Thursday, August 30, 2012
Monday night in the off-season is no time to go to Hooters in Panama City Beach.
Hoping to save some money we flew to California from the new airport on the outskirts of Panama City, FL. I am guessing that was probably not the result, but these stories are priceless so who cares?
We commenced our honeymoon at the well-appointed if downtrodden Paradise Palms Seaside Inn, cozily sequestered for an evening prior to our early departure the next morning. Our room opened onto the gulf beach, and we held hands and watched the sunset. We were not the only ones staying in Paradise, just the only ones without gelatinous front-butts pushing up over string bikini bottoms- or the only ones not chain-smoking generic brand cigarettes and cursing- or the only ones not peeing in the pool. We retreated to the cozy room, which was truthfully not bad at all, and watched as strangers drew hearts and greetings on our dew-covered windows with their influenza-covered fingers.
We strolled out to take the air and find a nibble, only to be turned away at every door by either a closed sign or a Ukrainian hostess, recently trafficked no doubt. "Vee close at 10:00" she explained as reason for turning us away at 9:15. Her tone closed out the category for discussion.
The neon orange lights of HOOTER'S shone as the only open establishment on the Miracle Mile, Shangri-la of the vaunted Redneck Riviera. I shrugged my shoulders to my beloved, "When in Rome baby?" and she shrugged back.
From the quiet and dark streets to the tense and sweaty atmosphere of beach town refugees paying too much for bad beer is a harsh transition and a manager grinding his teeth chattered at us as we entered the room. Cocaine I whispered to my sweetheart. I think everyone working here is on cocaine. It was probably methamphetamine in retrospect given the obvious price differential and it being the off-season.
We showed ourselves to a table in the back, by a door, with a clear path of egress, and scanned the filthy menu for the item made from the most canned products. A commotion ensued alarmingly close to us, and a toothless hag at a table of eight screamed profanely, A RAT! I JUST SAW A MOTHERFUCKING RAT! RAT, RAT,RAT,RAT, RAT!
By then we had ordered beers, and unwisely chose to remain seated.
THERE IS A GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKING RAT IN THIS PLACE, RIGHT MOTHERFUCKING THERE! Parents covered gentle ears of children, and I will take a moment to apologize to you, dear readers, for the vulgar assault on your senses. I offer it only as a testimony to the truth.
SOMEBODY IS GOING TO GET ME A FREE MEAL UP IN THIS BITCH I SAW A RAT!
We turned back to our table in time to welcome a suspicious quesadilla to the table, delivered by our waitress who made it clear that she herself had no idea what a quesadilla might look like, or be accompanied by in the way of condiments.
Another commotion ensued immediately behind us and I whirled around prepared to defend my life, my wife, our remaining honor, but it was tooth-grinder in the role of hero this time as he lunged in a giant step and came down with crushing force on a cockroach recently landed from flight. We, the entire patronage, accepted this result as acceptable and definitive and returned to our meals.
We passed on the offer of a second round, paid our substantial tab, and regarded every cent a ransom well paid.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
We are marooned in the land of immortals, southern California. Isaac is soaking the Florida Panhandle and our flight is canceled, so we are destined to remain here and continue un-aging.
We hiked at Torrey Pines, land of the super-brights and a pinnacle of culture. After huffing around a 5 mile loop that descends from sagebrush hills to the Pacific coastline we passed, and more often got passed by, hordes of immortals. Conversation floated around us in a language salted by Co-enzyme Q-10. Age correlated more to a wealth index than a physical appearance.
I yearned to judge and despise them, but all I wanted was to be included, to rewind time, and drop my resting heart rate to twenty-six; to suspend the animation of my deteriorating cells to an immeasurable pace and linger in the twilight of immortality forever, comparing footwear and portfolios with my distinguished peers.
We brunched at the fabled club, where I hoped to be dismissed and made to feel less than, but my hate could find no purchase. Welcomed with warm smiles and concerned, pursed lips we were directed to a table by the practice green, where the ivy twines through the brickwork, and ocean breezes mingle scents of waffles and chaparral. The huevos? Delightful. The coffee? Warmly poured. To arrive at the Torrey Pines Lodge is to truly find the end of the line. Humankind can achieve no better.
