Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: A Drip Here, A Drop There...

Brief but extant - more Escalatorville coming to a internet near you soon-

Marvelous Malapropisms
In my everyday surveillance of the unsuspecting world - also known as eavesdropping, I come across some witty transmutations of our glorious language. Such was the case with a woman confronted by the ongoing construction and repair to one of our city's most trod upon streets:

"Whens it never gonna end?!?"

I wished I'd had an answer for her - she looked as exasperated as her brain must've been (I blame the heat, yeah, that's it - the heat).

It had only been earlier in the week that I'd heard another lass misconstrue her vocal intent while enthusiastically venting about a recent brouhaha:

"That was the sauce on the cake!"

Maybe she meant it exactly - but I need some more detail before I have a slice...

Missing The Metaphor
Speaking of cake; I've heard the song 'MacArthur Park' more than my fare share of times over the past couple of weeks. Radio sometimes does that, y'know, where songs follow you around. Lately, that song for me is 'MacArthur Park'.

Now, don't get me wrong - I've been a fan of Sir Richard Harris, and certainly of songwriter Jimmy Webb for many a year (The latter's 'Wichita Lineman' prickles my skin every time I hear it). However, I do have a problem with a lyrical concept that just doesn't make logical sense to me - or any of the bakers that I know-

If one knew one was constructing a delightful dessert - a cake that would not only take an eternity to bake, but was so special that the recipe for making said cake would ultimately be destroyed - then why,oh, why would one place such a treasure in a place where it could be easily absconded with and left to rot in the inclement weather? Someone needs better cake security, or a smarter chef.

(Yes, yes, I get the bigger meaning - but come on - you can't spell 'Simile' without 'smile')

Mumbling Mumbling
I don't usually delve into politics much outside of my own head (where the terms "caucus" and "circus" have exactly the same meaning), however, I have enjoyed the sitcom that is the Republican Contender-ship for Nomination 2012.

I do feel it a bit sad that the Celeblicans we have running for office these days are no different than the Celebrocrats in that neither of them truly represent the voters of this country that share similar-named party affiliations. That said, I have a few thoughts on the future candidate and those soon to be also-rans:

Mitt Romney: I couldn't care if he's a Mormon, maybe China will ease off our debt if we show them the secret of magic underpants - what concerns me is that he will change our national language to his native Binary.

Ron Paul: I like some of his ideas when he's not being a racist. He certainly would make the best collectible figurine of all the potential candidates - and he might actually invite Willie Nelson back to the White House.

Newt Gingrich: I love his tenacity and the humor of his hubris - the ghost of Ronald Reagan himself could swagger down from Heaven up to Gingrich's podium, look ole Newtie in the eyes and say - as the reporters camera's flashed with abandon-

"Well - uh, we just don't WANT you."

- and Newt would still believe he's the front runner. Then he'd send Nancy a bill for the photo op.

Rick Santorum: "Dear Ricky - Imagine the growth of the other santorum industry if you become the candidate. Take my advice, and copyright that sh*t right now. Think of the money you'd get from all the liberals who would purchase such froth-affiliated novelty products, and all it cost you is a little humiliation based on an whimsically accurate descriptive. Best Regards, Z"

I suggest that alternative for old R.S. because, as we all know - In any election, capitalism will always win,place, or show.
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Un-Politico for hate mail and campaign flyers

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: Chronicles of Oopsie, Part 1

"I always buy the little shells, cause those are the babies!"
-Random Gift Shop Customer, March 2012

Oopsie Once, Shame On You

I used to work the night shift at a local hotel, Among the coterie of drunks, bums, crazies and weirdos one finds trolling the grounds of a hotel parking lot in the wee hours, there's also the occasional ne'er do well.

One such fellow happened to be a guest of ours who showed up in the lobby very late, and very intoxified, one night.

"Do you have a Band-Aid or something?" He asked.

Diligent employee that I sometimes am, I checked the "emergency kit" hidden in the laundry room. It was vacant of small adhesive bandages (so states your narrator to avoid using a corporate brand name more than once in the same story). The only stuff remaining -aside from tongue depressors, cotton swabs, or generic "aspirin-type caplets" - was a roll of white medical tape and a few rolls of industrial strength gauze.

I returned to the lobby to let the guy know that he was out of luck.

"Thanks for checking," he stated, "they fixed this for me at the hospital earlier, but then I accidentally messed with it."

As he said this, he lifted his hand to reveal a very bloody and gore infused thumb which, yes, looked like it had been stitched up at some point, but was now threatening to erupt across the room in which I stood.

"Hold on a sec!" was my reply. I brought him the tape and the entirety of the gauze.

