Almost a year of silence. I wrote. Just not to you. Short words. Because those were the only ones I could find. The big ones mangled on the way from my brain to my mouth. Way too often I’d feel the “f word” form on my lips, swallow it back before it spewed it’s way out. It’s a lazy way of expression, though sometimes the only perfect word. I miss you. Make no mistake. My long voice is longing. By the way, YOU equals the collective you out there.
I was sure I at least wrote poems. Yet couldn’t find one fully formed. Not one. I must have written them in my head with that invisible pencil I carry around. Now they’ll never to see paper. I remember snippets. Half things I dictated to my phone at stop lights, or where ever they hit. So there you go. Gone.
of tiny rip tides
low and high
drown my face ….
and then there was:
of slippery words
keepsakes of something
hot and sticky and amorous …
blah, blah, blah. Though I had to laugh at the last one. At least part of my brain was aroused. That it was something other than deadened.
The more you try to still your mind,
the farther flung it sweeps
capturing even the whisper of suggestion.
And this happened. Sweeping down Erwin Road at a respectable clip:
I kilt that snake
essing in a hurry
across the blacktop
smack off center line
he looked right at me
with a slithery smile of gotcha
and for a second looked like you.
Too late to stop,
braked and backed
a time or two
just to make sure …
he needed killin’ …
and I needed
Gotta think for a while on what that was all about. I thought I was over that guy, but he rared up from time to time. Unexpected and always unwelcome.
Losing a parent is, well, nothing short of devastating. Losing both in the space of a year and a half is double that. Like walking in a giant jello pool of every flavor. Just getting to the other side is exhausting and feels impossible.
Somewhere peeking out of the loss comes clarity. Fuzzy at first, but something to hang on to in the rush of unexpected feeling.
And yet I keep going. Why is that? It’s because I believe in love.
Tom (Wake Forest, NC ’16)
Him: If you don’t look like your picture, you’re buying me drinks til you do.
Me: Same right back atcha, buddy. –>his photos are at least 15 years old.
Him: We’ll go to your favorite restaurant.
I chose Kitchen in Chapel Hill run by the amazing Dick and Sue Barrows.
Him to the waiter: What’s good here?
Me thinking: Oh, no, he’s kidding, right?
Him: I’ll have the raw oysters. Don’t overcook them.
Me thinking: Blank. Not funny.
Me: So I know you’ve been married once. What’s your love history like?
Him: My second marriage was only a couple of months. She was from Bulgaria.
Me: Oh, wow, what was Bulgaria like?
Him: I never went there. I met her online and then she moved in with me.
Me: Ah, well then.
Him: Yeah, but can you do this? (While he’s busy hanging his spoon from his nose.)
In honor of Memorial Day … I’ll reverently spend some good memory time for all those who fought for us.
Then I’m moving on to other people from the past. The one’s you can’t un-remember. Can’t un-see. Can’t un-hear. Forever stuck like an earwig. DATES that never shoulda even happened.
“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of heart and mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Hindsight Zone!” ~with deepest, red-faced apologies to Rod Serling.
I admit it. I could stand and give full-blown testimony in a 12-step group. I’m addicted to the intoxication of love/lust in a big way. I LOVE love. And lust just gives me the full-out shivers. Sometimes I have a hard time telling the difference. It regularly gets me into trouble, and it more often backfires. Or used to. I’m more careful now, but I still stick my finger directly into the fire from time to time … because I want to make absolutely certain.
Plus, I love men. That’s all. Most of the men I could even imagine spending the rest of my life with are already spending theirs with someone else … or they live in my past, probably for good reason. But I know this. Relationships in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear.
But I’m hopeful. And I still believe in love. And falling in love.
My friends who long ago gave up on love ask me why I still go out on dates. Whatever else happens, it’s almost always guaranteed to end up as a story. Every time I start telling a BFF (or two, or ten) about “that” date, they roll out laughing. Even while laughing their asses off, they’re admiring my hopeful optimism as I go on “just one more date.”
