Greg Stacy’s FAT LOT OF GOOD

February 10, 2007

EYEBALL FOOD

Filed under: Eyeball Food,Geekery,Music,Weird — gregstacy @ 10:27 am

Just reprinting my old articles is getting a little tired, so I’m going to start up a new section here on FAT LOT OF GOOD. EYEBALL FOOD will showcase all sorts of interesting video crap I find online: obscure music videos, geeky tech stuff, people in gorilla suits… whatever the heck I feel like, really. So, here is today’s deliciousness.

MARGO GURYAM’S AMAZING, TERRY GILLIAM/YELLOW SUBMARINE-ESQUE, ANTI-W MUSIC VIDEO . As much as I love this thing, even a pinko like me has to admit the last few seconds are rather thumpingly unsubtle. (Spoiler warning!) Either show the dummy growing devil horns, or have its nose grow, but both? Why not go all out, and show him speaking with a forked tongue while his pants catch on fire?

DINOSAURS! LIVING! LIVE DINOSAURS! This thing sure makes the modern Hollywood CGI crap look like the crappy crap it is. I almost want to hop on a flight to freakin’ Australia, just so I can see this show in person.

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE DINOSAURS BACK TO LIFE. Behind the scenes special effects geekery, with giant rubber lizards. Heaven.

NORA, THE PIANO-PLAYING CAT. Admittedly her music is an aquired taste… but what stage presence!

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December 19, 2006

Bigger Than Jesus: Elvis was a hero to most

Filed under: Music,OC Weekly — gregstacy @ 12:43 pm

(Printed in OC WEEKLY, September 25, 2003)

You don’t hear much anymore about Elvis sightings, and I don’t think it’s so much that people have stopped seeing him (or imagining they’ve seen him) as that the media—even the tabloid rags—just got fed up with giving this peculiar phenomenon so much ink. After the King expired in a particularly undignified manner atop his commode in 1977, hillbillies across the land were so grief-stricken that, for a good 15 years or so, they simply refused to believe the man was truly gone, and regular reports surfaced that Elvis had been seen bowling in Atlanta or pounding down chicken and biscuits at anonymous roadside eateries. Would that it were true; there is something wonderfully romantic about the idea that Elvis, fed-up with the sorry, drug-addled mess his life had become, decided to chuck it all and start afresh, that someday soon he may elect to step from the shadows and return to us, strapping on his guitar and shaking his arthritic hips one more time to show all these talentless pissants cluttering up the modern media landscape—your Eminems and your Nellys and so on—how this shit is really done.

A few years back, I came across a wall of Elvis kitsch in some store in Santa Ana, and it stopped me cold. This was not ironic Elvis swag—there were no ashtrays or Elvis dolls with bobbling heads. No, this was the expensive Elvis crap—copper busts and that sort of thing. I probably wouldn’t have paid it all much mind had it not been for the lenticular portraits, those spooky things in which the image changes as you walk past them. Just a few feet away from an Elvis with sad, gooey eyes that followed you, there was an almost identical lenticular of a Jesus with sad, gooey eyes that followed you. Inspecting the store’s Jesus swag, it was remarkable how many products were nearly identical to the Elvis stuff; if you were of a mind to set up side-by-side Jesus and Elvis shrines in your living room—as more than a few Americans have surely done—everything you would have needed was right here.

John Lennon got himself and his band mates into some serious trouble decades ago when he commented that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. The Beatles aren’t quite bigger than Jesus, but Elvis is by almost any measure. Unless you live a particularly hermetic lifestyle, the odds are you usually don’t go more than a few days without encountering Elvis in some form, whether it’s one of his songs on the radio, or his image on TV, or a bobbling Elvis head in the rear windshield of somebody’s car. By contrast, when was the last time you saw a representation of Jesus? Unless you’re a regular churchgoer, I’d wager you see the King about twice as often as you encounter the King of Kings. Elvis worship is growing every day around the world, and there are already jokey Elvis churches out there. Sometimes it seems only a matter of time before somebody starts one for real. Nowadays our pop cultural image of Elvis is dominated by the campy later days, the era of spangly jumpsuits and chemical excess. But look past that, to his early days, and you’ll soon realize why Elvis has influenced nearly every prominent musician since, whether they were even aware of it or not. Elvis is dead; long live the king.

