Tuesday, May 4, 2010

ODE TO 824 BAY

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My friend The Great L.C. has a music-buying habit that is more healthy but probably more expensive than a cocaine habit. And when he and I aren’t yakkin’ about politics or football, we’re yakkin’ about music.

So, some weeks back we were yakkin’ music and L.C. – who also happens to be a good lyricist – said that he believes nearly every writer has at one time or another written their own version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. You know that song, right? The one with the crazy lyrics ending with the line, “The pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles”?

Well, when L.C. made that statement, I thought for a moment and when nothing came to me, I was about to say I was an exception to that rule when – BAM! – suddenly it exploded into my mind. I remembered my poem-thang ‘ODE TO 824 BAY’, and I chuckled and said, “My gosh, man, you may be right!”

Then I told L.C. about my poem, adding that what made it really insane is that my version of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ (i.e., ‘Ode To 824 Bay’) is actually NONFICTION. Everything in that weird piece is based on real-life experiences that my old friends would recognize from their past.

From 1981 until 1984, I lived in a house that was almost certainly the wildest spot in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area during those three years. The house was located at 824 Bay Street in Santa Monica, near the intersection of Lincoln and Pico Boulevards, and in walking distance from the beach. The house was razed in 1988 and a condominium was built in its place.

I often joke about excessive drinking, but those were my REAL “Drinking Daze”, when my friends and I truly were “liquidated” and “lovin’ it”. Y’all remember the movie ‘Animal House’, correct? Pshaw! Mere child’s play! (…I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit.)

One June day in 1982, I sat down (bottle in hand, undoubtedly) and put some of our exploits into poetic form (I’m using the word “poetic” pretty loosely because I was probably pretty tight at the time). And I now have worked up the courage - not “liquid courage” but just regular dry courage – to share this wid ya. At the conclusion of the poem-thang, I will include some photographs for clarification. I apologize that many of the photographs are fuzzy, hazy, and of po’ quality, but I don’t own a picture scanner, so some of these are really photos of photos taken with my brother Nappy’s cell phone camera.

I’m not posting this thang because I think it’s good; I’m posting it because it’s totally lowbrow loony tunes but they tell me I had a good time. And who knows? – maybe YOU were there, too. I’m sure I wouldn’t remember.

Alright, crash helmets on? - seat belts buckled? - hang on to the “Oh Sh#t!” bar, because this is going to be a bumpy ride. Ready? Set? YEE-HAW! . . .
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ODE TO 824 BAY

[6/28/1982; revised in ‘84]


THERE IS A MYSTICAL LEGEND KNOWN THROUGHOUT THIS LAND
IT IS A SIMPLE STORY BUT, OH, SO GRAND

FILLED WITH EXCITEMENT, ADVENTURE AND LOVE
BUT THAT ISN’T ALL THIS STORY IS FULL OF

IF YOU WILL COME HERE AND SIT ON MY KNEE
I’LL TELL IT TO YOU LIKE MY FATHER TOLD ME:

Once upon a time . . .

A Feefod, A Finnin’ and a Fiddle-Dee-Dee
Went to Antonio’s with W.C.

Alcohol consumption and Mescal worm-eating
Hangover Trips at the B.C. Meeting

Nantucket, Nantucket, we drink like a dude
A fifth of gin and some dry dog food

Down go the chess pieces, knocked over once more
Poor Doug is passed out on the living room floor

It’s not right, Howard – Mumbly-Peg is a sin
Oh, goodnight sweet prince, Mark’s sick again

Wha’ be hadnin’? Whad ja do?
Take your chicken baby to the zoo

She’s got the rear end of a fifty-nine Caddy
Hick-a-boo, Hick-a-boo, yeah daddy!

One fag-warmer sitting on a bus stop bench
Doing something nasty with a monkey wrench

Ah said, “Eeebee – Deebee – Leebee
Filly Waggit’s in the chimney”

Uhp! Yer an idiot! A D.W. too
The Hangover Waltz is a dance you can do

Fatty’s gotta starve but continues to eat
Good Lord, have you seen the size of his seat?

