12/31/08

year out, year in

Well, that was a hell of a ride, wasn't it, folks? Some of the best didn't make it through, and some that should have been pitched overboard in January came sailing right along. What can you do? Grab a beer and grin.

So here's to a new year, 2009. Here's to hard work, but the kind that gives you a good night's sleep - not the kind that leaves you up until dawn worried and stressed.

Here's to a new president, and that's a blessing in at least two ways. For one, I do think Obama's got good in his heart and good in his head, and he might get us all pushing together for once. Or at least enough of us to outpush the ones still pushing that same old bullshit. And, god bless us every one, that damned, ignorant, bloodthirsty, classless, privileged bastard W is out. (Now, when does he get tried for war crimes?)

Here's to loud music in smoky rooms and soft music as spring comes on. My buddies the Lucky Scars have a brand new cd recorded, so here's to them and every other bar band working day jobs and still cranking out anthems for the rest of us. Make theirs a whiskey.

Here's to sweethearts and falling asleep next to someone you trust, but here's to sprawling all over your very own bed with no one to worry about at times, too. Here's to getting the love you need and the space you need, and that's about the hardest balancing act I know.

Here's to dogwood blossoms and trips to St. George on a Sunday afternoon. Cold snaps on days you don't have to work and bonfires that last all night. Community festivals and outdoor music and dozens of raw oysters and cocktail sauce. Sweating your ass off sitting in the shade watching the summer roll by. Camping down by the river after the mosquitoes die back again in the fall. Halloween parties and birthday parties and Billy and Shayla's annual July 4th Bring Your Own Pool Party.

Here's to the friends that are with us right now, because I guarangoddamntee that they won't all make it to 2010. And here's one for the folks that will sprout up in our lives this year, to be near and dear by next winter.

Here's to you and here's to me, and ain't it good to be alive when the sky's blue and the air's chilly and there's promises of a good time to be had?

12/19/08

this makes me suspicious

In an effort to lull state workers into a false sense of safety make up for the lack of cost of living increase, Crist is letting us take off the day after Xmas and the 2nd of January with pay this year. On the one hand, that's fucking awesome. A five day weekend is a great thing. On the other, I can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop.

12/16/08


I don't know where you'll be tonight, but my happy ass will be at the Engine Room on Railroad Avenue, playing oi, ska, and punk songs for the masses. The probably drunken masses, because Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is only $1 until midnight. I mean, you can't beat that with a stick, not even on a Tuesday night.

What's your favorite Ramones song? Maybe I'll play it.

12/4/08

we've got a thinkin' problem

Let me tell you a heartwarming tale about a plucky band of misfits. About six months ago, I stumbled into going to bar trivia night at a local tavern. I sucked a few friends into it, and we soon needed a name. Being several pitchers into the night at that point, a silly pun prevailed, and Drinkin' Bout It we became.

Week after week, we came in near the bottom. "We're not last!" we cheered at the end of the game, soused and eager to take another run at it. We clapped for those few teams who came in below us, and we clapped for those who regularly knew what quarterbacks belong to what NFL teams and three poets whose names start with G.

But we began to learn. For example, we learned that the guy calling the questions checks cnn.com every week for his current events questions, and we bumped up a place or two. We learned that he can sometimes be bribed with shots of liquor. And we learned that we'd better have somebody familiar with the old Testament and the periodic table.

And this week, with no warning whatsoever, we stomped 'em. We came in first, and amazed ourselves as much as the teams who'd become comfortable with us as a barrier between them and last place. We were the Bad News Beers, the Mighty Drunks.

Next week we may well come in dead last. But for a week, we're champions.

12/1/08

bamboozled

Bamboo takes over yards. It's almost as bad as kudzu, but easier to make into a tipi or lean to. While waiting for the turkey to hit the table and trying to avoid eating our weight in cheese and hummus beforehand, a bunch of us "kids" wandered around the side yard and did tricks with the bamboo forest.

First, folks climbed up the thick stalks like monkeys, taking turns bending them toward the ground and dropping off safely. Baby D took on a true monster, a hefty titan tangled among other poles, and nearly suffered for it when the damn thing wouldn't head groundward. With shouted encouragement, he finally wiggled it down far enough to escape harm.

After we got tired of that, we managed to rip one big bamboo clean out of the ground. We showed off a little, lifting it like a dumbbell, seeing how quickly we could swing it at each other. Soon enough, Jessie tried to ride it standing up. This did not work, let me tell you right off the bat. Sitting on it turned out better, but got the seat of my girlfriend's pants mighty dirty. How about a board, laid across the top branches? And hence the picture above, Jess riding proudly through the side yard, pulled by laughing family.

Who needs snow to have a sled?

11/24/08

eat, drink, make merry

I am a man who likes to throw parties. Birthdays, holidays, sunny Saturdays with nothing else going on, give me a half a reason and I'll have two dozen people and three dozen hotdogs at my house. You say "Flag Day" and I hear "fill the keg and buy some ice".

See, I like being able to throw down with my nearest and dearest, drinking beer and eating grilled meat or pot luck dishes and cranking up the music 'til we can hear it out in the side yard. I also like being able to wrap up in my own quilt with no worries about driving at the end of the night, no stress about when to leave and whether to sleep over or hold back on the booze. I'd rather clean my bathroom and put Christmas lights up outside than worry about getting from point A(lcohol) to point B(ed).

Plus, throwing a party means I get to make a flier. You can keep your fancy, folded invitations - my aesthetics are based in the punk scene, and my announcements reflect that. Ripped or copied pictures from Horror Comics and old encyclopedias. Spray painted, stenciled lettering and bright images. Lay outs based on Communist propaganda posters or wanted posters. For this year's 5th Annual Parade Potluck Party, I broke out the construction paper and glue. I can't draw Santa, but I can sure cut him out.

The parade parties are my favorite every year because of where I live, right on the route. The Springtime event happens in the morning, and everyone is drunk and sleepy by early afternoon, napping and picking at leftovers. But the Winterfest Parade kicks off at dark, and we wind up carousing into the night, building bonfires and singing songs and, sometimes, hooking up with folks you didn't even expect to see.

Anyway, if you are out at the parade this year and see me and my crew, stop by and say howdy. Bring a dish and a bottle and join us. If you're an asshole, we'll toss you off the wall. But if you're good natured and up for some fun, well, maybe you'll make a few friend or two. Either way, it''s going to be a hell of a party.

11/13/08

local legends

Hey, The Engine Room, which is to say The Beta Bar, which is to say The Cow Haus, which is to say the longest running independent music venue here in Tallahassee, needs our help. Money is tight, bands are asking more to play, and the new owners are trying to keep shit running while they get their legs under them.

There's a show tonight and a show tomorrow (click that link up there for details), and on Saturday a whole mess of local acts are getting together to play and raise cash. I mean, this isn't just a bar, this is a local institution. If you're into punk, metal, real rock, alt country, hip hop - if you're into live music, you've been to shows here. I've fallen in love there. Embarrassed myself badly by passing out on an amp. Suffered mosh pit injuries. Made new friends. Danced my ass off to everyone from the Gossip to Hank Williams III. Attended a wedding. Attended a hair metal birthday party. Attended a wake. Drank enough beer to float a pirate armada. Witnessed streakers and holy rollers. And, if you are from here, odds are good that you've done some of that, too.

