This week was the week every year where my family and I would load into the brown Ford Fairmont and head to Eva's Farm, a family resort in Purling, NY, where you got three meals a day, the occasional inter-resort softball game in the afternoon (I was always too young/too uncoordinated to play...my dad played sometimes, though, including the afternoon where he knocked himself clear out by backing into one of the trees in the outfield), and fun activities at night (including the always highly anticipated shuffleboard tournament). Plus, there was Donkey Kong and Qbert in the rec hall, where the kids would run to after finishing their meals, stacks of quarters burning holes in their hands. I never saw Disneyland, never came close to Disney World, but had about five hundred times more fun at Eva's Farm. Eva's is largely abandoned and overcome by weeds now, though one of the houses was renovated and another looks to be in the midst of a touch-up. Its resort days are long gone, but I still make people drive by it when we're upstate so I can bore them with old stories. No one's complained yet, so I'm gonna keep at it.
We always went up with the same bunch of people from around New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, so every third weekend in July was like a family reunion. And this week, thanks to Facebook, it's a virtual family reunion, as one of our old posse started an Eva's Farm group. Memories have been shared, pictures have been posted, and childhoods are being revisited. It's Facebook at its best, rather than mindless quizzes and virtual poking.
As I was reading the messages in the group, I saw someone post about the Eva's jukebox, which only lasted a few years and didn't contain much of great worth, save Night Ranger's "Sister Christian," Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," and the Jacksons and Mick Jagger's "State of Shock." The riff from the last has been in my head since I joined the group, or it was until I remembered the jukebox at Donnie's Green Lantern, which was maybe slightly better (though not nearly as good as the one at Bobbie Jean's in downtown Cairo, a short drive down the hill, or even the one at Van's, which featured ELO's "Rock and Roll Is King," which I loved because it was the theme song of the Rock and Roll Express). Donnie's was the bar across the street from Eva's, and we'd all often head over there at night. They had Marble Madness, served some good crinkle-cut french fries, and made a mean Shirley Temple.
But, anyway, the jukebox had a song that I probably played every time I went there. And I forgot about it until I started thinking about Eva's and Donnie's and those long-gone summers. So, since it's now in my head, why not put it in yours? I present Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face."
There was probably one mitigating factor that kept me away from Fenway Park for so long: the fact that Fenway is generally teeming with Red Sox fans and that I would have to spend three hours among them. I’ve spent most of my life with reasonably warm feelings for the Sox and their fanbase, operating on the theory that my enemy’s enemy is my friend (and that, without their classic ineptitude in 1986, my childhood would’ve been a little bleaker). Then, the Sox actually won the World Series, and now their fans are insufferable and a general pain to be around (much like Phillies fans). I promise that if either sports team I like wins a championship, I will not turn into a creep. (Of course, we all know that promise will never have to be fulfilled, but it’s fun to think it might.)
Anyway, maybe that’s what kept me away from Fenway. But I overcame my fears on Saturday and stepped into my eleventh major league ballpark to see the Red Sox take on the mighty Kansas City Royals, led by, well, no one really. Maybe Zack Greinke, but he wasn’t pitching.
My friend (and perfectly acceptable Sox fan) DJ and I showed up at Fenway a little after 2 to stand in the Game Day Ticket Sales line for the 7 p.m. contest. The ticket window opened at 5, so we had about three hours to chill out under the Green Monster on Lansdowne. It was a nice day, so the time went by pretty quickly. Lulls were filled by listening to scalpers’ sales pitches, accepting half a Subway sandwich from one of our line neighbors, watching a guy with what we assumed was Parkinson’s get into a filthy hot dog costume to bring in customers to one of the sidewalk vendors, and taking a picture of a walking bowling pin.
