"...I treasured your friendship and when your first album came out I was one thousandfolk sold and souled too. Everything was just peachy keen 'til I committed my own unpardonable sin of just for some reason not happening to think Radio Ethiopia was the greatest avant-garde masterpiece since Ornette Coleman and Jackson Pollack were weaned in the same cradle...."
The flight from Saint Louis up to Chicago was uneventful. As "military personnel" we flew on a stand-by status but at Saint Louis they had plenty of extra seats and we got pretty good seats together near the tail section, supposedly in those days the safest place on an airliner to fly--the reasoning was that the tail sections seemed to always break loose from the mid-sections, the dangerous sections--later Boeing built planes with jets on their tails--I flew Eastern jets in the sixties with twin engines on their tails--but not the Douglas prop job that we flew from Saint Louis up to Midway-Chitown.
One thing being "service men" got us, plenty of sweet attention from the stewardesses--and in those days stewardesses were chosen by their figures first, their faces next, and their ages last--they had an age limit of around 26. My first wife was a Capital Airlines stewardess and she was one of the best looking women I've ever attracted--I mean she was an Elizabeth-Taylor-type and we jive-ass called ourselves "Dick and Liz"--I was her "Dick" and she was my "Liz" (for "Lady Jane," which ye know if ye've read yer D.H. Lawrence)--I mean she was tall, stacked like the proverbial brick house (that's "brick shithouse" in the old vernacular--Lionel Richie cleaned it up with that fabulous "Brick House"--"She's a brick...howssssssss...she's mighty, mighty, lettin' it all hang out...yeah, she's a brick...howsssssss, well, she's the one, the only one, she knows how to get it done." Oh, I did love that--and "Machine Gun," too). And she said when she went to stewardess school in Dallas the first thing they made the girls do is put on typical uniforms and then appear before these finishing-school babes and suit-and-tie dudes who would have them pull their skirts up to show their legs--then they'd have the girls do a spin-a-round, and then have them approach a seat and serve a passenger--she said, the stewardess-dip is where Old Pervert Hugh Heffner (an ex-copyeditor, folks) got the Bunny Dip the bunnies used to use when they served drinks at tables at Hugh's Playboy Clubs. She said always the men would kid the girls about their asses or how good in bed they bet they were. She said she knew she was picked because she was so hot--and God-all-mighty, people, I'm not kidding you, this woman was one hot-as-hell beautiful woman--and I was flying on Capital Airlines landing at Midway Airport in Chicago and that used to be her base of operations and this is three or so years before I met her and she could have been a stewardess on our planes but she wasn't; I would have remembered her when I did meet her if she'd been one of the stewardesses we encountered on that trip. I remember going up to Chicago the stewardesses were Italian-looking babes, Calumet City types of Chicago girls--and they were from Chicago--and we got to talking to them--I mean they loved men in uniforms and we had on our dress uniforms and like I said, BBJ was a total soldier with stupid medals and shit on his dress jacket; he even had the profile of a soldier; whereas, I looked like a cocky little smart-ass bastard who bragged about being a writer and playing the piano, though at that time I was really only a Sociology major with a Masters in Sociological and Economic Theory without a future--and Sociology was the farthest thing from my mind until one day later another few more years after I was married I did apply for Sociologist jobs, college teaching positions--one I really wanted at Lake Forest, an exclusive girls's college in a high-class suburb of Chicago--there were still Liberal Arts programs in colleges in those days. One stewardess, Mindy, who I swore was Italian, proved to be Jewish, and I got pretty flirty with Mindy, boldly even asking her some "too" personal questions, like "Are you for real?" or "You make me hungry for you you look so good to eat." I told BBJ I thought I had a shot at her, maybe screw Michigan and take her to a Chicago hotel and he told me I was a fool and that if anybody took her to a motel it'd be one of the pilots, the one who was probably banging her steadily. He was probably right; later my wife told me that she banged mostly pilots when she was "flying," as they say. She admitted she'd even fucked in the cockpit several times, a big thrill for a stewardess was fucking a pilot while he was flying the plane. Wow, the stories she told me about pilots, passengers; she was hit on constantly by male passengers, and once by Father Divine, the black evangelical who had a huge following all over the US and was notoriously married to a white woman--in fact, they said the Good Father had three or four wives, two of 'em white, who offered her a high position in his harem if she'd come work for him. She said he put his hand on her leg while propositioning her.
