Archive | October, 2008

Florida’s Forgotten Coast

27 Oct

We just returned from a wonderful weekend along Florida’s panhandle. Our home base was the historic fishing village of Apalachicola. What a great little place — lots of history and character. Also lots of characters! The area is inhabited with very prideful, down to earth folks who are clinging to their time honored ways of life. Development is rapidly encroaching around them, but these residents remain hopeful that their delicate eco-system will not be spoiled. They celebrate the slower pace and older ways of doing things and are fighting hard to protect it all.      

The economy here has always been based on the seafood industry. Apalach oysters and Alligator Point clams are quite famous to foodies everywhere. The area boasts countless seafood markets, oyster houses, bait & tackle shops, and the like. But there are also a growing number of trendy book stores, elegant cafes, and coffee shops. Oh yes — and antique shoppes — everywhere you turn. It certainly appears that the yuppies are coming.

We witnessed a beautiful Saturday sunset on the Apalachicola Bay. There is such a simple charm to watching the sun disappear in the evening … especially when you’re also looking at boats and shorebirds of all kinds. Herons, gulls, pelicans — they’re all here in bountiful numbers. They are no dummies, these feathered friends. If I was a bird (or a cat for that matter), this would make for a pretty nice hangout.

We got a chuckle out of this diver chilling out on a downtown sidewalk. This snapshot was taken just outside the entrance to the Apalachicola Sponge Company. Yes folks, there is a store here that caters to all (well, virtually all) of your sponge needs. The sponges are all-natural and harvested from the surrounding brackish waters. You can pick up a shower sponge and an oval of magnolia-scented goat’s milk soap for about $8. Put a few of these combos on your Christmas list for those loved ones you deem either in need of a good bath or “spongeworthy.” 

Room 309 in the Gibson Inn is said to be haunted by an old sea captain. We learned that he booked that room so he could keep an eye (Get it? Eye??? RRRRRRRRRRR!!!!) on his ship, which was usually docked just a block or so away on the waterfront. The old salt once dated one of the early innkeepers and he’s said to have quite a sense of humor. For example, some guests have sworn that someone was tickling their feet at night. Room #309 is the most asked-for unit in the inn, so make your plans well in advance if you wish to spend a night with this friendly sea-faring ghost.  

The town’s graveyards are shaded by live oaks & creepy hanging moss. We learned that a number of the graveyard’s “residents” were victims of shipwrecks and other ghastly ways to go. Our two sons were a little spooked and didn’t stray too far from us that night. It’s a good thing. Our bed & breakfast (the exquisite Coombs House Inn) was situated directly across Avenue E from the cemetery. OOOOOOO!

We came across this star fish on the secluded beach of St George Island. It was huge and still very much alive. We admired it for a while and then let it slowly move on. The white sand beaches of St. George Island were simply loaded with great shells and all varieties of tiny sea creatures. We spotted horseshoe crabs, slimey sea cucumbers, clams, sponges, coral, olives, sea pansies, cockles, tortoise eggs and scallops. A fellow adventurer even spotted a black bear roaming nearby as we were combing the shores of Alligator Point on Sunday morning. That news sent all of us scurrying for the comfort of Momma’s Ford mini-van. Sorry, I don’t mess with bears or snakes.   

This oyster boat was floating off the deck of The Boss Oyster restaurant. Look for my review of the Boss in the next few days. This trip provided so much great material — it will take me days .. maybe weeks to get it all out. The caption on the side of the boat stated, “Shut Up and Shuck!”

I snapped this sign on the facade of the historic Indian Pass Raw Bar. This is an awesome old place located way, way out in the boonies. You will pass a gazillion (no lie, I counted them) towering pine trees on your drive from beautiful downtown Apalachicola. Grab a cold brew from the cooler and then watch with admiration and awe as a master shucker prepares your heroes on a half shell. This joint is rumored to be haunted as well, so slurp quickly before the house goblins re-develop a taste for these fresh, briney bi-valves.

Speaking of Current Events

23 Oct

Listen closely to the words of this great CCR classic – “Who’ll Stop The Rain.”

Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, tryin to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.

I went down Virginia, seekin’ shelter from the storm.
Caught up in the fable, I watched the tower grow.
Five year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains.
And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.

Heard the singers playin’, how we cheered for more.
The crowd had rushed together, tryin to keep warm.
Still the rain kept pourin’, fallin on my ears.
And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.

