Saturday, August 28, 2004

Deliverance, again

Squeal like a pig (Insert telltale banjo twang) prolonged and loud so as to last a whole week enough to really damage the vocal chords.

Finally the kinfolk arrived atop their pickup truck after chancing upon some black gold albeit disparately and immediately fell prey to the Drysdale curse. The dollar only stretches so far above the Mason-Dixon Line. So imagine the sticker shock of being in rush hour traffic watching the taxi meter literally roll. Someone please tell Miss Hathaway to be careful around the cement pond because Jethro forgot his spit cup.

After much ado about nothing what seems to ail the Bodines is cultural laryngitis and very unseasonable monsoons downpours. Traipsing around the magnificent mile in search of bargains amidst the elan certainly stokes enough sitcom material but truthfully I saw that episode before rerun just last week. God's Acre is no Green Acres and Mister Haney disguised himself, illegally impersonating an officer, namely Deputy Barney Fife outside the Petticoat Junction speed trap.

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Row, row, row your boat

It was an overcast sky that chilly Saturday morning in Ping Tom Park named for the man who made a fortune selling the ubiquitously white and rhomboid take-out carton as folkloric as chop suey and moo goo gai pan. Crowds wandered in early and often, expectant to see the dotting of the eye but as usual became subjected to cretin officials waxing unpoetically about sponsors and other unrelated agendas instead. A scan of the place revealed a few pitched tents hawking their weird affiliations scattered atop the terraced bank overlooking the murky sludge of the historic Chicago river, a former industrial causeway once the main artery as the hub of a fledging nation. Two fiercely whiskered heads stuck above the rivershore floating precariously just to the left of the facsimile pavilion made of steel and concrete painted in traditional red and green. Yet conviviality spread throughout as young senoritas garbed in flowing hooped skirts danced a hybrid mariachi amidst befuddled Chinese grandmothers hauling their preschool scions on by as easily as flipping the dial past the jibbering Univision and Telemundo channels. And hip hop preteens queued around the inflatable basketball court, the only carnival game, waiting their turn to hoist free throws for a lovely sticker as consolation prize. If not for the different groups of similarly tee shirted men and women exhorting different degrees of encouragement and invective, one could easily mistake the entire event as yet another but very politically correct version of that very famous George Seurat painting.

Back up the hill, eighteen very green-around-the-gills strangers minus two two hundred and fifty plus ringers huddled together for some hasty lessons about the ancient practice of rowing a boat in unison. Distributing equal weight so as not to capsize seemed to be the top priority in determining our seating arrangements as everyone mimicked the proper motion of paddling while seated on grass. Our team as it were could be categorized as a puny bunch of ragtag artists.

And of course our foe who blatantly flaunted their machismo in hopes of ultimately intimidating us were appropriately the cops from District Twenty Five. It would be not be wrong to assume from just size and brawn alone that a mismatch existed. But their strategy of literally flexing their muscles and talking trash backfired. Off the street and in gym clothes, their potbellies and doughy physiques elicited complete disrespect as David set forth to best Goliath. Our wit and creativity proved more than ample to immediately disarm the louts accustomed to bulldozing their will on unsuspecting dolts. Verbally it was a slaughter as chants of "Doughnut! Doughnut! Doughnut!" permeated the air. Besides who could resist ribbing an emasculated officer of law completely naked without their gun. Biting sarcasm, our weapon of choice, proved more effective as all they could muster was a resigned shake of their heads under our unrelenting torrent of "No guns allowed on board" or "Don't mistake your flak jacket for the life vest" and "Hard to paddle fast just using your batons."

The race against them was three hundred meters long from the Twenty First Street Bridge to the Eighteenth Street Bridge, a good distance considering our ignorance of the metric system. The day before during practice, the oarsman steering the boat taught the motley crew the necessary basics of the how to board, how to sit and how to stroke. We learned vitally important instruction like what it meant when he shouted, "Go!" or "Let it ride!" or "Stop!" which in hindsight proved to be the deciding factor as the cops characteristically understood the meaning of these words in water better.

In a tight race that saw the underdog lead three quarters of the way, the physically larger cops came back and just narrowly grabbed the flag a mere half second ahead of the artists much to the derision of the crowd who implicitly understood the irony of the situation and immediately chose sides. Authoritarianism tends to provoke an ugly response, you know.

But since the overall competition was based on best cumulative times rather than head-to-head elimination, by the end of the day our team who got better and faster actually made the playoff round as the vaunted cops shot their wad early losing later races with horribly slower times.

Beauty before the beast, always.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

The Mothership landed

And barely kissed the remaining nine-ball along the outside rail. Slowly it rolled into the far pocket but not before the blue-light special ended a mere stroke after midnight. The coliseum, full of hoarse and bedraggled spectators, erupted at the sound of its plop. And suddenly the warrior appeared in full regalia amidst the dense smoke, his shiny mane wrapped around his neck longer than even Samson. A true hero stood among us, ready to battle the discordant.

In slow motion, the stick traced a ghostly path.