Category Archives: Lexington-70’s

Sometimes It’s Jes’ Real Good

I enjoy Twitter and I generally find it more useful than not. Two sites I find consistently entertaining are those of Miss Punnypenny and Rex Chapman. Miss Punnypenny gives me my Scots word of the day and besides, I have a thing for redheads (ask Janie). Rex Chapman is Rex Chapman of the UK Wildcats…and he really likes and understands dogs.

Mr. Chapman recently posted a street cam video of a fellow faking an accident of a car striking him. It reminded me…

One day in my work life with Liquor Barn I received a notice from our insurance company that an action had been initiated by a customer who claimed that he had been assaulted by one of our cashiers with a shopping cart, knocked to the floor, and presumably damaged for life.

I looked at the date of the alleged occurrence. To no surprise, it was exactly 51 weeks before the filing of the complaint. There is a one-year window for such complaints. Many are filed just prior to the deadline. Funny how that is…

I pulled and reviewed the video for the alleged date, noting that this was gonna be hours of my life I was never gonna get back. I found the incident. The video clearly showed the customer being refused for attempting to purchase alcohol for the clearly under-aged companion, clearly standing off to the side of the transaction. When the cashier turned their back to remove the controversial merchandise from snatch-and-grab range, the customer clearly reached out and snatched a nearby shopping cart instead, and proceeded to kneel and then roll on the floor in distress. His young friend leapt to his assistance and they skipped out the door arguing with each other.

I smirked (a verb of which I am not proud) and filed the tape away with others on my that’s-the-last-I’ll-hear-of-this shelf.

I was wrong.

Within the hour, I received a phone call. It was from the complainant.

Caller; “This is John Diver.” (Names have been changed to protect the despicable).

Me; “Yes, Mr. Diver. What can I do for you?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“I do.”

“I’m suing you for damages.”

“I know.”

“What’re you gonna do about it?”

“…Nuthin’…”

“Don’t you wanna stay outta court?”

“I do.”

“Well, that’s where we’re goin’.”

“Okay.”

Here, there was a long, thoughtful pause. Then, he continued.

“You got video in that store?”

“Mr. Diver, I don’t have to answer your questions. Whether I have video or not will be established in the court in which you seem so anxious to be. When we are in that court, I’ll have to answer your questions and I think I can promise you a level of public embarrassment and perhaps, legal liability that Ripley wouldn’t believe. Until then…”

I never heard from Mr. Diver again.

  • Call their bluff.
  • Shine lights on their lies.
  • Shame their families.
  • Don’t imitate their mistakes.
  • If, in the past you have imitated their mistakes, resign and let someone unpolluted fix things.

Otherwise, as Miss Punnypennie might say, “Wheesht.”

The Good Doctor

Dr. Seuss did not teach me to read.

My mom did that…and Dick and Jane…and comic books.

On Tuesdays, before I started elementary school through about the second grade, the bookmobile would come to our neighborhood. It would park for the afternoon about five blocks from our house. Mom was then and is now a voracious reader. She and I would trudge to the bookmobile every week, toting our books we had checked out from the week before. It had to be done every week or our books would be overdue and there would be a fine to pay. Worse, the bookmobile lady would scowl. (Before you ask; no, her name was not Marion.)

We would trudge home and Mom would read my books to me or ask me to look at the pictures and tell her the story. I don’t remember any of the books being by Dr. Seuss.

What I remember clearly is the dagger I carried home in my chest from my first day of school. I had been assured that I would learn to read when I went to school. That was a big falsehood. We’ve heard a lot about “the big lie” lately. I experienced it in 1957. I had been to school for the day. I had not yet learned to read.

Shoot!

(I had also not yet added “damn!” to my vocabulary.)

Dick and Jane began to rectify that deficiency…the reading part, not the cussing.

Mom had lit a fire, Dick and Jane added the fuel, but comic books were the accelerant for my personal reading eternal flame.

The bookmobile wasn’t enough for Mom’s addiction. We would make regular foraging trips to

Mr. Dennis’s bookstore on North Lime; once known as Mulberry Street – how ‘bout that. Mom would carefully choose her treasures while I would plunge into the comic book table. Archie and Veronica and Batman and Superman and Aquaman and Casper, the Friendly Ghost gave me stories to imagine and tell and later read.

