Happy In Bag

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mind the Popsicle Stand

I'm enjoying a brief change of scenery.

Monday, April 28, 2008

We Are So Fat

It's not a "before" picture. My love for beer, barbecue and burritos means there won't be an improved "after" photo. This is what I am. I'd be a hypocrite, however, if I commented on Kansas City's ungainly girth without exposing my plus-sized status. While in Waterloo Station last month I was so shocked to see a big man that I snapped his photo through a train window. It's an uncommon sight even though much of the British population frequents pubs nightly. Here in America, I can just look in a mirror or step outside to see fat folks.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I'm frequently asked about my motivation for obsessively sharing thoughts, opinions and images online. "There's no money in it," my astonished critics often complain. They're missing the point. A significant portion of the good things that have crossed my path in the past couple years have come as a direct result of my online postings. Yesterday, for example, I was delighted to interview Noel Gourdin for There Stands the Glass. His ballad "The River" is my favorite song of 2008. I'm also very proud of Plastic Sax, my Kansas City jazz site. As for this place- well, I suppose I'll let it live.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Take It To the Bridge

Just like a belligerent child, I stubbornly attempted to cross the Paseo Bridge earlier this week. I reckoned the repeated public warnings about limited access due to construction were overblown. Seeing is believing. So now I'm either On Broadway or in the Heart of America.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old School? Try Ancient

The counter staff at La Sala's is so gruff that they could take charm school classes from the greeters at Gates. They're alternately surly and exasperated with one another and their customers. It's well worth it- I've never purchased a sandwich at La Sala's that wasn't delicious. Few joints in Kansas City are less pretentious or more satisfying. La Sala's doesn't have a web site, of course, but the unitiated can find the Columbus Park diner a block away from the original Garozzo's.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Some Kind of Record

I acknowledged Record Store Day by visiting a couple independently-owned retailers Saturday. The experience was ok, I guess.

Partly because I haven't bought into the current vinyl revival that's inspired new hope in the ongoing viability of physical product, I couldn't help feeling nostalgic for the pre-internet days when record stores were vital community institutions. Seeking solace, I began compiling a list of Kansas City record stores past and present. I know I've overlooked several key landmarks; please help me to fill in the gaps.

What was the name of the really good but ill-fated store on Westport Road in the mid-'90s? And I can't come up with the name of the great late-'70s store on Broadway or the moniker of the store on Main before it morphed into Recycled Sounds.

As I have no expertise in Latin music, I've left those specialty stores off my list. I'm also excluding mass merchandisers like Target, Venture, Wal-Mart and my beloved Red-X and bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble. Lawrence merits its own list.

The list: Abba To Zappa, Alley Cat, Autograph, Caper's Corner, CD Warehouse, Classical Westport, Corky's, Dirt Cheap, Disc Traders, Ear Responsible, Exile, FYE, Groove Farm, Half Price Books, JR Disques, Katz, Keeping It Real*, Kent's, Love, Mike's*, Mr. Z's, Music & More, Music Exchange, Musicland, Needmore Discs*, Peaches, Penny Lane, Record Bar, Record Cabinet, Recycled Sounds, Rock Therapy, 7th Heaven*, Sharlie's, Sound Warehouse, Spiney Norman, Streetside*, Tigers, Village Records**, Vintage Stock*, Vinyl Renaissance*, Wax Factory*, Wherehouse*, Zebedee*

*Currently open.
**Exists online.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Kids in Johnson County are are extraordinarily lucky. Most enjoy excellent schools and material trappings like cell phones, computers and video games. In spite of their good fortune- or perhaps as a result of this privilege- they're not always made to feel welcome. How many incidents and how much hand-wringing at city council meetings do you suppose went into erecting these "just say no" signs?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Contrary to all outward appearances, I haven't touched marijuana in over twenty-five years. It's not a sacrifice; I was never into the stuff. Besides, the cliche really is true- my pals who smoke daily are huge slackers. I'd rather be CEO of General Electric than a percussionist in a reggae band.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coming Out of My Shell

