Saturday, June 28, 2008


When Joanie and I finally caught that chartered plane for Mexico all was well with the world. That is until we arrived in Cancun. Cancun was still being built and the Mexicans that were building this tourism Mecca were still living and working there. There was a lot of poverty. Several buildings at the airport were on fire and it looked as though we were entering a war zone.

We were there on the cheap and decided to get a room in El Centro instead of the beach. This ended up being a good move because we were exposed to a lot that tourists rarely get to see. A friend of ours did get a room on the beach so we spent time there when we wanted to.

Almost immediately we rented a VW with the intention of getting out of town. I had been hiding our money in a crack in a wall of our room. We made the mistake of telling the folks at the hotel we’d be gone for a few days. For some reason, at the last minute, I decided to bring all our money. This ended up saving our trip.

We hit a gas station on our way out of town. The attendant was locked inside a glass fortress. He refused to give me my change. He said my Spanish was bad or he couldn’t understand English. It was a total rip off but I couldn’t get to him.

By the way if you have a strong stomach for real adventure check out a Mexican gas station rest room!

I had heard they were in the process of uncovering a new set of ruins in a small southern Indian village called Coba. We must have stopped at every fishing and shipping village on the way down.

We caught a hovercraft ferry over to the island of Cozumel. I decided the island would be my only destination some day. It was a beautiful old tourist resort that was all but abandoned. We rented a couple of motorcycles and made a day of it. On our way back from the island schools of flying fish kept pace with our speeding boat.

I snorkeled at every stop we made. A sting ray flew between my legs at one of the coral reefs where I swam.

When we finally made it down to Tulum we tried to find a hotel. It’s really been built up since we were there but at that time there was only one motel. We went in to check out our room. There were no lights or electricity. An iguana was clinging to the living room wall. A toilet without a seat stood right next to the most disgusting bed I’ve ever seen. We decided not to stay.

Heading even further south on a small dirt road to Coba we were startled by an eagle that flew right into our windshield.

The pyramids and other ruins hadn't been uncovered yet. They looked like large dirt hills. We were able to walk through passages in the pyramids. They local Indians were descendants of the Mayans. They were very friendly and I was able to get a coke. We were about thirty miles from Belize.

We finally drove back to Cancun only to find our room had been rented out from under us and we were still being charged. I thanked god I had decided to grab our money. After a lot of angry haggling they found us a suite at another hotel until another room became available.

Driving through town the next day I was stopped by the cops. They took my drivers license. I was told I could pick it up next Thursday at the station for $80.00 or I could pay $40.00 right there to expedite matters. Joanie was furious. “You want a bribe,” she screamed. I told her to shut up and let me pay so we could get out of there. “No way,” she insisted. The cops could tell we weren’t getting anywhere and saw another tourist’s car speed by. Just as they jumped in their car for the chase Joanie snatched my license out of a cop’s hand. He did a quick double take but kept going. We got the hell out of there.

I had successfully avoided Montezuma’s revenge until the day of our flight home. I had a drink at the airport and wasn’t paying attention to the ice cubes in it. I didn’t get the runs until we got home.

Speaking of the flight home, we finally caught up with our original charter group. We were stuck on the runway for hours because a tourist had brought a souvenir sombrero onto the plane that was too large to store anywhere. This thing had to be 6 feet wide and 5 feet tall.

Mexico has got to be the most corrupt place I’ve ever been to in my life. It also has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I’ve often considered moving there but it’s too damned wild in places.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Elbow CD

With the strange state of the music industry these days I feel like it's our responsibility to turn each other on to new music. Elbow just released their 4th CD. Every one is incredible. The new one's called "The Seldom Seen Kid". It's dedicated to a friend of theirs that died recently. I love it that real music is still out there. Check it out!!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

First time I went to New Orleans

Joanie and I used to give each other trips for birthday presents. I’ll never forget sitting on the floor of her apartment as I opened a large envelope. It had a home made card in it that simply read New Orleans. This would have been early to mid 80s.

The year before, after just having missed a plane for Mexico, Joanie fell to the floor of the airport sobbing. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s drive down to New Orleans.” Our spirits lifted immediately. Just then a group with a chartered plane invited us on with them. We went to Mexico. But now we had the New Orleans bug.

