Monday, May 21, 2018

Macker weekend and getting to the store

IT'S ONE OF our favorite weekends of the year, when the Gus Macker basketball tournament comes to downtown Quincy. I am not going to be fair and biased about this - I am employed by Gus Macker in the summers, and for this tournament I'm the event chairman. Basically I keep a lot of the behind the scenes stuff running and make sure the staff (mostly from Michigan) gets it done. They always work hard and they are a blast to be around. It's not that hard, but you have to move and juggle a bunch of stuff at once, and realize you can't make everybody happy.

There are businesses down here that don't like Gus Macker, and I can understand it. The streets around Washington Park, and Maine between Fifth and Sixth, are closed from Friday night to Sunday night. It makes access an issue, and not everybody who comes down here behaves. One good thing this year is that we are not putting any courts by Fifth and Jersey, so it's just around Washington Park and up to Sixth Street on Maine.

But, unlike other events that used to be here, Macker tries its best to clean up and to address troublesome issues. The Quincy Exchange Club runs the tournament from the local level and they do a fantastic job. The Quincy Notre Dame football team provides manpower and helps set up, tear down and clean up. A big welcome to new coach Jack Cornell, who will lead the charge this weekend.

We will be open Saturday and even Sunday for a while, but we know we probably won't do a lot of business. It does bring people down here and we've actually had a lot of people discover that we are at Fifth and Maine, which is a good thing. Memorial Day Weekend probably wouldn't be big saleswise anyway.

If you are looking for stuff this weekend, our advice is to either get here Friday, or if you do come down, just be prepared to deal with a lot of people and park a few blocks away.

Meanwhile, we are ready for Gus, and hopefully we have good weather and a good tournament.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Projects done, more projects await

IF LIFE IS about projects, we seem to take a step forward, only to realize there are a ton of steps still waiting.

In a short time, we've gotten our second-floor roof finished at the store. We have a new AC unit up there, too. Our friend Nick is in town from Colorado and will finish off some plumbing issues this week - he pronounced the hot water heater in our second-floor bathroom sink dead, so he's putting in a new one. So checklist items at the store are getting checked.

At home, Sheryl's garden is going crazy and I have to mow every two days. She also finished a three-year fence project, panel by panel, in our backyard. She even got our solar-powered garage door opener to work, mostly.

Of course she still needs to caulk our leaky upstairs shower, both the front and back porches are in desperate need of paint jobs, and Sheryl wants to yank out the tub in our downstairs bathroom and replace it with a walk-in shower.
We can't even remember why this roof needed done.

Our hardwood floors still need to be restored and re-finished, and there's the kitchen ceiling, which hasn't been fixed since we had it torn off three years ago to find the upstairs leaks. Wait, we also need to tile the bathrooms and the kitchen. It. Never. Ends. Sheryl has a long list of projects and she never quite seems to get ahead of them. Too bad I can't really help, except when she needs a tall person to hold or get something....

I worked my last night shift on the sports desk at The Whig for this sports season, so it will be nice to properly enjoy Friday Happy Hour(s) at the store for the next few months.

Then there's the whole matter of getting better at playing shifting pentatonic scales in different keys, but I'm working at that every day and slowly getting better.

It's just like getting stuff done, project by project. Like Sheryl says, slow and steady wins the race. I will happily watch as she slowly gets things done. Wait - Sheryl needs to fix my internet and clean the computer today. Busy busy busy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A shooting in the Hood

THERE WAS AN Quincy Police officer-involved shooting last night. The suspect is dead. The officer was hospitalized but not injured, and is now on administrative leave. There are tons of questions and theories and plenty of brave Web Warriors blasting our police department and demanding justice. Justice? For what?

I'm checking The Whig for the best and most accurate information. Let's wait for the facts to come out. Apparently there were witnesses so hopefully we get a clear idea about what happened. Regardless, one life is lost and another changed forever.

We are desensitized to gun violence in this country. We watch police TV shows and movies and virtually every episode there's a gun fight and somebody dies from being shot. We just shrug it off and count it as entertainment, or a bad guy getting his just dues.

Barnaby will solve the murder!
Sheryl is watching an English show called Midsomer Murders. It's well done and the acting is top-notch (NOT). But in every episode, somebody gets shot, garroted, beheaded, poisoned, stabbed or pushed into a raging river. The woman who finds the body screams into her hands and entire town lies to the police. The good guy inspector solves the murder, and life goes on until it ends again in the next episode. *Interesting trivia: The main theme song is played on a Theremin.*

Truth is, in Quincy, Illinois, a police officer will likely get through his career without discharging his weapon.

So we don't realize just what a horrendous thing it is, to be involved in a shooting.

