24 November 2006

Darwin's theory in reverse

ALBANY, Ga. (TG) -- Greetings from "The Good Life City", the garden spot of southwest Georgia, and the Pine Bluff, Arkansas of the East. We're over here for Thanksgiving, and I've had the pleasure of breaking turkey with my wife's family (yes, even my druggie loser of a BIL; he was there gumming his gobble - since his teeth have long since rotted out ...... I kid you not, but I digress).

My son was also able to make it here, so it was a very pleasant time. I hate that he had to go back to Alabama this afternoon (his high school football's team is in playoffs, ergo the "Maroon Machine" marching band are needed to do their thing), but among the many things I'm thankful about, it's that my son was here, and that he is in MUCH better spirits than a year ago.

Something else, too. I have been introduced to the unsung musical genius, Jan Terri. My wife played for me the video to her soon-to-be-classic 1993 song "Losing You."

And my world has never been the same since. I have had this song going through my head for, what, TWO days now??!! Go have a look.

A little background, as I understand it: Jan Terri was a limo driver in the Chicago area, and supposedly drove some famous celebs around. She gave them copies of her videos, hoping for Her Big Break®. Evidently, years later, she got it. God bless YouTube. (And be careful what you wish for)

One poster suggested that Miz Jan is the love child of Roseanne Barr and Napoleon Dynamite. I can't argue.

Oh, and there are several other of Jan Terri's videos on YouTube. One - "Baby Blues" - features a man, presumably the subject of the song, who has .... brown eyes.

Lessee, we have The Shaggs ... then Jack Murdurian ... William Hung ... and now Jan Terri.

Wasn't Darwin's Theory of Evolution supposd to go in the other direction???

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Blast you, Seraphim, this song is STILL in my head!!!!!!!" Gleck

20 November 2006

Rant-In-A-Hurry® (pat. pend.)

Among several pastimes, I collect and trade copies of vintage TV broadcasts. This collection is built up through trades with other fellow collectors.

I'll get e-mails from others asking to do a trade. Some have things I don't really want, or have a lukewarm interest in getting. Others cause me to short out a keyboard from drooling.

Why the @#$% do the people who have the drool-worthy videos surface to tell me they have 'em, and then disappear! No response from subsequent e-mails sent by me.

But the ones with the stuff I don't really want too much, such as yet another @#$damned episode of The Price is Right from the '80s .... hoo boy, they pester me left and right and won't leave me the bloody crap alone!!!

It makes me question just why the hell I even bother.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "This has been a Screen Blogs Production" Gleck

05 November 2006

Musings from the Warrior River Motel

LYNN'S PARK, Alabama — For starters, it’s kinda ironic that I’m writing this blog entry on a laptop while immersed in nostalgia ... ranging from the kind of music I’ve been listening to (mainly pop standards / middle-of-the-road), to all I’ve been doing today - visiting some amazing people and seeing some old sights, right down to the classic motel where I’m staying. The Warrior River Motel is a 1955-vintage property on US 78 nearby Jasper in east Walker County, Alabama.

It’s a spartan room which definitely shows its age. The bathroom fixtures are the original 1955 beauties, right down to the faucet handles. There’s still a hole where the original “third tap” used to be ... from which you could draw “circulating ice water”, an amenity advertised on the WRM’s original neon sign. The sign was discarded some time in the ‘80s in favor of a more sedate, backlit roadside herald. But the ice water, I’m certain, stopped circulating long before that.

The shower is the size of a phone booth. There’s no wireless internet here. (I’m typing this in WordPerfect to paste into the blog tomorrow when I’m at a wi-fi spot and can access the ‘net). And the TV gets fewer than 20 channels ... heck, it doesn’t even have what my son used to call “color codes” — the A/V inputs one sees nowadays on most sets.

