Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't Leave Home Without It

Overheard on the way to work:

30ish man getting into car with kid. 30ish woman in doorway of house says,

"Honey, are you taking the bong?"

OK, she could have said "bomb," either one is pretty funny

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Skateboard Madness

There was a skatepark built in Bradenton the year I moved away. It was sort of like how my parents replaced the thousand pound beast of a lawnmower I had to push around through middle and high school with a sleek, easy-to-maneuver model as soon as I was out the door.

At the time I was driving down to Bradenton fairly frequently but I never went to the skatepark. I think I was never around when it was open, or when I was around I didn't want to be shown up by a bunch of little kids. Plus, I was spending less and less time skating. My skating friends had either moved away or moved on to other pasttimes, and, like with running, I was beginning to feel...not sure really, sort of like I was feeling my limitations, I guess. And with a lack of people around to push me to get better, I just sort of slowly stopped.

I had a newish Alva John Gibson board which I liked, although it was nowhere as smooth as my old Eddie Reatgui with the Conan/He-Man graphics, which was my favorite board ever. Check it out:

Hey, I wonder what happened to those two boards? Both of my faithful readers could chip in and buy them for me for my birthday, making a middle-aged man very proud.

Hey, at least I'm not asking for a Harley, like most middle-agers.

One evening I was in town for what was becoming a long, protracted break-up. The skatepark was out of business and soon to be destroyed. On the way out of town I pulled up next to the abandoned skatepark. I turned the motor off, leaving only the tape deck and the headlights on. I was playing a tape of the Volcano Suns' "The Bright Orange Years" along with some Gainesville bands. I pulled my deck out of the car and shimmyed under the chainlink fence.

I didn't care that I was trespassing right in front of a major road.

"I'm a grown man now," I thought. "I'd like to see some rent-a-cop tell me to leave."

Then I started skating.

When I remember that night, I picture me carving all over the snake run, pulling off impressive grinds and slides illuminated by the full moon and the headlights of a late '70s Pontiac Bonneville.

I also imagine that the joyousness of Peter Prescott's howls through "The Bright Orange Years" mixed with my skating helped me realize that there was no reason to be miserable any more, that a new life was about to open up for me.

In actuality, I wasn't able to pull anything off, which I blamed on the dirt and pebbles in the bottom of the run. The breakup would continue for much longer than it should, resulting in much embarassment on my part, as well as a lot of letters which are hopefully burned or slowly rotting in a landfill somewhere.

But still, the image I have of myself skating that abandoned skatepark is pretty powerful, one that has almost supplanted the truth by now. When I'm lying in my poor person's old people home, wracked by the alzheimers while being ignored by my helper robots, I'd like to think that that's the one that will stick.

Because man, those little kids really would have shown me up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bustin' the Block

Like most Americans I haven't been inside a Blockbuster in years, but the one near my house was closing and selling off their movies so I figured I should look for treats.

I put off going until the last day, which was probably a mistake. The place was pretty well picked through, with scavenger families buying up stacks of movies, seemingly not knowing or caring what they were, as long as they got a good deal. I walked out without buying anything.

As I drove away, I remembered how many times I had driven out of that same Blockbusters without any movies.

I remember asking for American Movie years ago.

"Uh, all our movies are American," said the clerk, rolling his eyes.

Then there was the week that Enter the Dragon, The Great Escape and The Searchers had all been reissued in fancy new editions. I didn't see them on the shelf and made the mistake of asking about them. I was met with a blank stare and treated like I was the retard for wanting to rent an actual movie instead of one of the thousand copies of whatever movie based on a video game based on a toy commercial they had in stock.

I discovered Netflix soon after that.

I realize that space is limited, and I don't expect a video store to sacrifice proven profits from recent crap over ... I dunno, Fleurs du Clown de Guerre*, but man, is there anyone in America that will really miss Blockbuster going out of business?

* I totally made that movie up to sound smart.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy

I'm riding home from work Monday night. It's dark. I'm coming up to the Publix on Riverside, meaning I've got to be on my guard for cars pulling out in front of me or backing out of parking spaces along the street. It has already been a bad night. Cars have been giving me about an inch to ride on. I've had to stop at stop lights on Riverside. Nobody uses turn signals before they turn in front of me.

A car pulls out of the parking lot and is going parallel with me. I'm far enough on the right side that it doesn't affect me. The window rolls down. It's an old black lady.

"I do beg your pardon, sir. I surely didn't see you there."

I was in a good mood after that.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Never Get Brad Pitt

Guy walking by desk: Did anyone ever tell you you look like Nathan Lane?

Me: No.

Guy: Well, you do. You really do.

Here's a picture of me on the hit TV show "Modern Family."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

World Music

It was weird hearing so much American music in London. We heard the Cars, that New York song with Jimmy Z and ...I dunno, one of those Kardashian girls?, and a bunch of other U.S. stuff while we were over there. And it's not like we were hanging out at Cowboy Bob's Big American Down Home Feedbag Diner or anything. We did hear Morrissey and "My Generation" in a pub, but I sort of expected that stuff to be piped through the streets over there.

I guess every country views every other country's music and culture as exotic - like the British guy I saw on the tube wearing an Atlanta Braves cap, or when some friends of mine were over there a decade ago at some big music festival. After watching, I dunno, Blur or Radiohead or whoever was big at the time, they got up to leave. The Brits they were sitting next to said something like, "You're not gonna stay for Sheryl Crow?" They were also drinking Miller Lite instead of tasty British people beer.

This isn't a bad thing at all (except for the Miller Lite). If we could only listen to our own country or race's music it would be a terrible world, and I'm pretty sure there would have been a couple more world wars, just out of boredom.

We went to a club on our last Saturday night in London. It was fairly small and there weren't that many people there at first. There were some girls having a birthday party. A couple people still wearing shirts from the budget cuts protest. An old skinhead and his young friend or kid. Some people who looked like they just got out of school or work. Other than the old skinhead guy, they all looked about mid-20s, maybe early 30s. One guy was wearing a Ghostbusters T-shirt.

But the DJ at this place was something else. He was playing actual vinyl, 7" records, and they were all obscure American soul and funk from the '60s and '70s with the occasional latin jam and a couple old ska tunes. It was awesome. How obscure were they? I only knew one song ("Readings in Astrology," by Curtis Mayfield which wasn't even an album cut), and I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about such things.

And these people knew all these songs, or most of them, anyway, and were dancing and singing along and generally having a great time. And why wouldn't they? The DJ was playing the jams. Is there a place somewhere in America where people dance to obscure English music from 40 years ago? I'd like to think there is. Hell, I know there is.

So what did I learn from this? Nothing I didn't already know. That there's still tons of unexplored music and media and art out there in the world just waiting to be unearthed and bring people together in shared experiences of awesomeness. There is never a stopping point. There will always be more amazing finds just around the corner.

That, and that first Curtis Mayfield album has an awesome cover. Just look at it: