Monday, July 30, 2007

Sting Was Screaming In My Ear; Peanuts! a short fiction

I needed to go by the square. DD came along with me. It was like old times. Timeless and aimless. We turned a corner off the square and found the store I needed to visit. Remember when this place used to sell fresh hot peanuts? Not really. It was back in the late Eighties. I didn't think you liked peanuts back then. Sure. Who doesn't love hot peanuts? People that are allergic to them. Man; I'd love some of those peanuts again. Come on. We walked back around the corner. Are you ready to go back in time? What? I'm serious. Concentrate on 1989 and follow my lead. I led DD back around the corner and my only thought was of peanuts.

We could smell it before we hit the sidewalk. The fresh peanut smell wafted up by a summer breeze. The store front had changed. Fake bricks had been replaced by peeling white painted boards. A small sign that simply said NUTS was nailed above the door. It gave off a ring as I went inside. DD remained outside. Inside it was just as I remembered.

It was grungy. The hot peanut smell dominated the place. Snacks hung on shiny steel coils by the cash register. You could see the square from a window behind the counter. Long vanished stores appeared in the shimmery afternoon heat. I strained my eyes to see a calendar on the wall in a corner. August 1989. A tiny Asian lady was behind the counter. I'd like a bag of peanuts. She said okay. And then she began to ask me about my life. Questions such as why was I wasting it? What was my future process plan? At this moment; all I want is a bag of peanuts.

The bell rang. DD walked in. I give up. I'll take some peanuts too. The lady put the bag on the counter. That will be $14. O....kay. Now I remembered why this grungy little store closed. Cheap nuts at gourmet prices. But; I hadn't journeyed to 1989 for nothing. I had a twenty in my pocket my wife had given me for some errand I had already forgotten. I pushed it across the counter top and the little woman looked at disdainfully. That money is not real. The President's head is too big. I'm not going to take that. You better come up with something real or I'll call the police. DD and I threw our American Express cards on the counter. It was no good. We hadn't had them since 1989.

We left the store and the past empty handed. We felt a little nausea as we returned to 2007. Around the corner and back and now the store front was fake brick with a guitar shaped sign above the door. I needed some picks. I browsed the guitars and found an Aria Pro Thor Sound just like the one I had played back in the punk rock band days. It even had some of the same stickers on it: Black Flag, Vision Skates, a mod target, and The Most. The clerks were obnoxious and into progressive metal. I slipped on peanut shells and knocked over a drum kit.

The end.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour Day France

The title is my little nod to Bob Roll. So what do I think about how this year's tour went down? The surprise. I'm actually fairly astonished they didn't catch more riders doping. I'm glad that Rabobank pulled the Chicken from the race. I know a mountain climber needs to be skinny, but that dude's skeletal physique creeped me out. I really, really hope that Contador rode clean, but his ties to the Spanish doping scandal don't cheer me much. Finally; I'm really happy for Leipheimer winning the time trial today. His mild manners often make him seem to be a rather pedestrian cyclist and his performance today showcased a killer instinque that I knew had to lurk under the surface.

Bad Back

Out of commission for a week due to a sprained back muscle. Damn you, Kelly Clarkson! But at least I was able to go for a bike ride today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fridays Used To Mean Partying Now It Means The Soup

It's Friday night and once upon a time that meant party time from roller skating in 7th grade to shotgunning beers to holding court at a trivia bar the impetus was for excitement and socializing. Now it's about late afternoon bicycle rides, quiet night of reading, and hoping I can stay awake during The Soup. My life is beginning to suspiciously resemble a Dave Barry column.

Before you click away figuring you've stumbled across the usual middle aged lament on faded youth and boredom; DON'T. I like my Friday's as they are now which means that 10 years from today I'll probably be spending them doing something completely different. It's the nature of living. Change is the one constant. My Friday's past are filled with occurrences that I can't ever see happening again. Some of them are truly one of a kind while others are things I've outgrown. So here's a list of old school Friday's.

1. I once sat in a law office on a bored late night with DD Blank probably after running off some Anti-Society copies trying to list every episode of The Brady Bunch. We'd just look it up on the internet now.