So, the line up on Saturday is:
me and the devil
oh geography
adam reid
boss fight
good morning engineer
only thieves
reylondondo
misha

The tunes start around 4pm and the door is only $5. Support our scene. Give what you can, because we get more back in return. And if they manage to make it through the weekend, I'm spinning tracks for Effed Up Punk Nite next Tuesday the 18th, starting around 9pm. Come on out, sing along, have a good time, keep it alive.

11/6/08

2009 - 2012


I honestly didn't think he had a snowball's chance in hell.

After seeing the hopes and dreams of Americans ignored and trampled by those in charge for the past 8 years, I honestly thought that the results would go Republican by hook or by crook. When I read or heard people call Obama everything from "half-rican" to slurs that I sure as hell won't print, I thought racism had us looking down the barrel of another soul destroying decade. When pundits and politicians made him out to be a Muslim and Muslim out to be a dirty word, I thought for sure that we were well and truly fucked by our own fears.

Watching Obama rise in the polls as the economy sank under the weight of rich-get-richer bullshit, I steeled myself against the coming heartbreak. Listening to him debate and speak intelligently, beautifully, I resigned myself to the knowledge that we'd be bouncing between McCain's anger and Palin's bigoted stupidity until 2012. Casting my vote for Barack (and against those who would make some of us second class citizens, unable to access the rights afforded all other Americans), I knew - KNEW, I tell you - that it was a worthless gesture, only done to make myself feel like at least I had my say.

I showered, dressed, ate some cold pizza, and put on my flea market purchased Obama for President hat that night, always reminding myself not to get too hopeful. That they lied when they told us any of us could - with hard work and a strong soul - grow up to be president. I met with my friends and went to the bar already heartbroken, ready to drown my sorrows. Eyes glued to CNN, I felt that resolve slipping away, felt a giddiness rising in me like bubbles in my blood, as the results began coming in.

We couldn't help but notice the difference between the suited white folks, quiet, stiff, at McCain's headquarters and the cheering, hugging, up for it throngs in Chicago, all faces shining, all colors and races and ages mixed and ready to get back to being proud to be Americans.

And around 11, when CNN declared that, against all odds, against the lessons of hundreds of years of slavery and pain, against my own certainty that it simply would not be allowed to happen by those in charge, we voted Barack Hussein Obama (who was NOT a member of Skull and Bones, whose family did NOT amass a fortune in bed with Nazis and warmongers, elite but never an elitist) President of the United State of America, something broke open in me. I threw my arms around the person next to me and we bear hugged and hollered. Folks jumped up on the bar. Bells rang out, and you could hear the yelling from all around us, up and down the street. All over the US, dawn in view. All over the world, proud for us, happy to see us come to our god damned senses.

We were laughing and bellowing and chanting. I called my mama and my daddy and couldn't stop yelling WE DID IT and I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE IT! I caught a shot on tv of Jesse Jackson, one of the crowd in Chicago, tears running down his face in joy despite every nasty thing he said about Obama during this race, I lost it and just started crying. Hell, I'm crying right now, in my office, thinking about that night and what it means.

Through McCain's sincere concession (where was that guy during this campaign?) and President-Elect Obama's victory speech, the emotions in that room (in our country - our country) swelled and rose to near bursting. When he said "I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand," not a soul in that room wasn't ready to go out that moment and put a shoulder to the wheel and take up our share of the burden.

Every so often that night a chant would break out. Not "drill, baby, drill" or even "burn, baby, burn", but YES WE CAN. Yes we can, in Chicago. Yes we can, in Tallahassee. Yes we can fix this shit, given a steady hand to guide us and a steady voice to pick up our spirits when they flag. Yes we can rise above even the fucked up part of the election, when people in four states chose to gaybash by ballot. Yes we can have our freedoms and our fellowship, too.

Yes we can, because yes we fucking did.

11/4/08

in hope instead of fear

I cast my vote, and I did it gladly and with hope.

I won't know what else I have to say about this until tomorrow. But if you want to celebrate/drown your sorrows, meet me at St. Mike's Pub tonight. This isn't a night for sitting home, this is history.

10/30/08

sparks

Bonfire season! The only thing better than smelling wood smoke on my clothes is smelling it on someone's skin. Fire consumes and reduces what feeds it, but when we feed on the flames our souls grow and swell.

Remember that fall that Tyggyr rented a room at Charles Mansion, and we congregated in the backyard to build fires and play baseball with beer bottles and flaming toilet paper rolls? And Jon threw a used up can of spray paint in the fire - twenty minutes later, we'd forgotten it was waiting there and it finally blew up with a bang and we all yelled and jumped back, but no one got hurt.

Remember when Shane built a rickety cardboard shack in back of Deb's work, a straggling affair of boxes with towers and crawlspaces? And we shot it full of bb holes, mostly while he danced around trying to keep it upright, and then lit it up and let the sparks singe the leaves above us.

Remember that New Years Day when my neighbors and I all drifted, hangovers in full effect, out to the little fire circle we hide downtown? And we all brought out what little food and booze leftover from the nights' party and shared it around while the fire crackled and Rob made a bellows out of a pizza box and a garbage bag. And someone dragged in a Christmas tree off the side of the street, and we stood it upright in the middle of the flames and created a 15 foot column of fire for just long enough to blow our minds.

Tomorrow night, I've got high hopes for a conflagration and a crowd of friends. Happy Halloween, everybody. Happy cold weather. Happy bonfire season.

10/21/08

I love you, May!

14 years ago today, a car hit my sister and changed her life.

The main thing I remember is sitting on the floor in the hallway at the hospital, my back against a wall, trying to figure out how the hell to go back and fix it so it didn't happen.

I really suggest you hit that link up there and see what she has to say about it. The car may have knocked her teeth crooked, but it didn't knock the words out of her mind.

10/15/08

out at the dirt mall

Somewhere among the Scarface posters, airsoft guns, glass "incense burners", dixie flag tshirts, Jamaican flags, and knock off Nikes, you'll find me this coming weekend.

That's right, I'll be selling stuff at Flea Market Tallahassee. A friend is supplying the goods, I'm supplying the hours, and we're splitting the profits. I think the offerings will mostly be dvds, videos, music, that sort of thing - plenty of bang for your entertainment buck.

I've been wanting to man a booth there for years. Well, I sort of did a few times - my Aunt Lynn sold scrunchies there back when they were the height of fashion. So many scrunchies, so many patterns - FSU, USA, all different colors, glitter, holiday themes, she had it all. I remember her once looking at me and my shaved-headed friends and saying, "Y'all are no use to me." But every now and again I would ride out with her to keep company and watch the booth when she had to make change, get some food, or hit the restroom.

Since then, I've bought plenty of gear out there but never had the chance to sell. So, why don't you come on down Saturday or Sunday afternoon, meet me, and check out the offerings on display. For people watching, you can't miss it.

10/14/08

Mirepoix


One of my best friends - let's call her T-Bone - chefs it up in one of the more expensive restaurants in Tallahassee. When she's done crafting crab cakes and smoking salmon, she generally comes over to my place in the evening to complain about her love life, drink Natty Lite, praise indie rock bands, and mooch my cable tv.

