Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why reality trumps comedy

Occasionally I like to try to write with a more comic slant because, well, some things just strike me funny sometimes and I want to share that with you; I want to make you laugh out loud or at least chuckle a little. If I've done that, this is a good day.

But I swear to Jesus the best, the very best stuff, that's the things that you read in the paper or see on tv or that somehow fall into your lap, the reminders that people are the craziest animals.

I often clip things out of the paper or from other things I read or make notes. And then I find them again (sometimes years later) and I have to figure out what to do then.

Here's one of my favorites that just resurfaced from the rubble on my desk -- clipped from the obituary section of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In loving memory . . .
Heaven's gates were opened wide
When you with your Cutlass drove inside.
There is absodamnlutely nothing I could ever write as good as this.

The best ballgame I saw all year long

Saw the final game of the Little League World Series this evening and I got to tell you, it's the most enjoyable game I've seen in a long long time.

The action was great. Watching those young men run around the field, bat, throw, and those wonderful pitchers -- it was all so good, so good. The joy of the game was so evident.

I cried at the end -- who says there's no crying in baseball? -- happy for the winners, sad for the losing team. When they all ran up the hill afterwards, all of them, both teams, I thought that was the greatest thing.

Did they all get to go to Dairy Queen afterwards, that's what I want to know. I hope so.

Katrina: America Held Hostage

Heard on the news this evening that President Bush is visiting New Orleans tomorrow.

My first thought was, God, haven't those people suffered enough?

I guess not.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chocolate in the news

Chocolate Virgin Mary image restores faith

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Excited workers in a California candy factory are claiming they witnessed a miracle when a glob of chocolate formed an image of the Virgin Mary.

"It's absolutely a miracle," said Jacinto Santacruz, 26, a Mexican-born Roman Catholic who found the 2-1/2 inch chunk of chocolate this week at Bodega Chocolates in Fountain Valley and saw in it a likeness of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I have seen Jesus many times when eating chocolate, but usually it has to be really dark and very expensive, though even block Hershey Special will do in a pinch when the dark fever strikes.

Visitors to the candy statue have stated that the chocolate has renewed their faith.

I'm all for that -- we don't have near enough faith around here and that's a natural fact -- since there's no chocolate in the house obviously my faith needs renewing as well. Maybe I need to do a little prayin' up towards Saint Ethel M.

Man Trapped Waist-Deep In Chocolate

It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but stepping into a vat of chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old man Friday morning.

The man, an employee of a Kenosha company that supplies chocolate ingredients, told police he got into the tank at Debelis Corp. to unplug it and became trapped waist-deep in the chocolate.

"It was pretty thick. It was virtually like quicksand," said Police Capt. Randy Berner.

(Seriously, I'm glad he's okay.)

"You got people in my chocolate!"

A message on race relations from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

I see former Atlanta mayor, former envoy to the United Nations, and (until this happened) former all-around Good Guy Andrew Young has disclosed that he is a racist.

In an interview, Young was asked whether he was concerned that Wal-Mart causes smaller, mom-and-pop stores to close.

"Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few blacks own these stores."

He now apologizes; gee, there's lots of "I'm sorry" floating around here these days, isn't there? I'm all for forgiveness -- you can't expect to be forgiven for your own sins if you can't forgive others -- but dang, this is hard to take.

A recent obituary from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comes to mind, here's exactly what Mr. Andy is talking about:

News Obituary Article

Yetta Danneman, 85, store owner


Now there's a trendy coffeehouse at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Boulevard, keeping the loft-dwellers around it stoked on caffeine.

For 47 years, though, the spot belonged to Danneman's Super Market, where Yetta DAnneman helped keep the predominantly black neighborhood around it feeling welcome and well-fed.

Until they sold it in 1986, Mrs. Danneman and her late husband Marcus O. Danneman ran their mom-and-pop grocery store with a colorblind approach to customer service that was so startlingly evenhanded for its day that it often rankled those less enlightened.

She and her husband, who died in 1988, made sure their store served the Auburn Avenue area fairly and honestly during the peak of the civil rights movement. They befriended scores of community leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and his family members, who lived a few blocks from their store.

Her husband was a pallbearer at the Rev. King's funeral and the couple braved a crowd of hecklers to attend a Nobel Prize dinner for Dr. King at the downtown Dinkler Hotel in 1965, said her sister Mildred Pizitz of Huntsville, Ala.

"Yetta passed right through those protesters because she knew what was right," her sister said. "She was the stronget, most courageous and most big-hearted person I've ever known."

Yetta Shonson Danneman, 85, of Atlanta died of heart failure Sunday at St. Joseph's Hospital. The graveside service was Monday. Dressler's Jewish Funeral Care was in charge of arrangements.

The Meridian, Miss., native moved to Atlanta when she was 11, graduated from Commercial High School in 1939 and got married on Pearl Harbor Day in 1941.

