Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dirty Hands, Supremes, and a damn good burger

OK... it's been a beautiful week in Downtown Wixconsin.  Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who barely won his seat in a contentious election and recount saga, has been accused of arguing and choking fellow Justice Ann Bradley.  Of course, he said it was in self defense.  Last year he got into into it with Chief Justice Shirley Abramson, calling her a 'bitch' and threatening to 'destroy' her.  Back then he said the woman 'goaded him into inopportune statements.  Whoa!  You can read a bit more HERE. 
last week I ran into Dirty Hands Randy...I hadn't seen him for about a year...and, gosh, there he was again!!  Now, two things about, he always seemed to have a job that left his hands permanently, ah, soiled, no matter how much he would scrub them.  He was  a roofer, and asphalt spreader, dyed cabinets in a factory, hence the name. Secondly, he is the most benign alcoholic I have ever known.  When some get too drunk, there is the possibility for violence, rude behavior... when Randy is drunk, which is more often than not, there is more than a remote chance of Shakespeare ,Keats or Nietzsche...with perhaps quotes from Casey Stengel thrown in for color.
So there I was, ensconced on a cafe table at the Farmer's Market enjoying a fresh egg sandwich and lo and behold, he graced me with his presence, and grace is all it can be, for despite his pock-marked face, his tight, taut girth, his resplendent wardrobe that varies in only the shades of gray or black t-shirts he favors, there is a quality about him and  to his voice that can only be described as a belch, conducted by Bach, breezing through canyon walls. "Jim," says he,"you look well and fit!" This, as if he had just seen me a week previous. "All things considered," I replied, "things are ok.  I thought you were in Rehab?" Which is the last I had heard. "Ah, it did not take. Some things are not meant to be. ' Adversity tests us from time to time and it is inevitable that this testing continues during life.' I read that somewhere," he said... "I don't remember where." He grinned a grin, said, 'hold on' left for a minute and returned with two Bloody Mary's.  The next hour was an explanation of his time trying to dry out at the VA Hospital in Chicago... his escape from there, his stint at working in a Group Home in Gary, his return to Wisconsin, a brief job at a meat packing plant in Madison and his return to Oshkosh for the roofing season.  There were queries about my kids, our mutual friend Fritz.  All in all, it was a good conversation.... and before he left I gave him my phone number and the promise of a few beers some afternoon.  Now, that may happen, or it may not... he did say something about the fishing being rather good up around Eagle River.  To quote Casey, there is something about Randy..."He could fall into a sewer and come up with a gold watch."
 Lastly, a friend has given me a great tip about the bar down the street, a place I would never frequent, the music being too loud and the patrons too prone to slamming dice on the bar, that serves excellent burgers.  Indeed, he was correct... a mushroom swiss third pounder with home made chips for only $4.50.  Thank goodness for carryout.  Now if I could just get Randy to run for the Supreme Court......

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


mo time for blogging... blew out the rear tire on my bike... AND i WAS miles from the nearest air... and when I filled went flat... after six years I think it might be time for a new tire/tube../.. there goes the beer budget.  oh well

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oshkosh City Cab, or the Wild Bunch revisited


You don't have to watch the whole video... it's just a bunch of old guys getting together for a birthday jam.  Someone said it was on YouTube and I found it.  I knew some of them pretty well, back in the day, the early -mid seventies... when I worked with some of them at the old Oshkosh City Cab.  Now that is too many stories to fit into one story, so there really is no point in trying, but the deal was is that you could get by being a hack back then, and it had great flexibility if you were a student or... a musician. I was one of the former.  Anyways, and it turned into a real interesting few years, the way it worked, see.... is just about everyone who drove DAYS was a musician, (Big City Bob is in the video) and all the night drivers were students, or mostly student-types.  We kept the city rolling.

For a while, all the night drivers, the students-student types, well, we were all Buds and lived in three different houses. I lived with KCR and Shoe...over on Franklin St. there was Tall Dave and Wheels and Dolt and Smut-Man.  Down on Vine St resided Bruiser, Dimly Lit, LT and .... Kid Curry.
my cab photo

