Showing posts with label brother. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brother. Show all posts

29 March, 2012

Wayward Sacredness, 2.2: Out There - The Mount Carroll Reprisal (Coda)

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx

The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop... - The 

(Continued from here.)

My brother's visit was One Night Only, which meant that I had to limit his cultural exposure to things going on in town. Normally, I would have taken him to Poopy's in Savanna. The food there is good, and with the unseasonably warm weather there would be plenty of bikes and biker chicks to check out.

And if there wasn't maybe there would at least be some midget wrestling.

No. Really.

And for the record... they're not LITTLE PEOPLE. They're midgets. "Little People Wrestling" sounds like some daycare center  program. Midget wrestlers are  a tad mean and tend to walk around daring people to step on them. Really. One glared at my dear old mother on one of her visits.

Nope. Too close to tell...
Is that Professor Chaos?


He arrived a little after four and I waited for him outside the Kraft Building. I was standing there talking to my friend Kendra and her 6 year old son, Michael. Michael is a smart, sensitive, gentle boy who happens to be built  like a mini tank. (He is, in many respects, the newer model year of his father Kerry, who is also a friend of mine. And when you see either of them in your periphery, charging towards you with the intent to give you a hug, there's still that natural instinct to flinch....) I watched Brian walk purposefully down the sidewalk to the corner, cross at the cross walk and then cross again to meet me in front of the building. There was little to no traffic, only a few cars parked along Main Street.

"I could've diamonded* that, couldn't I?" was the first thing he said to me.

Yes, I told him. Then we shook hands and I introduced him to Kendra and Michael. And after a few minutes of chit chat, I decided to take him down to the bowling alley in order to check out a bit of local flavor.

In Mount Carroll, I could generally be found in one of  two places when I wasn't striking terror in the hearts of petty small town and county officials: 

  1. The Kraft Building (the cultural monosyncratic infidibulum)
  2. The Bowling Alley (the delubrum discordia** of Mount Carroll, Illinois)
  3. The House on Pumpkin Hill, formerly known as Home.^

I could, on occasion, be found at Bella's enjoying their respectable selection of bottled beer, or at Stone House Fudge Shop talking to John (The Diabetic Blues Playing Fudge Man. After all, if you made delicious fudge and couldn't eat it, wouldn't you play the blues??). I could sometimes be found at Charlie's catching up on the gossip (because all the news is known two days before the paper comes out) as well as finding out who's got the cancer, who's died, and whether they died from the cancer or some other god awful thing. In the rural hinterlands of corn and gawd country, the only sure thing is death. Some welcome it, some avoid it as long as they can; but in the end, everyone ends up under a marker on Boot Hill with a brief and restrainedly written obituary in the local papers. Unless, of course, you were in your later years one of those who joined a group... like The Rotary or the Friends of the Library or some church committee or another...  that merited having your named embossed on a bench, lamp post, or dusty plaque in some dark corner of City Hall as an emolument to all the hard work you managed to avoid doing by joining a club and going to meetings to play Committee of the Mountain^^.

 But since I've learned that most of the time, the best way to hide is to hide out in the open -- because when everyone knows where you are, they generally don't make their business to seek you out, all the way to the ends of the Earth (gas prices permitting) -- I tended to stick to same couple of places.

And since returning, I found myself sticking to more or less the same pattern -- the only things that changed being where I slept and that I was no longer a thorn in the side of various big fish in that itty bitty puddle. I was at the coffee shop, aping their free WiFi, drinking coffee, and trying to get some writing done... managing to get two out of the three accomplished.

The bowling alley was all but deserted; Dave and Billy were there, and Ashley the bartender would be in around 5. My plans -- in as much as I had them -- was to have a few drinks at the bowling alley and then wander down to Bella's to listen to Bruce Kort play. But I thought it might be fun -- or at least interesting -- for my older brother to see some something of what my life in Mount Carroll was like, especially since he was there to help me cart off the few material possessions that remained from it.

I, of course, ordered my usual -- beer and a shot of bourbon. In this case... and in general when drinking economically ... beer meant Bud Lite which, anyone knows, isn't really beer. But it was cheap, and it was draft, and when you drink it cold, you can almost forget that Budweiser has done more to kill the production of beer in this country than all the bottles and cans of bee it has sold since the end of Prohibition.

I offered to buy Brian a shot, too ...solid Kentucky bourbon... but he declined, saying he never mixed. Well, I understand. I used to not mix too. It's the smart way to drink, even if it's not the most expedient.

He ordered Smithwick's... a good bottle ale, manufactured by Guinness , the bowling alley had only recently started carrying. I drink it when I can afford it or when it's on draft. (The latter is too much to hope for.) I introduced him around, and we chit chatted and I let him take in the atmosphere. 

Around 4:30, Dave wife Julia walked in and sat down. Dave served her one of her usuals -- a Corona with lime. After she finished, she and Dave left, but said they would meet Brian and I down at Bella's. We had a few more drinks, I traded smart ass comments with Ashley, and then we walked up Market street and around the corner to Bella's on Main Street.

With the warmer weather, Friday nights at Bella's were generally a little crowded -- much to the annoyance of some prominent members of the Chamber of Commerce who wanted to keep any business out of town that might take some of their malingering trade. I wasn't too worried, though, because I knew Bob was working and Bob would make sure there was SOMEPLACE for us to sit.

