Happy In Bag

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Doomed Business Proposal #698

It's going to be the single best outdoor recreational attraction in the Kansas City area- canoeing excursions on the Little Blue River. Let's call it Happy In Bag Boating (HIBB). Ideally, we'd start at this scenic spot at the Kansas City Zoo. After signing liability wavers, guests would hop into canoes or rowboats and paddle thirty minutes down the gentle stream with a HIBB guide. At the end of the journey- probably about three miles downstream- guests would disembark at a predetermined spot and be shuttled back to the zoo in a HIBB vehicle. They'd be charged ten dollars a head for the experience. HIBB's primary expenses would be insurance, a small fleet of boats, a couple of leased vans with boat racks on the roof, staffing and a marketing budget. We'd also need to work out some kind of arrangement with KCMO. Who's in?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Atomic Punk

It was like a bad horror movie. There was no escape from the hordes of Van Halen zombies pillaging downtown Kansas City early Friday evening. Most of them looked exactly like me, except that they were visibly happier. I love Van Halen, too. I saw them at Kauffman stadium in '77 and I even have a favorite VH song. But I was downtown for another show, and I wasn't in the mood to watch goofy dudes play air guitar. I finally found refuge at Truman's, an odd little place inside the lobby of the former Kansas City Club.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bird's the Word

They pulled at my hair, bit my fingers and screeched into my ears. It was the single best experience I've had at the Kansas City Zoo. KCP&L sponsors daily lorikeet feedings for the public. The gorgeous animals attack anyone entering their cage, hoping to lap up nectar from small cups. I became so enthralled that the friendly zookeepers had to gently escort me from the aviary earlier this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Most Esteemed Ancestor

A curious photograph of one of my ancestors was recently uncovered. The man served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Based on the barracks-like background, boots, and um, brushes, I presume this image dates back to that time. Is it our modern era's cynical perspective that makes this photograph seem odd? Or is this simply three Army buddies goofing around?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Manure on Concrete

Many Kansas Citians are embarrassed by our agrarian roots. Not me. I love rubbing shoulders with ranchers at the American Royal's annual exhibition in Hale Center. The powerful odor of manure and dust is like perfume (at least when I'm not in Dodge City). And the process of grooming cattle for their turn at the livestock show remains one of the oddest rituals I've encountered.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Let's Pretend You Care

I'm not delusional. I realize that very few people share my enthusiasm for jazz. And I accept that. But in the off chance that you're interested, I posted my list of the Ten Best Kansas City Jazz Recordings at Plastic Sax, my esoteric little jazz site.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sweet On Me

I've never quite made up my mind about the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant chain. Is it a haven for health-oriented old folks with time on their hands? Perhaps it's a refuge for fellow fatties who want a little salad to balance their soft serve ice cream fix. I'm always glad to spot a Sweet Tomatoes outlet when I'm on the road and desperate to get something green into my body, but I rarely frequent the two locations in the Kansas City area.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Inhuman Nature

Which is more sickening- my fervent desire that the irate driver of the white SUV who tailgated me this morning gets fired for arriving late to work, or the instinct of all humans to rubberneck at horrific accidents? This police car sped past gridlocked drivers stuck in a rush hour traffic delay earlier this week. I crawled by the site of a wreck in time to see a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. The image haunts me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Praise of Leavenworth

I know Kansas City better than most people. I've lived in various parts of the metropolis for over thirty years. Business and pleasure keep me shuttling through vast swathes of the area every week. I've come to the conclusion that as a whole, the citizens of Leavenworth are the area's best people. Their work ethic, honesty and friendliness are exemplary. There's little doubt that many of these values are enhanced by Leavenworth's military installation, which also adds a strong international element to the small town's atmosphere. Leavenworth isn't perfect. It is, after all, the site of my recent Larry Craig moment. The historic downtown is crumbling, and it's clear that many people are struggling economically. Still, you're not going to hear Leavenworth's hardy citizens complain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Want Flapjacks

I feel somewhat guilty that yesterday marked my first visit to an Applebee's restaurant in a couple years. Perhaps my regular patronage would have been just enough to prevent the locally-based company from agreeing to be purchased by IHOP. I opted for this six dollar tomato soup and grilled shrimp salad combo. While good, it didn't quite fill my enormous stomach. And as their marketing blitz suggests, Applebee's seems to be going for an upscale sports bar look. The concept doesn't really appeal to me, unless my finicky Aunt Beulah insists that I take her out to eat after church on Sunday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Is There a Pill For This?

