Since the Q is currently out of cell and wi-fi distance, he thought he'd reminisce a bit, but not before telling you some dude named Daniel was climbing trees up on Lincoln Road and giving the cops a chance to flex a new muscle. Tip of the Tongue closed, not so much because of the landlord Rong Ge, but because sometimes things in life just don't work out, business-wise and personally, and a coffee joint, no matter how well-located or beloved, becomes an albatross around one's, or in this case two's, necks. Gratitude Cafe changed its name but not its fabulousness. Some dogs got lost, others found, and alley cats remain goddesses to some and rats to others. It's a cruel world, and tree-huggers and cat-lovers CAN be friends, no matter what Rodgers and Hammerstein had to sing about the issue. Oh, and a pic of the serial spitter came thru on the Effbook. He's the guy spitting on moms and kids and occasionally fellows smaller than himself. And yes, he's not well in the 'noggin. Cops know him well, but there's apparently little to be done about spitters other than tell their parents and wear protective garb. Out in the sticks you've got Lyme disease; in Flatbush, it's this.
But here's what I really came up to the Town Hall to steal some internet to tell you:
Garrison Keillor makes me want to vomit. And I mean that quite literally. Let me explain.
Steve McCall and I had a plan to get drunk, back in the early fall of 1980, just as Ronnie Reagan was delivering his snake-oil pitch that would strike-out the labor movement, cut taxes, create a gleaming new oligarchy and turn America back into a beacon on a hill or make it great again or somesuch and start a war on drugs, a covert war against Contras, and help fuel the inner-city crack epidemic. But Steve and I were blithely unaware of all that, we were just two American kids growing up in the heartland, and maybe even supporters of John B. Anderson. If you remember THAT guy then you really ARE old and a bit sad, because he may be the reason you looked on at the Bernie Sanders with a twinge of melancholy, recognizing that political revolution is not as easy to achieve as a bunch of rallies and a good slogan.
We had a 1/5 of Jack Daniels stolen from a boy whose dad was a serious drunk. Never miss it, said Brian Gardner, though as many years later as a drinker myself I always knew exactly how many bottles I had stowed away, even if I couldn't tell you what day of the week it was. No matter. Brian sold it to us for a hot lunch ticket at Ames Junior High. Did I ever tell you that if you were still hungry after lunch you could go up and beg for butter sandwiches? Probably margarine between Wonder bread, but delicious nonetheless.
We had until 10 pm to get home after a night out on the old festive college town, it being VEISHA, a celebration that years on would inspire riots as drunken frat boys lit fires and looted liquor stores in mad mayhem fired by a seemingly reasonable want - to rock and roll all night, and party ev-e-ry day. VEISHA stood for the various colleges at the university...let's see, veterinary, engineering, industrial something, science, home economics and agriculture. That's right, home economics. It was Iowa, and it was the 1970s, and it was a land grant college, the kind that prepares farm boys to stay put.
Oh wait. It was homecoming actually. But VEISHA is a better story, so VEISHA (pronounced vee-shah) it is.
We bought cokes, in cans, though for me booze would later be associated with Big Gulps of Mountain Dew from the Kum 'n' Go. (Not kidding, that's what it was called. Another was known as the Git 'n' Go, then there was Quik Trip and Kwik Shop, but when you needed to satisfy a need, ANY need, and FAST, the Kum 'n' Go was the obvious choice.) The coke can was, and is, 12 ounces of sugar water. Dump the sugar water, you have 12 empty ounces of can. Fill it with Jack Daniels and you now have ONE SERVING of Jack Daniels. Right? Neither Steve nor I knew any different. The idea of an “ounce of liquor” would come many years later, it being a unit of measure against a never-ending imagined or occasionally very real war with a breathalizer.
After an hour of pure exhilarating buzz and spin, and a trip to our town's very first ATM, we found ourselves in a church parking lot, existential and laughing. I sucked the coke can dry and tossed it; Steve looked at me like he'd seen a black widow spider crawling up my neck. “You drank that whole can?” My answer, and the next 12 hours, will never reside in my memory banks. The cops were called as I wretched upon my ripped jean jacket while resting, I'm told, uncomfortably on my back. I guess I didn't know, or rather didn't care, that charismatic band members were known to die this way. And I hadn't even composed my first rock opera! At home my mother was, so I'm told, horrified, and asked the police “what is he on?” “It's only booze ma'am.” Wiser words never spoken. What harm can a little nip now and then do a fella? No hearts or lives have ever been broken due to hairs on dogs, now have they?
The next morning I awoke on a plastic tarp, covered in puke, wisely laid out by my biochemist father to prevent undo stains on the carpet. He stood over me and insisted in ungentle terms that I must do my paper route. It must have been six or so in the morning on a Saturday, and that was the hardest half hour of my life. When I returned the tarp had been rinsed, and I lay back down to another few hours of coma.
When I came to, my head felt like it had been smashed like an Oscar Meyer wiener into Oscar Meyer bologna. That's when I noticed, perhaps for the first time, the extraordinarily vomilodious voice talking about above average children and buttermilk biscuits and a lake with a pun for a name. Woe-be-gone. Hah hah. Hah hah. Hah aaaaereerggggghhhhyuhhhhhgggpyuuuuppp all over myself for the next 59 minutes or so as my mother prepared a horrible smelling version of Hamburger Strogonoff and seemed to inch the volume up on the wireless ever-so-slightly with every puke.
Never again would I hear the voice of Garrison Keilor without a wee bit of phlegm coming up in my throat and at least half a spin. Til that day only Carl Sagan's voice had affected me so adversely. And don't get me started about Ira Glass...