Friday, June 13, 2008

DUI Donkey: Film At Eleven

I've always enjoyed reading small regional newspapers. Whenever I travel, I make it a policy to hit a newsstand and pick up the local sheets and see what's going on in the community. If anything, it humbles me in remembering that not everything we are agonizing over in this town is of the slightest interest in other parts of the world. One autumn, I was leaving for Boston the morning of the Million Man March (MMM.) D.C. media had been speculating about "what's going to happen." Resurrection City Redux. Getting over to National Airport was a logistics nightmare. That night I turned on the news and the MMM was a blip on New England radar.

When I used to spend longer periods of time in London, I would leave via Dulles with some political issue raging for weeks, then hit W.H. Smith for the newspapers (and London has many,) and their big news was that some low-end grass (snitch) and his son in Hoxton had been run through a grinder, (including the little boy's teddy bear,) and whatever it was I had been hearing about in D.C., was two inches on page ten.

I subscribe to several small community newspapers in Massachusetts, and one of my favorite things to do is to read the weekly crime reports. There's always been a lot of DUI in these places; where the teenagers are intent on wrapping themselves around the unyielding trees of Route 6A. In the past ten years, my feeling is that crime has increased there, and I'm reading more about stolen iPods and GPS systems out of cars. For the longest time (but not anymore) the locals would tease me about locking my house door, or car door, and I always responded in pragmatic city girl tones that I had been securing these things all of my life. Why would I break the habit just because I'm in an allegedly safer environment? Bad behavior crops up anywhere.

One thing I learned over time in becoming part of a smaller community is that I can't disappear as easily in the city, and things that happen to people hit the chatter circuit with a rapidity that would put Google to shame. You have one too many drinks, you fall off the stool in Bobby Byrne's Pub, and the next day everyone knows it. Not only do they learn what occurred with lightning speed, but then that incident becomes part of your history. A bad deportment mark in second grade can follow you a lifetime.

You learn to be circumspect in discussing your personal business, and in what you say of others. Complain about a cashier at the Stop N' Shop while getting your nails done and the next thing you learn is you just told her cousin. The bar stool incident happened to the woman who does my hair. She told me this story and added that 1) if she's drinking, it's at home now; and 2) she doesn't have any close female friends because of this pervasive small town gossip circuit. Even though she told me the story herself? I heard it from others. "Who does your hair? Oh. She fell off a barstool in Bobby Byrne's Pub." We'll put this aspect of small town life in the "con" column.

I was reading last week's crime reports and I wish I could tell you it was abnormally off up there, but these are pretty much what you see when you read the news. I'm leaving out the bulk of the drunks and smash-ups and abuse and giving you some of my favorites:

...And One For The Road

M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Donkeys)

A forty-year old donkey was hit on 6A, near it's owner at Loring's Farm, when a man came upon the donkey at 12:35 AM. The donkey was standing in the middle of the road, and the driver was unable to stop in time. The driver was uninjured, but his car suffered extensive damage, and the donkey died on site. No citations were issued. (I would add--I know this farm and the road is Route 6A (oldest road in the country I think.) It's a twisty, turny narrow two lane country road. When you're out there at midnight it is dark, dark, dark, and you are always seeing critters run in front of the car. I saw a horse out once on Route 149 and chased it off the road, then went to the general store a few yards down to have the shopkeeper call the owner. That's another thing about small towns. You know whose horse it is.)

A resident at Lakewood Drive called the police at 9:57 PM to report a suspicious vehicle parked in front of her home. Police determined it was a Domino's Pizza delivery man. ("Put your hot pack down and step away from the vehicle." Knowing how things can go up there...she probably called in for pizza.)

A resident called police at 3:53 PM to report children throwing rocks at the old freezer plant (which they are tearing down, I might add.) Police found that it was not children, but the security guards who were throwing rocks.

A resident of Greenville Drive called police at 4:50 PM to report a $600 table saw had been taken from his back yard. The resident called the police back a second time to report that his wife had brought the saw inside the house the night before and it had not been stolen.

A resident of North Shore Boulevard called police at 10:23 PM to report 50 to 60 youths drinking alcohol, urinating in the sand dunes and having bonfires. Six police were dispatched to the area, but the group had fled. The fire department extinguished the bonfires. (This road is a dirt road running parallel to a large body of water in a beach community. So much for Having A Wild Weekend.)

A resident of Pondview Drive called police at 3:45 AM to report there was a group of youths playing basketball at the courts. Police spoke to the youths who agreed to go home for the night. (Don't you love it. Playin' some hoops at 4 AM. I guess it wasn't a school night.)

