Monday, August 29, 2005

Things I'm Going To Hell For, Or Why I'm Damned, Damned, Damned

1. I have Dan Quayle Disorder. If you spell it wrong, I'll be sure to tell you. Even if I can't spell it myself. Particularly if you get paid to spell things right. A local newspaper (and I'm using that word loosely as it is basically a written infomercial) inadvertently merged performance art and syntax when they accused a local dj of going to "collage." Another local paper (slightly more respectable) wrote movingly of our social morays. As in eels. I had no idea they were such bon vivants, but I try to avoid slime with teeth.

2. I have lusted in my heart watching teenage boys play soccer. And my son was playing, so it was all awkward and confusing, just like high school.

3. I don't mind stealing music one bit. But I despise plagiarism. Maybe I'd think different if somebody paid me to spell things correctly, but I'd rather be credited than paid. The artists most worried about illegal downloads seem to be the most concerned with their bank balance; at which point, imho, they stop being artists and start being CEOs. I understand art-as-commodity, but they need to understand that it's a privilege to make your living doing what you love. And I don't want to hear the poor-mouthing. If you were under the impression Britney might be a Mensa candidate, you thought wrong:

4. I have no respect for the absolute sanctity of life. They may be living creatures, but if I find one of these in my tomato plants, we are not going to have a warm and fuzzy moment.

just icky, ain't he? and those are wasp larva/egg things on him; if I don't kill him myself, he's doomed to be eaten from the inside out. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hot Summer Nights

August 14. It was a hot and sunny Sunday, the kind of hot hot heat that's The kind of heat that turns the sky white. The kind of heat that stews you in your own sweat. The kind of heat in which blinking is almost too much work. The kind of heat that - well, you get the picture. In spite of the heat, the Mr. and I put on our best blue jeans and ventured to Knoxville to see Lucinda Williams. And eat. And drink.

First stop was the Preservation Pub, which normally orders food in from the Tomato Head if you want to eat. On this night, there was a Christian concert out on Market Square and only one bartender, so no ordering in. We refreshed ourselves and sought out another restaurant. The only other one open was incredibly packed with fellow concertgoers. Does everybody have to copy me????? We waited forever, but with drinks! Finally, we ate. As quickly as possible, a dash to the bathroom and out the door to the Tennessee Theatre.

Late as usual. Ran downstairs for beer. Ran back upstairs for ID armband. Got beer, found seats while Rob Jungklas played some dirty white boy blues.

Then Lucinda. The Tennessee Theatre is recently renovated, and while I think it is absolutely beautiful, something about Lucinda's voice amped up the bordello chic. I'd never noticed how much RED there is in the decor. And gold.

Lucinda knows something about that angel/whore archetype. If she's not wanting to Get Right With God, she's begging for someone to 'shoot [their] love into my vein.' Her voice, like John Prine's or Bob Dylan's, you either love or hate; it's impossible to be indifferent to it. It's powerful caterwauling, the perfect complement to the raw emotion her music captures. She's fearless in her writing. Brutally honest, brutally frank, she strips herself down to the bone lyrically. That said, she's curiously detached onstage - the cowboy hat stayed over her eyes and while she was chatty with the audience, the so-called fourth wall was certainly in place. I suppose when you open yourself up that much in your writing, you need to step back to perform it. Otherwise, the first three rows get covered in blood and tears.

It was a good show. Fanboys stole the unclaimed fifth row seats in front of me. She had some new songs to try out. Jailhouse Tears is gonna be a great duet - personally, I hear George Jones there. Unsuffer Me was one of those songs that fill the silence - the silence after your lover walks out, the silence after a friend has died. Where Is My Love was haunting, kind of like Are You Down. I was hoping for Greenville (and god help me, I shouted it out more than once) or Jackson. I got Essence, Ventura, a vicious Joy, and Lonely Girls, amongst lots of others. She told a story about writing one of her songs in Knoxville on New Year's Day a while back - for the life of me, I can't remember which one, so if you know, tell! For two and a half hours, she whispered and wailed and rocked and moaned. Kept me up way past my bedtime, but it was worth every minute of lost sleep.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I Was A Middleaged Evacuee - A Vacation Story

of sorts. of the hurricane variety.

On the Thursday morning Walmart run, I noticed that the gas stations I passed were doing brisk business. My tank was on the bottom half of a quarter tank, so I gassed up. Of course, I had to have a non-verbal confrontation with the pump, which refused to surrender the secret to making it function until I had swiped my card 7 times (note to self: scrutinize statement). That was the best idea I have had to date. Gassing up, that is, not swiping my card 7 times, for the very next day, we had to evacuate.