Thankyuhverymuch: Kavee Thongprecha’s journey from Thailand to Graceland

Filed under: Humor,Interviews,It's a Living,Movies,Music,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 12:38 pm

(Printed in OC WEEKLY, September 25, 2003)

For far too long, those lucky hound dogs in LA have had Kavee Thongprecha, the Thai Elvis impersonator, all to themselves. Well into his 60s, Thongprecha still performs nightly at Hollywood’s Palms Thai Restaurant, and he is sometimes glimpsed cruising the streets in a spectacular automobile adorned with Elvis gewgaws and a license plate reading, T ELVIS. But next Thursday, the humble people of Orange County will at last be graced with the presence of this singular entertainer, as he performs at the UC Irvine screening of the Elvis Presley film Flaming Star. Our conversation was complicated by Thongprecha’s somewhat uncertain English and a phone line that sounded more like he was calling from Thailand than LA, but I’ll always treasure our brief encounter for the sheer, wonderful strangeness of it all.

 

OC Weekly: Have you seen Flaming Star, the film that’s going to be screening at UC Irvine the night you perform?

Kavee Thongprecha: It’s . . . I’m sorry, there is a film?

Yes. Flaming Star.

I . . . no. I don’t know this.

Oh. Well, do you remember when you first discovered Elvis?

Nineteen fifty-seven, I think. Yes.

This was back in Thailand? How is Elvis regarded over there?

Oh, people love him, I think. He is very popular, of course.

When did you come to America, and when did you start performing as Elvis?

In 1957. I came to America in 1972. My mother was living here. I started performing then.

Wait . . . you started performing in 1957? Or in 1972?

[Very long pause indeed.]

Hello? Mr. Thongprecha?

[Otherworldly, echoing sounds on phone line, until the voice of Thongprecha returns, forlorn and far away.] Yes? . . . Hello?

Uh, okay, let’s move on. How often do you perform, and how would you describe a typical performance for those who’ve never seen one?

Five nights a week. From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Wow! That’s a long performance!

Oh, I don’t perform the whole time, no. They have other things there, too.

Still, five nights a week is impressive. How long do you see yourself doing this?

[Very long pause.]

How long do you think you’ll keep performing . . . ?

[Another long pause.]

. . . Before you retire?

Oh. Well, it depends on my health. I am getting older, and I have some health problems now, you know. But I say, as long as I can still do, I will do.

December 14, 2006

The Song Remained the Same: The Ramones didn’t wanna grow up

Filed under: Movies,Music,OC Weekly — gregstacy @ 12:17 pm

(Originally printed in OC WEEKLY, May 22, 2003)

 Looking at a print of an impressionist painting in the waiting room of your podiatrist’s office, it is hard to imagine that the Impressionists were once reviled by critics and the public alike, that people looked at Monet’s pretty, ploppy little pictures of water-lilies and thought he was an absolute madman. Igor Stravinky’s avant-garde ballet Rite of Spring caused actual riots when it debuted in 1913. Parisians heard those violins strike up and a bloody mosh pit broke out at Le Theatre des Champs Elysees. To the modern ear, Stravinsky’s churning score sounds like nothing so much as background music for a PBS documentary about mollusks. And then there’s the Beatles, who surely never imagined, when they were thumping out a cellar-full of noise in the Hamburg nightclubs of the early ’60s, that 40 years later their music would be sold in compilations designed to send babies off to slumber land. Over and over and over again, yesterday’s artistic revolutionary has become today’s Muzak.

And so it is easy now, with punk having been so thoroughly co-opted by the mainstream that you find Avril Lavigne and Blink-182 performing Disney Channel music while tricked out in Sid Vicious gear, to forget that for a couple of decades after it began punk scared the absolute crap out of people. When Johnny Rotten would turn up on TV and snarl at the camera, 99 percent of the people watching would make a desperate grab for the channel changer and mutter to themselves about how this crap ever made it on the air. Walking around in public with a mohawk was a good way to get your ass kicked by hillbillies in Led Zep T-shirts, and the one thing that repressive conservatives and soppy liberals were in complete agreement about was that kids who listened to punk were polluting their brains with the worst garbage imaginable.

