The Tabb Theorem "Thank you, dear," the old lady with the walker says to me as I hold the elevator door open for her with my right foot.
"Well, you have a nice day," she says to me as she limps on by, coughing up what sound like nice solid lung cookies.
"Uh-huh," I tell my fellow juror, who, like me, just had to pass through a battery of cops asking all sorts of questions.
"What's your business here?" one officer asked as he chewed on a donut and got white powder on his mustache.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked another, as he tucked in his shirt and did the manly ball-scratch.
As I made my way down the hallway of the 11th floor of some building on Centre St., I silently cursed myself for allowing myself to be trapped in the spiderweb of jury duty. I'd envisioned the whole legal process to be one huge sticky mess, and now here I was, like Vincent Price in The Fly. Help Me.
After a few minutes of wandering around aimlessly, I found the "room" I was supposed to go to. It was more like one long fucking cave. Dark and full of scary people. Coughing and hacking up nasty germs that I would be sure to catch. It was worse than the subway. Gross.
Then it was time to wait until they called out my name.
George Tabb. That's Tabb with a "T." One of the last important letters of the alphabet. Well, next to "W." What I mean by "important" is determined by the first letter of your last name. Let's face it, U, V, X, Y and Z aren't that popular. And we are all called in alphabetical order.
By everyone. From your first-grade teacher, to your last nurse at the senior citizens center. To God himself.
"I'm ready to go into heaven now," I'd tell the guy with the white beard.
"Shut up and sit down," he'd say with a booming voice, "your last name starts with T. We're only up to D. You got at least two centuries before we get near you."
Yup. I was fucked. Only thing to do was sit. And wait. And think. Think about how my place in the alphabet has affected my place in life.
"It's not fair," Wendy'd said a couple of months earlier. "I really wanted to be picked for a jury."
"Are you nuts?" I asked her.
"I wasn't picked because of my last name. By the time they got to me it was too late. The jury box was full. It's discrimination."
I told her that since we both had last names near the end of the alphabet, this is the way things would always be, so get used to it.
It was then we discussed what we now call the Tabb Theorem. A theory at least as important as Newton's theory of gravity, Einstein's relativity and whoever it was who discovered dogs lick themselves because they can.
The Tabb Theorem goes something like this:
In American society, we are trained from an early age to respond, in large groups, to our last names. This is sometimes called "roll call." In almost every instance, the roll call is done in alphabetical order. Therefore, if a person's last name begins with A, he is most likely to be one of the first persons called. As the letters in the alphabet progress, one is more likely to be called later and later. If one has a last name starting with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, he will be called last.
On the surface, this may seem a mere inconvenience. But upon further examination, it becomes quite apparent that there is much more to this than just a matter of patience.
We, as young Americans, according to the Tabb Theorem, are trained to be either alpha aggressors or passive pussies, all because of a last name our grandfathers probably mispronounced at Ellis Island some 80 years ago. If we were lucky enough to get a last name starting with a letter from the beginning of the alphabet, our position in life is probably much higher than those who have letters P through Z. Earlier names equal better jobs, more powerful political positions, even more success in the arts/entertainment field. Just look at Elvis. Does anyone really believe he'd have been so successful if the name he used to promote himself was Presley?
Those born with a last name containing one of the first 15 letters of the alphabet are simply more likely to achieve more in life than those stuck with the later 11 letters.
Having a last name starting with A through O means that when a young individual is called upon in the classroom, he or she will get the chance to voice opinions and/or solve a problem first. Being able to speak first gives those lucky letter holders a chance to express themselves more freely. While they're expressing themselves, others will tend to listen. Until they get bored. But in the meantime, self-worth begins to be realized.
Trying to get attention from other children after their minds have begun to wander (about halfway through the alphabet) is like trying to get a straight story from a lawyer. Subconsciously, this means that those with letters late in the alphabet are more likely to feel less important, because less attention is paid to them.
Feeling less important leads to lower self-esteem and self-confidence, which starts the psychological spiral downward that will continue throughout one's life until intense psychotherapy has begun. Psychotherapy may answer many of life's questions, and lead one to realize that one's parental units were damaged, but it does not change the fact that you will still be called next to last in whatever it is you do.
Which of course, brings us back to Doh!
So, to paraphrase the Tabb Theorem, you're fucked if your name starts with P and beyond. Who were the latest bunch of presidents of the United States of America? The leaders of the free world? Well, there's Bill Clinton. And before him, George Bush. Before that was Reagan, but he doesn't count because he was an actor, and any self-esteem he may or may not have was fake anyway.
Before that was Carter. Before him, Ford. Before him Nixon. Before him Johnson, and before that Kennedy.
But wait. It gets better.
Rich people. Successful with money:
Like Bill Gates. Or Howard Hughes. Malcolm Forbes. And there are many more. Of course, there's also Donald Trump. But there's always an exception to the rule. Even if it lumbers around drunk hitting on anything with two legs and breasts.
Then there are the great thinkers, who had the confidence to get their ideas well known. Like Edison, Einstein, Asimov, Franklin, Jefferson and, of course, Dr. Joyce Brothers. Do you think these people would have freely expressed their ideas if they had always been called on last during their formative years? Blow me.
