Thursday, January 24, 2008

Holding it in the road

Lately, when people ask I answer that I've been just "holding it in the road."

Today somebody asked what that meant, and I realized that the statement might not be as common as I once thought. So allow me to explain.

When you're fifteen in the South, you get a driver's license.

The South being the Southern states, not necessarily all of Florida and ending westward at Texas, which is it's own problem, and thus the Southern really could be considered a state of mind more than a locale. But then if you were from the South, you would understand that I mean from the Southern and not actually from the Southern states. But I digress.

When you're fifteen in the South, you get a driver's license.

It's almost like they hand them out at Kmart or Walmart or the Swanee Swifty or whatever, but pretty much at a fairly young age, you get this ability to get your narrow ass into a two ton machine and be a man. Or a woman. Or both. The south is getting pretty liberal. But again I digress.

When you're fifteen, oh, you heard this part. Right. But the trick is at the same time they give you a license, you usually GET A CAR too! Or at least pretty good access to one.

Don't ask me how it worked financially, I was fifteen and I had split mine with my brother, but at the tender wet behind the ears age of fifteen I could load up the fellas and ride through the streets like we had put our good sense in a box at home for safe keeping. Which is usually where we kept it, next to the comic books and that one dirty magazine we'd gotten our hands on. I'm actually talking pre-internet here people, bear with me.

I realize that people not from the South at this point will question the innate wisdom of giving what is essentially a tall ten year old who still can't grow hair on his chin or write a check the keys to real automobile and then letting them loose, with little to no supervision, a tank of gas and the inner workings of their own minds. You know writing that out I'm kinda wondering about the wisdom of it myself. But you have to have a car in the South! At one point I think we had four drivers and four cars in my immediate family. Again, I digress.

So, you a got fifteen year old. You got a car with a full tank of gas. Or a half tank. Or some gas, what his allowance can afford minus the price they over paid for the six pack, whatever, and the open road. So what does a person blessed with sudden mobility and an awesome responsibility do? That's right, you find a fairly straight stretch of empty road...easier than you would think in many parts of the rural south...and you open that baby up!

I once shaved twenty minutes off a normally thirty minute trip. And at no time did the car leave the ground.

So you're young, they're still counting how long you've had your license in hours (Oh, he got it a couple hours ago! Just went to store for his mom!) and you're going faster than speedometer can actually register. It's just pressed firmly at the high end now. And all those minutes of experience you have culminate in that moment when every teen realizes that the car you're driving is not exactly designed to do what you currently have it doing (geez, I thought Dodge made race cars?) and what you are doing as of that just "holding it in the road" until you can slow down enough to not die... should you wreck. If you wreck. When you wreck.

So at this point, I'm just holding it in the road.

Barkeep. Oh damn, I'm still not drinking.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Both sides of the street?

So this weekend, after the city of Atlanta was stopped by an overwhelming TWO inches of snow, I bundled up and rode out to a Fight party.

There's nothing quite like a good fight party. Usually peopled by people who aren't really there to see a fight, but who came for a party, it gives a function substance, a focal point if you will. Usually fight party goers are a little rowdier, a little more vocal, a little more raucous as the fight excitement permeates the crowd. It's a group focal point for an event, a kind of a theme, and not that single focal point, which is usually the chick with that nice butt in them really tight pants. It makes a party a little bit more than an excuse to get drunk and hit on drunker women. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Nothing.

So I show up and it's surprisingly full. The got big screens and flat screens all over, plenty of food, liquor looks plentiful, the women look friendly and all that's missing from the basement is a pole. I'm almost disappointed when the fight starts.

So as we watch Roy Jones play with Trinidad - beating his own stomach, poking out is chin, doing the Harlem Shake between rounds - the cops show up. In like round six.

Now this is a grown folks party. No weed. Everybody still got their clothes on. It's all cool.

Or rather it's not. Cause what has happened is some folks parked on the wrong side of the street.

Party Rule No. 6 - Parking - When partying at a home in a subdivision, one must take care that all invitees park on the same side of the street, as to not impede possible emergency traffic. Failure to follow this rule may result in local law enforcement ending the party prior to your planned time.

(As side note, I once had a party go so well, that 4am I called the cops on myself to get them folks out the house)

During the fight they start announcing that if you parked on the that side of the street, you need to move your car. For the number of folks there, that would be a whole lot of cars. Now, as we didn't all disgorge from the house like ants, a few rounds later the police decide that now...they want both sides of the street in the subdivision clear. Both sides?

I realize a rule or two was broken, but is that grounds to break up a peaceful gathering? Did I just get the new millennium equivalent of the fire hose? What just happened here?

