Clickity-Clacks

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It was bound to happen one day. He knew he’d get old, he just thought it would take a little longer. The time just went by too goddamn fast and he was on the wrong side of the hill. Nothing ran quite as smoothly as it used to, the gears would slip occasionally, the seat would settle, the clickity-clacks wouldn’t click or clack much anymore, the tires were worn with a racing stripe down the center and the paint just didn’t sparkle in the sunshine like it once did. Huff knew he was slipping. He could feel it deep inside, the knowledge was still there and the memories of being able to pull off impossible feats lingered, but it was a young bike’s game and he was no longer a young bike.

Huff, the teal colored Huffy with worn white tires was depressed. When everyone was asleep he would sneak out of the garage and attempt wheelies and bunny hops and sliding stops that just wouldn’t stick like they used to, but every night he was out there, giving it his all. It didn’t help that the neighbor kid got a new bright yellow Schwinn that made him look and feel even older. That Schwinn would meet old Huff out at night once or twice a week and hot dog circles around him, making it all look so easy. Huff remembered those days and that was why he was out there every night putting in work.

“Hey old timer,” the Schwinn said one night, confident going on arrogant.

“Hey Schwinn.”

“Why are you out here every night?” he said, popping a wheelie. “What’s the point? You’re old.”

“I feel lucky that I made it this long and I’m not ready to put my kick stand down for good just yet.” Huff, always serious, always honest.

“Whatever dude.”

“You’ll understand some day,” Huff said, although Schwinn couldn’t hear him as he flew down the street at top speed.

The next night Huff was back out there, riding out a wheelie that lasted longer than they usually did these days, when he heard a tire screech and the sound of a chain slipping off it’s gears, a sound no bicycle wanted to hear. As Huff turned the corner he saw Schwinn barreling down a hill towards him, out of control and scared.

“Help Huff.”

“I’m coming,” Huff said, turning down the hill in front of Schwinn.

Schwinn was gaining fast, but Huff was pushing as hard as he could, gears warming, tires wobbling, clickity-clacks sticking to the edges of the rims. Schwinn was pulling even with him as they reached the bottom of the hill where a sharp turn awaited them. Huff stuck his tire into the front of the frame of Schwinn, pushing him gently into the turn.

“Ahh,” Schwinn yelled as he gained control of himself and made the turn, just missing the curb. He felt relief as he took a sweeping turn back toward the bottom of the hill when he saw Huff on the ground. Huff had saved Schwinn from certain danger, but couldn’t save himself from the large oak tree at the foot of the hill.

“Why? Why did you save me?” Schwinn asked, pulling up to Huff.

“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you kid,” Huff coughed out.

“You’re a hero.”

“Not a hero, just an old bike.”

And with that, Huff grew silent. Schwinn looked down at the bruised and broken bike at his tires for a long while before pulling up his kick stand and lying down beside him.

When he awoke hours later his boy was pushing him back to his home in the garage and away from the scene. He knew he wouldn’t see old Huff again, but he wouldn’t forget any time soon as the sound of a solitary clickity-clack played the sound track to an otherwise quiet glide home.

Spaced, a Review

For a while I was writing reviews on movies, book and albums. Some of it was just a writing exercise and some of it was to put media that I consumed into a better perspective. Reading back through I found a few mistakes, but also a few memories that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling, so I thought I’d share at least one of these. So, without further ado, one of the greatest television shows of all time:

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Spaced starring Simon Pegg as Tim, Jessica Hynes as Daisy, Katy Carmichael as Twist, Mark Heap as Brian, Julia Deakin as Marsha and Nick Frost as Mike.

Where to start… I guess the easiest place to start is by saying this is one the best television series of all time. That’s right. Of. All. Time. It’s quirky and funny and quite British, but we American fans don’t hold that against them. Spaced originally aired on the BBC and is only two seasons long equaling fourteen episodes, yet is still one of my favorite all time television shows. Why, you may ask. Well, let’s start.