Last night, I asked if she'd be willing to chop the veggies for a chicken soup I've got cooking at home in the crockpot as we speak, to save me some time this morning. Since the only thing she loves more than bearded boys with pot bellies is cooking, she agreed. It's funny; I've spent my time in commercial kitchens and my mama can put food on the table that will bring a tear of joy to your eye, but I'm no expert. When I prep my own carrots and celery, we're talking chunks. T-Bone, more than a little drunk, quickly reduced my ingredients to perfectly sized, nearly identical bits. She disapproved of the sorry-looking yellow squash I bought, but, like a good kitchen worker, she made an obscene gesture with it and then sliced it beautifully.

You'd never look at T-Bone and think, "professional chef". You'd never look at any of my friends and think, "grade school teacher" "published author" "grocery store manager" or "environmental scientist". There's something about hard won, long-practiced skill wrapped in a hooligan shell that brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. We are more than we appear.

10/6/08

MONSTER PARTY!

The birthday couple:

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes




(Not only can May write, but she can also make a hell of a birthday cake.)

9/29/08

a hardcore case of the fuck its

It's official: I have ceased to give a fuck. Printer broken down? Don't ask me - there are clear instructions right there on the control panel for clearing jams. Can't get your text to line up right on that powerpoint? Don't ask me - not my fault your layout sucks and you're trying to cram in too much written info. Payout still hasn't processed your travel reimbursement from last month? Don't ask me - I sent your shit up the day you got back, and I have no idea what kind of black hole swallowed up the paperwork.

Hey state government - either pay support staff a living wage or don't expect much in the way of support.

9/19/08

avast ye!

Some kids want to grow up to be doctors, some to be pilots, some to be cowboys. Me, I always wanted to be a pirate. Give me a tall ship and a star to steer her by. I devoured tales of Florida's buccaneers, both real and imagined and the hearty mix of both that mostly prevails. Gasparilla, Calico Jack, Anne Bonney, Mary Reed, Black Caesar - their stories and the names they left on the keys and islands (Captiva!) still roll around in my brain like cargo burst free in the hold.

Sure, they were violent, murderous villains. But damn, those pirates I loved sure had style.

Anyway, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. So crack a few pirate jokes, dig out your cutlass, and do what you can to resist the temptation to "to spit on your hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats."

9/12/08

life cycles

Today I felt like posting about the flea market. I'm trying to get some folks up to go out there this weekend. Not so much to buy anything, just to enjoy the afternoon, drink a draft beer or two, and poke the junk.

But here's the funny thing - I thought I'd better check and see what else I've written about Chez Flea, to keep myself from just saying the same thing over again. I checked my tags, and I've done basically one blog entry about how much I love the dirt mall. The date of that post? 9/9/07.

I go to the flea market probably once a month, all year round. But I guess right now is when I start feeling the season change and thinking about nice it is to walk around out there when fall gets here and everything's crisp and cool.

So, anybody want to go buy a pair of used britches, a photo of Elvis shellacked to a cypress board, yard-long incense sticks, or an aloe plant?

9/5/08

true love

My last post reminded me of one of the best things I ever heard on NPR. It's Sarah Vowell doing a piece called "The Greatest Love Story of the 20th Century" about Johnny and June, and I really suggest that you take a second and listen to it. You'll have to let the whole episode load and find it at the end, but it's pretty damn beautiful.

if that ain't country

Real country is heart and grit and sweat and illegal liquor in mason jars. Sinnin' on Saturday night and repenting on Sunday morning and, either way, having faith that you'll be forgiven in the sweet by and by. Country songs can tell a story or mourn a loss or just sound damn good picked out on a backporch while we all drink beers and stomp our feet.

Now, I'm not talking about that twang pop bullshit you see in videos on CMT these days. No frosted hair, booty bassline Trashville throwawauy crap. I'm talking about Johnny and June singing "Far Side Banks Of Jordan" and bringing tears to your eyes and raising goosebumps on your arms (And I'll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan/I'll be waiting drawing pictures in the sand/And when I see you coming, I will rise up with a shout/And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand.). And I mean Dolly and Merle and, hell, even sketchy fuckers like David Allen Coe have had their moments.

We here in Tallahassee are blessed enough to get the best of both the old and the new on a real radio station, the kind not programmed by test groups or DJed by computers. WGWD, 93.3 FM, Classic Country, turns 20 this month. You can even listen online if you ain't from here. They play everything from bluegrass to country gospel, and their DJs even still do some of the ads ("Now, when you get on down to Quincy, you need to go ahead and stop by that country buffet..."). It's the real deal, and that's in short supply.

(And in case you're curious, that photo is of Red Foley, Little Jimmy Dickens, Minnie Pearl and Hank Williams, Sr. hitting Europe back in the day.)

9/2/08

there and back again

Well, I rode Greyhound to DC, hung out with my girlfriend, helped partially convert an old Merz to run on veggie oil, walked all over town, rode down to Atlanta in said Mercedes, got drunk and happy at a small oi festival, ate gravy and biscuits, and came on home. Check it out:

Smithsonians ahoy! We basically did every free thing in DC.



We walked all over the National Mall, and settled down to rest some near Grant in front of the Capital. This is my gal Leila, footsore but still smiling.



Thems as know me know my fear of frogs and toads. Seriously, they scare the bejesus out of me - no idea why. So here I am saying, "Oh, no, a frog!" at the National Zoo.



Then we hit Atlanta for a big oi! show. Here I am with Kel and Perry - Kel writes for my zines from time to time and Perry's known for being in The Templars, among other bands. Class folks, they live over in Jax when not drinking heavily in Atlanta.

8/19/08

let the big dog run

When you ride Greyhound, strangers offer you booze out of plastic bottles and illegal drugs and sometimes sexual favors. I once saw a young woman work the same fellow for a couple hundred miles, getting lunch and sodas and attention from him all the way across Texas, only to be picked up by her girlfriend in El Paso.

When you ride Greyhound, you get to see paroled prisoners in county issue suits, newly free again, dig into huge fast food meals. They suck down milkshakes and gobble hamburgers and seldom look straight at anyone. Out west, authorities pull the bus over and go down the row asking names and where you were born, and lord help you if there's some Spanish in your English. When you ride Greyhound, you watch old men in sheepswool-lined denim jackets get pulled off and herded into trailers set up in dusty pull offs, left behind as we roll back onto the highway.

When you ride Greyhound at night through the desert, far off towns become stars in an ink spill sky. I could never go into space, because that feeling of tumbling through the void while cold lights blink at you and the only thing louder than your breathing is the engine keeping you aloft scared me witless until I opened my eyes to the dawn chasing us.

When you ride Greyhound, everything is further away than you think.

8/13/08

Scar Wars

Since I sort of mentioned it in the last blog, I thought I would give a heads up for this weekend's derby bout. Go out and support your local team! Capital Punishment for the win!

a little off

I feel anxious. Not for any particular reason. Well, for a couple reasons, none of them all that important.

