any English without having to read about Danica freaking Patrick.”

“I’m with you, dude,” I concurred. “You can’t get a way from Danica-fever and all the cheesecake photos of her. Apparently, this week she was googled on the internet more often than Lindsay Lohan, Pamela Anderson and Britney Spears, and was out-googled only by Paris Hilton.”

“Lindsay Lohan? Pamela Anderson? Britney Spears? Paris Hilton? What a litany of trust-funders and clothes-horses who have done their entire gender a disservice,” Myron spluttered. “Just like Danica. Danica is all style and no substance. She finished fourth in the Indy 500 only because she spun out on a caution lap and caused four other cars to crash! Give me a break.”

“Dude, I have to play Devil’s advocate. Crash under the yellow flag aside, Danica led a couple of laps in the Indy 500. No chickee has ever done that before. And she’s a rookie.”

I then told Myron about the time I went to Pole Day for the Indianapolis 500 a couple of years ago. That year the fairer sex was represented on the speedway by Lyn St. James, who qualified at the back of the pack. Just to show that the race fans were behind her efforts, some of the bleacher rats hung a banner that read: “Atta’ Boy, Lyn!”

As I finished that anecdote, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie began to spin on the jukebox.

“Hey Sunshine,” Myron yelled. “I thought you only had Thai music on the jukebox.”

“Blondie popular all over the world. Besides, Debbie Harry and Blondie good for karaoke night.”

“Finally,” Myron whispered dreamily as he basked in Debbie Harry’s crooning and ran his dirty fingernails through his unkempt hair. “A woman in the mix who has earned her stripes.”

“Listen, dude,” I interrupted. “You are wrong about Danica Patrick and you are wrong about Blondie. Debbie Harry was a no-talent blank slate for a team of songwriters and record producers. Her voice is a thin as a reed and is as tortuous as said bamboo shoot up the fingernails.”

The pai gow poker players heard the bit about the “bamboo shoots,” put down their cards and cigarettes and looked at Myron and me.

Myron was oblivious to their actions and fired back at me. “I think your low regard of Ms. Harry as a so-called ‘blank slate’ is mebbee’ a little bit too simple and is possibly sexist.”

“Wait a minute, ‘Mr. Two Virgins for Twelve Dollars.’ You’re calling me sexist?”

“Yes, I am. Your take on Ms. Harry was kinda’ reductive and painted with a real broad stroke of the brush, no doubt about it.”

I felt compelled to explain myself. “I don’t think that being a ‘blank slate’ is necessarily a bad thing,” I said. “For example: Some of the finest pop music ever made only happened because some kind of egomaniacal freak went apeshit in the recording studio with some glorified blow-up doll of a singer. Like Blondie. Or like Phil Spector’s catalogue: the Teddy Bears, the Ronettes, etc. My point is someone has to be the mastermind and SOMEONE has to be the blow up doll.”

“Are you calling Blondie and Danica Patrick blow-up dolls?” Myron asked as he tossed the copy of Sports Illustrated down the bar.

“I am saying that Blondie is a blow-up doll, but that Danica Patrick can actually drive a racecar. But even so, there is a tradition of no-talents of the fairer sex making waves in popular culture, whether it is with a racecar or a microphone. I am saying that regardless of talent, brazen sexuality trumps substance and makes headlines.”

This caught Sunshine’s ear.

“Danica Patrick may be bigger than Britney Spears blow-up doll,” she said. “But she no Hwa Hwa and Bell.”

Myron got up and put some money in the jukebox. -30-

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