Happy In Bag

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tattoo Tears

I've made plenty of bad decisions. Thankfully, none of them involve tattoos. I'm starting to rethink that position. What changed? I admire the art on the faces of rappers like Lil Wayne and the Game. Unlike me, neither man will ever have a conventional job interview. Still, I love the extreme statement. I'm thinking of putting a biblical reference or a skull over my left cheekbone; I'm having trouble deciding.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back On the Farm

I've never baled hay, driven a tractor or fed cattle. This might be the source of a vague sense of displacement I've felt my entire life. I'm the first male in my family who has never toiled on a farm. While my father and both of my grandfathers eventually found their way to towns and cities, as boys and young men they spent their summers tending crops. Although farmers are joined by rural preachers and country schoolteachers on my American family tree, there's little doubt that these ancestors also got their hands dirty in the fields. I'm glad I'm not out posting holes at this moment, but my genetic code is telling me that's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tax Titillation

It's with a heavy sense of dread and a slight tingle of titillation that I review the Johnson County Treasurer's annual tally of individuals and businesses that failed to pay their property tax bills. I check for myself first (did I forget that second installment?) and then for friends, family and neighbors. There are countless reasons to appear on the published lists in addition to financial distress, including assessment disputes, sale of the property and poor organization. I'm ashamed of my voyeurism, but that guilt is far outweighed by my relief in keeping myself off the list another year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Charlie Parker Bit My Finger

Yesterday's gravesite memorial service for Charlie Parker was poorly attended. I suppose it's not surprising; the jazz legend is less well known today than an English finger biter.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Excuse Me, Waiter

What are French fries doing in my chicken curry? I'd forgotten about Kin Lin's quirks. The bustling Chinese restaurant serves as an unofficial cafeteria for the UMKC crowd. Customers and waiters engage in sassy banter, weary students happily greet one another and- lest you also forget- French fries are served with chicken curry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Tangled Web

Do you kill spiders? I don't. Spiders begin to appear in remote corners of my home this time of year. Unless they attempt to scuttle up my leg or look capable of biting off a toe, I leave them alone. I figure that if they don't help me out by snaring a gnat or two they'll die of natural causes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brazil Wins!

It's not quite the Olympics, but if measured by line length and general popularity of their representative booth at last weekend's Ethnic Enrichment Festival, Brazil would be awarded a gold medal. Exactly what was being offered remains a mystery to me; I wasn't about to wait with so many great alternatives available. The mild weather made the this year's event seem like the best since the brief era when the city would book Africa's most celebrated musicians.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Winners and Losers

Televised awards shows can seem innocuous. Sitting among nominees at the Pitch Music Awards last night at the Uptown Theater, however, I was struck by just how badly most musicians wanted to win. Accordingly, attendance slipped as disappointed losers left in disgust after each award was announced. (Above: The Uptown's Larry Sells gets a close look at Flee the Seen.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Check Out My Band's New Name

Ethnic Parking perfectly describes our approach. (Thanks to Plog for first recognizing this jarring sign. Although I attend the Ethnic Enrichment Festival every year, I"d never picked up on the poor choice of words.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kitschy or Creepy?

I've never adjusted to the concept of ironic lawn ornamentation. Thankfully, objectional lawn jockeys have almost disappeared, but the new era of weird gnomes and other intentionally tacky decorations annoys me. Things only become interesting when the distinction between knowing kitsch and unaffected folk art is unclear.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greensburg '08

Greensburg is still a mess. I last reported on the tornado-ravaged Kansas town about a year ago. It doesn't look a whole better today. There are signs of life, like the groovy Studio 804 project, but as the then-and-now pictures I present illustrate, it's still awfully bleak.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Outdoor Church

An Islamic family's reunion was taking place a few yards to my left. The delighted screams from passengers on a nearby wooden roller coaster tickled my right ear. Before me sat a small congregation of believers. I've attended a few outdoor Easter services, but I couldn't resist the chance to worship under palm trees during my recent trip to San Diego. It wasn't entirely my thing, but the preacher made one great point- it's unfortunate that many Christians observe their faith behind closed doors.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Knowing the Score

2008 has been another disappointing season for the Royals. It's becoming apparent that not one of the team's young players will become a star. So what's a struggling franchise to do? The stadium's new enormous, crystal-clear scoreboard won't help Kansas City win any games, but it's an excellent distraction for fans. Even this stodgy baseball purist finds himself riveted to the onscreen shenanigans.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I've never been a Buzzard Beach guy. Kelly's is not my scene. I might have finally found a Westport bar that feels just right last night at the Pitch's music showcase. The new Foundry at McCoy's is a beauty. At first blush, I love everything about it- sharp lines, open air patio, DJ booth, delicious-looking pizza and beer. Lots of beer.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Taking Gates For Granted

It seems impossible. In over three years of rattling a keyboard like a caffeinated monkey on behalf of Happy In Bag, not once have I dedicated a single entry to the wonders of Gates Bar-B-Q. That perplexing streak ends now. My feast at the Linwood & Main location yesterday served as a reminder that Gates is far too wonderful to take for granted. Their ribs, fries and beans are close to perfection. And what of the chaos at the counter that obviously frustrated hordes of visiting Red Sox fans? It's an essential part of the experience.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Vetting a Vote

For a moment or two I feared that I might not be allowed to vote today. The appearance of a wild-haired, sweat-drenched, relatively young voter clearly alarmed the volunteer election staff in the previously sleepy church basement. The calming presence of a retired pastor who recognized me as a regular voter cleared the way for me to cast a ballot against my least favorite local politician.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Clothing Optional

I apologize to the beachgoers of San Diego for damaging the aesthetic ideal with my presence last week. My flabby, pale body clashed with the sea of perfect flesh. Even so, my physical imperfections didn't prevent me from spending hour after hour riding waves with seals and dolphins. It's back to shirts and shoes.