I didn’t really discover Dr. Seuss until I was in high school.

I took a part-time job in the Children’s Department of the Lexington Public Library all through high school. I shelved books, checked them in and out, read just about all of them, and guided kids, parents, and kiddie-lit students from Transylvania University.

I loved Dr. Seuss. I dove into McElligot’s Pool. I loafed in awe down Mulberry Street. I improved on the zoo and the circus. I heard Who’s with Horton. I scrambled to thwart oobleck and deal with half a thousand hats along with Bartholomew Cubbins. I fretted about how to corral the Cat in the Hat’s Thing 1 and Thing 2 before the parents returned. I loved the rhymes, the nonsense words, and the drawings. But mostly, I was captured by the wide-eyed wonder of the stories’ participants.

I wasn’t alone.

Dr. Seuss books were a hot item in the library when I worked there. They were constantly checked out. They were read to pieces. Their tattered covers were repaired or replaced every year. Many a child would drag themselves through other books imposed on them by teachers and parents just to be rewarded with a romp with the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who.

That Mister Grinch may been a “foul one”, but I’m sure he taught a goodly number of children to read.

They didn’t seem to be offended or hurt by the drawings, but the readers then were overwhelmingly white and didn’t think much about those that might not be.

I certainly wasn’t offended or hurt…and…ditto.

Actually…I’m still not hurt or offended. I’m also not hurt or offended by Hugh Lofting’s drawings in his Dr. Doolittle books. I’m not hurt or offended by Harper Lee’s depiction of the white racist father in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I’m not offended or hurt by Charlie Chan, or Archie Bunker, or Stan Laurel, or the Three Stooges.

I do however, have people in my life I care about who are stung by these things. I care about these people and would not have them hurt. I don’t mind at all if they choose to not watch or read these artists and works. And if their non-watching and non-reading reduces the financial viability of the works and causes them to be not be published or reproduced, that’s the way it goes. That’s business.

The government didn’t do it. The Left didn’t do it. The Right didn’t do it. The Church didn’t do it. The Proud Boys didn’t do it. The deep state didn’t do it.

The market did it.

I collect books. I cherish the feel of bindings and pages. I always want every book to be always published.

The market dictates otherwise.

Sigh…

OK.

Can we now know better and be better?

The Thrill of Opening Night

Once upon a time long, long ago, theatre was invented. About 15 minutes later, I was cast in a production of George Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion.

Peering back through the nainsook scrim of geezer memory, it seemed like a real good time.

The planet, at the time, was lousy with hippies…when hippies were still hippies and not yet freed from the specter of the Selective Service. Student loans and Aids had not yet been invented. Ways were free, which was good ‘coz we didn’t have much money. But, as Bob Dylan explained; “When ya got nuthin’, ya got nuthin’ to lose…How does it feel?” Well…actually…it felt pretty good.

There was no snow ever. I didn’t own a coat. For a buck-ninety-nine you could get a 21-shrimp plate (plus fries and a drink) for a vegan (as defined in those days before we learned to spell keto and sushi) lunch at the Kampus Korner. Two more bucks would get you a burger and a beer at the Paddock Club for dinner. I didn’t need the beer so I was left with some change for the pinball machine. Besides, I had rehearsal for Androcles and the Lion to navigate and needed a clear head.

Androcles and the Lion featured an actor in a floppy lion suit growling and crawling about the stage. Imagine… a university training students for a then non-existent career as a sports team mascot. Still, our last governor would have preferred that to teaching them about French literature.

And you just know that’s gotta be cool.

Not-So-Proud Boy

I remember I played a beggar/criminal type in rags and scabs. I remember I yelled a lot. I remember I was definitive. I was excellent. I was the reason to buy a ticket.

I remember being shocked that the play’s review overlooked my six lines. I assume it was a rigged review.

I recall there was a character named Ferrovius; another poor person destined to be devoured in the arena. Ferrovius would come to the theatre each night, put on his make-up, and dress for the show. He would then report to the costume shop, where the costumer would tease and spray his hippie-ish hair into a foot high maelstrom of chaos. Ferrovius would then leave the costume shop, march directly to the full-length mirror in the green room, whip out a comb, and fiddle with his “do” until he had a Troy Donahue thing happnin’ that Troy woulda envied.