By the time gates opened, the smell of hot dogs and sausages was making me really hungry (DJ took the Subway sandwich, as my stomach wasn't loudly rumbling at the time), so after we got our $26 bleacher seats and I took a quick look at the field, it was time for eating. And, since Fenway has a family hour, where a few menu items are half-off for the first hour that gates are open, we were able to fill ourselves (two Fenway franks and a pretzel each) for under $10 each. The Fenway frank wins the prize for best ballpark hot dog I’ve had, though that may have been because I was starving. Whatever the case, it tasted awfully good.
Then we rambled around the concourse a bit, and it was cool to see an old ballpark that was actually old instead of faux old like all the new stadiums. And I would probably say this even if it weren’t true, but Fenway has it all over the old Yankee Stadium, the only other comparison I have for a vintage ballpark.
Next stop was the right field corner and the Pesky Pole, with its fresh graffiti for ’09 (no, I didn’t add mine).
Then we headed to our seats, which were pretty damn good, with a view of the whole field and a prime location for homers, which, since Gil Meche and John Smoltz were pitching, seemed to be a good thing.
The pregame festivities focused on the Pan-Mass Challenge, a bikeathon to promote cancer research. So cyclists, all of whom were cancer survivors, came in from the centerfield gate and rode past the Green Monster on their way to the home plate area. Then, the PA announcer introduced the woman singing the national anthem by including the helpful, surely-not-anxiety-inducing nugget that she lost her father to cancer. C’mon, right before she sings in front of 30,000 people, buddy? But if it affected her, it didn’t show, and she did a fine job.
Then it was gametime, and since the two dudes to my left were yelling reasonably loudly from the time Smoltz made his way out to the bullpen for warm-ups, it had the makings of a long night. Fortunately, they couldn’t maintain their level of loudness for long, though they did manage to pull off the douchiest thing I’ve ever seen at a ballpark. As the popcorn vendor walked at the front of our section, the guy next to me yelled out, “Yeah, popcorn!” So the vendor started to make his way to our row. But he missed it when the creep said, “No, just kidding,” so when the popcorn guy made it up the stairs to our row and asked the guy, “One?,” Joey Jerkoff repeated, “No, I was just kidding.” And then his buddy, the two girls they were with that were celebrating their Sweet 16, and what I assume was some sort of father type all laughed. Way to live down to my expectations, Sox fans.
We also had to contend with a woman in possession of a voice that was born to cut you to the bone. Upon hearing her screech out, "Terry! Teeeeeeeerrrrrrrry! Somebody call Terry and get this guy out of here!" for a bit and start singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the fifth inning, my natural assumption was that she'd been overserved. But upon further inspection, she appeared to be stone cold sober. Somehow, that made it worse. It was doubly worse for DJ, who, since he had an interest in the outcome of the game, did not enjoy the singsong taunt of "This is getting interesting now" as the Royals whittled down an eight-run deficit to just three. And it was particularly vexing because the woman was clearly a Sox fan. I think she just wanted to see Jonathan Papelbon pitch, because after a few solid minutes of giving Hideki Okajima the "Okey-Dokey" treatment ("Hey, Okey-Dokey! It's Okey-Dokey! That's what they call him! Okey-Dokey! Okey-Dokey!"), she began to express her joy that we might see "Papel." At one point, she even insisted Papelbon was warming up in the bullpen, despite the fact that it was the seventh inning, and you don't see many closers coming in for the nine-out save these days.
She got quieter as the Red Sox padded their lead, though, so by the time Kevin Youkilis hit his second homer of the game, there was relative silence, save for the occasional call for "Papelboon." Alas, with the Sox up six going into the ninth, Papelbon never made it into the game. And as the rain fell down hard in the top of the ninth, we headed for a hasty exit and gradually surmised that the game had ended in a 15-9 Sox victory as we were making our way out of the park. On our way out, I was on the hunt for a Fenway Park shirt that didn't have any Red Sox-related words or symbols on it, lest I wear it someday and have a Sox fan think I'm part of Red Sox Nation. Mission accomplished, we darted to the T.
On our way to the T, though, I spotted a t-shirt that begged to be documented, if not purchased.