Realizing that it would take the tow trucks time to arrive on scene, I watched until they read the decision, then broke camp. In the future, I'll be reviewing the rules and regulations regarding subdivision parking for wherever the hell I party.

Barkeep, make that a double shot of espresso. I need something strong.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - Tap

So last night Sporty hits me on the text and says she wants to get a drink. I'm not drinking, but I can always watch someone enjoy. So I flipped through the old mental rolodex of places we've been meaning to go, and picked the new gastropub Tap out of the air. We met up at around 6:30.

How do you describe this joint?

Tap is...well, something. It's a crowded little space on the corner of 14th and Peachtree in the lobby of the apply named 1180 Peachtree, the building in midtown with the wings on top. It's dark. The bartenders were friendly. They had a crowd on a slow Thursday. It's a really nice building, the building Tap is in. Real nice. Wings.

I'm really trying to be positive here.

First, this is the second spot I've been to this month that did not serve sweet tea. Quite frankly, I'm appalled at the ego it takes to do that in Atlanta. The was the first bad step. And it's a really small space, which means everyone is on top of the next person, which might work in the north which where you had to be from to think of this as a) a spot to stick a pub and b) to leave sweet tea off the menu. But never mind, as long as the food is good.

Um. They put the burger on a English muffin. Sporty was about to go athletize so she was carb loading, and she took the bartender's advice and got the burger with the shoestring fries. I got the Cuban. How was the food you ask? At the end of the meal, I gave Sporty a few bucks so she could stop by McDonalds on the way home. A burger on an english muffin may sound like a creative gastronomic variation, upmarket and all that, but in practice...not so much. She basically had a hamburger steak. My cuban was extra dry, and the slaw was still in the cup when I threw my napkin over the plate.

We will now address the fries. The shoestring fries get a separate mention, as for the first time the hostess literally stopped us and apologized for the fries as we left. I've had shoestring fries. Good shoestring fries. These were not they. They were fried too hard, so they were like potato sticks, which means you couldn't get at them with a fork, you couldn't pull them apart with your fingers, you couldn't them. The hostess said the chef had just come back off vacation. She promised us they were working on it.

Sporty wanted to go out for drink because she is disgusted with recent changes to her job and wanted to talk. We work at the same place and lately it's been getting rougher to work in her area. Someone just left, so they're down a person. But management doesn't want to hire anyone and says they're fine, then if someone wants time off they claim they're short of staff. They apparently want it both ways. Either way she's now looking for a new gig. Which is fucked up plus - first she got a man, then she's leaving the job. I'm still working thorough the guy shit, and if she quits I'm not sure I'd stay here much longer.

So the night started out on a down note, and the restaurant didn't exactly help.

Now if you want to drink, Tap might be the spot for you. It's very Abercrombie and Fitch (including the couple in their 30's across from us in matching sweaters!) but the bar has a full selection, with a few things you don't normally see on draft, and for the first time in Atlanta that I've seen, Wine taps! It's cozy, parking is complimentary, but it does get loud. If I had been drinking, this might have been okay.

Barkeep...Sweet Damn Tea. Well send down the street for some then!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Drink Sabbatical

Every year for the past few years, on January 1st I stop drinking for a while. A while being a varying period of time usually lasting from January to April or May. This is not like a drinker's normally stopping drinking, i.e, I stopped drinking for the night when I switched from hard liquor to beer, cause beer is like soda, no, this is a complete stoppage of the imbibing of all fermented, aged, distilled and or mixed together in a bucket beverages until such time as it's spring. And oddly my nickname is Bartender. Go figure.

A few years ago I had an accident on New Years Day, around 2am. I woke up January 1 in the hospital. I woke up January 2nd in the Intensive Care Unit. My understanding is that I just missed dying. Just.

Shade (a new addition to dis blog) drove two hours and snuck into the hospital to visit me. She drove two hours, stayed I guess and hour and then drove two hours back. But that's a whole different story.

You might think this prompted my getting out, doing more, but in reality it made me think harder about slowing down a bit, about taking the time to stop gallivanting in the streets and see what else was out there. I was already out and about five nights a week, jeez! Maybe this is all a dream and I'm still lying in that bed in ICU. And if that's the case I need a pillow.

Not tipping for four or five months is probably as close to empty as I can get, but I'll usually have one drink during my dry months at some point, but only one...usually at the behest of a beautiful woman. Sporty and I went to La Grotta during this period once, so we split a bottle of wine. At a party this chick I had always liked in brought her own ingredients to make me a pomegranate martini, so I had one. But other than that, no beer, no wine, no drink of any kind. Not even rum cake.

