Tiptoe Through the Tulip Glasses

“There’s a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.” ― Diane Arbus

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The Rogue Voodoo Bacon Maple Donut Ale tastes like Cracker Barrel. It tastes of campy reproduction K-Tel record and Camulet baking powder tins as wall decoration. It tastes of sweaty truckers smoking cigarettes and playing giant checkers on oversized rocking chairs. It tastes of mass produced home-cooking and surly waitresses with stars on their aprons. It has the cloying fake maple sweetness of 1960’s hard candy. There is a synthetic smokiness of bad sausage. The pink bottle screams trailer park chic (my friend said that he really wanted to try it, but was too embarrassed to buy it because the bottle…he likened it to buying tampons for his girlfriend). The beer is basically a liquid meme. And all this to say, I am okay with it. I think it is kind of fun. Yeah, it is overhyped, overpriced, overdone, and overboard…but I can deal with that. I am, after all, an American with plenty of my sin allotment given to gluttony.

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God Bless Tiny Tim is a one of those records that looms in your collection waiting for the weak moment when you see it and grab it and hear that voice echoing through your speakers. With a preternatural knowledge of the American songbook, Tiny Tim was one of rock’s few evil geniuses. Wielding a glass-shattering falsetto and an apocalypse-summoning ukulele, this clumsy, dopey fellow tore through forgotten tunes and one man duets, all while blowing kissing to his uncomfortably perplexed audiences. The man was a performer. He knew what he was doing. And there was absolutely no logical explanation for his success. That’s what makes him great. And while his version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips has beat the odds and become an oddball standard, he really made some interesting and worthy music throughout his career (and thousands of dreadful songs as well). And, no doubt, Tiny Tim definitely spent his fair share of time hunkered down at various Cracker Barrels across this fine country’s interstate system –  serenading young hapless waitress, horrifying the good folks eating their biscuits, and effortlessly mastering the peg game.

So, what happens when you combine these guys. Chaos? Perhaps. Doomsday? Possibly. But more than likely you’ll just laugh at yourself. They broke the mold and slaughtered the mold maker for his atrocities. I would not fault anyone for despising or fearing either beer or musician. They carry a Frankensteinish off-putting vibe at first, but persevere and make their own path. Polarizing characters in their fields, both can be hard to sit through (really you deserve some sort of medal if you can drink a whole bottle yourself and listen to Sides A & B in one session), but give you a certain pride and inside knowledge once you’ve conquered the beast. The best and worst of American kitsch all rolled up in giant figures. Why else do you patronize to Cracker Barrel if not for the uncomfortable comforts?

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