The Fine Art of Bullshit

Killed by Google


Thursday Night in New Orleans
April 1994

The lazy ceiling fan spun in the humid Louisiana night. It was weighted poorly, letting out a loud squeak every fifth revolution. Annoying, but fixing it would have been more annoying.

I pushed myself up from the pleather sofa, navigated around a coffee table overrun with beer bottles, and shuffled to the entertainment center we had found on the street corner. With one hand I hit eject on the laser disc player and plucked out “Star Wars,” with the other slipped “Dazed and Confused” from its cardboard sleeve.

As it was probably the most prized possession in the apartment, I laid it into the player’s drawer like a newborn. Hit the button, grabbed another beer from the cooler, and threw myself back onto the couch between the dudes.

Our stomachs all tingled as those sensations we’d lived through a million times before once again kicked in: The black screen broken by the Gramercy Pictures logo, then the snake-charmer opening tones of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”

“Dude, fuckin’ Aerosmith,” came the call from under a pulled-down baseball cap.

“You know it.” The clinking of two bottles.

“Hey, you know…” A pause while Rick searched for the words. “You know, fuckin’… Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore are brother and sister.”

The song played uninterrupted while those words hovered in the air. Five seconds, six seconds, seven seconds. Then four dudes erupted.

“Bull fucking shit.”

“You’re…what…what the hell are you talking about.”

“What a load of crap. And is someone going to pack this?”

“No way! No wait. I think I’ve heard that before.”

The movie took a backseat to controversy.

“Absolutely.” Rick stood up, a bit unsteady, but ready to defend his declaration to the death. He stood between the couches and the TV, which meant Business.

“First off, I’ve heard that before somewhere. My buddy told me I think.” Like a politician, he pumped his uplifted thumb with every point. “Second, same name. Thirdly, they look exactly alike.”

“I’ve never been more impressed with how wrong someone can be,” said Tony, a beer cap snapping off his fingers, narrowly missing Rick’s head.

“It’s the truth.” Rick pointed back at us. “And it’s the 100% truth, so believe that.”

“Fuck you,” from Chris.

“Well,” came tentatively from Matt. “That sounds kinda familiar.”

“Alright. Phone. Settling.” I leaned forward and dug the cordless out from the empties. From memory I punched in the number of the local record store, and it started ringing.

“You know who might know,” pondered Chris. “Those girls downstairs.”

I pointed at him. “Excellent idea. Go get them.”

He jumped up and ran out the door.

The other end of the phone picked up. “mushroomrecordsthisismikecanihelpyou.”

“Hey man!” I yelled. It was loud in the apartment now. The movie had been paused, an Aerosmith CD retrieved, and “Sweet Emotion” put on repeat. “Hey, are Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore brother and sister?”

“What?!”

“Are Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore brother and sister?”

“Wow man. I don’t know…Hold on.” I heard the phone hit the counter. “Tim! Are Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore brother and sister?”

From the background I heard Tim yell, “I don’t fucking care!”

Record store Mike came back on the phone. “We don’t know. But we have a bunch of like, TV trivia books and shit. Maybe it says it in there.”

“Ok, cool. Thanks man.” I hung up the phone just as the girls walked in and were handed beers.

“Welcome ladies,” said Matt. “Before you can drink those beers, one quick question: Are Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore brother and sister?”

“Who and who?” replied the blonde one.

A collective “Aaaah shit!” from the dudes, as Rick moved in to explain and teach, gesturing at the TV and the stereo.

Chris grabbed the phone. “My buddy J.D. is DJ tonight at the radio station. Total music nerd. He’d know.”

“We’re going to need some more beer,” said Tony with a slight panic.

“Yep,” I said. “We gotta get this answered.” By now everyone was standing up, pacing the room, tossing out ideas.

“Are any libraries open?”

“Let’s call information in Boston and try to get Steven Tyler’s number.”

“We have to get our hands on a Mary Tyler Moore show VHS and do a side-by-side facial comparison.”

Chris put the phone down. “J.D. gave a definitive ‘maybe.’ And they have every Aerosmith record at the station.”

“Awesome!” High-fives all around.

“Uhm, can I just take this moment to point out how much I hate Aerosmith?” interjected Matt. He was promptly instructed to shut up, and that no one cared what he thought. This was bigger than that.

“Alright. The plan.” I pounded my fist into my open palm for emphasis. “We split up. Half of us go to the record store and try to find that book. The others go to the radio station and…do something. We meet up at The Boot after and compare notes. This shit gets settled now!”

“Hey, can we pick up our friends on the way?” asked one of the girls.

Matt pointed at her. “Great fucking idea.”

Whoosh. The apartment emptied out, the front door left wide open. Details get hazy, but highlights include:

  • The record store didn’t have the book, but had sunglasses for $3. A round were purchased.
  • The radio station had nothing about Mary Tyler Moore, but our group got to intro “Sweet Emotion” live on air and played it twice in a row. People called in and complained.
  • We mistimed the rendezvous at the first bar, but luckily all ran in to each other at the second bar, where Rebirth Brass Band was playing. We danced.
  • We asked every single person we met that night if they knew whether Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore were brother and sister. No one knew, and the split was 50–50ish.

And we never, ever found out the right answer.


Thursday Night in San Francisco
April 2014

I used my Roku app to start streaming Dazed and Confused on the flat-screen.

Our stomachs all tingled as those sensations we’d lived through two million times before once again kicked in: The black screen broken by the Gramercy Pictures logo, then the snake-charmer opening tones of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”

A bottle of IPA dropped from Rick’s lips as he made the declaration:

“You know, fuckin’…Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore are brother and sist-”

Four phones lit up.

“No they’re not.”

“No they’re not.”

“No they’re not.”

“No they’re fucking not.”

The End.

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