Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Year In Review A Year To Forget

Well fuck it's snowing again.

And so begins our little wrap up to this forgettable year.  There has been a influx of new blogs and entries this month since I'm finishing up obligations and final thoughts to year which started out being stranded in Eldridge after seeing one of the best shows I've ever seen in Samantha Fish in Davenport.  Sam returns to Rascals Live in Moline on the weekend but I doubt if I'll make it there.  Samantha has been very busy this year, playing over 200 shows and many stops back into this state as well to support her latest record.  I've been kicking myself for not taking an camera and documenting her Davenport show but did managed to record a show about that on the latest Townedgers' album 30, which was finished in April, got shelved in May and revised it and finally put it out this month to no critical acclaim.   And no sales whatsoever but Diggy Kat played it in its entirely on his Radio Buzz'd show.  But as for Sam Fish herself, it was a pleasure having her jump off stage and play her guitar in front of myself while jumping on a chair playing Runaway.  For most of the year Sam was the top rated search word in here before Pat Travers and the rscrabb blog overtook her and Ivy Doomkitty coming up fast.

If nothing else 2013 is the year of death. Many many folks that I've known have passed away this year and it started right off the bat with Earl Weaver and our beloved Maggie May and countless others, Nelson Mandela, Ray Price, Lou Reed, Sonny Lott, Mrs. Huey, Jim Dearth, Charlie Chesterman, David Richards, Joan Fontaine, Peter O Toole, George Jones, Ed Shangessey, Yusuf Lateef, Jonathan Rivers, Jack Bonus, Gerri Hein Schmidt, Annette Funicello were just a few of many that died this year. I'm sure 2014 a few more will leave this earth but like you I don't know who the lucky ones will be.   Hopefully they are in a better place where that might be.

January weatherwise was pretty nice judging from what I wrote down although the 2011-2012 winter season was even more better.  This winter of 2013 is like the year itself.  It sucks, it's cold and it never stops fucking snowing or icing.  But the spring of 2013 was the worst here ever. It fucking rained every other GD day and four straight months we had enough rain to wet the basement floor four times.  In May there was a fear that flooding would be as bad as 2008 as the river rose up to 19 feet but thankfully it finally stopped raining to the point that New Bo would be spared.  During my Arizona getaway, another fucking rainstorm and even more water in the basement that we can't get rid of the mildew smell but after July 1, we had three storms all the way though October to which the corn field dried out and farmers bitching about lack of rain.  Either you're drowning in it or having it bone dry.  For January, Blake Shelton stuck his foot in his mouth calling old classic country music for Old Farts and Jackasses which the late Ray Price expressed his displeasure with that comment. Eventually both Blake and Ray reconciled before Ray passed away:

The big story of my life and the year was the ending of printing operations as they went to Minnesota on the recommendation of the ops boss stationed out of Owatonna and offered anybody that would kiss his ass to move up there, take a buyout or take a chance being reassigned elsewhere.  And I rolled the dice and it came up snake eyes on 3rd shift packaging before a last minute decision to bring me back to Iowa City for a year in the scanning department thus preventing me to retire and to hang around for another two or three years.  Final get together of everybody I worked with happened in August to which we had parties for those leaving later on.  Nevertheless this was the ending of a era that started way back in 1998 when Russ Galarti took the money and ran.  And things were never the same again. But on a good note, I made it to being at that place 25 years.

Wasn't much for highlights but in August I finally bought a new car to replace the old Corsica that after 295,000 miles and a rusted out body couldn't take no more and crapped out.  I ended up buying a 2013 Impala complete with satellite radio and On Star, which has been put to good use a few times.  And the new Impala has done a fine job taking me to the bargain hunting grounds in Madison, Davenport and Dubuque and for the first time hitting Quincy Illinois and Kirksville Missouri to take care of my FYE and Hastings withdraws

April came, more rain and floods and more death. Christine Amplett,  Margaret Thacher, Alvin Lee and George Jones passed on. .Jim Zabel went in May, the voice of the hawkeyes.  And then in May the worst tornado outbreak in Oklahoma to which they had not one or two but three major tornadoes cutting up Moore Oklahoma.  And I followed each and every one of those storms via the internet.

Despite water in the basement, countless tornadoes and the usual shitty weather, I did managed to do the usual Madison bargain hunts, with varying results. Pawn America continues to phase out their CD section, going from 6 rows to 4 to a row and a half and prices went from 50 cents in May to a quarter in October and I still managed to find some odds and sods.  Another bookstore bit the dust as Frugal Muse on the strip mall in Madison closed up shop.  But if nothing else the October trip was the first time that I did checked out Sugar Shack Records.  First time in the 20 years of going up there mind you.