The band that arguably began this whole sorry, scabby genre was the Ramones, although all these years later, time has so blunted their edge that many people now boggle at the notion that the band was ever considered punk at all. But punk they were, and they set a standard that thousands of bands have attempted to live down to ever since. In 1974, when rock was jaded and fat and guitar solos were proliferating out of all control, when mellow singer/songwriters and arena rock doofs ruled the charts, the Ramones were strikingly homely goonybirds who took to the stage in leather jackets and pageboy haircuts and blasted out something pure and primal and wonderfully ridiculous, music that slapped you around and actually made you want to dance again. Sure, every song sounded the same, but it was all the same great song. Ramones: End of the Century, a new documentary screening this week at the Egyptian Theater, offers us the chance to look back at the band, and what emerges inspires frustration as well as affection.

While the Sex Pistols and many other punk bands of the era had the decency to burn out early, breaking up and/or dying before they got old and desperate and irrelevant, the Ramones kept banging out that same song for decades. Most of us can only hear that same song so many times, but for the Ramones and their die-hard fans, the refusal to develop was part of the point. Experimentation was a dangerous road that, once started down, could turn you into a prog rocker if you weren’t careful. I saw the band’s founder, Dee Dee Ramone, perform his final gig in 2002, a few days before he died of a drug overdose. I remember thinking that he put on a great show, but there was something more than a bit tragic about him, this man who had written so many great and famous songs, now an old duffer screaming himself hoarse trying to recapture faded glories on the tiny stage of LA’s El Rey.

On their last album as a group, the Ramones covered Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” a sentiment that was their salvation as well as their curse. They held tight to angry youth until their youth had long since slipped away and their anger had faded to bitter resignation, stubbornly refusing to grow up until a couple of them up and died. They came along too soon for their own good, but at just the right moment for the rest of us; it will be a long time indeed before the one great song they sang stops ringing in our ears.

November 25, 2006

This Shit Is Still Bananas: Ten years with Gwen

Filed under: Humor,Music,OC Weekly — gregstacy @ 7:08 am

(Originally published in OC WEEKLY, December 29, 2005)

 This May I wrote a column titled “This Shit Is Bananas,” in which I made fun of the baffling lyrics of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” It was a silly column about a silly song, but both the column and song proved to have surprising longevity.

“Hollaback Girl,” after approximately 90 million weeks on the charts, is now up for a Record of the Year Grammy. “This Shit Is Bananas,” meanwhile, has been passed around online more than that video of the monkey sniffing his own butt. A few months back, the revamped A Current Affair actually approached me to appear as a Stefani “expert” for a story they were doing. (I’m proud to say I turned their sleazy tabloid asses down.) While I’d hardly call myself an expert on all things Gwen, me and Ms. Stefani do go way back . . .

I first encountered Stefani 10 years ago, a few months after OC Weekly began and a few weeks after I began interning here. Late one night I was watching Are-Oh-Vee, an OC-based music video show that floated around various UHF stations during the ’90s: amidst the dour Velvet Underground wannabes, the video for No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” stood out like Pee-Wee Herman in a biker bar. Gwen’s gorgeous but carefully over-exposed face completely filled the screen as she mugged and pouted and squealed her way through the song’s dippy, would-be feminist lyrics (“I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite/So don’t let me have any rights”). She was incredibly sexy, incredibly talented and incredibly annoying. All these years later, she is still all those things, only more so.

Stefani clearly grew up with a Madonna altar in her bedroom (Madonna Ciccone, that is) and over the last decade her look and sound constantly evolved as she struggled to stay one step ahead of the trends. But while Madonna has only started to look desperate in recent years, Stefani’s desperation was evident from day one: when she performs, everything about her screams, Love me love me love me. It’s like she’s never stopped auditioning. I wish somebody would take her aside and whisper in her ear, “Relax, honey; you got the job.”

Stefani is simultaneously one of the best and the worst things to happen to modern pop music. When she bothers to write a proper song and perform it without making all the monkey faces, the results can be golden. But just as often she poots out ephemera, and her seemingly endless hip-hop cameos help make stars of no-talents like Eve. (How much did Stefani get paid for saying, “You got it like that,” 18 times during Pharrell Williams“Can I Have It Like That?” Could she have possibly spent more than three minutes in the studio?) The words “by Gwen Stefani” are occasionally cause for celebration; the words “featuring Gwen Stefani” are almost invariably cause for panic.