A resident from Shore Drive walked into the police station at 9:29 AM to report being assaulted by his roommate. The victim told police that he got into a altercation with his roommate because he drank his milk. During the altercation, his roommate bit him on the arm.

A shop owner at Merchant's Square called police at 11:14 AM to report a woman was lying on the sidewalk staring at the sky. When police approached the woman and asked her to get up, she reported she was sunbathing.

A driver called police at 2:15 AM to report a strange vehicle parked out in front of a store on Route 6A. Police determined it was a newspaper delivery man. (It is not easy making a living up there, I'll tell ya. Pizzas. Newspapers.)

I saved my favorite for last:

A resident from Tupper Avenue called police at 7:46 AM to report that her vehicle had been egged and also covered with yogurt and bologna. There was no other damage done to the car.

I think it's the bologna that did me in.

Now I'll tell you how I must have wound up in this newspaper last fall.

The Red Sox were playing for the Series, and the last game they played in Boston, fever was high. I saw banners all over town, and everywhere you went, that was the topic du jour. One night I was sitting in my house out by the water and heard a flare go off. A very distinctive popping sound. I saw the glare shoot across the water, and my first thought was "there's a boat in distress." Given as how I look out to where the big ships come in off the ocean, I had a long view to the horizon. The full moon gave me lots of light on the water, but I couldn't see anything of note. I hedged calling the police, but did it anyway. They asked me to go out on my upper deck with binoculars to look again. They also speculated if I should call the Coast Guard. We left it at that.

A short while later, another flare went off. Same thing. I called the police, checked outside trying to see if there was anything unusual. By the third time I asked the desk police, "Do you think it's possible some nitwit is shooting flares off his deck over the water every time the Sox score a hit?" He laughed and said, "Oh yeah. That could be it." We left it at that with me to check back if it happened again. By the end of the game, and many flares later (and, no, I didn't call back,) it was obvious that was it: celebration for the home team. What I didn't realize then, and now do, is that somewhere in this newspaper crime report archive is:

A resident called in at 8:12 PM, 9:34 PM and 10:05 PM to report flares going off in the vicinity of the Bay. Resident was asked to determine if a boat was in distress. Speculation is that there was neighborhood alcohol consumption and dune urination throughout the night. We're #1! We're #1!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley: 1928-2008
Write His Name On The Heavenly Stair

Bo Diddley - Elas McDaniels


I met Bo Diddley (Elas McDaniels) once. He was in Washington, playing in a small club in Georgetown. I remember two things he said that night that stuck. I was in attendance at an interview, and my friend was trying to draw him out about "the good old days." Mr. McDaniels said, "Those were the bad old days of coming through the back door or kitchen because of segregation and then not getting paid by the club owners." He also said, "Eat food as much as you can, whenever you can, because you never know where your next meal is coming from."

Bo's Sister, Duchess

I had another friend who lived in a house in D.C. off Eastern Avenue in N.E. where Bo Diddley had once lived. Bo also lived for a time on Rhode Island Avenue....2416 or in that vicinity. I also remember he hit on me that night. Some fool line about how I reminded him of someone. Old men and their ways. I guess if they're lucky, the fire is still there.
He had so many great songs and such a huge influence on rock and roll, I'm not going to eulogize him here other than remembering the man tonight. In one song, "Dearest Darling," he said:

"If I get to heaven before you do
I'll try to make a hole and pull you through
If I go to heaven and you're not there
I'm gonna write your name on the heavenly stair
If you aren't there by Judgment Day
Then I'll know baby you went the other way."

I'm adding a You Tube of the British Invasion group the Animals doing their infamous "The Story of Bo Diddley." It's well worth the length, full of the Bo Diddley rhythm and beat and really captures the spirit of the man. Ooo wee oh oh. Ooo la la that rock and roll.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

No Kingdom For Old Men

" There's Aliens In Our Midst...And They Bring Us Guacamole." *

I went out to White Flint Mall in the early part of the evening to get a little shopping done, and I thought I’d take in a movie. Normally I avoid White Flint for flicks. (small screens.) Iron Man had already started, and I knew Sex and the City would be a first weekend sellout, so I opted for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. From the opening action sequences, I thought, "Harrison Ford is going to need a hip replacement." Have we become a society that feels so inadequate that we need superhuman powers? In all of the previews I saw, Will Smith’s Hancock, Batman, even the animated Kung Fu Panda, there seems to be this overriding theme of needing to possess superpowers. Are we all feeling that ineffectual in our lives, or is this just summer movie madness 2008?