In June, Richard Thompson came to town to which I went and see and Richard put on a great show with his rhythm section helping him quite well.  I managed to shake the bass player's hand and chatted with him a spell and followed the drummer back to the hotel room downtown, and everybody left him alone.  The Ellis Blvd. A&W restaurant, after five years laid waste after that fucking 2008 fiasco flood was torn down a few months later, another CR landmark gone to political indifference. But hey CR voted for a new casino downtown.  Not the same thing at all.

And so the end of the month before another flood and water in the basement I got away from the pain and woe of Iowa to spend 10 days out in the Arizona desert one more time.  Back home I missed 8 inches of rain that turned Lowden into a raging river town, but out west they had record temps and 120 degrees in Phoenix before a monsoon storm, raged a fire storm in Yarnell that claimed 19 firefighters.  I drove past that town on the way to Prescott and Kingman, only to find out that Kingman closed their Hastings store.  But the trip was a disappointment about the places that I used to like going to eat at, getting sick at the Mexican place in Tucson and even worse the Chinese food place in Metrocenter to which I almost considered going to ER since I was in so much discomfort.   And of course I was chased away from the Oracle Zia's by pushing sales associates who wouldn't leave me alone to look.  And then coming home to see the surprise in the basement from the storms that I escaped.  And with that the basement is still in disarray after that.

Another concert seen was the 80s tribute band Hairball and it was an enjoyable show.  I don't consider myself to go see tribute bands but Sonya insisted and I promised and went.  And a week later while hanging in Davenport, I managed to crash the Darius Rucker show, watch Mr. Hootie do about five songs before getting back on the walking trail going home.  The Hairball show was more fun. And then J J Cale died.

Davenport seemed to be the place to go since I returned there in September and pretty much taken lots of time off due to an extra week of vacation after being at Pearson 25 years and got to see the Quad City River Bandits win the Midwest Baseball title.  I must have gave them good luck, saw them up in CR and they eliminated the Kernels prior before beating South Bend. You have to go to John O Donnell stadium to watch a baseball game. Best place to watch a game.

And then October came around and I spent a night camping at Seminole Valley Park after venturing past an unlocked game to take pictures and find it being locked 5 minutes later. With no cell phone and no place to walk to for help, I survived on glasses of water and some guy gave me a candy bar to survived the night. Lots of wind, some rain and basically nothing to do but cuss out my wonderful luck and life of this shit year, somebody finally unlocked the gate at 7 AM the next day.  Thus postponing my St Louis trip and just going to Madison once again, I figured had I gone to St Louis I'd been carjacked.  Looking back my camping trip wasn't that bad.  I had the place to myself. Almost a perfect vacation.

The last bargain hunt was Quincy and Kirksville and putting 500 unwanted miles on the new car as I went into the deepest backroads of Missouri.  Originally thinking of going to Hannibal, I made it as far as Palmyra and got to see a good part of the past of what used to be up there.  Of old Ben Franklin and Gamble Department Stores that don't exist no more. But most of October and part of November I was stuck with a cold and flu that one of our coworkers was passed away and I was mostly out of commission that month.  Ended up seeing the oldest record store in Kirksville, which really wasn't that much and they were closed by the time I got off those damn back roads and on a decent highway.  Back in Anamosa, El Ranchito was replaced by La Tequila, Green Leaves closed both their locations and the folks that run Villa's Patio opened up a store in the old Happy Chef place off 33rd street in Cedar Rapids.  Which reminds me of a low point of the year, forgetting my wallet at El Ranchito and the owner kind enough to let me go home and get it.  Not sure if the new owners would have let me do that.

For sports, The Cubs sucked and got rid of their manager, The Orioles also fell short but The Iowa Hawkeyes and Arizona State Sun Devils had banner years.  The Hawks, predicted to be in last place this year managed to have an 8-4 record and a Outback bowl bid against LSU, whereas Arizona State's highlight was blowing out USC and seeing their coach get fired at the airport.  ASU plays Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.  The Hawkeyes' played everybody tough all year and had one of the best defenses ever with James Morris leading the way.  The next future NFL superstar.  And the Iowa's men's basketball season showed them going all the way to the NIT final, coming up short but having promises of a pretty good Big Ten season.  I hope.

Last year's winter started late and stayed till early May when it was still snowing and came back earlier than usual with the first snow storm two days before Halloween.  And while it went away in November, come December winter came early and too fucking often for my taste.  In fact it's snowing on Christmas, there's you fucking white Christmas there.  And the summary of a year that started too late and never really got going for summer.  A year that started off the wrong foot and stranded in Eldridge and basically fucked from the word go.

But at least we made it.

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