A Month of Short Stories 2017, Day 22 – before the storm By Alex Sheal

Have a drink.

Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.

Today’s story, for day 22 – before the storm by Alex Sheal
Read it online here:
before the storm by Alex Sheal

Then we slept, our storm-scattered raft adrift in the afternoon sun, mouths parched, detritus trailing us across the lifeless ocean. Or did fish school beneath us, flashing like bonfire sparks in a bottomless night?

—-Alex Sheal, before the storm

There is this comedian, Larry Miller (he’s the obsequious clothing salesman in Pretty Woman) that does this comedy routine about drinking in bars – it’s called “5 Levels of Drinking.”

He says:

You crawl outside for air, and then you hit the worst part of level five ~~ the sun. You weren’t expecting that were you? You never do. You walk out of a bar in daylight, and you see people on their way to work, or jogging. And they look at you, and they know. And they say, “Who’s Ruby?”

Let’s be honest, if you’re 19 and you stay up all night, it’s like a victory like you’ve beat the night, but if you’re over 30, then that sun is like God’s flashlight. We all say the same prayer then, “I swear, I will never do this again (how long?) as long as I live!” And some of us have that little addition, “……and this time, I mean it!

Truer words have never been spoken.

Today’s story reminds me of that bit, somehow.

This woman, a bartender at the NYLO Southside, asked Candy, “Is your husband a professional photographer?”
Candy answered, “He thinks he is.”

A Month of Short Stories 2017, Day 7 – Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver

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

Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.

Today’s story, for day 7 – Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver

Read it online here:
Why Don’t You Dance?, by Raymond Carver

He considered this as he sipped the whiskey.

—-Raymond Carver, Why Don’t You Dance?

If I could write like anyone, I would want to write like Raymond Chandler.

His stories are a revelation to me. His characters real, with flaws and good points, – with the flaws winning out in the balance by quite a bit.

What I like the best is the way he leaves stuff out. He doesn’t tell us everything, only what’s important. In today’s story, he doesn’t tell us how or why everything has come to the state it is, because that isn’t important. He doesn’t even tell us what happened… because that isn’t important.

He does tell us that they drank, and that they drank too much, and that they danced, and that the records were crappy.

Because that is what is important.

Interview with Raymond Carver:

INTERVIEWER
But what made you want to write?
CARVER
The only explanation I can give you is that my dad told me lots of stories about himself when he was a kid, and about his dad and his grandfather. His grandfather had fought in the Civil War. He fought for both sides! He was a turncoat. When the South began losing the war, he crossed over to the North and began fighting for the Union forces. My dad laughed when he told this story. He didn’t see anything wrong with it, and I guess I didn’t either. Anyway, my dad would tell me stories, anecdotes really, no moral to them, about tramping around in the woods, or else riding the rails and having to look out for railroad bulls. I loved his company and loved to listen to him tell me these stories.
—-Raymond Carver, from the Paris Review

A cute couple.

If You Don’t Die Of Thirst

If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.
—-Anne Lamott

Pioneer PLaza  Dallas, Texas

Pioneer Plaza
Dallas, Texas

So many people visit and take photos of the bronze cattle drive in Pioneer Plaza. It’s a challenge to find something ten thousand tourists haven’t shot on their phones before.

(click for full size on flickr)

Four Bullets Brewery

Front door to Four Bullets Brewery, Richardson, Texas

Front door to Four Bullets Brewery, Richardson, Texas

For about I year I watched the progress of a new small brewery here in my own town of Richardson. It was established by two experienced home brewers that wanted to take the next step and open up their own establishment. It was called Four Bullets Brewery and has finally had its soft opening, with the official grand opening scheduled in a couple months.

It’s been open on Saturdays from noon to six with the typical tour deal – ten bucks for a glass and three beer tickets. I have been enjoying these craft beer tours for a few years now and really wanted to check out Four Bullets. The last couple weeks were too busy for me but today I was able to make a visit.

The brewery is located in a little industrial area north of downtown, near the Arapaho DART train station. It’s very close to where I live – but there is a railroad track blocking the way, so I rode north past the rail station and doubled back. It was a nice, easy ride, about three and a half miles.

