Friday, May 30, 2014

Skinny Arm

The Boy was freed from his cast this week.
Here he is discussing his x-rays with the doctor. The rotation of his wrist is good but, as expected the hinging motion is not fully repaired. So, he's got a splint to wear for monkeyin' around...and for track camp.
The school puts on various camps throughout the summer and he chose Speed Camp (Then I will be fast enough to beat Trey...great importance is placed on the playground races in Kindergarten).  The first day he told me he had to run 100 laps and then, for Martha, he enthusiastically demonstrated the stretching techniques he'd learned...buck naked after getting out of the tub.
The important thing is he should be in solid shape for Football camp later in the Summer. Once we had established that there would be no shots on this doctor visit ("they take your blood away dood")....that was the main concern.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

You Know Who You Are.

Jimi Hendrix heard this...sold his guitar and became a real estate agent. Chuck Berry, Little Richard and James Brown huddled together into a fetal position. Only Screamin Jay Hawkins stood...stood and was steam rolled.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yer Biscuits

In the late summer of 2003, me and Martha loaded our possessions on a truck, said goodbye to family and friends and left the pleasant leafy neighborhood of Belhaven for a rickity townhouse, on a dingy street, in the wretched city of New Haven, Connecticut. I was enrolled at Yale for an MA in history.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity and to the people who made it possible but living in New Haven was worse than boot camp. It is a crowded, wind blown, broken down, boarded up, rusted out, trash strewn frozen dump...literally, it's a dump. I think most of New England's raw sewage eventually makes its way down to New Haven. New England raw sewage...let that simmer.

Among other things, it had a deleterious affect on the appetite...not such a problem really because, while the food may be fine as kinds of food (mostly Italian and seafood)...every place we went was dank and musty. Even cooking at home was problematic. After a comment by Martha's aunt, who is originally from Connecticut, I became disgusted by the thought of using the tap water.

At this point, I must admit, I had moved from a reasonable response to a dirty environment to a more pathological problem....shortly I would break out in hives and deal with them off and on for the rest of our time there.*

In fairness I have to point out that New Haven has great local rootbeer and the pizza is fantastic. Fair warning, if you're ever in New Haven, get the pizza to go...just so you don't end up sitting next to the tiny, thin-walled, unventilated toilet where shameless New Englanders will make themselves boisterously at home.

Still...a redneck's gotta eat. Fortunately...well sorta fortunately, fortunatishly...there is an option anywhere you go east of the Mississippi River...Cracker Barrel. It's a chain of country store/restaurants that have been selling Southern groceries to Yankees for decades (Atlanta was as far south as they went for years...what was the point?).

Cracker Barrels are like Waffle House in that there are good ones and bad ones. There is a Cracker Barrel in New Haven....Right.  Good or bad they all have grits and biscuits on the menu. So, one morning I decided to get up at 5am and drive to the other side of town for breakfast (it had to be 5am because of the mind boggling congestion...there was a point after 7am when it became impossible to get anywhere in under two hours). Cracker Barrel grits are quick grits...I could've bought some bottled water and made the grits myself. The biscuits are another story and they have a branded maple syrup that is delicious. That was my focus.

We got off to a bad start with the grits. It's nearly impossible to mess up quick grits but they managed...serving me a bowl of hot gritty water with a frown. Still I had my biscuits. All I needed was some syrup.

"Ma'am...could get some syrup please?"

"Whaaaadduhya want syee-rup for...ya' biscuits?" She was incredulous...and slightly disgusted.

"Yes ma'am...please."


Most of y'all have heard me matter where I've gone in the English speaking world no one has ever had trouble placing me on the map.** I wanted to say to her..."listen have your current job because people that sound (and look...but that's another story) like me eat a certain **** off to the kitchen and get my syrup before I ask you to bring me some peanut butter too."

Of course, I didn't say any of that. I just left her with a "bless your heart" smile and never went back.

Then there was the episode with a sour old cow from Wisconsin at a Cracker Barrel around here in Pearl. 

We had a friend from Indiana down to visit (i.e. down to drink). Next to Waffle House, there's no better place to feed a hangover than Cracker Barrel....evidenced by the fact that, on this Sunday morning, we had to wait outside for a table. That's when we met the old heffer...Sittin in one of the rocking chairs with a scawl on her face. It was hard to tell whether her eyes were narrowed or just hidden behind lumps of flesh. Her most prominent feature was a bottom lip that stuck out much further than her broad flat nose...there was the last whispers of blonde on what was left of her hair. She was wearing like a tent...a moo moo or whatever you call it.

As soon as my friend opened his mouth...

"Where are you from?" She demanded.

"I'm from Indi-ana."

That was all it took...

"I'm traveling through here from Wiscaaaaansin. Did you see that jar of pickled pigs feet on the counter. God these people will eat anything."

Hold it right there Frau.

First of all...I'm one of "these people". Mind your manners...oh yeah. That's don't have any.

Secondly, being from Wisconsin you might want to settle your ass a little considering that people in this state were forced, in large part by people from yours, to eat whatever they could get their hands on. Hopefully they'll keep closing your factories and sending them to Mexico and you people can develop a taste for pig ears.

Lastly...and MOST just pulled off the Interstate, with intent, to eat at a restaurant that specifically and loudly and exclusively....serves Southern groceries.

WTF....I ask you W...T...F?

All the disgust and fascination with...the desire for and repulsion by...sat in a rocking chair in Pearl.

