Now the “Rona” has ruined Thanksgiving and is well on the way to destroying Christmas. Santa is no fool; that flimsy mask will not protect him from the vile germ that inhabits every surface in our homes. God forbid he drinks that warm milk and eats those germ-infested homemade cookies, and then brushes against that hot zone of a tree. He won’t last the night, and millions of children will be left presentless.
Our large cities, New York, Chicago, and others are adding Thanksgiving dinner to their list of hit crimes. A family can’t commune and break bread together or go to church on this peaceful day, but a family can have a funeral or go to Walmart or a strip club. How considerate is that?
This year, I will post in the local obituary that our family is mourning the loss of an esteemed member, Thomas Fowl. Visitation and the funeral service will be at our family home on Thanksgiving day. Out of respect for poor Thomas, the family and friends are requested to bring a side dish of comfort food for the attendees. Thomas will be laid out for viewing on a beautiful china platter with all the trimmings. A toast of good wine will be made in his honor. The governor is invited to attend if he pleases. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.
A short time back, in a country much like ours was at one time, a young boy lived a good life. His parents, third-generation immigrants from Europe, we’re proud that their only child will be the first in their family to attend a university.
When Babalou was six years old, he asked his mother about two pictures hanging on the wall in their dining room. There was a painting of a sad-eyed man with long hair and a beard, hands clasped, staring upward. The other picture was not a painting, but a fancy written document on yellowish paper. His mother said the man with the sad eyes is our Lord and Savior, and the other picture is what we live by every day as a free nation. Babalou never understood her explanation, but he knew his mother was wise, and he trusted her.
When Babalou turned ten, he worked after school with his father in the family shoe repair shop. His father, a proud citizen, wanted his son to know the value of hard work and learn life’s lessons to build the boys’ self-esteem. Babalou was diligent and learned well. He flourished and became a good student and a fine young man.
The day Babalou arrived at the university, as he and his parents stood by their old car parked in front of his dormitory, they hugged him harder than he could remember. His mother said to him, ” Babalou, take this gift of education that you have been blessed with, and use it to better yourself and your future family. Don’t forget that this country allows you to be anything you wish to be. Go with the grace of God.” He nodded that he would do just that.
Two years into his university education, Babalou was a changed man. The years of professors preaching inequality and pushing socialistic doctrine had soured his once optimistic look on life. He believed God to be a fraud. The professors said the revolution is upon us, and ” The Plan” is being implemented as we speak. How could he argue? They knew everything.
His visits home became less frequent, and when there, he argued with his parents about the smallest of things, calling them fools and ignorant and useless old people because they couldn’t see his way is the only way. His family didn’t know their son, and it broke their hearts. In the last year of school, he didn’t visit for the holidays or summer and didn’t call home once. Letters from home were tossed into the wastebasket; the uncoupling was complete. The “Plan” had secured another convert.
The world of technology awaited Babalou. He invented an application for smartphones that was so new to the industry that the country’s largest companies begged to purchase it. He declined to sell what he had worked so hard to build. His pride was still intact but waning. His university education had paid off well. His parents saved their entire working life to pay for his newfound success, but not one word of gratitude came from Babalou.
Babalou formed a company that soon became the largest and most powerful in the tech world. He resisted selling and fought numerous hostile takeovers, but he lost the battle one day, weakend from the constant barrage, he signed their documents. His company was taken from him for the better of the people and for the “Plan.” Babalou was pushed out and swept away.
A rich man beyond anyone’s dreams, he lived a quiet life in a beautiful beachfront home in the land of the sun. Contact with his parents had ceased years ago. He sometimes wondered what they were doing, but he cared not enough to contact them.
The television news said the “Plan” was now in full effect. Social Pensions were canceled, the money to be used for illegal immigrants and others without. Medical insurance was banned. Others came first; citizens came last. Seniors and the disabled and infirmed were sent to retirement camps to live out their last days. Their property was re-distributed to the needy. They were of no use to this “one society” and contributed nothing. Babalou was not concerned; he had more money than God in off-shore and foreign banks. So what if he had to give some to the less fortunate. The “Plan” is right.
Babalou awoke from a sweaty, hellish nightmare. He is now, after many years, concerned about his parents and their well being. Why has he been such a self-centered, greedy fool? He had no answer, but he felt he must see them.
The private jet landed at the small mid-western airport, and Babalou chartered a limo to drive him to his childhood home. The neighborhood was different now, rundown and dirty. Old cars on jacks littered the front yards of the manicured lawns he knew as a child. This was not home; this was block after block of Hell. He knocked on the door of his parent’s home. A young boy answered. In broken English, he explained that the former owners had been moved to a “Retirement Camp,” and his family lived here now. The rose bushes so beloved by his mother lay dead in their flowerbed.
Babalou used his own application to track his parents to a Retirement Camp located an hour away. Arriving, the agency representative, a young lady with a surly attitude, took him to their apartment. She unlocked the door and led him into a small room with a double bed and a kitchenette. Babalou asked where his parents were. The young lady said they had died a few weeks before but had left a large envelope for him. She reminded Babalou that all of their belonging were now the property of ” The Plan,” and he could remove nothing from this room. He was gobsmacked. The Plan was implemented to help everyone live a better life, not put old people in camps and confiscate their personal belongings. What in the Hell has happened to his country? Where had he been?
Babalou sat on his parent’s bed. The quilt his grandmother made, the satin pillow with the cross his mother loved so dearly, and his father’s worn pipe lay on the nightstand. Childhood memories flooded his senses, and tears of sorrow and regret came to his eyes. He opened the envelope. The first document he removed was the man with sad eyes, our “Lord and Savior.” His mother’s words came to him. The second document was the written words that hung in the lovely frame in their dining room. He studied it for a moment and then began to read aloud The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America for the first time in his life.
A personal journey to become a Hep Cat. By Phil Strawn
I am bored and uninspired. Writers’ block has crippled my creativity, and painting a picture on canvas no longer holds my interest. My guitar rest in a closet, untouched for two-years. My barber hasn’t cut my hair in months, and my goatee is taking shape, so the time is right for a change.
Last night, during supper, I announced to my wife that I have decided to become a “Beatnik.” Without looking up from her casserole, she asked if it will be like when I decided to become a “Hare Krishna” and move to India to play the sitar and hang out with Yogi’s. Ouch, that stung. She knows me too well.
“This coming Monday,” I say, “around 9 AM CST, I will no longer be a grumpy old guy, but instead, will become a finger-snapping, beret wearing, caffein guzzling, poetry writing, deep thinking Hep Cat.” She touched my whiskery cheek and said, ” now won’t that be fun.” She thinks I am not serious this time, but she can hide and watch.
I didn’t realize a change was afoot six months ago. The transformation has been silent and gradual. It’s as if Tinker Bell, the Beat Fairy, has visited every night and sprinkled pixie dust on my pillow.
A month back, out of the blue, I re-visited “On The Road” by the great beat author Jack Kerouac. It’s a challenging read, but I made it through for a second time. The free and rebellious nature of the characters piqued my imagination. If I can capture the “cool factor,” it might add a few more years to my punch card. Daydreams have no age limit or shelf life.
This is a post from a few Halloween’s ago. Since many of the kiddos will not be trick or treating this year because of the ” Rona,” I thought it a good time to revisit. Enjoy.
I did something last night that surprised myself, and that’s always a good thing these days. I watched ” Its The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” the preverbeal 1960s Halloween show.
It was comforting to see the old Peanuts gang looking so healthy and young. Pig Pen and Linus are still my favorites. Charlie Brown has a defeatist attitude, so I never got into him. I told my wife, Maureen, that it rejuvenated my interest in Halloween and trick-or-treating while watching that program. Things are going to be different this year, I declared.
As a child, I fondly remember the anticipation of Halloween. When October 1st came around, the kids in my neighborhood counted the days until the 31st. Back in the day (the 1950s), we celebrated Halloween on the actual date and did our begging on that evening, in the dark, and even if it was a school night. We were tough kids back in those days, staying up late and actually going to school the next day. We didn’t need a weekend to recover and didn’t know what a safe room was. Trick-or-treating was damn serious stuff for us, and we were good at it.
In a fit of nostalgia, I announced to my wife that I will go trick-or-treating this year. For now, she is going along with the idea as if I am joking. I tell her I am not, and she can hide and watch. As for a costume, I will wear a black t-shirt, a black jacket, jeans and sneakers, and possibly a Texas Rangers ball cap if the weather is inclement. I will not carry a glow stick or a flashlight; that’s for babies. If I can’t find a group of kids to walk with for some reason, I will trudge on by myself. I am determined to experience one last Halloween before that tall, robe-wearing dude with a sickle knock on my door. This has evolved into a bucket list thing, and I must see it through.
I have given this some thought and have worked out the perfect plan accepted in today’s society. When I ring the first doorbell, and a smiling man or woman answers, I will say trick-or-treat holding their bowel of candy. Their first reaction will be to say, “where’s your grandkid, or what the hell is this.” Either one, I’m ready. I will look them straight in their parental eye and say, ” I identify as a 6-year-old.” I will either come home with a full bag of goodies or be bonding out of jail. It’s going to be a good Halloween this year.
During a campaign rally yesterday, President Donald Trump revealed that he is now “Superman” after successfully beating the Corona Virus.
His personal physician says, “I have no clue how this happened, but it’s a done deal, and we have to live with it.” Dr. Seamus Scaromuche of The Institute For Super Hero’s said the most likely cause was the intense steroid therapy, along with the high doses of secret sauce from Johnson and Johnson. The First Lady was also seen feeding him a glowing green soup that may have been smuggled from the planet Krypton.
Concluding his speech, The President ripped off his expensive suit and flew off the stage, “faster than a speeding bullet.” Within seconds, he buzzed a Biden campaign rally being held at an airport a few states away. The small and confused crowd ran screaming from the tarmac as the flash of blue and red broke the sound barrier a few feet above their heads. The President then used his laser vision to melt the tires on Biden’s plane and welded the doors shut.
Upon returning to his rally, Superman/POTUS brought to the stage “Penny Lane,” great-granddaughter of Lois Lane. She tearfully remarked to the crowd, “my great granny would have been so proud.” President Trump then called White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnanny/Starlight to the stage, and the two superheroes held arms high in a victory celebration.
Seattle Washington – Fourteen Starbucks shops in downtown Seattle were heavily damaged when employees rioted after seeing Supreme Court Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett drink from a Starbucks coffee cup during her questioning.
Buzzy Wayne, spokesman for the company said the damage is estimated to be in the 15-20 million dollar range. He also stated that no charges will be filed and no one will be terminated. Instead, each employee involved in the incidents will receive counseling and six months of paid leave.
In an email to Judge Barrett, CEO of Starbucks, Button Feldman demanded that the judge cease advertising and drinking their product. Judge Barrett replied, “I will gladly stop drinking your product, it taste like Badger piss anyway.”
October 12, 2020- The Dead South News Service – photo courtesy of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett got day one of her bi-partisan hearing off to a rousing start by dressing in costume. It appears her attire is that of a handmaiden from the hit Hulu series “A Handmaids Tale.”
Senator Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris ran from the proceedings screaming. A doctor was summoned to administer a sedative to both women before the hearing could proceed. Senator Corey Booker, a fan of the show, said, “I don’t agree with her on anything, but Judge Barrett looks pretty darn hot.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairmen, got a chuckle from the stunt and told the remaining panel, “come on now, it’s almost Halloween.”
Judge Barrett, in her opening statement, said, “I only wanted to interject a bit of fun in this hearing.” She further unhinged the Democrats on the panel by placing small figurines of Jesus and the Pope in front of her microphone and lighting a prayer candle.
Seattle WA – October 11- As reported by Phil Strawn The Dead South News Service – picture courtesy of Ernie Kovacs
The Seattle Washington city council has placed an emergency order for 14,000 converted shipping containers to be used as “safe spaces” for their growing millennial population in the event that President Trump wins a second term. The tiny units, manufactured by Denver based “Hidey Hole Conversions” will be positioned around the areas frequented by millennial protesters.
Jim Box, CEO of Hidey Hole says the converted shipping containers are state of the art with Wi-Fi, a bathroom and a comfortable bed which includes a “heavy blanket.” Each unit will cost the city of Seattle approximately $ 4,000 US Dollars and will be delivered and in place by no later than November 1st, 2020.
In order to deter the homeless from moving into the “safe spaces,” a special patch will be required for millennial’s seeking refuge. The patches can be purchased at Starbucks for $10.00 or on Amazon.
Washington DC. Friday, October 9, 2020 – The Dead South News Service, Reported by Phil Strawn. Photographs by the late Ansel Adams.
Keeping with the newest protocol in Washington and the requirements of the President. POTUS Trump, via Twitter, announced Friday morning that he is issuing his “Final Last Wish” just in case he relapses with the Corona 19 Virus. The Secret Service tweeted that the President, during his weekly visit to McDonald’s, sent the tweet in between bites of a Double Meat Big Mac. Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, not to be ignored, texted from her weekly hair salon appointment, stating that she will be issuing her “Final Last Wish” later today, making it number two in the rotation. Her tweet was accompanied by a selfie of her eating a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sandwich while sitting under a hairdryer.
President Trump tweeted to Speaker Pelosi that she needs not to waste her time since his tremendous and wonderful wish will trump hers. He jokingly remarked that he heard from a little birdie, her squad of “Flying Monkeys” walked off the job because they haven’t been paid since May. The President reassured Speaker Pelosi that the White House will be doing “everything in our power” to ensure her final wish is granted as soon as possible.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted that they will also issue their “Final Last Wish” after being elected. AOC tweeted, ” Hey, what about mine?”