And you best stay clear of Tom’s Number Five
Only a “B” or an “H” can survive

Idgie-Bah-Bah and Nimrod Salesmen hang out at Bay
Along with Mickie Darlin’ and the great Robert J.

Let’s pick up some Road Soda for to quench our thirst
And hit the “Oscar Party”, although they’re the worst

Drive fast, take chances, see ya at The Music Machine
One Bee-Bop, a Ree-Bop, and an Angustine

Throwing firecrackers at pimps is an art
Mark, Doug, and Dean laugh when they fart

We took our noise out to sea
To salute Catalina with a boisterous “Beee!”

He told another Lynth, why he wanna do that for?
You want I should hit him in the whiskers some more?

Yeah, tell a few jokes, slap your thigh
Join a parade on the Fourth of July

And you know Five-Six is pretty damn tall
What with the drinkin’ an’ all

So cut the poetry and hand me a brew
I’ll guzzle the beverage and scream, “Woo!-Woo!-Woo!”

WELL, THAT’S THE END OF THE SAGA, THE STORY IS TOLD
IT’S WORTH MORE THAN SILVER, IT’S WORTH MORE THAN GOLD

GENERATIONS HAVE HEARD IT AND PONDERED ITS WORDS
OTHERS, LIKE ME, SAY IT’S FOR THE BIRDS

I THINK IT’S A HOAX, I THINK IT’S A LIE
AND WHOEVER WROTE IT MUST HAVE BEEN HIGH!


And now, some selected explanations:

Went to Antonio's . . .

Below is Antonio of 'Antonio's Mexican Restaurant' on Melrose in the Hollywood area. My all-time favorite restaurant and a place where the boys and I spent a lot of money way back in the day. I remember one night after having dinner, Pooh and I were walking past the bar toward the front door when I noticed an advertising mirror extolling the fine qualities of Jameson Irish Whiskey. I immediately pulled Pooh to the bar and charged up a couple of rounds for us. That was the first and I believe ONLY time I ever put drinks on a credit card:
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. . . with W.C.
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W.C. Fields was the official house mascot . . . for obvious reasons:
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Hangover Trips at the B.C. Meeting

It stood for "Breakfast Club", and we were calling it that before there was ever a movie with that title.

Everything was a "Trip". If you were having problems at work, you were having "Employment Trips"; if you were having trouble with your girlfriend, you were having "Female Trips"; if it was 2:00 A.M., the bars and liquor stores were closed and you were outta booze, you were having "Alcohol Trips". And obviously, if you were hungover (and you ALWAYS were!), you were having "Hangover Trips".

Rae's Diner on Pico Boulevard was a favorite B.C. Meeting place for us:
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Down go the chess pieces, knocked over once more . . .

The chess table was like a 'Drunk-O-Meter'. One could tell how intoxicated we collectively were the night before by how many chess pieces were no longer standing on "the morning after".
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Poor Doug is passed out on the living room floor . . .

Only in this photo, it happens to be Cranium who is passed out, and not on the living room floor but on the front lawn. Pass out and you were going to "get the business" from the other boys. The bucket, the window screen, the trash he's sleeping in? Cranium got "the business". We deliberately arranged things to make it appear that he had been thrown out the window:
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It's not right, Howard . . .

After losing a close decision that he was unhappy about, boxer Leon Spinks once repeatedly complained to Howard Cosell in a TV interview, "It's not right, Howard! It's not right, Howard!" It became a favorite expression at 824 Bay Street:
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Take your chicken baby to the zoo . . .

It's a line we borrowed from the first Rocky movie made in 1976:

"Rocky! Take her to the zoo. I hear retards like the zoo."
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She's got the rear end of a fifty-nine Caddy . . .

Below is the trunk of Cranium's 1959 Cadillac. These were the largest tail fins ever put on an American automobile. Sorry it's so fuzzy, but displayed from left to right are fifths of . . . Jack Daniel's whiskey, Gordon's gin, E & J brandy, Popov vodka, Jack Daniel's whiskey, two fifths of Gilbey's gin, and a pint of Jack sitting above the vodka. Yeah, that and a case of beer ought to get us through another Monday Night Football game ;o) :
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Filly Waggit's in the chimney . . .

