Memoir – Getting Pulled Over…on my Bicycle. Three Times.

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Getting Pulled Over…On My Bicycle. Three Times.

From ’75 to ’81 I spend a lot of my time on a bicycle. The extended neighborhood seemed custom built for kids on bikes. Wide roads, no major traffic, and miles and miles of asphalt. I had s sting-ray style bike that I later converted to a motocross style, then a cheap 1-speed, then finally a nice Schwinn 10 speed. We probably put 500 to 800 miles on the bikes during the summer and another 500 the rest of the year.  What often shocks people to know is that I have been “pulled over” by the police on my bicycle not once, not twice, but three times.

The first time may not really count, but we were on our bikes around 13 or 14 yrs old. We got caught in a spring rain while we were out so we sought shelter at Thompson Jr. High. They had an overhand by the front doors where the rain couldn’t hit us. There we sat on our bikes, patiently waiting out the cold early spring rain, when a police cruiser rolled by. He stopped out in the middle of the road, turned around, and pulled into the school turn around. He stopped where the buses let off, right in front of us, but maybe 100 feet or so away. He rolled down his window and was yelling to us, but it was hard to hear him. He started waving for us to come over to the car. Hymie didn’t have much of a way with words, but he could do a lot of communicating through his expressions and tone of voice. He gave the officer a weather report “It’s raining.” But what he actually communicated through tone and expression was, “hey, dumbass, we aren’t coming over there just to get wet and if you think we are then you are even more of a dumbass”.  While the officer may have translated it a bit differently, he did get the message. He reached down and pulled up his microphone then started in with the PA system “You guys need to clear out of there right now, and if we find any vandalism, we know where to find you”. Then he left. We waited out the rain and then went home.

The second time I got pulled over I was solo. One lone rebel against the man, or that’s what he thought. Cisco’s bike was at my house for some reason, so the next time I went to his house I grabbed his bike and held onto it’s handlebar while I rode my bike. That way I could handle two bikes at once. Let me clue you into the bike at this point. Cisco’s bike was broken so he was using his Dad’s. This 3 speed from the early 60’s was in good shape but looked like an old man’s bike (from our point of view, anything over 25 was old remember). It was dark green with a spring loaded granny seat and low flat handlebars. It would have been perfectly fine on “My Three Sons” or “Leave it to Beaver”, but it was for emergency purposes only in 1979. I managed to get down to Boulder Hill School along Boulder Hill Pass when the officer pulled up to me and actually said “Pull Over”. With some difficulty I got myself and my bikes stopped (only had one hand available for the hand brake). “So, can you explain to me why you have two bikes?” At this point is when that part of me that bristles at any authority rushed past my common sense and gained control of my mouth. “I don’t have two bikes”. “Then what do you call those things?” “Oh, these are bikes, but they aren’t both mine.” “Don’t try to be smart with me” “I wouldn’t think of being smart with someone like you sir” He paused at this point “Which bike is yours”” This one” I said pointing to the one I was on. “Whose is the other bike” “My friend’s, I am taking it back to his house” “Does your friend have a name?””Yes” then I paused. As far as I was concerned, I had answered the question. “What is his name?” “Cisco” (Actually I used his real name, but not his last name). “How do I know you didn’t steal this bike?” Here I laughed. Not ironically, not forced, I was actually cracked up by the officer. “Why would I steal this? It’s an ugly old bike I wouldn’t be caught dead on.” “I think it looks pretty good” he said. I did manage to stiffle the laugh, but only because I was so shocked. Then he says “Ok, how about I just follow you to where you are going and we see if this is your friend’s bike.” He got back in his car and pointed for me to go on. I rode the half mile or so to Cisco’s house with the officer slowly crawling along behind me. I didn’t hurry. Once at Cisco’s house, his dad verified that it was their bike. As the officer went to leave he stopped right in front of me and brought is face close to mine. I recognized an attempt at intimidation. The ridiculousness of a 6ft+ cop in uniform with a club and gun in the face of a 5ft 6in 14yr old holding a bike is hard to picture.  “I’m going to remember you” then got in his car and left.

