Thursday, July 11, 2024

Soccer with an Englishman

 I KNOW A little bit about soccer. I grew up playing it in Canada.I wrote about a lot of soccer games in my 10 years as a sports writer. My daughter played in her younger years and I helped coach her team. Actually I more or less coordinated who brought treats after the games. Who Brought Treats then became a famous Gus Macker team name. But I digress.

Soccer is actually called football in the rest of the world. I know we think the world  revolves around us, but it doesn't. But we are right to call it soccer. Even though it's not the right name.

There are several big soccer, er, football, games on Sunday. One is the finals of the Copa America, which I thought was a Barry Manilow song but is actually a tournament for all the countries on the left side of the world. The bigger tournament is called the Euros and it's in Germany. 

Canada is actually playing for third place in the Copa. Apparently they are playing the Urologists, who got beat the other night in the semifinals. Their players then climbed into the stands and brawled with fans from the other team. Copa! Excitement! I kind of understand it, because I certainly wouldn't want to upset my urologist, especially after the procedure he did on me about a month ago. 

Wait. I'm being told it's Uruguay. Whatever. It still sounds like something connected to the prostate. And if they brawl with fans in the stands, they deserve to be seen by a urologist every day. 

The Euros feature the best teams from, you guessed it, Europe. It is a huge deal over there. I watched a game last weekend and all I could hear was the crowd singing and chanting and banging drums. And it was 0-0, or nil-nil, as my football friends like to say.

England is playing Spain in the Euro finals. I know a guy from England. He works at Blessing's 48th facility. His name is Martin and he's a good guy. He's kind of obsessed with the Euros and his English team being in the finals.

I asked him if he was going to watch the game. Turns out he doesn't have the station that carries the games. 

"Well, we should invite ourselves to Avery's house Sunday. He's a big soccer oops football guy," I said. Avery used to work at 48th and knows the names of all the players on every team.

There was the minor issue of informing Avery's girlfriend Sadie, who also works at 48th and is amazing. I took care of that. "We are coming to your house to watch the game Sunday," I said.

"Oh," she said.

Anyway, we worked it out. Now there might be burgers and beverages involved. See? This soccer ooops football stuff is like the Super Bowl! Only you kick the ball most of the time, not pass it or run with it. And there are no commercials during the actual game. Hmmm. I'm liking this soccer oops football thing more and more.

So we are getting very excited about watching England play Spain and seeing if Martin has a stroke when it goes to penalty kicks. These football fans are really into it, you know.

It could be the greatest afternoon of our lives. If England wins.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Sweating is good

 I SWEAT. A lot. It's gross, I know. But sweat keeps us from overheating and killing ourselves. So it's gotta happen.

We've come off a spate of oppressively hot 90-90 days and nights. A few weeks ago I played three outside shows over the weekend and I went through seven T-shirts, three towels and massive amounts of water. What can you do? Somebody came up to give me a hug at one of the gigs and got a lot of .... me. In sweat. Ugh.

At work we've recently learned lab couriers can wear shorts. It makes a huge difference. Does it keep me from sweating and changing shirts two or three times in 8 1/2 hours? Noooooo! Of course not.

I just keep telling myself I'm "sweating out toxins" and it's good for me. Unfortunately, we don't sweat out toxins. Crap. I wanna believe it so bad.

On Saturday I played golf with some Lab Brats and it was humid. We walked. I was soaked after the first hole. I just focused on chipping for bogey and drinking water. Look at all these toxins I'm getting out! Wrong. I'm just sweating.

Bad golf in humid conditions is exhausting. I went home and took a long shower and had something to eat and I felt a lot better. Then I went over to the friend's house and smoked a very nice stogie and had a beer and more food and fortunately reversed all that sweating out of toxins thing. Wait. We DON'T sweat out toxins. So in the end it didn't matter. I think.

So if you see me at a show or at the golf course, and I look like I'm drenched, well .... I'm just getting it out of my system, toxins or otherwise.


Monday, June 24, 2024

Signs of life at 5th and Maine

 EVERY DAY AT about 4:30 p.m., I cross the Memorial Bridge into Quincy. Most people turn left at Third and head to Broadway. But I hate Broadway. So I go up Maine Street to Eighth or Ninth and then head north. That means I get to see former Second String Music location at Fifth and Maine, and it's bittersweet.

We closed almost two years ago to the day after 10 years at 100 North Fifth. It was a good decision and things have worked out. But I do miss certain things about the store, the building, the corner of Fifth and Maine. Man we had some good times there!

Malcolm liked hanging out in the back.
The space on the main floor was vacant and the music store signs in the windows stayed, but they were taken down a few weeks ago and there's activity inside. There's a logo on the front door and it appears to be some sort of thrift store.

Saturday I played at the MidSummer Arts Faire and I noticed somebody inside, behind the counter. I thought long and hard about checking it out. But there are no open signs or hours posted, so maybe they aren't open and just getting ready. 

And ... maybe I'm not ready to go back in there. 

Best of luck to the new business. It's a great space with a ton of history. Supposedly there's a coffee shop going in the 505 Maine space as well. It's an anchor location and downtown Quincy needs something there.

When the time comes, it will be cool to check it out.


Monday, June 17, 2024

The long and short of work clothes

 SUMMER IN ALL it's hot and sticky glory has descended on the Q. It's 90 90 time - 90-plus temps, 90 percent humidity. It's just the way it is, and we sort of get used to it.

Saturday we had two outdoor shows and I went through at least five shirts and three towels. It's OK. Sunday night I mowed my weeds and it wasn't horrendous, but it's a workout in the heat.