I guess it's true- gray skies can make me blue. One of the most valuable things I've gleaned through this absurd Happy In Bag exercise was a commenter's suggestion that I was experiencing S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). I'd never heard of the diagnosis. But sure enough, the lack of sun this weekend made transformed me from a happy idiot into a regular Gloomy Gus. C'mon sun!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wake Up

When the world's dominant fast food chain touts so-called energy drinks in their drive-through lanes, it's safe to say that our nation has reached a caffeinated tipping point. Add me to the long list of cranks bemoaning the centrifigul force behind increasing the rapidity of our culture. On to my fourth delicious cup of coffee...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm Not There

I haven't been in a "gentleman's club" in years. It's not that I'm sanctimonious about the concept. Back when I had a conventional sales job I often entertained big clients by treating them to dinner or sporting events. A few would insist on strip joints. I also did a stint selling ads for the Pitch. I called on the now-shuttered clubs in Kansas City, Kansas. Yet it just wasn't my thing. My most memorable encounters with the entertainers involved discussions about their music selections rather than any physical contact. Tony's post yesterday concerning a seedy promotional video for a local establishment reminded me why I'm not attracted to such places.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

D-U-M-B Everyone's Accusing Me

I'm often chided for my inability to accept compliments. It's so difficult for me to feel good about myself when I consider my many deficiencies. For example, vast swathes of common knowledge still elude me. I don't know where West Point is located. I can identify less than ten constellations. My comprehension of Greek mythology is shameful. I couldn't name the current president of Mexico. And I still recite "lefty-lucy" every time I use a screwdriver.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Forest For the Trees

Like many former Cub Scouts, I sometimes envision a world in which nature reclaims the land. I'm fairly confident that within a few decades much of the Kansas City area would become a thick forest. This path in a public park near my home seems to reflect the land's natural state.

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Delilah

I had a simple objective when I stepped into a fancy barbershop Saturday afternoon- I didn't want to look like a homeless person any longer. It was a complex process. Representatives from wildlife control were on hand to trap the small animals stuck in my mop, while Hazmat officials carefully carted away shorn dreadlocks. The barber washed my hair in a sink as part of the detanglement process. Then something marvelous happened- she expertly massaged my supine neck. Oh, sweet unexpected bliss! I didn't scream as much following her gentle gesture.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Grasping Sparrow's Tail

I attended a free Tai Chi class last night. Even more uncharacteristically, I liked it. I did the saddle stance, repulsed monkeys, and followed the white crane. It wasn't quite as much fun as learning the Soulja Boy, but I'll be back for more.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Size Doesn't Matter

Why do I suspect that advertisers are far more excited than fans about the Royals building the biggest scoreboard in sports? Not once in the dozen games I attended in 2007 did I think, "What this team really needs is a bigger scoreboard." I longed for a lineup with better hitters instead. Watching the playoffs last night served as a unhappy reminder of the real issue in Kansas City. With the possible exception of second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, the Royals don't have a single position player that would improve the postseason prospects of more than one of the eight clubs in the playoffs.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Ghosts Aren't Italian

If Marco Polo was in another location I'd dine there more than just once every couple years. The deli attached to Jasper's kitchen turns out excellent Italian food. But because I once worked in that exact spot at Watts Mill for an entirely different enterprise, I can't enter the space without reliving my past. There are just too many memories, too many ghosts.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thin Air

A few months ago I wrote an unimaginative post decrying the lack of vitality at KCI. I visited Terminal B yesterday, and while it's not exactly Times Square, a number of significant improvements have been made. There are new restaurants and works of art. And the space was sparkling. Most importantly, it took less than thirty minutes to park, buy a snack, meet a traveler at the gate, pick up checked luggage and get back to I-29.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'm Glad It Wasn't Me

About fifteen years ago I was accosted by an unstable man at a jazz festival in the 18th & Vine district. Police broke up the noisy altercation. An officer later informed me that the man was wanted for murder- he'd recently stabbed someone 18 times. That's my sole scary moment in the jazz district. The best time I've ever had there may have come two weeks ago during the American Jazz Museum's anniversary celebration. I've posted a set of photos documenting the event here.