The Naked Brother: Glen Jones
By Bob Rixon
Glen Jones & X Ray Burns are two guys who explore the possibility of sanity from different perspectives. They do this on the radio.
X Ray is the family man, a bit like your smart, grumpy dad, & a fellow who eventually reaches into his pocket for money to buy you an Italian Ice on a hot day. He's a big guy, politically conservative in a way one would be foolish to take personally: The problem with liberalism is that there are aren't enough liberal X-Ray Burns' . Totally his own man, one never disrespects Mister Burns with the vulgar word, sidekick.
Jones is the excitable guy with "issues" he needs to work out. He can't let a memory - good or bad - go. His childhood echoes in him like Dion & the Belmonts singing in the Grand Canyon. Nothing in his world is truly inanimate. "Where's the justice, the love?" he seems to be asking over & over. He directs this anxiety into sweet sentiment or righteous indignation.
"Get hold of yourself, my friend," counsels X Ray.
X Ray is solid American prose, like Ulysses S. Grant's battle orders. Jones is Walt Whitman watching the wounded return from the Wilderness Campaign. They compliment each other. The flow of conflict, resolution, conflict is what makes their conversations so intriguing. As goombahs, they also know when to change the subject.
Sometimes X Ray takes a Sunday off to rake the lawn. On those weeks, Jones by himself can become the bard at four am. Alone, vulnerable, he rides the front seat of a wooden roller coaster car that cranked over the first hill too fast & goes careening, bouncing, shaking, rattling down the other side & into a banked turn:
"Why am I here? Who cares? What if I disappeared right now? What is truth? Does existence make any more sense than this scratchy piece of vinyl I have cued up? God, I love every feral cat that ever lived & died, frightened & starving, in a Brooklyn alley."
There is no Faith without Crisis of Faith. In fact, doubt is a form of faith, according to theologian Paul Tillich. Doesn't matter how many people think you're the coolest guy on radio. In the International Brotherhood of Jones, the top brother stands naked.
So, what did Glen Jones really take from professional wrestling? Sure, he shouts a lot. Yes, he's been hit over the head with a metal chair. Of course, he enjoys dressing up like a mummer on New Year's Day in Philly. It's absolutely true that he's had his backstage problems at Olde FMU. Whatever you've heard, whatever you believe about Jones, that's all right. "Great show, Jonesy," we say, & he smiles & we shake X Ray's hand & an hour later Glen is drinking a brew & we're chatting about the Mets again. None of it is fiction, folks. None of it.
The match is only basted together. The form is there & we know the winner has been anointed in advance. Big fucking deal. Why do we still insist on playing the slots or that Three Card Monte called falling in love? Those games are fixed, too. But the men in the ring have to improvise their way to the end of the chapter. & the set pieces they perform have a way of going awry: A mis-timed flip off the corner pole; the table doesn't break in exactly the right place; a picture perfect slam dislocates a shoulder with five minutes of showtime to fill; a botched stunt & The Grim Reaper falls forty feet & doesn't get up with the cameras running & the crowd going nuts, waving signs & demanding instant karmic retribution.
Those screaming ring announcers see it happening. They're pros & they understand. They have to push aside their scripts & promos for next week's Ultimate Bloody Rampage III & deal with this unexpected reality in the Eternal Now.
In the brief moment before it all could explode into great pillars of fire or be just another normal day in the Waco compound, that's the point at which Glen Jones begins his weekly broadcasts.
The music is terrific, too.
Glen Jones can be heard over WFMU on Sundays from noon to 3 pm.
© Bob Rixon