What can you say...what can you do?

Just keep eatin' I reckon.

* This had more to do with the people than it did the grim surroundings. They started on the last day of a visit back to Mississippi...just before I was getting ready to head back.

** There was an episode at a bar in London...a man was actually kicked out because he wouldn't stop telling me how sexy he though my "Texas" accent was. That's a true story. Ha!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Really Melvyn?

I am a regular and enthusiastic listener of In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4. It's been my preferred form of entertainment recently. Over the last month or so I've probably gone through a quarter of the archives (I spend a lot of time in the car).
It was Melvyn who broke the obsessive Chrome loop I'd worked myself into.

Ok...maybe not completely.
The topics are usually interesting ...and sometimes even those that aren't of obvious interest to me turn out to be really engaging...the Tale of Sinuhe is a recent example. (though I'm probably gonna take a pass on Photosynthesis...I can't for the life of me even pretend to have any interest in that). Some are just dead boring...Medici, Absolute Zero and shockingly The Amazons (how do you make Amazons boring?). The range of topics, the expertise involved and Melvyn's ability to pleasantly dictate the course of conversation...generally make for a delightful 45 minutes.
Has it always been this way?
I just tried to listen to the episode on Modernity from 1999. I could only take about ten minutes of it. It should have been called why Roger Scruton is a Dickhead...because that was the topic. Now, some of you may, I'm almost certain that some of you do, think that Roger Scruton is a dickhead. Do you want to spend the next 30 minutes contemplating that fact? You gonna hunt that up on the radio? Be sure to look under the sub-heading Modernity so you don't end up listening to a discussion on Baudelaire or Joyce.
If they ever discussed Modernity it was after point 10.01. I think Scruton had about 15 seconds before he was interrupted, by Indignant Academic, and called an elitist for not considering the importance of Afro-Caribbean beats to the Modern Era and focusing too much on the likes of Schopenhauer and Eliot, etc (by the way, if you're interested all of these "dead white men" have been featured on an episode of In Our Time...with Melvyn Bragg...still waiting on the episode for Dub or Hip Hop).* 
The real problem seemed to be that Roger had made a distinction between Popular and High Culture...Oh Aunt could he? And on a radio program that regularly features housewives discussing Big Brother and Eastenders.  
Maybe it got better...maybe Scruton committed suicide on the radio and everybody was satisfied. I don't know... sh*t was irritating and spoiled my usual Friday afternoon I've been writing instead.
I will talk about Yankees at Cracker Barrel next.
 *Am I the only one here who sees the Modern Era as a distinct, though hard to pin down on the timeline, period in History that is not to be confused with the Contemporary?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sixteen Going On Twenty-Six

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Sixteen years ago last Friday me and Martha were married...just across the lake here, in my parents back yard. That photo was taken the night before.*

There's two ways I could go about this...

a) I could be sentimental -there's good reason for this approach. I love Martha deeply, for good reasons other than the obvious...and there couldn't be a better mother to our son.

b) I could gripe. There's good reason for that track too. We should be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. We met when we were 15. I was ready right then...I knew it. We could have arranged it but, she's took ten years of intense psychological warfare to convince her to accept the inevitable.

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(Blake would be like at least 15 and he'd be working and well into paying us back for the cost of his birth, tuition, etc.)

All you really need to know is that once I cut her off (let that sink in...she was cut off...from this)...she got her cap turned around, got her mind right...and hunted me down. Some of the more surly among you have been temporarily banned from these know how she was feeling. It hurt me more than it hurt her...but, it was necessary.


Our song...

for no other reason than I'd just bought the single, before she'd come to visit me in Germany, and it was the only CD in my friend's borrowed car. I still like that album and now that I know one of you coughgronmarkcough prefers JJ Cale to Skynrd...and another of you coughsingingbearcough owns Asia albums....I refuse to make excuses.

That's enough of my personal business nosies.

Next up...Yankees at Cracker Barrel.

*Look at the glow in my eyes...I have nothing but bad intentions.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cairo (Kay-Row)

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Like the sign says...there, between Banbridge and Cairo, Georgia, in Whigham County, on the last Saturday of January...Rattlesnake Round Up. It's not a play on's a mess of rattle snakes that have been rounded up in the area. You can watch them pop balloons and watch idiots be idiots with rattle snakes (I recently saw a man on tv put a bunch of them in his mouth in front of a small crowd for an even smaller fee...he got bit). They demonstrate how the venom is milked for anti-venom and you can eat 'em. I did...breaded and fried. Taste like squirrel...which kinda taste like gator...which really just taste like chicken. That must have been more than 30 years ago now.

They're still rounding them up though. In that part of Georgia and Florida you'll see signs up offering so much money per snake...not enough.

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama...there are many things to love about Tuscaloosa...this is one of them. I don't even know what it was there lot maybe...diner. Who knows. It sits behind a gas station now, near a ledge that separates it from the parking lot of Chinese buffet. It's not a very pleasant block and probably everything on it should be condemned but, I would imagine he persists there because no one wants to claim responsibility for tearing him down.

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Madison Florida...probably the very edge of the cities jurisdiction. There was a bbq and juke there...maybe a hotel. I've been going to Madison all my life...41 years and it's been burnt down, and in that state, at least since then. If they ever do clear that lot I'll cry.

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Somewhere along I-10 in North Florida.

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Is there any place more beautiful in the cosmos than a fireworks stand...No!

Like you're author...North Florida Crackers.