Hence the goal to remain there forever.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Saturday night, under the oaks and the stars, listening to a jazz trio play a little out in front of themselves, I made a wise decision. I bailed on the Dogboy. Hours prior, I committed to a ride so laughably punishing that releasing myself from the commitment made me giddy. Rain was in the forecast, and a tour to Georgia by clay roads sounded not possible or fun. I took a text-message based tongue-lashing, which is a breeze compared to a phone call, and returned for a cold Sweetwater 420 Ale and holding my sweet wife's hand.
In order to take the sting from my shame I scrambled to put together a ride with Taco and another buddy. We can call him Scarab- the prototype water bug, or we can call him "Nipples" since he detoured on the ride to address a raw nipple situation.
When someone is riding so much that they need nipple protection, you might wish you were halfway to Georgia with a drive train packed in mud. We turned it on, we crushed through mud and greasy roots, and I collected ticks like beanie babies. Taco worked for a half-wheel edge just enough to keep us grinding for 3 steady hours.
Okay, it was only 2.5 hours, and sometimes we rode friendly, but the part about the ticks is true.
It was the first ride on the new ride, but I need more time to tell you that story, which is equal parts sad and joyous.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
When I was two-years old we traveled through this town, Tallahassee, FL on the way home to Sebring,FL my hometown. I had a teddy bear named "Heavy Teddy." We did everything together. He was a honey-colored bear with green eyes and articulated joints, so he was real, not like those plush bears that are just pillows with fur.
We stayed in the Ponce de Leon Motel on Tennessee street, which may or may not still be here today. In the rush to leave the next morning, Heavy Teddy fell between the wall and the bed and was left behind. I don't know when we realized he was not with us, but I am certain I was inconsolable. Oh,the guilt of leaving a friend behind. The loneliness of knowing your best friend and protector was at large in the world without you is crushing. The thought of him finding a new friend and forgetting all about you, heartbreaking.
There was nothing to do but go home and bear the suffering with my little two-year old's amount of courage. Blankie tried to comfort me, but we were supposed to be three and not two, and Blankie missed Heavy Teddy as much as I did.
Then, and here is my earliest memory, my mom carried me to the mailbox and together we pulled out a package, wrapped in brown paper. Tired, but none the worse for his adventures, came Heavy Teddy from the packaging. That moment was magic- validation that the universe was an awesome and just place, and that stuffed animals truly were sentient and loyal and would stop at nothing to return to their best friend's side.
I have been promised my new bike is in town, 6 weeks overdue, and I am once again at the mailbox, hopeful, and wanting to believe the Universe is an awesome and just place.
Epilogue- Heavy Teddy is retired and living happily in San Diego, CA with my nephew where I will visit him next week.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Taco got his new bike, and it has a lot of problems. It is a Santa Cruz Tallboy, carbon fiber, full-suspension, 29'er. I know right? That's what I said too.
For starters it goes too fast. On the single speed I could count on him limiting out like a U-haul truck at about 13.5 regardless of terrain. Now that is more like a minimum expected speed, like 40 mph on the interstate.
If that is not enough it hardly requires any skills. It just rolls right over pretty much anything in front of it. Taco doesn't even notice the challenging technical sections of the trails. His skills are totally going to atrophy now.
It's too light too, like way too light. He is going to get all weak from a lack of effort.
Those are all minor problems though compared to the serious flaw which is that it is not mine. That is a major problem.
We rode from our east side neighborhood across town via the Dogboy's house. After collecting the Dogboy he put us on a leash and dragged us through the Live Oak Connector (meanest mile in the south) and then little Cambodia and the Silk trail. Everything was wet, slick, and bone-rattling. I think I had a tad much air in the tires, but I'm afraid to give up a lb. of it. 3 hours and 20 minutes counts for a pretty solid day this time of year. I think we stopped for a couple minutes so I could get a tissue for my snotty tears.
I have a new bike out there somewhere too. It is trying to find me, probably lost and scared in a warehouse somewhere, or maybe a pile of unassembled materials on a factory floor in Taiwan. I'm getting my Zen on, and appreciating that every day I don't have it is a day my drive train isn't being ravaged by this Tallahassee summer.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
I titled the last post "Beast it" because I intended to write about the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. Every few years a movie comes along that I get excited about and I transfer everything I am feeling or experiencing into my viewing experience and make the movie be the movie I need at just the right time. I'm predictable. I fall for all of the indie darlings. Once, Half-Nelson, Little Miss Sunshine, at the time they came out they spoke to both the times we were living in (they call it the zeitgeist, but that is such an overdone word, devoid of flavor) and they also speak to my own states of being- heartbreak, redemption, disillusionment, idealism, hope. You know, the same exact shit that all of you feel that you assume is unique to you too. It is unique to each of us, and of course it is all the same.