Proud Boy

In those ancient days, this is what we called a Proud Boy.

I learned from watching this routine.

I knew that as a species, we lie.

I learned from this observation that within the spectrum of deceit we practice, we lie most fiercely to ourselves. We preach against vanity and we teach against vanity as a cautionary tale in the theatre.

But then we put a full-length mirror in the green room.

(sigh…)

But in a world of modern Proud Boys, and coronaviruses, and children in cages, and the designated hitter, this vanity and self-foolery seems more charming than destructive.

One night I watched our Androcles rehearsal of the first scene. It was a lively and erudite scene between Androcles and his harridan wife. It ended with the wife slapping Androcles. Ah, that Shavian wit.

I knew the actor playing Androcles, and I had done a couple of shows with the actress playing his wife. After his scene, Androcles and I were chatting and I decided to be helpful.

“You know, I’ve worked with your wife. She’s a remarkable actress.”

“Yes. I’m glad she’s playing the part.”

“You may not know…uh…she…uh…gets very…uh…pumped up…on opening night. You…might want to be prepared.”

“Oh, I get excited too! It’ll be great.”

I watched the opening scene from the wings on opening night. The big first moment came. The wife’s eyes grew eggs-over-easy. Her hair began to rise like Sigourney Weaver’s in Ghostbusters. Her face ruddy-fied to borderline ruby. She inhaled and several audience members fainted from the dip in available oxygen.

Pounded Boy

She swung.

It was titanic.

Her heels were firmly planted. Her hips opened in front of her shoulders. The arm came through after the hips with flashing bat speed, and the launch angle was a pure 30 degrees.

Androcles dropped straight to his knees on contact and spun 180 degrees, which was good: it left him aimed in precisely the correct direction to slither off the stage.

There were several seismic centers in the region that measured the event and one even issued a tsunami alert before realizing the Town Branch of the Elkhorn Creek was completely underground in Lexington.

No one was seriously hurt and the play went on and I was great…all six lines spot on.

I don’t really remember a bit of what I did.

Probably, after that first scene, Androcles didn’t remember either.

At least he didn’t include it in his autobiography.

Meal-Planning in the Time of the Cholera

… or a kind of compulsory tailgating.

I’m gonna steal this term from my friend Tyler Madison. He used to live quite near to Commonwealth Stadium (as do Janie and I). During home football games, we get barricaded by game traffic and can’t easily leave the house. This mostly pleasant imprisonment initiates a scouring of the pantry for sustenance. Sometimes the results are, shall we say…creative?

These internal foraging skills have served us in good stead during this year of “sheltering at home” (euphemism for “occasionally being too lazy to go out”).

Hunting and gathering in the wilds of the kitchen cabinets…

Tonight we were, shall we say…fortunate?

Janie had recently made a Trader Joe’s run. With demonic glee, she announced the night’s menu;

  • Asparagus Risotto.
  • Misto alla Griglia (Marinated Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini)
  • Garlic Naan (Indian Bread)

Wow.

Just wow.

Be still my bleating tummy.

I have a couple of thoughts about this roster of edibles.

  1. Tonight’s meal is comprised 100% of delicacies I had never heard of much less eaten until
  1. I was deep into my twenties. Growing up, my dad considered a meal pretty much complete as long as it contained pork chops, brown beans, and fried potatoes. You could add more if you wished, but those dishes were basic sustenance.
  2. It would not have surprised me to find that this meal was accompanied by a disclaimer; “No animals were hurt or destroyed by this meal”.

Now, all that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the feast.

I am a lucky guy.

Turning Toward the Morning

One of my favorite voices belongs to a singer/songwriter/sailor/boat builder from Maine. His name is Gordon Bok. I’ve never sailed nor built a boat and I’ve never been to Maine. Thus, I don’t always understand what he’s singing about. He sings about north winds and waves and storms and nautical conversations with meteorological entities. He describes negotiations between fishermen and the elements. He keens of the fearful waiting of a fishing community awaiting either a reassurance of their loved ones’ return after a storm, or a mortal tally of the lost.