The pesky fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence head during the debate on Tuesday evening has been identified as a ” Super-Fly Robot Drone.” Bud Zapper, head engineer for Acme Drone Supply confirmed to the press on Wednesday morning, that the drone was one of their new prototypes and is investigating how it escaped their R&D lab.
Zapper says that this particular drone is capable of reading minds and was being used to transmit the Vice Presidents’ thoughts to Kamala Harris via a receiver in her left ear.
Zapper added, “Mr. Pence had an extreme amount of hair-spray holding his hair-doo in place, so the electronics in the drone were most likely unable to penetrate the chemical barrier and were rendered useless, resulting in an annoying amount of feedback in Ms. Harris’s earpiece.”
Dr. Seamus Scaramauche from the Institute Of Extreme Behaviors stated, “this would explain Ms. Harris’ loss of concentration, skewed historical facts, odd facial expressions, and her general bitchiness. The Vice President said he wasn’t aware of the fly and felt no pain.
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream announced today that they will be partnering with Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi to produce a line of outrageously priced Boutique Ice Cream Freezers. The units, called “Nancy’s Fancy” will be sold in select markets on the West and East coast. Target cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC will be the main markets because they are considered leftist socialist strongholds. The South and Midwest will not be considered for obvious reasons.
The freezers, produced in Communist China by the Wu-Han Appliance Cooperative and Viral Laboratory will feature all stainless steel construction and state of the art electronics. Each unit will be assembled by young children in a guarded factory compound, and will come equipped with a 20 inch LED touch screen TV that will play Ms. Pelosi’s latest mumblings and accusations when the door’s are opened.
To ensure the product launch is a success, Ben and Jerry’s will offer a full year worth of their “ice-cream of the month” delivered by “Amazon Drone Force” to your front porch or somewhere in your general vicinity every week.
When asked if the profits and some of the product from the venture will be donated to the homeless population in her district, Ms. Pelosi said, ” Hell no! that’s my money. What would a vagrant do with money, or ice-cream.”
As reported by Phil Strawn and The Dead South News Agency
The Ring Doorbell Company will release it’s newest product in December 2020, just in time for Christmas. The new camera-enabled doorbell will come equipped with recorded messages that can put an end to annoying people at your door.
William Ringfinger, head engineer for the Ring Corporation, says, ” AI has enabled us to equip this unit with the ability to deter unwanted solicitors such as; Church Ladies, Morman Missionaries, Jehovahs Witness, Salesman, Relatives and anyone you don’t want to deal with.” When engaged, the doorbell scans the offender with face recognition software and immediately starts intimidating them with outrages questions and insults. After 5 minutes, if the unwanted visitor is still there and arguing with the doorbell, a small amount of pepper spray will shoot from the unit, causing extreme discomfort. If the pepper spray doesn’t work, for an additional $300.00 charge, a 500 pound, ceiling-mounted Acme anvil will be dropped on the visitor resulting in instant death.”
As reported by: Phil Strawn of the Dead South News Service
Washington DC. Breaking News DSNS
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced this morning that she now identifies as the Marvel Comics Super Hero, ” Starlight.”
Stepping to the podium dressed as the beautiful but deadly “Starlight,” she took questions from the press. Jake Tapper of CNN, being his usual disruptive self, continued asking the same rude question for over five minutes, constantly interrupting McEnany/Starlight. After three warnings to Tapper, McEnany/Starlight summoned her superpowers, turning Tapper into a block of ice. Huffington Post reporter Zena Ruffalo tried to move the frozen Tapper to a safe location, but he shattered into a million CNN ice cubes. Ruffalo violently confronted McEnany/Starlight about her actions and accused her of exposing the press to the COVID Virus. McEnany/Starlight remarked that “Superheros” don’t get sick,” and then, using her laser vision, melted Ruffalo into a glob of leftist goo. Housekeeping was notified to remove the Tapper ice cubes and the Ruffalo goo.
McEnany/Starlight ended the presser by asking, ” if anyone else would like their ass destroyed.”
Portland Oregon Superintendent of Schools, Hillary Khloe Octavio Sunbeam, said Monday in a news conference that the Common Core curriculum currently taught in all Portland public schools will be suspended immediately.
In place of traditional teaching methods that have been used for the past 100 plus years, millennial students will now be able to answer test questions based on their feelings at the time of the test. Homework will not be required in an effort to reduce the “triggering ” effect brought on by the stress of answering questions and actually using their brain for anything other than social media post.
History, English, and Mathematics are to be Google based. All answers will be available on-line.
Superintendent Sunbeam gave the press an example of the new teaching method. Using a ” presentation board of “no color” as to not offend children of color, she posed a typical math question that has been know to cause severe reactions in middle school students.
The sample test question is; ” If a group of rioters left city hall in Portland at 3 PM and walked at 5 miles per hour toward Seattle, and a caravan of migrants from Honduras crossed the Mexican border and walked at 3 miles per hour headed to the Texas border, how long would it take each group to reach their destination?”
Acceptable answers would be; ” I’m offended,” That’s a trigger word,” ” large groups scare me,” ” I need a latte,” ” I am afraid I might see a statue,” and “where-is my trophy.”
Dr. Seamus Scaramouche of the “Institute of Millenial Behavior” says, “most of these young people don’t need an education anymore. They get everything from their smartphones and social media.”
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Ilhan Omar is once again being accused of violating campaign ethics laws after she was spotted driving a giant industrial ballot harvester through her district near downtown Minneapolis.
On loan from the DNC, the state-of-the-art John Deere converted wheat harvester can harvest over 200 bushels of votes per hour, allowing candidates to gather enough votes to cheat an opponent out of an election. And best of all, every ballot is 100% home-grown, locally sourced, and organic.
“Ballots! Bring out your ballots!” Omar called through a bull-horn, prompting citizens to throw their ballots out in front of the machine for easy pickup by her campaign machine. The Minneapolis residents are compensated handsomely for their ripe, delicious votes. After completing her run through the city, Omar emptied the harvester and took it for a spin through a local cemetery.
During her lunch break, a local television news reporter caught up with her and came away with her statement, “It’s not much, but it’s honest work,” she said. “Well, it’s not honest work. But if you say that, you’re a racist.” AOC has made arrangements to borrow the ballot harvester from Omar next week.
For my birthday a few weeks back, my wise and thoughtful wife gifted me with a classic 1970 Underwood 310 manual typewriter. It is a wonderful present that I would never have purchased, although I have yearned for one for a while now.
For sometime, possibly five years or so, I have been whining and casually threatening to go “old school” with my writing and get away from this demon laptop. It’s too easy to keep on tapping and spit out a page or two of gibberish that has more words than needed and makes no sense. It’s not about speed and what your program does, it’s content. A typewriter makes you think before striking that key. The delete button does not exist.
Hemingway would tap for hours on end, and then if he wasn’t pleased with his effort, to the waste basket it went. Using a typewriter for transposing your thoughts to paper, is a commitment; and not an easy one.
There was a typewriter in our household when I was a child. It was a large black Underwood, all metal, and took a grown man and a half to lift it. I would peck on it for hours and eventually come up with something legible. I never once saw my parents use it, so it’s presence in our home was a mystery.
My love of the machine started at an early age, and came into full blossom as a teenager in the 1960s, when I started to write stories. I took typing in high school to sharpen my skills and learn the keyboard. I studied two years of journalism, and learned to love the written word. My teacher was my mentor. She pushed me and helped me excel. It all paid off well. When computers came about in the late 80s, I was a good typist and had no problem adapting.
I will keep you posted on how this “old school” project turns out. I typed a page on my Underwood, and my fingers are throbbing.
A final installment of “feel good” stories from the country of Texas. The resemblance to any person, horse or cow, living or not, is purely intentional.
Pictured here is my grandfather on the left, and his friend Hymie Rothstein with his horse Miss Golda. Hymie was, or possibly is the only Jewish cowboy in the history of Texas.
Hymie left the “old country” (New York) in 1926 with a burning determination to become a cattle rancher. With a grubstake from his uncle, he bought 500 acres of prime ranchland between Weatherford and Mineral Wells and stocked the spread with 500 head of Hereford cattle. He named the ranch “The Flying Menorah,” his mothers idea.
Another relative in New York opened a number of restaurants and made a deal with Hymie to furnish him with Kosher meat for his patrons. Hymie, a bit of a slacker in his faith, had no idea how to raise Kosher cattle.
Using the best methods and practices formula, he required his ranch hands to wear Yamakas and grow a long beard. Every Friday before sundown, he would drive a wagon through the herd with the local Rabi standing in the back, blessing the cattle and the land. He assumed if the cattle were somewhat converted, then all would be Kosher.
He purchased a 3500 lb. Hereford bull from a nearby ranch to keep the cows happy and grow the herd. The bull, a massive beast with a hyde like steel, would walk through any barb wire fence and wander off for days at a time. He named the bull ” Little Moses.” because of the bovines wanderlust.
In December, a blue norther blew in and dropped 12 inches of snow on the ranch. It was two days before the ranch hands could tend to the cattle, and when they didn’t find the herd, they checked the fencelines. There at the back of the 500 acres, was a section of broken fence. Thousands of cattle tracks led through the opening and onto the vast prairie. ” Little Moses” had escaped again, and the herd was following his lead.
The cowboys tracked the cattle for miles but lost their trail in the rocky hills. Hymie was frantic and called his local Sherriff, JD Ramses for help. The Weatherford police put out a “missing cattle” alert with a poster showing a group of smiling cows. Calls from West of Mineral Wells reported a large contingent of cattle crossing Route 66 a few days ago.
Hymie and the boys found the crossing and followed the herd. The cattle had been missing for 39 days and nights without hay or feed, surviving on clumps of prairie grasses and creek water.
On the 40th day, the cowboys located the herd resting at the edge of Palo Duro Canyon. All 500 cows were accounted for, but “Little Moses” was missing.
At sundown, one of the cowboys spotted a snow-white bull lumbering and stumbling out of the canyon. It was “Little Moses.” His cow fur had turned completely white and his large pink eyes glowed like fiery jewels.
The bull lay down near the campfire. The herd moved in and surrounded the cowboys and the bull. The cows seemed to be saying goodbye to their leader. Hymie fed him some bread and a few sips of Kosher wine, and then ” Little Moses” expired. It was a good way to go. Laying by the warm campfire and surrounded by his minions.
There was a crack of thunder and lightning bolts hit a grove of trees nearby. Normally that would spook the cattle, but not a one moved. There was a sound of trumpets from somewhere in the sky. The herd looked skyward as if they were being summoned.
Two ” Heavenly Holstein” cows with angel wings descended from the sky into the camp. They each carried a golden trumpet in their left hoove. The angel cows stood on either side of ” Little Moses” and together, the trio ascended into the clouds, starting their journey to Bovine Heaven.
Hymie and the cowboys were gobsmacked by what they had witnessed.
The herd dispersed and laid down in the grove of trees next to the camp. In the morning, as they were preparing to saddle up and lead the cows back to the Flying Menorah, one of the cowboys found a large white sack where the angel cows had landed. He looked inside and found it to be full of chicken strips with honey mustard dipping sauce.
I wrote this story a few years ago and decided to bring it back for a re-visit. Given todays headlines with the hipster crowd in Seattle and Portland grabbing our attention. I think a good recount of how ridiculous we can be about out coffee.
A while back, my wife and I visited the new and improved Fort Worth landmark, Sundance Square. Beautiful place, well planned, and functional architecture. Good job, Bass boys. After a few loops, we got a hankering for a cup of coffee and maybe a pastry.
We found a coffee house cafe with little sidewalk tables. Not our style, so we went inside.
Passing through the door, I caught the name on the storefront window, “The Door to Perception.” The famous beat author Aldous Huxley wrote that book. He and Jack Kerouac birthed the beat generation via literature. This might be a cool place.
We queued in line at the counter. The young man in front of me smelled of Petiole oil. An odd scent for a man. Didn’t mix well with my Old Spice. Hippie chick perfume is what we called it back in the day. My wife nudges me and whispers “what kind of place is this? These kids all look alike.”
Her observation was spot on. Every male in the room had a similar symmetrical haircut, facial hair, garage sale chic mismatched clothing, and skin-tight jeans. Birkenstock sandals seemed to be the shoe of choice. The girls were ditto, but without the facial hair. Stepford children they were. I knew immediately that we had stumbled into a Hipster coffee house. I told my wife to please be calm. This is no more dangerous than wading into a gob of old hippies at a Steppenwolf reunion concert. She wasn’t amused.
The Petiole boy in front of me was ordering his coffee. I caught the conversation with him and the barista. “I’ll have a Trenta in a recycled rain forest cup, free-range, green label, fair trade grown, Andean, but not from the higher region but the lower valley, harvested by virgins no older than 16, aged in a cave on the coast to a bold bean, roasted on a log fire made from non-endangered rain forest trees, lightly pressed, and kissed with a serious pour of steamed spotted Syrian goats milk, then ever so slowly, pour two Cuban sugars at the same time on opposite sides of the cup. Oh yeah, and Kale sprinklers. Don’t stir it, I need to experience the aura.”
“Ahhhh… that’s my favorite. An educated choice sir,” cooed the barista. We are stunned. What in the hell did that kid just say?
I stepped up to the counter. “Two coffees with two creams and sugars each, please,” I say. “And what region will your coffee be from, sir,” says the young barista. “How about from Columbia, you know Juan Valdez and his little burro,” asked I. “Don’t know that one, sir, don’t know a Mr. Juan Valdez,” she replied. “Got something from Mrs. Olsen or Mrs. Folgers ?” I asked. “No, sir, don’t know them either,” she said. “Got anything that comes in a vacuum-packed can?” I ask. “No, sir, our beans come in hand-sewn burlap bags from India,” she replies. “Do you have any coffee grown in the United States?” asked I. She perks up and replies, “Yes sir, grown in California, Big Sur area by the Wavy Gravy Mystical Coffee Co-op. I hear it’s harvested every third quarter when Jupiter aligns with Mars, and the moon is in the seventh house. You know, sir, this is the age of Aquarius.” “Yes, I know the song,” I say. “Is there a song, sir?” she replies.
