29 April, 2012

Bluegrass Slingshot (Westbound Expedition): Louisville, KY

On The Bus. Smiling. Be afraid.
The Louisville, Kentucky Greyhound Station is located downtown on Muhammad Ali and Seventh Streets. For those of you who may not remember, or don't know, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, was born in Louisville.  Other than the Derby... which is debauched and insane... and the other aforementioned people and things... being the birthplace of one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport... counts pretty high among the highlights for which the city ought to be more proud.

Not that the bus station isn't nice. I have seen worse. No. Really. Mobile, Alabama's Greyhound Depot, Amarillo, Texas at 1 in the morning. Oh, there are worse. When I arrived in Louisville, I was sure I'd been there before. Just not sure when. On that Homeric journey from Cincinnati to Phoenix in 2006? Maybe. But I was horribly drunk on that trip and don't remember much until I woke up in St. Louis having lost my voice.

Let's back track a little.

My plan for getting from Morehead to Lexington was simple. Mor'Trans, the Morehead "city bus" has two shuttle runs each each to Lexington and Ashland on Saturdays. A one way trip costs you $10... which is still a really good deal, considering the price of gas and the ordeal of trying to park in Lexington.  It's a brilliant, idea, actually, given that Morehead State University still is -- thanks to the various forms of discouragement by the Board of Regents, the area churches, and Morehead City Council  -- a suitcase college*, having a shuttle that will take you to The Bluegrass International Airport, the city bus terminal, and the Greyhound Station on West New Circle Road is pretty convenient. And though the Eklunds would have been willing to drive me to the bus station direct, I didn't want to push them into a two and half hour round trip for no good reason.

When I left Morehead, it was cold and overcast; but by the time I got to the Greyhound Station... which is conveniently located next to a Sir Pizza and a strip club... the sun had come out and the weather was warmer. I arrived with a few hours before my 4pm bus.  I have several friends who live in and around Lexington, and I was hoping to get to see one of them. Last trip through I saw my good friend Stephanie Stobaugh. This time, I was able to see Bobby Harris...musician, poet, friend, and former housemate from the 122 W. Second Street days.

Of course, I was a little tired and a bit strung from the grand time the previous night... among friends, sharing good energy, good company, and a respectable amount of beer and gin... and hadn't yet had any coffee. By the time Bobby was able to get there, I was also on the hungry side, since I hadn't eaten much and my overall condition would have been dramatically improved by putting something in my stomach to soak of the remains of the previous night's exuberances.

Ok. Fine. So I was a little hung over. I'm allowed, and besides... the ol' liver doesn't bounce back the way it used. to. 

Bobby showed up in good time, however, and drove me to Lynagh's on Woodland Avenue. One of the things that really excited me, though, was a sign posted next to the front door informing me that Fall City Beer was on tap.

A word on Fall City Beer. It's not great beer. But it is beer made in Louisville. I used to be friend with a guy -- who I met because he was dating my friend Amanda (nee' Hay) Connor at the time -- who was obsessed with it.And I really do understand a local boy's need to attach to all things local... I am, after all, both a Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals fan for more or less that reason.

I also thought it would be symbolic to say that, before arriving in Louisville for the first time in over a decade, that I commemorated the event with a local beer before I even got on the bus... good luck and hair of the dog and that sort of thing. Bobby, being the good friend I knew him to be, kindly offered to buy me a burger and a beer, which I happily accepted... especially since I am running a bit low on day to day funds.

The burger was good. The beer was... well... it was.  

It was also proof that putting skunk beer in a keg doesn't change the fact that it's skunk beer.

Bobby had me back in plenty of time to catch my bus, and I made it to Louisville a little ahead of schedule, actually, which almost never happens. The bus ride itself was pretty nice, too, because the bus only had five passengers, which gave me plenty of room to stretch out.

Amanda and her husband Shawn both had to work that evening, so I was being met by someone I didn't know who would drive me to their house... where I would be met by Amanda and Shawn's housemate, Heather, who lives the basement.

I waited around outside, sitting on a cement ledge at the edge of the off street parking lot. There were a few cabs and cars parked on Muhammad Ali. One guy in a 1990's blue Honda tried to entice a woman sitting on  the same ledge I was but was facing the street instead of the parking lot into getting in his car with what was clearly a fake gold-plated necklace. She gave him the finger and he drove off. The same girl... who had probably just gotten off a bus herself... was approached by a grandfatherly looking Spanish man who asked what her rates were. She told him off, quite loudly. He apologized and shuffled on his way to whatever streetwalker would most remind him of his granddaughter, and the girl, probably sick of being taken for a hooker, went back inside.

I had time to smoke a bit of Half and Half before Amanda's friend Adam arrived, and he shuffled me, quite politely, over to to Amanda and Shawn's, where I met Heather and their big black dog, Merlot.

Merlot: Hound of the Baskervilles or giant softy?


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*suitcase college: all the kids leave on weekends. Boring as shit.  Waste of an entire experience on the part of students.