The third time I got pulled over was a bit different and closer to what you would expect. There were three of us, but instead of Cisco, we had Spanky along with us. We were all staying the night at my house when we (probably Hymie, go figure) had the bright idea that it would be a fine night for a bike ride. It was midnight after all , with a clear sky and a full moon in the height of summer in the flatlands, so what could make more sense? And, so help me, there was not a single ounce of beer involved in this decision. The fact that we arrived at this idea without alcohol is a testament to the teen male mind. Anyway, we really weren’t interested in sticking around the neighborhood, so we headed out to the country. All in all, it was absolutely beautiful out that nigh. Farmland in mid summer on a nice night can be one of the most tranquil and wonderous places. We rode for close to two hours before deciding that we needed to head back. So we turned, but we thought to go through town instead of back the way we came. We reasoned that we had already been one way and we wanted to be sure to see something new. Another testament to teen male thinking. We headed towards town on Plainfield Road, the first busy road we used that night. Not three minutes on our way a car comes flying towards us then turns off onto a side road. About  three minutes after that a police car comes roaring up the road with the lights flashing and goes by us. Another couple of minutes later the police case comes up beside us with the lights still flashing and asks us to stop. He asked us our names and ages, then took our licenses. He was breathing hard and obviously angry at something. “So, you boys just out for a bike ride in the middle of the night?” Hymie did the talking for us “Yessir”. “Says here that you and you are 17” he said pointing to Hymie and I. “Yessir” “And that you” pointing to Spanky “are only 16”. “Yessir”. “Well boys, you are out after curfew, which isn’t a problem but for your 16 year old friend here. He can be arrested for this.” Hymie didn’t bother with the Yessir this time, he just let the stunned looks on our faces do the talking. “But, since you two are with him and you are over 16, you can be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. We call that a misdemeanor in this county you know”. We shared a couple of worried glances. We knew someone had just gotten away from him, and he was pissed. “Boys, I really don’t want to arrest you. At your age parents get involved and that is never fun. You need to realize that being out in the middle of the night is dangerous. You can get hit by a car, run over by some drunk, or worse yet, maybe there’s another Gacy out there looking for young boys.” The Gacy murders had dominated the news for over a year and were a very real example of what could happen. We stayed silent, first smart thing we did all night. “So, I’m going to let you ride on back home. I know who you are now, and I hope to never see you out again.” We groveled our thank yous and headed to town. Then I got to thinking about it as we rode. If he was worried about our safety, would he really have just turned us loose to ride the 1o miles back home at 2am?

There is an epilog. About 2 months after the last incident, my dad was over at the house to pick up my brother for some time. Sitting there in the living room with my mom in the room, he says “Hey, I ran into a friend of yours at the bar a couple of weeks ago” (He was tending bar some nights in Yorkville at the time). “None of my friends can get into bars, Dad” which wasn’t just a defense, it was the truth. We didn’t even bother to try. “No, it was an adult. Do you recall the name Officer Friendly?” (Friendly not being the real name, but a handy stand in). “Uh, no” I said. Which was again the truth, I did not remember the officer’s name. “Well, the officer asked me my name and then asked me if I had any kids in Oswego. He then told me a story about pulling over some kids on bikes way out in the country a couple of months back, and he thought the name sounded familiar.” While I am an accomplished liar, it never worked with mom. I tried anyway “Nope, doesn’t sound familiar”. While mom was an accomplished lie detector, sometimes she just would rather not have the whole truth

Memoir – My First Beer

 These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

My First Beer

A person’s first beer isn’t always a memorable experience, mine was. An guess what, Cisco and Hymie were both there. It wasn’t their first beer. Go figure.