At this point, my head was about to explode, and I needed to wrap it in duct tape to contain the splatter. My wife saved me by stepping up to the counter, addressing the barista.
“Look, Moonbeam, just give us two cups of that Gravy Wavey coffee, and you pick out the sugar and cream, deal?” “Names, not Moonbeam mam, its Hillary,” says the barista. “Of course it is, sweetheart, I should have guessed that. I suppose you have a brother named Bill too? “No mam, just a little sister, Chelsea.” My wife shot me her “get me out of here before someone dies” look. The barista sensed where this was heading and promptly pushed the coffees across the counter. I paid, and we left. We stood on the sidewalk, took a sip of the gruel, and poured it into the gutter.
On the way home, we went through the McDonalds drive-through for a red, white, and blue cup of coffee. Can’t go wrong with good old Mickey D’s. None of that Hipster crap.
“I’ll have two coffees with cream and sugar; please,” I said to the voice. “Sir, will that be a Latte, a breakfast blend, a dinner blend, a dessert blend, an anniversary blend, or an I love you blend, a save the children blend in a reusable cup or an expresso, chilled or topped with sprinkles” the voice replied. I pulled out of line, and we headed home to our old and extremely un-hip Mr. Coffee.
While watering my landscape this morning, I hear a loud buzzing sound radiating from a Salvia bush. I part the leaves searching for this demonic buzzing source.
Bingo, attached to a branch, is a Murder Hornet. I have a picture of the little beast on my refrigerator for identification, since I knew they were heading my way. The Farmers Almanac said they would make Texas by late July, so the magazine was correct for once.
Why is it all pandemics and end-times monsters originate from the Asian continent?
It’s a laundry list of evil mutants starting with Godzilla, Mothra, Son of Godzilla, King Kong fighting Godzilla, Giant Transformers, The Corona Virus, The Asian Flu, The Bat Flu, the Pig Flu, the Bird Flu, and now hornets with the face and murderous attitude of Charles Manson.
Fearing for the lives of my Bumble Bee’s, I spray the Murder Hornet with a substantial dose of Raid. It flaps it’s wings a few times and buzzes at me. No effect whatsoever. Okay, so this mutant is chemical resistant and now knows what I look like and where I live.
I retrieve my 1966 era Daisy BB Pistol from my work shed; old school tactics are now on the table.
I sneak up to the Salvia bush and spread the branches enough for a clean shot. There it sits with a Bumble Bee in its grasp, stinging the life out of the poor pollinator. I see a dozen more casualties on the ground below the plant—Satan with wings and a stinger. This monster has to go to La La Land now.
The first BB bounces off the buggers’ armor plating, putting a hole in my den window. There go $300 bucks. Now it’s personal. The second and third shots wing the critter, and now it is insanely mad and buzzing like a New York apartment door buzzer.
With only two BB’s left in my pistol, I go for the kill shot to the head. I take my aim and begin to squeeze the trigger. The murderous thug-bug looks up at me with its Charles Manson eyes, and a shiver runs up my spine. ” Go ahead, kill me if you must, but I have friends that will track you down.” It’s look says it all.
I take the shot, and the invader falls to the ground, headless. The Bumble Bees sensing victory swoop in and finish the killer off. Payback for their fallen brethren.
I retrieve the dead hornet from the bush with a pair of Martha Stewert grilling tongs and place it on my backyard retaining wall. A few squirts of charcoal lighter fluid and a wooden match complete the deed, and the bad-ass bug is on its way to hornet Valhalla.
My wife walks up and says, ” so, you got him, good job. Look at these cute little packs of Chinese seeds that came in the mail just now.”
When my wife and I purchased our home, it was newly built. Sitting on a rocky hill facing Comanche Peak, the beginning of the Texas hill country, it was the perfect size for us, and the view was beautiful. The exterior was dirt and rock, a clean slate for a landscaper/ artist. That is how I see myself these days; or did for a short while.
A railroad tie retaining wall was added and backfilled, then dirt for a backyard, then 4 pallets of grass, then more dirt, then a 12 yard load of 1 inch gravel, then 6 yards of decorative pea gravel and I wasn’t even close to installing plants. I should probably mention that I was going through radiation treatment for cancer at the time I was doing this task, and my wife Maureen was working as a nurse here in Granbury. I was trying to get as much done before the high dose radiation kicked my ass, and by some miracle, I succeeded and then collapsed for a few months to recover. The ordeal was only beginning.
Our intent was to install as little as possible, using gravel, rock and native Texas plants to save water and time. The less maintenance the better as you age, but, somewhere during the process, my OCD Artistic Creative gene kicked into full gear. I was helpless and my body went with the flow. There was no sleep; only nightmares of plants multiplying and gathering for a siege. I am the Alamo, the fauna is the army. Every waking hour was spent spreading gravel, digging holes, wrestling with unruly petulant plants and dangerous cactus. I was a slave to the land, and could see no reprieve. By this time, the radiation was taking it’s toll on my body. I looked like Betelgeuse on a good day.
My wife suggested counseling, so I called a local radio plant show, the Dirt Doctor. He told me I was a sick puppy and to sell the house and move or I was going to collapse and expire while holding my Craftsman shovel. He happened to know a guy that would give me a good price. Right?
I called my famous friend Dr. Wu. He suggested I come in for a series of acupuncture treatments and Chinese meditation to rid me of my plant based demons. Neither one did any good. I was still as possessed as Rasputin and the siege of the greenery advanced. I tried to ignore them. It didn’t work. The plants, still in their plastic pots, sent telepathic signals to my tortured brain. They were making a pod person of me so the landscaping could continue when I stroked out.
Six Chaste Trees, multiple cacti, Oleanders, Texas Sage, Lantana, flowers, more cactus, Agave’s, Salvia, more cactus, more gravel, rock retaining walls, 100 bags of top soil, large rock stacks and sculptures, bird feeders, Canna’s everywhere, stepping stones to nowhere in particular. A landscape vision out of control. And then, for no apparent reason, we constructed a raised garden using concrete block and 50 bags of soil. The garden didn’t do squat. A few tomato’s, some cucumbers and some okra. It’s back to H.E.B. for veggies.
More later, the remaining plants are knocking on my door and staring into my Ring Doorbell.
This will be my 5th installment of childhood feel-good memories to take your mind off the present situation that greets us every morning. It always starts with the “we are all in this together ” the horror movie called “The Evil Bug From the Continent We can’t Name Because It Will Offend Someone And Make Them Cry Or Tear Down A Statue and God Help Us If That Misunderstood Sock Cap Wearing, Birkenstock stepping, Back Pack Toting, Green Haired, Pierced Eyebrow Unemployed Young Person Is Squished.” It’s a long title, but you get the message.
Childhood memories are like teeth, we all have them, good ones, and rotten ones. If you grew up in Texas in the 1950s, you will identify with some of mine, or maybe not.
I was nine-years-old before I dined in a Mexican restaurant. I knew they existed because my father and mother enjoyed them, bringing home little mints and matchbooks touting the restaurant’s name. I got the mints, my parents put the match books in a jar in the kitchen. I dreamed that one day, I might visit one.
In Texas, Mexican food is part of life. It’s one of the major food groups, and a boy cannot grow into a man of substance without it. Looking back, not having real Mexican food at that young age affected my evolution into a healthy young specimen. I harbored a nervous tick, I stuttered at times, and one leg was shorter than the other. All those maladies were cured, once I ate the real-stuff. The medicinal qualities of Mexican food is amazing.
I had for many years, eaten tacos at my cousin’s house and believed those to be authentic Mexican food. Sadly they were nowhere near the real deal. A few times over the summer, my cousin Jok’s mother, Berel, would cook tacos and invite the families for a feast. Cold Beer and Tacos. Pure Texas.
Berel would stand at her massive gas range, a large pot of ground beef, and a cauldron of boiling grease heating up the room to cooking temperature. She would drop that Taco in the witches cauldron, pull it out and toss it to the pack of wild African dogs sitting around her breakfast table. The dogs, of course, were my cousins and me. My poor mother would leave the room. She could not bear to see her son eat like a feral child: growling, biting, snarling as we consumed the tacos like they were a cooked Wildebeest. That is what I considered to be Mexican food and proper behavior when consuming it.
If you drove northwest of downtown Fort Worth on Jacksboro Highway, right before you come to the honkey tonks, you would find “Trashy Juanita’s” Mexican restaurant. Legendary for its Taco’s, frijoles, and cold Jax Beer. It was also legendary for other things that my father would not mention until I was older. Gambling, shooting dice, and in general questionable behavior was part of the after-hours entertainment. It wasn’t on Jacksboro Highway for the view.
Juanita Batista Carlita Rosanna Danna Esposito, the owner, was not a trashy woman, but a middle-aged Latin beauty with a bawdy laugh and sharp wit. It was the restaurant’s front yard adornments that earned the name. Offended at first, she finally accepted her crown and wore it proudly.
Two old rust-eaten pick-up trucks, one painted blue, and the other yellow sat abandoned in the front yard behind a cyclone fence. Pots of flowers decorated the fenders while the beds were overflowing with vines and small flowering trees. Fifty or more chickens strutted and pecked around the yard, giving the place a barnyard atmosphere. Some saw a work of art, while others called it a junkyard that happened to serve great food. In an interview in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Juanita claimed to be related to General Santa Anna, Pancho Villa, and the Cisco Kid, making her royalty in Mexico. The people of Fort Worth loved her, and she was considered a local character.
Trashy Juanita’s was my first introduction to real Mexican food, and all that comes with it.
My father sold a fiddle to a buddy, and with the profit, he took the whole fam-damly to dine at Trashy Juanita’s on the Fourth of July, 1958.
Juanita had gone “whole hog” on this holiday. American flags hung from the front porch and draped the cyclone fence. Two small children sat in the front yard shooting bottle rockets at the cars driving on Jacksboro Highway, and the chickens were wrapped in red-white-and-blue crepe paper streamers. Very patriotic, and also very redneck Texas.
A jovial Juanita escorted us to a large table next to the kitchen doorway. A waiter delivered tortillas, salsa and two Jax beers for my father and grandfather. Large, frosty glasses of sweet iced tea for the rest of us. There was no menu; it was Tacos or nothing at all.
The unfamiliar aroma of exotic food floated on a misty cloud from the kitchen, filling my young nostrils and activating my juvenile saliva glands, causing a torrent of spit to drip from my mouth onto the front of my new sear-sucker shirt. My mother cleaned me up and wrapped a napkin around my neck. I was ready; I had my eating clothes on. We decided that the family would dine on a medley of beef and chicken Tacos, frijoles and rice, and guacamole ala Juanita. The waiter rushed our order to the kitchen.
The evening was turning out great. My father was telling jokes, the Jax beer was flowing, and then a waiter walked past our table into the kitchen. Under each arm, was one of the patriotically wrapped chickens from the front yard. My grandfather must have forgotten that there were two young children at the table and remarked, ” there goes our Tacos, can’t get any fresher than that.”
His remark went unnoticed until I chimed in, asking my father, ” Dad, or we going to eat the pet chickens from the front yard?” He didn’t offer an answer. I got a big lump in my throat, and my eyes got misty. My sister whimpered and cried like a baby, and my grandmother, seeing her grandchildren in such distress, shed tears in support. Mother gave the two adult men the worst evil eye ever. The mood at the table went from happy to crappy in a minute or less. So much for a joyous family celebration. We might as well be eating Old Yeller for supper.
There was a ruckus in the kitchen, yelling, pots and pans clashing, and the two chickens, still wearing their streamers half-flew and half-ran through the dining room, and out the front door. The cook was right behind them but tripped over a man’s foot, knocking himself out as he hit the floor.
Juanita, standing in the middle of the dining room, announced that there would only be beef Tacos tonight. The two doomed birds had escaped the pan, and my sister and I were happy again. My father breathed a sigh of relief that the night was saved, and my grandfather bent down and polished the new scuff on his size 12 wingtip.
I am, by my own admission, a proud Texan that will go toe to toe with anyone that diminishes the history and heritage of my state. I haven’t needed to do that in many years, but the piss and vinegar is still there if needed.
Statues are inanimate objects. They can’t shoot you, slap you or speak to you. The only way they might cause harm to one, is to fall on you as they are being pulled down by an uneducated mob of hoodlums wielding ropes and ladders.
Texas has more statues than Forest Gump has shrimp. There are brass, bronze, metal and stone statues of the defenders of the Alamo, various animal hero’s, horned toads, our founding fathers, soldiers from all wars, questionable politician’s and scores of others. I saw a statue of Flipper the dolphin in Galveston, so I guess everyone that has their own statue is not bad.
In Granbury, where I live, the town is named for a famous southern general named Granbury. He served in the confederate army and lived in Waco, where he practiced law. He has a statue of course, and the town carries his name, and has for over well over a hundred years with no complaints or problems created by the inanimate object.
Now, in Granbury, like the rest of the state, and country, people want them removed because the site of a statue hurts’ their feelings or makes them think of injustices, either real or imagined, committed centuries ago in a country that was far different than the one they are now attempting to ruin. With young men and women that depend on Google for information and education, can we expect less? Our education system has failed them. Texas history is barely touched on and smoothed over with a pacifist brush.