2. I used to drive around aimlessly drinking beer with ZZ Top cranked on the car stereo. Dazed And Confused; yeah that was youth.

3. I used to hang out in gamerooms playing pinball extremely well and shooting pool very poorly. The only gameroom I check out now is the one at Chuck E. Cheese with my kids.

4. It was lots of fun to speed through M.T.S.U.'s campus back in the day which made us so many friends with the campus cops. Is there even a thru road there now?

5. Skateboarding all night in Nashville. We'd wait until midnight to hit the hills beside the state capitol building. I might ride down the driveway and pop an ollie every now and then, but skateboarding all night is definitely out these days.

6. One night it was me, DD, and the Wolf as we cruised the 'Boro listening to some Public Enemy when DD yelled at some punk in a VW bug to move his ass. He proceeded to chase us all over town until he finally caught up to his, jumped out of his VW, and then threw a punch at DD as we pulled away. The guy might have been in for a beatdown, but his punch was so girly we were too busy laughing to even think about retaliation.

7. Sometimes back in the Mazzio's Pizza days I'd get off work at 1am, head over to Bob & Ronnie's apartment, shotgun several beers, and then watch The Song Remains The Same until the wee hours of the morning. Once a bunch of the ladies who worked there came over too. And guess what...we did the same thing as usual while they sat on the couch bored.

8. In my much younger days I'd get my mother to take me to the Riverdale football games where I'd spend the entire time smoking cigarettes while wandering around trying to meet girls. Football game? What football game?

9. One truly singular event I'm glad to say has never happened again nor will it: attending the 1988 New Year's Eve party thrown by the infamous Milnars. I still don't have a clue how I got home. There was driving involved.

10. Though this probably happened on Saturday and perhaps it's only apocryphal - it's the party mentality personification. It began in the afternoon with lots of wine and miniature golf. Next up was throwing super ball off the roof of the Hilton's parking garage. Then it was on to the inside of the Hilton riding up and down the glass elevators. Next we climbed up to the roof of the revolving restaurant. This would be enough to satisfy most, but from there we went to Centennial Part and drove around there after hours. Then it was back to Murfreesboro where we climbed the fire tower out on Tiger Hill, watched the sunrise, and then got breakfast at Krystals.

I just can't see that sort of stuff happening again. I've been there and done that. And I don't want to do it again. Time to pick up where I left off in the novel I'm reading and wait for The Soup to come on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Challenge To The World Series Of Pop Culture

I've been watching VH1's World Series Of Pop Culture with great interest for a couple of reasons. One; because I'm a pop culture trivia nut. Two; because I signed up to take VH1's online quiz to become part of their internet assembled squad dubbed Almost Perfect Strangers 2.0 and when it came time to take the test I was continually barred access by VH1 due to a code typing error. So I'm a little pissed about that deal. Because I know I could throwdown with the teams I've seen this season. So here's my challenge: I'll take on any of the teams on the show by myself anytime and anywhere. As for who I hope wins it: I like the youngsters on Twisted Misters to take the top prize.

Update: The Twisted Misters won it all tonight. Damn, I'm happy when I'm right. Come to think of it; I'm happy quite often.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Marked For Death

No, I'm not talking about the possibility that the little cretin will get offed in the latest book and it appears somebody leaked the whole thing. The title of this post is a reference to an article that Lester Bangs once wrote about James Taylor. Now that I've cleared up that internal joke let's get on to the meat and potato food fight of this post. I don't like Harry Potter and I'm gratified to find that I'm not the only one. I tried. I checked out the first book from the library after my pal DD raved about this new children's book featuring a young wizard named Harry. Hogwarts sounded like a junior high version of Terry Pratchett's Unseen University setting so I figured I was in for something special.

As usual I was out of step with the world - thank you Minor Threat. I found the book to be derivative, poorly written, and ultimately just downright boring. I couldn't imagine why kids or adults were so smitten with it when there were so many kids lit classics out there. Treasure Island anyone? How about The Hobbit. Taste is entirely subjective so I decided to just avoid the subject of Potter though I did write about the brat once before. But now I've found an ally in my Potter playa hating I can be out in the open about my dislike for the magician.

