Tag Archives: uncles

Strange Days

I’m the Lizard King. I can do anything. ~ Jim Morrison

There was a very good program on American Masters on PBS tonight, When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors by Tom DiCillo. The Doors were peaking when I was very young, but I had the advantage of growing up with an older brother. The music of his era (60s) became the foundation for my musical tastes, regardless of my youth at the time. The Doors and Jim Morrison were one group that influenced me greatly in my misspent youth. I have most of their albums in my collection.

Remember albums? They’re these black plastic disk-like things with concentric grooves embedded in them. When a stylus travels within these grooves, a magic occurs. It’s a magic that brings the twisted genius of a man like Morrison into your living room. It fills your head with the images and the rhythms that were swirling around in Jim’s LSD dreams when he was in the studio singing those songs into a microphone. It’s a strong magic.

The poetry of this magic is such that it creates feelings and thoughts that stay in your head for a lifetime. Regardless of the media that you choose when accessing that magic in the future (I’m currently listening to The Doors – Riders On the Storm on Youtube), the magic transports you again… to that time, that place, with those friends that you were with when you first experienced the magic of that particular song.

Today, while having coffee with my aunts and uncles, I watched one of my uncles across the table from me. He was always a tall, virile man. Nowadays, he’s a shrunken, aching, enfeebled old man. I still see the man he was, but he can no longer be that man. Life is fleeting… so fleeting. It made me think of my own mortality. I’m not the man I was 25 years ago either. I’m not what this man has become… yet, but that day is down the road.

The documentary about The Doors and my thoughts about my uncle made me realize that there is so much that I miss, so much that I no longer do, so many good times and memories in the past. I thought of friends who are no longer in this world; like my buddy Frank, who died at 36… or my lady-friend Melissa, who left this world at the ripe old age of 39… and many others whom I miss. I shared much with these people. They each took part of me when they left this place.

I realize this article isn’t going to garner much laughs or many comments or generate ad revenue. I don’t really care. I’m entitled to ramble on occasionally. I’m sitting here enjoying a hot cup of coffee and I’m about to step outside and flick open my ol’ Zippo and light up a Marlboro. I quit smoking back in December of ’07, but for some reason I felt the need for a cigarette tonight. I wanted to perform the ritual… packing, opening, lighting that first cig. It brought me momentary surcease from the ghosts haunting me this evening.

It would be foolish in the extreme for me to start smoking again. I know that. Besides, I can’t afford to buy the damned things these days. I might have one more and then give the pack away. I’ve had my moment. The fog has lifted and clarity returned. I’ve confronted the ghosts. They’re all my ghosts. They’re mostly friendly. I have nothing to fear.

Strange days…


Update: I smoked that second cig and then poured water over the rest of the pack and tossed it in the trash.

How Many Garbage Trucks Does It Take…

…to pick up your garbage. If you live in my neighborhood, it takes four; along with a crew of about 6-8 workers.

Doesn’t it sometimes seem to you that governments, big and small, just seem to do really stupid crap? This garbage pickup thing is a great example of that. I was sitting at my uncle’s house today for the Wednesday coffee clatch with the aunts and uncles and this very topic came up in conversation. It’s absolutely asinine that garbage pickup on my street requires four distinct type trucks with their accompanying crews. Here’s why…

There are four different types of refuse, according to the city. There is standard household garbage that is deposited in the big automated garbage cans, which are picked up by a truck with one crew member that picks up ONLY these type cans. The senior employees must get this cush gig. They sit in AC comfort and rarely ever get out of the truck.

The second type of refuse is standard household garbage that people put on the curbside in bags or non-automated type cans. A completely different type truck with a crew of two or three has to come and pick this type of garbage up. It’s “old style”. These are the guys who manually dump your can and then toss it in the middle of the street and drive off. These are the lowest paid employees, probably. They actually work.

The third type refuse is the yard debris. That means chopped branches, bags of leaves or grass… that kind of stuff. A third unique truck and crew of two or three are required for this type refuse. They pull up and toss all your yard debris in the back opening of the truck and then yell, “Wamback! Wamback!” It’s some garbage man code, evidently. These guys work, but they don’t have to deal with nasty household garbage like used diapers and stuff.