2005’s been Stefani’s most eventful year yet, with the Grammy nom, her own fashion line, a role in The Aviator and a baby on the way. And thanks to Gwen, I’ve celebrated the Weekly’s 10th year with my own tiny milestone: I’ve finally written a column that wasn’t forgotten two days after it saw print. I don’t think it was the brilliance of my writing that has given “This Shit Is Bananas” its surprising durability; I think there are a lot of people out there who, like me, kinda hate Stefani even as we breathlessly await her next move.

And I suspect that’s fine with Stefani. We can think whatever we like about her . . . so long as we’re still thinking about her.

October 29, 2006

Damn Right, It’s Better Than Yours: Kelis’ “Milkshake” deconstructed

Filed under: Humor,Music,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 8:48 am

(Originally printed by OC WEEKLY, January 29, 2004)

Kelis’ “Milkshake” has been stuck in my head for weeks. It is a masterpiece of awfulness, so completely, weirdly bad that my mind refuses to let it go. In a sadly futile effort to purge “Milkshake” from my brain, I have dissected the lyrics line by line in hopes of making some sense of them. Assuming you’ve been similarly harassed by the song, we run the following analysis as a public service:

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

(Err . . . okay. Presumably, Kelis is not referring to a literal milkshake. From what follows, it would seem most likely that she is singing about her breasts. So, she is saying the way she shakes her breasts draws boys from far and wide, and they all stand around in her front yard. It’s a very strange concept, but we’ll run with it.)

And they’re like, it’s better than yours

(Wait . . . better than whose? Did the boys bring their girlfriends along to stand in the yard, and these boys are comparing their girlfriends’ breasts to Kelis’? That’s just plain rude!)

Damn right, it’s better than yours

(Kelis apparently agrees that her breast-shaking is better than the girlfriends’ of the boys standing in her yard.)

I can teach you, but I have to charge

(Curiouser and curiouser. Perhaps Kelis is now telling the girls that she will instruct them in the art of breast-shakeage for a small fee. Kelis lives in a very strange world. The entire first verse now repeats, and it only becomes more confusing on the second go-round.)

I know you want it

The thing that makes me

What the guys go crazy for

(Kelis asserts that because her breast-shaking technique is better than the girlfriends’ of the boys standing in her yard, these poor girls can never hope to sexually arouse their boyfriends the way Kelis can. Kelis is apparently kind of a bitch.)

They lose their minds

The way I whine

(While most men would not put whininess high on the list of characteristics they find attractive in a woman, apparently the strange boys who gather in Kelis’ yard find it irresistible.)

I think it’s time

(Ummm . . . time for what? For Kelis to shake her breasts? Does it happen each day at a designated time? No wonder the boys are gathering in her yard, if they’re guaranteed a show like that every day at a specified hour!)

La, la , la, la, la

Warm it up

(A warm milkshake? The prospect is faintly nauseating, frankly. This would seem to confirm that Kelis is not referring to a literal milkshake. Perhaps her breasts are cold from all that time in her yard, and she is shaking them to warm them up.)

La, la , la, la, la

The boys are waiting

(Apparently, it is indeed the designated hour for Kelis to do her breast-shaking show for the boys gathered in her yard. With a scene like that going on, I wonder how long it will be before some neighbor calls the cops? The first verse now repeats again, twice.)

I see you’re on it

You want me to teach thee

Techniques that freaks these boys

(Kelis is apparently once again plugging the instructional courses she offers in breast-shaking.)

It can’t be bought

(Hang on! Kelis, did you not say just a few verses ago that, for a nominal fee, you would teach these poor girls how to shake their breasts? And now you’re rescinding the offer! What the hell, girl?!?)

Just know things get caught

Watch if you’re smart

(Well, at least Kelis is taking the time to warn these girls about the dangers of STDs. And judging by the asshole boyfriends they’ve apparently hooked up with, I’d say it’s a very real possibility they could contract some scary diseases.)

La, la , la, la, la

Warm it up

La, la , la, la, la

The boys are waiting

(Know what, Kelis? You are just plain not nice, and the girlfriends of the terrible boys in your yard are going to need some serious counseling.)