Y’all aren’t fooling me, I can still see that smidge of pity peeking around that wall of admiration. And then they say “when are you going to start writing this stuff down?” Isn’t it enough that these stories have to live forever in my head? Now I’ve got to share?
Names are not changed. You’re guilty and you know it.
Ken (McLean, VA ’95)
Him: I’m buying the first round.
Me thinking: Who says I’m staying for more than one?
Him: Whatever else we order, it can’t have garlic. Why does everything have to have garlic in it?
Me thinking: Good grief. You remember I’m a culinary school grad, right?
Him: Oh, listen. They’re playing Kenny G. I love this guy.
Me thinking: Ok, I’m outta here (as I plan the bathroom-to-door escape).
Larry (NYC ’96)
Blind date fix-up
Him: Spent the first 20 minutes telling me how beautiful I was.
Me thinking: Hey Larry, I have a mirror and I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck. Your spurious attempts at going home with me grow slimmer by the mouthful. Him: Spent the next 20 convinced (AND trying to convince me) that I was the same person he’d had anonymous phone sex with last summer. She was Southern. I was Southern. Her name was Dixie. I had a dog named Dixie. Ergo …
John (NYC ’96)
NY Sports Club.
He would move one stationary bike closer to me each workout. Drinks after work, he asked? We met at a tapas place around Union Square, sat at the bar, had a nice time. Not great, just nice. As we got ready to leave, he slid his arm around me and leaned in close ….
Him: Well, you’re not the kind of girl I usually date, but would you be interested in gratuitous sex?
Me: speechless, ’cause what exactly do you say to that?
Gentleman that he was (his definition, not mine), he insisted on walking me to the subway (although I did it every other day on my own) and as we got to the top of the subway stairs, he dared, he really did … dared to ask again.
Him: Well? What about it?
Me: What about what? (Toying with him was more fun that I anticipated.)
Him: What about taking me home with you?
I’d had just enough time by now to work myself into a proper little snit of indignation.
Me: Yeah, well, how big is your dick?
Him: About normal, I guess. (He actually had the decency to look surprised at my question.)
Me: Well, then I think gratuitous sex is out of the question.
BAM! Moral: Every once in a lifetime, you do get the chance to say that one thing that normally you’d only think of hours later.
John L. (NYC ’97)
Him: Of all the places in NYC, I can’t believe you chose Dallas BBQ as a place to meet.
Me: Well, you told me to pick the place.
Him: Yeah, but I didn’t think you’d try to kill me with an onion ring loaf.
Me: We didn’t order an onion ring loaf.
Him: Oh, that must be the last girl I met in here.
Me: So you’ve been here before?
Him: Oh, yeah, everybody loves this place except me. Are we ordering the onion ring loaf?
Chip (NC ’97)
Background: 3rd date. We’ve been having fun. Out in public. In a small town where you can’t hide. By the 3rd date, at Top of the Hill, it’s seems okay to start asking the obvious, right?
Me: So have you been married before?
Him: Oh, I’m married.
Me: Now? As in, you’re married now?
Him: Yeah. But we have an understanding.
Me: What kind of understanding?
Him: Well, we both can do what we want as long as we’re discreet.
Me: Oh, cool. Well, let’s call her, just to be sure.
Him: Wow, you’re really aggressive.
Who knew you had to ask marital status when someone asks you out?
Stephen (NC ’98) Match.com Me: um, Stephen, how old are you again? Him: Well, if you knew I was only 18 you wouldn’t have met me, right? Me: oh, Lord.
Bill (NC ’09) Reconnection from the ’70’s Me: So what’s next for you in life? Him: I’ve got it all figured out. We’re going to drive around the country in a motor home with one of those bouncy houses. Just set up at county fairs and stuff. Charge all the kids a dollar. Do you know how much money we could make? Live in the camper. Me: Who’s we? Him: Well …. you and me. Me: Uh-oh.
