Happy In Bag

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Never Ever Change

I felt as if I'd fallen down a ravioli-infested rabbit hole the moment I entered Anthony's the other night. Much to the amusement of the packed room, a jolly man with a microphone serenaded me with a rendition "The Way You Look Tonight." Very funny. Even more surreal was the sudden realization that the joint hadn't changed a bit since I'd last dined there in the late '80s. Anthony's redefines old school. They've retained that breathless charm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just For Men

I am to Halloween what Scrooge is to Christmas. I don't care for candy, I startle when the doorbell rings and I haven't worn a costume since the '90s. Seeing so many adults acting like infants, however, put a notion in my noggin. I could use the holiday as a pretext to address my prematurely, um, "distinguished" hair. If I dressed as Dracula or Elvis I'd have to color my hair accordingly. No one would think anything about it and I'd look ten years younger. The idea is so good it's scary.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Identity Theft

I can't pretend to know why my friend did what she did. It may or may not have had something to do with a challenge that confronted both of us.

The enterprises into which we invested twenty years of passion and energy no longer exist. We were both good at our work but technological progress is an irresistible force. Almost all of my former employers have been bankrupted. My old customer base, my friend's shop included, is similarly decimated. Residual financial rewards aside, most everything we worked for and everything we achieved in those two decades is gone.

I'm very fortunate to have a fulfilling personal and professional life today. Even so, there's a permanent hole in my past. Much of my self-identity has been erased.

It's an empty feeling.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Everyone loved Anne Winter. She was smart, kind, generous, funny and infectiously positive.

Here's one of the many things Anne did for me. In the mid-80s, when I decided that I actually wanted to make a living doing something I enjoyed, I determined that I should work for a man named Hal. I didn't know him, and it took a couple weeks to convince Hal to hire me at a starting wage of $3.50 an hour. In the interim, Anne allowed me to help out at her record store. I assisted her with tasks like receiving, stocking, pricing and scheduling for a couple weeks until I landed my dream job.

Anne made me a better person. She made Kansas City a better place.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hip(ster) Replacement

Blame the gray skies. I've been especially cranky lately. So when I found myself surrounded by art school hipsters at a gallery last weekend I almost lost control. My normally high tolerance for pretension had evaporated and I was overcome by an urge to engage in the kind of performance art that concludes with a Taser and handcuffs. Rather than risking arrest, I fled the smug scene without drinking a drop of free Boulevard beer.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I'm not a Whole Foods guy. I don't have much interest in the Food, Inc. documentary. A bout of gluttony at a fried chicken establishment Friday, however, has inspired me to consider changing my tubby ways. The wings, breasts and bombers I consumed were absolutely delicious. But I felt strange for the next twelve hours. I could sense the food as it ran through my veins. I could smell it on my skin. I was high. High on grease.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

War Horse

I resent horses. I once played with other children without regard to gender. Sometime around the age of seven or eight, however, horses entered the equation. Girls began obsessing over the animals. I couldn't relate. Nothing's been the same since. It's not like I've ever wanted to go Equus on the beasts, but they stole half my friends.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Extra Toppings

I feel for today's restaurateurs. How can mom-and-pop sandwich shops possibly compete with the ubiquitous "five-dollar-footlong"? C. Jacks in Prairie Village addresses the question with fine quality and friendly service. While their fare is better than what's offered by the national chain, it's also more expensive. What's the value of a sincere smile?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's a Drag

Admiring the show cars that littered the streets of Kansas City last weekend was as close as I've been to a NASCAR event. It wasn't supposed to be that way. I was in the pole position for a perfectly fulfilling life of a tobacco-chewing, metal-listening, bowling-obsessed grease monkey when a parental intervention at the awkward age of fifteen tore those things away from me. I'll never know that victory lane.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Not a Happy Camper

I appreciate indoor plumbing. I detest s'mores. Even though I'm not much of a camper, I spent Saturday night outdoors shivering in a sleeping bag. Here's a short list of what I learned on my weekend expedition: The distant barking of farmers' hounds is far more annoying than the occasional yapping of neighbors' dogs. Conversely, owls and coyotes make cool sounds. Hippies drumming at a nearby site do not. And deer sound exactly like zombies as they tromp through the woods.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Man Down

I don't know when, if ever, I'll spend my time and money at the recently restored movie theater downtown. It's not just that I prefer live music to film. The game changed this year when DVRs became a component of basic cable subscriptions. It's transformed the way I use television. It took five sittings, but I finally made it through the French resistance drama Army of Shadows last week. And life became just a little bit better when I realized that the antics of the star of my favorite reality show would now always be just a click away.