We were hiking along the Con-Ed land between Codorus and Circle Drive West on a cold spring morning. We were freshman and happy to be out after one of the cold, wet, windy winters that the flatlands are known for. As usual I was dragging on behind of the other two, being as it was morning and I am not a morning person. The long weeds were bent over with the cold dew, and the ground was soft and slick. Something clanged against boot. I reached down and pulled out a 6-pack of Miller High Life from under the weeds. “Hey, check this out”. Hymie and Cisco came running back. “Holy shit, we found someone’s stash! Is there any more?” We searched for any more beer, but stopped when we realized that we were probably within eyesight of the stash owner’s house. We divided up the cans, stuffed them into our coats and kept hiking. So, for the next three hours we hauled two beers in our pockets as we hiked down and back along the train tracks. Along the way we talked about the beers. They were golden chalices of the near ultimate forbidden fruit. They were where the party started, they were cool, they were the gateway to the high school experience. And we really didn’t know what to do with them. We didn’t think we could just crack them in broad daylight. We were worried about storing them in or around our homes. We were also not so sure what would happen when we drank them. Both Hymie and Cisco had had a beer, not just a sip, but a beer. Both had older siblings, that helps. But it is not like it was a regular occurance. What a beer did was still a bit of a mystery to us.

Cisco came up with a solution. He knew that there was a basketball game that night at the high school. Cisco would be the one to keep our social schedule for the next several years, keeping us abreast of the football/basketball games, the homecoming activities, and the parties. He was also the one that kept us meeting girls seeing as he was the first one to figure out how to talk to them. He had a gift. Cisco suggested that we keep the beers in our coats, leave them in the garages. Then, we would tell our parents that we were walking to the basketball game that night. On the way we would have plenty of time to drink and a good excuse to be gone for a few hours. We could actually go to the game if we wanted to, also. Cisco was worth his weight in gold.

It was starting to get dark when Hymie and Cisco showed up at my door. We had around and hour and a half to get to the game. We were all dressed in our hiking gear; Military surplus jackets, flannel shirts, old jeans and hiking boots. You could take us out but you couldn’t dress us up.

We walked behind the houses on my block along Circle Drive East. This lead us to the fields behind Thompson Jr. High.  Here is where we decided to crack the first beer. We decided to do one beer at a time and pass it back and forth. Hymie took a long slug and gave a bit of a shudder. Cisco took a drink and made a bit of show of choking it down. The Golden Cylinder of magic was in my palm next. “You have to just go for it, you cannot expect to sip it and like it” Cisco said. Just for the record, now if someone hands me something to drink and says “you cannot expect to like it” I don’t drink it. That was wisdom I lacked then. I raised it to my mouth and took a big gulp. Let me stop know and review. We found beer in some wet high weeds  and reasoned that walking the 4 miles at night to the high school was a good time to drink them. Now, let me stop a second time to talk about beer. Beer is good, but poorly cared for beer is awful. If you drink beer too warm, it sucks. If the beer has been frozen at any time, it sucks. If it is allowed to get really warm, then cooled, it also sucks. The beer we had was outside in the spring time, and we have no idea for how long. It had probably been frozen, thawed, heated, frozen and thawed multiple times. So for my first beer I was gulping down something that had been more abused than Keith Richard’s central nervous system. I had no idea what beer should taste like, and I just ingested what tastes like a big mouthful of fermented donkey piss. But, I am with my buddies and I am not going to look bad. So, despite the protestations of my pristine throat, over the mournful cries of my tender stomach and completely ignoring the extremely sound advice coming from my brain, I swallowed the beer. “Smooth” was all I managed to say.

We passed them back and forth with increasing speed as we walked. Again, we were walking through a ploughed farm field during a wet spring wearing hiking boots. With each step we added to the accumulated mud on our boots. We passed the can and walked, passed the can and walked and soon the six golden chalices were drained of their goodness.  Though beer might be skunky, rancid, or otherwise unfit for human consumption, it will still get a 15 year old legally drunk. By the time we got to the high school, the mud was up to our knees and the buzz was up to our brains.

We trudged into the school leaving a sloppy trail behind us. We walked up the bleachers, leaving footprints on every coat, jacket, and hat we found. The game was uneventful, and uninteresting. We couldn’t even find any girls we knew. At halftime we went to the bathroom and got a look at ourselves. We each had mud on our faces as well as all over our clothes. Our faces were bright red, and our eyes were little bloodshot slits. Several adults passed us by, giving us suspicious looks. We decided to leave before we got busted.

