Saturday, July 25, 2009

Confusion is always the most honest response (Or, Amazing Tales from the Eyebrow of the Storm)

St. Pete as viewed from the pier.
Lake Ontario shoreline.
Out in the sticks, NE of Kingston, Ontario
Same sticks, different building
The Busker Festival outside my hotel
The busker festival was, if you know what "busker" means was a celebration of street performers. Buskers perform for tips, and that was the case here. There was music, acrobatics, magic, and children's shows. The ambiance was pretty cool, but the pictures did not capture that so well. So I saved myself the server space of posting mediocre pics.

Just outside of Kingston, I stopped at a place called Boston Pizza. Mainly it was the first thing I had run across in a while. And I also knew that buying a pizza for lunch usually took care of dinner later. Cold pizza, mmmmmm.

They had pretty much just specialty pizzas and I ended up with a perogie pizza. Now, if you don't know what a perogie is you're thinking, "Ewww...what's a perogie? Why would you put it on a pizza? Sounds like some kind of building material." But if you do know what a perogie is, then you are thinking, "Ewwww! What on earth possessed them to put that on a pizza??" But actually, it was quite tasty. It did, however, raise the question of whether the city of Boston knows that weird specialty pizzas are being hawked in Canada under their name and, more importantly, do they care?
Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter because nobody listens
While I was at the prison working, there was a problem. The prisoners did not want to return to their cells. They were asked nicely and then asked nicely again. Still no dice. Since I did not really understand what was going on, I will give you the condensed, color coded version of what I saw.
Inmates: We will not go in.
Prison: Please?
Pretty please?
Send your union rep to see the warden. (No, really...the prisoners are represented)
Warden: They will have to be punished
Union guy: They prefer not to be. They will not return to their cells if they will be punished for their insubordination.
But they must be punished
They don"t want to be.
How about we cut the punishment in half. Would that do it?
I will go run it past the prisoners. I think I can sell it that way
Me, Ed Abernathy: What the hell did I just witness?!!?
I have been working. That's a fact. That's my excuse. Turks. Americans. Japanese. You bring 'em and I'll teach 'em. Gearing up for 12 - 14 days in Houston. Yee-haw! Well, at least I won't get there in the summer just to find out I should have brung a jacket (are you listening Massachusetts and Ontario?). It will be sweltering, same as here.
Yeah, that is a guy with a TV on his head. He was doing techno music with a couple of other guys. Or trip hop. Or whatthehellever music. Not up on my labels. Now, he might look like a loser, but let me assure you, they were not all that good either.
Today is my anniversary. Eight years. Or nine. I have the date in my Blackberry and could do the math from there. Suffice to say, it's been a while. My first marriage lasted 10 years, but since this one does not involve a redneck redhead with a taste for crack cocaine, it might go longer. I don't know whether to shudder or smile.

We are taking some young friends out to eat to celebrate. We are going to The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. I once took the Red Queen there on the advice of my father. See we were good friends. We wanted to date, but didn't. We'd tiptoe up to the edge of dating, smile a weak smile, and step back. I think for she, and I know for me, dating someone always led to screwing up the friendship. We didn't want that. So we didn't.

There we were, headed out on a non-date, all dressed up and nervous. Dad asked where I was going to take her and I said, "I don't know, probably for pizza."He told me to take her someplace nice instead, like the Columbia. Well, Mr. Minimum Wage (yours truly, who toiled away in a warehouse for $3.80 an hour) was shocked...shocked I tell ya. I could never afford that. Well, it seems I could. Dad reasoned, and correctly so, that if you don't order drinks and fancy appetizers, the price of the entrees themselves were on par with buying a pizza. so you could both dress up and act with all the grace and high school sophistication you desired without breaking the bank. The non-date ended with a non-kiss and a non-invitation to come in for coffee. But we were well fed.

Just as a side note, you need to be aware that dressing up in the timeframe we are talking abought would include any or all of the following: leisure suit, print rayon shirt with a wide collar, platform soles. Just so you know. I have pictures to prove it.... that you'll never see.

Work with me people, c'mon, out
Ramblin' Ed
A long time ago, when I was young, I had to come to grips with some things. In my fashion, I chose to do it in rhyme. As with most everything I've penned, these were for me. Again, as with most things I've ever penned, I share them with you.
When Johnny Comes Marching Home/Amazing Grace

The revoulotion's timeless
your opposition spineless
your brother's in the trenches
with the luckless sons of bitches
preparing for the onslought
no matter what we once thought
God has breathed his breath
on the men awaiting death
as they sing Amazing Grace

Preparing for the bloodbath
on the resurrected warpath
yeah, the propaganda's changed
but their smiling face remains
Saying, "Fight to keep your homeland free
If not for you, then just for me"
for the children born this weary day
while in agony you pass away
They can sing amazing grace