As a lab courier for Blessing, I'm expected to dress respectably. That means collared shirts (most of the time) and dress pants. Sometimes I'll even tuck my shirt in. We are visible so it's understandable.

Last summer I inquired about wearing shorts. We are in and out of air-conditioning all day and I sweat. A lot. I'm gross. It's not unusual for me to run home on my dinner break to change. There's nothing like cooling down by going inside, then getting back in the oven-like vehicle and driving for half an hour with the AC blasting in a futile attempt to keep me from looking like I've had water dumped on my head.

Couriers were under the Diagnostic Center at Blessing. My boss was awesome. But she said no to wearing shorts. Again, it's understandable - you put the Blessing tag on and you gotta represent. 

Last October we were switched to working for Purchasing. The new boss is a great guy and I like working for him. On Friday I was in Hannibal and the purchasing people said, "Lab couriers can wear shorts now. You didn't know that?"

Apparently we can. My boss is out of town this week on a well-deserved vacation so I can't ask him directly. But somebody said something to somebody who said the boss said it was OK to wear shorts when it was really hot. They can't be ratty and you still gotta tuck your shirt in, blah blah blah. 

So. Do I wait until he gets back, beg for permission to wear shorts and hope he says yes?


Yesterday I went clothes shopping (ugh) and bought three pairs of nice shorts. And a couple of shirts with buttons. Yes, they were on sale. Yes, they are respectable. Yes, it will help me stay cooler and it won't keep me from sweating, but it will help.

So get ready for knobby knees and shorts that hit the knee for most humans, but are above the knee for a 5-foot-19 lab courier who wants to look his best. That's the long and short of it. 

I might tuck my shirt in, too.


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

That long ago?

LATER THIS SUMMER I'm going on a week-long Michigan adventure because my youngest sister's son is getting married. Charys lives in Colorado now. Her family has rented an Air BnB in Grand Rapids for the week. I'm going to hang out with them.

It's about a block from the corner of Burton and Eastern. And that's where the memories, however fuzzy, really kick in.

In the summer of 1985, I lived in a house at 830 Burton in Grand Rapids. I had at least one roommate, Bill Oostendorp. Was there somebody else in there with us? We had friends renting the house but they weren't moving in until late summer to attend Calvin College. 

I was working at a restaurant as a cook. It was called Mountain Jacks, and the job wasn't much fun. I was also getting ready to move to Mount Pleasant and tackle the journalism degree at Central Michigan University. So basically I was a broke college kid idling through the summer.

It was almost 40 years ago. Yup. Forty freaking years. That hit me like a runaway train the other day - how does time slide by like that? 

The main thing I remember about 830 Burton is the porch. It was massive and a great place to watch traffic and people. I'd get home late at night, take a long shower and hang out. It was a really hot summer, from my vague memories, so there were a lot of 3 a.m. porch sessions just staring at a quiet street.

Thank god I wasn't 21 yet, though we had our fair share of getting into trouble. There was an end-of-summer bash that involved a keg. One of my few clear memories is the massive amount of ice we went through to keep the beer cold - must of gotten it a few days before the party. Right.

The week in Grand Rapids will be great, seeing family and old friends. I'm sure there will be some summer evening strolls around the neighborhood, and I'm sure I'll stop by 830 Burton to look and remember, mostly with a smile and good vibe.

How four decades passes like the blink of an eye is beyond comprehension.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Busy music weekends

A RARE SATURDAY night night off is a nice thing indeed. But I know how much we appreciate people coming to see us play, in whatever band is playing. It doesn't have to be a ton of bodies but human beings bring energy and performers feed off of it. The more you get into it, the more fun everybody has.

Saturday night at Quincy Brewing Company, the lovely Hannah Mahon Haubrich played in the outdoor beer garden. The weather was perfect and the crowd slowly filtered in after she started. By 8 p.m. the place was packed. 

Hannah just got married and has had a lot going on in her life, so it's understandable she hasn't played much in the past year. I hope that changes. She is SO good, with a beautiful voice and amazing original songs. What a perfect night to hear great music!

The next two weekends are going to be busy ones, so here's a schedule. The show looming July 27 is going to be really cool ... can't say much about it yet, but there's a good chance of former Cheese with some Radio mixed in! Also fired up about hanging out again with powerhouse vocalist Cori Powell-Green and band this Saturday night in Hannibal, and some fun summer shows with Prospect Road.

Saturday, June 15

Maker's Market on Hampshire St. between 6th and 7th with Allison Hutson, noon to 2 p.m.

HartLess (full band), Tipsy Bricks in Hannibal, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, June 21

Private Party, Quincy

Saturday, June 22

Mid-Summer Arts Faire, Washington Park, Quincy, time TBA (about 1 p.m.), solo show with a very special guest!

Prospect Road at Sportsmen's Hop Garden, Mount Sterling, Ill., 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 20

Private Party, Quincy.

Saturday, July 27

TBA, Club Tavern, Quincy, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 2

Private Party, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Saturday, Aug. 10

Quincy Farmer's Market, Washington Park with Allison Hutson, 10 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Quincy Farmer's Market, Washingotn Park with Allison Hutson, 10 a.m.

Sunday, Aug. 25

Pop A Top, Plymouth, Ill. with Prospect Road, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 7

Private Party with HartLess, Coatsburg, Ill.

Saturday Sept. 21 

Great River Brewing Company, Hannibal Mo. with Allison Hutson, 7 p.m.