About half a mile from the school, a nice spring rain started. Nice if you were a young Blackberry Bush, Sugar Maple, or Day Lilly. Not so nice if you were coming down from a buzz and had three more miles to walk. The jovial talk that marked the trip there was replaced with a sour, hungover  silence. It was a long, surly walk home.

The epilog here is that when I finally had my next beer, one that had not been so abused, I thought it was pretty good stuff.

Memoir – Chomp Goes the Weasel

Intro

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy

Chomp goes the Weasel

Cisco’s dad grew up down around Marseilles and went down there now and then to attend to family business. One time we convinced him to take us with him so we could go hiking in the valleys and hills along the Illinois River. Where we lived it was primarily flat, flat farmland. The idea of a change in elevation more than 6 feet filled us with no end of excitement. We got down to Marseilles about 8am and Cisco’s dad let us run free.  Three 8th graders being set free on a sunny late fall day. Cicso’s dad told us to meet him around 2pm in town. Given that the town only had one intersection, that was enough direction.

We followed the river looking for whatever we could find. We found a few old garbage piles, long forgotten by families long gone from the land. We tracked deer, but failed to see any on that trip. We talked about school, girls, hunting, partying…any number of topics that we really didn’t have any experience with.  We were gone about two hours when we realized that the trip back was going to be a lot tougher since we had been going downhill  most of the time. This is when Hymie had his first great idea of the day. He reasoned that if we simply climbed up the steep, forested hill next to us, we would put ourselves at the right elevation and have an easy walk back. Never mind that it was probably one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet up. Never mind that it was covered in leaves and dense brush. Never mind that the October rain had been pretty heavy that year. I bring up all these reasons not to climb the hill now mainly because I did not think of them then. Way back then, in the fall of ’77, our answer to his plan was “sure, sounds reasonable.” This was one of the earliest examples of a principle that was to play out several times over the course of our teen years: Two teenaged boys are 60% as smart as a single teenaged boy. Three teenaged boys are a lot less smart than that. 5 or more are no brighter than a lab chimp after the experiment.

The climb was significantly harder than it looked. Under the foot of downed leaves was another foot of wet, slick leaves that provided surprisingly little traction. The few places without leaves were muddy eroded run offs, hardly any better than the leaves. We climbed, using trees for footholds and pulling of bushes like they were climbing ropes. About half the way up the hill we got much better at not grabbing the thorny berry bushes. Quick learners, that was us. While it was a cool day, the work climbing up the hill in fairly heavy clothes lead us to work up a sweat. After about 30 minutes we reached the summit and started the long walk back. We were each covered in mud from our frequent falls, dripping with sweat, and pulling stickers out of our sliced up hands. An hour and a half later we shuffled into town, caked with mud, blood and sweat. We had time to kill, so we headed for the old Dairy Queen.

Cisco and I got milkshakes while Hymie got a cup of Ice Cream. We sat down and relived our adventure, quickly planning where we would go next time we came to town. Two girls, about our age, came in got some ice cream and sat down at the table across from us. They were whispering, giggling…the exact things that cause a 14yr old boy’s higher brain functions to cease, but do serve to kick up the primate brain. Remember my earlier rule about how smart three teen boys are? If you modify that with the presence of giggly teenage girls you can effective reduce the intelligence to that of a doorknob. A horny doorknob to be exact.

We kept exchanging looks and they exchanged giggles and whispers. Hymie starts to play with the ice cream on his red plastic spoon. Slowly licking it while giving them his version of bedroom eyes. The girls giggled even more. Hymie gave Cisco and I a look, the one I knew meant trouble was imminent and I needed to make sure I had a clear path to the door and all my belongings were accounted for. Hymie dipped the spoon in his ice cream and stuck it in his mouth, all the time staring at these poor young girls. He swirled the spoon around his mouth and the girls erupted into the biggest giggles yet. This was his cue, the trigger for that contrary streak that was never far from the surface. He stopped swirling then bit down sharply. The spoon made a loud crack sound that caused the girls to cease their giggle. Hymie then swallowed and smiled at the girls, holding the snipped off spoon handle out for them to see. They sat silenced for a moment then grabbed their jackets and ran out of the Dairy Queen. Hymie smiled at us and spit the spoon pieces into his ice cream cup. “We can leave now” he said.

