Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Arkansas

BENNINGTON -- When you fall awake at 4-something in the a.m., bubba, you catch a comedian's funny if not predictable tweet about Arkansas and allow your groggy brain to revert to fine Pavlovian form in the reply.

Mena:Clinton:coke. Mena:Clinton:coke. Mena:Clinton:coke. Am I wrong?

And then 6 hours later you sit in the silent art gallery listening to the Dead with its wonderfully penetrating version of "Terrapin Station" from December 29 1977 at Winterland, trying for the 27th time to finish the Paris Review interview with Kerouac but can't because the French Roast has taken and the brain is in super-duper-hyperactive mode and won't settle down for more than 2 minutes at a time. Twitter! Facebook! Gmail! Twitter! Twitter! Facebook! Fantasy baseball! How the fuck can my team hit 6 home runs, 3 doubles, a triple and have only 8 RBIs!? Twitter! Jesus Christ, brain, settle the fuck down and finish the Kerouac Q&A. Twitter! Shit, the Paris Review just tweeted a link to a Q&A with Cocteau who's being "very French" with his philosophical foof; le feuxf. Kerouac and Cocteau. Back and forth. Stupid brain. Twitter! Facebook! 6 homers, 8 RBIs! Kerouac. Cocteau. Kerouac. They really ought to adapt this interview into a stage play because it's one of the funniest things I've ever read. Don't change a blessed thing about it, either. Just put a few pieces of furniture on the stage and lift the fucking curtain, boy!

Ting-a-ling-a-ling. The vestibule door swings open and then the man brown shows up with a dolly and boxes -- NEW ARRIVAL ALERT! Ceramics from Helena, Montana! -- moments after two women walked into the gallery and, well, the gallery dude chats them and comes to find out the mother, an old hippy chick in fur, used to live "deeeeep in the woods of Northwest Arkansas" and BOOM!

Box within peanut-packed box ...

... and the box within the peanut-packed box is peanut packed ...

... and this is a new one: foamy filter-like padding;
If I was at Jiffy Lube the guy would be telling me
it's time for a new filter even when it's clean

... another new one: Saran Wrap, which is funny
because the Paris Review Q&A with Kerouac
also features his buddy Saroyan and every time
AGD gets to a Saroyan part he thinks "Saran Wrap"

Lots of Saroyan Wrap

The first unwrapped ceramic platter
and the two women who walked into Fiddlehead
about the same time as the man in brown ...

The women had enjoyed a few minutes by the wall of John DeAmicis.

"You ladies are lucky," Art Gallery Dude said. "You're the first ones to see these new ceramic pieces from Montana." They walked to the counter. AGD showed them the piece above. "What do you think?"

"It's Christmas'y and festive" the bigger one said, and that was the last thing AGD expected to hear, not that it's the wrong answer, but he was thinking about gumballs and the gumball machine he remembers his family having and how he'd unscrew the top every day to grab a handful of gumballs and fill his mouth with all those gumballs at once.

"Christmas'y, huh? Cool. So what's your name?"

"Stacy," she said with a twang. "And this is my mom Rebecca."

"Do me a favor? Can I take a picture of you holding these?"

Ceramic bowls from Emily Free Wilson of Helena, Montana

"Where are you coming from?"

"Shaftsbury," mom said with a saucier twang.

Shaftsbury. Shaftsbury, Vermont. Only Shaftsbury in America. Funny, too, because the Grateful Dead December 29 1977 Winterland features "Estimated Prophet" which has a line about standing in a "shaft of light" and it makes AGD think about Shaftsbury every single time.

"The owners of the gallery used to live in Shaftsbury, on Cleveland Avenue."

Mother and daughter nodded.

"I hear a twang -- where are you from originally?"

Daughter said Mississippi and AGD said "Really!?! because the owner of the gallery used to teach school in Cleveland, Mississippi -- Mound Bayou specifically. You know, you put two pennies together down there and you're rich" and the daughter nodded in agreement and said "I lived near Cleveland."

