Monday, August 5, 2013

Wall Of Death

Ronny stayed too long at the fair. When I think about things that mean so much to me I can trace most of it back to the Florida State Fair. Thanks, Mom.

It was actually at the fair in Birmingham when she started taking me to the Wall of Death, the wooden ring that the daredevils rode on those old rickety motorcycles. I learned that no act worth its salt uses a net. That remains a major part of what I do. Any set of mine teeters on the edge of disaster. A safe set is not rock'n'roll. Oh, I admire those guys who can tell the same stories and pause for the big laughs and build up to the encore where everybody sings along. I just could never do it myself.

Harlem in Havana, with the wonderful rhythm and blues musicians and the beautiful, chocolate hoochie coochie dancers showed me that the highlight of our culture was all from our African American branch. That message was far stronger to that young boy than any negative, racist vision that passed in front of me.

Holding a girl's hand and the pure joy of the feeling came first from junior high school "dates" at the old fairgrounds. Pretty much my entire sex education, in fact. Well, that and the little, dirty comics that you bought during intermission at Club Lido.

The sprint car races instilled in me my love of the underdog. When the Chevy challenged the Offenhauser I was in heaven.

I don't enjoy the fair so much these days. Everything changed. I do swoon when I hold her hand though and when I think of heaven I believe I smell sawdust.

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