This might fall on deaf ears, but for you adults out there; unless you have children please put the Potter books down. Try some Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin instead. Their books are well written, hysterically funny, and the magic in them will last much longer than some pop culture aberration.

A Dando Summer Day

It's true. There was a brief second in the Nineties when I thought the Lemonheads were one of the best bands on the planet; even if they were hardly a band but just a mere a protective shell of a brand name for Evan Dando's wistful alt pop ditties. Here was a guy that could make something as mundane as replacing an old stove seem profound. When they delivered a lackluster and spitefull set at the Exit/In I moved on to other things, but there is still a soft spot in my heart for Dando and his stoner chic alt hippie persona. So I dug this first in an announced 2 part series of posts at Jefitoblog. I'm looking forward to part 2 and the moment Rick James enters the story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Locals Only - Murfreesboro Punk Redux

Yesteryear time: From the original Soulfish Stew fanzine that never saw the light beyond my own bedroom back in the day. The timeframe is roughly 1987 and it's a review I wrote about the M'boro punk band Inner Circle. Stick around for the humility.

Now for more serious stuff like me reviewing a local M Town band; the Inner Circle. Some young suburban punks had been buzzing in my years about how great these dudes be being so I put my rasta boots in my locker and threw on the old combat booties and prepared for a thrashing evening. Oh; what disappointment lurked around the corner in Jabbs. I got mugged by a pillow. The high school aged dudes on stage were much too content regaling us with original garbage-ola that none us had ever heard nor would have wanted to have heard.

It was not even punk. It lacked propulsion. It omitted the angries. The monotone voiced lead singer screamed in a deathly emotionless way during tunes that seemed to dirge on endlessly with guitar and drum solos added in for bad measure. This from a supposed punk band? C'mon guys; just because your rich parents bought you jerks instruments doesn't mean you have to form a band. You'd be much cooler and impress me if you bought me my personal keg of beer. Imported, please.

The high point of the show was their cover of "Anarchy In The U.K." even though I know I could have done a better job of screaming it. I also wouldn't have jumped around like a banana averse dumb monkey and I wouldn't have written four letter words on my jacket to be so not shocking. Enough of this; back to the usual wail.

I hated this band so much that I jumped at the chance to try out to be their new lead singer and then I didn't get the gig. So there's the humble pie part. But I didn't feel too bad when I found out later that the reason I lost the chance to be their new frontman was because I was too punk rock.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spruced Up

It's an all new and improved Soulfish Stew with more changes to come. I'm going to redo the links column eliminating some and adding some new ones. And oh yeah...I might start posting some regular irregular junk again.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bicycle runs over dog: no winners

I ran over a dog today. I was on my bicycle. While it wasn't a pretty site it could have been worse. It seemed to happen in slow motion, an inevitable chain of events tied together by the laws of the universe with physics and gravity colliding to make a meat sandwich out of my right palm and cutting my ride short. The dog ran off whining under a culvert. But neither the dog nor myself were the first thing on my mind as I came loose from the clipless pedals and began the trajectory toward the pavement. The number one thng is the bike. Now to the bike snobs out there it might just be a Trek 1000 that's been upgraded just a bit, but to me it's a best friend and my only thought was I hope it's okay. A quick glance over my shoulder as I fell told me it might make it through this trauma. I jumped right up after I hit to inspect it and other than the chain popping off it looked to be okay. I noticed that flesh was hanging off my hand, but it was only 9 miles back to the house so I could tough that out. The chain grease mixed well with the blood and I got the chain back on and headed back for a date with some hydrogen peroxide and gauze. And damn; I was having such a great morning. Not a cloud in the sky and little Sunday traffic to deal with and then, BAM, one stray dog ruined my day...not that his day was likely improved by being run over by a bicycle. Note to self: now you know why all the bicyclists you know wear glovess, and it might be a good idea to pack a small first aid kit in your bike bag.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Obligatory Bang!