I think one of the biggest draws for me about Spaced is that it’s a show that would never get aired on American television because it is too good. Executives wouldn’t see the underlying intelligence and humor in the show, only that it would be hard to market. Maybe HBO. That, in itself, is reason to take a peek. They also say fuck, tits and twat (which really only sounds good with an English accent) and reference marijuana, speed and ecstasy. At the time you could really get away with that on American TV beyond late night Comedy Central shows.

Part of the charm is that Spaced is based on two regular twenty-somethings, eking their way through their 20’s and their interactions with their strange friends and flat neighbors. Now, to be honest, season one is good, but not knock your balls off good. That’s expected for a show considering there are characters, sexual tensions and plot lines to develop. That’s not to say it’s not worth watching because there are some very good episodes. My favorites are Battles, Chaos and Epiphanies which is probably my favorite of the season.

Now season two is where it truly takes off. There are spoofs of The Matrix, Fight Club and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Tim’s discontent with George Lucas and the all important final two episodes where everything is on the brink of destruction. My personal favorite is an episode called Gone. I think what I enjoy about this episode the most is how guys act around each other demonstrated by fake gun fight stand offs. It is a remarkably funny and true episode.

The DVD series also comes with a fantastic documentary about the series with an interesting little twist at the very end. If you enjoy the show, especially if you really, really love the show it is something you definitely need to watch. It gives a quality wrap up to a show that seemed to stop before it’s time.

This brings me to my next point. The documentary talks a lot about why the show didn’t continue and how much fans wanted to see more. As a fan I can buzz through the two seasons quickly and feel like I need more. As much as I would love to see more I think one the most endearing parts of Spaced is that it leaves you wanting more. What more could you ask of a television show?

Whether it’s the avant garde sensitive artist Brian, the drunken landlady Marsha, the best friend military freak Mike or the shallow quick to quip Twist, there is plenty to like about the characters. That doesn’t even include the lovable Tim and Daisy as the main characters. All of the eccentricities, the acting performances and the dialogue make a great group and some great episodes.

This is already getting too long, but, as you can tell, I really love Spaced. There’s really not much more to say other than go watch it already to you sodding bummer.

In Memoriam of the Still Alive Cody Clayton

hoshizaki-ice-machine

The parking lot is mostly empty. Plenty of spots. It doesn’t feel good. Neither does my head. I tried not to drink too much last night, but we all know how that goes when you work behind a bar. The clo-pin. It’s a right of passage in a way, but I miss my bed.

My feet carry me up the back steps, clomping heavily on the rain worn wood, pulling my weight on an unreliable hand rail. I take a deep breath as I clock in. I don’t know why, but I need it. I hope it will give me energy or a more positive attitude. It doesn’t.

I begin setting up the same bar I broke down several hours ago. Uncapping, unwrapping, refilling, washing, wiping, all that shit. I try to suck down a terrible cup of coffee just to keep going. My body craves water, but I don’t usually listen. Why the fuck am I here right now? I won’t get a customer for hours. I’ve been here too much lately. Fuck this place, fuck work. What kind of life is this?

I burp and fart my way through the set up. No one else is happy to be here right now either. It’s the morning dregs. We all get them. The evil eye that says just leave me alone for a while, let me set up in peace and get this coffee in my system before I have to be civil. I curse the existence of the restaurant, for not paying better attention in school, for the failures of a city that owes me nothing.

I wander to the back to get ice for my well. The dish washer is one of my buddies and he looks as bad as I do.

“What’s up man?” he says, spraying a dish down.

I shovel a scoop into the ice pit and begin loading up my bucket. I groan as he talks, “Ugh. You’re looking at it.”

“Yeah,” he said, his smile slowly fading as the realization of where we are and what we are doing set it. “Yeah,” repeating, much more solemnly this time, going back to washing another dish and I continued shoveling ice in silence.

We were where we were and there was nothing at that moment that could change it. We could dream of a fire burning the building down, giving us a free day, but it wouldn’t happen. It never does. Our day would go on and we would quietly hate the world for a while, hungover and miserable, shoveling ice and washing dishes in one way or another until it was time to punch the clock once again.