Tom (Wake Forest, NC ’16) OKCupid Predate Him: If you don’t look like your picture, you’re buying me drinks til you do. Me: Same right back atcha, buddy. –>Truth. his photos are at least 15 years old. Him: We’ll go to your favorite restaurant as long as it’s French. I chose Kitchen in Chapel Hill run by the amazing Dick and Sue Barrows, because it IS my favorite restaurant. Him to the waiter: What’s good here? Me thinking: Oh, no, he’s kidding, right? Him: I’ll have the raw oysters. Don’t overcook them. Me thinking: Blank. Blink. Blink. Not funny.
Him: I love duck. I’ll have it rare. Waiter: It’s Duck Confit, so it doesn’t come rare. Him: Talk to the chef. I’m sure he’ll understand. Me thinking: How far away is my car? Small talk Small talk Small talk Me: So I know you’ve been married once. What’s your love history like? Him: My second marriage was only a couple of months. She was from Bulgaria. Me: Oh, wow, what was Bulgaria like? Him: I never went there. I met her online and then she moved in with me. Me: Ah, well then. Him: Yeah, but can you do this? (hanging his spoon from his nose.) Restaurant owner: Looks at me and shakes her head.
Now just in case you think I only meet losers … NOT true. I’ve met some great men, some were lovely and lively romantic connections who turned into really solid friendships. But here, where I sit today … coming off of a two year relationship where I’m still tender in places I didn’t know I had, I’ve only gone on one fix-up. Maybe my musings can spare you the humiliation. Maybe not. At the very least it can start a conversation, or abruptly end one. And make for some good stories to tell.
______________________________________________ Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominos) Still Got the Blues (Gary Moore) What’s Love Got To Do With It? (Tina Turner) Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen) That’s Amore (Dean Martin) Feels like Home (Bonnie Raitt & Randy Newman)
Just watch what happens when Nic Beery and Jackie Helvey get a handful of people in the same room at the same time. Especially when those people – Chris Beacham, Scott Conary, Tremayne Cryer, Catherine Devine, Pat Dillon, Mike Harris, Tim Scales, Rah Trost and Alison Weiner – make up the 2013 Carrboro Film Festival Committee. Some of them even sit on the Carrboro Music Festival Committee. I want a playdate with this group and I’ll bring the wine and beer.
The 2013 festival features 73 short and feature-length films from across North Carolina, including some international submissions. If you’re looking to brush up on your visual effects, screenwriting, or story creation skills, you’ll find a handful of workshops and panels tucked into the screening schedule. Unlike previous years, the committee decided to honor all the selected films so there will not be filmmaker awards handed out this year. Nic and Jackie graciously fielded my questions, and as a more-than-willing-to-suspend-disbelief movie lover, I had aplenty.
dpm: Since its inception in 2006, what are some of the more memorable moments of the festival?
Nic: Some of the more memorable moments have been the first festival when more people came to the fest than we ever imagined. In fact we filled the theater and have every single year. That’s a true statement to the quality of independent films made in this region. The other memorable moment is frankly the films. They move us, make us laugh, cry and cheer.
Jackie: Of course, my proposing a film festival to the Arts Committee in April of 2006, and seeing everyone’s eyes light up as they said “YES! What a great idea!” That was the absolute best! My favorite moment at the actual festival was when the Carrboro High Marching Band came marching into the Century Center, exactly in synch with the entry film. Perfect timing; that was SO great! My photo of Barbara Trent that first year, with her Kay Kyser Award on one shoulder and her Oscar on the other, that was way cool too!
dpm: How many people review the submissions, how many were submitted this year and how has that changed since 2006? Does each year bring a new sense of validation for the festival?
