‘Spam ’splainin’ to do: ‘Spammy Jammy’ tries to off hurricanes after last year’s fiasco
The gods had some ’splainin’ to do.
The annual Spammy Jammy blowout, held each June at the Little Bar in Goodland, returned on Saturday night, for what was probably but not definitely the 26th time.
“Memories get fuzzy,” said Little Bar co-owner Ray Bozicnik, and they never thought to keep track back in the 1990s when the idea germinated. While the event makes sense as roughly marking the end of tourist season and the beginning of hurricane season, not to mention the restaurant closing until October, the stated purpose of Spammy Jammy is to ward off hurricanes, and last year, something went off the rails in that department.
So to preemptively ward off criticism that their hurricane prophylaxis was ineffective, that drinking, showing up in pajamas or nightwear, drinking, sculpting and consuming Spam, and drinking (while listening to boisterous live music) can’t actually deter major storms, the Little Bar dealt with the issue head-on.
This year’s Spammy Jammy went with an “I Love Lucy” theme, with “You got Spam Splainin’ to do!” emblazoned on the commemorative T-shirt. Co-owner Nikki Bauer dressed as Lucy Ricardo, and Ray, if you squinted, looked sort of like a mashup of Ethel and Fred Mertz – in drag – although his hat said Ricky Ricardo.
“Just think how bad it would have been if we hadn’t had Spammy Jammy” last year, said Bozicnik. “At least it saved our building.” It is true that, while Goodland was lashed with the full fury of Hurricane Irma making landfall, and Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant, just down the street, suffered three feet of muddy water inside, while the Little Bar, sitting higher, remained unflooded.
“Irma was terrible – it affected everybody,” said Nikki.
Music action in the tiny barroom started with the Dan Signor Project, augmented by Kelly Halloran on violin, while the contestants in the Spam sculpture and, even more daunting, Spam cuisine contests delivered their entries. “Maestro” Jim Freeman devised a “baby grand spiamo” with a miniature keyboard, the keys made of, yes, Spam. Sherri Morrison plonked out “Do-Re-Mi” while a chorus calling themselves the Seegers Family Singers belted out a version turning the tune into an ode to beer.
“Dough – the stuff that buys my beer; Ray – the guy who brings my beer; Me – the guy who drinks my beer,” etc. Their entry took first place and the $100 gift certificate for Spam sculptures, beating out the arachnid “Spamtula” by Olivia Sampson, who somehow forgot to modify her name with the easiest transposition ever, and the original Spam and cheese.
In the Spam as food competition, Marty Durham and Nikki Clark won for their Spam balls with cocktail sauce, to give you the family newspaper version of the dish’s name. Like Merrill’s Spam potato skins and Christine Miller’s Spam fried rice, which won second and third prize, it wasn’t bad once your taste buds were sufficiently lubricated.
After the toilet paper races, in which ladies vied to see who could unroll an entire roll of TP the fastest, more cocktails, beer, and jello shots, the evening’s headliner, Raiford Starke and his band, took the stage. To say they took the stage perhaps sounds grander and more roomy than what really happened, which is the four-piece band crammed themselves into the space between the back wall, made up of antique pipe organ components, and the audience stuffed cheek to jowl in front of the bar.
When longtime bassist Stevie Grandmaison put down his drink, to give you the idea, he put it down on our table, and moving around involved negotiations with all your neighbors. The band cooked, with Starke – his stage name is that of two Florida state prisons – and fellow guitarist Michael Bell laying down sizzling licks, on songs from Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” A guest drummer sat in for Jeff Rimsa, and a pair of guest vocalists sang Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline numbers.
As a whole, fewer patrons went full pajamas this year. Server Ross – “just Ross” – wore a kimono, complete with samauri sword, not to mention a pig mask. Several cartoon characters, including the black spy from Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” danced in the close quarters, and Susan and David Zig wore matching flannel nightgowns.
“I told him, when you see how comfortable this is, you’ll want to wear it all the time,” said Susan. Perhaps inevitably, one group of girls wore matching T-shirts emblazoned with “Make SPAMerica Great Again.”
So now, with the Little Bar and Stan’s closed till October, stone crab season ended, and Goodland sweltering through the long, hot summer, it only remains to be seen whether Spammy Jammy works any better as hurricane insurance this year.