Happy In Bag

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chasin' the Bird

It's complicated. I suppose that's part of the reason I'm drawn to the controversial legacy of Charlie Parker. The jazz immortal was only 34 when he died in 1955. He reportedly didn't want to be buried in the Kansas City area. Incredibly, his grave marker depicts the wrong type of saxophone. In 2009, his fans are increasingly cantankerous and gray. Approximately 125 of them, including the dozen or so saxophonists who played "Now's the Time," gathered Sunday at Lincoln Cemetery to pay their respects.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Some things are better in principle than in practice. Examples include electronic paper, conscious hip hop and the 2009 version of the Kansas City Royals. I lump Broadway Cafe into that category. I admire their endurance. The Westport coffee shop managed to outlast a neighboring Starbucks. I also love spotting the array of bohemian types constantly lounging outside. For all that, however, the place just doesn't work for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Don't bother to watch the video. It's no Bee Movie. It's not even a B-movie. It's just a static shot to memorialize insects that are about to be exterminated. Or maybe not. I stayed the execution of this colony in my backyard weeks ago. I love bees. They're just plain cool. The problem is that these bees are fiercely territorial. They've attacked more than one person. And they've rendered the nicest part of by backyard unusable. So, readers of Happy In Bag, I'm leaving it up to you. Do they live? Or do they die?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Greed Is Good

Are these the world's best chicken wings? A friend adamantly insists that Greedy Man's wings are world-beaters. He may be right. They're so deeply infused with smoke that my hands retained their delicious scent for hours after my initial visit to the tiny diner on Troost last weekend. I can also wholeheartedly recommend Greedy Man's delightfully messy cheeseburger. I'll return when I have some extra time- the pace of the place could be charitably characterized as leisurely. Kansas City Lunch Spots gave Greedy Man's a more thoughtful analysis.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Black Bob Island

I head north almost every time I leave home in pursuit of fun and games. That needs to change. On the rare occasions I venture south of 119th Street I make new discoveries. Black Bob Island and the sprawling park that surrounds it, for instance, is a real gem. I could happily while away hours at this site.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Do I Have To Do?

It's my fault. I only go to my favorite beer emporium on their busiest nights. Consequently, it's an excruciating exercise in frustration. The staff- nice people all- are transformed into my mortal enemies as buying a beverage becomes an epic challenge.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Predator In the Water

"Warning: Predator In The Water! You! Go Vegetarian! PETA" screamed the shrill banner behind the plane. The noise repeatedly interrupted my daydreams about bacon as I attempted to relax on a California beach. Here's a loopy press release about the stunt. I was so irritated that I tried to buy a Michael Vick jersey off a guy's back the next day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feeling Philos

I was ravenous when I stumbled into Philos Grill eight hours ago. I won't eat again until lunch tomorrow. Overwhelmed by the absurdly eclectic menu posted on the wall, I handed the personable woman behind the counter of the Truman Road diner ten dollars and asked her to choose for me. Minutes later she delivered a delicious slab of ribs with sides of fries, beans and slaw to my table. It was a fat boy's fantasy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm On a Boat!

Wouldn't you like to be on a boat right now? I know I would. It's not easy to accomplish in my landlocked corner of the planet. I recently had the privilege of watching this guy struggle to transport his preposterous craft from a truck to a small pond. It took every ounce of self-restraint to refrain from heckling. (All hands on deck!) But once he navigated away from my mocking presence I became green with envy.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Standing in a room full of people who both look and think like me is a dizzying proposition. It led to many mind-boggling moments at a family reunion in Hutchinson last weekend. I sometimes wonder if my heritage is a blessing or a curse. My late father often railed against our ancestors. "Why did they have to stop in Kansas?" he'd ask. "Why couldn't they have pushed on to California?" The original homestead is unfit for crops and absent of oil. Although I understand my pop's position, I accept that the past can't be undone. And I'm proud of the blood coursing through my veins.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Room Temperature

I was drenched in sweat last night at the Riot Room. It felt really good. The heat was quite a contrast from my recent experience in California. The definitive moment might have come when I stepped out of a hotel room for a third consecutive morning. Only when a ray of sunshine hit my eyes did I realize that my room opened to an outdoor courtyard. The ideal climate had me fooled.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


It had been years since I had been kicked out of a record store.

I was regularly booted to the curb when I toiled as a music industry sales rep. It happened most often when I would attempt to pull product from stores that had failed to pay for their orders. Other store owners mistakenly thought I was doing reconnaissance work for their competitors. Some didn't appreciate my insistent approach to sales. Others just didn't like me. (I get it.)

I was reminded of my earlier exploits a few days ago. While shopping on Melrose Avenue I innocently happened upon an old-school vinyl shop.

After the cantankerous owner chased away curious pedestrians- "This isn't a photo shoot!" he bellowed- he turned on me.

"Don't touch that!" he began. "It's worth forty thousand dollars!"

When I demonstrated my fluency in jazz vinyl, he decided to impress me by mocking his competition, scoffing at popular music, complaining about a wealthy Chinese client and belittling a beleaguered employee. (The poor soul is a dead ringer for Art Pepper.)

The raconteur is arrogant, stubborn and scathingly defensive. I loved him immediately. (The guy reminds me of a pricklier version of the late Ron Rooks.) Not everyone shares my affection for the man. He's raked over the coals at Yelp and All About Jazz.

So, was I kicked out? I'm not sure. We enjoyed a heated discussion and he was still campaigning as I walked past an Ed Hardy outlet next door.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Not Dodger Blue, Just Blue

A day after visiting Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, I watched the Royals lose again last night. I rooted much harder for the Royals, the second-worst team in baseball, than for the Dodgers, the storied team currently holding baseball's best record. I can't help it- the Royals are my team. Sure, it's cool that fans in L.A. get to watch videos by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and monitor movie box office data on their team's scoreboard. And I sure wish the Royals could feature Andre Ethier rather than Willie Bloomquist. But tonight I'm stuck pulling for Kyle Davies (29 career wins) instead of L.A.'s Jason Schmidt (130 career wins). It's a bad hop.