Nic: We have a committee of 10-15 people and we all review the films. This year we had hundreds of films to watch and review. We will be screening a whopping 73 films this year. Each year makes us acutely aware of how starved area residents are for great art in all forms, and The Carrboro Film Festival is honored to present such a wide variety of art on screen each year.
dpm: What are you most excited about for this festival? Any big surprises?
Nic: The committee is most excited about our expansion to two days. This is a big step, feature films and short films from around the world and around the corner. We also introduced online ticket sales, festival passes, two venues, The Century Center and The ArtsCenter. On top of that we have three great free workshops and an after party open to all at the Open Eye.
Jackie: Expanding to two days and adding the ArtsCenter as a venue, and adding feature films, longer than 20 minutes. I’ll be running the ArtsCenter venue on Saturday and the Century Center venue on Sunday, so this will be new adventure for me.
* * *
Get out there and support these guys, I say. There is nothing like that moment when the lights dim and you never know what’s going to happen next.
Since we’re talking movies … I liked, no, loved Muscle Shoals so much, I watched it twice. Almost back-to-back if you don’t count running out to pick up Thai for supper.
There’s a sense of mystery and magic almost from the get-go. The Tennessee River that runs right up against Muscle Shoals, AL was known by the Native American Yuchi Tribe as “the river that sings.” Lore had it that the flowing waters sounded like a woman singing, sweetly most times, loud and angry when in a rage. It’s just proper mojo, as they call it, that the music would make its way landward. Right into a cinderblock building that would become FAME studios and later into Muscle Shoals Sound Studios where in 1969 Boz Scaggs would record a 12 minute/30 second version of Fenton Robinson’s “Loan Me a Dime” with Duane Allman sitting in on guitar.
The shoals are gone today, thanks to the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and their dam work and residents claim they can not longer hear the singing river. But the music that was born from Muscle Shoals lives on, deep and abiding.
Shufflin’ with Muscle Shoals
I’ll Take You There (Mavis Staples)
Loan Me A Dime (Boz Scaggs)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones)
When a Man Loves a Woman (Percy Sledge)
I Never Loved A Man the Way That I Loved You (Aretha Franklin)
Kodachrome (Paul Simon)
Freebird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
+ Land of a 1000 Dances and a thousand more songs!
At some point in the mid-’80s, my rock stars went from cutting records to cutting onions. I was star chef-struck and proud of it. My sister lived in New York City, so instead of theater tickets, we’d plan and save in order to lunch at one of the top-rated restaurants. First was La Côte Basque, followed by the original Bouley, and then La Grenouille, where I had a coq au vin that near ’bout made me cry outloud. While living in London and attending culinary school, (yeah, yeah, yeah, I can already hear you commenting on the irony of a cooking school in England) several of my classmates and I pinched enough pence to eat at Aubergine, newly opened by the temperamental Gordon Ramsey, yet unknown outside of London. The food was exquisite, but the screaming from the kitchen all but ruined the experience.
Chefs were just on the verge of becoming celebrities, and my list of memorable meals and chef meetings is long and satisfying. My first real high-profile face-to-face encounter with a chef was at the Fancy Food Show in Chicago in 2001 at a seminar by Charlie Trotter. I waited two hours in line to talk to him and get a book signed. I never got to eat there before they closed and sadly, Trotter died on Nov. 5 at age 54. At another food show in NYC, I finagled my way into the bathroom line behind Sara Moulton. Damn near dogged Rick Bayless until he knew my name. I was a mostly rambling mess while Anthony Bourdain signed Kitchen Confidential, until we started talking about The Ramones and agreed that any day you woke up and Keith Richards was still alive was a good day. Lesson learned after I nursed a rather pitiful years-long crush on David Rosengarten imagining “if he only knew me ….” and “if I could only have dinner with …” then when I got to spend an entire day with him, which included taking him to Allen & Sons (lunch) and Lantern (dinner), could barely put one intelligent word in front of the other. Picking up the dinner check, I realized that I was signing off on my “if only” fantasy and went into brief mourning as the perfect crush melted faster than chocolate in a hot car.