It speaks to today’s state of affairs in the USA. Talk about a song with legs! 

For a change, let’s watch our leaders live up to all their campaign promises.

We’re all craving an end to the corruption, violence, and greed in this world.

Hope it happens in our lifetime. Keep the faith, people!

Junior Brown – Unheralded Guitar Hero

23 Oct

This guy looks like Ernest Tubb, plays guitar like Dick Dale.

Check out the stunning surf medley clip found above.

Semi Crazy … but TOTALLY Awesome!

Great Music Writing Found Here

23 Oct

I recently received a copy of this book and ripped through it in just a couple of days. What an amazing, diverse collection of writers and subjects. If you love American music, you will find plenty to savor here. And even if you consider yourself a music scholar, you will surely be inspired to learn more about one of the artists or subjects featured in these pages. Marc Smirnoff, the editor of the wonderful Oxford American magazine, did a terrific job in assembling these articles — all of which have previously appeared in the pages of the OA.

Blind Tom Wiggins’ story is amazing

Most all of the stories are worthwhile with my favorites being the vignettes on the forgotten Blind Tom Wiggins, Minstral Show icon Emmett Miller, Chris Bell of Big Star, folk legend Fred Neil (composer of “Everybody’s Talkin”), Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” hanging out in the 70s with Jerry Lee Lewis, and Schoolhouse Rock composer and Arkansas native Bob Dorough.

Bob Dorough composed & performed the above kiddie classic

Buy this book now and then subscribe to the Oxford American — you’ll love it!

Here is the product description found on Amazon.com …

Not only have a breathtaking array of musical giants come from the South—think Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Rodgers, to name just obvious examples—but so have a breathtaking array of American music genres. From blues to rock & roll to jazz to country to bluegrass—and areas in between—it all started in the American South. Since its debut in 1996, The Oxford American’s more-or-less annual Southern Music Issue has become legendary for its passionate and wide-ranging approach to music and for working with some of America’s greatest writers. These writers—from Peter Guralnick to Nick Tosches to Susan Straight to William Gay—probe the lives and legacies of Southern musicians you may or may not yet be familiar with, but whom you’ll love being introduced, or reintroduced, to. In one creative, fresh way or another, these writers also uncover the essence of music—and why music has such power over us. To celebrate ten years of Southern music issues, most of which are sold-out or very hard to find, the fifty-five essays collected in this dynamic, wide-ranging, and vast anthology appeal to both music fans and fans of great writing.

Elvis Performs Charlie Rich’s “I’m Coming Home”

23 Oct

This is a fun early 60’s track featuring some great Nashville musicians.

The interplay between Hank Garland’s guitar & the drumming is cool.

The montage features some rare pix of the King & his coiffed pompadour.

What’s REALLY Scary about Halloween?

23 Oct

Creepy movies like the “Night of the Living Dead” can be frightening.

But even more blood curdling and scary to this guy is the “treat” seen below:

Now that is terrifying — and disgusting! BOOOO!!!!

Allen Toussaint & Elvis Costello

22 Oct

Here’s a bouncy New Orleans number from two music legends.

The name of the song is “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further.”  

“Even Trolls Love Rock and Roll”

22 Oct

Yes, the title sounds cheesy — but this funky tune seriously rocks.

A vintage rock n roll troll (above)

Tony Joe White can do no wrong! http://www.tonyjoewhite.com/

Olive Oil Chips Sound Promising

22 Oct

Anyone out there tried these babies yet?

For centuries, olive oil has been one of the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet. Today, olive oil evokes images of the old country with its simpler and slightly slower lifestyle – what we like to think of as “the good life.” We have tried to capture a part of this lifestyle by using 100% Olive Oil to kettle cook our chips. The result of our efforts are chips with a hearty crunch and all natural taste. Kettle cooking in 100% olive oil also makes these chips a delicious source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.

For more on this product, go to http://www.goodhealthnaturalfoods.com

31 1/2 Reasons to Watch 2008 World Series

22 Oct

Read this on ESPN.com – lots of good info – and funny!

GO RAYS!!!

In honor of the Rays’ improbable 31-game jump in the standings and No. 32 Steve “Lefty” Carlton, the greatest Phillies pitcher of all time, here are our top 31½ reasons to be excited about the World Series.

31½. Fox doesn’t have the rights to “The Steve Harvey Show.”

31. The Phillies’ Game 3 starter made his major league debut when the Rays’ two star rookies were less than a year old. Also, Jamie Moyer will be making the first World Series start of his 22-year career.