"Maybe this will help." I said as I handed him the Florence Nightingale Starter Pack.

He thanked me and groggily exited the lobby, returning to his room. I heard nothing more from the man himself. However, the next 2 hours produced at least a half dozen phone calls through the lobby phone - folks trying to reach the room of El Gauzo. Diligent, yet skeptical, employee that I sometimes am, I put them through.

He soon received a few in-person visits. As that guest had booked the room for a few days, I figured he was a typical social night owl - a breed that proliferates this section of the South. It was not uncommon for guests of the hotel to randomly have little private parties in their rooms - often times old friends coming back to relax and chill out after a night on the town.

When I returned to work the next week, I found out how completely naive I had been. I was informed by my manager that our guest was more deviant than his sloppily grotesque request had led me to believe.

The kid had booked the room by phone, using his mother's credit card - but told the attendant at check-in that he would be paying cash for the room upon his leave. When check-out day came, he couldn't pay, not enough bills in the wallet. Normally, this would be no problem, we'd just charge the card on file. The kid panicked at this, desperately making a plea bargain with the manager. Given another day (still booked in the room), he would have the money and be ready to check out on time - so long as we didn't charge poor Mama for the room.

Mama ended up getting a phone call anyway, but not from us. That call was from the cops. Hours after making his morning deal with management, our guest was apprehended in his shoddy attempt to mug a tourist. Somehow, he'd managed to mishandle all the moolah he'd obtained from selling drugs out the room his mother ended up renting. The next room he'd occupy would be a lot smaller, colder, and operated by the Florida Department Of Corrections.

I'm sure the desk clerk there wasn't as friendly as I was either.

Oopsie Twice, Shame On Me
When we moved into our current house, Bess and I rented a moving truck to transport our things from one abode to another.

After assisting with a few of the heavier and awkward pieces (and no, I am not being self-referential here), Bess, our friend LoriSue, and her daughter rushed to the new house to remove the ancient dog-furred carpets and to prep the pad for the arrival of our stuff.

After loading the remainder of our clutter and accoutrement into the room on wheels, I rolled down the cargo door at the back, securing the latch with a strong piece of rope. Yes, Rope. I'd opted not to spring for a brand new padlock, as we were headed literally just over the bridge into town, a trip that even with massive gridlock bridge traffic would take all of 20 minutes, at a top speed of about 15 MPH.

I arrived at our new house safely, and met the cleaning crew. All of us were exhausted and hungry. We opted to unload the truck after loading ourselves into a car and getting a quick bite to eat (sure, we could have just ordered a pizza, but then there wouldn't be - as the late Paul Harvey is wont to say - the rest of the story).

There remained but one problem: the unlocked latch. Oh, it was a good strong rope for sure, but it could also be untied with ease, and we like all of our stuff. So, protecting the load from potential thieves was the challenge.

LoriSue, at the time, lived only a couple blocks away - on Twine street - and had a fence separating her driveway from the backyard.

"You can back-up the truck to the fence, that way no one can get to the latch," she intelligently observed.

"Awesome!" I said, "I'll be right back!"

And so, I started up the moving truck and headed over to LoriSue's house, carefully maneuvering so as to avoid the proliferation of neighborhood cars, trees, and curious squirrels dotting that particular path. I got to the house on Twine street and slowly backed into the driveway. I could easily see the fence in the rear view mirror, and gunned the engine a bit to help the truck over the driveway lip.

What I neglected to notice was the tree next to the driveway, whose branches reached over the pavement, just a few feet too short for the vehicle I was in.

With a giant SKEEERCRAAAK, the tree made it's presence known - and dropped a humongous branch across the breadth of the driveway; one end grazing the roof of the houses porch, the other end barely attached to the tree - and the middle resting comfortably on the roof of the truck, where it had made a dent at the precise center of the rear door.

I was stuck. The truck was back as far as it would go, and pulling forward would release the tree from the truck, but run the risk of crashing it through the porch.
I turned off the engine and got out to assess the situation - and to panic a little.

As I emerged, I noticed two things: One, that tree had just been involuntarily amputated of a main appendage - and Two, a trio of little ole ladies had heard the commotion and come out of their houses to give me the stink-eye. I believe one of them even commented on how long that tree had been standing there - but the conversation in my head was much louder than any on the street.

I'll eliminate most of my personal vocalizations that followed - you wouldn't want to read a massive litany of Cap-Locked profanities, anyway - but I did use my phone to call the gals awaiting my return to the other house.

"Uh, we have a big problem. I think y'all need to come over here"

Within moments, they'd arrived and helped me to plan the extrication of truck from tree. We'd have to risk the branch falling on the porch, but the truck could be removed from the driveway, then we could deal with the tree parts. Our trio of little old ladies stood in their individual doorways, watching, and probably laughing unto themselves.

