Monday, October 30, 2006

Beaux Arts Coffee House, Pinellas Park, FL

This is 7711 60th street North, former site of the Beaux Arts coffee house in Pinellas Park, Florida. I took this picture a couple days ago during my annual visit to the in-laws' house. I didn't know it until recently, but they live close by, a couple of miles northeast of this location. It sits near ball fields and railroad tracks, half a block north of Park Blvd, the main east-west drag through Pinellas Park. It's a shame they couldn't preserve the spot where Jim Morrison read poetry and Jack Kerouac hung out during his days in the St. Petersburg area. Thanks to Mari Eliza for providing the exact address. Much to my surprise, my father in-law, Tom Wise, remembered the three story wood frame house and guided me here. He moved to the area in the early 90s, a few years before the city condemned the property. He said it was in pretty bad shape near the end (it was gutted by fire some years before), which may explain why local politicos didn't save it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Recommending The Fog of War

I watched The Fog of War, the academy award-winning documentary from Errol Morris. The film is sub-titled 11 lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara. Its a riveting account from one of America's main players of the Cold War. McNamara is very candid about Vietnam, although the film does not go in depth to the extent that McNamara's memoir In retrospect : the tragedy and lessons of Vietnam did.

The film uses a technique invented by Morris called the Interrotron. The Interrotron uses two cameras and teleprompters during the "talking-head" interview segments. If you've ever seen a regular teleprompter, it allows a person to read a script while looking directly into a camera. Morris' Interrotron substitutes an image of another person into the teleprompter screen. This allows the interview subject, McNamara, to look directly into the camera while talking to Morris. The net effect is that McNamara appears to be talking directly to the viewer, and this provides extra punch during some of his most stirring commentary.

Philip Glass scored the film and that's a another bonus. His score is haunting and surreal, just as you'd expect from Glass.

Documenting the Scene

If you were in a band in the Lawrence/K.C. area in the 80's, then chances are your roster appears on Don Thompson's Local Bands page from

248 Episodes and 10 recurring themes

A few years ago one of our local Kansas City stations re-ran Hawaii Five-O episodes at a time when I found myself in front of the TV. I remember the show from childhood of course, but it was a slightly different viewing experience seeing the show again after so many years. It was highly entertaining for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Jack Lord's uber-earnest McGarrett. If you liked to marvel and laugh at Five-O and McGarrett, then seal off the island and read Mark Evanier's reflections on Five-O.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rogue Poetry Review

My Mom has three poems in the first edition of the online Rogue Poetry Review.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Price is Right Theme Music

I love the price is right theme song. It captures an aspect of the seventies that I like. When I hear it, I see a Wonder bread wrapper landscape of colorful circles, beautiful ladies, and merchandise.

Screw Watergate, I won a brand new Vega.

Check out the extended version here (mp3) and you'll want to "come on down" to the showcase row with your breasts falling out of your tube top, which is sad if you're like me, because I'm a dude.

Here's a poem I wrote about the Price is Right. It was for a radio bit we did about game show poetry on KFKF in 1996.

That Bob Barker's got it made
on TV's Price is Right.
Showcase models everyday
and cocktails every night.

Janice, Holly, and babes galore.
You won a brand new car!
I have my plane fare nearly saved
in a Hellman's mayonnaise jar.

But I wish they'd take it on the road
and come to my home town.
So I could hear Johnny Olson say-
Fowler, come on down!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How to Be More Popular

The untrue story of a junior-high school prank gone terribly right, with gratuitous references to Star Wars and cheap gin, by Eric Filipkowski.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Buck O'Neil - R.I.P.

Buck O'Neil died at age 94. Here's a good obit from the NY Times (reg. sometimes req). I didn't know Buck personally. Like a lot of baseball fans, I heard him recall tales of Negro League baseball in Ken Burns' Baseball documentary on PBS in 1994. O'Neil lived in the Kansas City area and I saw him once.

My friends and I went to the Royals game about six or seven years ago and were approached by a businessman outside the gate. He had four tickets and he offered to give us three of them for free, the catch being that he kept the fourth so we sat next to him. We accepted the offer and much to our surprise and delight, found ourselves about three rows behind the opponents dugout on the third base side.

It was a perfect summer evening and we settled into our prime location. I looked to my right and there was Buck O'Neil in the next section. He sat alone with a clipboard or folder. He was working. He must have been 86 or 87 years old. There he was, very unassuming, watching the game. I don't remember if the Royals won, but I felt fortunate to be close to a living legend like Buck O'Neil. I wanted to say hello, but I generally don't bum rush celebrities. It was kind of cool to sit back and observe.

The old saying "A library burns down when an old man dies" certainly applies to Buck's passing. Thank goodness Ken Burns and subsequent scribes documented his story.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Before Spinal Tap...

I woke up early this morn and watched The Rutles - All You Need is Cash, the 1978 mockumentary of the Beatles, written by Eric Idle and Neil Innes. Brilliant!