The Retro Cocktail Hour

“Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing.”
― D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The bartender pouring the absinthe, note the clear green color.
Pirate’s Alley Cafe, New Orleans

 

I’m not a very neat, organized person – I live in a constant battle with chaos and increasing entropy. I’m a Marie Kondo failure.

This failure does not only apply to the real world – but to the digital one as well. Still, I try.

I have been cleaning out old computer files, found on a dizzying collection of old hard drives and USB sticks. I try the Marie Kondo test – if it brings joy, I keep it, otherwise I throw it out (delete). I don’t delete much. I do come across a treasure or two, though.

Yesterday I found a reference to a website I had forgotten about that used to bring me joy – and I am glad to find out it is still there and think I’ll visit it some more. This is an old streaming music program, produced from Kansas Public Radio, based in Lawrence, where I went to school. That is surely how I stumbled across the program, though I don’t remember.

It’s called The Retro Cocktail Hour and it features… stuff you don’t hear everyday. Let me see if I can find a description…. Ok… from the Facebook Page:

The Retro Cocktail Hour serves up the music that’s “shaken, not stirred” every Saturday at 7:00pm Central on Kansas Public Radio stations. Pour the Mai Tais and join in for two hours of exotica, crime jazz, bossa nova, Now Sound, space age pop, groovy soundtracks, Bollywood weirdness and other incredibly strange tunes. Hosted by Darrell Brogdon. Visit http://www.retrococktail.org/ to stream shows from our program archive.

Think Mad Men. I love to listen to this stuff. It is so cool and so uncool at the same time. I’m not old enough to remember hearing this stuff but I’m old enough to have heard the echoes.

So make yourself a tray of Martinis and kick back and listen to an archive or two. If you want one to start with, try the All Exotica Show from January 19. From the show – “Exotica is the fantasy music of the South Pacific and the Orient, music of a make-believe Shangri-la, white sand beaches, warm breezes, and tropical libations.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Frozen In Space To Become Architecture

“But in the dynamic space of the living Rocket , the double integral has a different meaning. To integrate here is to operate on a rate of change so that time falls away: change is stilled…’Meters per second ‘ will integrate to ‘meters.’ The moving vehicle is frozen, in space, to become architecture, and timeless. It was never launched. It never did fall.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

 

 

 

Fence around the campus near my work. With remaining wood that has grown into the fence.

The campus where I work is surrounded by a wire-mesh fence. I had been ignored for decades and was, in many places, covered with various vines that had grown up and expanded until the wire was covered with green.

One day, years ago, too many years ago, a coworker approached me with a request. He was part of a naturalist group that was working to remove invasive species of plants from Dallas and the areas around. There were a couple of nasty species (unfortunately, I don’t exactly remember which ones) living on the fences of the campus. “The berries are attractive to birds and they spread the plants all around,” he said. He asked me to see if I could get the landlord to remove the plants. I did my best, but nothing ever came of it – for a long time.

Finally, last year a crew appeared and removed all the plants. I think they did it more for fire prevention than environmental reasons… but they cut them down, hauled them off. But it had been so long, the thick, tough wood of the vine stems had grown into and around the wires and they could not remove all of it without breaking the wires.

So now, when you drive by you see these odd patterns of old vine wood scattered across the diamonds of galvanized steel wire. I guess they will eventually rot and fall off – but I’ll bet that’s going to be more than a few years.

 

Wood grown into the fence.

Short Story of the Day, “Sea Change” by Nancy M. Michael

But those in the mix know what blood tastes like.

—-Nancy M. Michael, Sea Change

Approaching Storm, Dallas, Texas

I used to take a month each year to comment on and link to short stories published online.

Short Story Months:

Day One 2013

Day One 2015

Day One 2017

I haven’t done that for a while, but have been thinking about it. That doesn’t keep me from reviewing them one at a time. Last year, I wrote about Driven Snow by Nancy M. Mitchel. The author commented on my blog entry (with the surprising revelation that the story was true and the woman survived). She mentioned that she had another story on the Akashic book website, Sea Change.

Go read it – a short, pithy read. Then you can come back and read the rest of what I wrote.

