A new car takes some getting used to. There’s no clutch, for one. Really weird at stop lights not having to shift gears manually. The driver’s side window rolls down. People might actually hear me singing at the top of my lungs when waiting for the light to change. The driver’s side door opens from the inside! No more reaching through the rear window to unlatch the door from the outside. The new car has a tape deck. And me with no tapes, just a new-fangled iPod which has come in handy ever since the CD player stopped working in the old car.
I learned to drive a stick shift by driving through miles and miles of Kansas country roads around my parents’ house as a teenager while listening to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and Pearl Jam too loud. To this day, I think the best way of getting used to a new car (even if it is an automatic) is to drive it somewhere. So I put together a playlist of some of my favorite songs, hit the highway with ABBA’s “Super Trouper” blaring, and took a day trip to Westport.
Westport is probably my favorite area in Kansas City. In part, because of murals like these:
Beautiful areas like this:
If PBR Rex had taken the time to walk up those steps, he would have found himself on this street. And, if I had more money on me, I might have taken him to Korma Sutra for some fantastic Indian food and bought him a cigar at Fidel’s afterward.
While PBR Rex is probably boozing it up at McCoy’s, I’m having a coffee. Somehow, it’s just not a trip to Westport without having a cup here, sitting on one of the chairs out front, and watching the cars and people go by.
Murray’s Ice Creams and Cookies:
The Westport Coffeehouse. Less conversation and more people on computers than at The Broadway Cafe, but they have a theatre, and there’s this on one of the outside corners:
I think PBR Rex must have gone into The Beaumont for some shots and a show. But I’m sure I’ll meet up with him again; there’s not enough time to see a film at The Tivoli today. For now, a glass of iced tea sounds better than a beer on a humid afternoon, and I’ve still got half the playlist to listen to on the 45-minute drive back to Lawrence.
The new car may still take some getting used to.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is killed in a nightclub. After a few moments, he wakes up and shoots everyone. I take a sip of my gin and tonic and turn my attention away from TERMINATOR and back to Instagram. New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder has posted a photo of insoles from her ballet shoes.
To my left, I hear, “I could do the ‘t’ and the ‘c.’” “You could do the ‘c,’ eh?” The bartender is playing Scrabble with two young women drinking mixed drinks at the bar, neither of which look like they could do a pirouette.
The insoles are toe-to-heel, one parallel to the other. Ashley Bouder starts the comments with, “At least someone is hitting a perfect fifth today.”
The Scrabble game is interrupted by a woman who has just walked in. Her hair is pulled up and back, into a pony tail. She is selecting her words carefully, articulating each with the precision of a ballerina dancing en pointe. “I’m . . . wanting . . . to . . . have a draw . . . of Anchor Steam.” Arnold is wreaking havoc in a police station. The bartender, “Actually, the Anchor Steam just exploded.” He turns to a man in a hoodie and blue jeans, sitting on a barstool. “Ryan! Check on the Anchor Steam.” Ryan gets up to go change the keg. Back to the girl with the Love Missile F1-11 hair. “A jar . . . of . . . Sierra Nevada.” “All right. And we’ll know about the Anchor Steam as soon as Ryan gets back.”
“@ahsleybouder I thought you wore Freed not Bloch? Hopefully those are insoles from flat shoes . . .:-)” Ashley Bouder replies, “I wear Bloch”
Two heavyset women in sweaters and jeans are at the bar before anyone can make a play in Scrabble. The bartender asks to see their IDs. They are either amused or annoyed by this; it’s hard to tell from their expressions. “Any shot specials?” one asks. “Single and double specials.” “Two Jagerbomb shots.” Then, to her friend, “Fuckin’ Wednesdays.”
Arnold puts on his sunglasses. Love Missile F1-11 is back at the bar. The bartender is on it. “ . . . All this fresh new Anchor Steam we have.”
“What kind of Bloch do you wear?” “I thought most company members wore freed? Special order?” “@ashleybouder hahaha apparently the awareness that you wear blochs has torn a hole in the space time continuum!!”
The Terminator is still on the hunt for Sarah Connor. I’m done with my gin and tonic. It’s time to go home.
Thinking about the TV show SUPERNATURAL and its apocalyptic vision. The two central characters are born in Lawrence, KS because of its proximity to Stull cemetery, rumored to be a gateway to Hell. In the series, Lawrence bears little resemblance to the real Lawrence, KS, and Stull cemetery looks nothing like it does in real life. But the basis of the show seems plausible enough. So I’ve come up with a list of scenarios Lawrence could be the basis for.
Ways the apocalypse could start in Lawrence, KS:
1. An infected monkey with the mark of the devil has drinks at The Replay.
2. A brick falls from the top floor of the Eldridge, knocking out a bearded singer of a local band. He is taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The brick jars loose psychic powers that threaten existence as we know it.
3. A horde of demons manifest at The Bourgeois Pig. Fueled by nihilistic philosophy and Moscow Mules, all hell breaks loose.
