Saturday, August 1, 2015

Insiders Tips: The Outer Banks

We're what you could call old hands when it comes to vacationing in North Carolina's barrier-island paradise, the Outer Banks. Over the years, we have collected quite a lot of "inside" info on places to eat, things to do, etc. I mean, what do you expect? We'd have to be idiots not to pick up a thing or two after all this time. It's not a big deal. To save other OBX visitors time, I've decided to share some of what we've learned.

You noticed that OBX, I guess. Took us awhile to figure this one out. Pretty cryptic, right? At first I thought it was some sort of Masonic thing. But it's actually an abbreviation for...Outer Banks. You will see this very clever shorthand adorning bumper stickers, t-shirts, signs—and now you're in on the secret.

Before you hit the beach, you'll need to load up on supplies. It's better to just buy them when you're there instead of looking for "deals" back home. You will see some stores called Wings, but hold out for something called Super Wings. They have everything. And every location we've been to has been staffed by the most helpful Russian teenagers. I got a great deal on an XL pair of trunks.

If you feel like a good beach read, drop in on the Sandy Books Bookstore on the Croatan Highway. Their clientele is smaller than what you might find in a bigger city, so their selection is a bit "limited," but root around and you just might come up with something. On our last visit, my wife found Trees and Shrubs of Missouri (beautiful pictures!), and I got a book called My Melancholy Whores, which I'm determined to finish.

The Outer Banks apparently have a very colorful history. We've never quite been able to find any museums, but we did play mini-golf at a place in Nags Head called Mutiny Cove, which has an exciting "pirate" theme. There was a very informative placard about real-life pirates and the twelfth hole is played through a replica pirate ship.

If you're in Kitty Hawk and you're hungry, try the Asian Express. The proprietor—can't quite pronounce his name, but he lets us call him Mort—has a really interesting story to tell. We were the only customers and our kids were next door in the dollar store, and my wife and I listened to him for, well, for I think two hours. I was never totally clear on what country Mort is from, but man, he really misses it! In the same shopping center there is a Food Lion, where you can pick up snacks for later. I was curious if it's any different from the Food Lion back home, but no, it is exactly the same.

If it gets too hot for you on the beach, escape to the air conditioning of the Regal Cinema in Kill Devil Hills. I remember seeing War Horse during our first summer here. This time we saw Ant-Man.

And so on. Like Rome, the Outer Banks was not built in a day. Nor was our long list of things to do. It is an investment, but if you spend enough time in a place, it will reveal itself to you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Never Let Me Go

This is my second song to tab from the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack. (The first was "Satellite of Love," a Lou Reed song, of course, but with a different arrangement.) Since tabbing "Satellite," I finally watched the movie. Its opening five minutes are stunning: a crack-of-dawn helicopter shot of downtown LA (accompanied by "The First Time"—U2 at their most Velvety), culminating in the happiest suicide imaginable, a dive off the eponymous hotel with one hell of a view on the way down. Sadly, nothing else in the film comes close to being that good. I'm sorry to report that The Million Dollar Hotel is a barely coherent, unfunny mess. It stars Jeremy Davies, one of the most mannered actors in the world, at his mannered worst. Moreover, that soundtrack, which I'd absorbed over the past decade and half, does not set the mood as I'd thought it would. Much of the music in the film is unfamiliar, and some pieces from the album never seem to show up. In other words, the movie, for me, was kind of a bust.

Ah well. The music remains great, including this sultry ballad, which gives us an idea of what Bono-the-solo-artist might sound like. Joined by that crack MDH Band of Jon Hassell, Bill Frisell, et al, it evokes for me mid-70s Bowie songs like "Win" and "Wild Is the Wind." (Bowie is at the root of a lot of U2's music.) As with the MDH version of "Satellite," I appear to be the only human on the Web who has bothered to tab this thing. (Almost forgot—you'll want to listen to the song, of course.)

(Bono/The MDH Band)


You take a stranger by the hand
A man who doesn't understand
His wildest dreams
You walk across the dirty sand
And offer him an ocean
Of what he's never seen

Maybe I was blind
Or I, I might have closed my eyes
Maybe I was dumb

But what I forgot to say
If you didn't know
Is never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go


You run from love and don't believe
Unless it catches you by the heel
That even then, you struggle

From red I learned to cross the strand
Your footprints still there in the sand
Everything else, washed away

I may not be alone
Oh I, I may have found my home
I may have lost my way
But what I forgot to say
If you didn't know
Is never let me go

Never let me go
Never let me go

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shameless Bid for Blog Traffic

In a crass attempt to attract visitors, I am pasting the link to a stream of the new Atoms for Peace album, AMOK, into this blog post. The AMOK web page has a so-called visualizer—and, reports Pitchfork: "Any site that has the link posted automatically gets added to the visualizer, which cycles through the sites randomly."