This is "Filly Waggit":
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This is Filly Waggit in the chimney:
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Left to right: Cranium, Filly Waggit, Napoleon, and Torch holding up my hand-lettered sign reading: "Thinkin' Maybe We Don't Lead The League?"

Every year when Summer arrived and we knew we'd not be using the fireplace again for a long time, we'd put Filly Waggit in the chimney. I guess we were a little slow on the trigger one year, because we were out in the front yard horsing around after having just installed Filly Waggit, when an old woman, whom none of us recognized, passed by on the sidewalk, she looked up, saw Filly Waggit, pointed at him and said to us: "I was beginning to wonder where he was."

Yes, yes, it's true, we were "xtremely" immature and rowdy and all that stuffs. But you know what? We had personality to burn and a creative capacity for amusing stunts that tickled not just us but other folks too. We could walk into a bar and have over half of the other patrons gathered around us, cracking up, within 15 minutes. Oh yeah, undebatably, we - "The League Of Soul Crusaders" - were the life of the party. Man, I miss those daze! I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys-R-Us kid!

Uhp! Yer an idiot!

"Uhp! Yer an idiot!" and "Uhp! I'm an idiot!" were two of our most frequently used expressions. Say or do something over-the-top stupid and someone was sure to say, "Uhp! Yer an idiot!" Sometimes it was best to beat them to the punch - if you could - and call yourself an idiot before they called you one. We used this expression so often that it was eventually shortened to just "Uhp!" - nothin' else needed to be said.

Now I know I shared this photo with you before, on my Blog Bit titled "I Got Them 'Bad Luck With Womens' Blues", but here it is once again because . . . look closely at the door of my pickup truck and you can see where one of the boys had written "Uhp! Your [sic] An Idiot!" in the grime. That's my Sister behind the wheel and me in the bed of the truck. [Uhp! I'm an idiot!]
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The Hangover Waltz is a dance you can do

The Hangover Waltz was a conga-line like dance we used to do throughout the living room on some weekend mornings. It was only done when we were badly hungover but happy and full of energy, and it was performed exclusively to side number two of The Beatles' "White Album". To this day, I can't hear the song 'Rocky Raccoon' without feeling that I need some "hair of the dog" or else I'm going to throw up:
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And you best stay clear of Tom's Number Five . . .

Tom's #5 was a hamburger dive located on Pico Boulevard where it came to a dead-end at Santa Monica Beach. It was similar to famous 'Tommy's Burger', meaning that everything you ordered came drenched in greasy chili. We'd often wind up at Tom's #5 after the bars were closed and we were hungry (They wouldn't serve us at Zucky's.) Nasty, nasty, nasty, but we didn't know no better because we was drunk, drunk, drunk!

Tom's #5 is long gone, but below is a picture of Tom's #7, still standing in North Hollywood:
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. . . and Nimrod Salesmen hang out at Bay . . .

A stupid person we would refer to as a "Nimrod Salesman". And speaking of stupid: Pooh and I once got the idea that we wanted to go camping. So we camped out on our own front lawn and slept there the entire night, with Pooh on the couch and me in my sleeping bag. Below is a photograph taken the morning after, before we had gotten up to start the day. That's "Nimrod Salesman" Twinkie "hangin' out" of his bedroom window:
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. . . along with Mickie Darlin' and the great Robert J.

Below is our dog "Mickie Darlin'" eating a carrot on the living room floor. Yeah, I know that dogs don't eat carrots; tell that to Mickie! That dog would eat just about ANYTHING. Nappy once described Mickie Darlin' as "Part Shepherd, part Keeshond, and part Pain-In-The-Ass." Honestly, I think he may have also been part goat: One night he got into the guest room where Pooh was passed out and he ate Pooh's eyeglasses. Another time, after we had thrown a party, we started finding colorful balloon pieces in Mickie's poop. I'm tellin' ya, the dog was a goat! He was also crazy, and therefore living in the right house.
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. . . and the great Robert J.

