Check Out: Are You Bad As Tom Waits?

You’re walking home alone on a warm, rainy evening, puddles collecting on the sidewalk, steam rising from the sewers, and half-burned-out neon signs buzzing overhead. Winos are sleeping in all the doorways, and pigeons are shooting dice in an alley. At the corner of 9th and Hennepin, you notice a small crowd gathering. You cross the street to see what’s going on. In the middle of the crowd is a lone, seamy character in a tattered, 30-dollar suit and a black bowler hat with what looks like blotches of mildew around the crown. He opens his fist before you, and there, in the palm of his hand, sits a phonograph the size of a sugar cube. He balls up his fist again, and the sounds of a full marching band come blaring out from between his fingers. Out of thin air, he produces a dingy, peeling, old-fashioned carnival megaphone nearly as large as he is and begins to bark out in the raspiest voice imaginable:

Ladies and gentlemen, Consequence of Sound is proud to present, under the big top tonight, human oddities! That’s right, you’ll see The Irate Frog Boy get hopping mad. You’ll see iRis the Human iPod. Fellas, wouldn’t you like to shuffle her playlist? See Darla the Tongue and her seven-foot popsicle while it lasts. Molly the Mustache, with handlebars bigger than your Schwinn’s. See Mikey the Mouse Boy consume his weight in cheese; that’s nearly 89 pounds of Gorgonzola down the gullet. Paulie the Piggy Bank… feed him a quarter, and he’ll sneeze out two dimes and a nickel. See Ralph the Invisible Man. Trust me, he’s in there, folks. See Bessie the Millionaire Cow Lady, and milk her for all she’s worth. And don’t forget Phalanges Phil; he’s all thumbs, and I don’t mean clumsy!

But if you’re in the mood for the truly bizarre and grotesque, step right up to the real freak show: everyday people who heard Tom Waits sing, “You’re the same kind of bad as me” and thought that he was talking about them. Come one, come all! He points to a middle-aged man in the crowd. Here’s Mr. Fitzsimmons, a 55-year-old math teacher who spoiled the ending of the final Harry Potter book for all his friends. He pets the head of a boy. Lil’ Stevie Johnson, the paperboy who slipped a dog turd into Mrs. Mulberry’s Post-Gazette last Tuesday. He looks up to the woman behind the boy. Stevie’s mother, who never got her son’s baby pictures developed. Winks at a lady. Our favorite Aunt Millie, who smokes in the lavatories on airplanes and steals magazines from waiting rooms. Gesturing to the man beside her. Take a gander at Frank, who once tipped a waitress 13 cents after a 62-dollar meal.

But for our main attraction, the strangest and most ghastly of them all! And I warn you, this is not for the squeamish or the kiddies. He points a long, crooked finger at you that extends past the others in the crowd. You… you more than anyone here think you’re as bad as Tom Waits. Well, you may be George Thorogood ba-ba-ba-ba-bad. Hell, you might even be a “bad, bad girl” like Fiona Apple, but that’s a far cry from the same kind of bad as Tom Waits.

He spins around and unveils a strange box with light bulbs on top and the words “Bad Like Me” painted on its side. He devilishly grins.

However, I’ll give you a chance to prove yourself in front of all your fellow freaks. Step right up! And see if you’re as bad as Tom Waits! Come one, come all! Even the losers are winners!

Click here to begin.


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