I feel compelled to point out that I am also a fan. I also feel compelled to point that a.) rather than the advertised "visualizer," the link appears to bring one to a black web page with neither text nor links, necessitating one to access the stream through the Flash player on the Pitchfork page, and that b.) having listened to the stream, I think the new album exposes Yorke's David Byrne fixation rather neatly. (He once seemed to wish he'd created the White Album; I now think he wishes he'd made Remain in Light.) Of course, the music also resembles The Eraser, not to mention the last Radiohead release, King of Limbs, a record which—like Talking Heads' Naked—was a conspicuous fall from previous heights, as each band gamely followed its respective frontman down a new and, I'm sorry, less fruitful path.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hey everybody, meet my new friend--Carolina Jones

Email I received earlier today from Lithuania:

How are you? I'm Carolina, I want us to become friends so that I can share my life privacy with you & send you my pictures. I hope to see your mail take good care of your self.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Only Child

Ten things——besides that five-string open-G tuning everybody mentions—that I learned from Keith Richards' memoir, Life.

1. Both his father and stepfather are called Richards. Keith doesn't seem to be impressed by the coincidence (if that's what it is). His mother was from a family of seven daughters, and if you've ever wondered about the hardiness of Keith's constitution, you should know that most of his aunts are still alive.

2. London streets used to be full of animals. Keith: "When I was growing up, it was heavy fog almost all winter, and if you've got two or three miles to walk to get back home, it was the dogs that led you. Suddenly old Dodger would show up with a patch on his eye, and you could basically guide your way home by that. Sometimes the fog was so thick you couldn't see a thing. And old Dodger would take you up and hand you over to some Labrador. Animals were in the street, something that's disappeared. I would have got lost and died without some help from my canine friends." (The roughly 60 pages of childhood stuff is probably the book's high point. Effortlessly evocative, it reads at times like some long-lost Dickens narrative, with asylum escapees on the heath, army deserters hiding in the woods by the Thames, a dead tramp found covered in bluebottles, street bullies, even a fatal explosion at a fireworks factory. He sometimes took a shortcut behind the factories and paper mill, past an "evil-smelling creek": "every chemical in the world had been poured into this creek, and it's steaming like hot sulfur springs. I held my breath and walked quicker. It really looked like something out of hell.")

3. Had a mouse and a cat for pets. The mouse went to school with him in his pocket. His mother had the cat put to sleep, and Keith shoved a drawing of a cat under her door with the word "murderer" written beneath it.

4. The winter that Keith, Mick, and Brian Jones shared a flat was London's coldest since 1740. The flat had a pay heater—they had to keep feeding it coins.

5. Keith not only wrote the bulk of the music for most of their best songs; he often came up with the lyrical angle as well: "Satisfaction," "Gimme Shelter," "Wild Horses" (I could go on) are all concepts that Jagger simply (albeit brilliantly) expanded on.

6. While Mick was fooling around with Anita Pallenberg on the set of Performance, Keith had revenge sex with Marianne Faithfull (and fled through a window when Mick came home). I've thought of Mick and Keith's friendship as fairly up and down, but the best way to describe it, for thirty years now, would be simply nonexistent. Interestingly, there are more entries in the index for Mick Jagger than there are for Keith himself. (My favorite: "Jagger, Mick and giant inflatable cock, 12-13, 485").

7. In the late '60s in the UK, if your physician registered you with National Health as a junkie, you could receive heroin pills plus an equal amount of cocaine (the idea being that the coke would counteract the opiate effect of the heroin). This was the purest heroin and the purest, May & Baker pharmaceutical cocaine. Definitely no MSS (that is, Mexican shoe scrapings—Gram Parson's term for low-grade street smack).

8. Injuries sustained: finger squashed when he dropped a flagstone on it, earring ripped from his ear as he slept, passing out after nine days without sleep and falling headfirst into an amplifier, finger burned to the bone by stray lump of phosphorous from stage pyro, punctured lung (after falling off ladder), cracked skull (falling from tree).

9. When I was fourteen I found an old copy of Oui magazine in, of all places, a deer blind in the hill country of Texas. ("For the man of the world"—yeah, that was me all right.) One of the models was a dark-haired German who, in one memorable shot, drank water from a see-through garden hose. And now, all these years later I find out her name is Uschi Obermaier, a long-standing crush of Keith's. When he learned of Gram Parsons' death in '73 he was in Innsbruck; on a mad impulse he drove to Munich in the middle of the night to hunt Uschi down, although he barely knew her. He miraculously found her, woke her up, broke the news, got a single sleepy kiss for his trouble, and left. 