While her husband was off at war, she ran the grocery for several years, then worked side-by-side with him for the next four decades. They set up credit accounts for customers who had never had them before, made free home deliveries, and slipped candy to children when no one was looking.

"Yetta said, 'Thank you, ma'am' and 'Thank you, sir' to all her customers even back in the '40s because that's how our daddy taught us," her sister said. "He made her give money to poor people on the street when she was growing up in Mississippi and that's where her values came from."

Mrs. Danneman also co-owned Carter's Department Store across the street from the grocery, where Coretta Scott King and other neighbors bought stylist outfits, her sister said.

She entertained touring members of the Metropolitan Opera at her home, volunteered with Jewish organizations, and reigned as the undisputed family matriarch said her granddaughter Julie Cohen of Atlanta.

A straight talker with a strong Southern drawn, Mrs. Danneman insisted on hosting Sunday dinners every Sunday, Ms. Cohen said.

"We all had to be there, all the generations, whether we were mad at each other or not, and if you weren't there you'd have to answer to Yetta about it," she said.

She had a rough outer shell and a real soft inside. She meant business and she meant what she said and she was the boss and you didn't cross the line with her, but she told us that she loved us constantly."

Survivors include her daughters Lynda Rubenstein and Sandra Rich, both of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Nancy Isenberg of Atlanta; a son, Mark Danneman of Atlanta; two other sisters, Joann Schwarz and Florence Davan, both of Atlanta; six other grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 8/9/2006.

Dang, I regret not having met Yetta; what a fabulous lady!

And hey, thanks Andy, for showing us your true color(s). How ugly.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Banking with the King of Rock-n-Roll

Delivered to my inbox this morning on the 29th anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley:

Greetings to you,

A meeting was held recently in our bank and I was reminded once again of locating a next of kin to our private banking client Messrs Elvis whose last name I am not disclosing now for the purpose of confidentiality. He died intestate and did not nominate an inheritor or heir to inherit the title of investments made with at our bank. Being his personal account officer all responsibilities on finding an heir to his deposit is usually directed to me and for the last two years all my efforts on finding an heir to late Mr. Elvis is futile and this is my purpose of contacting you knowing that you share the same last name.

Should we work as a team and do the process that will nominate you as the Next-of-Kin since you share the same surname/last name with him, with all the necessary documentation pointing in your direction (tentatively) and the bank release the deposit to you as the closest surviving relative?

Please cc your respond at your earliest convenience to and be sure to include your full name and address, your phone/fax number(s) with the best time to reach you.

Yours Sincerely,

Raymond Morris
Private Banking Division.
London, United Kingdom

Dear Mr. Morris:

Thank you, thank you very much.

Elvis has left the (bank) building.

Last of the Red-Hot Gong Strikers

I'm one of those people who really loves old movies, so it was with some sadness that I saw this in the NYTimes the other day:

"Ken Richmond, the 6-foot-5, ripple-armed wrestler who for decades was seen striking the gong that heralded the opening credits for dozens of films produced by the J. Arthur Rank Studio in England, died on Aug. 3 at his home in Christchurch, on England’s south coast. He was 80."

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the gong strikes,
It strikes for thee.

Good night J. Arthur Rank, wherever you are.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In praise of wise men

Just got in from a most enjoyable evening with that rarest and most delicious of people, someone who is well read and thoughtful.

I'm not sure when being smart and informed got to be so wrong but I'm most grateful there's at least one person I know who don't wanna be right.

Bless his heart, I was so tickled to be doing this I would probably have kept him up all night if he could have stood it -- he was a good sport about it though, not a lot of guys would put up with a woman that just wanted to talk like this.

It was also rhetoric-free, which was a tremendous joy; these days you can't hardly exchange any words at all without getting shot with the Gatling gun of political commentary.

The evening ended long before we ran out of stuff to talk about. I could stand to do this some more.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The love apple, Southern style

Today our good friend Og the wise and powerful talks about the glory of the summer season and the only two things that money can't buy, that being, of course, true love and homegrown tomatoes.

I've been fortunate enough to have some of both and especially on one memorable summer day where I really hit the jackpot.

I was still being the Southern expatriate in New York and was coming home to visit family . . . and the Love of My Life was also to home. And when I told him when I was coming in to Hartsfield he said, "Let me pick you up at the airport. I'll have you paged when I get there."

And so he did. Delta said, "Please meet your party outside by the taxi stand."

I stepped out into the late summer swelter to find not a taxi but a motorhome pulling up to the curb and the Love Of My Life behind the wheel.

He was wearing a big smile . . . and nothing else. Oh, and I could tell he was very glad to see me.

I climbed aboard the motorhome and dazedly took a seat. He asked me about my trip as he pulled away from the curb and towards the exit. Turned out he had a ticket for the parking garage that he had to pay first, so we navigated over there. He was chatting like he always does when fully dressed, like being completely nekkid was not an issue. When we pulled up to the cashier he handed her the ticket and the money and they exchanged words and money like she was not dealing with a man who was without a stitch of clothing. He wished her a blessed day and we drove away from the airport.

