Us Gleck folk pulled into our driveway at exactly midnight, an all-too-quick ending to one of the most wonderful vacations I've ever had. More details will follow, but here's a lucky list of thirteen (13) nuggets gleaned from our travels:
1) I barely recognized my alma mater, Arkansas State University. They've torn up substantial portions of two of the campus' major arterials, Aggie Road and Caraway Road. ASU has grown like kudzu, and looks great, but old fart alumni like us are just plain befuddled.
2) The practice track behind the College of Communications, site of many nighttime walks and conversation, now sports asphalt and a full load of student vehicles. That's right: they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
3) Yakov Smirnoff has a big-ass theater in Branson. Which goes to show you that anybody with money to burn, even a one-joke has-been, can build their own theater in southwest Missouri, and the 75-year-old retirees will beat a path to their ticket window. What a country!
4) The Osmonds also have a theater. So do The Lennon Sisters, once of Lawrence Welk fame. In fact, all of Branson, Mo. looks like one big answer to the pressing question "what are all those washed-up MOR artists up to these days?"
5) The only name Seraphim and I found appealing? Ray Stevens. But he's about to pack up and leave Branson.
6) I barely recognized Hot Springs, Arkansas. The town is looking great, growing and full of life ... something it didn't seem to have much of when I lived there in the early '80s.
7) AM 590 in Hot Springs, for decades a C&W powerhouse called KBHS and my first radio job in 1982-83, is now a Spanish blowtorch with the call letters KPZA ......... Que Pasa, get it?
8) Seraphim and I survived three (3) fun-filled nights at Casa de Shagnasty. Bolivar has a nice house not too far from where my family once lived.
9) Now that Bolivar's divorce is final, he's currently seeing a very nice woman, whom we met the first night we got into Hot Springs. Let the record show that we approve of her ... and her colorful family, too (they had us all over for supper Friday night).
10) Pine Bluff, Arkansas is still a smelly, two-bit dump of a rathole. The only difference is, it's now a smelly, two-bit dump of rathole with a spiffy new interstate bypass.
11) Nearly all of that city's radio stations, all but one controlled by a single group, are running low power and airing nothing but distorted noise. As a radio geek - and one who used to work in the city (late '80s) - it saddens me, regardless of location.
12) The apartment complex where I first lived away from home (Jefferson Heights, #38) is looking very run-down and some scary characters were walking around out there. 16 years ago it was actually a rather nice and well-kept place. I hate that .... but ya gotta remember just what town we're dealing with here.
13) We entered Alabama through Choctaw County, and celebrated my having now set foot in all 67 of my home state's counties.
Like I said, there'll be more soon. But I'm tired and ready to go to bed.
'Night ... and ciao for niao!
--Talmadge "Back in the good ol' Eastern Time Zone" Gleck
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