This Shit Is Bananas: A probing analysis of Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’

Filed under: Humor,Music,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 8:45 am

(Originally published by OC WEEKLY, Thursday, May 5, 2005)

Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” is one of the most baffling pieces of music of the modern age. It’s got something to do with cheerleaders—that much is clear, judging from the chanting and the marching band that’s honking and tooting in the background. Beyond that, good luck deciphering the song’s ambiguities. We were so vexed by the mystery that is “Hollaback Girl” that we have devoted countless hours to its study. Our conclusions are below. The first thing you should know, though, is that Gwen is not singing “I ain’t no Harlem fat girl”—at least, we don’t think she is.

Uh huh, this my shit
Gwen is introducing us to her shit.

All the girls stomp your feet like this
This talk of shit and stomping has nothing to do with actually stepping on feces. But what does it mean? From a reading of the later text, we can conclude that the song takes place in the world of high school athletics, and that Gwen is apparently leading the girls in a calisthenics exercise. The “shit,” we surmise, is what she calls the exercises she’s teaching the other girls.

A few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
Here, Gwen exhorts the girls to try harder as they jog around the track, reminding them that physical fitness is “not just gonna happen,” but must be worked at.

Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl
These lines are the most confusing, but their meaning will become clearer later.

Oooh, this my shit, this my shit
Gwen repeats this four more times. She wants to make sure that we are well acquainted with her shit.

I heard that you were talking shit
And you didn’t think that I would hear it
Gwen has been the victim of some slanderous high school gossip, and she doesn’t appreciate it. Gwen is 35 years old sliding into MILF status at this point, but we’ll grant her some poetic license.

People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up
So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gwen is going to round up a “posse” of her girlfriends and retaliate against the person who’s been talking “smack” about her.

Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
Gwen is going to beat up the person who wronged her, after she completes the cheerleading routine that will inspire the football team to score a touchdown. Gwen has interesting priorities.

That’s right, put your pom-poms down, getting everybody fired up
It seems the entire cheerleading squad is going to beat up the person who spoke ill of Gwen; they have put down their pom-poms, and they are now “fired up” to exact swift and terrible vengeance on Gwen’s behalf.

A few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl
Gwen is apparently the captain of the cheerleader squad; she is the girl who “hollas” the chants, not one of the girls who simply “hollas” them back. Given that the squad is preparing to beat somebody up on Gwen’s behalf, she’s picked a strange time to remind them that she is their leader and they are her sheep-like followers. Gwen obviously rules her squad with an iron fist.

Oooh, this my shit, this my shit [repeated four times]
Again with the shit.

So that’s right dude, meet me at the bleachers
No principals, no student-teachers
Both of us want to be the winner, but there can only be one
So I’m gonna fight, gonna give it my all
We learn that it was a “dude” who gossiped about Gwen. She challenges him to a fight at the bleachers. If he imagines it will be a fair, one-on-one fight, he is sadly mistaken. Gwen and her aforementioned “pack” will pounce on him like rabid wolves.

Gonna make you fall, gonna sock it to you
That’s right, I’m the last one standing, another one bites the dust
Gwen’s pack of furious cheerleaders leaves the boy a quivering, bloody heap behind the bleachers for the groundskeeper to discover the next day.

A few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl
Having completed their ghastly work, Gwen’s squad members return to the field and resume their cheerleading activities, as Gwen reminds them once more that she is the boss and they are all her bitches.

Oooh, this my shit, this my shit [repeated four times]
By calling her exercise routines “shit,” Gwen is showing us that for all her bravado, the character in this song secretly suffers from profound self-esteem issues. She is a complex antiheroine for an age of changing gender attitudes and expectations.

Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas
B-A-N-A-N-A-S
Here, Gwen steps away from this bloody spectacle for a moment to comment on the madness and ugliness of what we’ve just witnessed, and, by extension, the petty rivalries of high school in general. This shit is bananas, Gwen tells us, and we can only agree. And lest we miss the point, she spells it out. And repeats it another three times.

A few times I’ve been around that track
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl
Back on the field, Gwen is still bullying the squad to carry out her routines. But now we see her in a new light, as the sad, lost creature she truly is.

Oooh, this my shit, this my shit [repeated four times]
As the song fades out, Gwen is left only with her “shit,” the mindless exercises that bring her no comfort from the raging emptiness within. As much as she “hollas,” no one hears her cries for help.