30. The Rays’ hopefully-by-now-deposed closer is a four-alarm fire waiting to happen. If Dan Wheeler pitches in any meaningful situations, duck and take cover in the bleachers.

29. Because the Phillies have won fewer World Series titles than the following teams: The cursed Cubs, the formerly cursed White Sox, the no-winning-record-in-16-years Pirates, the expansion Blue Jays, and the far more recent expansion Marlins.

28. Drink three beers, then stare at the Phillie Phanatic in HD for 15 seconds. You’ll see.

27. The fastest player on either team is a fan of Howard Zinn books.

26. There’s a chance — albeit slim — that the World Series will be decided by a popup that hits a catwalk at the Trop, is ruled fair and causes mass hysteria among nine fielders trying to catch the ricochet.

25. If the two teams brawl, or if the Rays win it all, nobody does a better job of sprinting out of the dugout to tackle someone than Jonny Gomes.

24. Let’s see if Jimmy Rollins will make any bold predictions, be the third-best player on his own team, then get an MVP award when the Phillies win because he “backed it up.”

23. Which Grant Balfour will show up: The shut-down stopper with an unhittable fastball, or the guy who painfully lives up to his last name?

22. Can exorcising the devil help win a championship? We’ll find out.

21. There’s a better-than-even chance you’ll hear Joe Maddon use one of the following words on camera: “ubiquitous” (cowbells at the Trop), “lugubrious” (how the Rays left Red Sox fans Sunday night) or “9=8ulous” (definition pending).

20. J.P. Howell, the most successful Howell we’ve seen on TV since these two.

19. Ryan Howard, one of only two players in baseball who’s a threat to hit four homers or strike out four times every game he plays. (Guess the other and win a Jason Tyner bobblehead!)

18. To see which Rays team shows up: The regular-season squad with the best defense in baseball, or the one that started chucking throws into the third row of seats against the Red Sox.

17. Don Zimmer interviews.

16. Pat Burrell: Lady-killer, or unintentionally hilarious? You decide.

15. Carlos Pena, who’s gone from minor league free agent to the face of a franchise in less than two years.

14. Rocco Baldelli: From the next DiMaggio, to disabled-list regular, to nearly dropping out of baseball, to playoff hero.

13. Will the Flyin’ Hawaiian anger up another team’s entire fan base?

12. David Price coming in for the eighth and ninth with his mid-90s fastball and vicious slider.

11. Brad Lidge coming in for the eighth and ninth with his mid-90s fastball, vicious slider, and Albert Pujols-related demons 99 percent exorcised.

10. Yankees payroll: $207 million. Red Sox payroll: $133 million. Rays payroll: $43 million.

9. On a team that might produce three straight NL MVP winners, Chase Utley is the best Phillie of them all.

8. Matt Stairs, the no-nonsense Canadian who admits he swings for a homer every time up, and says he’d rather score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals than hit a game-winning homer in the League Championship Series. Stairs is also the author of my favorite quote of the season. After hitting his game-winning homer in Game 4 against the Dodgers, a reporter asked him about his teammates’ reception for him after he’d circled the bases: “Getting your [butt] hammered by guys, there’s no better feeling,” Stairs said.

7. Cole Hamels, baseball’s most underrated ace.

6. Evan Longoria, just a rookie, already a cornerstone player.

5. By this time next week, B.J. Upton may have broken every playoff hitting record in existence.

4. The director of pro scouting for the Phillies, also a former general manager for Tampa Bay, drafted Carl Crawford, James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine and Upton, traded for Scott Kazmir, drafted the players used to acquire Dioner Navarro (Toby Hall), J.P. Howell (Joey Gathright), Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett (Delmon Young), and signed Danys Baez, the player dealt for Edwin Jackson.

That’s right, it’s Chuck LaMar!

3. Seventh inning, series on the line. Charlie Manuel strolls to the mound to talk to his tiring starter, a shot at redemption staring him in the face.

2. No team in major U.S. team sports history has ever gone from having the worst record in the league one year to winning a championship the next. Four more wins and the Rays would rank among the biggest miracle teams of all time.

1. Philadelphia sports fans are long overdue for some good news. Joe Carter versus Mitch Williams. Eric Lindros’ career. A string of lousy Sixers teams. The freakin’ Eagles. This city has suffered through a quarter-century of sports atrocities. Philly is due.