You would not believe the difference a drink makes.

Sometimes it's psychological. One drink hardly has any effect at all, but the idea of one drink is powerful. At a party or social event I feel more comfortable with a drink in my hand, sometimes even if the glass has been empty for a hour. It makes me more social, more talkative. It's like a license to be a little off.

Sometimes alcohol really does make you ten feet tall and bulletproof. It's why I got a phone number or two, I can't lie. It's why I've walked into a party house at I'd never been to like I owned it, not knowing a soul, and meeting some fantastic folks. I mean, they didn't throw me out, how bad could they be?

And I'm more observant stone sober, less forgiving. I'm more apt to leave a boring function early, whereas a drink or two might have encouraged me to wait it out (and some of the most interesting things happen after a good wait).

One of my partners just celebrated 2 years off the sauce, not that he had a problem, he just decided to quit. I'm not sure if I could ever do that. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Usually he and I hang out a lot more during this time.

So how long this time? Don't know. So how many more times? Don't know that either. But it's all gravy baby...and I got the gig.

Barkeep, red koolaid. What do you mean Cherry or Tropical Punch? I said RED koolaid!

Monday, January 14, 2008

2007 Football Rant #2

Now that the season is over...yeah, it's over the Cowboys are no longer playing to whatever happens after this point is moot in my personal opinion... I feel a need to comment on the state of the NFL as whole.

Not bad.

Fairly concise assessment, eh? The vast majority of the teams are in parity, even those at the top end of the spectrum have to struggle occasionally, and so the mantra "on any given Sunday any team could beat any other team" is still valid. Which is what makes pro football so much better than college. Yeah, I said it. And you don't know how many rabid college football fans I know.

I will try not to comment on the debacle that was the Bowl Championship Series this year. A series of over hyped games with mismatched opponents that turned into laffers early. After these "premium" teams failed to live up to their softball schedules, it turned into a round robin grab bag for bowl selection, which lead to well...what you saw. By contrast the NFL playoffs have been exciting down to the last few minute contests for two weeks now. Good old fashioned football. Why Green Bay even gave us a game in the snow, a throwback in this day and age.

The chick I hit on at the Playoff Party...I think she was pregnant. She was sitting down when I started talking to her, but when she stood up, I'm like WTF? Like two or three months, just barely showing, don't get it twisted. That was a total tangent, forget I said anything.

As I watched TO get emotional about losing, and I was ready to turn my phone off to avoid having to discuss this with the Cowboy haters (my brother, old girl in Jacksonville, etc), I thought stoically that it wasn't the end of the world. We'd suit up again next season, without Jacques Reeves at corner and put a lock on just as early next year as we did this year. And the year after that we get the new Texas Stadium...ahhh...

And in the off season, Tom Brady and Bill Belichek would get busted picking up a transsexual transvestite.

Man can dream.

Barkeep. Chivas Regal. with just a drop of branch water.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Conservations with God

I'm on my couch, the jazz playing in a dark room as this conversation begins like so many others. The jazz has no words, so no loose ideas penetrate. My conversation fills the space, but no sound other than Charlie Parker's horn is heard. I can feel the vibration of the world.

It's usually dark when I talk to him, as though the night hides his form as he listens to my story, a story he already knows. The music plays, the lazy melodies of jazz or the point and counterpoint of classical soothe my the fine cracks in my soul. I ask the questions I've asked a million times, on a thousand nights, sober and with my brain wrapped in the fumes of fine spirits, hoping the answers will hit me as an epiphany and sweep away the pain and explain the past, explain me.

They never come.

People tell me God gives you no more than you can handle. And though my journey has been blessed, there are nights when I felt as alone as anyone in the world. Nights I wanted to curl up and let go of reality.

I want to believe God answers in his own way. The random of the world shaping my outcomes, so that when I flip that mental coin he has his fingers in the grooves, pushing it so that I make his decision. Sometimes it's a song I haven't heard in ages or a book I never would have read that looks like the message, but I don't know if I even have the sight to see the answer even if it were handed to me. I might be deluding myself into thinking I'm important enough to warrant response.

The mood of my conversation is somber. Cries for clarity really, as we re-hash the past and all the decisions made, good or bad, right or wrong. Opportunities not missed, but laid aside. Moments that I wish I could have again if only one time. I pull the cushion closer, against the chill and the loneliness that causes the need for this dialogue with my creator to exist.

