Happy In Bag

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Easter Parade

A tough guy grunting into a cell phone caught my attention as I walked through a store last week. The man's body language indicated that he'd been dispatched on an unpleasant errand.

"I'm here in the middle of the Easter s**t," he drawled as he pawed at plastic eggs.

"Hell yes, they're big enough," he responded to an unheard question. "These f**kin' Easter eggs are three and a half inches across."

It's nice to hear that others share my enthusiasm for this holiday season.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Test of Faith

I encountered the face of hate last night outside a Christian music concert. When I wrote about this vile message a few months ago, I chose not to picture its adherents. I change my strategy now so that I can direct attention to the face of this child. The situation makes me unbearably sad.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Where Patience Rewards

I really shouldn't worry about Accurso's deli at 50th and Main. The restaurant has been there for generations and will probably outlast me. Even so, they're now within walking distance of formidable competitors like Planet Sub, Minsky's, The Mixx, Chipotle, Egg'tc and The Peanut. I ate at Accurso's for the first time in years earlier this week. It was just as homey and delicious as I'd remembered. The only catch is identified at their modest web site. "Where patience rewards," it boasts. Try telling that to the diners I overheard complaining about delays. It's far from fast food.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


March Madness, spring training and the looming NBA playoffs. It's widely accepted by the majority of North American sports fans that spring is the most exciting season. Even as I'm giddy with anticipation for these events, I mourn the decline in boxing's popularity. I rarely mention my passion for the sweet science anymore because people usually look at me as if I just confessed to admiring dogfighting. Maybe the crazy carnival surrounding the likes of Mike Tyson and Tommy Morrison spoiled the public's perception of the sport. Or the knockout punch could be the result of pay-per-view greed and denominational in-fighting. Sadly, boxing is stumbling through a precarious standing eight count.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hot Plates

Because the metal plates strewn across the city's roads are a campaign issue in Kansas City's mayoral race, I thought I'd share this recent image from Phoenix. I encountered a street plate that failed to withstand the weight of a passing truck. The accident worsened an already intolerable traffic jam. (This post should in no way be construed as a commentary on Tuesday's vote.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I wasn't accepted into Arizona's witness protection program. Instead of going into hiding, I'll report on my impressions of the state's capitol city gleaned during my visit there last week.

Phoenix seemingly revels in the insatiable American consumerist appetite. Its vast sprawl reflects its status as the nation's fifth largest city. It may once have been an idyllic oasis but Phoenix has become a paved paradise. Anything that's green is likely artificially implanted and sustained with imported water.

If the town has a soul, it may be hidden at the 13th hole of an exclusive golf course or at the bar of an obscure cantina- locations I didn't consider visiting. The closest I came to feeling connected to the place was when I hiked in the modest mountains surrounding the city. As this photo illustrates, however, development has overtaken the landscape.

Phoenix has terrific amenities for those who can afford them. The sports, nightlife and dining options are superb. Yet the city's economic disparities are markedly pronounced. This mythical bird might consider the ultimate price of excess.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Digging a Hole

I still don't know exactly what happened. A few teenage buddies and I had been throwing snowballs in the parking lot behind Westport's Penny Lane Records. We were behaving foolishly, and for reasons still unclear to me, security officers approached us with their firearms drawn. We were detained for about fifteen minutes. I was rattled by the experience, and after we were freed my pals mocked me mercilessly. They boasted that they were accustomed to such brushes with the law. Not for the last time, I questioned the wisdom of befriending those derelicts. A few years later, I was an employee at the record store and often picked up trash in that same lot. Designated as the future site of the "41 Penn" luxury condos, today the space is just a big hole in the ground.

I'm off for a blogger's holiday.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hum Along With Me

I would consider driving a Hummer if I was a survivalist anticipating cataclysmic societal breakdown. Conversely, a Hummer would make sense if I ran a limousine service and rented the vehicle to misguided partiers. If I was a pround veteran of the Iraqi wars, I'd be justified in owning a Hummer. If I operated a Southern rap or heavy metal record label I could wrap a Hummer in promotional material to promote my products. Without reasons such as these, however, I'd know that when I drove the enormous vehicle to the grocery store in Brookside, most people- including a goofball blogger- would think I'm a jerk.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Some people go skydiving. Others ghost ride. Bungee jumping is another thrill. I eat sushi at budget lunch buffets. Yes, I have nerves of steel. If I'm out and about with thirty minutes to spare for lunch I'll usually opt for lo mein and eggrolls. Don't tell me that the sushi pictured here contains only vegetables. As with many buffet entrees, it's hard to know for certain what you're eating.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sweatin' With the Oldies

Yesterday's heat probably melted a couple pounds off my chunky frame. Heat-based perspiration is an underrated sensation, although it ranks well below the supremely satisfying reward of quenching the subsequent thirst. Further confirmation of the seasonal change struck me when I spotted this new crop. It looks like the front lawn of Emerald City.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mishap Miracle

Each time I encounter an automobile accident I marvel that there aren't more mishaps. Between teenagers, tailgaters and tyrannical truckers, it seems that every safe journey is a minor miracle. Not a day goes by when someone doesn't come dangerously close to sideswiping or bumping my car. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes wide open.