Mother also mentioned Dallas because her husband, Gary Barnett, was a photographer for the Dallas Morning News when Dallas was a much different Dallas. Gary shot pro sports and big concerts and political moments, and here's one from '70 ...

President Richard M. Nixon speaks at a rally at Market Hall
supporting George H. W. Bush (for U. S. Senate) and
Paul Eggers (for Texas governor). Shown here are, from left:
Barbara Bush,  George H. W. Bush, Nixon, Paul Eggers and Mrs. Eggers.
DMN staff photo by Gary Barnett

Hearing that Barnett worked at the DMN excited AGD and he told mother and daughter about his newspapering days, including the few years in the dark heart of Roswell, Alien Nation, home of the Super Bird and BOOMING! newsroom personalities.

"We also lived in Arkansas for years," mom said and AGD said "Yeah, I can hear something else beside Mississippi. I was almost going to say Arkansas. Whereabouts in Arkansas?" and she said "Northwest Arkansas -- deeeeep in the woods about 50 miles from Fayetteville."

"It's funny you say Arkansas because" -- AGD tried to explain best he could about the Arkansas-Mena Twitter exchange he'd had 6 hours earlier and she nodded best she could to pretend she understood and maybe she did even -- " ... so the whole Mena thing and you being from Arkansas is funny." And she intimated she knew all about the Mena:Clinton:coke thing then said she sold real estate down there and had an indirect tie with the Clintons vis-a-vis Whitewater, and then AGD said "Yeah, too bad Vince Foster died that way, huh?" and the mother nodded in agreement with a look in her eye that was a little more serious now.

But still ...

"How do folks from Dallas and Mississippi end up in Vermont?"

Mother said her husband, on top of being a great photographer, is a pretty smart dude and began a new career. She said he designed motor-operated valves for nuke plants and that it somehow led him to Vermont Yankee over on the southeast side of Vermont -- and then they made their way back over to this part of Vermont, in Shaftsbury.

Huh. "It's pretty funny that Gary went from being a newspaper photographer to a nuclear power plant dude in Vermont," AGD said, "but I guess it's no different than me going from newspaper sportswriter to manager of an art gallery in Vermont."

For whatever reason daughter segued to California and said she lived in Pismo Beach.

"I used to go to Pismo Beach all the time," AGD said. "Yeah, I worked at the Santa Maria Times ... " and daughter interrupted "I used to deliver the Santa Maria Times in Nipomo!" and now it's getting a little strange, bubba.


There are things we all wish we could do over and soon as she mentioned "Nipomo" his mind returned to that carnal night in Nipomo. That moment. That moment of moments. What began finally after so much patience never progressed past the tipping point of fleshly pleasures, then ended. Should've have gone for it, should have fucking gone for it. Should have dove head first into her shaft of light and seized all that would have been yours, bubba.

There are moments we conquer and moments that conquer us.

A shaft of light turned dark that night in Nipomo.

"Yeah, I went to Pismo all the time to that head shop," AGD said as he returned to reality and daughter finished the sentence "Hole in the Sky!" Yep, Hole in the Sky. "Then I'd head over to the butterfly grove for an hour or two" and the daughter nodded and smiled.

"We're just old hippies," mother said, and with the Q&A that he can't seem to finish dancing in his head AGD asked "Have you ever heard of Kerouac?"

She shook her head no and her eyes had the blank stare of someone who had just been asked to divide three thousand eight hundred and forty-four by two hundred and fifty-six.

"My friends are calling me right now," she said and reached into her fur coat pocket. "We're meeting for lunch next door."

They left. AGD was amused by the how much they had in common but especially was amused by the whole Arkansas thing. Deeeeep in the woods of Northwest Arkansas.

Probably some good material up in them Ozarks, Mike.

AGD peeled the Saran Wrap off 5 clumps that looked like they came from Mena Int'l.

Nope, just Helena, Montana.

How ... Christmas'y!