Sunday, November 26, 2017

Flannel, the Alamo, and Hickory Hill Part One

It’s flannel time again. And nobody wore them as well as Fred Astaire.
I offer this erudite sartorial nugget as testimony to the fact that this blog used to be about clothes and to a great degree, about my now seventeen year old daughter. But for now we've gotta discuss scale and proxemics.

I should’ve never laid eyes on the damn Alamo. Never.
Any trip I took to San Antonio should have excluded swinging by and taking a look at the fortress where my Walt Disney wrought heroes drew their last collective breath.
The gift of my imagination had for the previous thirty years conjured an Alamo of epic size and proportion. A fortress. A crucible of such sublime intents. Ideas and actions grounded in the thirst for independence and freedom and choice and liberation. Leastways that’s what uncle Walt taught me.
My imaginative child’s eye view of this place had the walls at surely one hundred feet tall. At least. And I knew a thing or two about the Alamo and the battle sine I acted it out with my official Davy Crockett Alamo set a hundred damn times.

But when I rounded the corner, my heart sank. Its fa├žade  belied my childhood Disney-esque contrivances. Walt’s version of the fort and the story were somewhat, shall we say...elaborated. I recalled that it took the Mexican soldiers at least a half-hour to make it all the way up to the tips of their makeshift ladders only to be knocked back down by the courageous defenders.
The fascia of what I saw was about the size of a 7-11 convenience store frontage. Hell, Turner’s Open Air Market in Florence, S.C., my childhood headquarters for procuring teeth rotting goodies was more of a fortress than this thing.
This couldn’t possibly be the place where twenty-six year old South Carolinian Colonel William Barret Travis bravely died for the cause of Texas independence. Ditto for David Bowie’s great-great-great granddaddy Jim, Davy Crockett, and gaggle of other multi-state cohorts-in-arms. 

And please. Before some of you historical fact-queer nitpickers pile on and school me about how the original Alamo is long gone. And what’s left denies the true majesty of the formerly intact Mission—I get it. I know the facts and I don’t care. Even if it still had that unbroken wraparound enclosurated trellis of a wall; it would still under deliver.  Shut. Up.

That gut level crest fall didn’t happen to me when I first saw all of the monuments here in D.C. Each one of them delivered. They all complemented my illusions of them created courtesy of elementary school textbooks and other visual testimonies to their majesty.

Same thing with the Statue of Liberty. My Lady Liberty experience could have had the same disappointing outcome as my Alamo meltdown but it didn't. I’d seen those photos of the yet to be assembled statue while its component parts remained in France and it looked crazy big.
 Photographers in the States also captured the size and scale of the unattached torch and the separated head. Guys standing beside these unassembled components offered proof of just how big that damn thing was gonna be when she was all put together. She did not disappoint when I finally saw her in situ.
I know that this story makes no sense just yet and you'll just have to hang in with me. Bottom line is that the source of my Alamo disillusionment rests solely between my ears. My outsized imagination has always conjured majesty—even when there ain’t none. And I’ll finish telling you this story sometime soon. Hopefully.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Well there is Marrakesh and all of the associated sentient triggers there. Sounds, textures, and colors in the souks. Those great kilim and other colorful textiles house slippers that seem like just the right things when you are there—only to get them home and declare “now where the hell will I ever wear these things again”. And the smells…some not so good and most others really great.

But there was also Skeets Barbecue near Darlington South Carolina. Their sweet tea that after my being gone from the South for over twenty-five years throws me into a diabetic swirl after one glass. But the vinegar based barbecue cuts that filmy sugar right out of your mouth. Nice.

Then of course there’s boiled peanuts and my mother’s homemade sourdough bread fresh out of the oven. Hot. With my aunt Kat’s plum preserves comingled with melted butter. And there was Tant’s in Birmingham Alabama and cocktails and red meat at Rule’s on Maiden Lane in London—preferably in the room upstairs—the private one where Bertie, Prince of Wales entertained his paramour Lily Langtry.

A Kir Royale or a French 75 in Paris after traipsing through Musee Carnivalet. And dinner at Le Grand Colbert is appealing again, too. Now since the booth that Jack Nicholson and Dianne Keaton occupied during the filming of Something’s Gotta Give has been requested over the last decade by a thousand tourists and thus thankfully the crowds have moderated. Roast chicken there but also chicken from a roadside stand on a dodgy side street in San Juan—eaten without utensils and washed down with a cold beer. All while standing.

Maybe I’ll wear my funny house slippers…maybe a different one on each foot. Then I’ll be like a Marrakesh bazaar. You won’t know what to look at first.