Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: Stopgap Edition

We apologize that our latest flight to Escalatorville's Vacation Paradise has been delayed. Rest assured, a full travelogue of our recent Vermont excursion will surface next week. In the meanwhile, please enjoy these complimentary snacks. We realize that you have a choice in semi-humorous reading materials, and thank you for laughing with us - and at everyone else.

A Fish that is, howyousay, Belly-Up?
I recently strolled past a local real estate office, noticing the sign out front. Sure enough, the empty building was for sale.

The USA is a Cancer (Astrologically Speaking)
A flurry of friends have had birthdays of late, thus reinforcing my awareness that we are all getting old-er. However, the U.S. Mail has recently delivered some extremely pre-emptive membership applications for the AARP. Sadly, I found myself on the verge of filling one out, just to get the free pedometer.

Department of Wha? Dept.
The Escalatorville Museum Of Unique Literary Deceptions presents examples of some recently acquired pieces:
  • "I Think, now What?" -Descartes First Draft

  • "Dearest Familial Maggots,
    Well, another Holiday Season come and gone,
    and yet again, none of you ingrates thought to get me a comb. Bah humbug."
    - The final 'New Years Letter' of Mark Twain

  • Unpublished Orson Welles script entitled "Rosebud The Sled"

Also, the button marked 'Off' works.
I have just discovered the feature of our remote control that allows us to block channels. We have no children in the house yet and, as such, have nothing to worry about in terms of entertainment content, so I really hadn't noticed that this feature existed.

On a recent weekend I was flipping around, and found two separate channels airing programming so disgusting, so amoral, so unbelievable that I actually questioned the reason for such a channels existence - and then, I BLOCKED THEM.

In the weeks since, I've actually felt a relief not having those channels available to us without having to go through the rigmarole of inputting a secret code. We have been able to live our lives without them just fine, and now I don't worry so much about being offended when I turn on the television. No one in the house seems affected either by the missing channels, but then again, whose going to admit to sneaking a look at Fox News or CNN?

But there's a similar sign on the road to Eden...
I'd suggest that our local Elk's Lodge re-examine the idea of using the same roadside ad to promote both nightly entertainment as well as menu specials. Case in point, this actual and recent listing:
FRIDAY- Prime Rib
SATURDAY - Kristal and James

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack...
I have always revered Chuck Berry. I believe he is one of the greatest poets of the past 100 years, and -despite his various peccadillo's in the medium of amateur restroom photography-have always had a respect for the man who redefined what the electric guitar could mean to a pop single. Sadly, he will probably never know that we are also mortal enemies.

You see, nearly 20 years ago, I took my pal Dave to see Mr. Berry in concert at the Richmond Mosque (I took my pal Dave because the girl I asked first actually replied "Uh, who is Chuck Berry?" - thus eliminating any desire I would ever have to date her). In my high school years, I went to see a few shows at this particular venue, and had found through trial and error the artists exit from the backstage area.

After a great show, we made our way around to the rear of the theater and waited along with about two dozen other folks for the legend to make an appearance. After a few moments, a police officer cleared a path from the back door to a car waiting just in front of the assembled crowd. He then opened the trunk. A gasp and sigh simultaneously emanated from the group of us in a moment of anticipated wonder and revelation that we had no idea what was going on.

It was then that we saw him. Chuck Berry himself was descending from the stairwell behind the stage and through the pathway laid aside by the police officer. It was then we realized that Mr. Berry would be using that trunk in which to gingerly place his beloved guitar. As his female companion made her way around to the passenger side, another revelation - Chuck Berry drives himself to and from his gigs. It seemed then, as the original guitar hero climbed in and started the vehicle, that our time with the legend had passed.

Of course, this wouldn't be an interesting story without a "but..." - so here it is -

But... just as we suspected Chuck Berry would be taking off into the darkness, the driver side window opened up, and a line formed aside. Mr. Berry would now begin signing autographs, the officer announced. My sweaty hands tore into the remnants of my wallet to grab the remains of a nearly shredded ticket stub. I took my place in line, with Dave standing right behind.

"This will be the coolest thing for anyone who actually cares" I thought as my space in the line got closer to this aperture of historic opportunity. For moments, we inched forward, as I saw a variety of items reached into and then withdrawn from the space where the Chuck Berry, the man who had influenced the Beatles and Rolling Stones, the man who practically invented the Beach Boys - was sitting, about to ascribe his famous name onto my wisp of a ticket stub.

Finally, I was next in line. I saw the album cover held by the man in front of me exit the car window, it's fresh autograph ink giving off a glint in the snow-refracted light of a parking lot lamp. I eased my hand holding the remains of my ticket into the window - just as I heard the officer utter - "No more autographs."

But my hand, it was already in the Chuck Berry window of opportunity, clutching at a chance to take home a personalized piece of Rock and Roll ephemera. My hand was still in that window. A window that had started to roll up. I glanced at Dave, who was busy glancing at the police officer, and then I glanced back at my hand. The window continued to roll up. I clung to the hope that Chuck Berry would be nice enough not to slice my paw at the wrist. The window continued to roll up. A decision had to be made.

I opted not to lose my hand that evening, even if it was to an idol of mine. At the literal last second (seriously, I scraped my thumb on the glass), I removed my hand from the car, just as it lurched forward and into the streets of Richmond,Virginia.

I still love the music of Chuck Berry, many of my favorite songs have been written by his hands. However, whenever I hear his story about the autograph-seeking fan he wrote in the tune 'Sweet Little Sixteen' - I feel a tinge of vengeance and betrayal towards a man who has otherwise brought me great joy.

Well, that oughta do some of it for now, there will be more soon. And don't forget, while flying Escalatorville Airways, be sure to enjoy the scenery - let the Escalator be your friend.

Happy Landings,
Z.F. Lively
Doing things with words since 1975

Always available for comments, queries, etc.-