Sunday, March 13, 2011


I’ve become one of the neighborhood characters. It occurred to me when my son told me his friends’ parents talked about me.

My chosen form of exercise is rollerblading. I guess a gray haired guy with a routine of flying through the neighborhood every morning is going to be noticed.

I hate it when it’s too cold to skate. I can feel fat building up in my system.

I’ve explored every hidden corner of my neighborhood. There are places around here even the locals have never seen.

I skate past the apartment the movie “The Exorcist” was based on. This is where a bow tie wearing rottweiler and his old lady walk every morning. I wrote about them earlier.

I go past the Arsenal the North secured during the Civil War. It’s why the North controlled the Mississippi through the entire war.

Every morning I see the haunted Lemp Mansion and the famous Casa Loma Ballroom. The big bands played at the Casa Loma in the forties. My band opened for John Cale there around 1980. The place wasn’t made for large P.A. systems and the echo was horrible. A few years later I ran sound for a benefit for my friend, singer, Patti Thomas. She was in car accident and out of work for a while. I found out first hand how hard it was to get good sound there. Coincidentally, the show was a success and Patti thanked us by throwing a dinner at the Lemp mansion. I was not at all impressed with their food.

Sometimes I blade down to the river. There’s a long flood wall totally covered in graffiti. Some of it is spectacular. This is a great place to teach your kids to drive.

A lot of mornings I circle Lafayette Park. When I was a kid my family almost moved into a house on Benton Place. Benton Place was the first private street in the U.S.. It was way before the neighborhood was rehabbed and it was a really scary place. Our living room had been President Taft’s bedroom.

My old band has been rehearsing for a reunion show. It’s been going so well that Fojammi and I have been talking about getting a band together. He’s in recovery from a recent illness. He says the only thing that would stop him is if he gets well enough to resume skating as a ref at the Arch Rivals roller derby meets. His heart is actually tugged more by skating than music.

It’s a weird obsession, but I understand it.

Last fall I turned a corner to a strong wind that picked up the fallen dead leaves. I was surrounded, floating suspended in space with them. I felt weightless. Just as suddenly I turned a corner to face into it. I felt like Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr. facing into the debris from a tornado. I was leaning so far down I thought I could stick out my tongue and touch the ground.

There’s a saying in skydiving, “Speed is your friend.” There’s a point where you become so comfortable with it, you actually have more control.

Blading past my home pic by Valerie Pennington. That white station wagon with the CITY sticker is hers.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I wish I could find some skates that fastened with a key!

Also, my first husband's mom used to dance at the Casa Loma often , also at the summer Polka dances at St John of the Nepomuk Church. I loved Cherokee St, that's where my first husband worked, at Favorite Bakery. I loved the antique shops near Lemp.