I used to fly a lot, but not so much anymore. The place I travel to the most is New York, and that's drivable. (Keep this to yourself, but my fastest time is four hours and ten minutes, including two pit stops. That's 325 miles; do the math.)
Two men accompany me on all of these trips. I have known them for over two decades, spent thousands of hours in their company, and, as you might imagine, know many details of their personal and professional lives.
Odd, then, that we have never shared a meal together.
Or, for that matter, spoken.
They are radio performers, "airmen" as I prefer. Their names: Glen Jones (real, so far as I am aware) and X Ray Burns (not so). Their platform: Aptly, The Glen Jones Radio Programme Featuring X Ray Burns, broadcast live on Sundays from noon til 3 p.m. on WFMU 91.1 FM in New Jersey.
They are a fearsome duo, these two. Both in makeup and appearance. The uninitiated could be easily fooled to reject them as misanthropic oddballs or, worse, aimless clowns who might do better to stink up the nearest ginmill than the public's airwaves.
Such a stance would be both harsh and unfortunate. I have introduced many a discerning ear to the broadcast, and none has failed to appreciate what is surely among the most eclectic bits of disc-spinning you will encounter.
Name a radio program that more seamlessly melds the work of, to name but a few, Tom Jones, Talking Heads, Mendelssohn, Morrissey, Elvis, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Bowie, Beethoven, The Bee Gees, Cheap Trick, Springsteen, Harold Melvin, Jim Carroll, William Shatner (yes, that one), and of course Sinatra.
Don't bother trying, because there isn't one.
Jonesy, as he is known, and Burns must be aware that their style of radio is not for all. The lifelong friends spend much of their three-hour weekly time slot not playing music but riffing on the most esoteric, nonsensical, freakishly strange and often preposterous topics you can imagine.
Burns is the provocateur here. A learned, if not overly schooled fellow, he is equally adept at dissecting complex scientific and political theory as proffering his views on myriad, shall we say, less than sensible topics. Do not get X Ray started on the subject of the giant robots that lay in wait to execute their violent, inevitable plan to conquer our planet. Or, for that matter, how a certain New York news anchor (Ernie Anastos if you must know) is obsessed with seeing to it that Burns expires, in the harshest possible way that can be arranged.
Regular listeners, I am pretty certain, tune in as much for the (usually entertaining) banter as the music. Which says a lot, knowing how satisfying the music can be.
No doubt you are wondering what any of this has to do with a food blog such as this one.
It has nothing to do with it. Except, of course, that Burns happened to mention a certain Mister Meatball on the air recently, and I thought it might be fun to share the snippet with all of you. It is only a minute and forty-five seconds long and can be heard by clicking the triangle on the left below.
I was driving on I-84 in Connecticut when I heard this. Luckily the traffic was light. I laughed so hard that the car, which had been in the center lane when Burns uttered the words "my buddy Mister Meatball," moved completely into the right lane pretty much in an instant.
You may have noticed the mention of spring approaching. That's because I wasn't listening to a live broadcast. Ever since moving to Maine I have stockpiled MP3 files of the shows, available off of FMU's archive page, and listen to them as time permits (sorry, Jonesy). This particular episode was broadcast in mid-June but I did not happen upon it until just recently. You can imagine my surprise. But for a Facebook "friendship" begun only weeks before this aired, I had had no dealings with X Ray Burns whatsoever. None. Hell, even after we became Facebook friends (I initiated, not he), I believe we only had one minor encounter prior to this show, and it was so minor I can't remember what it was about.
I would like to think that Burns enjoys the blog, and that that is why he mentioned it to his friend Jones. If that is so, then I am pretty damned pleased. Thankful, too, that I might have managed to reciprocate, if only slightly, for the good times he has given to me throughout all of these years.
Who knows, maybe we'll even get to enjoy a couple of meatballs together one day.