A coworker left for sunnier climes this week, and her duties got lumped in with mine, so I'm trying to find footing in the flood. Yesterday, I looked up a band I used to like on myspace and my worst, nastiest ex is in their top 10 friends, leaving me with a sour feeling in the back of my head. I want to get out of town in a week and a half to visit a girl I dig, and money is tighter than Prince's britches. I have pledged to have a new issue of my music zine finished by the 30th, and I've barely touched the damn thing. And a bill collector's suddenly started calling me at work over something I paid off last year.

In other words, life as usual, except all at once.

The thing is, anxiety's not a regular state of mind for me. I tend to figure that things'll turn out one way or the other, and stressing about it won't help one bit. But when I've got a half dozen worries hanging over me and nothing I can actually do about any right now, well, I feel like I've had a yellow jacket and a red bull.

This won't last, thankfully. I'll burn off some nervous energy tonight playing bar trivia at Gill's (we're the loud team), and a pitcher of beer won't hurt, either. A good friend even offered to treat me this week. So I guess I'll just keep passing the open windows, and I suspect that by the time I get to the rollerderby match this weekend, I'll be back to my normal, grinning self.

8/4/08

R.I.P.

Poor ol' Ding Dang kicked the bucket this weekend. I kept him fed, watered, and clean, so I hope it was simply old age. He had a strangely nomadic life for a dwarf hamster and truly loved bananas.

7/29/08

Dear FSU Students:

I'm dissapointed.

Did you drain Poor Pauls? Was Bullwinkles finally shut for code violations? Did Potbelly's burn down? Did beer pong go out of fashion? Did all the sorority girls buy shirts that actually cover their torsos? Have red plastic cups been banned within city limits? Did Mike's Beer Barn close again?

What happened to the hard drinking, hard puking students of yesteryear? For shame, FSU. Letting UF beat you like that. Have some college pride.

Soberly,
A Local

7/28/08

where I belong


Juancho feels compelled to hop on a bike and ride it all over creation in 105 degree heat. My mama just has to get out in the garden, stooping and pulling and weeding and fighting enemy species invasions. Some folks are compelled to climb mountains. Some find themselves playing the same video game over and over to perfect a handful of skills that only apply to that situation. Seems like everyone feels some pull, has some inner drive to do this certain thing, even if it sounds completely batshit insane to everyone else.

I guess that's why I spent a few hours last night in a wood-and-tin shed downtown, near the homeless shelter, sweating rivers and losing my hearing. There's something pure about a do-it-yourself punk or oi or hardcore show. I don't mean all our motives are pure - ask any independent musician why he or she does what they do and you'll get answers like "I just want to get fucked up and make loud noises" or "to piss people off" or "to get laid." I mean, a bunch of folks want to hear a certain band that's on the road. They contact the musicians and make plans for a show. They borrow or rent a space, do a little fliering and spread the word. Ask a few local acts to jump in. Maybe they get a keg. Stick someone at the door to collect a few bucks from everyone to help out with gas money or whatever. Set up some PA and let 'er rip.

Next thing you know, people who, in their day to day life, take shit as kitchen workers or state employees or yard guys are singing their lungs out, throwing each other around a dirty room with no ac, burning off all the pent up frustration and energy we deal with in this society to the sounds of their favorite bands rocking out. Even when my feet ache from standing in boots on concrete, even when I catch an elbow in the belly or get knocked off my feet by 250 pounds of excited hardcore guy, even when the beer is warm and the microphones barely work and the headliners are broken down somewhere in Valdosta, it's worth it.

There's no money to be made in the scene I love. World famous musicians live in shitty trailers in the dirt near Stark or rent one bedroom apartments in Jersey or share a punk house with 15 other guys in Portland. There's something in it that's like being part of a particularly charismatic backwoods church. Talking in tongues, rolling on the floor in ecstasy, uniting in fellowship for ideals above and beyond our real lives. A lot of kids come in and out of the scene - they spend a time here and grow out of it, find a place in mainstream life where they can be comfortable and get what they need. But I can't imagine not being part of it. I don't jump in the pit any more - bad knee - but someone needs to document the shows, interview the bands, record our history.

Honestly, though, that's just rationalization. It's not making zines that keeps me going to shows. It's the feeling you get when you're crammed up against the lead singer with a brother or sister on every side, each of you shouting along, part of something grand.

7/21/08

fairly useless passion

This is my favorite part of the zine making process. I've done my interviews, compiled my photos, wrangled columns out of strangers, decided on a cover image. Half the content is printed up, sliced out, and pasted down. I'm working through a check list of needs that crop up as I put this thing in order, and I'm sliding downhill toward a hard deadline on Sunday night. Sprinting to publish, there's just nothing better.

7/16/08

poor boy's revolution


Back in the way back, when I was 21, newly on my own after 3 years of dreary relationship hassle, and freshly embedded in Atlanta, I did not know how to drink. I mean, I knew how to swallow liquid, and due to being raised by musicians and live music fans I knew general bar behavior better than most of my age group, but the actual process of going in and buying my drink of preference was something of a mystery.

There's a magic line in this country between 21- and 21+. Before that, you pretty much imbibe in whatever your older buddies or girlfriend buy you. Cheap corporate beer, high priced micros, Evan Williams, plastic bottle vodka - it's all pretty much luck of the draw, ain't it? So, the first few times I went out with friends here in town for a legal drink, I felt sort of flummoxed. What did adults order?

Sometimes I followed a friend's lead. Sometimes I ordered a simple mixed drink I wasn't scared of - a rum and coke, maybe. Sometimes I just asked for a Bud or a Rolling Rock because they were the first beers I recognized sitting on the shelf. But I had no finesse, no taste of my own was really involved.

Not long after I packed my duffel bag and headed for the Big City, I fell in with a kid named Dean. Now, Dean had issues. Whole subscriptions. When I say the words "pathological liar," I mean, "claims to have stomach cancer, says she was Winnie's understudy on the Wonder Years, would say she got mugged to explain where all her (drug) money went". That aside, though, we palled around for the better part of two years and had some damn good times doing so, as long as I kept in mind that if she said the sky was blue I needed to grab an umbrella.

Dean taught me to drink in bars. She and I walked into a joint in East Atlanta one night. She put a 5 on the bar and said, "Two Pabst tall boys." Left a dollar tip and still got a dollar back in change. That first PBR changed my life. Cold, clean - beat the hell out of Bud and its cousins. The red, white, and blue can design appealed instantly to the classic graphics fan in me. Plus, you couldn't get the stuff in Tally - this was at the very beginning of the PBR hipster revival. Dirty punks, pomped rockabillies, and working class rednecks gulped it by the gallon in bars tucked away in Atlanta's dark corners. It tasted like self reinvention, like punk rock, like downtown.

By the end of the night, I was suddenly a brand loyal man. Sure, if a place doesn't carry Pabst I'll switch down to High Life or up to Red Stripe. I've gulped my share of Dixie and Lone Star. I've put away cases of Natty and quarts of Schlitz. But Pabst Blue Ribbon is my beer of choice. And now it's the largest remaining American-owned brewer. That's something we can be proud of, I'd say. Or at least something we can drink to.

7/11/08

Do you like good music?


If you have even the slightest interest in bluegrass, string music, old timey stuff, and so on, get your happy ass down to the Warehouse Saturday night for a beer and a good time. These folks play like devils and sing like angels.