10. Towards the end, the book starts to simply mark time—this is his manager, this is his guitar technician, these are his neighbors in Jamaica, this is the snapping turtle Keith caught in the pond at his house in Connecticut, etc.—and it begins to sound like an acceptance speech at the Grammys. The lesson is that everybody's life eventually winds down into routine, even for an outlaw like Keith Richards. And so this is the tenth thing I learned:

When you're cooking bangers and mash, you've got to use a cold pan, no preheating.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hard Life of the Hard-Boiled Writer

Aside from the debatable choices of the content itself, the Library of America's two-volume Crime Novels is not big on editorial intrusions, but it does allow itself a fairly detailed biographical note on each of the authors. Reading over these I was struck by some trends that might best be illustrated through a list. (I've stolen the format from An Incomplete Education,where a similar chart was used to compare Leonardo and Michelangelo. I figured if it would do for the architect of St. Peter's Basilica, it would do for the author of I Married a Dead Man.)

Book: The Postman Always Rings Twice... Background: Born 1892, Annapolis, MD. Father a university president... Journalist? Sure was. Wrote for Baltimore Sun, Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker...
Served in France, World War I...
Other Jobs: Trained as a singer. Also taught school and worked as screenwriter... Married: Four times, including marriages with a movie actress and an opera singer... Politics: Accused of being a communist when he established American Authors Authority to protect authors copyrights. Alcoholic?
No... What else should we know? That rare thing, a long and successful life among noir novelists. Followed Postman up with the classics Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce. Lived to be 82 years old.

Book: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?... Background: Born 1897 in Pegram, TN. Moved to Texas... Journalist? Yep. Sportswriter for Dallas Dispatch and editor of the Dallasite... Military: Texas National Guard, then served in France as bombardier, awarded the Croix de Guerre... Other Jobs: Actor, screenwriter (worked, uncredited, on King Kong), lettuce picker, bouncer... Married: Three times, if you count the annulled second marriage to Dallas socialite; followed it up with marriage to daughter of wealthy oilman... Politics: No information... Alcoholic? Not as far as we know... What else should we know? Enjoyed a bestseller in 1952 with The Scalpel; died of a heart attack three years later.

Book: Thieves Like Us... Background: Born 1905 in Weatherford, TX... Journalist? Naturally. On staff of Rocky Mountain News, Los Angeles Examiner, Sacramento Bee, Fort Worth Star-Telegram... Military: None... Other Jobs: Radio writer, screenwriter, freight-hopping hobo... Married: Three times, twice to the same woman... Politics: Extreme right-wing views, informed somehow by his Swedenborgianism... Alcoholic? Yes, which might partly explain his recurrent transient's life...What else should we know? Thieves Like Us made into two classic films, by Nicholas Ray (as They Live by Night) and Robert Altman, but Anderson didn't benefit much, having sold the film rights for a quick $500. There are eight Edward Andersons with a Wikipedia entry; this Edward Anderson isn't one of them. Talk about sinking like a stone.

Book: The Big Clock... Background: Born 1902 in Oak Park, IL... Journalist? Reviewer for the New Yorker, later in life a Newsweek staffer... Military: None... Other jobs: Nothing of note; all he did was write, including several volumes of poetry... Married: Twice, both ending in divorce... Politics: Investigated by the FBI for being a communist... Alcoholic? Yes, and died in poverty at age 59... What else should we know? The Big Clock made into a film in 1948, but Fearing made little money from it. Also the basis of the 1987 film No Way Out.

Book: Nightmare Alley... Background: Born 1909 in Baltimore, MD... Journalist? Book reviewer for Evening Post (New York) and crime magazine editor... Military: Medic with the Lincoln Brigade in Spain... Other jobs: Greenwich Village folk singer, copywriter... Married: Three times. He and second wife, poet Joy Davidman, deeply influenced by ideas of C. S. Lewis, although Gresham eventually drifted away from Christianity, dabbling in Zen Buddhism and Scientology. Following his divorce from Davidman, he married her cousin, while Davidman married C. S. Lewis... Politics: Member of Communist Party... Alcoholic? Yes, and sometimes made him violent... What else should we know? Committed suicide with overdose of sleeping pills after registering in New York hotel under false name. He was 53.

CORNELL WOOLRICH (aka William Irish)
Book: I Married a Dead Man... Background: Born 1903 in New York City... Journalist? Never... Military: Nope... Other jobs: None... Married: Married for three months to daughter of filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton, after which he traveled through Europe with his mother and then moved into her Upper West Side apartment, where he remained for the next 25 years. Woolrich, if you haven't guessed already, was very gay... Alcoholic? Yes, which contributed to drastic slowdown in productivity and two decades as a recluse... What else should we know? The good: Also the author of Rear Window (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock) and The Bride Wore Black (filmed by Francois Truffaut). The bad: in 1961, two years after death of mother, his gangrenous leg had to be amputated; he died of a stroke ten months later at the age of 58.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hey everybody, meet my new friend--Philomena Joy

Email I received earlier today...


Hello my name is philomena joy, i am interested in you for good relationship, if you feel the same you can as well contact me at [no link] for a better introduction.

philomena joy