I folded my Xootr Swift and locked it to a sign out in front – I should have ridden around to the back of the building, but I didn’t know.

My bike folded and locked up in front of Four Bullets.

My bike folded and locked up in front of Four Bullets.

The brewery is small – about the size of a generous garage, but it has an extensive open area out back with tables and some games. The crowd grew throughout the time I was there, until they had a very respectable bunch hanging around. A food truck sold barbeque in the back – he had his smoker located upwind and the smell made it impossible to resist.

The crowd grows in the patio in back of the Brewery.

The crowd grows in the patio in back of the Brewery.

I’m not expert on beers – but I enjoyed the three I tried. They all had the complexity and freshness you expect in a small batch craft beer. I especially liked the Oatmeal Stout – excellent and not too heavy, and the Pale Ale – very drinkable with a lot of flavor without being too hoppy. It’ll be interesting to watch Four Bullets as they go along – see if they get more adventurous with their beer varieties.

The City of Richardson looks at this industrial park as a potential little Design District – with the same kind of development – restaurants, galleries, breweries – that Dallas is working on in the area between downtown and the river. A food truck park is slated to open soon. I hope the trend continues – it would be a cool thing.

I will definitely go back, maybe try and organize a bike ride from a DART station through the east side of the city down to the brewery.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Good Review of Four Bullets

Rainy Day in New Orleans

New Orleans is over a hundred miles from the ocean, but it is barely dry. Rain comes quickly and unexpectedly… except it is always expected.

Luckily, there is a source of refuge in the Big Easy – whenever the skies open up, there is always a bar handy to seek shelter and good cheer.

Waiting for the St. Charles Streetcar, the rain came down, hard, so we ducked into The Avenue Pub (which happened to be right there).

The Avenue Pub is beer heaven. Open 24hrs. 7Days (never know when it’s going to rain). Their list of beers on tap is three pages long.

The Beer Buddha says:

“Honestly this category really isn’t fair; but why punish one bar because all the others can’t hold it’s jockstrap? We all know The Avenue Pub is THE beer bar in not only New Orleans but in Louisiana. Nothing against all the other bars in the state but you ALL know you have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same sentence with AP.”

Draft Magazine lists it as one of the 100 best beer bars in the country. They say:

“Only in New Orleans will you find a beer bar open 24/7. The staff is militant about clean beer lines and proper glassware, so even when you stumble in at 4 a.m. you get the best pint in the city. Choose from more than 47 rotating taps and about as many bottles, all focusing on American beer. Go for an exhaustive introduction to local NOLA Brewing or to people-watch from the balcony.”

The Complex City Guide has it at 12 in the 25 best Beer Bars in the country. They say,

“Louisiana may not be the first state you think of when you think of beer (sure, they’ve got Abita), but when you change state to city and beer to drunk, it’s no wonder that New Orleans has one of the best beer spots in the country. Avenue Pub features a rotating 47 taps on two floors (so you can get your exercise in between rounds) and once you mix that with some amazing Louisiana cuisine, you won’t be thinking about Bourbon Street no more. And the most important part, here in the land of to-go cups, the Avenue is open 24 hours a day. Yup.”

And all this is right there, right on the Streetcar Line, right when it starts to rain.

My only complaint – they don’t have Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Pollinator on tap. Maybe I can send them an email.

The Avenue Pub, on St. Charles in New Orleans

  • Moleskine with Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen
  • Streetcar Fare
  • Beer list and food menu
  • NOLA Blonde Ale Beer
  • Fox Barrel Pear Cider (sorry, it wasn’t even noon yet and I was a little beer’d out – so I had a cider. It was good. So sue me)

A lot of taps.

No Orange Slices! No Muddling!

Halloween in the Quarter

Decatur Street, New Orleans, Halloween, 2012

I knew a queen of toil with a crown of silver hair.
Garland of valour and sorrow, of beauty and renown…
—-Robert Louis Stevenson

Yeah, I know the Stevenson poem is about age… and the woman in the photo isn’t old. I still like the crown of silver hair… even if the queen of toil is stumbling through the French Quarter desperately clutching a to-go cup half-filled with some vile alcoholic fruit punch.

Nice boots.