7/8/08

BOOM

That weekend blurred into three days of eating charred flesh, drinking cheap beer out of ice-wet cans, and playing with fire and gunpowder. Now, let me tell you, these are easily some of my favorite things to do in a group. Ribs? Yes. Burgers? Of course. Pabst? Any time. Roman candles? Hand 'em here. But somewhere around the 40th hour, I hit a wall.

No, not literally.

I poured out the keg beer I was gulping, ate the last bite of my chicken wing, and went home to sleep for 10 hours solid. Of course, that just means I was rested and ready for the bring-your-own-pool party the next afternoon.

You know, I am actually a shy, introverted guy who loves quiet and can easily be alone even in a big crowd. However, my lifestyle belies this. That's okay. I like contradiction.

7/2/08

One of my best friends told my sister (they work together) that she's worried for me. I'm going through some sort of phase. The symptom? Wearing Hawaiian shirts.

It's true, too. Last month, for my luau, I stopped into the local kmart and wound up with a couple of nice, light, colorful Hawaiian shirts for a couple of bucks each. (If anyone can explain kmart's pricing policies to me, that would be a great - it's like a weird lottery system, and half the time the numbers on the sign have nothing to do with the numbers at the register.)

Reactions are strange. Someone told me I look "snazzy." A friend, seeing me in yet another one, told me, "enough is enough." I do feel a faint urge to make frozen drinks and sip them out of coconut shells. But hell, this is Florida in the summer. As long as no one turns me into the Suede/Denim Secret Police, I'm set until September.

7/1/08

snip snip

31 was kind of a throw-away year for me. I lost too many friends and relatives, work just limped along, and - strangest for me - I didn't release a single zine the whole time. Looking back at it, that's a major sign that something just flat wasn't right in my life at the time.

But here I am now, 32, climbing out of the doldrums. Last night, I sat down with some pictures, graphics, and articles at my living room table. As I downed a few beers, I cut pieces of paper into smaller pieces of paper and then glued the snippets to yet more pieces of paper. I have no idea why I love doing that so much. I feel like I've truly accomplished something when I see those copies come popping out of the machine at Office Depot, ready to be collated, stapled, folded, and shoved into a stranger's hands.

The most fun I ever had with that last bit was at the show at the Beta Bar a couple of years ago. I'd run an article on the brand-new-at-the-time Tallahassee Rollerderby Team as the center spread, and I finished the final paste-down and copying just a few minutes into a show that was a benefit for the squad. I wanted to be able to hand out issues that night, but I'd run out of time for assembling the copies. So I walked into the venue carrying a box of loose pages and my long-arm stapler. The roller girls (Capital Punishment!) laid that puppy out and put it in order, sending me set copies to be stapled, folded, and thrown on the merch table. Somebody brought me a draft beer while I worked, and the issue disappeared as quickly as we could put it together. Beer, zines, and hotties in short skirts collating for me? The ultimate zinester fantasy.

6/27/08

the family that blogs together...

So, one of my many sisters has stuck her toe in the Ocean of Blog. Roll Up the Rugs

And, of course, my mama's blog is always lively and worth reading. Bless Our Hearts

Just in case you wanted some new reading material.

3/18/85 - 6/27/04

On this day in 2004, I woke up with a hangover at my dad's house to the phone ringing. I was watching his pad, and I'd had a few beers the night before while watching tv. I planned to chill out, make some breakfast, and maybe go to a show that night with my friends.

Instead, my girlfriend at the time, the voice on the phone, told me Derek was dead. There'd been a car wreck, he and some friends were coming back from Gainesville in the rain and the SUV flipped. He never had a chance. Everyone else made it through.

I had to pass the word to our crew. Is there anything worse than telling friends that someone's not coming home? The rest of that week is a blur of wakes and drunken sorrow and memorial shows. And there's still a big hole in the scene that will never be filled.

Derek, bro, I miss you.

6/26/08

boom and crash

Sometimes we get reminded that Tallahassee has a rainy season. Last night, the storm rolled in and smashed down on top of us. On the way home from work, I took refuge in a church parking lot, reading a Carl Hiaasen novel for a half hour while the deluge hid the road and hail pinged off my roof. By dark, lightning flashed through the clouds every few seconds. My friend said, "maybe it's not a storm, maybe its an attack." I unplugged my tv, turned off all my lights, and pulled a chair up in front of my open door. The wind slung tiny drops of water through the screen at me, and I swear I could feel electricity tingling on my skin. As the night wore on and the weather kept raging, Monroe Street turned into a river. Cars went boating by, creating enough wave to body surf into the gutters. I dozed off like that between the biggest crashes, and I dreamed only in sound.

6/20/08

shut it down

There's something to be said for sticking around until last call on a Thursday night. Mostly, "God damn, why did I stick around until last call on a work night?"

But no, there we were at St. Mike's at 2 am, blinking as Ben brought up the house lights and trying to finish a last pitcher of Pabst before heading home. And here I am at work today, a wee bit sluggish and wishing for about 7 more hours of sleep. Every now and then, though, you just have to go do it up right, get a belly full of beer even if you know it's a bad idea, stay up too late talking about porn and music with someone you like. Last night was one of those nights.

Tonight? Sleep.

6/19/08

call you on the telephone, give you a ring


Hey, remember The Georgia Satellites? That one hit wonder southern rock band from the 80s? You know the song - got a little change in my pocket goin' jang-a-lang-a-lang. My dad's band did a killer cover of it back in '86 and '87.

Well, instead of picking a semi-known, partially-popular new-country act for the 4th this year, the city's hiring the Satellites and the Atlanta Rhythm Section to perform during the big Independence Day bash at Tome Brown Park. Look, I know we're in a recession and the city's pretty broke. And heck, I've been hoping for years that they'd finally get some rock'n'roll out there to go along with the fireworks. But how about some acts on their way up instead of their way out?

While we're at it, how about some acts that aren't lily white and don't have a history of slapping Dixie flags on their album covers? I know, too much to ask.

6/16/08

talent put to silly use

The very cute and very talented Leila, currently hanging out at my place on summer break from art school, whipped this up for our joint birthday luau this weekend. We took about 50 shots of various people doing increasingly obscene things involving this stand up. Many of the pictures came out blurry (so sue me, I was drunk as Cooter Brown), but you get the idea.

Homemade fun at its silliest.

on the dog

Billy's haiku for Dog Island:
Mr. Horseshoe Crab,
You are so prehistoric.
Get away from me.


6/13/08

a coconut bra and a grass skirt

Well, that was a hell of a thing! The allergic reaction is finally behind me (instead of on my behind), thanks to modern medicine and the healing powers of the Gulf of Mexico. I've rolled happily from 31 to 32, and I'm hoping to put a fairly sorry year behind me (too many deaths, not enough zines). I've lost home internet access, but I'm back at work finally.

To celebrate all this, plus my friend Leila's birthday next week, I'm throwing a luau at my house on Saturday night. Ever notice that whenever sitcom characters throw a party, odds are good it'll be a luau, but no one you know ever actually invites you to one in real life? We're out to change that. Hawaiian shirts, tiki gods, and inflatable octopii - what could be better? So, if you're a reader and you're in the area and you know where I hang my hat, put on your best island finery and come wiggle your hips at the Fives. BYOB, but there'll probably be some sort of pork based food to eat.