Sometimes I'm clear eyed. Sometimes the tears well in my eyes and fight to hold them in, afraid to let out the emotion that I've oh so carefully hidden away, for fear that it might consume me, cripple me. Sometimes I can feel the empty in my chest, like my soul has left me hollow as it goes in search of resolution. Sometimes it's like I'm talking to an old friend, who will listen just because I need to talk.

Why? Why not me? Why not now? Why did it have to be this way? Am I not worthy? Am I not good enough? Why in the grand scheme of things was this that felt so right not to be? And if not this, then what? The questions fade into gibberish most times, as prayer or sleep or whatever slides over me. Sometimes it's a chat, other times it's hours later I realize that I've been unmoving as I search into the ether for answers. One day I hope to be refreshed by the experience, but for now the sound in my own soul echos.

The music still plays now, piano with a lively tempo. The room seems colder and I wonder how many songs have played, how much time has passed this time. I've been talking, speaking, asking for two days and it feels like I just started a few seconds ago.

Maybe God wants me to stop talking.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - STATS

For our first outing in the new year, Sporty and I hit a little sports bar down near the dome called STATS. I type it in all caps cause damned if that's not how they spell it. It's around the corner from Lucky's and boasts 70 something flat screens so it's like ESPNzone without the branding, or when we got there, the service. When I called to see how it was gonna be they didn't even answer the phone at first, I got a recording, which should have been my first indicator. But looking at the online menu I figured Sporty could piece together a no-carb meal no problem.

The spot is nice, all clubby booths, metal girders and subdued lighting. They've got what looks like a lounge and stuff downstairs, and it's all corners and niches. The staff is in track jackets, so don't wear an Adidas sweat suit unless you want to get asked if you could bring some extra napkins. We got up from the bar to get a table, but looking back we should have stayed at the bar. Our server emerged only after somebody else had gotten our drink order and our food order and the food had shown up at the table. But this did mean a mix-up somewhere cause I think Sporty ended getting her fruit juice for free.

She got a salad...which I'm still marveling over, and I got the ribs. Normally her steak would be bigger than mine, but she's feeling out of shape (I have no idea why cause she looks great) and is back in the gym. I'm not that far behind her, I stopped walking cause it got cold but I got to get back out there. It's starting to look like I might get back to a six pack! (swear to gawd). Okay, maybe not a six, but I'm way way from where I started.

Back to the restaurant. My other jibe about STATS is that they don't have sweet tea. It's a staple of the south, and maybe that pesky extra step of pour sugar into the fresh brewed tea is too hard, but I know I can't be the first person to ask for it. Other than the service and tea, the food was good. Sporty's salad was huge, and the ribs were sticky and tender. She actually got a to go box for the salad.

On a personal note it's almost like we picked up right were we left off two months ago. We just about back in sync, something we'd both complain about if we hadn't hung out a while. It felt good.

Live in the moment.

Parking for STATS is funny, as there is no lot. You have to park in the garage for the hotel they're building across the street, and they've got those electronic ticket takers like at Atlantic Station. But the restaurant does validate. All in all a good trip. But it wasn't just the food.

Barkeep. Sweet Tea. yeah, sweet damn tea.

Friday, January 4, 2008

One many more to go?

Well it's true.

Oprah is magic.

Barak Obama's win the Iowa Caucasus, in which he beat his opponents not across the complete demographic spectrum, beating back the superbly coiffed John Edwards and Hillary "Yes I am evil but I'm on your side" Clinton, speaks of the nations need for change, the issues we have with the status quo, and that yes, one black woman in Chicago really is that powerful.

Okay there were many factors, including the dance-a-thon nature of the actual Democratic Iowa Caucuses (they really do get up and walk over to a sign saying we support this guy, no secret ballot), the weather and fact that it was the week of New Years. I quite frankly would have asked can't we do this in like a few weeks. But they played it anyway and Obama won in nearly every income bracket, and all the damn interest groups. He now takes the lead in New Hampshire, an enviable position.

But half the voters in New Hampshire signed their ballots independents. And the venerable Mr. Clinton lost Iowa the first time he came through, but managed to get a seat in the Oval office. So what's really out there?

Possibly a black president.

There I said it. There are those who say he's not really black, as he's mixed. That because his father was African, as in not of slaves, he's not really black. And I say what everybody else says, if he and I take a road trip to Mississippi and stop in the wrong spot, I don't think they'll check for bonafides as they haul out the rope and setup the portable tree. But then he doesn't need to be black. Oprah likes him. And that's enough for America. Look at Iowa.

The question Obama's people need to look at though, is how popular is Oprah in New Hampshire?

Barkeep...Evan Williams in a dirty glass.