I've fearlessly engaged in bottle rocket wars. I've held lit roman candles as they sputtered and spewed. I've used gasoline to start campfires. But I won't play with firecrackers. I can't stand them because I fear them. I distrust their tiny fuses. I don't like their miniaturized explosions. And like many things in my life this fear can be traced back to my summer vacations in North Mississippi. Because my maniac cousins were into firecrackers in a major way.

I spent, from the age of 4 - 18, every 4th of July in Ripley, Mississippi visiting my grandmother and assorted aunts and uncles and cousins. If enough cousins were around it would be both fun and terrifying. It was fun to hang out with Alton Ray, Mark, Tony, and Lisa who were around my age, but you had to watch your back around the older cousins. They liked to tease and antagonize the younger kids and they took special aim at the only child from Middle Tennessee.

It was the usual stuff: they liked to call me names, dangle me over the side of a rowboat and threaten to drop me into a catfish infested pond, beat me up, and I'm sure many other things I've thankfully repressed. One method of antagonizing lives on in my memory every year coming to vivid life with the snap, crack, and pop of whole neighborhoods shooting firecrackers. My older cousins were firecracker obsessed.

They'd load up on them at a tent just outside of the First Monday flea market and spend the next few days with lighters ablaze firing them off on the gravel driveway, on the front porch, in the backyard, and even in the house if all of the adults were gone. These were rarely controlled demolitions. They always gave me the impression of chaos in action with their repeated attempts at lighting the temperamental fuses of the colorful tightly wound cheap firecrackers. They'd scramble away and then warily approach the firecracker if it didn't explode and try again.

This always left me wondering, "Why didn't they ever blow their hands off?" Because this was what was supposed to happen to kids who played with fireworks. My mother and the media were authorities on this subject. Every year you get the same reports of how firecrackers can injure you. You can get burned and mangled. You might lose a finger, a hand, or an eye and be disfigured for life. This wasn't going to happen to me since I wasn't allowed to play with any fireworks nor was I about to since I was even more scared of getting my butt burned by my switch toting mother than of the fireworks.

Obedience is a crime when you're a kid. I was nothing but a wuss to them. "He can't play with firecrackers! He's just a wussy. Hey, momma's boy, does she hold your hand in the bathroom." This; I could handle. I didn't mind my teenage cousins and their taunting too much. Back then; if you give me a Hot Wheels car, a comic book, and a Popsicle I was content. They really got my attention when they started sneaking up behind me and setting their firecrackers off. I did what any sane person would do. I'd leap up in the air scared out of my skin which would bring such laughter to my tormentors they'd end up crying which was convenient for them since they would then accuse me of setting off the firecrackers. If one was to do a film of my life now would be the time to cue up the Benny Hill chase music as my mother would come into the frame carrying a maple switch while I pleaded for the life of my bare legs while motoring around and around grandma's tiny house.

I have to hand it to them. My elder cousins were masters of this sort of psychological terror. This was bad for me, but still not the worst. The worst was when they just let their subconscious meanness come to the forefront. Then I became a firecracker target. I'd be sitting on the porch sipping an iced sweet tea watching the dump people ride by on their odd bicycles trying to make it through another hellishly hot Mississippi afternoon when I'd hear a sizzling sound slicing through the air headed straight toward me. Where there was one, there were more.

Lucky for me I had some factors on my side. My cousins aim was horrible. The firecrackers were also really cheap and a good third of them would be duds. Of the ones that weren't; most would pop before they got to me. I was also very speedy when frightened. But enough of them exploded either on me or close enough to inspire my cousins to send firecrackers launching my way every chance they got. They did it guilt free because once the first firecracker fusillade fell they always offered to give me some so we could have a proper war knowing damn well I wasn't allowed to touch them,

My cousins let me have it over this for years until I took part in their bottle rocket war when I was around 13. By then my mother must have decided I had been obedient enough and needed to cut loose. Which is what I did. I went crazy on my cousins decimating them with pinpoint bottle rocket precision; the woods behind grandma's house lit up with bursts of burning destruction. Once this happened all was forgiven. I never had to worry about the firecracker terror again. Not that I was about to get into firecrackers myself. There were too many miles of bad road there.

So have fun this 4th of July. And please; no sneaking up behind me with a firecracker.