Bob is one of those people who's character is weaved into the fabric of the town -- whether he likes it or not. Lucky for him that he's been around enough and done enough and been enough that he's mostly comfortable with that fact. He's a local boy who left, went West, won, lost, came back, lost some more, and is coasting into being One of Those Guys that people will long associate with the town. The restaurant that bears his last name -- Sieverts -- is still open, though under different ownership than his parents, who he actually came back to take care of and ended up burying. Like Jim Warfield, the owner/proprietor/tour guide/resident of Raven's Grin Haunted House, Bob is one of those guys who knows you, and if you're from Mount Carroll, he knew your parents, and maybe your grandparents. And if he didn't know them, he knew enough people that he heard about them. Bob is one of those people that are a natural and positive  byproduct of a small, isolated place.

The only problem he has right now is that whenever people walk into Bella's, where he's a waiter, and don't know any better, they think he owns the place. 

True to form, even though all of the booths were books, one table was open, and it ended up being the perfect size.

Brian and I sat down, and waited on Dave and Julie. We still had about an hour before Bruce was going to play. After Dave and Julie arrived, we ordered the first bottle of wine. Eventually, my friend Kerry -- father of the aforementioned smart, sensitive mini tank Michael -- showed up. We drank, ordered dinner, waited for Bruce to begin. Eventually he hauled his equipment in and set up in the small corner stage facing one of the street windows.

We ate, we drank, we listened to some great picking. At one point, Dave got up and played a few songs. As I've mentioned before, the sound of his playing and singing is one of those sounds that I associate with Mount Carroll. It's a good association. And, it's damn fine music.

At one point -- in my honor -- played "Way Out There." Anyone who's ever seen the movie Raising Arizona is familiar with this song. Actually, the song is much older than that: 

The night ended well. Three bottles of wine, a well prepared meal, some amazing music, and the company of  friends and family. There's very little else in the world that a person needs; because while I may be (and probably always will be) money poor, I am rich in friends.

I was also very rich in the hang over department the following morning, which delayed our departure by a few hours. But, one of the advantages of being a Man of Leisure is that I can generally allow myself to sleep until the worst of it's over.

This leaving was odd, because although it definitely had a more definite feel to it... how could it not, with the Batmobile loaded to bear with my shit... I also felt like I'd be back and the circumstances would be different.  It may be that Mount Carroll isn't what the universe has in mind for me right now... if in fact there is some mind at work behind all of this. But it is the sort of the place that's nice to return to when solace, quietude, and good friends are called for.

[Thanks for reading. And remember, if you like it,

  1. Pass the link on. Copy and Paste. Go ahead. 
  2. Click the donate button and help keep me traveling. I'm headed out again in a weeks... Greyhound ticket bought to get as far as Louisville, KY, at the tail end of a slingshot back through the Bluegrass (I promised) before heading west.
  3. Contact Catherine Sellers at Greyhound, 415-331-6049. Tell them you are asking about a sponsorship when the operator picks up. I'd like to get enough money in my travel fund or convince them to give me a 60 Day DISCOVERY PASS

Thanks again for reading and for your generous support. I love you guys and gals. I really mean it. Ok. I might love the gals a little more... but in a different way. Promise.]

*diamonded: the ability to cross a four way intersection from one opposing corner to the other opposing corner. This petty much only exists in small towns that don't have stop lights, and is otherwise a horrible idea to attempt.

**delubrum discordia: Shrine to Discordianism. Discordianism is a religion and school of thought founded in a bowling alley, and may have involved the ingesting of hallucinogenic drugs. Read up on it though. It's not quite as laid back as The Church of the Latter-Day Dude, but it's worth a gander.

^Home: for a proper understanding of this term, please consult Bill Monroe's version of The Wayfaring Stranger

^^ Committee of the Mountain: For those unfamiliar with the reference, consult your local ordinances, state constitution and coded statues, and U.S. Law in conjunction with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Go one. I'll wait..... You back? Ok. All that wordy bullshit? That's the unhappy result of playing Committee of the Mountain. If you're still unclear, go to any town or city council meeting anywhere. I recommend a minimum of two beers and two shots of good Kentucky Bourbon before the meeting to steel your nerves. If you sit through the entire meeting without leaving or ranting like a pissed off banshee, go out and good and drunk after. You deserve it.

03 February, 2012

Tomorrow Today Forever

I think I'll wander down to New Orleans
and sit in the Saint Louis Basilica
to pray. All the mad prophets say
to know god, you must know him
by his silence.
                       But that is for another day.
Today, it is my only brother's birthday.
And I must remember to call him –
or at the very least, to write him a note.

I must remember to make the words
something meaningful, the way
brother's words are supposed to be.
I must remember, it might be a model

for future notes when there is no time
but all the good intention in the world.

When I go to the cathedral, I will sit
at the end of a pew, near the middle
on the left hand side, and I will bow
my head and close my eyes the way
they taught us in Sunday School
(Protestants don't genuflect; but maybe
I'll try.)
            I will ignore the tourists
and the picture snapping,
and the casual whispers.
With any luck, I will fade into the pew
rubbed in like the dirt the bible says
I am made of. And when I am gone
there will be no more wondering
and no more questions
about the existence of god
and no more tourists.

All that will remain is a dirt spot
and an anonymous poem.