I was a major Blues fan, and I played us a-lots of Robert Johnson, especially late night/early morning, when the liquor stores were closed and everything was winding down:
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Let's pick up some Road Soda for to quench our thirst

THIS is "Road Soda" :
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We took our noise out to sea
To Salute Catalina with a boisterous "Beee!"

Yeee! I'm starting to feel hungover just thinking about this. Nappy, Dean, and I once spent three days and two nights at Avalon on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Los Angeles. We caught the boat and not one of us gave even a thought to where we would sleep. Heck, I'm not even sure we took a change of clothes. I think it was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas (which ALWAYS turned out badly).

Well, either we couldn't afford a hotel room or the places were all booked up in Avalon, but either way, we slept the first night on benches in a little park-like area. The photo below shows a small strip of green near the bigger pier. That was our room for Night #1:
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But the next morning, the kindly policeman informed us that if he found us sleeping there again he would provide us with accomodations at taxpayers' expense. That night we had policemen and Black guys looking for us. The policemen were unhappy with us, and the Black guys wanted to party with us. At the conclusion of Night #2, we climbed to the top of that hill in the lower left of the photo and slept on a cement slab we found up there. Woke up the next morning with one of the worst hangovers I ever had. Then drank some "Miller in the can" to cure it and . . . well, let's just move on . . .

. . . a boisterous "Beee!"

Below is what we called "The Beee Sign". It was flashed at another person while at the same time shouting "BEEE!" in a high-pitched voice. And then there were some variations on that theme, like "The Silent Beee" and "The Flying Beee", etc. It generally just meant that you were high and lovin' life:
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He told another Lynth, why he wanna do that for?
You want I should hit him in the whiskers some more?

A "Lynth" was a bad Poohism. If you told a dumb joke that fell flat, you had told a "Lynth". Something Pooh did so regularly that we named it after him. "Lynth" is a corruption of Pooh's last name.

Below is a photo of Twinkie and Nappy hitting each other "in the whiskers":
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Join a parade on the Fourth of July

Yup, there we are "parading" in Brentwood on the Fourth of July in Torch's Cadillac named "Tiburon" (Spanish for "shark"). I realize it's not clear, but nevertheless, from left to right that's (Mc)Me, Twinkie, Wally, Torch [driving], Nappy, and Pooh. Cranium missed out on the fun:
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. . . and scream, "Woo!-Woo!-Woo!"

That's something we were constantly shouting. I'm guessing it was probably inspired by Curly of 'Three Stooges' fame but I'm not totally certain of its origin. What I do know is that I had some customized bumper stickers made up with WOO!-WOO!-WOO! printed on them and we put them on our cars.

Then there was that night when some large drunken bully followed my tough little Brother Napoleon out of a bar and for no valid reason took a swing at him. The drunk missed. Nappy didn't. Belted bullyboy right "in the whiskers". Just then we came driving up, grabbed Nappy, threw him into the van, and we left the drunk in the street staring at the bumper sticker as we drove off: "Woo!-Woo!-Woo!"

I think it's a hoax, I think it's a lie
And whoever wrote it must have been high

Nope, it wasn't a hoax and it wasn't a lie.
As for that last part about being "high"?
I don't remember.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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20 comments:

WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF POETRY: said...

Wow, a thoroughly excellent post with a poem, photo's thrown in for good measure.I really enjoyed the read, I can't remember the tune but I did enjoy the poem.

Have a grand day.
Yvonne.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

YVONNE ~
Thanks! I'm glad you did. We wuz bad boys.

"Bad boys, bad boys, whatchoo gonna do when they come for you?"

Nah, actually, we weren't bad at all. 99 out of 100 times we'd wind up hurting ourselves, not other people.

To steal (and slightly alter) a very appropriate line from Bruce Springsteen... It was "THE WILD, THE INNOCENT, AND THE BAY STREET SHUFFLE."

