Wednesday, July 22, 2009

portrait of the artist as a plastic bird

What this country needs right now is a good old fashioned high school drama a la White Shadow but instead we are given Fox's Glee....the simpering limp wristed adventures of one of the most reviled organisations in American society: The High School Glee Club. Our youngsters need strong role models like GI Joe and Sarah Palin not a bunch of falsetto wimps rallying around the piano belting out a rousing version of Chattanooga Choo Choo beneath the approving eye of their mentor, the suspiciously single aging dandy Mr. Felix. Granted, I have not seen Glee nor do I have any intention of watching one second of such claptrap, but judge it I will. If it's a high school drama and it doesn't reinforce the values and mores of our great land with a healthy dose of elitism and hate mongering and team sport then count me out. I want to see a show where the glee club gets the shit beat out of them and rightfully so. Or at the least, the band.

I can tell you this much: it's not the graduates of the glee club that are over there in the 'Stan right now slogging it out against the Taliban, no they're the ones loitering around with their peace signs that they've made at Kinko's and their fucking boysenberry scones and their friggin blue bottle coffee and their sweater vests waiting complacently for their wives and daughters to be gang raped by the Muslim horde. Now and then a religious scholar will attempt to come to the defense of Islam, trying to sell us on the ridiculous notion that it treats women fairly. Yes, that's why they dress them in funeral shrouds. I would like to posit that these assholes are sex crazed horned up falafel mongers who have the high potential of going on a raping spree if they even catch sight of a female knee cap.

Back in the day, I tried to enlist. It was Vietnam. I was only five years old. They wouldn't take me. I can tell you this much: if they had, things might have turned out differently. Why? Because I kick ass and take names. Extreme discipline. That's just how I conduct myself. Sure nowadays you may see me agonizing over a plate of gravy fries at The Lucky Penny with the fries eventually winning but let me tell you there was a day when I would strike off into the forest with little more than a handful of dried lentils and a two liter bottle of Pepsi and I would live off the land and survive by pure animal instinct. I would kill things, I tell you, small things that were trying to run from me. That same instinct I employ today when I venture out on Haight Street at eleven in the evening to secure an ice cream sandwich from Frank's on the corner. It really is a jungle out there.

Hippy Jungle. It is a culture that glorifies gleedom which produces kids who are content to sit on the sidewalk and shoot heroin between their toes. Actually, I think they are mostly Canadians. Glee: unmitigated happiness. There's no goddamn reason for it. Out there beyond our gate the glee piles up like discarded turds. They've shut down the popcorn machines and the cotton candy vendors have moved along. Gone is the day of the lovable counter culture character; the papa bear; the mountain girl; the hippy johnny. Most of those have rolled over and choked on a sandwich. There is no longer dancing in the streets. What is left now is the cretinous mass shambling down the road to Canterbury. A Canterbury constructed of bathtub meth and devil worship. If we had a little less Glee club and a little more Andy Griffith Show we'd be in a lot better shape. You never saw a single bum loitering on the streets of Mayberry. There was Otis, but he was the town drunk not a hobo. The only episode of Andy Griffith that ever addressed the issue of homelessness was during the first season when it came to pass that Andy and Barney burned out a hobo camp between Mayberry and Tuckers Junction and shot two bums front of Opie.

I have been a life long fan of The Andy Griffith Show. It was shown at five-thirty every afternoon on WFMY in Greensboro. As far as I know it still is. When I was five years old Aunt Bea visited my kindergarten class. And thus for all intents and purposes began this long strange journey far from the watering holes where we swam in the shadows of Mount Pilot. This brings me to what I wanted to write about today: a particular bbq sandwich that my grandmother used to take me to get when we were out on her Thursday shopping day. I haven't had one in about thirty-five years and yet I have never forgotten the experience of that bbq sandwich.

There was a grocery store on the corner of Cornwalis and Battleground Avenue called the Big Bear. It was one of the spots on my grandmother's list. On Thursday mornings my mother would drop me off at my grandmother's house before she went to work. My grandmother and my great aunt would be preparing themselves for shopping day. We would watch The Price is Right with Bob Barker and then we would embark. The nuances of shopping day were byzantine. There were many stops at various outlets in order to take advantage of the best prices and the coupons clipped from the Sunday paper. No matter that we had to drive my grandmother's boat of a Chrysler from one end of town to the other.

We stopped at the Winn Dixie; we stopped at the Big Star; there was an odd little corner store in the Glenwood neighborhood with a deep antique tobacco smell, uneven wood floors, dim lighting, and barrels of pickled pigs feet and hot sausages and nickle sour apple gum at the register where we stopped to get eggs; but it was the Big Bear store that housed my filthy lucre: that pork bbq sandwich that I have never forgotten. The sandwiches were pre made, shreds of pork doused with vinegar and tomato paste and swaddled in a white bread bun and then plastic wrapped and tossed into a bin that was heated by an overhead lamp. Somehow the bun managed to be both crisp and moist and when you bit into the center of the pork the sweetness of the tomato and the pork and the tanginess of the vinegar melded into what for a lack of a better word I must call glee. I was never happier than when my tough skins clad ass was parked in the back of that behemoth of a sedan with bbq sandwich in hand, surrounded by a plethora of grocery bags, listening to my grandmother and my great aunt discuss the finer points of One Life to Live as we careened along the byways of Greensboro.

The Big Bear closed. I think it might be a Fresh Market now. The shoe store, the clock repair shop, even Miss Leon's beauty salon, all gone. Battleground Avenue like much of Greensboro has become swamped with Strip Malls, outlet stores, and Taco Bells. Oh, and the darling tot in the backseat munching on his bbq sammy soon transmogrified into a three hundred pound ten year old with early onset type a adult diabetes who huffed carbon paper in the shed out behind grandmother's house and stole change from her piggy bank to buy pictures clipped from nudie magazines from the man who stood down in the woods by the city dump and sold them to the kids along with wine, menthol cigarettes, and a little morsel known as oblivion.

1 comment:

  1. ....this one's a gem, Ted. Faves include: " sex crazed horned up falafel mongers .."..........pic of Otis, and tough (tuff?) skins! It takes brave men to admit to wearing husky-sized britches. .....wouldn't have been able to discuss it without you. For that, and for this piece, I am grateful.