Be Sharp. Be Natural.
By Andrew Cohn
Last summer Davy Rothbart, creator of FOUND magazine, asked me to join him on tour to promote the new FOUND book. I Dee Jayed before and after each show on a twenty-five city bender up and down the East Coast. In Baltimore we stopped at the WKPT (sic) morning show hosted by a fellow named Marty Bass to promote the new book. Marty was a television icon in Baltimore, hosting the show for over twenty years.
Legend has it that about fifteen years ago he got arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Baltimore. As the story goes, the next morning on air Marty decided to go on the offensive before the news of his arrest broke. He shocked his audience by taking off his toupee and telling them that he had been doing undercover work for the police busting prostitute rings. Amazingly, he got away with it.
After the show, Marty gave us a tour of the station. I guess we were supposed to be excited, but we were just hungover. “Y’all wanna see how TV is made?” he said trying to be cute. We collectively rolled our eyes and pretended to be amused.
When the field trip was over we sat down and chatted with Marty while he showed off some of his tattoos. On his wrist he showed us a tattoo of a watch permanently set to happy hour. It was obvious this guy liked to party. On his wrinkled leg he had the musical notes “B-sharp” and “B-natural” tattooed in red ink. He said that was the key to life, “To be sharp and be natural.” Marty said to call him later and he would show us around Baltimore.
Later that night Davy’s cell phone rang. It was Marty. We explained that we wanted to catch the end of the Pistons’ game and he told us to meet him at a sports bar downtown. We weren’t sure what we were getting into. After all, the entire tour had been one outrageous night after another. Davy and I and I hustled downtown to meet Marty and were greeted by him and several pitchers of beer. We joked and laughed for hours, exchanging stories about crazy nights out on the town. Although Marty was well over fifty, he seemed like one of us. He had this boisterous laugh and people kept coming up to him for autographs. He bought round after round of drinks and invited us to stay the night at his house a few miles down the road. He drew us directions on a napkin, and then took off because he had to wake up early to do the show.
As we drove towards Marty’s house we laughed about what a character he was. He was everything I wanted to be when I got to his age; funny, full of stories, and a complete lush. We accidentally passed his street and attempted a U-turn but found our selves halfway stuck in a ditch. We were forced to call a tow truck, which was accompanied by a cop car. I knew this night was about to take a turn for the worse. “You boys been drinkin?” one cop asked as he shined his flashlight into my eyes. We quickly made up a lie, telling the officers we had some drinks at Marty’s house while we called the towing company, clearing us of any wrong doing. “Well let’s just walk down to Marty’s house and get this whole thing straightened out,” the lady officer said. I could tell they weren’t buying our story and they were hoping to catch us in a lie. We walked with the cops through Marty’s ritzy neighborhood, our future uncertain. I figured I might go to jail at some point on tour, but giving the cops the satisfaction wasn’t something I was willing to do quite yet.
As we walked into Marty’s McMansion and up to his room, we heard a loud moaning permeating from behind the door. The cops knocked for a while hoping not to interrupt anything. “Marty?” they shouted. There was no response. After a few minutes of knocking they slowly cracked open the door to the sound of thunderous humping. There was Marty, passed out completely naked with a porno blaring! Davy and I covered our eyes and crossed our legs, trying not to piss our pants with laughter. The harder we tried not to laugh, the more outrageous we realized the situation was.
“Mr. Bass!” the cop said covering his mouth to try and hide his smile. The lady officer covered him up with a blanket and looked for the TV remote. They tried to wake him up but he kept rolling over trying to go back to sleep. Davy and I stood there in awe as the porno continued to play at full volume. Even the cops finally began to chuckle at the ridiculousness of the situation. They woke Marty up and attempted to ask him some questions. All they got were a few mumbled sentences. I doubt he even knew what was going on.
The cops shook their heads and told us to have a good night. I could tell they were eager to get back to the station and tell the story of what happened. Davy and I stayed up all night drinking fine Scotch from Marty’s liquor cabinet as he slept, laughing about what a strange night it had been. In Marty’s big empty house I began to think about how absurd the night had been and how lucky we were. We held up our glasses, half-full of Glenlevet, and I proposed a toast. “To Marty Bass…Be sharp and be natural.”
Anvil’s Complete FOUND Magazine Tour Journal
By Andrew Cohn (FOUND magazine 5/21/2006)
In the summer of 2006 I was asked by Davy Rothbart, creator of FOUND magazine, to join him on tour. The new FOUND II book had just come out and I would be Djing before and after his readings, performing at a variety of different venues up and down the East Coast. What follows is a journal I kept of what happened while we were on tour. There is plenty left out for a variety of reasons, but here is a quick summary: I woke up at 7am as stiff as last night’s drinks. Davy had to do a morning TV show at 10am in Baltimore, one of the many television shows Simon & Shuster had booked to promote Davy’s book. We arrived on time somehow and Davy did his thing. Then the host, Marty Bass, gave us a tour of the station. It was like it was a middle-school field trip. I guess we were supposed to be impressed, but we were just hungover.”Yal wanna see how TV is made?” he said trying to be cute. We collectively rolled our eyes. He showed us the digs and later earned some much needed street cred. When we interviewed him for the documentary, he revealed a tattoo on his wrist of a watch permanently set to happy hour. It was fucking sweet.