Our state history is not pretty: It is rough and tumble with a lot of bloodshed and dying by all. Indian wars, The Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto, hand to hand knife fighting musket shooting battles that were horrific. In those hard scrabble days, people were tough: life was tough, and a young Texas ranch wife would kick your butt as good as her husband. My grandmother was one of those gals.
The Alamo mission, in San Antonio, is the most sacred piece of history in our state. It is a shrine held in reverence by Texans since 1836, when the mission, held by volunteers and led by William Barret Travis, fell to General Santa Anna and his army. Most of our counties and many of our towns are named for the defenders. Now, there are mobs and hooligans that want to tear down the mission because it hurts their feelings. Fortunately, our Texas Rangers and other patriots are guarding the Alamo to keep this from happening. Texas history will not go down without a good fight. God bless The Alamo and Davey Crockett, and God Bless Texas.
This past year or so, I noticed that phone calls from friends and family had dwindled drastically. Not that they were that frequent in years past, but now, the calls have almost ceased. The holidays count for a few, and if there is a surgery or accident, that will bring one or two sympathy or curiosity calls.
One can assume that as you age and become a seasoned person, your friends and family are in the same boat, and you can talk about medical issues and health only so much before your head explodes. My sister, bless her heart, does call every few days to chat about nothing in particular, but she is down from four dogs to one and is easily bored. She watches a lot of Netflix.
My multi-tasking son rarely calls. He lives in North Padre Island, by the beach, surrounded by an impressive collection of “man toys.” He and his wife own a business that keeps them hopping, so I get it. The rest of his time he divides between Cub Scouts and baseball games with my grandson. He is a busy young man and appears to have broken all his fingers on both hands, or lost my phone number. I am considering sending him an amazon package with my picture and a burner cell phone.
My generation X grandson keeps in touch via text, the preferred form of communication for people in their twenties. Sometimes he will answer his phone, and it takes me a second to remember his voice. He sounds much like his father, who passed away seven years ago, and if I am melancholy, it unnerves me a bit, so texting is alright for now. As he ages, actual speaking will replace texting.
My late-late mother, ever the geriatric comedian, in her golden years, remarked on how lonely life can be, and she wouldn’t have anyone to talk with if the telemarketers and scammers stopped calling. I laughed at how ridiculous that sounded, but alas, I may be in that same position.
Medicare enrollment is upon us with a vengeance, and I receive a dozen calls a day, most of which my spam app catches and disperses them back into cellular orbit. I did answer one a few days ago because it displayed a number with fourteen digits, and I was curious who has that many digits. What the hell, have some fun.
The youngish man on the line started his spiel about Medicare, and I could tell he was either “in” or “from” India. I listened for a minute then asked him where his call center might be? he answered, ” Indiana.” Then I asked his name, which he replied, ” Ronnie.” I politely told him that was bull crap, you are in India, and your name is not Ronnie.
He was busted, so he fessed up. Speaking in a pleasant accent, he said, ” yes sir, I am in India, and my name is Aakash. I work at the call center for American Exploitive Insurance.” He seemed like a polite young man, so I continued the conversation. “Tell me, Aakash, do you have Netflix and Amazon Prime in India, and if you do, have you seen Jack Ryan and The Kaminsky Method ?” I enquired. He was quiet for a few seconds then responded, “yes, we have those, but we watch only Bollywood movies here. Our movies have much drama, love love, and shooting guns, then everyone dances and sings happy songs. It’s joyously entertaining. India is a happy place, mostly.” ” And what do you mean by mostly?” I say. I could sense his hesitation and the frustration in his voice, but he needed to vent to someone, and I am three-thousand miles away, and that’s as safe as it gets.
This young telemarketer begins spilling his guts to a stranger, in America, over the telephone, hoping to receive a form of absolution from a non-Catholic, even though I am wearing a black t-shirt and eating Mrs. Pauls fish sticks for lunch so that counts for something. Speaking in a comforting voice, I urge him to continue. He lets it all hang out.
In a desolate cracking voice, he wails, ” my girlfriend lives with me in a tiny, tiny, tiny apartment, and all day, she plays this Brittney Spears person’s records and dances about like a hoochie lady. It is making me a crazy man. Last week for the evening meal, I try to make American Texas Terlingua chili using Indian spices and goat meat, and it gives us both the running bathroom visit for days. We have more nuisance monkeys in our neighborhood than residents. The little mean shit animals dismembered my moped, and then they break into my apartment and eat my James Taylor albums and raid the food closet leaving my home a mess. I have no gun, so I can’t shoot them dead; the mean monkey has more rights than me. I have applied for citizenship in your country, but it takes two lifetimes. I have four degrees from a university but make little money. My life is a hot fresh cow pie residing in the middle of the road.”
I am bewildered by his predicament but yet amused at the absurdity of it all. We exchange pleasantries, and I tell him to call me again next week for another chat, to which he agreed and wished me well.
Who knew telemarketers could be so exciting.
A third installment of “feel good” stories from my childhood. Virus’s, Riots and Looters…Oh My! The only thing missing is the gang of Flying Monkeys terrorizing Granbury. With all the mayhem now in our small towns, I should take my firearm when shopping at H.E.B. for groceries. You never know when ANTIFA will come down the aisle and set fire to “Uncle Bens” and “Aunt Jemimah” products. This recount should take your mind off of the bad stuff and hopefully leave you sedate and smiling.
The farm. Santa Anna, Texas. July of 1955. My two uncles, Jay and Bill, need more to occupy their time. I need them away from me. I’m a six-year-old kid, and their influence is ruining my childhood. They told me Howdy Doody is not real, and Captain Kangaroo hates kids. I cried for days. The chaw of Red Man chewing tobacco behind the smokehouse was the last straw. Seeing a kid puking for two hours seemed funny to them. My grandfather told the two grown kids that a man in Coleman has a pig that won the ” Purple Paw” award. Every year, the governor of Texas bestows the prize on an animal that has performed a heroic act. Who knew there was a hero nearby? Of course, my two uncles have to see this pig, so they head for Coleman with my cousin Jerry and me in tow. Arriving in Coleman, we stop at the feed store for directions and a coke. The owner tells my uncles to be very respectful of the pig since he saved the farmer and his family’s lives. In appreciation, the farmer named the pig “Little Audie Murphy,” after the famous WW11 hero and movie star. I am more than impressed. This pig is the real deal.
Arriving at the farm, we are met at the gate by the proud farmer. My uncle Bill has a $10.00 bet with Ray that this is a load of bullcrap. They never stop.
Ray wants to hear the pig’s story, so the farmer is more than happy to recount.
The farmer takes a chaw of Red Man and begins, ” I was plowing one day, and my old tractor hits a stump and tips over, trapping me underneath. I’m yelling for help for an hour, and finally, my old pig shows up. The pig grabs a timber and scoots it underneath the tractor, then stands on it so’s the tractor tilts up, and I can scoot out. That porker saved my life.” I can tell by the look on my uncle’s faces that they think this is B.S. The farmer continues, ” about a week after that, I’m in town at the domino parlor, and my house catches on fire. My wife and kids are knocked out by the smoke, and the pig pulls them out of the burning house and revives them—a true porcine hero, that pig.” Now my uncles are impressed. I see a tear trickle from Bill’s eye. I got a lump in my throat.
At this point, we want to see this pig for ourselves, so the farmer takes us to the barn. He stands outside the corral and yells, ” Little Audie, come on out.” A huge Yorkshire pig wearing a ribbon and gold medal around his neck makes its way out of the barn. I’ve seen pigs before, and this wasn’t any normal pig. He was missing an ear and a front and back leg. Where the legs had been, the pig now sported homemade prosthesis. He seemed to walk fine and was friendly.
My uncle Jay was shocked and asked the farmer what the hell happened to the poor pig? The farmer took a minute to answer that question. Then he smiled and said, ” well, a pig that special, we couldn’t just eat him all at once.”
A perspective and opinion from a proud Texan. I’m not sure what is going on with WordPress, but I am re-posting this. The first post was an un-edited version. My apologies to my readers. I blame ” The Rona.”
The death of George Floyd is a turning point in our United States of America. I have heard many times from mystic sources of the unknown, that “out of tragedy comes good,” but not always. I believe Churchill spoke these wise words, but it may have been the captain of the Titanic, or perhaps William Travis, and we all know how that ended for him.
The weeks of peaceful protest is gone. We now have groups of anarchists that hi-jacked the Black Lives Matter movement for their use.
America’s soft spongy underbelly lies exposed while thugs and criminals lay waste on our cities and society. Parts of our pristine city blocks look like a war zone. Protesters, bystanders, and business owners that wish to make their point peacefully are attacked and beaten by the infiltrators if they intervene. These hoodlums even had the nerve to destroy and loot a Starbucks in Portland.
It’s a tough pill to swallow when the people that want and need the change in our police departments and city governments or the ones seen on television carrying a shopping cart full of flat screens or a pair of $600.00 Nikes from a looted store. Nothing builds the bridge of peace and brotherhood like looting.
In Austin, Texas, the capital of my home state, a black American capitol policeman, was mobbed and attacked by a group of “keep Austin weird” type of folks. My apologies to Austinites that do not wish to stay weird. They appear, on television, to be young, white, and likely students from our prestigious University of Texas, and they are damn lucky they weren’t shot. Knowing UT, I’m sure there were a few Antifa kiddies in the group to add flavor and support. One can assume that the food trucks on South Congress didn’t do much business that day. All there customers were busy at the capital.
My parents taught me a valuable lesson when I was a young’n. You don’t assault a police officer: in any way, or it is likely to turn out bad for you. Do these young people not have parents to teach them right from wrong? The “everyone gets a trophy, and I want it for free” generation has a lot to learn.
Thank you, Austin, for showing us what you are, pulling back the tye-dyed curtain for us to see the wizard. The “hippy-dippy live music capital of the world persona” you have pushed for decades has soured and gelled into a smelling heap of Whole Foods dumpster refuse. I have friends that live in Austin, so this doesn’t include them unless they were at the dust-up, as mentioned above.
“Keep Austin Weird” was once a fun slogan that the city was proud of owning. I wonder now if that slogan is appropriate? God Bless Davy Crockett and The Alamo.
I wrote this story in 2012 after a visit to Threadgills on Barton Springs Road. I was in, and out of Austin in those Armadillo Headquarters days, and knew many of the musicians that were responsible for it’s progressive music scene. No one can remember who, what, or how it started, so I figured, why not make it an Armadillo.
A. Dillo was the influence of a generation of Texas musicians and tunesmiths. This precocious little Armadillo was found on the lawn of the state capitol one hot day in September 1970, by a group of hippies lounging on the grass sunning themselves, and smoking pot.
He was a sad little armadillo, lost, searching for his family unit, after being separated from them in Zilker Park a few days earlier, during a vicious thunderstorm and flash flood. A happy reunion was not to be. His mother and father were tits-up on Congress, and his siblings had been lunch for a pack of wild dogs. He was an orphan.
The dazed but kindly hippie’s were drawn to the friendly little tank. They took him back to their pad just off Congress and proceeded to raise him as one of their own. They christened him A. Dillo.
One of the girls in the house was majoring in animal behavior and journalism at the University of Texas and was soon tutoring the ardent little critter in reading and writing.
Within six months, A. Dillo had mastered penmanship and was writing prose. Within a year, he was writing short stories and speeches for the university’s professors and prolific student protesters.
He experimented with strange substances and started hanging out with artist types and deep thinkers. He could write about current events, political science, theology, and music with the best of them. He was, in a sense, humanized.
A. Dillo’s popularity grew off the charts, and he was invited to give readings of his work at private parties and student gatherings. He was, in a sense, a critter version of Alan Ginsburg.
But, being an armadillo, he couldn’t wear human clothes, so he employed an artist friend to decorate his shell to resemble a fashionable tie-dye t-shirt. He took to wearing round, rose-colored sunglasses and a variety of peace symbols and buttons. He was beyond cool and a perfect fit for Austin.
His popularity, rapidly spreading beyond the tribal bounds of the Congress neighborhood, and into the local community of aphorism, infuriated his adopted bohemian family. Jealous, though silently envious, they accused A. Dillo of ” selling out” to the man.
The bad vibes from his former adoring family were bringing him down. Unable to create in the hostile atmosphere, he packed his sparse belongings in a Piggly Wiggly shopping bag and headed for Barton Springs and Zilker Park, to find some peace and tranquility among the woods and good water.
While shuffling down Barton Springs Road, he happened upon a recently opened venue called Armadillo World Headquarters.
Delighted to find a place that so openly celebrated his kind, he immediately scurried through a hole in the fence and took up residence beneath the beer garden stage. Enjoying the clamorous musical atmosphere and the continual supply of spilled Lone Star beer that flowed through the cracks of the stage floor.
A group of guitar picking musicians that frequented the club’s beer garden eventually befriended the little fellow, and soon he was anointed as the “official mascot” of the headquarters. He was cool again, but he didn’t understand this new scene where long-hairs wore cowboy hats and listened to country music. He just assumed it was not his to follow.
The little poet was soon inspired by his energizing surroundings, once again, began putting his thoughts and prose to paper. In a moment of trusting innocence, he exposed his talent, and shared his library of work with a few of the beer garden musicians, hoping for a morsel of recognition.
The musicians were so impressed, they immediately confiscated his poems and lyrics and made them their own. That this library of written work came from an Armadillo, at that time, to this group, seemed utterly reasonable. After all, it was Austin in the early 70s, and it’s a well-documented fact that if you remember that time, you weren’t really there.
Within a few months, the musicians and wailers at the headquarters were singing songs about Austin and everything Texas. A handful of the local artist was drawing A. Dillo’s likeness on their concert posters to promote the rapidly changing musical landscape.
