The best time you'll never want to happen again.
Days ago, fans of timeless music were surprised when someone they hadn't heard from in a decade came out of the woodwork with exciting news. No, David Bowie didn't do anything this week—professional footnote Mark McGrath announced that he's headlining a musical three-day cruise! And he's bringing along the rest of Sugar Ray (minus "Fly" collaborator and reggae artist Super Cat), Gin Blossoms, Spin Doctors, The Verve Pipe, Marcy Playground, Smash Mouth, and a few others you don't hear about anymore outside of karaoke bars. The cruise kicks off from Miami for the Bahamas later this year, and for 72 hours, its passengers will be subject to performances by all of these artists, as well as some of the most honest feelings of buyer's remorse they've ever experienced.
What should you expect from the semi-famous-but-only-when-he's-on-a-reality-show McGrath? First, keep in mind that once you account for deposits and fees, you're looking at $1,000 minimum per person. And that's for the shittiest room directly below the main engines, known affectionately as the Rat Birthing Chamber. But at least some nice food and water are included, right?
According to the site, "Everything is included*. The music and the events are what you are paying for. The cruise is just a bonus!!!" then goes on to admit, "*Prices do not include airfare or ground transportation to and from Florida, airport transfers to or from the cruise ship, specialty restaurants, personal expenses such as photos, souvenirs & island tours, sodas, bottled water or alcoholic beverages (except at our scheduled onboard cocktail party), or any other extra activities that you may choose to participate in on the ship or on shore that require a fee."
Essentially, everything is guaranteed to be included as long as your definition of "everything" is "a place to occasionally try and sleep during a hell-parade of unbearable concerts in the middle of the ocean." It feels an awful lot like Mark McGrath has hoodwinked passengers with an asterisk-style variant on the classic Lionel Hutz "No, money down!" trick, and now they've got the world's most expensive tickets to Sugar Ray (minus Super Cat) and may not even have the courtesy of a free lukewarm bottle of water to wash the taste out of their mouths. Poor folks.
It might not be all bad, though. There are other acts like Ed Roland performing! Remember Ed? He's the frontman for Collective Soul who also might be a part-time magician, shown here using his psychic power to guess which card the photographer drew:
That thing around his neck isn't a scarf, he pulled it out of his sleeve moments before the photo was taken. We'll have to assume the rest of the band isn't present due to an accident that occurred when Ed put them in a box and tried to cut them in half.
The literature also says passengers will be subject to "surprise unplugged performances and jam sessions," so who knows, some lucky souls just might come across a Spin Doctor rhythmically tapping his chopsticks on a buffet's sneeze guard. When you consider how many Golden Corrals and Sizzlers you'd have to visit to have a chance at that, the $1,000 pricetag starts to look like a smart buy.
On another page where Sugar Ray (again, without Super Cat) explains why they thought they'd get away with this, non-McGrath band member Rodney Sheppard is quoted as saying, “I’ll be self-deprecating about myself and about the band, but we wrote some fucking amazing songs. We wrote songs that people fell in love to, that people got married to, that people had sex to for the first time. The songs became bigger than the band.” Listen Rodney, that's some face-value bullshit. You're telling some real tales here, bud. I'm pretty open-minded, but I'm having real trouble imagining any scenario where someone would want to have sex to Sugar Ray. Maybe if the knob broke, but you had to leave the radio on to avoid hearing your parents doing it in the next room? Or if you were trying to make the other person dump you after? Or you were simply engaging in some fully ironic lovemaking? No, I refuse to believe it never happened like you're suggesting, Rod. Not by a longshot. And you have the gall to not even have Super Cat come to this thing? Yeah, you're full of it. Deal's totally off, pal. I'm not going.
I'm making a big deal about his absence, but I do know that Super Cat was never great. He was just the voice of reason by virtue of being the only person present without frosted tips, and his rockabilly levels were comparatively low. So where is he? Well, I've scoured many times over and his name isn't present on any of the cruise materials. I've tried tracking him down online and there's no real accounting for his whereabouts, but I did find a Twitter account that appears to be his. Aside from some spambot tweets that weren't his, Super Cat made a single real tweet back in 2009:
Turns out Super Cat can't come on this little cash-grab because he's spreading his love and flying, just like he always said. Should've figured as much.
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Jon Hendren is a celebrated and distinguished writer. You can follow him on Twitter - @fart.