Am I complaining? Hell, no!! First of all, the rooms are a nicely economical $29.00 a night. Second, I’m enjoying this “technology holiday” (he says as he types on a freakin’ LAPTOP!!) The bathroom is decked out in beautiful shiny 1955-vintage black and white tile. And, like a wistful cherry atop a nostalgic sundae, the floor pattern is identical to the upstairs bathroom at my late grandparents’ house in Homewood. Identical, at least, in tile pattern; theirs was a purplish blue and white while it’s black and white here at the WRM. Who cares ... my eyes just “discarded color information” (lordy, I’ve been using waaaay too much “PhotoShop”!) and enjoyed looking downward as if it were an unassuming mouvement d'bowel taken anywhere between potty-training age (ca. 1967-68) and 2002.

Last night I saw a sight that pretty much set the tone for this entire trip: the Homewood star. It hangs over a hill overlooking “the curve” in downtown Homewood. It’s right next to Sike’s Shoes, where all my early childhood Buster Browns came from. It’s another great memory of my growing up years, memories of Christmastime visits to Birmingham. And I was looking at it again, as beautiful in 2006 as it was in 1971. In a world where everything is changing, and not always for the better, seeing things like lit stars unchanged from 35+ years ago is to my nostalgic heart as beautiful a sight as my wife.

I got to the motel, and checked into Room 11 – the same place I’ve laid my head on two of my three previous visits here. Then I went into Jasper to find some supper ... ah, more retro for Mr. Gleck: I went back-back-back to Jack-Jack-Jack’s for more-more-more. Never mind that “big bacon” was NOT on the 1968 Jack’s menu, I had one. Although were it 1968, I would’ve gone for a Fish-On-Bun and a thick vanilla shake. Then hurried back to the motel along two-lane 78, where I could catch the 10:00 news on channel 6 on the Admiral B/W telly. Joe Langston, Harry Mabry and Pat Gray giving me more info in 15 minutes than most so-called anchors today could give me in 60 with color.

I sit here listening to music on an MP3 player and typing on a laptop computer ... while at the same time imagining if these Warrior River Motel walls could talk. Wondering about all the conversations taking place in this room 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago. The travelers my grandparents’ age. Wondering where their travels were taking them. Wondering if they had a good meal next door to the motel, where Saxon’s (an Alabama-based candy store/restaurant chain similar in feel to Stuckey’s) had a store. At 41, I’m barely old enough to be riding over the old iron bridge across the Mulberry branch of the Black Warrior River to be greeted by that tall candy cane sign Saxon’s used for most of its locations. And looking over to see the dignified, sprawling one-story Warrior River Motel.

Yes, Virginia, there’s a reason I love staying here. The bridge was replaced about five years ago. Saxon’s, long gone, is an empty junk-filled building. But the WRM — God bless all 25 of her $29.00 rooms — is still hanging in, offering an inexpensive room to anyone open-minded enough to dispense with the crazy notions of wireless internet, in-room coffee, 57 channels (nothin’ on), and a “Hampton Bed.”

A clean and decently comfortable bed, although too big without my Seraphim next to me, clean towels and a clean - if old - room. Clean is the operative word here, friends. I like it. Very much.

*********

Yesterday I also made a side trip to Cordova, located about 7 miles off highway 78. It’s a town of amazing size (roughly 2,500) considering not a single U.S. or state route goes through it. Just three county roads visit Cordova, period. I also find it surprising that a lot of folks still live here because downtown Cordova is the most depressing sight I think I’ve ever seen. Six blocks of near-total emptiness. There’s a high school (Blue Devils) and a couple of convenience stores on her outskirts. Downtown there’s a meat-and-three café hugging the hill where the old Frisco railroad still passes through, and a small Piggly Wiggly operates on Cordova’s commercial perimeter. That’s it, folks.

The most heartbreaking thing I see is an empty storefront for the old Western Auto store, for many years a staple in every small town (there’s still one in my domicile of Rincon, Ga.). The backlit white sign with faded red letters remains. My mind wonders how many toy displays once graced its two front windows, Cordova kids entranced by all their potential booty and counting the days until Christmas.