1:54 p.m.: While reading the papers at lunch (yes, I take a very late lunch), I see a review of one of the SPF plays that features Ally Sheedy. I think there's some reason why I want Ally Sheedy's autograph but can't recall it. My first thought is the "Short Circuit 2" poster, but only her voice was in that, so it seems a bit of a stretch to get that signed. Still, there's something...
2:03 p.m.: Got it. I just saw a record somewhere that featured a very young Ally Sheedy reading an abridged version of a book. But where did I see it? I've been in a lot of record stores lately, plus a garage sale on Sunday. Then it comes to me: Boomerangs in Jersey City. Their prices were a little too high, but I did buy a Morton Downey Jr. record (which seemed to invoke both laughter and terror from the woman at the store) and thought about buying the Ally Sheedy record (which was sealed) but decided it was too much. Yep, that's where it was.
2:05 p.m.: OK, that's solved. Now how do I get that record and get it signed? I'm going to Boston after work on Friday, so that cancels out going to any weekend performances. And, since it's only running until Sunday, that leaves tonight, or roughly five hours from now. So I'd have to go to Boomerangs right after work (in the hopes that they still have it), buy the record, and get into the city by 7:30 to go to the play and then get the album signed afterward.
5:55 p.m.: Found it. Got nervous because I didn't find it until the next-to-last rack. But there it was. At $10, a little out of my normal record-buying range, but worth it for this occasion.
6:45 p.m.: After eating some quality La Rustique pizza and watching the first segment of TMZ, I head to the Internet to buy my bus ticket for Boston and verify that the Alexandra Elizabeth Sheedy on the record is indeed Ally Sheedy. It's slightly difficult to corroborate (which makes me think I've found something exceedingly rare), but after awhile, I do.
6:55 p.m.: I realize that I'm not going to make it to the Public Theater by 7:30. So I'll just have to go afterward and hope that I recognize the 2009 version of Ally Sheedy. I go back to the Internet to look at recent photos of her to prepare.
9:00 p.m.: As I walk up Lafayette Street, I see the crowd coming out of the theater, so I've timed things well. Hooray for me.
9:15 p.m.: A woman I'm reasonably confident is Ally Sheedy (shorter than I imagined, but almost every celebrity I see is shorter than I imagined) emerges and begins talking to what I assume are friends and family. I try to eavesdrop on conversations so that I can hear the word "Ally" and be sure. I can't imagine I look cool doing this. But I haven't been escorted out yet, so I guess I'm doing OK. Still haven't heard "Ally," though.
9:24 p.m.: OK, I think I heard someone say "Al." Good enough for me. Now I just have to wait until she's done socializing because I don't want to be rude (and right there is why I'll never be a good autograph collector).
9:29 p.m.: One of her friends sees the album and Sharpie in my hand and alerts Ally to my presence. So I get my opening and ask for an autograph. She sees the album and is duly impressed/slightly horrified, saying she forgot she even did it (she was 12 at the time of the recording). Her friends/family are equally amused, and she explains a little about the record to them. She asks if she should just sign it and I tell her she can make it out to me (thus edging myself out of the top tier of the lucrative Ally Sheedy autograph business). One of her friends/family members takes pictures of her signing the album and then informs me that "I'm so cute." I'll take it.
9:30 p.m.: Mission accomplished and off to the rock show at the Mercury Lounge.
Today's an exciting day to be on the Internet, and, no, it's not because of Michael Jackson's funeral (can we all now just make a pact to not share our opinions, good or ill, about his death anymore? Thanks!). No, it's exciting because the gargantuan task of putting the entire run of No Depression online has been completed (at great expense, monetary and otherwise) by Kyla Fairchild and a team of able helpers. You can now check out all the great articles and reviews at the Archives site. Or if you care to just go to my stuff to mock the writing inadequacies of the younger me, go here.
Much love to those who helped put up all the archives. I enjoy when useful, enjoyable things are put on the Internet.