It almost goes without saying at this point: the food scene in Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh is becoming legendary. That’s evidenced not just by our own extraordinary rock star chef talent in the Triangle, but by the growing handful of high-profile chefs and restaurant owners who now stop here on book tours or to give cooking lessons where once we were in the flyover zone between Atlanta and NYC. I actually felt heat rise when I heard about these upcoming book signings and chef appearances.
If you’re unfamiliar with La Farm Bakery in Cary, well, shame on you. Lionel Vatinet is a master, and La Farm products are available at all area Whole Foods. Get thee toward a croissant.
New Orleans Chef John Besh, owner of nine restaurants, has won so many awards it’s hard to keep track of them, from being named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 1999 to claiming the 2006 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast. Besh is all over Food Network, competing on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters, and even appearing in a season one episode of HBO’s Treme.
City Grocery owner and chef John Currence, while maybe less well-known except among rabid foodies, actually began his food career as a student at UNC, washing dishes at Crook’s Corner when the man in charge was Bill Neal. He returned to New Orleans, working for the Brennan family of restaurants before opening City Grocery in Oxford, Miss., in 1992. Also multi-award winning (2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the South, e.g.), Currency is contributing editor for Garden and Gun.
Cooking from the Heart with John Besh
Mon. Nov. 18, 6:30-8:30pm, $59
Sur La Table at The Streets at Southpoint, Durham
919-248-4705 | http://www.surlatable.com
Cooks & Books Lunch Reception with John Currence, Author of Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey
Sun. Nov. 24, 3pm, $85 (includes autographed book)
The Fearrington Granery, Pittsboro
919-542-2121 | http://www.fearrington.com
_________________________________________________________ Shufflin’ wit da Chefs
Mississippi, You’re on My Mind (Jerry Jeff Walker/Jesse Winchester)
Congo Square (Sonny Landreth/Mel Melton)
Mr. Bojangles (Jerry Jeff Walker)
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Edith Piaf)
It Don’t Matter to Me (Bread)
Just in case you were wondering, and I know you are … I plan on spending the weekend watching the next 3 episodes of Treme and the documentary Muscle Shoals. Maybe even the new Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me if it arrives. I predict happiness. Not just because it’s my birthday, but because I’m going to do exactly what I want. Nothing more, nothing less.
Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY column, June 20, 2013 Bill Payne Tracing Footsteps – A Journal of Music, Photography and Tales from the Road Monday, June 24, 2013 – $25-$28 Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, NC Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
It’s hard to imagine that first pre-Little Feat meeting between Bill Payne and Lowell George. The one in 1969 that would start with trading “musical quotes,” Lowell on acoustic guitar and Bill on a spinet belonging to Lowell’s mother. A meeting that fell into place by Bill Payne’s own desire and drive, literally south from Santa Barbara to LA several times, hoping to find a musical home with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. But it didn’t happen quite like that. Instead Little Feat was born and Zappa helped them get their first record contract with Warner Bros. When not playing with the current incarnation of Little Feat, keyboardist Payne, the only surviving original member, is so respected in the music world that he’s in heavy request as a session player performing on albums with Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, J.J. Cale, Jimmy Buffet, and so on.
Payne is one of those rare individuals blessed with natural talents that go beyond keyboards and songwriting. Picking up a camera from his son Evan only a few years ago, his immediate kinship with the lens exposed an eye that is a natural extension of his belief in discovering the connections between things. In his own words: “I don’t separate myself from my art. It is a revolving summation and continuance of what I am, what I was, and what I hope to be.” And he’s also laid-back, extraordinarily collaborative, and intensely passionate about whatever he happens to be doing at the moment. Which in this case is one of his most recent projects – Tracing Footsteps: A Journal of Home and the Road that combines stories, with multi-media showcasing his own photography, along with an audience Q&A. Accompanying Payne to flesh out this powerful duo is Gabe Ford, current Little Feat drummer.
