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They could be separated at birth (and by a few decades) -- self-made men who share a hatred of the media and a love of guitars, animals (one shoots them with cameras, one with guns), the military, their fathers, America, Charlton Heston, and writing about themselves in endless detail.
In this corner (and on every TV station in town), our own Jake Jabs, furniture mogul and "NHFA 2000 Retailer of the Year," as he boasts on the cover of his self-published autobiography, An American Tiger ($19 at a bookstore near you). In the other, Ted Nugent, wildman musician, inventive wordsmith and dedicated hunter, who was in town Monday to perform with KISS and plug his own book, God, Guns & Rock 'n' Roll ($24.95, ditto). Although both covers celebrate all things American -- and feature eerily similar grins -- it's inside the tomes that the two really hit common ground.
Jabs was born to immigrant parents and raised poor on a farm in Montana, where "our toys were bones from dead animals and our currency was pop-bottle caps." But, naturally, they were rich in other ways: "The most important lessons my dad taught us were get an education (he always felt left out) and develop an art form or hobby (it would help in the tough times ahead). Drugs and booze -- other people's coping mechanisms -- tear a person down; art and hobbies are uplifting, he always said." The Jabs family liked music; Jake played in the Lodge Grass High School band when he was in second grade. And after he got out of the Air Force -- where he'd played with Chuck Tombs and the Dixie Drifters -- his first business step was to buy a music store in Bozeman, Montana, in 1955 and start specializing in guitars. The sofas, and a subsequent furniture empire, would come later.
Ted Nugent grew up along the Detroit River, in a close family. He played cowboys and Indians with bows and arrows and a fake gun, played around with his father's real gun, moved on to his own guns, then to guitars, left home at eighteen, and has "instinctively taken my independence seriously. As a matter of practice, I have stuffed my pockets with simple yet specific urban survival gear: a clean handkerchief, a pocketknife, a wad of thin guitar picks, my wallet with some cash and ID, and a handful of ammo." But not drugs: "Drugs and alcohol destroy one's level of awareness sure as hell."
As these two independent men made their way in the world, they came to share views on certain subjects:
Here's Nugent on the media: "The vast majority of America's free press does not report news, they make it up. Anyone who dismisses the claims of a conspiracy is either a paid employee of the media or a deaf, dumb and blind fool."
Here's Jabs: "The fact that the paper would print such accusations [a former employee had charged him with sexual harassment] without a fair hearing makes me wonder about the manner in which the media operates. The accused are lynched in public, and later, when found innocent, the news is buried in the back of the paper."
Jabs on animals: "We started using animals when my wife and I bought our three daughters a puppy for Christmas in 1978. A puppy is the cutest and best pet of all, in my opinion. My daughter suggested I put the puppy in my TV commercials. We did and we started getting positive responses."
Nugent on animals: "I have made it a point to raise my family on wonderful, game-rich wildground, thereby maximizing the sightings that can be shared and talked about together." And then shot, in "the fundamental function of man and beast, balancing their natural roles in the inescapable cycle of life and death."
Nugent on government: "Follow your heart, your instincts, the Constitution and the facts. It is time to 'keep and bear' without some bureaucrat's stamp of approval."
Jabs: "The trouble with politics is you have to learn to give different speeches...I would not have the stomach nor the patience for politics. I've called my own shots since I was 24, and you can't do that in politics."
Of course, Nugent not only calls his own shots, he fires. Take this on Columbine: "Bad guys are classic cowards," he says. "But the horror of it all is it appears nearly everybody subscribes to the cowardly lion routine. Even Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Littleton, Colorado, were nearly robotic in their methodical slaughter. After emptying a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, one calmly knelt with his back to grown adults and athletes, sniveling, while he conversed with his next victim for minutes on end. He fired twice from an obviously two-barreled shotgun, folks! Somebody take it away from him and beat him senseless, PLEASE!!"
Jabs stays away from current events, but does offer a copy of the sixteen-page sales-consultant job description, as well as American Furniture Warehouse's delivery policy.
Only in America. But then, as the Nuge says, "Your life starts at Point A and ends at Point B. Kick maximum ass!"