Monday, March 29, 2010

Musta Got Lost

Alright, it's been a little bit between posts and I do apologize for the delay.  I've been working very long hours as I prepare to leave my job at the end of this week and it can get somewhat draining.  This weekend I also spent some time with my family in Atlantic City for my sister's twenty-first birthday.  I've never been to Atlantic City before, but I get its charm as a promise of an America that once existed at one point - the northeastern oceanside oasis.  However, there remains something ultimately American about its failing commerce and community butting right up against large and bright casino buildings and hotels.  Just a strange feeling overall.  It was a fun weekend and on the way back, I thought of a new post about the Replacements that I want to put up this week.  It is a little strange to right about the Replacements what with Alex Chilton just dying, but I feel that it is time to lift the veil on my thoughts of one of my favorite bands - perhaps the band that can speak best for me.

Anyway, in order to fill space, I thought we'd do a little Good, The Bad, The Ugly:

First, The Good:

- Obviously, the NCAA tournament.  The games have been literally insane.  I spent much of Sunday afternoon pulling my hair out amid the chiming of slot machines while I watched the genius of the Tennessee vs. Michigan State game unfold.  We have an up for grabs Final Four that could go in a variety of directions - namely four - but I see a Michigan State vs. West Virginia Final.  Something about Butler in the championship game doesn't seem right. Maybe in a few. And we all hate Duke.

- Eating this fish platter my dad ordered at a restaurant:

- Dwyane Wade's line from last night: 32 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks.

- The NBA playoffs coming up in general.  They are going to be legitimately exciting.

- Going to a great Knicks vs. Nuggets game last week and getting drunk in great seats.

- The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO.

- Warm weather.

- Jogging through Atlantic City away from the boardwalk.

- "Good Intentions Paving Company" by Joanna Newsom

- She and Him, Volume 2

- Elliot Smith's From a Basement on a Hill. Seriously underrated.

- Mad Men coming back in about six months.

- How to Make it in America. Baffling, entertaining, like unoffensive air just blowing across your face when you are exhausted on Sunday evening. That is what TV was invented for.

- The Nets just won their tenth game.  I like their young players.  They can turn it around. The kids playing in the park like Brook Lopez.

Now, the Bad:

- Breaking Bad. Nah, its actually great, but I just don't like the attention it takes from Mad Men.

- Getting five "Run, Forest, run" heckles while running on the boardwalk at Atlantic City.

- Baylor letting Duke win that game yesterday.

- The NFL Draft is now four days long.

- Blitzen Trapper album has not leaked yet.  I'm going to buy it anyway.

- I did not make it to the quarterfinals of the Amazon/Createspace Breakthrough Novel Award.  I'll post the comments when they come out.  This is not really "bad," more "indifferent."

- How to Make it in America going off the air.  I love that show.  Not really, I just want to upset people who hate it.

- Seeing actual human feces on the subway stairs.  Always surprising, always bad.

Finally, the Ugly:

No, but seriously, this week I am going to try to bring you two new music posts; the first podcast, now that I have my theme music all worked out and ready to clip in front of the podcast; and just general greatness as usual.

But for now, I am going to leave you with the next installment of From Here to The Last Mound of Dirt. We are picking back up in Part II, Section II of the novel.  The narrative has now shifted to the perspective of the limo driver who is driving the O'Donnell family to the cemetary for the burial. The driver's name is Peter Kosciuzko and he is a distant acquaintance of Ben O'Donnell and the rest of the family. As he drives the family to the burial, he ruminates on the nature of his own family, families in general and the history of the town they are all from.

Without further adieu, the next insallment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt:

Peter Kosciuzko waited at the light at he intersection of Main Street and Gnarled Hollow Road.  As he waited, he itched his forehead with the hard, plastic bridge of his driver’s cap.  Peter pushed his hair back and then placed his cap back on his head. He looked out the window and saw a Blue Point Brewery sign lit up in the window of the Country Corner.  He would stop in there for a toasted lager once he was finished with work.  After driving to and from a funeral, he enjoyed sitting at a bar and drinking a dark, somewhat sweet ale. When he rested his lean forearms on the curved wooden edge of the bar counter, it eased his mind away from the death and mourning he was used to and brought it closer to the jagged, sticky surface of life.  Now, however, he had to steer the funeral procession through the town and out to the cemetary in Calverton – the military cemetary.

    The light at the intersection was the longest one in town.  The traffic on Main Street was much busier than the traffic going around the bend on Gnarled Hollow up to Old Town towards the high school and the Bryant Funeral Home.  Mr Kosciuzko’s family had lived in town for generations.  His grandfather was a young man when there were still farms on Gnarled Hollow and the tire factory stood across from the intersection where he now idled at.

    The light turned green and Peter eased the limo into the left turn.  It was important to ease a limo into a turn – a long slow roll of the wheel.  Peter had driven taxis, limos, coach buses and now limos again.  In between driving limos and buses, he had been a teacher of English, only briefly, at Nassau Community College.  Though he liked to imagine himself as a patient man, he did not have the patience to teach.  His thoughtful nature was best suited to a more private setting; to the front seat of a luxury sedan, where he could collect his thoughts and have them to himself as the yellow lines, mailboxes and house lights stretched and passed.