Willie and Waylon took up residence at the headquarters and became the shaggy royal ambassadors of Austin music. Heady times they were.
A. Dillo was heartbroken. He had been bamboozled by the “love your brother and sister” preaching musicians, who were nothing but scoundrels, thieves, and false profits. His trust had been violated. His soaring soliloquies, his enlightening prose, his ramblings about his Texas, all stolen or plagiarized, with no hope of recovery, in a hundred different tunes. One cruel musician, blatantly and without remorse, took his favorite poem and made a song about taking himself “Home with the Armadillo.” That was the deepest cut of all. He was a broken critter. ” Oh, the pain of it all,” he wailed.
He soon left the headquarters, again packing his Piggly Wiggly bag and stealing away into the night.
A. Dillo returned to his home burrow in Zilker Park. He reconnected with the park’s inhabitants, giving nightly readings of his poetry, to an enthusiastic and adoring crowd. He was elevated to star status among the park’s animal population, and his name was known to all creatures for miles. He was finally at peace with himself and his life.
A. Dillo was the real spark of inspiration for Austin’s progressive music scene of the 1970s. Without his influence and the spread of his stolen words, tunesmiths, musicians, and vocalist all over Austin would still be writing and singing those dreary Three-chord hillbilly songs.
Jerry Jeff, Willie, Waylon, and the boys would have had to seek inspiration elsewhere, and the city would not have evolved into Austin as we know it today.
It was rumored that some years later, on a stormy night, much like the one that started his journey, A. Dillo was hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross Barton Springs Road.
An old lady that lived in the Shady Grove trailer park scooped up his remains and fed them to her two Chihuahuas, using the painted shell as a planter to adorn the steps of her small Air-Stream trailer.
That little shell, its colors faded from time, sat on the steps of that old trailer for decades, and, Couples with gray hair, walking to one of the many restaurants on the street, grandchildren, and dogs in tow, would sometimes notice the little shell full of colorful flowers. The ones who had known the little poet, or knew the legend, would approach the small shrine and pay homage by explaining to their grandchildren, the true story of the “real” father of Austin music.
If you raised kids, then you have lego’s in your home.
A Danish company invented these small interlocking blocks 87 years ago. The Lego playsets are considered the staple toy of one’s childhood. My two sons and now my grandchildren love these things. Having stepped on a few in the dark, barefoot, I consider them small weapons that masquerade as an educational toy.
The Dane’s, besides giving us Lego’s, introduced the world to Toaster Struddle Danish, Swedish meatballs, modern teak furniture, Ericson phones, Ikea, and of course, my favorite, the Vikings. They view themselves as a modern progressive save the world and planet type of folks.
Blond, fair-skinned, healthy, and a bit too educated, the populace of this country believe that a 16-year-old girl is an expert on climate change and world affairs. She dressed down the poor folks at the United Nations with an epic screaming and crying fit. The bewildered world organization was crushed. They had no idea the U.N. destroyed her childhood.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from NBC news this morning. Lego is ceasing production and sales of playsets that feature first responders or police because of the ongoing brutality against the poor, misunderstood rioters. The company is afraid that it may be targeted for violence if it gives the impression they support law and order in the United States. What the hell? I guess there is no law and order in Daneland? I don’t think ANTIFA is going to take a plane over to Europe and blow up Lego headquarters, but then, they might, loot and pillage the Lego Land installations in our high-end malls.
Don’t be surprised for this Christmas season, Lego introduces their new line of ” Protest and Riot” playsets. Wow! The kids get two choices: a peaceful protest with little mask and signs, or a riot set, complete with Lego figures equipped with spring-loaded arms that throw small Lego bricks and bottles into Lego block built Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Target stores. For an additional charge, you can purchase the electronic and Nike displays for looting. Our kids have a penchant for violent video games, so my guess is the riot set will be the best seller.
I have a suspicious feeling that a 16-year-old girl has been talking to the Lego folks.
The hint of daylight gives enough lumination for me to find my way down the steep steps of my family’s beach house. Grabbing my surfboard, wax, and a few towels, I load my supplies into the back of the old Army jeep and leave for the beach. The old vehicle takes time to wake up, and it sputters down E Street, doing its best to deliver me to the water’s edge.
Port Aransas is quiet this morning. Fisherman and surfers are the only souls moving on the small island.
As I drive to the beach, taking the road through the sand dunes near the jetty, the morning dew on the metal surface of the jeep, pelts me like fine rain. The salt air is heavy and I can see the cloud of mist rising from the surf long before I reach the water. The seats are cold on my bare back and legs. The vehicle lacks a windshield, allowing bugs to hit my face and chest. Texas is a buggy place. That’s a fact we live with.
I park near the pier and see that two of my friends Gwen and Gary are kneeling in the sand, waxing their boards. I am usually the first to arrive but today they beat me by a few minutes. I join them in the preparation. We are quiet. This will be a good morning and making small talk might interfere with our zone.
The Gulf of Mexico is glassy and clear. The swell is four feet, with a right break. We enter as a group of three and paddle out past the second sand bar.
Sitting on my surfboard, I see the first half of the sun rising over the ocean and feel the warmth on my upper body. A tanker ship is a few miles offshore. The smoke from its stack gives us a point to paddle to.
Today will be hot, and by noon, these beautiful waves will evaporate into a slushy shore break full of children on foam belly boards. But this morning, the three of us are working in concert with our beloved Gulf.
We ride for hours. The ocean is feisty this morning. The waves are doing their best to beat us, but we show them who the boss is. The beach fills with other surfers, and now the line-up is crowded,, and we ride into shore. Gary and Gwen leave, and I make my way home to go fishing with my father. The Kingfish await.
This day and this moment in time, we are young and selfish in our happiness: blissfully oblivious to what lays ahead.
Life will take an unhappy turn for some of us. There is no time or interest to ponder the meaning of our existence. Life to us is this moment.
Gary and Gwen are gone now and have been for some time. Gary lost in Vietnam, and Gwen from an auto accident the next summer on his way to the island. If they were still here, I would like to think that we would have kept in touch and shared our surfing stories around a good glass of bourbon at Shorty’s Bar. Three old men telling lies.
On a rainy morning not long ago, while searching for elusive Christmas decorations, I stumbled across a box of family photographs. When I opened the lid, the room filled with that distinct smell of “old memories.” Black and white images of family members long deceased, smiling into the Brownie camera, knowing that they would never be a minute older than that particular moment.
One particular, faded picture, made me smile. My late Uncle Ray leaned against the trunk of his 1957 Cadillac, dressed in his best Sunday suit, holding a shotgun, and a can of Pearl beer. I’m not sure how those odd ingredients came together for that picture, but it was nice to see his face again. He smiled a lot-and drank more Pearl than anyone I have known.
As I studied the photo, remembering Uncle Ray and the joy his car gave to him, a small object sitting on the rear deck caught my eye. It was barely visible and obscured by the sun’s reflection on the glass, so I placed my magnifying glass over the picture, and it popped into clarity. There it was, Uncle Ray’s long lost Bobble Head Dog – Mr. Pooch.
Ray loved that plastic mongrel as much as that Detroit battleship of a car, a fact that his eight ex-wives grudgingly affirmed.
As family stories are told, I recall the night a wandering opportunist, broke into his Cadillac and stole his precious Mr. Pooch; leaving a loaded shotgun and a cooler of Pearl beer in favor of the faded plastic ornament. Uncle Ray, beyond consolation, moped for days, sitting at his dining room window, stalwart, praying that the thief would find remorse and return Mr. Pooch. His hope diminished by the hour, and that happy reunion never materialized, Uncle Ray, saddened to his last bone, mourned his Mr. Pooch until his end day.
That evening, I made a trip to the pharmacy to collect a prescription. My errand accomplished, I turned for home, and while stopped at a traffic signal, found myself staring at the rear end of a well preserved 1957 Cadillac. I marveled at the rocket tail-fins aerodynamic design, the beefy rear bumper, dual tailpipes, and the glaring chrome appointments. An excellent machine representing the best efforts of an era past. Seeing that old car reminded me of Uncle Rays cherished Caddie and the lost bobble head dog, Mr. Pooch.
As I followed the Caddie in the slow traffic, I glimpsed something odd, sitting in the car’s rear window. Pulling closer, I identified the object like a small brown dog, happily shaking its head, perched on the back deck. The driver, worried that I was following too close, tapped the breaks to warn me off, and, with that warning, the dog’s eyes “flashed” like red lasers. Startled, I slowed and gave the Caddie a wider berth.
After a few blocks, my curiosity won over safety, and again, I closed the gap between our vehicles. Mesmerized by the dogs blinking eyes, I failed to notice the old Caddie had stopped, and I rear-ended the beautiful machine.
At 20 mph, you can’t do much damage to an old tank like that, but my “thin-skinned” foreign auto was in poor shape.
Gazing through the cloud of steam that spewed forth from my radiator, I saw the door to the Cadillac swing open and a “white-haired gal” way shy of five feet, exited the car.
“Dressed to the nines” in designer duds, all the way down to the required white Rockport’s, she was the perfect poster girl for “Sun City.” My golfing buddies had warned me about these old gals. “Little Pit Bulls with lipstick,” as they were known, and they all had at least one offspring that was an attorney. I concluded I might be in big trouble.
Exiting my ailing vehicle, hat, and insurance firmly in hand, I attempted a half-baked explanation for the accident. The dog with the piercing red eyes, the memory of my Uncle Ray, and his long lost Bobble Head Dog- Mr. Pooch, my poor driving skills. The more I rattled on, the more it sounded like “mental ward gibberish,” so I ceased the blabber and politely inquired if she and her little dog were alright? She said she was excellent, and the dog, absolutely “felt no pain.” All was well and good. Minor damage, no harm done. I noticed the collision had un-seated her little dog, and he was feet up on the rear deck. “I really think your little dog may be hurt, he’s not moving,” I said.
She chuckled, and explained that: her old dog, “Giblet,” had been dead for 20 years or more, and that her late husband Murray, who had been an electrical engineer with an “off-kilter” sense of humor, missed the little guy so much, he had the mutt stuffed. Then as a nod to his own electrical wizardry, he installed red lights in the dogs’ eyes that light up when you mash on the car breaks. I suppose my Murray turned my little Giblet into a real-life bobblehead dog.”
Her story was so outrageous, I couldn’t control my laughter, and neither could she. Crazy people laugh the loudest.
Relieved that she was uninjured, I accompanied her back to her car to exchange insurance information. Finishing the exchange, she opened the car door, and there, in the passenger seat, illuminated by the dome light, sat and an older gentleman. Startled, I asked, if her passenger was okay, did “he” need to see a doctor? She shushed me off with a wave of her hand, and she exclaimed that he, “didn’t feel a thing.” Now, having just heard that morbid explanation regarding old Giblet, I asked,” why didn’t he feel a thing?”
With a twinkle in her eyes and a saucy wink, she replied, “oh, that’s just Murray, he and Giblet go everywhere with me.”
On that parting note, the little gal gunned the Caddie, pulled into traffic, and faded away, while I stood staring at the departing Bobblehead dogs red eyes blinking back at me.
An old friend of mine passed a while back. Though we have been out of touch for many years, he always occupied a special spot in my memory. I have used him, or bits and pieces of his colorful life in my short stories. His name was Junior Edify. No first name, or namesake, just, Junior.
In 1957, he opened a coffee house in downtown Fort Worth Texas. History will lead you to believe that “The Cellar” was the first, but the “Hip Hereford” beat them by a full year.
Junior was meant to be a cowboy. It was his lineage and destiny, but he rebelled against the code of the west and his family, becoming a club owner, a poet and a beatnik type of fellow. He said that sitting on a sweaty saddle and smelling cow farts all day was not how he envisioned his life.
Opening night was Halloween, 1957. Junior hires two winos to help run the door and do odd jobs. They were reluctant to give him their birth names, so he christens them Wino 1 and Wino 2. As long as Junior paid them and kept the Mogen David flowing, they were good to go. The following is an excerpt from the unfinished story.
Around 7:15, Wino 2 informs Junior that the first performer has arrived and takes the stage for the introduction. He steps to the mic and, in that pleasant voice, says, “Ladies and gents, please welcome to the stage, Mr. Blind Jelly-roll Jackson and his nurse Carpathia.”
An ancient black man with hair as white as south Texas cotton, holding a guitar as old as himself is helped to the stage by a prim female nurse dressed in a starched white uniform. The old man wears a red smoking jacket, a silver ascot and black trousers. Dark sunglasses and a white cane complete his ensemble. The old fellow is as blind as Helen Keller.
The nurse gently seats the old gentleman in a chair provided by Wino 1 and lowers the large microphone to a height between his face and his guitar. She then stands to the side of the stage, just out of the spotlight. Blind Jelly Roll starts strumming his guitar like he’s hammering a ten-penny nail. Thick, viscous down strokes with note bending riffs in between. His frail body rocks with every note he coaxes out of his tortured instrument. He leans into the mic and sings, “We’s gonna have us a mess o’ greens tonight…haw..haw..haw…haw…gonna wash her down with some cold Schlitz beer..haw..haw..haw..gonna visit ma woman out on Jacksboro way…gonna get my hambone greased”. This was Texas blues at its best.
On cue, his nurse steps into the spotlight, extract a shiny Marine Band harmonica from her pocket, and cuts loose on a sixteen bar mouth-harp romp. Her ruby-red lips attack that “hornica” like a ten-year-old eating a Fat Stock Show corndog. The crowd loves it. They dig it. When Blind Jelly Roll finishes his song, Wino 2 passes a small basket through the group for tips. Jelly Roll and his nurse take their kitty and depart. He’s due back at the old folk’s home before midnight.
