View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: June 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Deadliest Catch

Best show on television right now.

Season 2 (Season 3 actually, the show went by a different name for it's first 4-episode season) wrapped up last week.

The show is as intense as and different as American Chopper seemed when it first aired, but, unlike AC, where you quickly started to feel that a lot of the tension was contrived, on Deadliest Catch, it's strictly Man vs. Nature, and it's hard to make that stuff up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The United States of Warren Oates

Is Warren Oates the coolest actor ever, or what?

The other night, with the kids in bed and my wife out with her sister, I decided to once again cue up "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" on the DVD player. This is a DVD you can get for $5.99 at BestBuy. It's everything a Warren Oates movie ought to be: messy, unsettling, cynical, world-weary and incredibly cool.

That was Oates. The actor died back in the mid-80's, just after he wrapped up what would be his most famous role, that of Sergeant Hulka in the classic Bill Murray comedy "Stripes". Ironically, the role was a bit of a departure from the typical Oates character. Hulka is a comic foil with a sense of dignity and gravity. Oates built a career playing anything BUT Sergeant Hulka.

Maybe you remember him as GTO, the down-on-his-luck driver who bedevils James Taylor and Dennis Wilson in the cult race movie "Two Lane Blacktop". Maybe you caught him as the doomed RV owner in the drive-in 70's staple "Race With the Devil", (70's drive-in bonus: he co-starred with Peter Fonda!) I still remember sitting in the Elizabeth Theatre in Falmouth, Massachusetts, watching him as Muff Potter in a surprisingly enjoyable version of "Tom Sawyer" that was produced by Reader's Digest and starred Johnny Whittaker. Oates brought a serious sense of earthiness to the role. He also starred in another great drive-in flick, "Dixie Dynamite", and even played Charlie Allnut in a TV adaption of "Tha African Queen". I've never seen that one, but I can only imagine how good he was in a role that seems perfect for the classic Oates demeanor. After all, this is the guy about which Aussie singer Dave Graney once said : "He always played a lovable loser. A guy in a filthy white suit who knew how to live, love, and lose with a lot of style, with tomato sauce all down the front of his jacket."

He's got a face like 200 miles of country road,
Don't go in there, you'll get lost.
Every cigarette, every drink, every doomed affair.
Sittin' across from you at the 'Chat-n-Chew',
a bloodstained airways bag at his feet.
Flies drunk in the heat,
walking Spencer Street,
sideburns, curly hair.
Hands in his pocket,
single rooms,
Fifteen bucks a night.

Walkin' alone, drinkin' alone,
drivin' slow, parked outside your home.
Sleepin' just like everybody else.

Yeah, he was really out there, away inside,
among the tall trees,
The white water breakin' at the edge of his lips
nobody could reach him.
He could get to us anytime.

A banged-up Holden covered in red dust,
on the side of the city.
A cracked voice saying "beer"
Who's gonna believe him?
Who's he gonna believe?
Who's gonna stand up for him?

Walkin' alone, drinkin' alone,
Ridin' slow, parked outside your home.
Sleeping just like everybody else.
There with no grace of god you go,
through the United States of Warren Oates.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Disappearing Into North Adams

So I picked up Joe Manning's book this week.

I got it on eBay for $15.00.

It's a great book for understanding the history of one of Massachusetts' most unusual communities and the mistakes and bad decisions and ruthless business practices that have dotted its history. It also contains some fantastic photos. I just wish it had even more of them. I would buy a book that was nothing but pictures of North Adams.

I was surprised to see that Manning has only lived in the city, occasionally working for The Transcript, for less than 10 years.

Anyways, it's a great book. If I see more copies floating around, I'll be sure to snap them up and pass them around.


Podcast Preview

Still trying to find the time and the resources to get the podcast up and running.

I tried a practice podcast last week... did pretty welll coming up with 20 minutes of audio off the top of my head. It was also a test of my new Blue Snowball microphone, which may be the coolest piece of hardware I've ever owned. (Technically, the station owns it...)

The mic was amazing, perfect sensitivity, great sound.

Here's a picture of the model I got for the podcasts:

I am also using Audacity freeware and a used iBook G4. It's a very simple set-up, but I'm finding the process itself has a bit of a learning curve. I spent an hour last week just trying to download a snippet of podsafe guitar music from Creative Commons and then trimming that to the podcast track. The number of effects you can incorporate from a simple freeware program like Audacity is amazing. I can only imagine what serious software like GarageBand offers. (For the record, I must own the only iBook in the land that DIDN'T come loaded with GarageBand...)

Anyways... with a little luck, a little time and a little inspiration, I hope to have something posted to RSS by the end of the week.

We'll see.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The REAL Heart of the Commonwealth

For years Worcester had its share of colorful characters. There was The Whistler. I'm sure many people remember him. Walter somethingorother was his name. I think he lived out in Spencer. I also remember he'd been through some rough times in his life, maybe he'd gone to jail for something he hadn't done ... I can't remember the specifics.

There was Charlie the Yankee Fan, aka just Charlie the Yankee, one of the friendlier characters on the common. He used to keep order downtown and made it his business to warn people if they were vulnerable with their purses open or with cash hanging out of their pockets. Charlie once put a "Billy's Back!" Billy Martin bumper sticker on my car as a joke. He was killed in a fire on Green Street.

Then there was the tiny strawberry blonde woman with the red face who walked relentlessly all over the west side. I never knew her name, but if you ran into her she'd invariably ask you if she looked overweight. She didn't. She must have walked 50 miles a day.

And of course there was Howie Gleason. Howie could always be found hanging out at City Hospital or motoring up Chandler Street, selling raffle tickets for one charity or another. He once puttered up to me as I waited at a stop light, and before the light changed to green he's gotten me to fork over ten bucks for a handful of raffle tickets for the Nazareth Home or someplace. Heck of a salesman. Sweetheart of a guy. I can even forgive him for being a diehard Yankees fan. I think Howie had muscular dystrophy or some similar ailment.

All those people are long gone, and for a while, Worcester seemed a bit devoid of colorful residents. But I've noticed a few new ones lately.

There's the Bicycle Woman. She has to be 70, but she rides every day, rain or shine. Up Chandler Street, down Pleasant Street, over June Street. You know her. She has a look of fierce determination in her face, like she's preparing to take a hill at Ypres.

There's the Park Avenue Screaming Guy. He tends to hang out near the intersection of Chandler. He walks around screaming. Not yelling. He doesn't actually say any words. He just screams. AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!! Like that. Over and over.

And there's the guy with the Denver Pyle beard who's plastered his entire red hatchback with the craziest far-right-wing stickers available. He drives around with a rabid look like he's just daring someone to roll their eyes at him.

Frankly, this new batch of folks all seem a little crazy. Charlie, Howie and their ilk were normal people who just happened to have colorful personalities. The new characters have a bit of a nightmarish quality about them. That makes them a little cooler, but a little less likable.

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