No, I don’t always understand his jargon or his tales, and I suspect that often what I do understand is incomplete and inaccurate.

But he sings so beautifully.

One of his songs, Turning Toward the Morning, resonates with me as this difficult year swirls around its sordid drain. In it, Mr. Bok describes;

“When October’s growin’ thin and November’s comin’ home, you’ll be thinking of the seasons and the sad things that you’ve seen. And you’ll hear that old wind walkin’, hear him singin’ high and thin. You could swear he’s out there singin’ of your sorrow.”

I heard that old wind.

I heard it a few years ago in a small vacation rental on the moors of Nantucket Island. It never ceased. It whispered and rumbled and insisted. It sighed and soughed and implied. It whistled and crooned and threatened. It was intimate and indifferent and in control. Janie and I fled back to Kentucky.

I hear that old wind now.

I hear it on the news. I sift the news of its reality show trappings as best I can. I know they’re driven to create desire in me for reverse mortgages, free transportation to my yearly checkups, clean gutters, drugs with manufactured names I can’t pronounce, miracle pillows, and miracle spring water. I don’t mind this hucksterism. Hell, I grew up thinking I could order eyeglasses from my comic books that would enable me to see through people’s clothes.

No, I need the news services for the facts I can glean, not for that old wind “singin’ of my sorrow.”

I hear that old wind in the concerns of my friends.

My friends are smart (most of the time), optimistic (most of the time), and want to do the next right thing (pretty much all of time). But, for the most part, they are not spring chickens. They fret to near bitterness that they will not get to see the results of the great repair job that began on January 20, 2021. That old wind murmurs that it will take time to inoculate everyone to thwart the pandemic, it will take time to re-staff and refocus our efforts to build the better country we were building before the vandals were allowed entrance, it will take time…

So what.

We still must begin.

We have begun before, and I for one enjoyed that beginning. I’ll enjoy this one as well.

Mr. Bok scratches his head over our fretting;

“It’s a pity we don’t know what the little flowers know. They can’t face the cold November. They can’t take the wind and snow. They put their glories all behind them, bow their heads and let it go. But you know they’ll be there shinin’ in the morning.”

Put your glories all behind you. Bow your head and let it go. There are new glories to create.

Ronald Reagan’s campaign told us “It’s morning in America.” (LOUD BUZZER) Wrong! Thank you for playing.

The morning is now.

It always is……now.

It will be glorious and exciting. Just what us geezer-refugees from the Age of Aquarius need…a mission bigger and longer-lasting than ourselves.

Mr. Bok;

“If I had a thing to give you, I would tell you one more time that the world is always turning toward the morning.”

It is the dawning.

Be there…

…shinin’.

Quisling

A geezer moment.

Remember, on TV, usually in the evening, during the non-prime-time that local stations would set aside for PSA’s (public service announcements, run for free to prove why the station is worthy of their precious license to broadcast), an earnest, usually unfamiliar face would appear on the screen and say; “Hi, I’m (name of unfamiliar face), and today’s WORD FROM UNITY is…” They would state a word and proceed to expound inspirationally on that word. It was an effort to make the viewer think and be better.

I don’t think it was particularly effective.

I don’t remember it continuing for too long.

Why?

Well…the words weren’t really that interesting, truth be told. Of course, at that time, how interesting could they be? There was no internet, no Google. If the word was at all outré, you’d have to go to the library to look it up!

Well, that was then. This is now.

Hi, I’m Roger Leasor, and today’s WORD FROM UNITY (whatever UNITY is) is; quisling.

Quisling.

Look it up.

Read a bit about the man himself. You already know him and his regime pretty well.

I think the word could be useful in the next few months and, perhaps, years.

The Crimes of the Black Cat

Movie night!

The Crimes of the Black Cat sounds like it should have been directed by Roger Corman and should have starred Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Wrong! Thank you for playing.