I have lost count of my days in this government-induced social distancing hysteriademic-in-home prison sentence. Being confined to the cactus patch has made it bearable to a point, but then on some days, I want to run screaming down the county road that runs alongside our home. Our local sheriff, a nice young man, would find me and be obliged to return me to my wife. He’s a youngster, but astute enough to know that old people can go batshit crazy at any time. They don’t need a jail, just a bowl of corn flakes.
It’s been eight weeks since my last haircut, and I can, if needed, pass as a 1970s televangelist or a former musician at Woodstock. I considered asking my grandson to assist me in starting a Youtube channel with a donation button and deliver deep-daily thoughts to the confined masses. I have the required icky look but don’t possess the lack of morals it requires to rip other old people off. So I watch pap on Amazon and Netflix instead.
I have turned into that old guy that sits by the window, awaiting the postman to deliver his junk mail and utility bills. At my age, even grocery store flyers can lend some comfort. It’s quite exciting when you get a coupon for buy one get one free.
The nice young man in India has stopped calling me about my automobile warranty, and the fraternal order of the Hood County Police knows better than to ask me for another donation. My wife has baked every pie and cake imaginable and a few days ago made a banana pudding that would send Aunt Bea to the woodshed.
Young folks are whining and gnashing about being confined and missing their friends and graduations and parties and all that their age group does. Cry babies and pansy asses. They have years ahead of them when things return to normal. So shut up and do your homework on your laptop. And get off my lawn. I hope this mess ends before I do.
The fast-food industry needs to step up to the plate just as Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreen’s has done. The CEO’s of these companies have pledged space in their parking lots for drive-up Corona Virus testing tents. Novel Idea. Pull up to a tent full of people in hazmat suits and get swabbed and disinfected. I don’t know how the rest of America feels, but I am afraid of people in hazmat suits. It always turns out bad, or they wouldn’t be wearing them. Young children tend to be easily frightened, so screaming kids trying to escape from the car is not a good scenario. Let’s use a kinder and gentler approach.
Why not have Ronald McDonald, The Burger King king, and Jack from Jack in The Box stand by the order speaker and offer free food or a toy with every swab? Since half of America eats at these places, its a perfect solution.
My pal Mooch called me a few minutes ago from the HEB grocery store. He is standing in the toilet paper aisle, watching two middle-aged women fistfight over the last 8 pack of Northern toilet paper. He and another male shopper are betting on the skinny gal because she was moving faster, and had the other older women in a Nolan Ryan headlock.
We continued our conversation as he walked the store, commenting on how low the stock is on each aisle, and how stupid people are acting. You would think Channel 5 called for snow flurries tonight. Suddenly, Mooch screams and starts cussing at no one in particular. ” HEB is sold out of pork rinds and beer!” he yells into his flip phone.
Now, I know this virus is severe. Rednecks cannot survive without pork rinds, and beer, its a food staple and will last for years in any bunker or deer camp. They are gluten-free, fat-free, and carb-free, so at least a boy can eat healthily if he is quarantined.
I could hear a scuffle over the phone. Voices yelling, carts bashing into one another; general mayhem. Mooch said,
” I’ll call you later, buddy, there’s a brawl at the Red Barons Pizza freezer, and I have to get me some of those.”
Yes, folks, she’s in the news again. Popping up here and there, accepting little awards and being fussed over by an age group of devotes that don’t know what the Vietnam war was, or when it happened. Just in case you forgot what “Hanoi Jane” ( Jane Fonda ) really was, and is, I included this adorable picture. I think it catches her best side. I would assume she took some excellent color shots of our POWs with her fancy camera and shared the photos with their families back in the United States.
Pictured for your educational pleasure is a sweet little dog with a strange name. “Graphon Chardonnay” is what’s known in 2020 as a “Hipster Companion Service Dog.” I’m sure little Graphon would rather be out pissing on trees and digging holes in flower beds than wearing a beard and leather jacket. Dogs look odd in human clothing, and they look alien when they sport the same beard as their owner.
While strolling the “hot new neighborhood” on West 7th street a few weeks ago, my wife and I stopped into a small outdoor café for lunch. It was one of those sunny February days where it wants to be pleasant, but you still need a coat if you dine outside. A teaser day, us Texans call it.
A nice looking couple sat down next to us with their small dog. They were dressed in expensive “Fort Worth Hip” to the tee. The young man had a formidable beard, a ” Stallone” pork pie hat, Ray-Ban sunglasses and skinny jeans. The woman was dressed similarly but without facial hair. These aren’t your poor retro-hippies, these Kats have dough, good jobs in IT and live in an expensive high rise overlooking the Trinity River. They most likely drive a Tesla or a hybrid Beemer.
The two diners immediately immersed themselves in their Apple I Phones. Hipsters are required to use Apple products only: Sorry Samsung and HTC.
I felt sorry for the little pooch, he didn’t have a phone of his own or even a bowl of water, so I asked a kind waitstaff to bring the wee fellow a dog bowel of H2O. When his bowl of water arrived, the man gasped and removed the water dish before the parched dog could catch a drink.
” Graphon does not drink regular water” he shrieked. ” He’s chlorine intolerant.”
Of course, I apologized for not knowing the dog was allergic to water, so I asked his father, what does Graphon drink?
The young woman looked up from her I Phone and smugly replied “Graphon Chardonnay drinks only Starbucks decaffeinated coffee, “Chateau La Pew” white wine and natural spring water from Tibet. He is also vegan and has an IQ of 165.” Well, holy hot-shit, I am impressed that this furball with two names is smarter than most of us humans; myself included.
I had already figured out these two were vegans, so when our juicy hamburgers arrived, we made a big deal of our meal, loudly commenting on every greasy bite we took. The two gave us the ” hope you die” look.
In my meat-eating frenzy, I accidentally knocked a French fry off my plate. The little genius, Graphon, caught it before it hit the ground and gobbled it down. His father screamed, grabbed the dog and began the “Heimlich maneuver ” until the dog coughed up the slimy fry.
” That fry is cooked in animal fats, are you trying to murder my dog! Graphon could die if he ingests anything other than his special veggies” he shouted. The woman was crying and having a small breakdown after witnessing her vegan dog eating the evil French fry.
The young couple was so traumatized, they took little Graphon Chardonnay and departed the patio. I got the last laugh. I slipped the pooch a nice bite of my burger while they weren’t looking. I’m pretty sure he is going to have some righteous gas.
On Ash Wednesday, I made a somewhat firm decision to give up my beloved Cheeto’s for Lent. Last year it was Ding Dongs and Pepsi Cola, and I wound up eating Twinkies and Dr. Pepper when after three days, I fell off the Lent wagon. At least, I stuck with my original plan.
On my way to see Father Frank, my priest at OurLady of Perpetual Repentance, I stopped by Walmart for one last Cheeto fix. Standing in line at the checkout, I noticed shoppers with a tiny ink cross on their forehead. Odd. Then, I saw the lady behind me sported a small “Pokemon” sticker on her forehead. She noticed I was staring like a goon and said, “our priest ran out of palm ashes, and this was all he had left. It’s the blessing that counts.” Well, she had a point. When the Holy Father runs out of blessed stuff, he has to make do with available products.
I headed over to the church, finishing my bag of Cheeto’s and hiding it under the seat like a teenager does a beer can in the family car.
Two blocks from the church, the traffic was hardly moving, and I think business must be brisk for the good Father.
As I inched closer, I saw Father Frank standing at the curb, giving his blessing to the occupants in the car, leaning through the windows, and marking their forehead. Next car up, the same protocol. He was running cars through the line like a good day at Jack In The Box. Then it dawned on me, Father Frank was offering take-out Lent blessings to our flock. What a novel idea, so 2020.
I pulled up to his curbside church and rolled down my window. The multi-tasking Priest handed me a pamphlet with a prayer, crossed himself, and touched my forehead. ” Go in Peace, my son,” he muttered and gave me the peace sign. “Sorry about running out of ash,” he said.
” Back at, you, Father,” I responded and drove away.
When I arrived home, my wife asked me where I had been for so long. I explained the trip to Walmart, the Cheeto binge, and then Father Franks take-out Lent blessing and such, thus the extended time frame. She was staring at me like a goon when she asked, ” did you find anything at the garage sale?”
” What garage sale?” I replied.
She reached up to my forehead and pulled off a small round orange sticker with $1.00 written on it.
The good Father has to make do with what he has available. It’s the blessing that counts. Right?
The asphalt parking lot is so hot it’s melting the rubber soles of my PF Flyer “tinny” shoes to the pavement. It’s July of 1957, and there are at least one hundred kids, including our neighborhood coterie of twenty-five standing on that lot, waiting to see our television idols, Mickey Mud Turtle and Amanda Opossum.
Piggly Wiggly Food’s hired the puppet duo from Channel 11, for the grand opening of their newest grocery store on Berry Street. With the following the show had developed, the folks at Piggley are betting on a full house, because every kid in Fort Worth, Texas, wanted to meet Mickey and Amanda up close and in person.
Without an introduction, the puppets popped up onto the stage of their television theater and launched into their shtick. The jokes are age-appropriate and corny. Birthdays are shouted out and then more jokes, but with no cartoons to kill time, the felt and cardboard critters are out of material and are bombing like the Hiroshima fat boy.
The Mud Turtle launched into a commercial for Piggly Wiggly, and the Opossum began her’s for Buster Brown Shoes, over-riding Mickey, which in turn made him mad, and he grabbed a small bat with his mouth and popped Amanda Opossum a good one. The kids loved it. Watching the two puppets fight is better than cartoons, any day, hands down.
I feel a tug on my shirt, and realize my mother is dragging me into the grocery store. As we pass the back of the puppet theater, a gust of wind blows the side curtain open and there, in living color is two adults, sitting on low stools with their hands stuffed up the butts of our beloved stars. Kids are good at fooling themselves into believing things that aren’t real. I know they are cheesy, cardboard, and fabric puppets, but destroying my imagination is serious stuff.
Mortified and traumatized from the scene I witnessed, my mother drags me through the air-conditioned store as she completes her shopping. There is no sympathy or coddling from this Cherokee woman. She mumbles something about puppets being stupid, and I feel tears forming on my cheeks. I may never recover from this destruction of my childhood.
Leaving the store, we pass the stage, and a man and woman are putting the puppets into their wooden boxes and autographing glossy postcards of the critters. I still have mine.
By Phil Strawn. This is an earlier post from March of 2012 when I lived in Georgetown, Texas, and was forced to shop in the Sun City HEB.
I visited my local H.E.B a few days ago to do my shopping for the week. Just so you know, I loathe shopping for groceries; negotiating the crowded aisles, pushing a cart that steers hard left, while trying to read your shopping list and dodge the blue hairs wanting to run you over. It’s more than any man my age should have to endure.
The geriatric inhabitants of “Clan Sun City” have christened this store as their domain, and they make their own rules of engagement. I’ve had my toes run over, my legs pinned between a grocery cart and the dairy cabinet, rammed from behind for being too slow, and was verbally assaulted by an 80-pound octogenarian because I got the last loaf of “dollar bread.” The old bag pulled out a flip-top Motorola cell phone and threatened to call 911 to report me, so I reluctantly handed over the loaf. She shook a bony finger in my face and growled, “And your little dog too.”
Wednesday is the big day for the sample gals to push their wares on the shoppers. You can’t go twenty-feet without a chirpy hostess wearing her “Pioneer Woman” apron wanting to stick a sample of food in your face. Forget trying to get away, they track you until you stop and then thrust the toothpick impaled morsel into your protesting mouth. I unwillingly managed to taste sushi, sausage roll, carrot cake, cheese whiz, and wine before I could get to the first aisle, and by then, I needed a Prilosec OTC, so I bought that as well.
Shopping completed, I proceeded to the checkout stand. As I rounded a corner near the book section, I bumped hard into a table, partially blocking the aisle.
There, sitting behind a 6-foot fold-out table, was Father Frank, the priest from my church, “Our Lady of Perpetual Repentance.” On his table is a stack of leaflets, bottles of water and give away key chains shaped like the Virgin Mary. It’s been a while since I have seen the good Father, so we exchange our pleasantries.
After a brief howdy conversation, I asked Father Frank why he is staffing a table at a grocery store? With a deep sigh, he explained, “The church is losing so many of the flock that the diocese has put me here to drum up new members.” Not wanting to offend by asking delicate questions, I say, ” I suppose you have to start somewhere, and the crowd here is about the right age to be finalizing their looming Heavenly travel arrangements.” He thought that was prolific and says he will use that phrase in a future sermon.
Now, more curious, I ask him about the giveaways laid out on his table. With a big smile, he explains, “The bottled water is actually blessed holy water, bottled right in my church by altar boys. We figure if it’s good enough to drive out demons and christen babies, it is strong enough to cure the pallet and insides of foul offenses. It has a slight hint of mint, so it may be used as an alcohol-free mouthwash in a pinch. I drank a bottle a few days ago and was confined to the rectory bathroom for many hours. Nothing like a happy gut and pleasant breath you know”. I said, “Yes, I know that feeling, and my cousin Beverly could have used a case of that for mouthwash if you know what I mean.” He said he did and gave me a bottle to aid in her deliverance.
The good Father is on a roll and excitedly explains that they have made considerable changes to his church to attract new members. Handing me the leaflet to inspect, he proudly proclaims, “look at these pictures! We now have a glassed-in section of pews with flat-screen monitors installed on the back of each bench so the young ones can access their computer games and social media during the sermon, that is piped into the enclosure by a high powered HD digital audio system. In order to save parishioners time, confessions can be uploaded via your home computer or smartphone, and communion has an optional wine flight, that, for a nominal fee, comes with a small crystal goblet.” Am I not hearing him, right? Preteen kids gaming in the pews, computer confessions, wine tasting? How about the singing choirs, the fire, and damnation, the rock hard pews that make your butt sweat and your legs go numb? A church service is supposed to make you miserable, not comfortable.
