The Bounty of Our Land

Dad caught a mess of bream, and mama dredged them in cornmeal and fried them with fresh okra in her gleaming, black skillet. He and my kid sisters woke up at six on Sunday and beat the crowd to St. Marks, bringing home (at the expense of bright red sunburns) and shucking sweet scallops, enough for us all to have our fill once mama married them to butter and garlic. Tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers grown right there in their Lloyd yard filled the salad with Florida sunshine. Fresh squash, chopped and molded into croquettes, and grits more cheese than corn filled the plate to overflowing. The whole meal started out with freshly made salsa (mason jars full, lined up on the kitchen counter from canning the day before) and ripe cherries and finished up with sliced fruit poured over angelfood cake and lemon squares from a friend.

All of us on a Sunday night, in and out of the bright kitchen, sisters dancing in the high-ceiling hall, my best friend and his wife telling stories and smoking cigarettes on the back porch while trains boom past, dad half asleep and smiling from all the hunting and gathering, mama slinging pans and doling out hugs and advice and gossip. So many blessings.


This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

I appreciate community festivals.
I'm a sucker for fireworks - anything that goes boom is okay in my book.
I've always got room for a hotdog or a bbq sandwich.
I'm not the country's biggest patriot, but watching folks take the oath and become US citizens does give me a surge of the ol' red, white, and blue feeling.
I'm even a country fan. (Not so much current radio country, but whatever.)

But come on, Tallahassee. For the umpteenth time in a row, the headlining act at this year's big Tallahassee 4th of July bash is a country singer. Who does the booking for this thing? How about some R&B? How about one of those oldies acts that still tours? How about some - god fucking forbid - rock'n'roll? A little local hiphop? Country is not the end all be all of American music in any way, shape, or form.

I know, we say this every year. But seriously, planners, get a clue.


New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

If you follow the local music scene at all, you probably know that The Beta Bar changed hands recently. That's happened quite a few times since Darth Vader's Church played the first show at the old The Cow Haus (because, really, a name change does not a new venue make). Each time, we worry that it'll all go bad. The new owners will sell it out, render it unrecognizable, run it into the ground, and then where will we be? Sweating our asses off in a shed space or knocking over tables at St. Mike's.

But in this case, it looks like same old same old, which is just the way I like it. I hear they hope to get the sound a little better (heck, by the time most bands go on, I'm drunk enough that little details in quality don't bother me much). One major complaint: they took the whorehouse lamps, those historical artifacts from the Cow Haus, off the bar and put in some sort of filmy, fabric, overhead, diffused, candle-store lighting. Dark as a dungeon in there! And heck, if that's the only complaint I wind up having about the new owners, I'd say the Tally music scene is still in good shape.