Look, the last thing I wanted to do was move the family out of New York City. We liked it there, we had a good circle of friends, and the cultural opportunities were endless. I can't even tell you all the great music we heard. All genres. Just great stuff, and I was glad the kids were getting exposed to it. Plus, I mean, Central Park. You've been there, right? We summered there. Every year. Freakin' awesome. Life was great.
Then the Sully plane thing hit. Or, more to the point, one of us hit the Sully plane.
Let's get this straight: I don't even know the jerkoffs who did that. I've got a sneaking suspicion about who the responsible parties were (if they come from the family I'm thinking of, let's just say none of us are really surprised), but I'm not the type of goose to take part in rumor mongering. No sir. Plus, I mean, whatever happened to "no harm, no foul"? I realize it was a traumatic experience for everybody on board, and, I'm sorry for their troubles, but they all lived, right? And Sully and his crew got to be on Letterman and throw out first pitches and probably received all sorts of perks they never would've seen if, let's face it, two of our own hadn't made them celebrities. I mean, am I crazy to say that? Because we're all thinking it, I'll tell you that much.
Sorry. I didn't mean to go off on a rant there. It's just frustrating that's all. The point I wanted to make before I got all sidetracked was that, regardless of who was at fault, you can't hold all of us responsible for the actions of a few rogue geese. It's not fair.
But, fairness be damned, that's just what happened, and soon we were reading in the newspapers that we were now Public Enemy #1, and that plans were being made to "control" the goose population around New York City. Well, that was all I needed to hear. So the gander and I rounded up our 11 goslings (where's my reality TV show, bitches?) and told them we were going to have to leave NYC behind. Needless to say, I'd never heard so much honking in my life. They were not pleased. But the hubby and I eventually calmed them down, and soon we were off looking for a place where the authorities wouldn't look for us.
Naturally, we chose New Jersey. Jersey City, to be precise. We were all a little skeptical at first because, let's face it, we've heard all the jokes about the state. But, you know, we're really starting to dig it here. Just last night, we hung around with a bunch of people on the waterfront getting ready to watch the fireworks (we're big Fourth of July nuts...I know it doesn't make sense, but such is the enigma that is the Canada Goose, eh?). And unlike the people in the newspapers calling for our beaks, these people just pointed at us and smiled, or took pictures (I'm a bit of a ham, so I love having my photo taken). Real good people. And, from what I read in the Jersey Journal, pretty wealthy, too. It's a good neighborhood. We chose well.
Sure, sometimes when the fam and I are out on the waterfront, we miss the city. But we can still see it across the river and think of the good times we had there. Plus, we have some friends sticking it out over there who we hear from every now and then. We worry about them flying into trouble with the FAA, though they say it's not as bad as I think and that I should stop being such a silly goose. They even tell me I should move the family back.
Honk that. We're Jersey folks now. We're taking a trip down the shore in a few weeks for a little R and R. If we can find a sitter, my husband said he'll take me to Atlantic City next month (the kids aren't ready for that yet). And we're thinking of getting a few of our goose friends together for a tailgate in the swamps before the Bruce shows at Giants Stadium (the mister and I are huge fans; we named our youngest Rosalita). Yep, we're really liking it here. We're in it for the long haul.
*The Clearwater Hudson River Revival, Croton-on-Hudson, NY *The birth of Auden Eu nah Gage *Avett Brothers at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza, NYC *Getting a picture with Billy Mays (RIP) *The Atlantic League All-Star Game (and Celebrity Softball Game), Newark, NJ *Hearing a cover band play "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" in the Christ Episcopal Church courtyard, Staten Island, NY *Getting six Bocephus albums signed *Trampled by Turtles, 92YTribeca, NYC
*The NHL Draft Party, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY *The spontaneous dancing during Maybe Pete's set at Connolly's, NYC *Getting Mark-Paul Gosselaar to sign the Bayside t-shirt *The willingness of people with cars to drive me places