I tried to interrupt, but the good Father was in over-drive, as he continues to exclaim: “the most daring change and the one I’m most proud of is the conversion of the adult Sunday school room to a sports bar for after service football games. It’s a brilliant concept, come to church, then walk across the hall and watch the game on 70 inch flat screens. We call it “The Blue Nun Sports Bar,” and with the help of Mother Prudy, I recruited some of the younger nuns from the Abby to come over and wait tables after their service. The sisters are doing a great job, but grumbling about the miserly tips and are threatening to hold a sit-in. I told them to stop offering a repentance prayer over every beer served, and the tips may improve. It’s best to reserve a blessing for food service only. Next thing I know, they are wearing tight fitting t-shirts with ‘We Aren’t Your Mommas Nuns’ on the back. I don’t know what gives with these younger sisters. The piercings, tattoos and spiky hairdos are not what I‘m used too. Nuns are supposed to be stoic and mean, not cute and hip.” Well, I say, ” you’re certainly doing everything you can to increase membership, I may have to come to see you next Sunday. I need a good dose of religion and football.” I shake the good Father’s hand, bid him adieu and shuffle on to the checkout.
On my way out of the store, I notice, tucked in by the potting soil and flowers was a table staffed by a young, tanned, rock star, poofy haired, frock clad fellow flanked by two bikini-clad girls handing out free cold beer and hot dogs. The sign above them read ‘Rolling Rock Love and Peace Community Church Membership Drive.’ I was thirsty, so I scooted on over. Looks like Father Frank may be in trouble here.
There is a school system on the East coast that is changing its grading system so every student can “feel better” about themselves. This smells suspicious, and is likely extracted from the same rotten bag of education as “everyone gets a trophy.” Every letter grade is now lowered by five points, promoting a grade of “C” to a “B” and so on. Who benefits from this PC madness?
From personal experience, I can tell you that bringing home a low grade on your report card does have negative consequences. The younger you are, the fewer repercussions from your Mother since you are still her baby. As you age, the fear factor increases.
There is nothing that scares a kid more than bringing home the dreaded “F” or even the slightly better “D.”
You slow walk your way home, looking for every excuse to prolong the firestorm that the small piece of cardboard is going to create. You’re begging God to intervene and miraculously change that red “F” to an acceptable, blue “B.” Nothing changes, and you accept your fate. God is likely a teacher on the side.
With a cheesy fake smile on my face, I hand the report card to my mother, hoping for leniency.
Everything is fine until she sees that miserable sixth letter of the alphabet. Her happy smile fades, and she paralyzes me with that squinty-eyed mom stare.
My young life flashes before my eyes; I’m a goner. In desperation, I blame everything except my own stupidity. I fall to my knees, squeezing out fake tears, begging for forgiveness. She has none of it. The mom court is adjourned. I await my sentence.
Short of being sent to the “orphans home,” my mother’s go-to threat, I guess I get off good. No cartoons for two-weeks, no playing outside for a week, no Hostess cupcakes or Saturday baseball for a month, which is alright, its winter.
My next report card was better; no bad grades. My fear of personal failure and my parents were a determining force in my education. Everyone wants to make good grades, and many students struggle to meet those expectations. If that bar is lowered, then the students that excel will be punished, and the students that strive to excel will take it for granted.
Kids are an intelligent species. They know far more about human interaction and theatrical interpretation than their parents suspect. I can’t put a date on when this anomaly was discovered, but people with fancy degrees first noticed this behavior in the early 1950s. My neighborhood may have been ground zero for their study.
As a bunch, the kids in my neighborhood were healthy. We ate mouthfuls of dirt, sucked on pebbles, and ingested every foodstuff imaginable without washing our hands. This was perfectly acceptable to our mothers. Our young immune system was that of a caveman: we laughed at germs.
The only malady that affected us, kids, as a species, was the Monday morning tummy-throat-aching body-virus. This malady usually broke-out in early October, after a month of school and a thirty-day incubation period. It spread like wildfire through our four-block coterie, mostly affecting boys, but the girls were losing their immunity at an alarming rate.
On the second Monday in October, most of our first-grade class was infected. The symptoms were: headache, stomach ache, sore throat, and body aches. When our mothers asked how we felt, we would point at the affected area and groan, eliciting additional sympathy.
The first morning was the worst, then by noon we recovered enough to watch cartoons and eat some ice-cream, then after supper, the symptoms worsened, and mom made the call for us to stay home another day. Sleeping in was mandatory, and if we were recovered by lunchtime, we could go outside for some fresh air. This bug was known to not last more than 36 hours, tops.
Six-year-olds can’t grasp the enormity of a situation the way their parents can. As a group, we were unaware that our symptoms matched those of the dreaded Polio Virus. Our kindly school nurse, fearing the worse, calls the health department for back-up.
Two blocks away at George C. Clark Elementry, our diligent principal cancels all classes and has the entire building sanitized by a nuclear cleanup team from Carswell Air Force Base. The newspapers are on this like white on rice.
Lounging in bed eating Jell-O, and watching cartoons, my cohorts and I am unaware of our neighborhood pandemic.
Tuesday, mid-morning, a contingent of doctors and nurses from the health department, arrive to access the outbreak. They plan to visit every affected home and test every sick child. Large syringes and footlong throat swab are required.
Skipper, my stalwart best buddy, was the first to break. With two syringes sucking blood from his boney little kid arms, he sobbed and said he was faking it. Roger Glen ran screaming from his house when he saw the size of the needles, and Annie gave a signed confession. The pandemic was over.
Most of us couldn’t comfortably sit for a few days, but we were all healthy until the next school year. That’s when the Chinese Bird, Cat, and Rat Flu got us.
My wife and I are on day 4 of the keto diet. Tonight we are having keto pizza. Looks yummy, right? Well, it is after you remove the pepperoni, the cheese, the peppers, and everything but the crust, then you eat the meat and veggies and toss the rest. I told her tomorrow I’m going to Whataburger for a keto swiss and mushroom burger. I’ll figure out the particulars after I order the sandwich. Last night I dreamed of a McDonalds Filet of Fish and french fries, even though I haven’t had one in years. This keto thing gives you nightmares. Got to go now, too weak to type.
If you were a kid in the 1950s, then you knew who Captain Kangeroo and his sidekick Mr. Greenjeans were. Their television show was broadcast five days a week in glorious black and white and viewed by millions of kids on tiny television screens. ” Don’t sit too close to that TV, you’ll go blind.” That was the stern warning from every mother, and here we are today, all wearing glasses, or blind. How did you expect us to see the Captain and Greenjeans on an 8-inch screen?
The burning question we all had was, did Mr. Greenjeans wear “green jeans?” We were kids, with no color sets, it made us crazy. Was this man green?
A few months ago, I was taking a short -cut through a Fort Worth neighborhood to avoid road construction and noticed a weirdly dressed man using a hand pump sprayer to paint his yard a deep shade of kelly green. I stopped and watched as he worked his way from the curb to the house. Long even strokes, coating the brown grass to imitate spring’s favorite color. It was then I noticed his house was green, the cars in the driveway were green, his clothes and skin were green, and a small dog sitting on the porch was also green. What the hell? The man saw me staring and motioned me over.
I parked my car and walked up to the fellow, feeling a bit foolish for interrupting the work of a stranger. I introduced myself and complimented him on his handy work. He thanked me and extended his hand to shake and said, “names Levi, Levi Greenjeans, nice to meet you.”
” That’s an unusual name, sir. The only time I’ve heard that last name was on Captian Kangaroo, and that was sixty years ago,” I said.
The green fellow laughed and say’s, ” that’s the family name. Mr. Greenjeans was my pop. My sister and I grew up in a green world, so this is pretty natural for us. Dad’s been fertilizer for a good many years now, so it’s up to me to carry on the family brand.” I agreed, he looked pretty good for an old green guy.
I didn’t want to pry or be too forward, but I asked, ” Sir, what might the family brand be?”
“Call me Levi,” he said. ” You know that song ” The Jolly Green Giant?, I wrote it and collect mucho royalties. That Tom Jones song about green-green grass of home wrote that one too. The Green Giant food brand, that’s mine, also, copyright infringement made them pay up. Home Depot has a Greenjeans color named after Dad, I get change from that and a shiny penny from Youtube for the Captain Kangaroo videos.” This dude has turned green into green cash.
I am impressed and honored to be in the presence of one of the famous Greenjeans family, but now is the chance to get the answers to my childhood questions. I am afraid of coming off like a six-year-old Duffus, but I asked, ” did your dad wear green jeans and did he have a green face, and was the captain a nice man, and why did he have a big mustache, and did your dad really have a farm? There, I spat it out, and I am an idiot.
Levi chuckled and said, ” dad wore green jeans, and his face was green from stage makeup. The captain, bless his dead heart, was not too friendly. He wore a mustache because, on the first live show, a little kid threw a Coke bottle at him and split his lip, the stash hid the scar, and that’s why he disliked kids. He carried a small cattle prod under his sleeve, and if the kids got to close, he would shock them. Pretty funny stuff to see them jump. And the final answer is yes, dad had a farm and grew veggies and raised prize-winning Llamas. Recently, my sister Denim planted forty acres of butt-kicking pot that we will sell in our “Mr. Greenjeans Apothacary Co-op in Denver.”
I thanked Levi for his kindness and started to leave when he stopped me. Extracting a green sharpie from his pocket, he signed his name on the front of my white Eddie Bauer Polo shirt. ” hang on to that shirt brother, it’ll be worth some cash one day.”
Good Lord, what has happened in the great state of Iowa? The most sacred caucus in our country has been dusted, busted and is no longer trusted. Either some geek tweaked the app or there’s a Russian in a basement somewhere in Iowa messing with the internet signals. I’m barely a step above neanderthal when it comes to AI and such, but damn folks, cant you at least get this right with all those Millenials you have working on your behalf?
I ran into an old liberal buddy of mine at Whataburger this morning at breakfast. That’s what us Texans do, we eat biscuits at Whataburger and talk shit about everybody, family included. My pal Squeaky had his pet chihuahua nestled in his chest-mount baby carrier and was feeding him bites of sausage from his sandwich. Squeaky is not your average Democrat. For most of his life, he was redneck, four-wheel driving, gun-toting, Alamo loving, beer drinking Republican, that had a Rebel flag hanging in his garage.
While hunting wild pigs in San Saba, Texas, Squeak ran his ATV through a bob-wire fence and messed up his vocal cords, so he now sounds like Mickey Mouse when he speaks. While he was lying there close to dying, he said the ghost of former Democratic Texas Governor Ann Richards visited him. Hovering over his body, giving him sips of sweet tea, she said if he converted his political affiliation from conservative to liberal, he could live on. We thought it was complete bull-shit, but he swears it true: and he’s still here.
I grabbed a biscuit and coffee and sat down across from Squeaky. His chihuahua, Giblet snarled his teeth at me, so I gave him a bite of my hashbrown to take the edge off. Small talk and trashing family finally got down to the Iowa caucus, which I knew he watched last night. He takes it seriously, even posting a picture of the brisket and sausage he was smoking for the event.
I know Squeak is kind of fragile after his accident and cries easily, so I gingerly asked him, ” what did you think of that hot mess of a caucus last night?” I’m not a tender guy when it comes to politics. He looked at me kind of squinty-eyed and said, ” My boy Buttercup says he is the winner. Somebody tried to mess with those computers and put comrade Bernie and Pochahontes in there, but Mayor Buttercup is gonna be the nominee.” I know that Mayor Pete’s name is hard to pronounce and remember, so I didn’t offer a correction. I agreed with him on that, Mayor Pete is the less frightening of the bunch. ” What if there is no clear winner?” I asked.
Squeaky didn’t answer right away, but pondered the question a good five minutes, thinking between bites of his sausage biscuit. I was afraid I had offended him in my usual way, but he surprised me when he answered, ” well, I guess everybody gets a trophy and a pizza.”
A few weeks ago, my buddy Mooch and I were driving to Glenrose on a little road trip. We often take an adventure when we hear of something worth investigating. The stranger the better to occupy our precious time.
Mooch heard from someone at the feed store that a lady owns a pig that recently received the “Purple Paw,” the most prestigious civilian award an animal can receive for bravery. We have to see this pig for ourselves since Glenrose is right in our back yard.
Two hours of searching, we find the lady and her pig living in the RV Park by the river. This one is a wild goose chase. It seems her little boy didn’t win a prize in the stock show, so she took a purple TCU lanyard and tied a large gold-painted Mardi-Gras coin on the lanyard, making the pig a medal. This satisfied the whining child and turned the pig into a big shot. Now the kid and the pig think they are hot stuff and are raising hell in the RV Park. The expedition wasn’t a complete waste of time, we ate barbecue at the “Squealing Piglet” and topped it off with some pecan pie and Blue Bell ice cream.
Driving back to Granbury, the oil message light came on warning me I had ten percent oil life left on the old Honda. I bragged to Mooch about how smart my car is, and it seems to know everything. I mentioned, jokingly so, that it would be great if some pharmaceutical company could invent a device to tell us, humans, how much life we have left. Mooch, ever the tinkerer, has a small invention lab in his shed and is always coming up with strange things. He said he would look into that. I knew he would.
A week goes by, and Mooch shows up at my door with a white box under his arm. We sit at my kitchen table, and he pushes the box over my way, urging me to open it. Before I could get the lid off, he yells, ” I did it, its the invention we talked about, its a Mooch-O- Matic Life Meter, we are going to be wealthy.”