Kid was a work of art... a little Picasso, some Van Gough, a dash of Dali..... but mostly Dr. Seuss.  You had to know him.  His hair was long and prematurely white, not grey. He had worked various jobs, when I knew him, and sadly, I cannot know him any more in the present cause he died about 18 years ago, but he had been a guitar player, a bartender, a artificial inseminator of cows, a busboy, a cook.... but when I knew him... a cab driver.
And today, I have a little Kid story.
Now, when I was driving, we got along with the cops pretty well.  They would stop in the station and tell us about the REALLY bad guys they were looking for, maybe run-a-ways from the State Hospital.. that stuff.  No big deal.  They usually, especially the night beat cops, give us some slack on speeding and other such... in fact even roll in once in a while to warn us of a particular Boy in Blue who did not fancy cab drivers and where that guy would be cruising on any particular night.
Well one day they rolled in, asked for a little help finding a Transvestite hooker up from Milwaukee who was practicing the trade, and unfortunately,  also ripping off clients wallets and credit cards. Now, I had seen the guy/gal, and frankly he did a very very good 'she' and had been asked if I would accept a favor in exchange for the fare,which I declined, cause I had a girl friend and needed the money more than a blow job.  Now, over all, we, the drivers, had a pretty good relationship with the 'working' girls who worked the strip clubs. It is what it is, see, and a few of them were also out of state college students who could make a lot more stripping for a summer than they could waiting tables.  Anyways, a thief is a thief and we told the cops we would be on the look out for the transvestite rip-off artist.

But the Kid didn't hear the message and one night we see him pull up to the front of the station.... and pick up the said 'girl', and he calls in on the radio, says, "I'm taking a break for awhile".  Now, I believe it was the Mole Man, Dimly and I that were in the station when he called in and we cannot just wait for him to come back and break him the news.  It was the Kid, after all, and he had priorities different than the rest of us, if he had any at all, see.  So, times goes by, I run a few fares and so does Dimly, and we are there about forty five minutes later when the Kid comes back in.  Now, he has a grin on his face that could cut the lid off a can of beans and he's got a little swagger in his walk.  "Guys," he says," you are not gonna believe what just happened to me!"  He tells us the whole story and Dimly and I are starting to laugh, especially about the un-zip part and how good it was.  I think the Kid thought we were laughing because he was telling a good story.
Finally,we could not take it anymore, told him all about the cops, the he/she and all of it. Now, he looked a bit crest fallen for a bit, then breaks back out into a grin. "Well," he said, " if you close your eyes..... it's all the same!"
 You could never take the wind out of the Kid's sail..... I swear, if you had put horse-shit in his Christmas stocking he would just run out looking for the pony that got away.  I kinda miss the Kid.

I best go now...... I think my ponygot away and I best be looking for it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just a Retiring Joe

view from the oblio's patio
ok... it was the week that was... mostly gloomy, mostly raining. or mostly threatening to be gloomy and raining.

Weather finally broke yesterday and was nice enough to get out for a good bike ride.

The strawberries are coming in pretty good now at the Farmeer's market after a cool, wet spring. Scarfed down a bunch of them as well as a buffalo burger.  Went to Lee's and watched him brew beer. Fun, fun,fun.

Then I stopped and chatted with my buddy Joe.  He is retiring this thursday after 30 years with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the academic support/tests and evaluation dept.  Planning a small little gathering down at the bar for him thursday night.  Retiring... sounds funny, for a guy like Joe... cause the last thing he is, is shy and retiring.

Inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, Joe Franklin was a first-team All-Big Ten choice in 1967-68 ... UW's career rebounding average leader (11.9 per game) and the school's No. 2 rebounder overall ... led team in rebounding in each of his three seasons ... owns 47 career double-doubles, the most in Wisconsin history ... set the UW single-season scoring record with 544 in 1967-68 ... team MVP in 1966-67 and 1967-68 ... team captain in 1967-68 ... his 27 rebounds vs. Purdue (3/2/68) rank second in UW single-game annals ... chosen in fifth round (63rd overall) of 1968 NBA Draft by Milwaukee.

Well, he didn't make the NBA, but he played Pro Basketball in Italy for a few years before coming back to Wisconsin and finishing his Master's.

I am not really sure where I first ran into him... must have been about five or six years ago, it ain't no never mind.  But he is in the crew of 'old' men who meet down at the tavern a few times a week.  I don't think he jumps much anymore.... but he can still shoot.., barbs, quips, insults, witticisms.... and that is what we do.  If Billa Lang is there, too, it gets going pretty good... and it is pretty funny.

He takes off in a week to do his annual golfing trip.... he flies out to Missoula, meets with some other folks, rents a motor home... and they spend three weeks golfing through upper Montana, Alberta and British Columbia.  I once mentioned that he must be the tallest Black Golfer in that part of Canada and he just rolled his eyes and said, "I am the ONLY Black golfer in that part of Canada!..... but it makes it easy to play through!"

So I said I would watch his house and mow his lawn when he was gone.  Ain't no deal.

The deal is.....  and this is what I like about Joe, to be a really interesting person, you do not talk about what you have done.... but what you are going to do.

I hope Montana is ready for him.... cause his bags are packed .. and, like he once said..." Life is just another Fairway I have not been on yet."


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