The other thing that strikes me is that this took place seven blocks from where we live in Calftown. It took place across the street from the house of our friend, John Potts (who works at The Whig). It took place one block from Quincy Notre Dame High School and half a block from the Quincy Fire Department's Engine 5 firehouse. I've walked, scooted and driven past 11th and Jackson a thousand times and never once worried about my safety.

This type of thing can happen anywhere, anytime. But it won't be cleared up or solved in the space of your hour TV show.

Monday, May 14, 2018

On The Rail rocks

SHERYL AND I went to On The Rail yesterday to catch the Matt Roberts Blues Band. On The Rail is located on Fourth about half a block south of Maine Street. The Pratts have done a great job with the restaurant, and they've opened up a patio on the north end for live music.

It's really cool back there. It's nothing fancy, but there's enough room for a full band and to scatter tables. The band sounded great and it was a bit warm, but each table has an umbrella so you can stay out of the sun.

We just had a couple of beers, but the food looked really good and the service was good, too. Traci and her staff were very friendly and were hustling the whole time.

HartLyss will be playing for a Sunday Funday on June 24, from 2 to 6 p.m. The Cheeseburgers are working on booking a show there, too.

Finding good places to play can be tough. We appreciate all the venues that support live music, and we hope you get out there to support it, too.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The legacy of Ben Bumbry

BEN BUMBRY WENT to a better place this week. He was 86. He was a Quincy icon and legend, and he'll be sorely missed.

When I moved to news at The Whig in 1999, I was told to get to know certain people. Ben was one of them. I did a story about him, maybe for a special section, focusing on his days playing basketball at Quincy College and Drake University. Ben went through a lot during those Jim Crow days and had a lot of experiences with discrimination and civil rights, but he was never bitter about it. He served on City Council and was the director of the Jackson-Lincoln Swimming Complex. He and his wife, Helen, were two of the best people you could ever meet.

Around here we tend to name a lot of things after Jackson and Lincoln, and rightly so - Lincoln might be the most famous human who ever lived, and his ties to this area are significant. But I really think we ought to name the swimming pool after Ben - he spent many hours over there and it wasn't an easy job.

He was also a musician and played drums in Ben Bumbry & The Messengers. They were fixtures on the Mark Twain Riverboat in Hannibal and played all the time. I watched some YouTube videos of his band and you could see the joy he had when playing.

Tonight the Cheeseburgers play at Revelry, and we will tip one or two to Ben. His band played in there many times. He had a huge impact on us all, and I am glad I got to know him a little bit. Peace to Ben's family - he will be remembered around here for a long time.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New Cheese, practice practice practice

WE HAD A righteous Cheeseburger practice last night, and really it was more of a jam session than anything. We came up with about 10 songs we'd love to do. We'll all do our homework and listen to them and come back in a couple of weeks fired up to put them in the wheelhouse.

Band practice is a curious thing. If there are tensions in a band, they can be unbearable. If one member doesn't want to be there, it can really drag everybody down. If everybody is jamming and on the same page, they are a blast.

Cheesey practice in drummer's basement ... 
Gosh, the band practices we've been through .... I remember The Funions playing in the basement of the old Vegas Music on East Broadway. I think drummer Chris Cornwell was actually living down there for a while. We hashed out a lot of original songs down there. Before that, we used to go to Justin Busen's house on Vermont when he and David Stegeman were in the band, those were some righteous Monday nights.

Later we had Funions practice at the newer Vegas Music location near 20th and Broadway. It was an old funeral home and we had some great times back there. It even became a big social event with lots of people hanging out. Now it's just a grassy field.

The Cheeseburgers practice in drummer Kirk Gribbler's basement (always practice at the drummer's house if you can - he has the most crap to lug around). A while back we had a group of people interested in hiring us for their event. They wanted to come to practice to check us out, but I nixed the idea - that's not the best place to see a band.

Practice is full of stops and starts, trying out new things, getting a feel for songs. If you came down and heard us, you'd think we were terrible - it's a small practice PA, and we can hear, but it's not about tone, it's about learning and getting better.

Anyway, we have three or four songs new to the Cheeseburgers in the set list for Friday night's big show at Revelry in downtown Quincy. We will be on the Park Bench side so there's more room, and it will be a blast - our first time at a venue is always an adventure and a lot of fun. We've added some shows to our summer Make America Grate Again tour .... see you there and let's get Cheesey!

2018 Make America Great Again Tour
Friday, May 11, Reverly, Quincy, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4, LaHarpe Community Fireworks party, LaHarpe Ill., 6 p.m.
Friday, July 6, Quincy Park District Summer Concert Series, Washington Park, Quincy, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 24, Keokuk Street Party, Keokuk Iowa, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8 - TBA soon!