He said, "Got something for you in the kitchen; I knew you'd be hungry." In the kitchen area was a table set for one with a tall glass of iced tea and a sandwich, a true Southern-style delight: The boy had taken two slices of fresh soft white bread and spread them liberally with mayonnaise (the real thing; none of this salad dressing or low-fat nonsense) and thin slice upon thin slice of fully ripe beefsteak tomato. Salt and pepper were the only accessory items which is as it should be with a properly made tomato sammich.

I dealt with my lunch first; tomato sandwiches have a very short life. Once fortified, I then tackled the greater issue of what do you do with a naked RV driver.

In all my romantic misadventures this takes the prize for surreal . . . and for delicious.

This weekend I hope to be shopping at the farmers' market, or I'll look for a farm stand, someone with a truck and bushel baskets by the side of the road. I'll look for some beefsteaks, not the pretty ones but the gnarly heirloom ones, the big red softballs that twist around the sweet vines. A loaf of fresh white bread (here, Colonial is the best for this purpose), a jar of Hellmans, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and you got yourself the joy of the season on a plate. I will definitely have one; I may have two.

The Love of My Life sold his motorhome a few years ago and now he loves another. But his gift and that day is with me still, my most unforgettable Southern Man. Thank you, dear heart.

Thank you for voting

A big shout out to all of you that voted Tuesday, especially those good folk in the 4th District. Whoever wins election in November will give us representation and will do a fine job.

I hope Ms. McKinney finds something worthwhile to occupy her time and ultimately becomes a footnote in the pages of history and a question on Jeopardy! "I'll take 'annoying people who used to be in the news' for $50, Alex."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Runoff (to your local polling place)

Today a few Georgians will meander over to the polls and vote in the primary runoff election.

There's good reason to do so if for nothing else the fact being that it's the only chance you have to influence the political process, even if just in the slightest.

For me it's also a chance to vote against The Cutest Little Socialist On Two Feet, as Neal Boortz described Cynthia McKinney. (I've always wondered how he gets those capital letters in there when he says that on the radio, but that's how it comes out, I swear.) All those that think she speaks truth to power will be casting their votes so I got to throw mine in the pot as well.

If you're in my district, I hope you do the same.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's all about elegance.

Got some checks from the printers that service my bank today and they had a little flyer tucked in showing new offerings in checkwriting.

First off it seems counterproductive to do this; you just GOT checks, you're not gonna say "Oh god, I could have Latin Landscapes, what the hell was I thinking!" and just throw them in the shredder and ask for more. (Well, I'm not, anyway.)

And some of the choices are just . . .

It's page after page of "elegant." "FREE elegant lettering." Checks with American scenes. Checks with dolphins, with cats, with dogs, with babies, with Snoopy . . . elegant racetracks, elegant angels, even. . .

and then I turned the page.

You can do your banking with that fine financial professional Mr. Potato Head.


Yeah, I couldn't believe it either.

I'm sure it says a lot about someone who pays their bills with Mr. Potato Head; I'm not exactly sure what.

No thanks. I'm holding out for "My Little Pony."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.

I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals. I pray for your desires that they be great, rather than for your satisfation, which may be so hazardously little.

A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall. The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud, wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for larger and finer growth.

Not always shall you be what you are now.

You are now going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you--Carl Sandburg

Thursday, August 03, 2006

50 years of serving you

This week is the 50th Anniversary Celebration for Manuel's Tavern, an icon of good times and cold beer here in Atlanta. Manuel's is a neighborhood hangout as well as ground central for much of local politics and has been for time out of mind. If the walls could talk there a lot of people would be in big trouble.

I've been drinking there sporadically for most of my life; it's a comfortable place for beer and burgers and you'll never know who you'll wind up talking to. It's always fun and occasionally fascinating. Myself and the Marching Abominables are playing Sunday afternoon, we mostly wind up at Manuel's after rehearsals and after a lot of our performances, it's home for us on Tuesday nights too.

If you're in the area, stop in this week. Have a beer. Talk with some of the hardest working and longest-employed staff around; some of them have been there 30 years and longer, which is a testament to how special that place really is.

Manuel, alas, has left us, he went to that big barroom in the sky a couple of years ago. He is greatly missed, though stories are frequently told, and most of them are true. For example, he bears some responsibility for the election of Jimmy Carter; the first fund raisers for Jimmy's campaigns were at Manuels Tavern in part because Billy Carter (remember him? Billy Beer?) had run up a big bar tab there. Manuel himself was not only the biggest Yellow Dog Democrat going, he was a Democrat in the style of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, though that didn't keep him from being an effective county CEO during his own time in office. He did much for us in DeKalb.

A caution to the nicotine-sensitive: This is one of the few places left on the planet that not only allows smoking but damn near encourages it, so be prepared. Because of this, no kids allowed. They'll just have to smoke out behind the building like we did at their age.

Manuel said, "Anybody who don't like this life is crazy." Most days I agree with him.