Twist and Shout

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Of Captains and Commodores ... and Purdue? Oui.

BENNINGTON -- The moment Art Gallery Dude goes to relax on the couch this lazy, quiet Tuesday of silent desperation is the moment someone walks into the gallery, again, which is maddening because it is a quiet Tuesday in Bennington except for the moment AGD goes to relax on the couch. Jesus Christ, he thinks, I just want to loaf and let the sun flush through the windows and warm my body, and stare at the 84-year-old chandelier that hangs from the golden hook in the middle of the elaborate ceiling sculpture, which looks like the bottom of a flying saucer; this ceiling sculpture is straight out of the Stonecutters Ballroom, or a room adjacent to the Sistine Chapel. What a beautiful ceiling sculpture, circles within circles, designs within circles, designs within semicircles, domes within daisy loops, 16 identical winged creatures straight outta Syracuse, the old world Syracuse, each winged creature -- like cats with wings or flying monkeys from Oz -- holding in unison a goblet or a torch, whatever it is it's supposed to represent. Stonecutters. Gotta be the Syracuse Stonecutters. What a bizarre ceiling sculpture. Exquisite. And that gold chandelier is gorgeous. 

Imagine if that fell on your head.

Moments later the gallery owner walks in, ruins the quiet. He's going to the doctor because the stomach bug has hit him and his 3 daughters. Lots of puke bowls the last few days.

This is what happened the second time: 12:40 in the p.m.

Capt. Robert Eade and Commodore Jan on April 9, 2013

Bob and Jan Eade walked into the gallery minutes after AGD began to relax on the couch, so AGD swings off the couch and returns to the chair behind the counter.

"Are you the same guy who was here the last time? He was a newspaper guy," Bob said.

"Yep, that's me."

Pleasantries, smiles, handshakes and Oh, Hi! Great to see you again!

Bob is Ret. Capt. Robert M. Eade of the United States Navy and Jan is the "commodore" he met when they were freshmen at Purdue. He got around, he said, but she made an honest man out of him.

They were in the gallery exactly 7 months earlier to the day -- October 9 ...

Capt. Robert Eade and Commodore Jan on October 9, 2012

Today they stopped into the gallery during a pitstop from Manchester, New Hampshire, visiting sons and daughters and grandkids and it was a hoot in Manchvegas, no doubt. That they came from Manchester is funny because 40 minutes earlier AGD shared this Facebook photo and tagged an old newspaper colleague from Roswell, Tophat McWerther ....

... that's Liam Gallagher from the British rock band, Oasis, although these days he's fronting his spank project with most of Oasis -- they call themselves Beady Eye; Liam's brother, Noel, went off to create his spank project called Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds. 

They're both wankers yet together they're the heart and soul of the best rock band since '94, one brother the singer the other brother the songwriter. But sibling bullshit has been the Gallagher Way. So they walked on each other, and their fans.

But anyway ...


Manchester City football, for whom the Gallagher Brothers bleed. 

And Manchvegas, New Hampshire, from where a captain and his commodore had just arrived. They stretched their legs at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery. 

Then Jan relaxed on the couch while AGD and Capt. Bob talked Purdue.

"It's funny," AGD said, "because the barber who has been across the street 43 years" -- pointing -- "has a son who graduated from Purdue. Now he lives near West Lafayette."

"That's where Purdue is," Capt. Bob said. "His son's an Engineer."

"One of my favorite quarterbacks -- I was an L.A. Rams diehard -- was Jim Everett, who went to Purdue. Drew Brees went there, too. And I liked Cuonzo Martin on the Purdue basketball team and Coach Gene Keady."

"You know your Big 10 sports," Capt. Bob said. "Todd never said you were a big sports fan."

Todd is their something-in-law. Bob and his commodore are Todd's sister's husband's parents.

Todd is Todd Schmerler, and he was the sports editor of the Bennington Banner a few years before Art Gallery Dude -- then a vagabond sportswriter -- arrived in town. Todd went on to do some TV sportscasting and landed in North Jersey as a sportswriter for the Star-Ledger. Seven months ago to the day, AGD and Todd's something-in-laws made the connection to newspapers, which is why Capt. Bob remembered that the guy behind the counter at Fiddlehead at Four Corners was a newspaper guy.

After all of that AGD wanted to give the retired captain and the commodore who domesticated him a momento for the road ...

... soap rock "palm stones" from Oneonta, New York. The captain and his commodore were ready to hit the road back to St. Louis. Driving the whole way, again.

AGD asked Capt. Bob "Are the Cards going to do anything this year?" then said "I'm a Dodgers guy and it's been a long time."

Capt. Bob said something to the effect that perhaps the Dodgers will do it when the Cubs finally do it and KA-POW! Poor Cubs.

The gallery was a morgue for the next hour except for sounds of The Grateful Dead playing from the Winterland Arena on December 29, 1977.

Then the UPS dude broke the silence and delivered a box with ...

... a fresh batch of coffee. Two packages of Weaver's French Roast, and 2 bricks of Arabica Exclusif Carte Noire; not a single word of English on the packaging. Oui Oui.

Groggy, again, AGD heads over to the couch and sinks into it ...

... and then 2 fucking minutes later the bell on the vestibule door ting-a-ling-a-lings so AGD swings his legs over the side to get up. The newcomer in his late '50s sees this and tells AGD that he doesn't have to rush to get up but it's too late.

He's wearing a black leather coat but more than that he's sporting a beret. Really? Coffee arrives from France and 10 minutes later this stylish older dude walks into the gallery sporting a beret? Seriously?

"What's up with this town?" Frenchy Beret asked. "It's like Italy and closes during the day."

"Welcome to Bennington. But at least we're open 7 days."

Frenchy acknowledged AGD's statement: "That's good."


Frenchy stood in front of the NameTrain display for a few moments then gathered Wifey and they walked into the droll of a Tuesday afternoon in Bennington.

It's 2:54. AGD probably won't get another chance to melt into the couch.