Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chandelier Hat

I was kissing everybody on the cheek. Everybody in town! I kissed Bill Taft on the cheek. "Punk rock!" he exclaimed in response. (I finally understood the time Barry Mills kissed everybody in New York City, did I ever tell you about that? I think he wrote a song about it that went "Come here, girl, I'm gonna kiss you/ Hey there, boy, I'll kiss you too") Indulge me. Or don't. I'm just trying to remember why I was so happy for the past few days. This "blog" now works as my substitute memory. You're free to go. Bill and Caroline and Will came to town. Look! Bill Boyle took this picture of Bill and Will playing at the Powerhouse while Caroline sits ready to spring to the poetry podium and read some poetry. Caroline read some poems about the time the awful tornado tore through Cabbagetown. And guess what? Shana came all the way from Atlanta just to hear it. And guess what else! Last time Shana visited we were sitting on the balcony of City Grocery Bar and she started getting a million texts because THAT WAS THE NIGHT THE AWFUL TORNADO TORE THROUGH CABBAGETOWN.
Shana came back for some of that emotion recollected in tranquility you always hear about. Here's Caroline laying down some poetry on the people, photo by Kevin from the Isom Center. Caroline! A benevolent being who appears whenever she is needed! Whether you know it or not! Why, she appeared in Ohio (was it Ohio?) in a hotel room with Bill Taft and Kelly Hogan and me and the band They Might Be Giants. Did I know Caroline at all? In any case, my extensive knowledge of THE BRADY BUNCH (much to the annoyance of They Might Be Giants, as Caroline and I choose to remember it) stuck in her mind and led Caroline, eventually, to get me my first job that a human adult would have. And she has led me from milestone to milestone ever since... introducing me to Dr. Theresa, for example, as I have repeated several times. IT BEARS REPEATING. (Late addendum: I just now recalled - I think - that the very first time I met Caroline, she was Kelly Hogan's next-door neighbor and Kelly and I were out in the gravelly yard drinking wine from her grandmother's red Jell-O glasses; Caroline and her boyfriend were returning - why do I remember this? - from some unwanted and socially enforced visit to a gimmicky restaurant owned by some reactionary Georgia politician, can that be true?) The night before the music and poetry show, Dr. Theresa and I took Bill and Will and Caroline out to dinner and the restaurant was dark and everybody was holding up the menus to their eyes and moving the atmospheric candle around because we're all old now and Caroline had the idea for a chandelier that is also a hat. Or a hat that is also a chandelier? It sounded like a great idea at the time. Before the Powerhouse show Bill and Will played on the Thacker Mountain Radio show, our live local weekly fun fest. Introducing one song, Bill said that when he read Hamlet as a youngster he thought Hamlet was a real cool guy, but now that he's a dad, he really understands Claudius! "A middle-aged man trying to get things done," Bill said, but not exactly. Bill said it better. I sat next to Melissa Ginsburg! SHE HAD JUST SOLD HER FIRST NOVEL THAT VERY DAY. It's a thriller! I think this is okay to "announce." I think everybody knows. Melissa can write poetry AND thrillers! An enchantress she is! She liked Bill so much she wanted me to make her a mix tape of the awesome Atlanta music of my callow young adulthood. Okay, I was in my 30s. I was a late bloomer for callow young adulthood. Melissa and I slipped out and had a drink to celebrate. A twin celebration! Because also on that very same day I had sent off my cigarette lighter book to my editor.
Finished! Until I get notes. NO MORE THINKING ABOUT CIGARETTE LIGHTERS ALL DAY EVERY DAY. After the poetry and music it was back to City Grocery Bar. Shana came along with her friend Kerri, who has an extremely detailed tattoo of Burt Reynolds on her arm! Needless to say, we became fast friends. The next morning I was sitting with Bill and Will at Big Bad Breakfast and Jill, who runs the place, came up to say hello, and there was a nice "Bill and Will this is Jill" moment. Then Shana and Kerri popped in! Will's macaroni and cheese looked so good they had to get a couple of side orders. Kerri told me about how she developed her first-ever crush, and it was Burt Reynolds,
and it happened when she was four years old and saw SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. Then she had a dream, the first dream she can ever remember having, and in the dream Burt Reynolds kidnapped her in the car from THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. But it was pleasant! In the dream. Sadly, Bill and Will had to hit the road (Caroline had vanished like a dewdrop - yes, let's say dewdrop! - early in the morning) but Shana and Kerri were up for anything! I took them across the parking lot to that used book stall I like. Below is a "selfie" of Shana and Kerri. Shana found an old red-and-white checked cookbook with a recipe for "Cinnamon Prunes"! And the previous owner had left little scraps of papers in the book with notes written on them.
Always a bonus! Shana and Bill and Caroline are the kind of friends that are FRIENDS FOR LIFE, even though I never keep in touch with anybody because I'm the worst. I mean, you see them, and all the love in your heart comes flooding out. I'm not leaving Will out! We never hung out with him quite as much, though he is fine and good and endlessly creative and interesting and someone we love knowing. He keeps his own counsel. Or maybe we do! Somebody's keeping it somewhere. SIDENOTE: I realize that I romanticize the past. My friends are unbelievably tough people who weathered unbelievably tough times. END SIDENOTE. Will walked through the woods near Faulkner's house holding a bowl of lima beans from the Oxford Canteen and made up a funny story we almost believed about a bear being attracted by the aroma. I found this used book:
As you can see, the front and back covers must have come off at some point, so they are held in place by silver tape. But other than that, the book is in fine condition. It has that severe polite formality I so enjoy: "When the President fell into the arms of Detective Geary he coolly asked: 'Am I shot?'" Geary unbuttoned the President's vest, and, seeing blood, replied: 'I fear you are, Mr. President.'" The book is, as the title page promises, "Superbly Illustrated." Here are some lovely photos of Mrs. McKinley, the former Ida Saxton. Now I'm not saying she's any Frances Cleveland! But in the bottom right photo, doesn't she look like Gaby Hoffman's character on GIRLS?
And of course the book is filled with fascinating, uh, what's the word for it? When you reveal stuff without meaning to, like a Browning character? For example, the bodyguards pay no attention to the actual assassin because they are busy checking out an "Italian, whose dark, shaggy brows and black mustache caused the professional protectors to regard him with suspicion." Talk about profiling! Eyebrow profiling! And see where that gets you. After the books, Shana and Kerri and I went to The End of All Music, which they were more than taken with. They were ecstatic! They kept saying, "We should move here!" Lots of people say that. Dr. Theresa and I used to say it. I'd be happy if Bill and Caroline and Will and Shana and Kerri moved here. But then what? You have to ask yourself. What happens to the magic? And just yesterday the dopes who can do such things suddenly dumped our fine, progressive university chancellor for their own shady reasons. What if Shana and Kerri and Bill and Caroline and Will come back and have to search for us in a dystopian wasteland?