I open the box and pull out what appears to be a digital children’s thermometer. On the back are a crudely installed USB port and a sticker reading made by Mooch 2020. I’m impressed that he could invent something like this so quickly. In my book, his rating just increased by twenty points.
Knowing Mooch was about to explode with pride, I ask him,”What’s in this thing and how does it work?”
Mooch proudly exclaims, ” I took a “Tommy Bear In The Summer Sun” children’s digital rectal thermometer, added two chips from a Nokia flip phone, the activation strips from a “Ellen’s Own”digital pregnancy test, a chip from a Martha Stewert Meat Thermometer, a few innards from my old Firestick and a USB port so you can save the information. Now all that’s left is to test it on a human. I tried it out on my dog Rex, and damn if he doesn’t have 35% life left. The cat saw me testing Rex and is hiding, so now it’s down to you and me. How about you be the next participant?”
I reluctantly agreed to be the first human to test the Mooch-O-Matic. I entered the bathroom, inserted the device into the proper orifice, and waited until I heard the three beeps that signaled the reading was complete. After straightening myself up a bit I exited the bathroom and gave the device to Mooch. He scrolled through a menu and then blurted out, “holy crap, you have 25% life left, you lucky S.O.B.”
Well, there ya go buddy, I’m going to be watching many more Super Bowles. Mooch then took the device into the bathroom to test himself. After ten minutes, I’m getting worried so I knock on the door.
In my best-concerned tone, I said, ” Mooch, you okay, little buddy, you didn’t fall and break a hip, did you?” Mooch opened the door, and his face is the color of snow-whites butt. With a shaking hand, he handed me the device. I looked at the reading and was shocked. Mooch has 1.5% life left, which translates to, he could assume room temperature any minute or by morning at the latest. We are both speechless, and Mooch has tears in his old watery eyes.
Without saying a word, he leaves the house, and me holding the prototype of our disappearing wealth. Just for testing sake, I pulled a previously frozen whole chicken from the fridge and inserted the Mooch-O-Matic into the deceased bird’s butt. Three beeps later, the soon to be chicken dinner that has been dead for who knows how long, reads 35% life left.
I thought for a moment about calling poor Mooch to tell him his device is faulty, but he owes me $200.00, so I’ll let him sleep on this until he pays up.
I was young, barely talking, so I couldn’t say Trigger. It came out as twigger. The other little buckaroos in the neighborhood mocked my speech impediment. I was three years old, so what. I rode the wilds of Sycamore Park, ducking under low branches, hearing Indians in the trees, and Buffalo calling. I rode the banks of the swollen creek, watching turtles feed on the carcass of a carp. I was in my intended element, a cowboy. Then the owner of the Little Pony Picture Service lifted me off and put the pony in the trailer. Bummer.
Wine Caves are back in the news. The beleaguered, but smiling, Mayor Pete can’t catch a break. One measly fundraiser in a friend’s elaborate wine cave and the press brands him an elitist – extended – pinky finger – chardonnay guzzler. You know most of the folks in Hollywierd have them. I’m betting that Brad Pitt has one in each home. Hugh Hefner had multiple wine caves stocked with excellent wines and even better bunnies. I’m pretty sure the Cowboys owner, Old Smiley Jones, has one for wine and another for scotch. Hell, everyone deserves a wine cave, so that’s why I am launching my new business, ” Hidey Hole Wine and Survival Caves,” because every citizen deserves to have one.
I called Hector, a buddy of mine in Granbury that owns a concrete business and asked if he could dig a tunnel and a large room under the foundation of a home without the house caving in.
” Hell ya, man, I’m a concrete dude; we know how to dig,” he proudly exclaimed. He gave me a price, which was much less than I had planned, so Hector is on board. His cousin lays block and stucco, and another cousin finishes interiors, so I have my crew in place. I placed an ad in the local DFW “Wine Sniffer” magazine, so now, I set back and wait for the work to come rolling in.
Update from this morning, ” Wine Sniffer” magazine rejected my ad on the basis that it sounds like Rednecks and Mexicans digging holes under houses. How did they know?
The day after Thanksgiving, I made my usual trip to the grocery in search of any food item that didn’t resemble a turkey. It was a fruitful excursion. I came away with ice-cream sandwiches, Ding Dongs, and Kinky Friedman salsa. Dinner was sure to be interesting.
As I was leaving HEB, I noticed a gathering at the far end of the parking lot, so I wandered over to see what the fuss was about. Being close to Sun City, a throng of seniors usually means a medical condition or someone got mashed by a car.
There, gathered under a brightly displayed “Scooter Town” sign, was a throng of senior citizens, milling about a display of personal electric scooters, or as I call them ” fancy wheelchairs.”
I squeezed into the mob to have a better view and was surprised at how beautiful this “new generation” of personal scooters were. The throng was “oohing and ahhing” as if they were witnessing the unveiling of the new Cadillac at the State fair car show. One old-timer commented to his wife that “these new-fangled scooters made his one at home look like a Model T.” I had to agree; they were light-years better than the one my Aunt Beula used to ride around Santa Anna, Texas.
One particular scooter caught my eye, so I moseyed over to check it out. As I was bent down, admiring the tires, the salesman walked up and said, “go ahead, sit in her, crank her up and take a test drive.”
” Aren’t these supposed to be for use in the house and grocery stores?” I asked.
“Heck no, he said, these aren’t your Grandma’s scooter boy, these are the new generation of senior transportation. You can drive these babies anywhere. Take them to the store, the post office, the gym, Luby’s, the doctor- where ever. They are 100 percent street legal, and the best part is you don’t need a license. So…when the kids think your a vegetated pabulum sucker and take away the car, you can get one of these beauties and keep on trucking.
He was in full salesman mode now, and continued to explain in further detail:” take this model you’re looking at here, this is our newest one, The Woodstock Retro.
Notice the authentic tie-dye seat, the leather fringe appointments, the custom paint job, that is an exact copy of John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce. Upfront here, we have the hand made-Tibetan copper bull horn, and in the back, there is a 2500 lb wench with a carbonized cut-proof chain. The tires are reproductions of the legendary Goodyear Redline radials wrapped around these special little Krager Mags. To finish off the package, we’ve included a Lear-8 track tape player, a leather stash bag, and that cute little bird sitting on the guitar decal”.
“Why would you need a bullhorn and wench?” I asked.
” the bull horn” he exclaimed ” is for yelling at people that get in your way, such as punk kids or anyone disrespectful to old folks, and, if you’re still feeling frisky like back in the day, it can be used to voice your opinion when protesting at Wal-Mart or the Social Security Office.
The wench and chain have come standard on our California and Oregon Protest models for years are for attaching you and your scooter to tree, gate, power plant, or structure of your choice. That cut-proof chain makes it tough for the police to get you unhooked.
Now, how about a test drive there.. boy?
I agreed and eased onto the cushy seat.
After a few minutes of instruction, I was ready to roll. I turned the ignition key and felt the “hard bump” of a powerful transmission lighting up.
” Go ahead, gun the throttle, listen to those pipes,” said the salesman.
I gunned the throttle, and the digitally-reproduced sound of a Harly Davidson roared out of the side pipes. He was right, this was not my Aunt Beula’s scooter.
The salesman sternly warned me to take it easy because the controls were extremely touchy. With that warning clearly ignored, I pulled the sleek little scooter onto the parking lot and accelerated down to the exit.
The salesman didn’t say anything about “not” driving in traffic, so I figured it would be alright to at least cross the street and take a spin around the Dairy Queen.
While waiting at the exit to cross the street, I thought some tunes would be cool, so I reached down and pushed the button on the Lear 8 Track, and Steppenwolf blared from the two Bose side-mounted speakers. I also mashed a small button next to the sound system labeled “Turbo.”
“What the hell! Let’s see what this baby can do,” I yelled.
With “Born to Be Wild” blaring at 250 DB’s I gunned the throttle.
Now, I expected a decent surge of acceleration, but “I didn’t expect” that sucker to raise straight up on its rear wheels and do a “high ho Silver” wheelie across Williams Drive.
With absolutely no control of the scooter, I shot down the busy street like an NRA dragster, narrowly missing a bread truck, an eighteen-wheeler, and three suvs by mere inches.
As I roared by a Cadillac, the lady behind the wheel crossed herself and showed me her rosary. With that sign, I figured “what the hell, I’m going to die.”
Pinned to the back of the seat by the G-Force, hand frozen on the throttle, I somehow made a hard right turn into the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, spewing dirt and gravel on cars waiting in the take outline, as I did a rubber-burning 360 and came to a stop.
The “little beast” expelled a tiny raspy -cough from the shiny side pipes, shuddered a few times and died.
Stunned and disoriented, I dismounted the scooter, and on shaky legs, departed, leaving the little beast where it died.
Driving home, I decided that I ever need one of those scooters, I think I’ll buy something safer, like a Harley.
I read an article in my local paper a few days back about a youngster from Louisiana that fed his pet earthworms small amounts of nuclear waste, which in turn, made them glow in the dark and grow to the size of a state-fair hotdog.
He is now raking in cash, hawking them on his own late-night infomercial. Every fisherman in the south wants a giant wiggling glowing worm. Every bass needs one. I wondered, what kind of person would come up with such an idea?
My family tree back in the “old country” was chock full of these sorts. Dreamers, schemers, and medicine show hucksters. All died poor except one.
Take my Great-Great-Great Uncle Nehi, a puny Scott with a sweet tooth. He spent his spare time in search of sugary delights. One night, while experimenting with various potions of colored water, fruit, and healthy doses of sugar, he invented “Nehi Soda.” Now It wouldn’t be summer without a grape Nehi and a Moon Pie, would it? His tinkering resulted in the “all American soda.” Soda pop made him wealthy, and he died young from a roaring case of Diabetes, but he died prosperous and happy.
I always preferred Dr. Pepper, but my parents made us drink Nehi every year on the anniversary of his passing.
If it wasn’t for “dreamers and hucksters,” a beloved section of our economy would not exist. There would be no infomercials on television. Drug stores would have fewer isles full of useful little “as seen on TV” things. People would be wondering how to make their fresh juice or cover that bald spot. How could they make their hair puff out to look like a jelly roll while roaming around town in a snuggly blanket with armholes? Hanging upside down tomatoes would not exist. How would the astronauts write upside down without that nice ballpoint pen? I get a little scared thinking about what life would be like without these gadgets.
This past Saturday, my wife and I enjoyed lunch at a quaint restaurant alongside the Guadalupe River in Gruene, Texas. It was a hot one. A real sizzler. 100 degrees in the shade and we were sitting outside on their covered deck, enjoying the river’s tranquility and cooled by the misters.
My wife, Maureen, full of food and a cold beer, drowsily commented, “a nap would be nice right now.” I agreed, but there was nowhere to have a nappy except the hot car, so that idea was out.
I summoned our bill and sat staring at the beautiful river, watching the tubers drift by, listening to the lull of bubbling water, I was entranced, hypnotized by nature’s respite.
My bill arrived, and on the servers plate was an ice-cold Nehi Grape Soda, bound for another’s enjoyment. I hadn’t seen a Nehi soda in decades.
I was slapped hard by this boy and girls, the Nehi, the river, the need for a nap, and nature, it all hit me at once. I couldn’t speak, and could only croak out “nap camp…Nehi…nappy.”
Thinking I was having a stroke, my wife whipped out her cell phone and started to dial 911, but stopped when I finally choked out the words, “Uncle Nehi’s Nap Camp.” I had that stupid look that she knows all too well, something akin to “hold my beer and watch this.” She waited for the spiel, of which I was overly anxious to deliver.
Grabbing her reluctant hand, I dragged her down to the river bank. She was scared: I was excited. Invigorated and drunk on the elixir of my vision.
“Why didn’t I think of this years ago” I yelled. “It’s like the boy and his nuclear fishing worms. It’s not too late, seize the minute, make your mark, mark your territory, piss into the wind for a change. People need to sleep, they need a good nap, it’s our right!”
I was so excited I was waving my arms and spinning around like a “tent revival preacher.” I was on a roll.
I was yelling like a five-year-old on a sugar high, “over there in the trees by the river, we can build cedar post and metal roof pole barns, add ceiling fans and misters and put up some comfy hammocks. We’ll have an outside bar selling Nehi sodas, cold Lone Star beer and baloney, and rat cheese sandwiches. We could have a small barn with little hanging beds for the kids and dogs, and a separate napping barn for in-laws and people you don’t care for. Imagine, napping in a hammock next to the calm river, life doesn’t get any better than that. Right?”
A grizzled old fisherman was sitting by a tree with his cane pole listening to this opera of fools. He piped in, “not a bad idea, sonny boy, but Old Blind Mable tried that back in 1949 and lost her butt. You can’t put a business in a flood plain. This river flooded pretty well every year back then.
Old Blind Mable had a mess of hammocks and people sleeping in them thangs, and the river floods and washes everyone down to New Braunfels, whether they wanted to go there or not. If you got some money to piss away, go ahead, I’ll have a nap here until it rains, then I’m heading to high ground.” My wife looked at me and said: “let’s go home and have a nap, Einstein.”
I was crushed, a broken man, my vision was a pile of raccoon crap, shot down by a crusty old river rat: and my wife agreed with him. No Nehi sodas, no ice-cold Lone Star in a hammock, no nap camp. What the hell.
As we walked back to the car, a large dog came strutting down the street, pulling a kid on a skateboard. I watched them cruise by and thought, “a big skateboard for two, add seats, get some big dogs and rent them to pull people around town, “now that’s a moneymaker.