Monday, February 26, 2007

Nothing But The Dead and Dying

In my hometown, some boys used to collect scorpions and put whiskey on their stingers. The scorpions would sting themselves to death to get the whiskey and great hilarity would ensue for these bored hooligans who didn't have much upstairs, as the saying goes. Scorpions and cheap whiskey were easy to come by and it beat the rattlesnake game where you'd drop a cookie on the head of a rattlesnake in a box and try to snatch it off. When you can take the pebble from my hand . . . Badass or dumbass? It is, as one might imagine, a very fine line. I used to sing along with Simon and Garfunkel in those days, particularly the line, Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town.

Even though I have not lived there for many years, I imagine that the same things happen now. It wasn't a bad place to grow up, though. When I return, the past comes flooding back, along with warnings from the locals about the dangers of living in the big city. What I don't say is that everything truly awful that has happened to me has happened in this small town. Even so, some part of me is deeply attached to it. You can't disown that which has defined you without paying a huge price. Besides, where else am I ever going to see someone try and take a cookie off a snake's head again?

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Went on with my life/ But that memory entering like a spike." Raymond Carver

Cocktail Hour

Moving drinking suggestion: Jarhead

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Monday! Congratulations to Forest W. for winning the Oscar! I was thrilled. I also loved Ryan Gosling's performance in Half-Nelson, but Forest really deserved it. There's a great story about when he was on safari in Africa learning his lines. He wanted to see a lion, but everyone told him that it wasn't likely because the conditions weren't right. So he began to learn his lines and work on his craft and lo and behold, a lion appeared. He didn't stop, though, he just kept reciting his lines to the lion. This is a man who has worked on his craft for years, never getting the proper recognition. So writers, take heart! Your lion will appear.

41 days until The Sopranos airs!


JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never really been much for drinking games. Even in my younger days, I was always the long distance drinker, never really quitting, just sipping for all eternity. Sometimes I'd have to be told to go home.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never heard of the scorpion/whiskey thing. My little town sounds pretty boring next to yours.

Rodney Dangerfield said...

I love it when you give the peace sign with your legs, Michelle. If you know what I mean.

the walking man said...

Hey Rodney how would you like to place a cookie on my head and see if you could snatch it off before you got bit, if you know what I mean?

I left the place i wasn't wanted at seventeen, like you say the place where all the worst of things happened to me. Viet Nam was on but I went navy and saw ocean and stars pllenty of both and I do believe I only heard the twin .54's fire once and if i remember correctly it was during my rack time because we were working 12 on 12 off. Now that is a memory that spikes into my head.

NYC, Philadelphia, New Port RI, Jacksonville and, finally Berkley; all places where I established a life with a job and a place to live and places in between Walking or thumbing because of restless feet.All of them better to me than home;Detroit.

Yet here I am since 1979, a few long road trips but more or less back home. I know why I came back but I am not sure why I stayed. Just because it was home I guess and I realized that after all of my traveling and living that there was and still is no where in America or Canada like this place.

History stetching back over 300 years and only one documented slave was ever here, one of the few last stops on the underground railroad where escaped slaves could be ferried to safety in Canada which outlawed slavery in 1833. But still the most racist place in America, where the Whites control the suburbs and the Blacks control the city.

Gone from a top population of 1.9 million people within the city limits to now a maximum population of 850,000.

I live in my home, in the city as a minority and am very security concious but I love my neighbors and I love my city now that them that tortured me as a kid have moved on to the suburbs or somewhere because I don't know them anymore.

Maybe it's because I understand what racism is, believe me as a minority your world can turn in a heartbeat.

But it has always been my home and it hasn't provided many good times for me and in all my exploring the only other place I would like to live is a small town in Virginia with a population of about 100 and that is because it was as close to being accepted as i have ever felt, except for home.

realbigwings said...

Yesterday I was walking in the desert. As i walked over a hilltop I began singing Hello hello hello because that's what I felt like. And then, mid-greeting, I turned to meet eyes with a large brown cow a couple feet away, just around the turn.
It was surprising, yet made sense, especially since my tongue was already singing welcome.

That was my lion.

paul said...


Rick Hunter said...

hi, i've never drunk an scorpion/ whiskey, but i do a cocktail of frogs.....

Jason said...

I miss the small things. I miss Carmen and Devin.

JAM said...

Even so, some part of me is deeply attached to it. You can't disown that which has defined you without paying a huge price.

Truer words were never spoken. I kicked the dust off my feet when I left my home town, but made a truce years later, after I'd grown up a lot.

Michelle's Spell said...


I know what you mean --it's always the little things. I'd really miss both of them as well.