There was probably even a Ford and a Chevy dealership once upon a time, too. Every small town had ‘em.

Were I five years younger ... or, like my younger brother, not really observant of roadside ephemera, Cordova today wouldn’t faze me. Alas, I’m older. And observant. Very, very observant. I remember the 1970s, when Cordova was still a thriving little Mayberry-like hamlet. Several traffic lights, too — the OOOLD style, without yellow! Just red and green. That’s what I remember the most about old Cordova.

While pondering this civic void, I cannot let go of a profound thought: that of Cordova being a metaphor for all that is dying around me. The aunts and uncles who used to be big presences in my life are, one by one, all dying off. I have no grandparents left. I have one aunt on my Mom’s side who still lives in Birmingham, and – like the café – hangs in stubbornly. But all that’s left ... a meaningless Dollar General located several miles outside the heart of Cordova, and two convenience stores ... I compare with what’s left of my family: a lot of cousins, most of who - I have to say - I have little contact with, and have never been terribly close to.

My Mom and Dad and brother? That’s easy. They’re the four-lane US 78, speeding through seven miles to the north, completely oblivious to any nostalgic value of a small town. "65 MPH, and y’better have a bladder as big as mine because we ain’t stoppin’ till Memphis!"

Where the hell am I going with this?? I don’t know. It’s now 10:00 Central time, and this is when my various mental states come at one another in a high-stakes game of ‘chicken.’ I enjoy the mental defragging these solo visits provide. The day I spent today with a friend of mine from nearby Dora, yet another ghost town in Walker County. However, as I sit here, the nostalgic locusts are swarming amidst this 1955 motel room. The free-range my mind is given comes back with all sorts of memories and remembrances. I miss so many things. I miss all the sights and sounds and smells and stores and roadsides of my childhood so much now. Can I go back to Cordova and look at a two-color traffic light again, after walking the aisles of Western Auto with Big John? Just for an hour? Please?

I also miss the arms of Seraphim. She doesn’t accompany me on these trips partly because, honestly, she’d be bored. She knows it and I know it. Plus, I sometimes enjoy flying solo. Sometimes. Even the best marriages need that ‘alone time.’ The difference, of course, is 10 years ago I would dread the end of the solo time because that would mean returning to the cold and distant arms of Josiebelle. Tuesday I’ll be returning to Rincon, and fully ready to share my space again. And Seraphim’s arms will be as warm as Main Street in Cordova, circa 1973.

Oh well, it’s time for bed, and dreams. Maybe I can go back to these places tonight. The sandman, Big John and Western Auto await.........

Ciao for niao.

–Talmadge “County Road 22” Gleck

03 November 2006

They're just heartfelt prayers ... toss 'em.

News item:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/unanswered_prayers

I don't know whether to feel profoundly sad ... or really, really angry.

The background is a bit fuzzy, but a minister appears to have not read a lot of his flock's mail.

And that really bothers me, for it all goes back to my longtime belief that a MINISTER is a higher form of humanity, ergo they have a higher standard to which they must live. It reminds me of one of those televangelists in the '80s whose staff opened envelopes to extract the donation and round-filed the enclosed prayer requests, unread. (Pass the Ammo, anyone?)

Ohhhhh, but I'm sure this preacher was full of gossip, rumor, innuendo and judgement for those who might've missed a few Sundays. Or, worse, might've been too busy indulging his NAMBLA fantasies to worry about such tedium as opening the mailbag.

Oh, and what's this insurance guy - the one who found these letters in the ocean - gonna do with 'em? Put 'em up for bids on e-Bay, that's what. Shaaaaaaaaayet, I hope he barely gets enough for 'em to pay for shipping. Heck, I'd risk a negative feedback point to bid, then stiff him were I to win. Buddy, isn't "greed" one of the Seven Deadly Sins???

The only comfort I take from all this is God stood behind the shoulder of every one as they were writing those letters, so the request was read by the REAL intended recepient.

Although I suspect He blew off the guy asking to win the lottery.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Hmph!" Gleck