6/4/08

ouch

I've fought with tooth aches, lingering coughs, bad knees, a thrown out back, mosh pit injuries, and toxic hangovers. I once battled strep throat in a mill shack in Atlanta in February with no heat, spending days on end submerged in hot water in my bathtub to counteract the fever chills. But never have I been so miserable for so long as this past week, when a laundry soap allergy laid me low.

Let's just say that a violent rash on certain parts of the human anatomy is a pretty good argument against a benevolent god. On the other hand, it does lend evidence to the god-as-an-immature-bastard side of things.

5/28/08

like a foolish man who built his house on sand

Do you remember that developer who went to Dog Island and was so struck with the near pristine beauty and untouched nature that last year he bought up a bunch of beach front land and gave it to his old university to figure out how to build it up and make a ton of money off of it?

Well, it turns out that they still haven't figured out that the land they intend to build on is dissapearing at the rate of several feet a year. Bless their little hearts. I hope their final grades don't depend on making something work down there.

5/27/08

long weekend, small posts 3

I've never yet met anyone who doesn't want a baby pygmy goat as a pet as soon as they see them at play. Me, I intend to use a goat cart when all the oil runs out.

long weekend, small posts 2

A memorial service is not the time or place to be a sketchy, selfish jerk. Everyone is already miserable enough. Drama started at a funeral is going to stick around for a long time.

long weekend, small posts

I can't think of a less appropriate song to sing at a young man's funeral than "Loving You," especially when done by a woman described as "almost a mother to him."

5/23/08

let him climb the rigging like his daddy used to do

This whole end-of-the-easy-to-get-oil-supplies thing may not be all bad. Can you imagine all those god damned huge cruise ships stuck in shallow water, listing, useless, filled with squatters because they can't get the fuel to run and ruin? Once again, maybe the world's ports will fill with sailing ships, the sound of wind on canvas, people braving the heights above pitching sea and rocking deck. Instead of pushing our way out with chugging engines and pouring smoke, we'll go back to traveling the oceans at the whims of nature. Going to sea should be an adventure, not an excuse to shop.

5/22/08

still don't believe it

Jarryd was a local co-op kid. He never had a mean word for anyone, and that includes people he should have. What is there to say when a friend dies? He was loyal, he was funny. He could charm anyone, from arresting officers to attractive women, with a smile and a laugh. I tended to run into him just out and about; he was the kind of guy you actually stopped to chat with for a while instead of just saying hi and rolling on.

What is there to say? He died at 22, too damn young by far. I hear he was just making a smoke run from Cabos. All the times I saw him get stumbling drunk, all the drugs he took over the years for fun, all the time he should have been in mortal danger - and a quick trip for cigarettes caught him. Don't ever fool yourself, death is completely random.

5/16/08

go go godzillla

I'm building a little town. I was going to give it some funny (to me) name, possibly based on a beer brand or semi famous inventor, but it seems to have acquired the moniker Tiny Town. So it goes.

I've got a couple of buildings done. I work on it at night after work, when I'm watching American Gladiators or 30 Rock. I can't just sit and watch tv without something to do with my hands. Some folks knit. I spray paint and cut and glue beer boxes into funny little buildings. This one's my favorite.

I gave it shutters and a set of blinds, and even a fire escape hanging off the back. Clear windows - some of them purple. It's a two story, downtown home for wee people. I've also got a Spanish-style apartment building and a Nathans hotdog stand. Next I might make a skyscraper or a water tower. I intend to pull together, not a village or a small town, but a city complete with slums and head shops and a university.

Some of my friends are getting in on the fun, too. And this fall, after we've put together what we see as enough little buildings and cars and such, we're going to go out behind a friend's warehouse. We're going to drink beers and set up the entire city. Once it's laid out and perfect, we're going to put on a mix cd made for the occasion - maybe start with Ride of the Valkyries or Fuk Shit Up by the Blatz - and then we're gonna ATTACK TINY TOWN IN AN ORGY OF GODZILLA-LIKE DESTRUCTION! WE'LL STOMP AND RAMPAGE! WE'LL DROPKICK WEE MUSEUMS AND BURN MINUSCULE GAS STATIONS TO THE GROUND!

It's going to be awesome.

5/14/08

one man, one pan

I meant to make sausage and cabbage and taters to eat separately. Mustard on the sausage, vinegar on the cabbage, butter and pepper on the potatoes. Cooked them all up together in the cast iron skillet my Aunt Lynn gave me. Added some soy sauce, plenty of garlic, shakes and shakes of black pepper. About the time the cabbage got soft, I tasted the pot liquor. That ain't three dishes, buddy, that's one fine soup.

Most of what I write works about the same. I'll think I've got three or four ideas that need working out, but actually it's all just different flavors in the same story. But you never can tell starting out.

5/12/08

roll it up

You know how there are certain activities that seem to require certain statements when performed? Evidentially, when you make sushi you have to say, "It's like rolling a joint." At least, that's what nearly everyone came up with as we put together all sorts of delicious fish and veggies and mango slices with rice and seaweed last night to celebrate Mother's Day.

Food and drug comparisons aside, you know what I think I love best about our family? We are just so damn funny. Maybe not to anyone else, but you get all us kids together with mom and dad, and we can crack each other up for days. Lily's sly, May's the actress, Jessie just jumps in sometimes with a line that puts you on the floor. I nearly got out of breath helping to make dinner, just from the jokes going around the room.

Thanks, mom. I sure love you.

sun screenings

The Tallahassee Film Fest hits screens all over town this weekend. Go to the site, choose some movies, go out and see them. I want to see God's Cartoonist, myself. What could be better than a documentary about noted Christian fundie cartoon tract maker and general wing-nut, Jack Chick?

5/9/08

not feeling it

Like 90% of the adults in this town, my friends and I tend to meet up after work on Fridays for "happy hour." Since we're all fairly poor and tend to be rowdy (that is to say, some of us are Not Welcome Back at certain local bars), that usually involves gathering at a home or behind the warehouse where one of us runs a business. Different locations lean toward different outcomes, from giant bonfires and bb guns to political arguments over too much whiskey.

Growing up, I wasn't part of a group of friends. Okay, to be honest, I sort of had no friends at all. Weird kid, socially awkward, liked to read - you hear me. I used to watch commercials where little gangs of teens or preteens got together to eat happy meals and josh each other and just long with every cell to have pals. Hell, that's probably why I loved The Goonies so much.

Somewhere around 17 or 18, I started figuring out the whole making friends thing. I suspect I just wasn't meant for school-based social circles. I've made my peace with that time, and I've had plenty of good friends and tight crews in the past 14 years since I got out of high school. But I still have a problem saying, "nah, I'll catch y'all later. I don't feel up to hanging out tonight." That nervous ninth grader is still in there somewhere insisting that I have to take any chance for a social life.

I didn't sleep well last night, and I don't particularly feel like happy houring later. I'll get the calls of "where the hell are you? grab a twelvepack and come on!" and feel guilty about making a quiet dinner and maybe watching a movie. But, it's sort of a happy guilt. I've got buddies that like spending time with me, honestly. When I'm not around, they look for me. I sort of wish I could go back to middle school me and tell me that the hard times don't last.

