Archive for April, 2014

Sourdough Slim and Other Characters

Sweetie and I joined six other aging but still competent Upper Ojai friends for a much-anticipated Sourdough Slim appearance at the Ojai Valley Women’s Club Thursday evening.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Recognizing the danger that excess stomach acid can produce when one is running late for the theater, we chose to have an early senior-style dinner at Il Giardino’s, about half a block from the Women’s Club.  Not being a big fan of that particular eclectic restaurant, I had agreed to it while gritting my teeth and expecting the usual combination of poor food and questionable service, topped with a general feeling of grouchiness.

Eight of us were banished to the Devil’s Island corner  of the outdoor patio.  Being the last to pick a seat, I had the pleasure of facing the wall which depicts a painted saga that is desperately in need of renovation by one or more otherwise unemployed Italian artisans.

We also were treated to the added attraction of live music performed by two young men who were oblivious to the hearing afflictions foisted upon elders due to the advanced atomic decibel readings achieved by today’s amplification systems.

Actually, surprise, surprise, the food was tasty, the company stellar and the two young musical aficionados graciously offered to turn things down after several of our party collapsed on the floor pleading for respite.  A good start, I’d call it, and totally unexpected.

Finishing with a flourish and with fifteen minutes to spare, several of our party with space remaining  in their large intestines made a quick stop at Bliss, the local do-it-yourself frozen yogurt eatery, and heaped calorie laden yummies on their already distended stomachs.

Having been clever enough to buy advance tickets to Sourdough’s performance, we entered the Women’s Club ahead of those who were either still enroute or who had the misfortune of thinking that purchasing tickets at the door would give them something other than a seat requiring the Hubble Telescope for a decent view of Slim.

This was the third time we’d attended a Sourdough Slim concert.  A masterful combination of Howdy Doody and Slim Pickens, Sourdough regaled the crowd with cowboy songs, jokes that have stood the test of time, and amusing facial expressions, all topped by a ridiculous ten-gallon hat that is as important to his repertoire as his music.  Accompanied by the formerly famous Robert Armstrong on a variety of instruments including the yet to be universally embraced musical saw, the aging but still standing  Sourdough keeps you rooting for him to complete his performance without suffering a massive coronary.

We picked seats that were close to the stage yet far enough removed to avoid becoming an unwilling part of the evening’s festivities.  I sat on a folding chair that had just enough cushioning to be comfortable for a full twenty minutes before wreaking havoc on my under-stuffed  fanny.  Looking for a comfortable spot to rest on, other than bone, was to be a major part of the festivities.

Two fiftyish party goers arrived and sat in the row in front of us.  Wearing over-the-top cowboy hats large enough to block out the sun, they mercifully sat to our right, out of our visual spectrum but close enough for those with adequate peripheral vision to observe the couple’s own performance that was in competition with that of the Sourdough.

The woman wore a tight red dress, short enough to allow a proper airing of her private parts yet tight enough to allow the substantial hills and valleys of her aging body to attract prying eyes to the various displays of her abundant cellulite deposits.  The man, balding and handle-barred moustached, spent much of the evening prodding and caressing the lady’s abundant flesh.

The lady in red, attired in cowboy boots that could have easily stomped a whole herd of cows, began the festivities by banging her heels to the rhythm of Slim’s music…well almost.  She then progressed to raising both her arms to the heavens, waving them with abandon and providing further evidence of her deepening dementia.  When this failed to draw the attention of those in the far reaches of the theater, she orally fixated us with randomly delivered whooping and hollering clearly intended to alert all, including the paramedics, to her presence.  I began to feel sorry for the lady in red who assuredly had been ignored as a child and, other than for her groping escort, was suffering the same fate as an adult.

The seat in front of me was occupied by a tall man with short legs and a long Yao Ming torso.  His shock of white hair was directly in line with my view of Slim.  Fortunately, the Cardiff Giant look-alike parted his hair down the middle affording me a limited view of the very top of Slim’s ten gallon hat.  I accepted my fate as being payoff for my many sins, and for most of the rest of the evening focused on Mr. Armstrong’s musical saw.

At least no one had a coronary.

sourdough slim

Down to the Sea with Tots

I’ve seen enough movies about whalers, Bering Sea crab fisherman and Somali pirates to know that the open ocean is a place that deserves the utmost respect, if not downright fear.

Apparently, Eric and Charlotte Kaufman didn’t share my misgivings. In fact, they seemed to relish them when they embarked on a worldwide 36 foot sailboat cruise with daughters Cora, 3 and little Lyra, 1. With less than adequate seagoing experience and saddled with Lyra’s recent unresolved illness, the Kaufmans felt that many months of exposure to death-defying conditions would sober up the little brats in short order. Much like my Mom did by sending me outside to play softball in the alley, or by giving me a nickel to ride the streetcar all alone to the Bertha Theater on Chicago’s Lincoln Avenue.

The Daffy Duck Kaufman cruise ended with hoards of Coast Guard rescuers racing to their salvation, an astronomical number of taxpayer financed naval ships, and a not so trivial exposure of others to possible injury or death.  A rollicking good time was, I’m sure, had by all.

Having never put my eye out by recklessly aiming my BB gun, I’m probably not well qualified to judge the sanity of the Kaufmans’ daredevil antics. But their bravado apparently hit a nerve with similarly minded sailing enthusiasts who laugh uproariously in the face of disaster.

Jim in Seattle defended the Kaufmans by citing the statistics of known sailing deaths in the last fifty years. Encouraged, even proud of those numbers, Jim noted that “You are more likely to be stung by a mosquito than drown in the middle of the ocean in a 36 foot boat. And everyone knows that malaria can kill you quicker than being run down at midnight by a 1,200 foot long, 50,000 ton container ship.”

Martha in Marina Del Rey volunteered “I’ve been a matron in an institution devoted to the rehabilitation of delinquent teens. Going to sea before being able to walk or talk is sure to be a great incentive for those kids to obey their parents, walk the straight and narrow, and stay out of my way. I hope they have the guts to do it again, maybe even when Charlotte is eight months pregnant.”

Steve in New York compared the Kaufman adventure with the maniacal motorcycle acrobatics of the now departed daredevil Evel Knievel. “Ya know, Evel wasn’t afraid of anything. He broke every bone in his body twice, replaced his cirrhotic liver, spent half his life in the hospital, and lived to be nearly 70. Fear wasn’t in his vocabulary. Evel said it all when he said I guess I thought I was Elvis Presley but I’ll tell ya something. All Elvis did was stand on a stage and play a guitar. He never fell off on that pavement at no 80 mph.

Sobering statements from people who know the real benefits of courting death without hesitation. The sheer exhilaration of putting yourself and your mindless loved ones at peril in order to satisfy a need for recognition and possible profit.

So maybe the Kaufmans had the right idea. Live life to its fullest, even if means killing your infant daughter in the process. They can always make another one.

Kaufman cruise



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