Don't really regret ALL of it, but glad it's in the past.

~ Stephen
"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11

Anonymous said...

Hi, Stephen:

Well, I am certainly glad I looked at the pictures and read the explanations before reading the poem. I wouldn't have known WHAT the heck you were talking about otherwise.

Asleep hanging out the window or in the front yard? Oh, to be young again.

I really enjoyed this...

~The Flying Aard~

arlee bird said...

A decade earlier it was me and my mountain men pals doing much the same in Tennessee except it was small town shenanigans and camping trips in the mountains. But I guess we were just about as crazy except in a more countrified way. Sometimes I wonder how we all survive this stuff.

Lee

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

FLYIN' AARD ~
Yeah, I guess you DID enjoy it if you left a comment! How Un-Aard-like of ya. ;o)

Thanks for stopping by and saying you did... even if you did start at the end like a total nonconformist, rebel anarchist. You know, there's a word for people like you:









...but I don't know what it is.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMeboy

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

rLEE-b ~
Man, we'd have drunk you and yer homeboys right under the table!

Unless, of course, those country dudes you were hangin' with was Yoey O'Dogherty And His Corn Liquor Boys. In which case y'all would have made us look like pikers.

Nah, but ya wanna know da truth?
If you weren't cruisin' around in 1950s and early 1960s Cadillacs, fuhgeddaboudit! It ain't just the doin' it, it's doin' it IN STYLE!

--> Sometimes I wonder how we all survive this stuff.

Truthfully? Many times I have really sat around wondering, not just how we survived the stunts we did (often involving automobiles driven at high speeds - that "Drive fast, take chances" line was NOT filler!), but wondering how not one of us ever lost a finger or a thumb. I'm not kidding, that actually AMAZES me!

There were no "major" injuries. Man, we had some seriously overworked and highly stressed guardian angels! I'll bet they HATED us.

Yer friend...
~ McStillhungoverboy

Bud Ezekiel H. said...

...ahhh. that was a great drink. thank you! there's a couple of beers in the one photo that i needed to be either totally wasted or really hard up in order to drink'm.

now you have surely heard the phrase, "they all look pretty at closing time." didn't see any mention of that anything related to that...

com'on man! surely there`s more to this...

more! more! more!

i wanna hear the rest of this story!:)

arlee bird said...

Hey! You've been tagged again. Same game as Lisa presented to you. I figure I'll torment you with it as well since I did it. Your response to Lisa was so almost positive that I figure if 5 people tag you you'll play. You will find this fun, exciting, and highly useful game at:

Tossing It Out.

What hath my blog wrought?

Mr. Fun and Games of the Blog World
Arlee Birdbrain

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

BUD ~
HA!-HA! Glad ya liked it, my man!

Yeah, I'm with you on the beer thing! As far as we were concerned, you had really hit the bottom of the barrel when you were drinking "Miller in the can". I'd drink it in bottles, but there just seemed to be something really nasty about "Miller in the can".

But we drank a lot of cheap beer back then... because it WAS cheap. In fact, we drank so much Schaefer that we added the "Club" title to it: "Schaefer Club".

We had some other clubs, too, besides "Breakfast" and "Schaefer". There was the "Ninety-Nine Cent Club". A place we knew of served .99 cent margaritas between certain hours. So you might hear: "You wanna go to the Ninety-Nine Cent Club with me?"

--> "they all look pretty at closing time."

Ah, you mean the ol' "A Two at Ten is a Ten at Two."

Actually, for all my faults, I held that behavior in high regard and didn't treat it lightly at all. HOWEVER... Twinkie was the guilty party! And he caught hell for that from us; we teased him terribly about some of the girls he would bring home with him. We even made up A-List jokes about it and told them and retold them for years.

Yeah, Bro, there's a lot more to this story but... this is a "Family Friendly" Blog... uh... starting now. ;o)

Thanks, for the comment, Bud!

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

rLEE-b ~
I just posted my "No, thank you" on yer own Blog. Hopefully you seen it.