This gem’s a nasty little giallo from 1972 featuring the always-pleasant-to-look-at Silva Koscina. You could have loved her in Hercules (1958), Lisa and the Devil (1973), and The House of Exorcism (1975)…but probably didn’t. You might have loved her in Uncle Was a Vampire (1959), but if you did, therapy should be seriously considered – I have some names. It also features the always wooden Anthony Steffen. I doubt if you loved him in Django the Bastard (1969) or The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) but I couldn’t resist the name-dropping opportunity – and what names. Mr. Steffen also held his own with acting giant Lee Majors in Killer Fish (1979).

The director of the film, Sergio Pastore, has few credits, but four years before making tonight’s film, he directed; Chrysanthemums for a Bunch of Swine.

What kind of mind…?

Can you picture that on a marquee?

In the 60’s and 70’s, my generation was “…working on our night moves…” (Bob Seger), and trying to find “…paradise by the dashboard lights…” (Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf), at the drive-in theater. The screen entertained and encouraged our fumbling explorations with dancing hot dogs, buttercup popcorn, and Hammer Studio’s latest vampire/Frankenstein/mummy flicks, all with pristine sets, light from everywhere, and buxom babes in peril wearing lots of clothes with puffy sleeves. These were horror movies, but every victim died clean and the blood spilled was bright Christmas red. These were horror movies, but the monsters, be they covered by fur, bandages, or cape, felt as if they’d had a shower reasonably recently. Said monsters might assault a woman, but generally, the camera cut away from the actual deed, and clothes though disheveled and ripped, remained strategically intact even when sinking in quicksand.

Damn.

I admit profound ignorance about the existence of drive-in theaters in Europe during this time. But I discovered the “drive-in” films they were then making in Europe were clearly different…and I have been drawn to watch them like a car crash ever since.

They are sexy; occasionally fleetingly and implied, but often prolonged and explicit, and there are no warning labels.

They are violent; occasionally fleetingly and implied, but often prolonged and explicit, and there are no warning labels. Organs and limbs could, at any moment, become free to roam willy-nilly.

They are dark. Light with no discernible source is non-existent. In many scenes, light of any kind is non-existent.

The sets, in many cases are real…and often older than our country…and they do not feel as if they’d had a shower this century.

These films are foreign…foreign in language, and sensibility, and foreign to my personal history and experience.

That does not make them wrong.

It makes them interesting.

It does not make them good.

Just interesting.

That’s good enough for me.

Tonight’s film, The Crimes of the Black Cat is far from original. If you saw Blood and Black Lace (1964), which, frankly, would stun me, you know this story. The Crimes of the Black Cat is clearly and simply a second artistic take on a story that clearly and simply didn’t need a first take.

It does feature some novel weapons of murder; a yellow Volkswagen, a cat with poisoned claws, and a hole in the ground. It does surpass my friend Eric Johnson’s bar (not known for its height) for filmic pulchritude. It fails utterly in my friend Joe Gatton’s Creative Backlighting Standard.

Otherwise, I’ve seen it. I loved it. You can skip it. You’re welcome.

Standing Still for Michael Rennie

Movie Night!

But first, a Geezer Moment.

In the early 60’s there were three – count’em – three TV channels from which to choose. They were each affiliated with a national network; ABC, NBC, or CBS. One Saturday night, one of those national networks scheduled a program entitled “Saturday Night at the Movies”. The content that first Saturday night was a full-length motion picture from 1951; The Day the Earth Stood Still. The film unexpectedly drew a big audience and within a couple of years, we had “Monday Night at the Movies”, “Tuesday Night at the Movies”, “Wednesday Night at the Movies”, et al.

Hey! It was better by far than all the current reality shows. Gort and Klaatu were certainly more appealing than Honey Boo-Boo and “Love After Lockup.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still was great.

  • Any cast that included Aunt Bee (Francis Bavier), Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), and a giant robot had to be worth watching.
  • When spaceships start landing at the shortstop position of the Lincoln Monument’s local baseball field, you know attention must be paid.
  • When the military doctor says of the alien visitor; “He makes me feel like a witch doctor” and then proceeds to light up a Marlboro, you know you’re in deep waters.

70 year old dialogue exchanges that sound like they could be uttered today;

Military Bigwig; “Your impatience is quite understandable.”

Alien Guy; “I am impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.”