“Tracing Footsteps,” according to Payne,“is the way I describe my journey in photography. It houses my philosophy of combining a host of influences: black & white, color, textured themes, landscape, people, photojournalism — my time travel, literally–all under one roof.”
The primary architect behind the Little Feat “Grassroots” movement, Payne instinctively recognized the synergistic benefit of personally involving the band’s massive and hugely dedicated fan base in the job of promoting the band, upcoming shows, recordings, merchandise, etc as well as populating the online music communities … there are about a half dozen “working fans” in NC alone. They’re like Deadheads, only with Feat. What stands out above all else is the connection (there’s that word again), fierce loyalty, and admiration between the band and their fans who would do anything, including buying groceries, gassing up the truck, or simply running a not-so-glamorous errand. Just ask one of those NC-based fans – Gene Morgan, who lives in Clayton – if you can find him when he’s not busy running around putting up posters as I suspect he’s doing right now in advance of this show.Good man that he is, Bill Payne took time out to talk with me about Little Feat, cameras, Inara George (Lowell’s daughter), movements (both musical and grassroots) and to answer a handful of crowd-sourced questions from fans. Read the rest of the Q&A online HERE. _____________________________________________________________
An outpatient of love
Still a work in progress. Tender days. Weepy nights. Chocolate does NOT cure everything. Neither does bacon. Not even chocolate-dipped bacon.
Where’s Mr. Right Now when you need him?
Now interviewing for diversions.
X and X and X Marks the spot
9am. Pick a weekday. Any day. Let’s just say Tuesday. It’s not unusual for me to run by the post office on my way to work. My route takes me by an adult emporium. And not just one X. Not XX. But XXX. Sometimes I slow down to count the cars in the parking lot. At 9am on a Tuesday. What ARE they doing in there??? Merely rhetorical. Smell the glove.
_______________________________________________________ Shufflin’ Hither & Yon (mostly hither)
Born Under a Bad Sign (Albert King)
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan)
Midnight Blues (Gary Moore)
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin)
It’s All Over Now (Rolling Stones)I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)
Where is spring? My toes are cold. I can hear my flip-flops whimpering from behind the closet door.
One Saturday in March
Morning at my favorite table at the Blue Note Grill talking to Bill.
No, I’m not here watching live music or drinking before noon, I say, because I can hear you wondering. Over the last two years, I’ve been hearing the speakers in my car snap-crackle-pop. Enough to drive a music lover bonkers. So I started a stash – $5 here, $10 there. Good thing too, because then the CD player started skipping. Uh-oh. Not good, and likely not cheap. $10 here, $20 there. Then I discovered Auto Acoustics lives right behind BNG. And who am I to ignore a sign when I see – or hear – one?
Speaker inauguration song: Midnight in Harlem (Tedeschi Trucks Band)
One Saturday in April
Riding in a red truck with Keith. Looking at sofas at consignment stores since there is not a real furniture store between here and Raleigh.
Keith: You know you can buy sofas online, right?
Me: Are you crazy? I’m not buying a sofa online. <— I say to the guy I met online.
Keith: (silence for about 20 seconds too long)
Me: (silence followed by) wow … I’d get a man online, but not a sofa.
___________________________________________________ One Friday in May
The show was amazing. I can’t remember the last time I had goosebumps at a music show. Oh, wait, it was Itzak Perlman and Pinkus Zukerman.
_______________________________________________ Sofa Shopping Shuffle: Down on Me (Janis Joplin) Torn & Frayed (Stones) Red House (Jimi Hendrix) Please Call Home (Allman Bros.)
So … Simmer2Sizzle. Why, you ask? And, ask you should. It’s a reflection, sometimes irreverent, on food, wine, music, love, sex and all those loco-motions that tickle your fancy, make you go bump in the night, and start out as a simmer and end up a full-tilt sizzle.