"Just say 'No' to awards and tagging": words to live by!

~ "Lonesome Dogg-faced Boy" McMe

arlee bird said...

Oh I know, but when you're posting everyday you need some filler stuff. And I thought I'd just tease you with it since I know how much you dislike it. I'm not thrilled with it myself, but I didn't do a lot of this stuff in high school so I go ahead and get sociable in that sort of way if you know what I mean.

Hey and for the record, I know you have a sense of humor so I didn't mind sending this your way to be kind of silly, but I did send it to someone else who I don't think has any sense of humor whatsoever-- wonder how he's gonna respond.

Grovelling with remorse for having bothered you with this,
Your blog pal
Lee

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

rLEE-b ~
Aww, no need to grovel, my friend.
Just send money.

Nah, I kid. No problem at all, Pal. It didn't take any bread out of my mouth, and I knew that you knew going in that I was probably going to try to weasel out of it. No harm, no foul.

Who knows! - maybe one day I'll surprise everyone (myself included) and play one of these games from beginning to end. Hmmm... doubtful, but stranger things have happened... maybe.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

Rae said...

What awesome memories! Sounds like you could have been best buddies with my husband! ha! Enjoyed it thoroughly! Makes me wanna get a little crazy!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

RAE ~
Hey, thanks! (But don't get too crazy. I've found that it leads to jail time!)

[*Knock!-Knock!*]
RAE: "Yes?"
STEPHEN: "Can your husband come out and drink?"

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

Pooh Lynth said...

Very nice! I do recall some of it but not all of it. We were the wildest things we'd ever seen. But this too seems subjective. Everyone has a bay street. But! OURS WAS THE BESTES BAY STREET EVER! Where else could you find snuff juice on a black or white rook?
It is all in the ether now. While we didn't drink up all the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, we spilled more than most will ever drink.

Give me a bee and a long aight!
We were the things that went bump in the night

I still think you should have stolen my line"

We drank, we drank a lot
We drank more than we did not
JW
Pooh

FFF-F #VI said...

What an interesting post! As someone who never drank - other than a brief attempt by a girlfriend over a month or so to try to get me drunk, an attempt which failed miserably, by the way - this weaving journey down memory lane was fascinating.

The most amazing thing about it to me is, that not only did you take pictures of many of these people and (often soggy) events, but that YOU COULD FIND THEM! I could not find a picture of a specific event from 25+ years ago if I were offered a lifetime supply of Saran Wrap.

The commenter who labeled you an enigma after a recent post has it wrong. You've revealed a heck of a lot more about yourself than I ever would!

FFFF #6

FFF-F #VI said...

Oh... and I forgot to add: thanks for the poem! I always like reading your poetry and hearing what's behind it.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

...AND POOH ~
--> Everyone has a bay street. But! OURS WAS THE BESTES BAY STREET EVER! Where else could you find snuff juice on a black or white rook?

HA!-HA! Ain't that the truth!

Yeah, everybody THINKS they have a "Bay Street" but what they don't realize is that whereas they were getting crazy 4 to 8 days a month, we were getting crazy 6 days a week (we usually slept through Mondays).

--> we didn't drink up all the salty margaritas in Los Angeles....

Well, we tried though, didn't we? At least we did that.

--> we spilled more than most will ever drink.

HA! And ain't that the truth, too!

F-FFF VI ~
Thank ya, sir!
Yes, I was the "historian" in the group, so it was my job to catalogue and store the memories (those that we can remember anyway).

And yes, the enigma comment is an enigma to me. It seems I have spilled all of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly for the world to see. What's not to know about me?

Glad ya digged it, Mr. Paulboy.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

Carol Fleisher said...

excellent post. I forgot Waylon Jennings on my list. I love your quote about everything you need to know in life and Waylon Jennings songs.So true! :)

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

CAROL ~
Yup, Waylon was not only Country music's greatest Outlaw, but he was the world's greatest philosopher, too. (Not to mention that he was damn funny to boot. Oops. I guess I just did mention it, didn't I?)

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens