If you frequent the Preservation Pub–and I’m assuming that anyone who’s reading this crap probably does so–you’ve doubtless noticed the fancifully accoutred African-American gentleman holding court with regular irregularity in the little nook beneath the first-floor stairwell. He’s an imposing fellow, at 6’4 or thereabouts, and he dresses with an otherworldly flair, all colorful robes and silken tunics and wrought-iron jewelry, his singular ensemble accessorized by ornate wooden staffs and silver horseshoes and the long-stemmed, burnished silver lamp tied around his waist.
Most people know Jay McDaniel, aka Jay Mac, as a radio personality, the DJ who spins classic rawk favorites evenings 6 to 11 on 103.5-WIMZ; a few know her, too, as a powerhouse performer in her own right, a formidable blues belter who has guested on stage with a number of local blues and rock outfits, and who fronts her own Jay McDaniel Band.
Fewer still know her as a parent, the hard-working mom of a 12-year-old son, Collin, who suffers from autism. The latter role is closest to her heart, and so it is that she’s found a way to use her job and her talents in service of helping her son and others like him, kids who suffer from autism, a puzzling and singularly frustrating neural development disorder.
What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?
How many blonde jokes are there? One. The rest are true stories.
Who is your favorite superhero, and why?
My brother Eric. He was a special forces sniper in the Army. We call him G.I. Jude.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A shapeshifter, so I could be anything I want.
You’re having a Moonshine Roof Garden party at Preservation Pub. What three guests would you like to host?
The band Metallica; they would be the entertainment. My friend Craig (R.I.P.); he’s the person who made me the Slayer-bag-toting metalhead that I am today. And The Three Stooges, because I love them!
If you were going to torture someone, how would you do it?
Put them in a closet and make them listen to that annoying song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, non-stop.
Describe your worst date ever.
It was a blind date my ex-sister-in-law set up. He took me out to dinner and there was a long wait for a table. So he told the hostess that I was pregnant and really needed to eat. I thought: what a freak!
Who is your least favorite celebrity?
Justin Bieber. Annoying brat!
If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The peanuts that you get at baseball games.
What is your least favorite song?
That stupid “Timber” song by Pitbull and Ke$ha. I turn the station every time it comes on.
My life–no, just joking. Hell is a place with no chocolate or wine.
What would you like to put on your tombstone?
“See ya on the flip side.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Getting thrown out of a bar for fighting. I had blood running off my chin, so the bouncer asked me where the other girl was. I didn’t know what he was talking about. My friend later told me I didn’t get into a fight; I just fell down a flight of metal stairs.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
York Peppermint Patties.
What do you want to be when you want to grow up?
Someone who actually feels like an adult.
What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
I told someone I couldn’t have my picture taken because I’m in the witness protection program.
Describe your least favorite teacher from school.
I had a college professor who always got on my case for being late–even after I explained I was coming from class on the opposite end of campus. He would call me out in front of everyone, every class, saying “Glad Miss Jude could join us today.” Then during our one-on-one, he started flirting with me! What a creep and a jerk.
What’s the best rumor you’ve ever heard about yourself?
That I was divorced with kids. I’ve never been married, and I don’t have any children.
Here’s a stumper for you: What do Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill and Ke$ha and William Faulkner and our very own Preservation Pub all have in common? The answer is that each one—in his/her/its own colorful and inimitable way—has laid burnt offerings at the altar of Jack Daniel’s, paid sacred homage to that potent Tennessee-born elixir generally recognized as the World’s Finest Whiskey.
Which is very relevant to the times, Jake, seeing as how we’ve come upon the 125th anniversary of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. We are recognizing the anniversary month with a special celebration on all three floors of the Pub on Sept. 18, with J.D. swag and Jack Daniel’s Girls and J.D. drink specials all night long.
Discerning the history of J.D. is akin to grasping at so many wafting white billows of smoke; the story of the infamous distillery is a strange arabesque of myth and mystery, as powerfully intoxicating as the sweet brown liquid itself. That history is such an enigma, in point of fact, that it is entirely possible that everything I am about to tell you is horseshit.
But that’s okay. Because history is written by the winners, Jake. And we are nothing if not winners.