October 27, 2006

IT’S A LIVING: Traveling ice cream man

Filed under: Humor,Interviews,It's a Living,Music,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 2:50 am
(Originally published in OC WEEKLY, Thursday, August 17, 2006)

See me coming, you ain’t got no change
Don’t worry baby, it can be arranged
Show me you can smile, baby just for me
Fix you with a Drumstick, I’ll do it for free

—Tom Waits, Ice Cream Man

It sounds like the ultimate summertime daydream: buy yourself an ice cream truck and drive around America giving away free ice cream, getting by mostly on good karma and stopping off at concerts to hang out backstage with rock stars. But that daydream is all in a day’s work for Matt Allen, the Ice Cream Man.

Show Allen a smile, and he’ll fix you with a Drumstick, or a Good Humor Bar, or a Choco Taco, and he’ll always do it for free. Since 2004, Allen says he’s handed out 35,000 ice cream treats at concerts, festivals and other events across the USA. He hopes to give away a million before he’s through.

On a muggy Sunday in early June, Allen pulled over on his way to Kansas and spoke to me by phone. He was beginning a three-month tour. He already sounded exhausted, and while we chatted, an angry wasp was pestering him inside his truck. Allen has spent this summer driving through the desert in a 1969 Chevy truck without air-conditioning or cruise control, sleeping on a thin mattress spread atop the freezer in the back, and waking with the sunrise. Ice cream trucks are notoriously unreliable, and Allen takes it as a given that his—which he has christened Bessie—will break down at some point.

“Yeah, Bessie hasn’t been too friendly lately,” Allen says. “Just about everything in her is brand-new. I’ve had to replace it all. They’re not made for trips like this, so you have to do endless preventative maintenance for all the things that could go wrong. It’s been unbelievably horrible.”

Allen has just about the most fun job ever, but having this much fun is damn hard work. He’s put in 100-hour weeks as the Ice Cream Man, sometimes traveling 15 hours per day.

The Ice Cream Man arrives at a concert, hands out free treats to the crowd and the crew backstage, then he’s at leisure to enjoy the show as the sun goes down. At icecreamman.com, Allen and a small team of volunteers write concert reviews and post photos of folks happily scarfing down their complimentary treats. Allen relies on corporate sponsorship to underwrite his tasty brand of philanthropy, and he’s worked out deals with sponsors ranging from Mochi Ice Cream to WESC clothing.

“I’ve always kinda had a hatred for advertising,” Allen says. “But if we do it right, this is a win-win for everybody. I always say, they can run a quarter-page ad someplace, or for the same money, they can use us. For them it’s a cool way to integrate their product into the event, and we need their money to keep Bessie running and to keep the freezers full.”

The operation is headquartered in Long Beach, Allen’s hometown, but it reaches all over the nation and Allen plans to take it international soon. He’s working on a sponsorship deal with Toyota that would see a fleet of Yaris cars transformed into roving mini-Bessies, or “Bessitas,” as Allen calls them. But until then, he’ll continue to saddle up Bessie and together they’ll travel the nation doing God’s work.

Allen has always been a free spirit, planning his life around the kind of wild ideas that come to you when you’re staring out your office window during a joyless lunch hour. He and a buddy once made a roller coaster trip across America, riding 100 coasters in a month. Another time, Allen rode a bicycle from Long Beach to Maine, raising $17,000 for breast cancer research. He’s hiked the Appalachian Trail. Most of us give up our lunch-hour fantasies, finish our coffee, and go back to poking around on eBay and pretending we’re working. But Allen just isn’t a life-of-quiet-desperation kinda guy.

“It’s the doing it that gets it done,” Allen says, “not the planning.”

Allen started selling ice cream in college. He bought a three-wheeled bike, attached a cooler, and rode around Denver with a boom box playing instrumental jazz. After he bought Bessie for $1,200, he had an epiphany: Why not roam the Earth, giving ice cream away? He makes it sound like the most natural thing in the world.

Allen says he’ll give this operation five to seven years, and if it doesn’t work out, he’ll be ready to give it up.

“I’ll disappear,” he says, “then appear someplace new. I’ll start over. With a new adventure.”

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