My dad woke me up on Friday morning (really, really early for somebody on vacation) with a traffic forecast: hurricane coming, heavy traffic all the way to Birmingham. Best to get out before the Mass Exodus that would surely come on Saturday. We had a Jenkins Family meeting at which we concluded that indeed we did need to bug out. The question was when. The kids (and me) wanted a little more fun in the sun. Sun-poisoned Dad did not. Surprise! we won.

And that's the strangest damn thing about hurricanes. It was absolutely beautiful on the beach. Doom was not writ large upon the horizon; all green flags and gentle balmy breezes - like one of those Corona commercials. All us vacationing types were enjoying the absolute hell out of it. However, the folks that lived and worked there were in manic hyper-super-overdrive, hauling seadoos out of the water, boarding up windows, securing dumpsters and trashcans. I heard the NBC news guy describe a hurricane as 'a blizzard with shrapnel' - only warmer, I suppose. We splashed and played. Austin caught crabs. Hermit crabs. Josie tried to break her record for largest amount of water sucked up her nose. Katie went shopping. I folded things and deflated things and shook sand out of things. Jim sat in the shade, drinking beer and smiling because I'd promised to do the driving, a condition of the final beach trip.

So, we loaded up the minivan with seven tons of stuff and Began Our Evacuation.

We thought we were being smart. We thought we were avoiding the great migration north.
We thought we had an easy drive to Montgomery. Of course, we were wrong.

Things were going so well. Across the Three Mile Bridge, a short hop on the interstate and then up 29 to I-65. 29 was a Goddamn Parking Lot. At 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Every gas station we passed had 40 cars waiting to get to a pump. Those that didn't were completely sold out. Walmart had blocked off its main entrance. Can you imagine Walmart EVER trying to stop you from shopping??? I suppose Hell was freezing over. The 29 to I-65 section of this trip ordinarily takes a little over an hour. We spent two and a half hours creeping towards the interstate; for some unknown reason, the traffic unsnarled beside a giant stinking paper factory. I suppose the odor had something to do with it. Anyway, we finally made it to the interstate, hit cruise control (a modest 75, thank you very much) and congratulated ourselves on our patience and understanding and General Good Humor in Times of Stress. But wait! Has there been a wreck? Our average speed drops to 3 miles an hour. We cheer when we get to 7 and think, that's it, we're on our way. And it will clear for a while, but then it will shut back down again - some bizarre kind of Anti-Movement Forcefield had a powerful hold on Lower Alabama. After all this togetherness, a Rest Area break was needed and granted. I stood in line in the women's room listening to the idle conversation you make with people you don't know when you're fleeing a hurricane and you need to pee really bad: are you from Pensacola? I'm going to my sister's in Chattanooga, if I can get there; I was with my dad in Mobile but my mom wants me back in Oak Ridge; the shelter won't take animals, so we're going to Birmingham. Sometimes just a couple of words (after Ivan) and a shrug. At the next rest stop, maybe I was recognizing a few faces. A camaraderie built up amongst the evacuees, a shared purpose: to get the hell out of Dodge before sundown.

Most of the time when I'm driving on the interstate, I don't have a clue what's going on over there on the other side of the median. At 3 mph, one has lots of time to look. And it was freaking me out - every state trooper in the state of Alabama was headed south on I-65. I saw a herd of electrical company trucks, maybe 30 in all, heading south PRE-disaster; I saw a convoy of ambulances doing the same. If there is any fun in evacuating a hurricane, this is where it ended for me. A big ole slap of reality hit me: it's a blessing that we have the technology to get a fix on these storms, but it's chilling to see the actual disaster preparations. Everybody's seen the pictures post-Ivan. The recovery's been slow. The road into Gulf Islands National Seashore's Fort Pickens area was 4 days away from re-opening after Ivan completely destroyed it.

see here:

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the season, washed it away again. This is a place that needs to be hurricane-free for a long time. But tell that to the ocean.

And thank god for cell phones! With a beer in one hand and a cell in the other, Jim managed to find a Holiday Inn in Montgomery that took kids AND dogs AND had a vacancy. We took the scenic route the next day, as all four lanes of I-65 were restricted to northbound traffic; Jim had no faith in my navigation skill, but I was RIGHT, wasn't I honey? There can be such a thing as too much togetherness.

Long and short of it is: Dennis deflated down to a 2, I think, actually, at landfall. More comparable to Opal than Ivan. The rebuilding goes on.