But this story, this rambunctuous journey into the past is not that kind of story--even though it does involve sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
At Midway we almost hit a snag. At first they said they'd sold our original military stand-by seats and we'd have to be on stand-by until two seats came up on a later flight. We were pissed. BBJ got uppity with them; he started belittling them by saying, "Hey, we're on our way to Vietnam--we're both second looeys and that means we're probably gonna get killed in our first combat situation...." I mean he had me gung-ho and shoutin' "Amen" to everything he said. "I may be going to Laos which is worse than Vietnam--damn, and it's to defend you people." I was beginning to get wild with the Amens now and BBJ had to calm me down. "Oh, well," the chick agent finally caved in, "perhaps you can sit with the crew in the rear of the plane--where the stewardesses sit, if you don't mind." "Hell no, we don't mind." "OK, you can board your flight for Lansing in about an hour, Flight 7A, Gate 33; follow the blue line and that will lead you to Gate 33."
On the flight to Chicago we'd only had canned beer--that's all they had--Falstaff, a Saint Louis beer that got pretty famous, though none of them could top Budweiser when it came to Saint Louis brewing fame. My favorite Saint Louis beer in those days was Griesedick, prounounced just like it looks, "greasy dick." So when we saw we had an hour to kill, we headed for a bar, and we found a nice quite bar, an open-air airport-type of bar and I ordered a vodka and tonic and BBJ found a pay phone and he started calling his folks in East Lansing. If we got out of Chicago by 6, we'd be in Lansing by 9, he came back saying, "So my sister'll pick us up at the airport and we'll go straight to Detroit from there, man; fuck East Lansing and the folks. "What does your sister look like?" I quipped. "Don't worry, my sister takes care of herself--she's hot and she knows it--and like any hot thing, you get burned pretty bad if you try to get too close to her without her wanting you to." I took that as a warning to keep my distance from his sister. I know how protective brothers can be of their sisters.
So they jammed us, me and Big Bad John (I was 5' 10/165, and he was 6' 1/220--yep, he admitted, he'd played right tackle at MSU), tightly into the back of the plane in a booth-like seat right across from the galley. It turned out not to be a bad thing at all since the stewardesses had no time to sit down. The only time they got to sit down was after they gave their little lecture about the oxygen masks overhead and how to pull them down and how the seat was a floatation device should we duck down into the drink, etc., and then they came back and sat with us during take off, and then we were winging out of Chicago heading west then circling back around and looping up over the Chicago skyline and heading out east--it was easy to see Soldier's Field I remember--on the lake front--and then, damn, this was my first flight ever over a body of water and I thought I knew from the maps I had studied since I was a kid that Lake Michigan was a huge lake until I was suddenly flying over it; damn, I just had never realized how huge it was; it was oceanic huge, it was. "That's the only lake of the Great Lakes totally within the US of A, and it's named after Michigan, baby," BBJ started bragging. I was awestruck--and I watched ever inch of that lake passing under the plane--suddenly also nursing a double vodka and tonic while BBJ worked seriously on a double Dewar's Scotch and soon we were winging our way to the Motor City, getting peacefully drunk.
A weird looking plane flying low over Lake Michigan.
for The Daily Growler
I Almost Had a Heart Attack
The Yankees had to beat Boston tonight--I mean things were looking bad for them after they got blown out by the BoSox Saturday afternoon--the Yankees's best pitcher, Wang, going for his 19th win, got his ass belted silly--8 hits off him right off the bat, 6 runs, then wham, bam, thank you, mam, the BoSox drilled the Yanks a new ass and won 10-1. The loss put the Yanks only 2 games up in the loss column in the AL Wild Card race and pushed them back to 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox for the Division Championship. So the Yankees had no choice tonight; they either beat Boston or they were in Wild Card trouble with Detroit coming to within 1 game of them since they won earlier in the day.
