Happy In Bag

Friday, February 26, 2010

Later On, We'll Conspire

I whine incessantly about the cold of winter freezing my creaky bones. It's been a season of snow shovels and space heaters. Now that we've begun to turn the corner, however, the truth can finally be told without fear of reprisal. Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Corner Castoffs

There but for the grace of God... With that out of the way, allow me to tell tenderhearted citizens what becomes of the food given to the sign-wielding panhandlers on street corners. It's often discarded and eventually consumed by starlings. The other day I was tempted to claim an abandoned bag of food as I drove to Aldi. Alas, the nasty birds had contaminated the mendicant's castoffs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Matt Otto: An Appreciation

Not since Pat Metheny and Bobby Watson lit up Kansas City's clubs a few decades ago has a young locally-based jazz instrumentalist played with such imagination and innovation. The great Bobby Watson aside, Matt Otto is Kansas City's premier jazz artist. I'm not suggesting that Otto is a star in the making. Alas, that's not a realistic possibility for jazz instrumentalists in 2010. But if you care about Kansas City's jazz scene- or even if you just pretend to care about it- then Matt Otto is the name you need to know.

(This text an abridged version of a post at Kansas City jazz blog Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Stink On Ice

I had a nice childhood in suburban Chicago. Even so, things were very different in that seen-but-not-heard era. Most neighborhood kids weren't welcome in their homes until dinner was served. That mandate was great in the summer. The winter months, however, were brutal. I never got the hang of skating. And I didn't care for hockey. I'm obviously nonplussed posing with Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull. It's no wonder that I'm completely disinterested in the Winter Olympics.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Saved By the Kitchen

"We'd like a table for two," I told the greeter at The Westside Local early Saturday evening. "No, I didn't make a reservation."

The greeter sighed in exasperation and retreated. (Never mind that their site notes that "reservations are accepted for parties of 6 or more.") As I looked around the nearly vacant restaurant I began to have reservations of my own.

I had an identical exchange with two additional employees before finally being seated. A couple minutes later I was asked to move to another table. The Westside Local staff didn't seem to want me there. Had I not witnessed other customers treated in the same manner- one couple was forced to wait ten minutes before being allowed to sit at the still largely empty establishment- I would have taken it personally.

After I ordered the lamb pot roast I was informed that it wasn't available. My second selection was also rebuffed. The waiter then suggested that I might like to peruse the "right" menu and returned a couple minutes later with a different list of offerings. Weird. Everything was just a little bit off. Everything, that is, except the output of the kitchen.

The food at the Westside Local is fantastic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sliccs Gotcha

Although I write extensively about music I've never been particularly interested in hanging out with musicians. Backstage passes go unused and I involuntarily roll my eyes when I hear the phrase "after party." It's especially true of Kansas City's hip hop artists. I love the music but I don't even pretend to do the handshakes or speak the jargon. Sliccs Gotcha was different. The rapper had a broader worldview than his recordings might indicate. On Prince of Whales, Sliccs raps about dealing drugs, exacting revenge on his rivals and eluding the authorities. Yet he didn't come across as a gangster when I spent time with him. Sliccs struck me as gentle, kind and worldly. He was murdered February 12. Here's chatter at Crime Scene KC.

(Cross-posted from There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

To a Fine Boy

A stash of birthday cards and letters I received as a child was recently uncovered. Two things immediately struck me. My grandparents wrote long letters that serve as incredibly charming time capsules. One details her health- "feel fine only tired at times- don't cough any more." Another notes that "some newly weds have moved in Mrs. Wilson's house & we have neighbors on the west- a pair of brown thrushes have built a nest in the bitter sweet bush just out side the window by the kitchen stove..." The other revelation is the outdated style of the store-bought cards. Do these color schemes even exist in 2010? Once a "fine boy," today I feel like a sepia-toned antique.

Monday, February 08, 2010


What began as a lark in 2005 has become one of the defining elements of my life. Blogging has been very good to me. I've made dozens of friends and inadvertently secured a significant amount of work as a direct result of this preposterous site. It's true that Happy In Bag is now less important to me than Plastic Sax and There Stands the Glass. The concept of ending Happy In Bag with this, my 1,000th post, appeals to me. But squirrels are still procreating, my pants remain ill-fitting and drivers of black SUVs continue to tailgate me. I need Happy In Bag. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Snow is falling like sand through an hourglass as write these words. Never mind that my feet are wet or that flights at the airport were delayed a couple hours this morning. And the knowledge that a shovel will play a major role in my day makes my knees hurt. I'm willing to set those concerns aside for a moment. The beauty of it all takes my breathe away.