We never went back to the DQ in Marseilles. Go figure

Memoir – Hot Buns and Cold Gravel

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Hot Buns and Cold Gravel

I don’t know how far back mooning goes, but I can assure you that it reached an artistic peak in the spring of 1983. I know because me and my pale pudgy cheeks were there.

We grew up with a huge advantage in the mooning arts compared to today’s youth. We had 70’s family cars and farm trucks.  Big bench seats, wide windows, loud horns, tailgates and truck beds. We also did not have cell phones with cameras or seat belt laws. Both of which have led to a sad decline in mobile mooning. With a little bit of practice, one could hoist your ass to the window and sit on the edge while travelling in less than 5 seconds, then get your pants back on and be in the seat in another 5.  Deed done, evidence covered up. All the risk was tied up in the time of exposure. Gas was cheap, the weather was good and we had a lot of time to kill. So, finding targets and shooting the moon became one of our regular activities. It was fun, but in order to really achieve, we had to do something new.

The “gang” at this time was at its peak. We were known as the Alphonse gang, or the Alphonse racing team. Yes, we did have a race car and it was raced. That is another story. There were the three of us from the Beer Throne story, Hymie, Cisco and I as well as a cast of characters. Boss, Buef, Frito, Beave, rounded out the guilty. There were maybe 4 others that were implicated, but we were the basic gang. 7, much like the deadly sins. In retrospect that analogy probably makes me “gluttony”, though we all could qualify for “lust”. We were seniors, we had two months of school and were getting the most out of it.

The gang found out about a “party” that one of the church youth groups was having at a house in the country. Oddly enough, none of us were members of this (or any) church youth group, but we knew most of the kids that would be there. In fact, a couple of the girls had been foolish enough to date some of us.  I only hope that the youth group helped them to wash that bit of sin from their souls. That night we resolved to go out there and do something. When you are 18 that constitutes a meticulous plan.

I got to use my mom’s full size Blazer that night. All in all, they are not as useful as they seem, but still we could fit a lot of people in it. We met out at Buef’s and piled into the Blazer. We had all 7 of us, it was a tight fit. A couple of miles out on Wolf’s Crossing, then right on the road that had been just freshly graveled. As we drove past the house a couple of times, we saw that the party was outside in the large front yard. Good sign. We stopped and honked. A couple of girls came out to talk to us, but they were quickly  called back in by the parents. The parents also yelled at us to leave. We rolled down the road and around the corner. I opened up the tailgate to the Blazer and we managed to fit 5 of us on it, each holding onto the flimsy roof rack. One driving and one on shotgun. I was on the tailgate. We turned back around and headed down to the party, with the horn blaring as loud as possible. The crowd moved towards the street just in time to get a 12 bun salute – two sticking out of the passenger window and 10 on the tailgate. We were laughing, the crowd was laughing, possibly the greatest mooning event of the year. I’m not sure what I would think if I saw 5 guys on the tailgate of a Blazer with their pants around their ankles today, but that day it was magic. Funny thing though, there are not that many places to get a good handhold on the back of a Blazer. Another funny thing, is that gravel roads out in the country can be deceptively bumpy. Boss was the first to slip. I felt his hand brush my shoulder just as he let out an “Oh shiiiiiit!”. Then we hit the bump and two more Mooners hit the gravel. I held on, but fell to the floor and yelled to stop the truck. I looked back and Boss was waddling towards the truck, bruised, bloodied, and desperately trying to get his pants back up. Beave and Frito were pulling themselves out of the ditch, wary of ticks or chiggers. We ran out to grab Boss and headed home.

No broken bones, or even abraided netherbits. Boss had some impressive scratches  on both ends, seeing as he rolled a bit after falling off. Beave and Frito had minor bumps. But what we all had was a story. The great moon of ’83.