Maybe that's why I'm generally cheerful now. I feel bad for people who peaked in high school. Anyway, unless my mood changes by the time I escape work today, my friends can do this one without me.

5/6/08

raw oysters and boiled srimp


I miss Posey's. If I sit here and think about it for a second, I can smell the mix of beer and smoked fish and river that permeated the dollar-lined walls of the dark front room. I grew up sitting at those rough-pine tables, eating poor man's oysters (that's saltines with cocktail sauce for you who weren't graced with a Florida childhood) and picking mullet off the bones.

When I was little, the back room wasn't yet set up as a bar. My sister and I would wander back there to the pool tables, unused in the afternoon, and try to sink the cue ball while the grown ups had a few Buds and a couple dozen raw. Getting older, nothing beat calling up a few friends on Sunday for the drive to St. Mark's, squeezing in between bikers and slumming college kids for a table outside. If you've never watched the river while downing the best the Gulf has to offer (and the cheapest Milwaukee has to offer), brother, I feel sorry for the state of your soul.

When visitors came into town, especially those from up north who wanted the true local experience, Posey's and Wakulla Springs were the two spots we had to hit. I swear, one of my yankee buddies almost fell off her bench seat when a twelve year old in a "I spent a wild weekend at Posey's one night" tshirt brought us out our beers. Another friend of mine had her first hushpuppy there. She wasn't sure at first, being a picky eater at the time, but two bites in and she was already headed for the counter to order up a basketful.

When Dennis swamped St. Mark's, part of my life got washed away. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I have any idea what the actual residents felt, or that I was impacted like those who lost their homes and jobs. But, damn it, that doesn't mean I don't still mourn, years later. I guess they're fighting right now about building some sort of convention center and so on down that way, and I can't say I blame them. I don't think there's more than a couple hundred residents of the little village now that the tourists and the refineries have both left the scene. But I can't say I wouldn't love to ride on down there now that the weather's warm and sit up by the railing and listen to some dude cover Buffet while I pick that good, good mullet.

5/2/08

where's my bribe check?

I expect my "stimulus" money next week from the gubment. I guess they want us to buy stuff and make it not look like we're sliding into an economic depression. Thinking about it, I can't help but note that pretty much any sort of big kid toy - tvs, stereos, ipods, cell phones, cars, computers, new sneakers, giant blenders, power washers, kegerators - are made wholly or partially outside of the USA. Which seems to undermine the whole point of the experiment.

That in mind, I plan to use my bribe check to pay utilities and support American artists and small business owners. That's right - time for a new tattoo. Can't outsource your body mods!

5/1/08

you were a little baby very long ago


As most anyone reading this knows, I come from a sprawling bunch that's sort of half Addams family and half Louisa May Alcott's March family. 3 sisters, me, mom, stepdad, dad, stepmom, uncles, aunts, cousins, shirt tail cousins, best friends, former bandmates, grannies, friends we didn't know were cousins until years after we bonded - you get the idea. With this many of us, we've got birthdays and odd little celebrations scattered throughout the year. But for my core group, the folks I sat down to dinner with most nights growing up, birthday season is upon us.

Today, my baby sister hits 19 and granny's marking 81. Sis is a bright, smiling, singing girl. I believe she once called herself the white sheep of the family. She got dad's natural physical abilities - no training wheels for her bike, no sir, and the day she got her first rollerblades she was going up and down stairs in them. (Me, I think if man was meant to roll on wheels we'd been born with them.) As a preschooler, she used to like to do pull ups on whatever was handy - the freezer door, monkey bars, my outstretched arm. Well, it turns out that translates to musical ability, too. I can't carry a tune in a two handled bucket, but she took to the mando like a hamster to cheery tomatoes. She's aced her first year at FSU. All this, and she's so damn sweet natured that you can't hate her for it.

Granny's on the other side of life, looking back. And, I tell you what, I know people in their 50s that aren't half as healthy or on top of things as she is. She still drives her little red nu-bug around town (although, to be honest, she is the only person that I, grandpa driver that I am, have ever been behind in traffic and found myself thinking, God damn it, please speed up!). She could stand on her head into her 60s, and would for her grandkids' entertainment and delight. She walks daily, travels the world when she can, and tells crazy stories about my alcoholic biograndfather when I take her out to lunch from time to time.

Next up in the birthday play list comes my sister May (guess what month), then myself two weeks after. One of my greatest pleasures comes from throwing great big parties, complete with a keg of beer, a table of food, show-style fliers as invitations, and usually some theme I can force on my friends. (Pirates for my 30th, for example. I need to figure out what I'll throw together for this year.) And so on, through the summer.

When we were kids, birthdays always involved spreading a sheet on the lawn for an outside supper; juicy juice (a real treat for us hippie kids); a friend or two over to spend the night; books and outdoorsy toys; and a cake by request. One year May figured out she could get two key lime pies from mom - one for her own pleasure, one for the rest of us.

Birthday season, I love it! Bring on the shrimp salad and red velvet cake!

4/30/08

stupid comment of the day

Well, despite our need to regulate rubber nuts and baggy pants, when push came to shove the Florida Senate actually got one right (by the skin of our teeth). A proposed bill that would have required women to pay for an ultrasound and view it before having an abortion, didn't get the required votes needed to pass. On behalf of, well, pretty much every gal I know who has ever had heterosexual sex, I'm mighty relieved. Abortion is expensive and emotionally draining enough.

But I had to note Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Valrico) quote from that article: “Women use abortion or self-induced miscarriage as entertainment.”

What the fuck? Yeah, those hordes of unmarried, atheistic sluts out there punching themselves in the bellies and unbending clothes hangers for the fun of it are getting out of control. You can barely drive from one end of town to the other without detouring around the crowd in front of a Happy Fun Time Abortion Clinic and All day Liquor Store.

This isn't Rhonda's first time as Stupidest Floridian of the Day, either. Remember these greatest hits?
- "I am pro-life, you are pro-death." (To a representative of Planned Parenthood, after Storms had all funding to PP in her county cut off.)
- "We can get them through law school, but we can't get them to seem to pass the Bar." (In regards to opening a branch of the FAMU law school in Tampa, which she opposed - the school finally opened in Orlando.)
- "I don't support putting at-risk children in homes that I think are at-risk themselves." (re: gay foster parents)

Hey, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk - way to live up to your stereotypes.

spotted at the pub

So, there I am at St. Mike's, doing my part to help the local economy (aka, drinking draft Pabst and hearing all the gossip from a local fancy pants restaurant kitchen), and a woman walks up to me.

"Excuse me, do you do the Tallyhassle blog?"

Busted! Anyway, I got a major kick out of being spotted. The whole point to something like this, especially as locally focused as I have kept it, is to meet cool folks and swap ideas. So, if you see me at the local watering hole or at Decent Pizza or even just sitting up on my stoop watching the clouds roll by, say howdy. Introduce yourself. It's a small town, really, let's keep it neighborly.

4/23/08

not up to snuff

It's not the sore throat. Not the developing drippy nose that threatens to glue my septum ring to my face. Not the overwhelming urge to nod off in my chair with a quilt over my lap like an old man. No, it's not the physical symptoms that make me hate being home sick.

It's daytime tv.