It’s of an interesting construction in that the protagonist isn’t directly involved in the action. Stories like that are cool because there are two stories – the main, observed action… and the reaction of the observer. It’s quite a feat to accomplish this in so few words.

 

A Droll Melody

Out at sea a single clarinet begins to play, a droll melody joined in on after a few bars by guitars and mandolins. Birds huddle bright-eyed on the beach. Katje’s heart lightens, a little, at the sound.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow


Travelling Man, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Then And Now – The Kids At Cozumel

“His life had been tied to the past. He’d seen himself a point on a moving wavefront, propagating through sterile history—a known past, a projectable future. But she was the breaking of the wave. Suddenly there was a beach, the unpredictable… new life. Past and future stopped at the beach: that was how he’d set it out. But he wanted to believe it too, the same way he loved her, past all words—believe that no matter how bad the time, nothing was fixed, everything could be changed and she could always deny the dark sea at his back, love it away. And (selfishly) that from a somber youth, squarely founded on Death—along for Death’s ride—he might, with her, find his way to life and to joy.”

― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Nick and Lee, Cozumel, 2002

Nick and Lee, Cozumel,2018

 

I was cleaning out and organizing some old files.

Grace He Always Imagined Himself Short On

“Glad to hear it.” Slothrop is smiling. You’re on my list too, pal. This
smile asks from him more grace than anything in his languid American
life ever has, up till now. Grace he always imagined himself short on. But
it’s working. He’s surprised, and so grateful that he almost starts crying
then. The best part of all is not that Bounce appears fooled by the smile,
but that Slothrop knows now that it will work for him again….

—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Thanksgiving Square Chapel, Dallas, Texas, 2003

There Is More Than One Way To Travel

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Travelling Man… and a jet, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

You Don’t Really Want To Know

 “The English are kind of weird when it comes to the way things taste, Mom. They aren’t like us. It might be the climate. They go for things we would never dream of. Sometimes it is enough to turn your stomach, boy. The other day I had had one of these things they call ‘wine jellies.’ That’s their idea of candy, Mom! Figure out a way to feed some to that Hitler ‘n’ I betcha the war’d be over tomorrow!” Now once again he finds himself checking out these ruddy gelatin objects, nodding, he hopes amiably, at Mrs. Quoad. They have the names of different wines written on them in bas-relief.

“Just a touch of menthol too,” Mrs. Quoad popping one into her mouth. “Delicious.”

Slothrop finally chooses one that says Lafitte Rothschild and stuffs it on into his kisser. “Oh yeah. Yeah. Mmm. It’s great.”

“If you really want something peculiar try the Bernkastler Doktor. Oh! Aren’t you the one who brought me those lovely American slimy elm things, maple-tasting with a touch of sassafras—”

“Slippery elm. Jeepers I’m sorry, I ran out yesterday.”

Darlene comes in with a steaming pot and three cups on a tray. “What’s that?” Slothrop a little quickly, here.

“You don’t really want to know, Tyrone.”

“Quite right,” after the first sip, wishing she’d used more lime juice or something to kill the basic taste, which is ghastly-bitter. These people are really insane. No sugar, natch. He reaches in the candy bowl, comes up with a black, ribbed licorice drop. It looks safe. But just as he’s biting in, Darlene gives him, and it, a peculiar look, great timing this girl, sez, “Oh, I thought we got rid of all those—” a blithe, Gilbert & Sullivan ingenue’s thewse—“years ago,” at which point Slothrop is encountering this dribbling liquid center, which tastes like mayonnaise and orange peels.

“You’ve taken the last of my Marmalade Surprises!” cries Mrs. Quoad, having now with conjuror’s speed produced an egg-shaped confection of pastel green, studded all over with lavender nonpareils. “Just for that I shan’t let you have any of these marvelous rhubarb creams.” Into her mouth it goes, the whole thing.

—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (The Disgusting English Candy Drill)

 

Rocket Fizz, Deep Ellum

Sodas from RocketFizz, Deep Ellum, Texas

Pumpkin Pie Soda, From Rocket Fizz, Deep Ellum, Texas

Sodas from Rocket Fizz, Deep Ellum, Texas

Sodas from Rocket Fizz, Deep Ellum, Texas