4. An anthropology professor discovers that the Jawhawk is an ancient symbol of the Otherworld. The Jayhawk, when combined with the consumption of alcohol, produces rambunctious behavior in the locals with one inevitable cataclysmic outcome. Apocalypse!
5. A rabid rodent bites a homeless man camping out underneath the bridge. The man runs amok downtown, inciting a real-life Zombie Walk.
6. An attractive KU student is hit by a car while crossing Mass. St. The interesting bracelet she bought from the Antique Mall breaks open on the pavement and unleashes the dead upon the earth.
7. A dark spiritual cloud looms above Lawrence. Something like the climax to GHOSTBUSTERS happens at The Oread.
8. Native legends are always great for apocalyptic visions. The wetlands outside Haskell are paved over by developers. Think POLTERGEIST, only worldwide.
9. The OZUFO people are really space aliens, diverting from the fact by stating an interest in UFOs. Their plan is an apocalypse.
10. The witches at The Village Witch mess up a spell. Result: apocalypse!
11. One of the poets at The Red Tail Readings held at The Gaslight makes the mistake of reading a poem by e.e.cummings backward. This happens to unleash evil spirits all over the world.
12. In the basement of Liberty Hall is written a prophecy . . . of apocalypse.
13. Local burlesque act Foxy by Proxy puts on a show which causes the devil to leave Stull cemetery unattended so as to attend their show. The hordes of hell decide the time is right for an apocalypse.
14. A tattoo of the state of Kansas turns out to be able to predict the future and that future is apocalypse.
I want to name this duck pillow, I do, but I can’t because it’s not mine to name. It belongs to Kelly’s friend and is hers. A duck pillow like this must have a story behind it, and I want to know that story, I do, but I can’t because it belongs solely to the nameless duck pillow and will only be revealed if the duck pillow so chooses to reveal it.
We all have such stories, I feel, and can either choose to remain reticent or share them.
A string of events lead me to this duck pillow. A walk down Mass. St on arguably the nicest day of the year at that point.
Beers with friends at Harbour Lights and then Frank’s North Star Tavern for the Andy Stowers benefit, where Jamie played pool.
I went home around 9:30 p.m. and was just going to call it a night until the German entry to Eurovision, “Glorious,” by Cascada, got me in the mood to go dancing. Went to The Taproom and then The Replay, where things were getting crazy.
Then the duck pillow. It is what it is, just like Lawrence, KS.
So there you have it: drinking, dancing, and a duck pillow. Sounds a bit like a traditional blessing: “May your day be filled with drinking, dancing, and a duck pillow!” It’s another way of saying “May life be good to you.”
Downtown Lawrence, KS. On any given night there are bar people doing bar things in bars drinking bar drinks talking about bar stuff, bar nights, and things that happen in bars. If you want to bar it up with a Lawrencian and aren’t sure how to break the ice, here’s an initial list of topics to get you going:
The fucked-up state of Kansas politics.
The only way this topic would start a barfight is if you’re a firm supporter of Kansas’s present governor. Or really hate gays. Or have a large collection of automatic weapons. Or think that Kansas is better without an Arts Commission in the first place. The word “Brownback” has yet to be applied to a clinical disorder, but will be soon, I feel. Just say something like, “Brownback is a shitty governor,” and someone will buy you a drink.
The Jayhawks are always either at the top of their game or are disappointing everyone in town, but, either way, they drive up business for bars. Just say, “How about those ‘Hawks?” Whoever you’re talking to will take it from there. All you have to do is act like you know.
This seems to be one of those things people do but rarely talk about. There’s probably a reason for this. Just go to the Replay on a Monday night and you’ll find out.
Things that are going to happen and never do.
Try “Hey! Let’s start a writer’s group!” or “There should be a film club,” or “We should get together in costumes and go out drinking on Friday” or “Let’s take that clown class at City in Motion in Kansas City.” Don’t worry, no one will hold you to it.
THE WIRE, THE WALKING DEAD, BREAKING BAD, DOWNTON ABBEY. I can’t figure out how everyone around here has enough time to watch all these fucking shows! But this might explain why nothing ever gets done. Just watch PORTLANDIA or ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and you’ll be fine.
Bar people in Lawrence seem to know about the most fucked-up stuff. Makes you want to drink more just to forget about it. This article about a man trying to saw his own arms off should make a good conversation starter but don’t be surprised when someone one-ups you.
If nothing else, Lawrence bar people talk about problems. There is a never-ending supply of problems. A weird rash picked up at a music festival. A crazy family member. Bad allergies. Noisy neighbors. A stupid boyfriend. A stupid girlfriend. Gay troubles. A bad pizza eaten at Intorno. Medical bills. Parking tickets out the wazoo. And, to offset looking totally self-involved about your own problems, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about other people’s problems as well and to express a concern for their well-being. And then drink. And enjoy the time together. Maybe sing some ABBA at karaoke, “The Way Old Friends Do.”