I'm so cold. There's no doubt that l'll regret this comment come July, but the imminent commencement of Kansas City's summer long sweat fest has me giddy. I'm no different than the reptiles basking in the glorious spring sun at Loose Park. Bring the heat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lettering In Littering

Are you old enough to remember when beer cans had pull tabs? If so, you may recall a time when windows were synonymous with trash cans. Along with dog poop and broken glass, pull can tabs were every barefoot kid's nightmare in the early '70s. So much has changed since then. I attended an Earth Day fair a couple days ago and enjoyed interacting with groovy organic farmers and sincere kids dedicated to recycling. But for each positive person there seemed to be a smug, self-satisfied "greenie." They make me want to burn coal.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Holy Avian Invasion, Batman!

Pow! Kazam! Bam! My home is under siege by an irate robin. He's been tirelessly hurling himself against windows for a week. I imagine he's defending his territory from the reflection in the windows. What a birdbrain.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fallujan Flashback

I'm a weak man for allowing it bother me. But few things get my goat more discovering a Hummer idling a couple feet behind me at a suburban traffic light. I'm so blessed to live in a free country- a nation in which some people may flagrantly display their poor taste and dubious decision-making skills.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Messy, Sloppy Status Quo

That's not bird seed! While you're gasping in horror at Prairie Village's Public Enemy Number Two, note the hole gnawed by the beast's fellow thieves that allows entry into this birdfeeder. My relatively humane trap-and-release program just isn't working. There seems to be a limitless supply of chipmunks and squirrels. I need to either surrender or escalate my efforts with more extreme measures.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Am Not Paul Mokeski

The matriarch of my family made it clear to each male grandchild that she expected him to eventually play basketball at the University of Kansas. Failure to reach this goal was unacceptable. It became clear well before I reached high school that my three-inch vertical leap, average stature and inadequate reflexes disappointed my family. It wouldn't be the last time I shamed them. A normal man might learn to loathe the unattainable benchmark. Not me- I've always loved the team. It's a great day.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Die Slow: Mac Lethal At the Riot Room

Men relieved themselves in the bathroom sink. A woman told me to "get your d*ck out of my *ss" moments after she forcefully elbowed her way around me. Another inebriated celebrant spilled her beer into the Riot Room's soundboard during the headliner's set, causing a burst of static to fill the room. "Sorry!" she shrugged. These are Mac Lethal's people. And so help me Larry Moore, I am one of them. The tale of depravity continues here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nectar of the Gods

On an empty stomach and after a week of abstinence, I indulged in a mysterious Boulevard product I picked up out of curiosity last night. Under its influence, I instituted peace in the Middle East, saw the Dow reach 36,000 and recorded a bluegrass arrangement of this ignorant anthem. I don't know or care what goes into the magnificent ambrosia as long as Boulevard continues production of my new poison of choice.


Crosstown Station has a great sound system and perfect sight lines. Excellent premium beers are on tap. It's in a prime location. What more could a guy want? Well, better music for starters. The talent booked hasn't always matched the new live music venue's grand ambitions. And their marketing campaigns haven't always been up to snuff. Still, it looks like these awkward growing pains are already dissipating. I'd love to make the joint my place.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Everything But Olives

I'm on one of my periodic hunger strikes. Don't be alarmed- it merely means that I've temporarily suspended compulsively devouring everything I encounter. I'll discover if it's possible to drop five pounds while continuing to enjoy Boulevard two or three times a week. So instead of opting for tamales and cheeseburgers, I now stop at sandwich shops as I make my rounds. The current $5 foot-long promotion isn't helping my cause.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

If All Politics Are Local

It hardly gets more provincial than the single-item ballot in my voting ward today. The campaigning has been so placid that my long-held fantasy of casting the deciding vote stands a reasonable chance of coming to fruition. And the old saw is true- the issue at stake in my neighborhood may have more impact on my life than November's presidential election.