It was the two old has-beeners going at each other tonight, Curt Schilling for the BoSox and Roger "The Rocket" Clemens (who was a Cy Young winner with the BoSox back in his ancient days) for the Yankees. And who'd'a thought it, but god-damn, both these old geezers started pitching great games. For six innings they pitched their asses off with equal statistics--Shilling giving up a home run to Cano in the second inning and Roger giving up an unearned run to the Sox after Johnny Damon stupidly dropped a fly ball. It stayed 1-1 through the sixth and after the sixth, Joe Torre took out the Rocket and the wunderkind, Jabo Chamberlain was warming up in the bullpen ready to pitch the bottom of the 7th.
OK, the wunderkind, Jabo (pronounced "Job-O") pitched perfect, got 'em out 1-2-3, in the bottom of the 7th and then came the top of the 8th and it was still tied 1-1. After the Melkman struck out, Doug Mankewietz (sic) got a single; then Giambi comes up as a pinch hitter and belts a double, with Mankewietz (sic) going to third. Then, the great Johnny Damon, whose dropped fly ball had allowed the only BoSox run--hit a stupid dribbler to second--and stupid Mankewietz (sic) stays on third, doesn't go for home. Two outs. Runners at second and third. Jeter at bat. And HOLY COW. Three balls, two strikes, and BOOM, Jeter hammers one--a three-run blast over the Fenway right-field fence--and the Yanks went into the bottom of the 8th leading 4-1. We were all getting the big head. Jabo was pitching the 8th. We were getting confident; smelling victory; yet, we know the Yankees, we know the BoSox, and we know Fenway, and we know baseball, nothing is ever for sure in a baseball game--and sure enough, this Jabo Chamberlain who had not given up an earned run yet--struck out the first two batters and then BLEWY, old Mike Lowell lowered the boom on the wunderkind and drove one deep into the Yankee bullpen in right center. And then it was 4-2. Jabo then got out of the inning and they went into the top of the ninth sittin' high up in the catbird seat because we knew in Boston's bottom of the ninth they'd be facing Mariano Rivera, the best damn closer in baseball, according to Yankees fans. But wait a minute. Wait a minute. Top of the ninth, Gagne suddenly catches fire and mows the Yanks down 1-2-3 and here comes the bottom of the ninth. The Yanks are three outs away from winning 2 out of 3 over the Red Sox.
Mo comes on and gets the first batter out in the bottom of the ninth. One out. Then the next batter blasts a single off Mo. One on, one out. The next batter, goofy Jose Lugo, a .240 hitter, hits a double off Mo. Now there were runners on 2nd and third with one out. Lugo was the tying run at second. Coco Crisp comes to bat (imagine his mother sitting at the breakfast table--"Let's name the baby Coco, after these Cocoa Crisps I love so much") and Mo whiffs him. Two outs. And then this kid Ellsberry or whatever comes up and Mo goes up two and 0 on him, then throws him 3 straight balls; and then, woe is us, Mo walks this rookie kid. So the bases are loaded, the tying run's at second, and the winning run is now at first and who's coming to bat? WHO? I'll tell you who: that F-ING BIG POPPY, David Ortiz. Holy shit. The bases are loaded, there are two outs, but the batter is Big Poppy. I mean, all Yankee fans's hearts were stopped. Mo throws--Big Poppy fouls it off. Mo throws again, Big Poppy hits a dribbler to first--it goes foul. o-2 to Big Poppy. The pitch from Mo--Big Poppy pops one up--Jeter back, makes the catch--HOLY MOSES, the Yankees won it--they won it. The relief is too much; I'm knocking off a half-a-bottle of Jack Daniels Green Label and going to bed.
at The Daily Growler Very-Biased Sports Desk