It's Saturday and just barely dusk. I'm on I-40 East just outside Durham on the way to the Sam's Club in Morrisville. To jump start Son Number One's Honda. He's been there working his pick up job, cooking Little Smokies and offering them to passersby. Nine bucks an hour.
Anyway, I'm in the 335i (it's filthy inside and out) tooling along in the far right lane at about 65 mph. Sixth gear. Steely Dan's only live album, Alive in America, is blaring. If you don't have that CD you should get it, if you like SD at all.
My baseball hat is low on the brow. I check my left mirror, because the Buick in front of me is holding me up. I'm ready to change lanes, pull in behind the old clapped out Volvo with the Vegan sticker that just blew by me on the left in the center lane. But... But in the mirror I see something low to the ground coming up fast. It's not that dark yet but in the mirror I can't make out the marque. It's something unique, though. I stay in my lane. Suddenly, the Volvo on my left pops on the breaks strong because of something goofy ahead. I hear the downshift of a throaty engine and suddenly there is this beautiful, shiny corsa rossa Ferrari pulling even with me to my left. As I turn my head toward the beauty the immediate sight is the Prancing Horse crest with the "SF" ( Scuderia Ferrari) script emblazoned just aft of the front wheel well.
Instinctively, I raised my sight line, trying to see into the cockpit. Don't you like to see who's driving that sort of exotica? He was what I would guess to be a 30-something fellow, with longish combed back black hair. His Romanesque but handsome nose gave insight to his heritage.
We were looking at each other. I threw a thumbs up his way--the modern symbol of hello and camaraderie among autophiles. In my old college days when I was driving an MG B and another sports car came into view we would flash the peace sign. He smiled, pointed toward me, quickly moving his hand back and forth horizontally as if to confirm the legitimacy of my BMW before returning the thumbs up.
The Volvo moved back into my lane, giving the 599 just enough room to accelerate past us both and then zip to the far left lane. Gone. I so wished I'd taken the BMW by the car wash.
Oh, what a beautiful automobile. I don't think I would want one even if I could afford the total bill, but it sure does brighten the day when you have a Ferrari Moment on the Interstate.
Road & Track Review
And the hair. Don't forget the hair. In this important case if no other in my life, I was an early adaptor. Perhaps I should say an early imitator. By the time The Beatles hit The Ed Sullivan Show I was already growing out my 'do. I had already ridden the bus downtown with a month's allowance to visit Gladstein's (Durham's "urban" fashion palace) to buy a pair of Chelsea boots. AKA Beatle Boots. I took those boots straight to the shoe repair shop for the installation of what I later came to realize were Cuban heels--a couple of inches higher than normal.
Although I am loathe to admit it, I even bought a Beatle wig at Thalheimer's Department Store. I was on the waiting list two weeks. I signed up for a "Paul Model". I wore that thing once, on the bus home from picking it up. Thankfully, it didn't take long for me to realize it was not cool.
I do not fault myself for the inglorious purchase of a Beatle wig. Many of my guy friends and I who frequented the YMCA during that time were stretched to the limit of our ability to remain relevant in the junior high scheme of things. You see, as if on cue, a Duke professor and his family (including twin boys slightly older than my crew) returned to Durham from a couple of years in Scotland. Of course those two boys had perfected "the look" during those two years. Awesome long Beatle-inspired hair, tight cords, real Chelsea boots, thick Scottish wool turtlenecks sweaters and they had even acquired a slight accent while overseas. How in the hell could we compete with that level of cool? They even knew the next part of the British invasion. They were so over Paul, Ringo, George and John.
" 'ave you heard o' the Rolling Stones?" they asked.
We had the Stones to look forward to, but for now, all we wanted was to see The Beatles on TV, compliments of Ed Sullivan. In color. That's where my Dad came in. In a very creative and cool way. The Beatles appeared three weeks in a row on Sullivan, beginning February 9, 1964. Either the second or third week (I don't remember which) was going to be in color! Now, my crowd was so entranced by the first appearance in black and white that the thought of seeing The Fab Four in living color was beyond our wildest dreams! And none of our families had a color TV. But my Dad had a whole showroom of them where he worked. And so the pilgrimage to Montgomery & Aldridge, Durham's preeminent appliance and tire emporium, was conceived by my Dad. So his son and his pals could see The Beatles in color.