From the opening moments, I kept thinking “PeePaw Jones. Harrison Ford is way too old to be playing this role anymore.” I hated the computerized special effects. I was annoyed by the goofs and obvious inconsistencies. Oh. I see. You just scrub Indy down with an industrial broom and any residues from surviving a nuclear explosion are gone? The premise of him even surviving a nuclear blast was stupid. The digital countdown numbers which didn’t exist in 1957. The slip and slide in the nuclear front yard that didn’t exist until the 1960’s. Karen Allen’s hairstyle, which did exist in 1990, but not in 1957. And what lens did they use on her? It was so blurry, it looked like it was smeared in Vaseline. My friend Tony and I were discussing this later, and he said, “You would have thought it was Barbara Walters, that lens was so coated.”

"I Vant A Vax, Not A Shave!"

Cate Blanchett was made up impeccably, but under a hard pancake makeup and harder lens. You could see the pores in her cheeks, and what was with the facial fuzz? How much did Spielberg and Lucas spend on this film? Millions. And they can’t get her under a pot of hot wax and some muslin strips? That nasty Shia boy doing a direct rip off of Marlon Brando in The Wild One (a movie I have mentioned many a time on this blog.) Sacrilege. He certainly couldn't fill Brando's jeans, sneer or contempt for square 1957 America (and his motorcycle wasn’t even accurate. )

Accept No Substitutes

And the ants. African. Not South American. Duh. Tony added, "Ants? What the hell was with that monkey swinging??? The Aztec calendar on the floor of the temple? No.” I said, “John Hurt could have passed himself off as a Mayan artifact, but he’s been looking like that since Alien.” And Mutt is his son??? Try grandson, PeePaw. Your son would be forty. I told Tony it would have been more interesting if the film was PeePaw Jones and The Crystal Meth Lab. That’s when we let loose:

PeePaw Jones and the Search for Calista Flockhart’s Weight
PeePaw Jones and His Lost Sperm Count
PeePaw Jones and His Adventures in Colonoscopy
PeePaw Jones and The Early Bird Special
PeePaw Jones and His Erectile Dysfunction

Potatohead Jones and the Kingdom of Hasbro

Tony said, “When the Russians were in that warehouse of U.S. Military Intelligence, don’t you think they would have taken more than what they were looking for? For God sakes, it’s military intelligence artifacts. All of the stuff in there would have been worth something. When we glimpse the Ark earlier in other films? The Ark was stacked on top of boxes in the warehouse. In this movie it was on a lower shelf.”

Then we started up again:

PeePaw Jones and the Search For Kidney Stones
PeePaw Jones and the Ruins of His Face
PeePaw Jones Mystery of the Prostate

Tony added, “I thought at the end, “Wait a minute. They’d bury a flying saucer that could travel great distances to Earth, and then have all of those stupid traps?”

PeePaw Jones and the Search for His Dentures
PeePaw Jones and The Raid For His Next Hip Replacement
PeePaw Jones and the Lost Nap at Noon

I saw the saddest thing when I was leaving. All of these young girls, early twenties, all dressed up and waiting in the lobby in their groups, waiting to go in for the next showing of Sex and the City. Every single one of them had on a short dress with cleavage, bold prints, jewelry, and very high heels. They had on makeup. They had their hair done in au courant disarray, which is to say "styled to look unstyled," but they weren’t wearing Dior or Westwood or McQueen. Macy’s. The jewels not from Fred Leighton and Harry Winston. Claire’s or Forever 21. No Manolo’s or Choo's. DSW.

SJP And The Legend Of Zombie Hands

I found it odd these twenties were going to see women in their forties (and older) living out this fantasy. The gossip blogs have been vicious these past few weeks on Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) in particular. There’s now a website called Sarah Jessica Parker Looks Like a Horse, and that’s what it is: a website with side by side pictures of SJP and horses in similar poses.

As I exited, I saw another group of girls walking in, all done up and nowhere to go but a suburban mall; all going to see the fairy tale. There was a group of young men waiting to go into Dave and Buster’s right next to the theatre. Wrinkled polo shirts, crinkled shorts. Mussed….and not being bussed. I thought, “There’s something wrong here.”

This morning I was telling all of this to my friend Drew, while I was driving and on my way to do my errands, and when I told him about the young men at Dave and Buster’s he laughed and said, “Hell….that sounds like a better trade-off to me. Dave and Buster’s, getting drunk, and killing zombies.”

Kill the Brain. Kill the Zombie.

* I threw in a link to a punk group out of California called "The Twinkeyz" singing "There's Aliens In Our Midst." They've also got a My Space page: - the TWINKEYZ - Experimental / Punk / New Wave -

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