Quote #10

July 15, 2008

Pere’s your next quote from “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72″ by Hunter S. Thompson. Page 72.

A lot has been written about McGovern’s difficulties on the campaign trail, but most of it is far off the point. The career pols and press wizards say he simply lacks “charisma,” but that’s a cheap and simplistic idea that is more an insult to the electorate than to McGovern. The assholes who run politics in this country have become so mesmerized by the Madison Avenue school of campaigning that they actually believe, now, that all it takes to become a Congressman or a Senator – or even President – is a nice set of teeth, a big wad of money, and a half-dozen Media Specialists.

And, things haven’t changed at all (which has been the point of these entries, but I wanted to reiterate, just in case.)

Better make sure your kids get braces if you want them to be president. The money and media specialists will take care of themselves.

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The Mysterious Taco Bell Receipt

July 15, 2008

This one still puzzles me. It was the first picture of the boxed items that I took. Somehow, I have saved a Taco Bell receipt from August 19, 1991. Somehow, I wrapped said Taco Bell receipt around a group of baseball cards. From different years and different companies. Along with Upper Deck Looney Tunes cards.

The cards don’t have any pattern. It’s not like they are from a strat team or an early rotisserie team. (I’d hope I didn’t have Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes, Marvell Wynne, Mark Thurmond and Bob Brower as the core of any team.) Only Rex Hudler kind of makes sense as he was a Cardinals favorite as they suffered through the early 90s. I loved the Wonder Dog. He still makes me smile with his unbridled enthusiasm for the game as an Angels announcer.

I could understand the receipt if it was for two bean burritos with extra onions. You see, that was my special signal to Jimmy Fessler that I was at the drive thru of the Taco Bell on Providence in Columbia, MO and hungry. (Not an uncommon condition. Even today. Except for the Columbia, MO part. Still, I can always make room for Shakespeare’s Pizza when I drive through Columbia.)

Jimmy would peer out the window, confirm it was me, laugh to himself, and then make two of the fattest bean burritos you would ever want to see.* I had a burrito that crunched once because of the number of onions. I didn’t have a date that……year, so it was all good.

* I love the things that we do in college to save money, legal and illegal. Two bean burritos, and from the receipt we know that would only be about a buck and a quarter with tax, and I would be full for the night. However, I still can’t believe I ever willingly drank King Kobra malt liquor. I can believe I tried to steal a keg from a dorm party once. Somehow the hosts spotted a big silver keg “hidden” in the middle of a field.

But, the date tells me it was the year before I met Jimmy. So, almost seventeen years after I went to Taco Bell store number 456, I still have a receipt to commemorate that experience. One good thing – I know it couldn’t have been a date, because I only got one large Mountain Dew. I doubt even I would be that cheap to buy one drink and share it with my date. Or, for heaven’s sake, to take a date to Taco Bell, unless I had some wonderfully overdeveloped sense of chutzpah that day.

Unless we went dutch. Damn, that would be good. Let’s just pretend that’s it. Balls. Big as church bells. Taking a date to Taco Bell and going dutch. Then going to the lake in Capaha Park and feeding the ducks the leftover soft taco scraps. Maybe catching a free baseball game at Capaha Field. Then climbing the fence to sneak into Capaha pool after hours. Going to Kidd’s afterwards and buying baseball cards and giving the cool cards to my date. A bouquet of all-stars which would be so much better than flowers. The ultimate cheap date if you know you’re already in like Flynn. Yes, and I saved the receipt and the leftover cards to prove I was that damn good.

Otherwise, it’s just a Taco Bell receipt.


Blossom Bar

July 5, 2008

Above Blossom Bar
I got an email this week that caused the pit in my stomach to swell. This pit only forms in fits of nervousness, or thinking of those times of nervousness, even as I write now. I remember having it when I went bungy-jumping out of a hot air balloon during the summer after I graduated. Every time I step on stage, it’s there to varying degrees. I remember it hitting with particular force when I asked a girl I liked to go out on a date with me. (Fortunately, I had John Tudor on my side that day.) It also hits whenever I go rafting, which is how this blog entry started.

The email concerned an article on an experienced rafter losing her life on the rapid known as Blossom Bar on the Rogue River. A group of friends and I rafted down that same section of the Rogue River back in 2004. A friend, Scott Eggimann, put it best, “There but for the grace of Shiva….”

Blossom Bar. This was the one rapid where we had to be our best. The waters were calm leading to a take out point where we could scout the rapids. Most of the folks were in a raft. A couple were in kayaks. I was the pilot of our oar boat. I had to provide the power and the steering for Rich and myself for this rapids after a long day in the sun on the river. My first class IV rapid by myself. Even now, the self-doubt creeps inside of me, as the pit grows more anxious.

We scouted. We read the recommended way to attack Blossom Bar. I wondered deep inside if there was a way to portage around. A way to just pick up and avoid this danger. There wasn’t.

The raft went first. They didn’t make it to the correct side and got stuck behind a rock as they tried to figure out what to do. I watched. I waited. The pit grew.

The raft took the other way. They got through. The kayakers went next and made it down on the recommended side with no problems. Now, it was my turn.

Excuse me while I take a deep breath. My fingers tremble as I write this. Even searching for the images from other rafting trips on this same rapid heightened the rawness of my nerves. I don’t know why rafting causes this anxiety. This was my third trip rafting trip with this group of friends. I’d also been canoeing twice in the Boundary Waters as well as several different canoe trips growing up in Missouri. I’m a strong swimmer. All I know is that thinking about this particular rapid still unnerves me.
Entering Blossom Bar

Rich and I climbed aboard and pushed off into the Rogue. I pulled as hard as I could to get to the far side of the rapids.

I failed.

We ended up right at the same rock as the raft before us. We had to take the less than optimal route.

The rest of the rapid is a blur. Rich had out a paddle and was trying to help. I yelled at him to stop as he was altering our path and my control. “Control” is overstating quite a bit, as we were at the mercy of the river. We bounced off rocks, my oar got stuck on a rock and bent in half, but didn’t break. Then, as quickly as it began, we were through and our friends applauded us on the downstream side.

As I just wrote that, an ease settled over me. The rapid was over. We made it. I don’t know how. We just did.

I’ve grown to trust that pit. It lets me know when I need to be at my best. However, my best was not good enough. In this case, it came down to luck. I don’t know how luck works, I’m just glad it was with me on that day. I wish it had been there for the kayaker last week.