Military Bigwig; “I’m afraid my people haven’t. I’m very sorry…I wish it were otherwise.”

I’m guessin’ the Alien Guy didn’t have much patience with talk radio either.

Or this exchange at the Arlington Cemetery;

Little Bobby; “Is it different where you’ve been? Don’t they have places like this?”

Alien Guy; “Well, they have cemeteries, but not like this one. You see, they don’t have any wars.

Little Bobby; “Gee, that’s a good idea.”

Gee…….ya think?

I love this flick.

Klaatu barada nikto, y’all.

Varney’s Posse

I had the great good luck to be about the same age as Jim Varney aka Ernest.

I met Jim when we were both in high school, long before he had saved Christmas. When we met, Jim was already legendary as a high school actor and was already developing riffs and routines that would later evolve into his standup routines and, of course, Ernest. A typical conversation with Jim during this time featured only a tiny amount of Jim. Instead, you found yourself deeply involved in philosophical (and ludicrous) discussions with Jim-Bob, Lloyd Rowe, the All-Teeth State Trooper, Studley Hungwell, the Low-Life Sisters (Bunny Jeanette, Juanita Dean, & the baby Nylon), and the totally evil Greenbury Deathridge.

Well…truth be told, you found yourself simply struggling to get a word in at all with that crowd. And whatever the topic of the confab, you were always too slow, interrupted, and outvoted.

One of those early high school routines featured a hopeless teenager called “petite little small ass Donnie”. This poor chump’s claim to fame was that he spent all day sitting on his grandmother’s couch watching TV. His response to everything was; “Got any cake?”

Our cat, Sprite, reminds me a great deal of petite little small ass Donnie. She has a similar agenda.

I love the kitten.

And I still miss Jim…all of the hims.

Well…maybe not Greenbury.

Geezer Survey

A friend of mine had an epiphany recently. He dolefully claims he now knows he’s a codger. He’s a smart guy who’s picking up on the hints; knee replacement, triple bypass …the mirror in his bathroom.

Good for him for being so perceptive.

What about the rest of us? How will we know when codgerdom assumes control?

I see all these surveys on Facebook and what they promise to tell me about myself. No disrespect, but I don’ need no stinkin’ surveys, especially ones powered by my birth month and the first letter of my second dog’s name.

I can make my own survey.

Here is a Lexington Geezer Survey and I invite you to take it. If you do, I’ll be happy to evaluate your response using the same scientific protocols currently being used to determine charge/blocking calls in college basketball – I’ll guess wildly.

Be honest now…because…well…why not?

Also feel very free to relate stories, rationales, and/or pertinent limericks to enhance your response.

Seriously, you don’t really have to be honest about this nonsense…because…well…who cares? And nobody’s fact-checking.

Lexington Geezers, here’s your chance to demonstrate if you’re a real “Nighthawk Special” or merely a “Tabletopper” (extra credit for understanding those references).

Here goes;

  1. Just to get it out of the way right away and establish a base line; choose – Ginger or Mary Ann?
  2. It’s 2am Sunday morning and you’ve dropped off your date; choose – Jerry’s on North Broadway or Southland Drive?
  3. More nuanced questions; choose – Warner Oland or Sidney Toler? Sean Connery or Daniel Craig?
  4. The Ben Ali or the Strand? (You’ll get some credit for even understanding the question.)
  5. The best Felix Leiter; choose – Norman Burton, Bernie Casey, David Hedison, Cec Linder, Jack Lord, Rik Van Nutter, or Jeffrey Wright? Good grief!
  6. Did you ever attempt the “Steak for Two” at Columbia’s by yourself? How many drinks do you remember having had that evening?
  7. The best Bond girl; choose – Ursula Andress, Daniela Bianchi, or Ursula Andress…or Ursula Andress?
  8. Artie Kay or Billy Love?
  9. The Torqués, the Mag 7…or…the Mercy Men?
  10. And for more extra credit – a) Did you ever get a 9-cent banana split from those balloons at Woolworth’s? And b) Do you think they really existed? If you answered yes to “a”, I hate you. If you answered yes to “b”, I have a bridge I’d like sell you.

Knock yourself out!

Or should I say; “Sock it to me!”