It was a glorious occasion. Fifteen of my closest personal friends--both boys and girls--were transported to M&A on that Sunday night, and gathered together in front of the biggest RCA color television on the sales floor to watch the gods of current culture. Dad even scooted across the street with me and a couple of buddies to The Carolina Theatre and bought buttered popcorn, Coke and various candies for the whole gang. He was a hell of a host his whole life.
Finally, 8pm came and the show began. But not in color! You can imagine my Dad's chagrin, much less my own. We watched The Beatle's show-opening tunes in classic black and white, stunned that we had been robbed of living color. While I don't specifically remember the CBS excuse, it was something like "the color system was on the fritz".
Fathers have a way of making things right--at least as right as they can. My Dad was a chronic pleaser and by the time the boys from England hit the stage again, Dad had implemented the best fix he could. We were gathered around three color televisions; with one's color knob turned all the way to red, one to yellow and one to blue. We watched those last two songs in color, alright--CBS be damned. Dad was still mortified, scurried back to the concession stand of the theatre and everyone left with another large buttered popcorn. "It was the least I could do," he said on the way home.
I do not remember the songs the group did that night. I cannot recall all the names of those fifteen kids. I will, however, always fondly remember my Father trying his best to be a great Dad that night. And always. Most of the time he was a roaring success. To me, he was that night. And now, as the father of two almost-men, I can understand that when my Dad was not a roaring success, it usually was out of his control. For the times when it was in his control and he faltered, I have forgiven him. As I pray my sons will forgive me.
Dad's favorite Beatles tune was Love Me Do. Perfect for a chronic pleaser.
16. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.
17. Some Blues names for women: (a) Sadie (b) Big Mama; (c) Bessie; (d) Fat River Dumpling.
18. Some Blues names for men: (a) Joe (b) Willie (c) Little Willie; (d) Big Willie.
19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis .
20. Blues Name Starter Kit: (a) Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.); (b) First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Peach, etc.); (c) Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) For example: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Pegleg Lime Johnson or Cripple Peach Fillmore, etc.
21. I don't care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry.
VETERANS DAY, 2009
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen has a new album and that's all the reason I need to introduce you. The Rose Hotel became available just a day or two ago and is another great effort by this Texas Alt Country Legend.
Often called the Country Music Frat Boy, Robert Earl is an unassuming and laid back soul whose music is appreciated by a wide range of fans--from traditional county aficionados to the college crowd. He's the kind of fellow it would be easy to be best friends with. It's Texas music, often fun, frolicking and raucous, yet as often his songs are flavored with a heavy tinge of...well, read the Paste Magazine review of Rose Hotel and you'll see what I'm driving at.
Now, everything about this review is far less than fair to Keen's talent and place in Texas/folk/alt country music. And there is nothing perfunctory about the song Man Behind The Drums, a tribute to Levon Helms. But read the review anyway (and bookmark Paste Mag if you are into music even a tad).
Then, go to Amazon and listen to all the clips. And buy every damn CD from REK, put 'em on the iPod, slide on your coolest pair of sunglasses and stretch out on the couch listening to them all. Try your best to morph into that rare Texas state of mind that makes anything bearable.
He's written several songs that have become anthems, including The Road Goes On Forever (And The Party Never Ends) and Merry Christmas From The Family, the latter being a send up until after a few listens, when you come to realize just how serious and insightful the song just may be. And somehow close to home, whether that's Kerrville, Texas or the Upper West Side.
You can find the recipe at an interesting food blog I found recently called Food & Fire (where you'll find even more pictures of this bacon!). I'm drooling...
I'll be making a passel of this as soon as the Morton's Sugar Cure arrives in the mail--the Morton's web site tells me nobody stocks it around the Dogpound. Hopefully, you'll not have to wait and can start curin' right away!
It looks fun and simple and involves a pork butt, maple syrup, Morton's Sugar Cure, seven days of agony waiting for the butt to cure and several hours of good ol' smoking in the Webber. Then we fry it (or bake in the oven) and eat!
And put Food & Fire on the favorite blog list, while you're at it.