Here it gets a little tricky. But the Tabb Theorem still holds. Look at the Beatles. John Lennon. Paul McCartney. George Harrison. And Ringo Starr, the exception to the rule. But also the drummer. And the name of the band began with B. See, the guys in the band with the good last names had enough self-esteem to call themselves the Beatles, rather than, let's say, the Roaches or the Worms. And when a Beatles record was categorized at a radio station or in a store, one was more likely to see it and give it a whirl than a later-lettered album.
Other successful musicians include Bowie, Berry, Diddley, Dylan, Daltrey, Cobain, Elvis, Garcia, Hendrix, Jagger, Joplin, Morrison, Puff Daddy. So what if most of them are dead, or on their way? They still prove the Tabb Theorem.
Sure there's Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen. But first of all, Keith Richards is dead. He just doesn't know it. And second of all, Springsteen is from New Jersey. He may have been smart enough to call his band E. But we all know that just stands for Exit, as in "You're from Jersey? Which Exit?"
Then there are the artists. Not least "The Artist," who was smart enough to change his name from a P to an A. Who do we have? Hmm. Van Gogh. Pollack. Actually, many artists achieve high status even with bad last names. Warhol, Picasso, Stella, Spielberg, Salinger.
Why is this possible? Because artists throughout history have generally been "different." The underdogs, if you will. The underdog is always fighting, and, sometimes, in spite of himself, wins. The artist can get away with a lot more because he is often a sympathetic character to others. Whether he likes it or not.
Speaking of sympathetic characters, none of them have been recent mayors of New York City. But they all had the good last names. Giuliani, Dinkins, Koch, Lindsay, Beame and even La Guardia. And the mob bosses. Gotti, Castellano, Gambino, Luchese, Giovanni, Gravano, Capone and Corleone.
Then there's the biggie.
Who gave his son two good names.
But the kid ended up nailed to a cross, sucking vinegar.
Not the epitome of success, huh?
I guess that blows my whole theory.
Speaking of my theory, the Aquabats' new CD on Time Bomb called The Aquabats vs. The Floating Eye of Death! kicks booty. This band, who have been known to dress up in costumes that rival those of local heroes the Sea Monkeys, play the kind of tunes that will have you up and "whipping it" very quickly: they sound a hell of a lot like Devo. Devo covered by Captain Beefheart or Joe Jackson. They're punk. They're pop. They're nerdy, and they rule. And ya gotta hear the tune "Giant Robot-Birdhead."
Incredible is the only word I can come up with for Metallica's double live CD S&M on Elektra. The band, recorded live along with Michael Kamen conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, kick out some of their classic tunes, as well as those not-so-hot numbers from recent albums like Load and Re-Load. But with all the horns, strings and percussion added, every song on this thing is a gem. It's great to hear songs like "Master of Puppets" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" with complete orchestration behind them. And the kicker is that the songs sound almost completely new. Kamen, instead of following the already established melody lines by Ulrich and Hetfield, goes off in his own direction, bringing new sounds and meaning to the songs. It's mind-blowing. This album would be the perfect soundtrack for the perfect James Bond movie. At last, one of my favorite bands has merged with one of my favorite film heroes. This may well have been the best album of 1999.
Another great CD I got is from Jeremy Parise, called As We Float, self-released on his own label, firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, usually I hate this kinda stuff. What with one guy who writes, produces, performs and engineers the whole shebang. But this CD is different. Not just an ego trip from a pretty swell-looking guy, this recording is very listenable. The music, while sounding unique, does bring the White Album to mind, but also strays in the directions of early Bowie and even the Velvet Underground. Wendy loves this disc, and has already stolen it from me. Chicks.
Speaking of the Velvet Underground, Fellini's Basement's new self-titled disc, which is also self-released, brings back that whole Lou Reed thing, throwing in some Cramps and jangly-pop-noise for good measure. This band, who are a real hoot to see live, sound really lo-fi on this CD. Which is not a bad thing, by any means. This bunch of "artists" creates a mood I wish I could smoke weed to. I guess it sucks that I quit. Doh.
Slick Pelt, a groovy group from yo-Brooklyn, has a new CD called XXX Rodeo that's self-released as well. These guys play rockabilly/punk/metal. They sound like Elvis if he were to jam with Slayer and Link Wray. They also have a sort of surf sound. Added in there, just for the fuck of it, is some Cramps. This thing rocks. The songs are tight, and the singer, Manny "Willy" Berlingo, has a voice that will melt the hearts of all the girls.
Joker Five Speed, and their new CD She Likes Me on Joker Five Speed/Out of Our Own Pocket Records, looks like it should be rockabilly. But it isn't. Even with that leopard-skin Les Paul on the cover. This band from Tarrytown plays classic punk rock. Or rock punk. Much in the vein of the Clash, the Radicts, L.E.S. Stitches and Mike Ness. This disc is solid, heavy and has simple melodies that will stick in your head for days. My favorite tunes here include "Beat Somebody" and "No Good." But yeah, they are good.
Nipple. What kind of a name for a band is that? And the cover of their record. It has a, well, nipple on it. What's up with that? I mean, they're just screaming for a review that says "Nipple sucks." But they don't. They're hippie/alternative/tree-hugger-type Jersey fellows who play a fine mix of noise and tunes that could have been on the White Album if it were purple. Again, Wendy likes this one and has stolen it from me. I'm just sad because I miss the cover. Did I mention that the nipple is attached to one mighty-fine breast?