"Beasts" came through for me tremendously. I came away from it with one clear message- self-determination, the opportunity to write our own story, is our greatest treasure and our biggest responsibility. You don't have to explain it to anyone, or justify your actions, or even understand the urges that compel you to not get that CVS card (but it saves you money!) or to grow your armpit hair out (gross!) or to go to church or not go to church, you just have to bend to the little tiny voice that whispers to you, cajoling you beyond the levee, beyond the easy answers, where the beasts await you to tame them.
Monday, August 06, 2012
On the way to the south trails for another mundane trip around the hamster wheel Taco remarked that he wanted to scout a route to the western edge of town. He plans to ride his bike out to the forest, shoot a deer, then haul it back through town across his handlebars. Something different, anything, sounded better than the safety of the known.
We rode through the south-side neighborhoods, back through our very early twenties. I easily pictured him on his yellow Giant ATX 760 that he bought with the money he got from an insurance settlement involving a Taco Bell drive-through.
Out the Cascade Lakes area, dry as dust, with the Cypress trees planted like spears, we found the deep sand. The sky was overcast and I was able to nurse my half-filled water bottle and empty stomach until pain gave way to elation and my legs found the deep reserve.
Friday, August 03, 2012
Let's wrap this week up and put a bow on it all right?
For starters, Happy Birthday LOPO! (That's my mom in case you didn't know. She is awesome and we are great pals as well as being close relatives.)
Why are those two American male swimmers such idiot frat boys, and the American female swimmers all well-adjusted and nice? "I have 20 Olympic medals, it is so awesome. Young Jeezy tweeted me." That is called failing to podium in Olympic soundbites. Give me Kayla Harrison sobbing to the national anthem for my Olympic moment. Good thing NBC spared us that boring event in primetime. Of course we stayed up too late to watch that little sister Gabby Douglas do her thing. Ain't she something? If she plays her cards right she might make something of herself one day.
Bushy and I had a blast riding single track through the steam last night at Tom Brown and the Cadillac trail. We went too fast to allow me time to whine about the trails, but I'm sure I will get another chance. In truth, they were awesome, really fast and grippy and only about 30 recreational walkers in the technical sections.
In full disclosure, I drove to the trail with a geared bike in the van. Bushy rode from his house on the single speed both ways. That's bad news for the rest of us.
If I don't get to see Beasts of the Southern Wild soon I am going to throw an all out hissy fit. The first dollar I spend at the Whole Foods Market that is replacing our independent theater will be depressing, but I'm sure my hypocrisy gland will kick in and I will forget all about the Miracle 5.
I have enjoyed deeply meaningful conversation with my wife about the importance of fairness and not being mean, so I would like to thank all of the fascist bigots out there for bringing us closer together this week. She is amazing and smart and I am a better person for having her counsel.
It's First Friday at Railroad Square, so suffer the heat and go see some art.
I'm so sorry we can't get to ATL tonight to see our friends opening at the Cube Gallery in Cabbagetown. If you are in the area, go see them here.
Art, friends, bikes, and equal rights, not necessarily in that order.
have a great weekend,
Thursday, August 02, 2012
It is one of the great joys of my life to encourage and support friends with talent. For me, art is the pinnacle of humankind, unless it is service, so when those two aspirations come together I feel like we all have a chance of making it out of here with some grace and dignity intact. I learned a great phrase yesterday during what will be known forever as the Great Flame War of 2012.
"When I know better, I do better."
Ed Hemingway knows better. I had the pleasure of knowing Ed during my magical Bozeman, MT years, when we were young and the future lay before us like the vast Montana plains.
Back then, Ed hosted the Poor Richard's news stand where we bought cigarettes from a jar for a dime. Ed painted back then, and my cousin and I ended up with a couple giant canvases depicting headlines from the Weekly World News. Those, and our red pleather couch, made us feel like the Soho of Bomo.
Now Ed has created this little book. A modest story of friendship. In a week where the value of standing with friends means a little bit more, I hope you will consider buying a copy for your own little friends because it is better to be a bad apple with friends than a sad apple without.
Click here to order Bad Apple