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Racket

On April 2 of last year, Ted Nugent took to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion stage dressed in his strange notion of multicultural attire (Indian headdress, rebel flag T-shirt) and launched into a litany of abuse. He excoriated "faggots" a little, but such was to be expected from The Nuge, and those remarks scarcely drew mention in the press accounts of the show. It was when he turned his attention to Hispanics that he ignited a firestorm.

From beneath his headdress, Nugent snarled, "If you're not gonna speak English, get the fuck out of America." On a previous tour stop Nugent had made similar remarks in San Antonio.

The League of United Latin American Citizens and Woodlands officials responded swiftly, perhaps too swiftly for their own good.

In organizing a national boycott of the bluntly bigoted rocker, Houston LULAC spokesman Johnny Mata said publicly that a Nugent apology would be an insufficient display of remorse, but that a $100,000 donation to a bilingual education program might do the trick. Pavilion president Charles Gottlieb stated flatly that The Motor City Madman would never again rev his engine in The Woodlands, though days later he backtracked by saying that under unspecified "certain conditions" Nugent could play the venue again.

An undaunted Nugent elaborated on his views to the media (then in the throes of the similar John Rocker vs. the Big Apple controversy). He compared himself to "Rosa Parks with a guitar and a raised middle finger." He said that to be an "asset" to America, one cannot be monolingual in any language other than English. Evidently Nugent, the bow-hunting fanatic, doesn't consider the many Spanish-speaking people who put the fruit and vegetable garnishes beside his arrow-slain venison assets to America, but who knows? Maybe he has no use for those folks after all. Racket thinks he might survive on a 100 percent meat diet. Likely raw.

A scheduled gig at The Woodlands was canceled in August 2000, so evidently those remarks were not enough to assuage the conditions that Gottlieb mentioned. At any rate, that was the toned-down Nugent. On his Web site Nugent posted a rant (www.tnugent.com/cgi-bin/tnusa/board/wall? page=message.html& message_id=8) that really unburdened his mind. In awarding LULAC "The Michael Jackson Gay Goat Urine Studded Bib Award," Nugent addressed imagined readers as "el taco breath" and "burrito stink" before closing with a little butchered Spanish of his own. "Aye corumba. Buenos dias mis amigos. Vamanos. Comprende? Muchas gracias. Put hotsause on my ass and eat me."

To be fair, Nugent also said that he "love(d) Mexicans" and pointed out that his bass player of 20-some years is a Mexican-American, of whom he said, "He habla English." He saved his vitriol for LULAC (which he renamed The Losers and United Latin American Clowns) and the Mexican government -- the latter of which he described as "monsters of beastial corruption," human rights abusers of "a Nazi style and level of vulgarity," and "pukes" who "rape, murder, sodomize, molest, rob, strongarm, and outright slaughter" Mexicans and Americans alike.

While some on both sides of the border may sympathize with some of those views toward minor mordida-seeking functionaries of the Mexican government, Nugent went on to broadcast some scare-mongering opinions that sound like they were lifted directly from a Klan Konclave. "If I dial another 911 operator only to be confused by some Spanish-speaking import, I think I'm gonna puke. I got a kid bleeding to death, and the emergency operator bounces back and forth from English to Spanish!" Somehow Spanish-speaking 911 operators don't seem likely to be thick on the ground in the Germanic fastness of Nugent's rural Midwestern homeland, although kids bleeding to death do. How many times has he encountered this problem? What's he doing to those kids? Trying to shoot apples off their heads like William Tell?

Then there's the usual grousing about choosing between Spanish and English government forms and the "illegals are taking welfare right out of our pockets," bitches familiar to all who have followed the debate. Elsewhere on the Net, Nugent, who describes himself as (big surprise here) the "official rock 'n roll, hunting, conservation representative of the Rush Limbaugh EIB Radio and Television Network," says, "We need to send a final message to the pimps, whores and welfare brats once and for all -- GET A DAMN JOB! We need to tell the homos to quit sending us the bill for their ass slammin and needle sharing CONDUCT! You want to cure AIDS! CUT IT OUT ASSHOLES!" (Again, to be fair, he tells African-Americans to stop "doing the work of the Klan" through black-on-black violence, though gays get no similar words of encouragement.)

One can see that Nugent has not toned down his act, nor likely will he ever. But somehow, somewhere along the line, The Nuge must have met Gottlieb's conditions. Because the Madman is back at the scene of his crime against good manners, on a bill with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Deep Purple and the Hadden Sayers Band on July 7. It's hard to imagine a man of his bluntness and right-wing evangelism putting a lid on it from the bully pulpit of the pavilion's stage, so expect an encore performance.

The pavilion folks are mum on the subject. On June 27 they deflected Racket's phone call to concert behemoth SFX, which likewise at first had nothing to say. Racket was then steered to SFX's PR firm, which a day later issued a statement. Dated June 28 and bearing the name of Bob Roux, SFX co-president of booking, the statement skirted the issue altogether, but pledged $1 per ticket to The Stevens and Pruett Ranch (which benefits abused children and animals, perhaps including pincushioned deer) and another 50 cents per to the National Child ID program. It also urged a "positive concert experience." Racket knows his household implements when he sees them, and this one looks an awful lot like a broom. Even the local LULAC chapter didn't return phone calls, perhaps embarrassed over its local chapter's all-too-public boycott/extortion attempt, and the state chapter had no comment.

So there you have it, Houston. Under the First Amendment, Nugent is entitled to those views; SFX is entitled to bring him to town; and The Woodlands is also entitled to put him on stage, though one wonders if the venue would do the same for, say, Rage Against the Machine or an early-'90s Ice-T, acts whose political leanings are just as explosive though much less "law and order"-oriented and Limbaugh-approved.

Racket is also entitled to share Nugent's views with you, and what you do with them is your own business. If you don't like what he has to say, go to The Woodlands and tell him so. He's certainly not shy about telling you what he thinks.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

Houston folk-rocker Jeff Boortz has announced plans to release two new albums this summer. First out of the chutes will be Let's Open the Bad Drawer, Live with the Jeff Boortz Band, which was recorded at the Sidecar Pub. A studio release will follow hard on its heels. The John Jackson-produced This Year's Comeback was recorded in Nashville. Music City ax legend Jackson has toured with both Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan…Scott Gertner will be hosting a weekly talent competition at his Skybar every Wednesday at midnight. Budding jazzbos take note: Gertner is seeking vocal, instrumental, and single and group talent. The winner each night, determined by audience response, will receive $100. Gertner will also be scouting talent for his house band. All contestants must sign in by 10 p.m. and pony up the $7 cover charge…Houston rap duo Bloodline has just released its self-titled debut on local label All Out Records…Humorous Package Tour of the First Half of 2001 Award goes to "The Short End of the Stick Tour," composed of Simon Says, Darwin's Waiting Room and ünloco. The trio of hard rockers was miffed about being left off the Ozzfest bill and responded by launching this DIY response. At $5 a ticket, attendees of this Engine Room show on Sunday, July 8, can't say they were given short shrift.


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