I got back into the truck. With a few prayers and the repeated mumblings of "pleasepleasepleaseplease" - I pulled forward. The cracked limb fell, bounced slightly on the porch, and hit the ground - harming none of the structure, save for a few leaves and twigs scattered on patio chairs and benches. We took the truck back to the new house after surveying the damage to the tree, and made a quick phone call to LoriSue's landlord - whom was actually pretty cool about the whole deal, from what I recall.

After catching my breath, we figured we should now just unload the truck before heading for food. The only obstacle - the metallic notch in the top of the loading door. The thing wouldn't open - it had been bent closed.

We were safe. Both houses were safe. The truck was relatively safe (hours later; myself, Bess, and the kindly gent whom ran the rental depot all thanked multiple gods that we'd opted to pay for the insurance on the vehicle). As no one could break into a door that wouldn't open - we went to lunch.

Eventually, we got back and jimmied the door open enough to remove all of our things and place them in the new house. It was an agonizing ordeal, but with a relatively happy ending.

I walk around our neighborhood a lot, however, and even though it's three and a half years on - those little old ladies still look at me funny when they catch me on Twine street.
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Vehicular Arborist

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: No Boxers, All Briefs

I'm as much for patriotism as anybody else - however it deflates me a bit when I see a fellow countryman with a Remembrance tattoo, hand drawn half-mast flag above the following:

Ameria United"

That's right. "Ameria." No C - and also permanently embedded within that man's skin.

I think our ountry needs to put more ash into eduation.
At the dark end of the street...
There's a vacated house in our neighborhood. It's slow decay has been barely noticeable over the past few months. The residents moved out in late November - lawn decorations started vanishing close to the New Year. Then, the flowers and plants went away.

A couple weeks ago - a giant mass appeared momentarily in front of the structure - a conglomeration of discarded furniture, moldy boxes, trinkets, and trash.

After the Sanitation Department had admirably performed their weekly duties, all that remained was a single sign, ignored since Halloween - the oblong and warped Styrofoam hanging by a single nail - its faded gray color highlighting the word:


Mellow Yellow, etc., etc.
As a shortcut on a recent walk, I passed through one of the many parking lots in town associated with the local college.

I caught a shimmer of brightness out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought someone had peppered the windows of all the cars in the lot with advertisements or religious literature - then I took a closer look.

What I saw was a sea of neon colored self-stick note papers - a handwritten message on each. I read one, then two, then three:

"You Deserve A wonderful day!"
"You have a great smile!"
"People Enjoy Your Cheerful Exposition!"

Anonymous affirmations across an army of automobiles. Dozens of cars, possibly a hundred (?), each with it's own message of Post-It Positivity. I didn't have a car in that lot, but walking through surely brightened my day.
Daydream Believer...
If you have followed Escalatorville over the years, then you know that I sometimes pen tales of my random brushes with fame. It was with a bit of sadness that I noted the death of Davy Jones - whom I'd met only briefly, yet who still provided me with a fond memory.

I have been a fan and defender of the Monkees for quite a long time now. In the late 1980's, I was fortunate enough to attend one of their many reunion concerts. Despite the absence of Mike Nesmith (whom was, admittedly, my favorite - although each individual Monkee held their own appeal to my growing musical style) - the concert was a triumph, the crowd was fantastic and thrilled.

I had attended with a friend who held such an adoration for the group as to be in the actual Monkees Fan Club - and she'd gotten some secret info as to where the Monkees were staying during their brief excursion in our town. After the show we rushed to the Jefferson Hotel, the swankiest digs in all of Richmond proper back then - and sequestered ourselves in the lobby, hoping to get a glimpse of Monkee-ness, or even an autograph if we should be so lucky.

A small hubbub as the side door opened - and a small crush of people started moving quickly through the lobby. Taking a chance, I grabbed the LP and pen that I had brought with me, following the crowd toward a waiting elevator. The protectors parted to allow an opening to the elevator - and there in the light was Davy Jones.

He looked just like himself, only shorter. He also looked tired and a bit worn out from having to rush through crowds, show after show. Yet, when I reached beyond the mass of gawkers - holding out a decades-old record album and an iffy pen, he gladly took them from me, and scrawled his signature on the back of the album jacket. I said "thank you," he looked up, and then said the same. The elevator doors closed and whisked him to who knows where (probably the floor his room was on) - and I have always remembered that he seemed as grateful as I that he had highlighted a few seconds of my life.
The Dispatch from Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Star Collector (correspondence from your auntie grizelda)