My birthday is near the end of January and by the time we got down there it was about a week before Mardi Gras. I highly recommend this time to visit New Orleans. The locals are ready to party and the tourists aren’t there yet to make it unbearable.

We decided we had to take Highway 61 down through the Mississippi delta. This took us way out of our way and all we saw was a lot of poverty and desolation. Blues is about the only thing this landscape could inspire.

Joanie had gotten us a room at the St. Louis Hotel on Bourbon Street. We had a beautiful wrought iron porch to hang out on.

I was still doing a lot of coke then. We ran into a guy on the street who was trying to sell us some. “Try it before you buy it, try it before you buy it,” he chanted. I dabbed a little on my gums and they went numb. I bought some and went back to the apartment. I ended up shoveling a load of talcum powder sprayed with car starter ether up my nose. I was crazy in those days!

Bourbon Street shut down around 3:00am but there were streets behind us that never stopped. One night we ended up in a small pool hall back there. As Joanie and I were playing I noticed an absolutely gorgeous woman watching me. I was a little embarrassed because I was with my girl friend but I was flattered. She winked at me.

I walked up to the bar to order a couple of beers. The woman moved down and sat next to me looking into my eyes. She was beautiful. If I hadn’t been with Joanie I would have followed her anywhere. The bartender stuck his face between us and said, “You faggot, leave the boy alone.” I’ve always wondered at what point I would have discovered the truth if I had been left to my own devices.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Maryland at Boyle

When I was in the 8th and part of 9th grades I lived on Maryland at Boyle in the Central West End. We shared an apartment with Suzy, Kent, and Mark.

The day we moved in my mother and Suzy had to figure out how to feed us. We didn’t have a stove.

Suzy’s boyfriend Simon showed us a neat little trick. He cut off the end of and electric cord, separated the wires, and wrapped each around a fork. He then pushed each fork into opposite ends of a hotdog. Then he plugged it in to an outlet. The hotdog split from the sides. When the split met in the middle the hotdog was done.

Simon was a character who lived entirely by his wits. I don’t think he had a job but he always had a nice car and he wore a lot of jewelry. I remember one day he let us play cards with a stack of hundred dollar bills.

This period was my transition between grade school and high school. I took the Bi-State bus to school. I remember hitch hiking to my 8th grade school in Laclede Town and being picked up by my brother’s kindergarten teacher. I had known her since I was in kindergarten at Hamilton on the North side. She was a student teacher observing our class. I found out later she had committed suicide. Even back then the connections to my past were dissolving all around me.

When I started high school I convinced my mother to sign a waiver allowing me access to the smoking lounge. I told her all my friends were in there. The lounge was a disgusting gutted room with what looked like tar paper for a floor and cable spools turned on their sides for tables. They gave us photo ID cards.

One night my friends and I were on the roof of the Catholic school that was attached to the St. Louis Cathedral. A security guard caught us. He said our parents would be shocked to learn we were smoking. I produced my photo ID smoking pass and his jaw dropped.

Forest Park was our playground. One day as Kent and I were hanging in the park I had an uncontrollable urge to defecate. I found one of the public johns and went in. No doors on any of the stalls of course. I sat down and looked out of the stall to find and old man watching me. Needless to say my urge to go faded. As I stood up a huge man, probably 250 pounds at least, blocked me in the stall and grabbed my crotch. I screamed and ran away. When I got outside Kent told me one of the park employees told him, “If anyone gives you trouble in there, kick him in the balls and run.” This would have been good information to have before I went in. I probably could have avoided it altogether. It took 15 or 20 years before I was able to use a public urinal again. Even then it helped if I was drunk.

The Pavilion by the Zoo was a great hang out for hippies. There were bands and drugs and it was all very exotic to a kid. I’ll never understand people’s hatred of hippies. Hard realities shoved in your face seem to give people a more solid sense of comfort than idealistic abandon. I still believe what is what you make is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Still Here

I haven't given up on the blog. I've been very sick. Every time I plucked up the energy to sit at my keyboard I could only think of my deep disappointment with the American voting public and the criminal state of our American health care system. I'll save that rant for another forum since history and bridge building is more the point of this blog. Hopefully I'll have enough energy to make an entry this weekend. There's too much left to stop now. I have to admit this has been a frightening experience. Please stay tuned.