Talk shows and court shows and game shows and dance shows, and all I want is a god damned story that doesn't involve one of the Ten Sitcom Plots.

Mom brought me mango sorbet and fruit salad, and that's making the whole thing easier to take. But I wish there was a service that delivered John Waters movies and mind altering substances. Now that's how you get through a bad spring cold.

4/18/08

4 weeks, 4 shows

Normally, the most annoying thing a friends' band can do is play out too much in too short a time. Burnout ensues. It stops being fun to sing along and starts feeling like an obligation to show up to most of the shows.

My bros the Lucky Scars are playing 4 shows in the next four weeks. For once, I'm looking forward to the whole thing. They're hitting all my favorite venues - The Shed off Macomb, St. Mike's on Gaines, and The Beta Bar - plus that new oyster joint next to the round Holiday Inn. Bird's, I think it's called, and I hear they serve up good grouper sandwiches and $1 Pabsts. I think I'll work up a piece for my music zine comparing the joints, the sound systems, any bouncers present, price of booze, how the rest of the crowd reacts - you know what I mean.

Plus, the cast of characters playing with them is changing up each time. I'll be catching a few local acts I really enjoy - Neon Touch, County Hell, some other fun bands - and a few I've been told I have to see to believe.

As long as they don't make a habit of it, I think this should be a good month for oi and punk here in Tally town. It's going to be a long, dry summer for touring acts. When gas hits $4 a gallon, no one's going to be taking their music to the masses. So this strikes me as a good way to really dig into the homegrown heroes and watch the boys rock out.

4/17/08

hitched up tight

In case anyone was there and couldn't hear, or was simply curious as to what was said, I wanted to post up the words of the ceremony from my sister's wedding this past weekend. We couldn't have had a more beautiful day for it. Jason's face, when he was Lily in her dress at the other end of the aisle, made me damn glad to have him as my brother-in-law. It's obvious that they love each other completely, and I suspect they'll make it all the way through. (By the way, that's me in the picture standing behind the bride and groom - I was up on a milk crate, as Lily is about 6 feet tall, and I am, well, not.)

Lily and Jason gave me an example of the sort of ceremony they wanted. We had to walk a line between his side's Christianity and my side's general heathenism, and I think I managed to pull in what they had in mind and tie it all up together. I dialed the pomp and ceremony WAY back, reworded most of it, threw out any references to possessing each other, and here's what we got:

(Dad and mom walked her down the aisle, one on each side. When they got to me, I asked, "Who brings this woman here?" and dad answered, "Her mother and I." He could hardly speak. I then asked, "And whose blessings does she carry?" and mom answered, joyously, "Her family's." Then they kissed her and sat down and Lily and Jason faced each other.)

Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to celebrate the joining together of Lillian Rose Moon and Jason Thomas Hartman.

There are many things to say about marriage. Wisdom concerning the joining together of two souls has come our way through all beliefs and from all cultures. With each union, more knowledge is gained and shared. Though we are unable to give all this wisdom to these two who stand before us, we can hope to share with them the knowledge of love and all its strengths. We can anticipate the wisdom that they will discover with time and share with us in turn.

The law of life is love unto all. Without love, life is nothing. Love brings on birth and redeems death. Love fuels creation and gives form to the world. If we learn no more in life, let it be this. Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable time and reflection. As with all unions, it has its cycles, its ups and downs, its trials and triumphs. Understanding this, Lily and Jason have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.

Please join hands with your betrothed and listen to what I say. Above you is the wide open sky and below you is the Earth, and as time does pass, remember:

Like a stone should your love be strong. Like the north star should your love be constant. Let the powers of your minds guide you in your marriage. Let the strength of your wills bind you together against all troubles. Let the power of love for each other make you happy. Let the strength of your dedication to each other make you inseparable. Be close, but allow space for growth. Be bound as one, but be understanding of the differences that arise. Have patience with each other - storms will come, but with your cooperation you will pass through them safely.

Be freely affectionate and warm. Have no fear and be calm in the face of unease, because the blessings of this day will go with you always. Do you have the rings?

(Each turned to their second - our sister Jessie for Lily and his brother Chris for Jason - and took their rings.)

Jason, do you take this woman, standing next to you here in front of friends and family, to be your lawfully wedded wife?

Jason: I do.

Please place the ring on her finger and tell her how you feel.

(He did, and his hands were shaking. He's a soft spoken guy, and many people told him beforehand to really speak up so they could hear. I told him, as long as Lily knows what you say, that's good enough. I wish I had his vows to show you, but I don't. I do remember that he spoke of his love and then said he'd adore her even when she wears heels and he has to stand on a ladder to kiss her.)

Lily, do you take this man, standing next to you here in front of friends and family, to be your lawfully wedded husband?

Lily: I do.

Please place the ring on his finger and tell him how you feel.

(Her hands were no steadier than his, but you could hear the truth in her voice when she pledged to spend her life with him. Also, she promised to give backrubs and learn to make the best brownies ever.)

May you drink your fill from the cup of love.

(I handed them a small glass of wine, and they offered each other sips and then handed it back.)

By the power vested in me by the State of Florida and the will of those gathered here, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Brother, you may kiss the bride.


It couldn't have been better.

4/9/08

post this


For a while there, it looked like the wide, wide world of web killed the art of the show flyer. Local venues started to rely more on myspace and email updates, and their posters seemed to be little more than monochrome handbills. Name, date, some image lifted from the internet. 10 minutes to create, tops. Ugly and fairly useless.

Since Truewill bought the Beta Bar, though, I've been seeing some really beautiful art stapled to pizza joint walls and community bulletin boards around town. Bright colors, killer graphics - a real departure from the overly computerish looking flyers that are everywhere these days. A couple times, I thought hard about taking a poster for a show I had no interest in, just for the look of it.

See, my bedroom is pretty well papered in show ads. Most of them are reminders of music I've heard and bands I've seen rock out on little stages from here to Atlanta and back again. After years and years of gathering and displaying them, I can tell you that we've got a really cool thing going locally right now. Mostly due to Jerrod Porter, I think, local artist and man-about-town.

I hope the trend spreads. I'd love to see bright posters promoting punk shows at St. Mikes, diy events at the OAF House, ska blow-outs at The Shed. The internet is cool and all, but you can't hang a myspace event invite above your bed.

4/7/08

down the rushing glen


I nearly got flooded out and washed away this weekend trying to pull out of the Pitaria parking lot onto Tennessee Street. A flash flood took over one whole lane. I sat for a while and watched to make sure a few other small cars could pull through it, and in the end everyone made it safely. The things I go through for a chicken pita.

As a kid, there was nothing I loved more than a stream or a flooded field or a ditch full of running water. Disregarding temperature, bacterial infections, and strong currents, I was happiest up to my knees in run off. Cobb Middle School's athletic field and the creek that runs through Indian Head Acres (aka "Ne Ne Land") were my preferred haunts.


I wasn't completely crazy. I mean, I pretty much stayed away from the orange water, kept an eye out for snakes and crawdads, and didn't spend too much time barefoot in storm water overflow. I've just always had more Rat than Mole in me. Plus, all the best stories take place in or on water. There was Following The River To Its Source or Throwing Off The Scent So I Can Escape or Giant Beast In Shallow Seas.

I need to go swimming.