Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time For This One To Come Home

Time: 2000
Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Will the real Howard please stand up

Time: 1981
Place: Atlanta. Georgia

When I first moved to Atlanta, I lived in a duplex with my sister Freda. We got along well as roommates. Often, we watched television together in the evening.

One night, we were watching Hill Street Blues. Neither of us was a huge fan of the show, but there was nothing else worth watching. I had seen the show enough to know what it was about and the names of some of the characters. Freda rarely watched the show, because she didn’t like programs that had ongoing plots. She felt shows like Hill Street Blues required too much commitment from her as a viewer. She preferred shows like Growing Pains, which featured simple, feel good stories that resolved by the end credits.

The episode of Hill Street Blues that Freda and I were watching had a scene where sultry Grace kisses the bald and virile duty sergeant Phil in an empty squad room. After the kiss, the two lovers have a heart-to-heart chat. I don’t remember the exact dialogue. This is close.

Phil: “Oh Grace, you can’t imagine how much I’ve missed tapping your ass. But, I don’t understand. I thought you and Howard were an item.”

Grace: “Howard meant nothing to me. I only went out with him to make you jealous.”

Phil and Grace laugh and then resume sucking face. The camera cuts to the door to the squad room, which has a window. On the other side of the door, Howard is at the window, watching and listening to Phil and Grace. Howard now knows that he was Grace’s tool.

“Poor Howard,” I said.

“Who’s Howard?” Freda asked.

“He was the guy looking through the window. He just found out that his girlfriend plans on dumping him.”

“What does he look like?”

“Hmm. He’s a white guy. He’s wearing glasses, he’s clean shaven, and he’s got short brown hair.”

The program goes to a commercial. When it comes back, there is a scene with a black guy. He has a big mustache.

“Is that Howard?” Freda asked.

“No,” I said. “Howard is white.”

The next scene has a bald Hispanic guy.

“Is that Howard?”


Then, a bald white guy.

“Is that Howard?”


Another black guy.

“Is that Howard?”


A white guy with no glasses and a mustache.

“Is that Howard?”


Another Hispanic guy.

“Is that Howard?”


Finally, I’d had enough.

“How on Earth, do you manage to watch TV by yourself?” I asked.

“It’s not easy,” Freda replied.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Who Could Ask For Anything More

Time: 1973
Place: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Burlesque returned to Chattanooga briefly in the early ‘70s. An old theatre that had been home to burlesque shows decades earlier was renovated and once again, women stripped to live music and men in baggy pants told jokes so old they had hair on them.

It was obvious to everyone that the theatre was more about nostalgia than sex, especially considering that just a few blocks away there was an adult book store with peep shows. Well, it was obvious to everyone, but the Jesus Freaks who marched outside the theatre, holding protest signs and railing against the evils of naked flesh.

The Jesus Freaks were not part of a church, but were part of a Christian cult that was actively recruiting disillusioned hippies in Chattanooga. I thought it was quite silly of them to pick on good old-fashioned burlesque, but then the theatre needed all the publicity it could get.

I was downtown one afternoon with a group of friends. We were on our way to a popular pizza joint and had to cross the street by the burlesque theatre. As we approached the theatre and the protesting Jesus Freaks, I had a sudden inspiration.

Timing was crucial. I had to be able to execute my plan then, make a quick getaway. My friends and I reached the corner and waited for the light to change.

When the light turned yellow, I turned to Jesus Freaks and shouted, “Hey!”

The Jesus Freaks stopped shouting and turned their attention to me.

“I may not have Jesus,” I said, “and I may not have salvation, but…” Then I began to dance, and while I danced, I sang, “I got rhythm. I got music. I got my God. Who could ask anything more? Who…could ask…for…anything…MOOORE!”

I had never seen so many people’s mouths drop at the same time. While I sang, the Jesus Freaks were speechless, but as soon as I finished, they began to shout, “You’re going to hell! You’re going to burn for all eternity! You are full of sin!” And so on.

By this time, my friends were already half way across the street and I hurried after them before the light changed again. I could still hear the Jesus Freaks damning me when I reached the other side. Who could ask for anything more?