Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Retrospective 1: Vanilla Ice at the Ice House?

With this blog, I will introduce a new feature to my blog repertoire (or bloggystyle, if you will): the retrospective. Frequently used in movies and poems, retrospectives offer a look back at times gone by, when a computer was either not close at hand or not invented yet. This particular blog takes a look back at a warm night in the summer of '06. It was, indeed, the summer of 2006. Vanilla Ice had not been cool for about fifteen years. Yet long after his rap classic Ice Ice Baby set the world on fire, Vanilla was still making headlines, usually with his bizarre behavior (e.g. holding up a fake jewelery stand or changing to reggae and hard rock). I was sitting at a hockey game in downtown Omaha, watching the now-defunct Omaha Knights with about 140 other fans. I got a text: "Vanilla Ice Omaha tonight." I texted back: "Bull&*(# you &*()#*&()'ng liar." Typical text jargon. I told my guest who also didn't believe it was true.

But we figured it was worth investigating. I called an independent third party, who looked it up on the World Wide Web (praise be to Al Gore as always for inventing this wonderful tool) and confirmed that, indeed, Vanilla Ice would be playing the Big O that very night. The venue? It's almost too good to be true. He was alledgedly playing a sports bar called The Ice House. It was like a made for TV movie at this point.

But this would be no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. Vanilla didn't command the attention he once did. The ravages of age, jail time, and tattoos resulted in a quite different Ice than the one we remembered. And it almost seems like hair holds have traveled back in time, as he can't seem to keep it up like he used to. I'm talking about his hair, sickos.

I don't know what that means. If it's a metaphor, it's lost on me. The only thing I can think of is that he can rearrange his fingers into an anagram that spells "We won dip" (the extra W comes from the thumbs put together), "Indee Wop", or simply use his left hand and say "peon" (the irony is amazing). I also am pretty sure he borrowed that suit-tie-hemp bracelet combo.

So we traveled to the Ice House, hoping that tickets would be plentiful. At $20 apiece, I could have fed myself at McDonald's for days. But Ice promised more nutrition, lyrically, than all the double cheeseburgers (now McDoubles) in the world could provide. The only exception is when they play those "I'm Lovin' It" commercials because some of those actually have better lyrics than his new stuff.

The show started in the parking lot of a sports bar, which was bad sign number one: they wouldn't even let the performer and his fans into the bar. Jagermeister sponsored his tour and it took place on the back of a semi trailer. Lighting? Forgot about that. Backups dancers? Must have had the night off. Dozens of random black dudes standing on the trailer and doing nothing during the concert? CHECK. They seemed to function as some type of security/legitimacy-lending firm, and I don't know if you had to sign up ahead of time or if you could just jump on the trailer.

Also watching were about a hundred eager fans, more prescient than I, who realized that a) the concert would not be worth $20 b) they could stand across the street and watch the concert just as well as paying guests and c) they could drink for free if they used opaque cups. Damn them! The only price they had to pay was when Vanilla chided them for being cheap, although I don't think his exhortation to buy tickets really had any effect except to get fans to ask for their money back.

The concert started as we hoped it would: Ice Ice Baby. In fact, the song was played three times in whole or part. We also got a sample of Ninja Rap from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II soundtrack, one of his lesser-known classics. But he also slogged through some of his newer, heavy-metal stuff, which frustrated people who really just wanted him to play Ice Ice Baby for an hour. One drunken female fan even heaved her drink at him, cup and all. That's how close we were able to get to the legend. It was so empty you could hear every catcall.

One of the things I remember most about the concert was the waste of bottled water. Despite it not being particularly hot outside, he felt the need to shower the crowd with water every couple minutes, between most songs, during the instrumental breaks, and whenever he got booed. I think he went through about twenty bottles during the show.

Toward the end, he handed the mic off to his "homeboy", local rapper Shorty Spice. I'm pretty sure they had never met before, but Vanilla took this opportunity to invite all the "b*itches" in the crowd onstage. They had to pass the seven test, which means that they had to be about a seven a scale of one to ten to get onstage. The aforementioned black dudes seemed to be responsible for selecting them and funneling the hotter ones toward the star and I think they got to keep his cast-offs. Alot of phone numbers were exchanged, probably some kisses, and certainly some drunken vulgarities.

But now we get to the climax of the night. Remembering that he was indeed sponsored by a certain drink company, he had to do something to promote Jager. What better than to give out free alcohol and shout the name it? Now, I've been to plenty of places where alcohol is given away as a promotion, but not quite in this format. He actually started POURING JAGER DIRECTLY INTO FANS' MOUFS. Clearly I had to get in on this, and I used my size to push past several lesser fans so that I could experience this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

I yelled his name (not Rupert Van Winkle, but his stage name). He looked at me. The look seemed to last forever. That dirty haircut. Those wild, coked-out-of-his-skull, I-couldn't-care-less-if-I-never-visited-whatever-this-city-is-again eyes. It seemed to last a lifetime. I shouted again, although I don't know what.

(Key dream sequence)

And then it happened. The Jager bottle moved toward me as if an invisible hand were in control, except the invisible hand became visible and was attached to Vanilla Ice's wrist. The Jager poured like a caramel-colored waterfall toward my shirt. Care not I did. I got some in my mouth finally. But really, I should have just let it rain down like notes from a mandolin on my shirt, my shorts, my socks, and my shoes. I could have sold them on EBay for a fortune, but my fortune was in my mouth, my friends, and I hold on to the thought that, like Caesar's last breath, a few molecules of that icy Jagermeister remain somewhere in my body.

On a final, unrelated note, I also am at the library, and I love that when people approach a strange dog and talk to it in a baby voice, they ask questions to the owner by addressing the dog: "What's your name? What kind of dog are you?" I have yet to see a dog respond to these questions truthfully. It's like the owner is interpreting what the dog might say, if it could think.


  1. I think I had more fun writing this than any entry so far. Retrospectives are a fun and fulfilling way to blog.

  2. "The only price they had to pay was when Vanilla chided them for being cheap." LOL.

    That dream (reality) sequence made me feel as if I were right there with you. You were riding giants that night my friend.

    "Caesar's last breath." hahahaa!!

  3. laughed loudly multiple times while reading this account. if only it really happened. too good to be true.

  4. Some people have questioned the veracity of this blog, but this one is 105% true. It is hardly even exaggerated (exaggeration=truth and then some). I have some supporting evidence: June 2, 2006 this concert took place in Omaha. You can look this up on the web, there is also a video from it.


  6. i love he didn't have lighting but did have flying sparks. whats a concert with out shooting sparks of flames or some other badass shit?

  7. Here is a guest testimonial about that night from Greg, who was with me, meant to bolster the veracity of my Vanilla Ice story...

    The Iceman Cometh

    As soon as we got word that Vanilla was coming to Omaha, we all got tingly with excitement. By we all, I mean that after calling everyone I knew, I convinced two other people to join me for a live rendition of "Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go," among other timeless hits. JK, Kelley and I had some idea that we were in for the time of our lives, especially due to the irony that Vanilla's concert was at "The Icehouse" - genious. We drank in his lyrical masterpieces one after another...and JK even got to drink some Jager, straight from the VIP himself.