For You At Six O'Clock P.M. This Evening

Forget the food. It was all about the drama last week at Korma Sutra in Overland Park.

The waiter was bickering with patrons at an adjacent table when I was seated in the small dining room of the Indian restaurant during the lunch hour crunch. He quickly turned his manic attention to me. As I tried to relish the delicious offerings at the buffet- I passed on the item labeled "Mushroom Matter" but I loved the goat and fried vegetables- the waiter repeatedly startled me with his frenzied actions. Most disarming was his seeming lack of personal space boundaries. Each time he asked me if the food was good I had a choice between nodding or leaning forward a few inches to kiss him on the lips. Even though he's quite handsome, I went with visual cues.

Wary of his confrontational nature, I snapped a picture as I left. Sure enough, the waiter began chasing me across the parking lot. I braced myself for the worst. He handed me a package of leftover nan and kindly said, "For you at six o'clock p.m. this evening." It was an unexpectedly happy ending.

Friday, March 09, 2007


When Mark Funkhouser first referenced Prairie Village during his campaign I didn't think much about it. As a very content resident of the suburb, I immediately understood that the Kansas City mayoral candidate was using shorthand for good schools, safe neighborhoods, strong community and solid public services. Isn't that what everyone wants? So I was taken aback by the vitriol I've encountered online regarding Prairie Village. Many people seem to harbor deep-seated animosity for the quiet bedroom community. I don't get it. It's kind of like hating the color beige.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Leavenworth Lulu

I whipped into the parking lot of this Leavenworth diner immediately upon spotting it a couple days ago. How could I not? Just look at this joint. If Homer's Drive Inn isn't the Holy Grail of undiscovered greasy spoons, it's pretty close. I can't turn up a single blog mention and this site has the only online review. Part of the disconnect may be the diner's provincial nature. While my waitress was friendly enough, a couple regulars made it clear that I wasn't welcome. I'm a little bit different, I suppose, but if they can't handle me then I hate to think of how these cranky customers would deal with anyone resembling one-time Leavenworth residents Melissa Etheridge or Wayne Simien. My presence as an outsider seemingly put a bit of a damper on the lunch hour regulars. Even so, I overheard detailed reports on failing marriages, medical procedures and stalled trucks. I wasn't especially hungry, so I ordered the day's special- a double hamburger, fries and drink for $3.49. It was a lot like Winstead's, only better.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Don't Be a Dummy

I know what it's like to be dumb. I don't know if I qualify for Mensa, but I generally acquit myself reasonably well in the category of basic intelligence. Yet a standard-issue head cold has me in a funk. A cashier had to walk me through a credit card purchase yesterday. And as I sat at a desk last night I realized that I'd been staring into space for five minutes without firing a single synapse in my brain. My temporary sickness makes rudimentary thought processes particularly challenging. So please forgive this roadkill image. It's the time of year when young, inexperienced squirrels tend to meet unkind ends. I can relate.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Spring Hopes Eternal

Can you feel it? This tulip bulb sensed it. Animals emerging from their winter resting places know it. The sun is shining and a faint signal in the air hints at life. Spring is almost here.

Friday, March 02, 2007


The Mixx is out of my league. I ate lunch at the restaurant at 4855 Main Street earlier this week. Sure, the friendly chefs behind the counter prepare delicious food. But I wince at paying $10 for a salad, even if it's really big. Expense doesn't seem to be an issue for most customers. I suspect that at least half the cafe's patrons walk over from the Board of Trade and the Blackwell Sanders law concern. Regular Joes like me should be advised that they'll be dining in a room full of exceptionally attractive professional women. Your Van Halen t-shirt and work boots won't go over very well.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Through Hail and Back

The doorway of the Grand Emporium was clogged last night. Folk-pop artist Brett Dennen had just finished performing and his merch table near the door was besieged by well-wishers. I pushed my way through the eager crowd, anxious to escape the smoky bar. But a second set of people had formed at the entrance. Hail was pounding Main Street. I made a mad dash for my car as hail peppered me. An advantage of driving an old beater is that I can afford to be cavalier about the hail damage. So I made my way home while most drivers caught in the storm took shelter under the awnings of bank drive-thrus and carwashes.