And lastly, there are the recyclables, which are put curbside in small blue bins. The homeowner is expected to separate the paper, plastic, glass, etc. A fourth “special” recyclables truck with a crew of one picks this stuff up. He actually has to get out of his truck to do this. After dumping all your nicely separated bins into the SAME opening on the side of his truck, he slings your bins into the middle of the street and drives off leaving a cloud of noxious diesel exhaust.

This past Monday, there were all four types of refuse curbside on my street. I watched as all four of these different and unique-to-their-purpose trucks and crews came down the street and performed their assigned tasks. I thought to myself, “What a monumental f***ing waste of money!” How did this come to be like this? Well, it’s simple… follow the money. That’s all you have to do to find the answers to any questions concerning government. Some city muckity-mucks sent their kids to law school on the kickbacks and bribes they got to institute a cluster-screw like this one I’ve described.

Myeh… whaddya’ gonna’ do? I do my part to save the tax payer money. I just shove all four types of refuse into that one big automated can and let that lone, highly paid garbage dude (or dudette sometimes) take it all at once. Woo-hoo! I sleep better at night knowing I did my part.

Wamback, folks!


Ummm… GOOD Burger!

Sort of a restaurant review, but really just a story of a nice evening out with family.

About a year ago at one of my aunts & uncles’ every Wednesday afternoon coffee clatches, my aunt Irma mentioned a really great new place to get a burger. It was called Five Guys Burgers and Fries. And they do mean FRIES… and LOTS of ’em; we’ll get to that in a minute, though.

Time went by… I kept meaning to get to this place and try one of their burgers, but just never got around to it. This past Wednesday, at the coffee clatch again, I mentioned that if I had 20 bucks, I’d go to Five Guys for dinner. My same aunt said, “Rip (my uncle) and I will pick you and Steve (my brother) up tomorrow at 6PM and take you guys for a burger on us!” COOL! Of course, as soon as she mentioned this, two of my other aunts and one of my uncles chimed in that they would like to go, too.

The coffee clatch caravan met at my uncle Pete’s house (couple blocks from my house) Thursday night. We left there and went over to Five Guys for some burgers and fries. There were nine of us. The aunts are my father’s sisters. Uncle Pete is my father’s brother. My other uncles there are husbands of my aunts.

When I was working, I was usually off on Wednesdays, so I’ve been participating in the coffee clatch with these folks for a few years now. My brother and I are both retired sans income (unemployed) at the moment, so we both are usually at uncle Pete’s on Wednesdays these days.

OK, so we get to the place, which is only a couple miles from my house. We go up to the counter and place our orders. I ordered a bacon double cheeseburger with mayo, mustard, catsup, and onions… oh, and a large order of fries. We get our drinks and take a seat. In a few minutes, they call our number. My uncle Rip gets up and gets our orders… served in big brown paper bags.

The “large” fries order comes in a 28 oz. paper cup. They set it in the bottom of the paper bag and then pour a huge scoop of additional fries in on top of that. GREASY! YUM! I was warned by my aunt Irma about the amount of fries they serve you. I didn’t care. I LOVE french fries… and these are the real things, not frozen; they are real, live, had-to-peel-’em taters, folks. Damn! They were good, too.

The burger had a really good charbroiled flavor. Everything was fresh and hot. Even the iced tea was tasty! All in all, I’d have to say this was a worthwhile night out. Not everyone was impressed, but then you can’t please everyone all the time. My brother and I both enjoyed our dinner.

From there, we went back to uncle Pete’s for some after dinner coffee and donuts from a local donut shop where my aunt Sandra stopped on the way back to Pete’s house. We laughed and reminisced about fun times… mostly about trips that my aunts and uncles had made to North Carolina years ago to visit with my mom and dad. They were good memories. My mom and dad are both gone from this world. It’s nice to sit with my aunts and uncles and my brother and remember the old times.

If you have a Five Guys nearby you somewhere, stop on in for a burger. Don’t forget them fries!

Until next time, folks…