The war machine rolls right along
drowning out our fighting song
the crucifix that gives us strength
shall never fall in grim defeat
your brother in the trench has died
but God and luck were on our side
our enemies, our godless foes
were crushed beneath our righteous blows
Let us sing Amazing Grace

The Humanity Humility

Listen, can you hear it
in your father's old fatigues
Born into fighting spirit
can you see the DMZ?
It's not like in a fantasy,
the two of us can bleed
we led our troops to battle
with humanity

Do you remember
you were only seventeen
you fought for truth
you were a hero in blue jeans
armed with youth
but we lost everything, it seems
You were half a special team
we learned humility

It was so peaceful
like the California shore
It was decietful
for we were burdened with a war
of such dimensions
it couldn't grow no more
Hand in hand we swore
to live forever

It was dark and it was raining
the troops all ran for cover
The battle was still raging
we just looked at one another
Man, there ain't no use in praying
they've already got your brother
And that altered my decision

I remember,
what it was in sixty-eight
it was December
and the snow was coming late
Yet we were hindered
by all the cobwebs of our fate
and humanity was laughing
in our faces

We surrendered
We put our youth away
and we surrendered
we can fight another day
But we'll remember
until they put us in our graves
that humanity was laughing
in our face

Chester MacHenry

Chester MacHenry came back from the ocean
with four missing teeth and a parrot named Stan
an old wooden leg that he took off for sleeping
and a hard thirst for rum that he never could kill

When Chester MacHenry came back from the sea
wearing tattoos and taboos from all over the world
He had this look in his eye like the rage of a stallion
and a soft spot inside for the girl they called Lil

Said, "Chester, oh Chester,
you old salty dog.
Got your head in the clouds,
are you lost in the fog?"
Old Chester MacHenry,
a man for all times
still longing to be
west of latitude lines

Now Chester MacHenry's confined to his shanty
his old wooden leg in a heap by his bed
Stan's on his perch, drinking beer and still cursing
Might be only a bird, but he's more than a friend

Now the cold winter wind's blowing off the Atlantic
I guess rum and a blanket will keep a man warm
Stan's screaming something 'bout freezing tailfeathers
it seems that they both feel the same in the end

Chester MacHenry came back from the ocean
with stories to tell about places he'd been
he'd share them with anyone willing to listen
for Chester MacHenry was a lonely old man

Seems all that old Chester brough back from the ocean
was four missing teeth and a parrot named Stan
an old wooden leg that he took off for sleeping
Yes, Chester MacHenry was one lonely man

Monday, July 06, 2009

I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something

I am in Kingston, Ontario in a hotel on the Lake Ontario shore. So now I have been on the shores, in this order, of the Great Lakes Erie, Michigan, and Ontario. Not sure how one finds themselves at Lake Huron or Surperior, but give me time. I am here to work at the Collins Bay Corrections Facility and once again, that's all I'm going to say about that. This is it in the picture to the right. A pretty imposing feature on the local landscape.

As I was driving here (I landed in Montreal, about 2 1/2 hours NW of here) through a whole bunch of nothing except speed traps (I passed 4 of them....that I saw), I saw what I believe was the northern end of I-81. I mean, I assume US interstates end at the border. Or else they would become interprovince highways. And that's just silly.
My internet cable is fed to me through, and I am not making this up, an official game puck of the Kingston Frontenacs. Not sure what a Frontenac is, but this guy resembles either a minuteman or a pirate. And the puck is not as heavy as I would have expected although still, it could put a tooth out.

I woke up to a storm rolling in off the lake. It was pretty, as all storms are. I was reminded of Gordon Lightfoot singing about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, "Lake Superior they said, never gives up her dead, when the storms of November come early." I wrote my own, omnious verse for Lake Ontario: Lake Ontario you'll dread, drops cold rain on your head, soaks your hair, as it dries, it goes squirrely." OK, so I'm no Canadian troubador with a cool name.

Apparently Kingston used to be the capital of Canada. It is quaint, and after you get past the plethora of nice restaurants, pretty boring. Picturesque as all get out, but boring. I drove down the Loyalist Byway (or was Loyalist something) which wound it's way along the lakeshore. I went as far as Bath, had a pizza, and came back to the hotel to watch TV.

Canada has made life fairly simple. For starters, and I'm not calling them sissies or nothing, but they have learned to go out, drink, and have a good time without, you know, all the fighting and robbing and redneck stuff that goes on when Americans get together in cities. But mostly I would say that they have simplified store naming down to an art. There is "The Beer Store" (sells beer only), "The Water Store" (sells water), Mr. Transmission (a man who fixes transmissions, like Mr. Plow was a man [Homer Simpson] who plowed).

I was saving this up to regale you with adventures, but there is a lack of adventure right now. I did learn that our next job up here would be in a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. Sounds both remote and interesting. I am told it is kind of wild and freewheeling up there, like Alaska. I hope I think to take a jacket.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy, out
Ramblin' Ed