Memoir – The Beer Throne

ImageThese are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 The Beer Throne

As our senior year approached we felt the need to do something significant, something with meaning. In today’s world, that would refer to making a positive impact on the community through some sort of charitable works. In our world, semi-rural Illinois in 1982, it meant some show of authoritorial defiance combined with fun. Through the summer we gave it quite a bit of thought, hell we weren’t doing much else with our time. We knew that it was tradition to TP the school before homecoming. That was nice, but as far as we were concerned, it had been done. We wanted something different, something inappropriate, and something memorable. Inspiration doesn’t neccesaruly come when you call, but you needed to be ready when it hits.

 The three of us (Hymie, Cisco and myself) were trying to find a place to throw away a case of empty Old Style cans. Too big to hide in any home garbage and we weren’t about to dump it out in the country. Our 70’s grade school environmental indoctrinations had been quite effective.  We pulled up behind the Buy Rite Supermarket  intending to use their dumpster for the deed. We slowed down, but something did not feel right. Hymie was driving. He always insisted on driving. Control freak. We decided that we were just too exposed so we passed on the illegal dumping and headed back to my house. We sat in the shop room in the garage pondering our situation. The room had an electric space heater, a garbage-picked lazy-boy chair, a console TV converted into a cooler, a radio, a bunk to sleep on and a workbench. It was a great place to bullshit or sleep one off. Hymie held the case and he commented that it was kind of like a lego without the bumps. (The case in question was really heavy cardboard, nothing like the materials today.) While I didn’t actually see the light strike, I did notice his face begin to glow with an inner light. We’d been friends for 6 years, I knew that something great or dangerous, or both was about to happen. He proceeded to dump out the cans, then duct tape the case shut. I protested at the cans all over the floor, but he held up a finger and said “I have an idea”. He hid the case behind the Lazy-boy as I put  the cans in a garbage bag. He turned to Cisco “where is the garbage pick up tomorrow?” Cisco replied “East village, the newer section” without even thinking about it. Long ago we figured out that people put their garbage out the night before it is to be picked up. In our sprawling housing development, there was garbage out each night of the week somewhere. When we were younger we used to ride our bikes and check out the garbage looking for what we considered good stuff. Over the years it had yielded many, many treasures including the Lazy-Boy, two 8-track players, lots of 8-tracks, a couple of lamps, and one smoking black velvet painting. Garbage picking was one of our oldest traditions.

We took the bag full of cans and went back out to Hymie’s ultra small car. In the East Village the houses were pretty close together, so the garbage can per block number was high. Hymie drove slowly along scanning each can. He stopped, hopped out, rushed up to a garbage and pulled out an Old Style case. He dumped the garbage from inside the case back in the can and slipped in his bag of cans. He came back to the car with the empty case. He looked at both of us and smiled his excited 6 year old smile. “We are going to build a throne out of Old Style cases!” To three high school seniors, the beauty of the idea was self-evident. It was not a question of should we, or could we. It was a question of where to stash it, and how big to make it.

All through the rest of August and September we picked garbage every night looking for cases. The house at the top of the hill on Fernwood Drive was good for one case every week. Brand loyal I guess. Overall, we could find maybe two per week. We also spread the word that we were looking for cases, so friends would bring us their empties. Our laundering of party evidence helped out more than one panicked high schooler. All in all, were getting about three cases per week. It wasn’t without risk though. First, where do you hide them? The shop held the majority of them, under a tarp in the corner, but I had to keep tabs on my mom so she didn’t wander in there and get snoopy. Second, homeonwers in our working class neighborhood did not take kindly to people messing around with the garbage. More than once we had a homeowner come barreling out of his front door, not quite dressed but holding his beer, yelling for us to get the hell away from his garbage. One night in late September the guy on Fernwood really helped us when he put out two cases. As we slowly drove by I leaned out the window and grabbed the cases. Only I didn’t realize that they were full of garbage. At the same time, Hymie hit the gas because the porch light on the house flicked on. So, I am hanging out the window with 30 lbs of garbage in each hand and I cannot get back into his ultra small car. He turns one corner then another, all the while yelling at me “Get your ass back in the seat, I can’t see out that side!” As we rolled by a court (like a culdesac but not as deep) the bottom of the cases gave way leaving a trail of garbage along the road. The headlights from a car in the court flicked on and it started after us. We were sure that it was police. Hymie pulled over. The car pulled up next to us. Smoke billowed from the window. (smoke with that particular acid-sweet smell that will forever define the 70’s . Wink, Wink). A head poked out. “What are you dudes doin? What’s with the garbage? It ain’t cool!” I recognized  him and the driver as two guys who graduated last year. “The stuff fell out, I didn’t mean to do it. We just wanted to cases.”