    Peter pressed gently on the gas to ease the limo up the hill of Main Street, which cut through the center of town.  The glare of the sun caught his eye and he had to pull down the mirror to block it.  He knew the roads so well that no maneuver felt dangerous to him, no small movement made him lost control of the car.  They passed Ben O’Donnell’s office on the left and the firehouse next to it.  The firehouse’s red, electric banner read the temperature: 68°. Peter Kosciuzko glanced in the rear view mirror at Ben O’Donnell.  He’d been at the party Ben and Connor had thrown for the firefighters.  It was after the old Setauket post office burned down.  It was a small post office, but it was the first one – an historical landmark.  And for a town that valued history so much, it was devastating.  So Ben O’Donnell threw a party for the firefighters.  It seemed like a bad idea, to get the town firefighters drunk, but somehow he got away with it.  He had that charm about him.  Mr. Kosciuzko knew from sharing drinks with Ben at the corner that if Ben O’Donnell grinned and said, “Hey, take a night off,” a man was more than inclined to listen; even the chief.  There was no food at the party, just cases and cases of beer.  They hooked up a record player to the station PA and played music.  Ben insisted on Billy Joel.  “Born to Run” had just come out and all the firefighters loved that.  Peter had loved that album too – Bruce Springsteen smiling and looking to his left with a scruffy beard. A handsome musician looking to the side like that made him feel that there was some answer out there, that there was a be to free; to be like the air. 

The party had spilt out to the street and even some of the cops pulled in to have a few. Rose O’Donnell wasn’t there.  She was at home watching their baby.  Ben was showing pictures of her to the firefighters and the cops with one beer in his hand and a second bottle of beer tucked into his pocket, making a little patch of moisture on his pocket.

They turned right at the intersection of Main Street and Old Main Street.  Peter Kosciuzko looked in the rear view mirror.  He saw Ben O’Donnell with his nose no more than a centimeter from the window.  He looked pensive, his pointed jaw was working and it gave his face a muscular look – like an actor.  Peter’s favorite actor had been Paul Newman and he thought that Ben looked like him, maybe a little more gaunt.  Ben’s jaw was less square too, but there was something going on behind the chinline and the face – there was character there.  Ben’s pensive look made Peter think that there might be some similarity between them, that they shared some inclination for wistful thinking.  Peter felt goosebumps rise on his skin and he knew that they were not the same. A school bus switched gears and groaned past the limo.  Mr Kosciuzko was not a social man, but he found himself in social settings, drawn to social men like Ben O’Donnell.  He liked a man that could tell a good story, though he could not tell a good story himself. There was a time at the Corner when Ben had been there with Connor – it was before the incident between them – and was retelling one of his night’s out with Billy Joel.  They were sitting at the bar near the wall, while Peter had sat opposite them near the bathrooms.
“So Billy knocks them dead. Finishes with ‘Only the Good Die Young.’ I was feeling good on the side of the stage talking to a blonde who was from Baltimore, no, Annapolis – she had that marble mouth way of talking.  Anyway, she was pretty – ˝

Conner put his hand on his shoulder and Ben pushed it off.

“But nothing to compare to Rose.  I just like playing around with these girls.  Billy comes off stage and says we’ve got to go to a party afterward at Studio 54.  I know I should be figuring out a train home, but I can’t say no.”

Ben took a drink from his pint.

“You see,” Connor had said, “you’re going to drive Rose crazy if you keep staying out.  Plus you can’t still be riding your motorcycle when you get like that. You’ve got to think about the family.”
Ben turned in his seat to Connor. “You did spend too much time with mom.”

Connor shook his head and took a drink.

“Anyway, we get to the bar and it’s the same crowd.  People doing blow all over the place and you know how I can’t stand to see that stuff.  But I just like the energy in a place like that.  Billy had two blondes with him – one was really fantastic looking – and walks up with Chevy Chase.”

Mr Kosciuzko had leaned into the bar to hear better, the waist of his jeans pinching his hips.

“From Saturday Night?” Connor said.

“That’s right.  So he comes up and Billy introduces him to me.  He’s a good looking guy.  I tell him that I like the Weekend Update stuff.”

“And what did he say?”

“He pretended to spill his drink and then gave me this big smile and said, ‘Thank you very little.’ I laughed because I liked the line and told him that Akroyd was wrong, that he wasn’t such a smug bastard.”

Connor laughed.

“His eyes got wide and then I slapped him on the back and we had a laugh.”

“Did you get to talking?”

“Yeah we swapped some jokes and he told me some of the ideas they were working on.”

“Was Belushi there?”

“No, I would’ve loved to talk to that guy.”

“Anything going to come out of it, Benny?”

Ben shrugged and finished his beer. He exhaled and stretched his back. “I’ll just keep talking, keep drinking, keep making jokes, keep working at our little practice here to keep Rose happy and then hopefully I’ll be earning my keep the right way.”  He tussled Connor’s hair and stood up on the rails of the bar stool. “Another, brother?”

Connor held up his glass.

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