The Vern Nelson Problem: The Infamous
H. B. Independent
(Reprinted from the Huntington Beach Independent, 4/14/1999; written by Steffanie Frith)
WHY THE POPE??? What's all this about scabies? And why on Earth is that shark chasing that poor little red-haired girl? Welcome to the bracing and disorienting world of THE VERN NELSON PROBLEM, Orange County's new "savage jazz quintet", or less than that, a pretzel. As Vern's bassist Jet Barrett observes, "If you gotta ask, you probably part of the Problem in the first place." Or, more precisely, in the word(s) of drummer Mister Steel, "Trippy." Ever since the dawn of time mankind has yearned to breathe free. And it was on just such a day as this that I first ventured into the One-Eyed Parrot, a quaint goddamned little deli-java bistro between the Edwards Cinema and the famous Unisource skyscraper at Beach and Warner. A Jehovah's Witness was sitting at a table out front throwing the tarot, and I resolved to ask her if this was yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, but the moment I opened my mouth she dissolved into a multi-colored haze of mucilage. A hand touched my shoulder-it was T. J. Hudson, the kindly Jamaican flugelhorn-playing hermit priest whose famed marathons have contributed so much to the healing of this generation's lepers. "Vern will speak with you now." He motioned to the Parrot's green carpeted staircase, which I studied with a mixture of giddiness and trepidation. How could so many short dogs be so flagrant? I began to ascend the staircase, drawn it seemed by a power greater than my own. With each step (continued on page E-17)
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