“Is there beer in them still?”

“No, were are building a throne out of beer cases for homecoming”

They looked at each other. “Cool. You are gonna pick up the garbage.”

As we picked up the garbage I realized that these two were sitting across from the house of the passenger’s ex-girlfriend. Sitting, smoking, and drinking. We didn’t have a word for it then, but today you would call him a stalker. I was at their wedding several years later strangely enough.

The gathering went on through October. Somehow, Hymie managed to convince his parents to let us use the garage for the final assembly. I just think they were happy to see him doing something remotely constructive. Half a mile of bailing wire and a few thousand feet of duct tape later we had a throne. On the TP night, we set it up at the main entrance of the school for all to see. The next morning the school was a buzz about the TP job, the excellent string of bras/panties that was strung up the flagpole, and the Old Style Throne. Mission Accomplished.

Cliche Flash Fiction Experiment 4

The idea is to start with a cliche, but make it into gripping fiction. This is my fourth try.

Usually, pushing up daisies wasn’t quite so literal. But, there it was. The grave, filled in less than 48 hours ago was now covered in daisies. And tulips, marigolds, and even little sunflower. Terry had been a good guy, and a good druid. He came to it late in life after a career as a landscape contractor, but he made up for lost time. The oaks in the park were healthier, the creek stayed clean, and the differing wiccan groups finally had a mediator. I would find his killer. I owed it to the daisies and to Terry

The Muppet Movie 2011 – Review

The Muppets – 2011

I was a fan of the original Muppets. They were genuine, self-aware, a little subversive, and best of all fun.  They referenced early entertainers and entertainment forms while half covering current culture. Then, they went away. I never lamented their passing off the entertainment coil, as all things must pass. It is better to go out before you become either a sad parody of yourself, or a crass marketing tool (take a walk through the comics section of a newspaper to see what those look like).

I was cautiously optimistic about the new movie. The Muppets work when they take old, classic plots or forms and mess them up as only the innocent Muppets can do. So, the set up here is that two brothers and a girlfriend set out to see the Muppet theatre from some place in “Small Town Middle America”. When they get there, their dreams are shattered as the Muppet theatre is a broken down dump void of any Muppets. The brothers learn of a plot to demolish the theatre and set out to reunite the Muppets for one more show to get enough money to save the theatre. The movie is about travelling finding the Muppets then putting on a show. It‘s a hokey plot, but that is ok. Muppets are hokey, that is part of the shtick.

The good parts of the movie: There is hardly a cynical bone in this movie. The subtle subversiveness is still there as is the self awareness that they are not like others. The characters are given decent story lines, believable to their original characters. I particularly liked Rolf the piano player’s back story. They strike every note, every character that they need to cover, and that is saying something. One of the problems with something like this is that the Muppets have so many characters that fitting them in the story in a meaningful way is very difficult and leaves little room for the rest of the movie. The cameos are ok. The movie is entertaining if a bit saccharine and safe. It does nothing to hurt or change all those things we loved about the Muppets – and that is exactly where the movie falls a bit short.

The not so good parts of the movie: While the musical numbers are expected, these were a bit plopped in and overdone. The “Me Party” bit seemed to be there just to give the actress some screen time and show that she can dance. The “Muppet-Man” number, the best in the show, felt a lot more like an SNL skit that an actual part of the movie. The bigger issue I have with the film is that it did nothing to move them forward. The whole movie glorifies the past, but fails to move them out of it. It is an honest, fun, a bit overdone exercise in nostalgia.

Maybe I don’t have a right to criticize them for not making the movie I wanted them to make as opposed to the movie they made. This movie is a good kid’s movie that parents will not have to resort to Angry Birds to sit through. It is warm, heartfelt, and funny. All that said, it left me wishing I had hope that the Muppets could return and be relevant today

Scott Weber

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