The Carnival

nashville-skyline

Light streaks upward
from the bottom of newly planted trees
reaching for the moon
falling well short

in the night of new Nashville
the ghosts of old have been paved over,
built on and forgotten
houses that owners can’t afford
rent that I can’t
it’s a goddamn travesty
for us with little money
in a valley where dreams once sprang
turned into a mecca of asphalt and falsified realities
of a soap opera TV show
more interested in money than story lines

it’s a carnival or a circus
where a bottle of Bud costs $8
and it’s fucking sad
it used to be so cool, I say,
trying not to sound like an old codger

it’ll come crashing down one day
and I’ll be far away
hoping my new city
doesn’t follow this path
hoping that I’ll be in a better position
to appreciate it
or fight against it

Exit/In

Speckled dots among the dim light,
the strongest from the bathroom
that says Men’s.

We are scattered and together and solitary
each song brings something that no one else feels the same way
we hope for someone that understands,
someone that feels something from it as well
and sings along to the songs we know.

The crowd ahead, hats and hairdos
melding in the heat of bodies stacked together
silly jokes, only we will get, from the microphone
we won’t be able to repeat them
or remember them
they’re not really funny anyway,
only because we were there.

Pucker and Breathe

fence

I see it all in a three second glance through the ivy covered fence. Locked knees and stiff bodies around the picnic table lead to tales of too much confused testosterone and words that can’t hide it. There is a card game being played and no one is saying too much, not that they ever do…

Where is Tony with the bottle of Fireball? He never shows up at the right time. Maybe that’s his super power; the inability to recognize a situation and act accordingly. 2 A.M. is a terrible time for Fireball. Or the perfect time. Damnit Tony.

God my ass hurts from this seat. And I can’t fart or I’m never getting laid from anyone at this party. I’ve taken that risk before and there’s no fucking way I’m doing that again. I’ll suck it up. Pucker and breathe, that’s the key, pucker and breathe.

Damn Julie looks fine. I wonder if she likes me. I wish it was easier to figure that out. I need to slow down, I’m getting too drunk. Drunk is okay, but I can’t get sloppy. Nothing kills a night like a guy falling into everybody and nodding off mid-sentence.

What’s the right thing to say and when is the right time to say it? I always think of it too late. Maybe that makes me seem more thoughtful and wise. Or maybe they think I’m stupid. Maybe I am since I never have the right thing to say. Maybe I…

The scene fades as it often does through the rear view. Our not-so-saintly hero may escape his neurosis long enough to pick up a girl, or pull a number, or he may end up passed out in a corner getting permanent marker penises drawn all over him. All from three seconds through a fence hole, voices battling a car stereo for prominence. All waiting to tell their own story in short bursts among the confusion.

Dancing in the Night

car view

The whir of the open air dances through the window. Lights tickle the sky, scattered from street to car to building. The engine hums under foot and the stereo tells me to ‘sing like you think no one’s listening’. It feels like something I can never quite escape.  And maybe I don’t want to.

There’s nowhere to go, really, but it doesn’t much matter. Not when the warm air hugs the back of my neck. Not when the energy of night is simply alive.

An arm drifts out the window to let the wind brush down fickle hairs. Bats swoop by to fill their bellies with the ample supply of mosquitoes above the Colorado River. They fly by the thousands, millions, feigning their blind bat eyes for screeching echoes. Fling a rock into the light and watch them dive, but they always pull up in time.

A kid on a bicycle paces his own private lane in clothes bright enough to resemble a far off star. A police car flashes its reds and blues behind a black Toyota and I hope they find nothing wrong in there.

The thick and sweaty night drives me as much as my foot and arm. Still, there is nowhere to go, but the fireflies of commerce illuminate my vagrant voyage. One day the open road will be too much to ignore. One day it will be time to just go. Leave it all and go. Let the whole sad scene disappear in the rear view. No goodbyes, no final beers with friends, just gone.

But that night is not yet here. I swing the wheel left, then right and find a familiar road to lead me back to where I started. For now, at least, this is where I belong.