Tuesday, August 10, 2010
When we finally made it down the mountain (thanks again, Elaine!) I thought I'd treat mom to a swanky hotel. I thought. We checked into the downtown Marriott in the heart of Chattanooga...got the bags outta the car...lugged 'em upstairs...and....one bed. Lugged all the stuff back to the elevator, back down to the desk.."Uh, we only have one bed".....back to the elevator....we got a handicapped room, which was fine (hey, i'm not handicapped, i'm just 'special'!) I noticed the smell right away...at first I thought "Jeez, my deodorant really let me down, not surprisingly after that ride"...but, no...it wasn't pukey, and not quite sewer-y...but it was there...by the door...not in the bathroom, or in the bed part...but it was there. It haunted me. I was tired. I let it slide. We were on the sixth floor, with a beautiful view of a roof and a parking garage...for $180 a night. Grrrrrr....
We hurried the heck outta that rat hole and headed back up....yet another mountain. This time it was Signal Mountain...and in minutes we were at Sale Number One. On the porch of what was surely a very, very old-but-cool lookin' building, they were selling breakfast. 'Hey, Ma? Wanna eat here?" She was game. I scoped the menu...it was beautiful. Ham on a biscuit, $2. REAL ham. From one pig. On a real biscuit, from a REAL...well, wherever biscuits come from. A large cup of REAL fresh cut fruit....$1. Coffee , etc. Grand total $9. That's for the both of us. Yes, we've all had ham, but I can't explain how damn good this was. I really should have given the gal a twenty and said "fill up this bag"
With a full belly and a positive outlook, we charged on...it was a glorious day, and there was more crap to be bought. We chugged along, diggin' the views off the mountain and diggin' through junk that other people didn't find good enough to keep in their own houses. We both saw stuff that we hadn't seen, or hadn't wanted to see again, in years. If Ronco made it, we saw it. I can't believe smoking was allowed, because if one person dropped a match, we would have had the worlds longest flash fire! Man, we were having fun. Mom has LOTS of new friends. At one point, she had her lawn chair, taking a rest while i crawled around in the dirt looking under tables for elusive Stradivarius' and maybe the jawbone of Woody Guthrie...she was asked 'how much for the sweet corn?'...she realized she was sitting by an unmanned table of sweet corn by the entrance of the sale....she was honest, and said she didn't work there...i told her she coulda helped finance this trip if she just lied a little! AND, she should charged the cars coming in...$4 in, $5 out! Another guy started talking to her as if he knew her...saying how he knew she liked those kind of sales and didn't know she was coming down, etc...mom just listened...and he then said "you don't know who i am, do you?" and Ma said "No, I don't think so" and he said "I worked on your phone!" and she said "Do you live in Illinois?" and he said "Dang". Sorry, Charlie.
We chugged on like the Chatanooga Choo Choo, winding through some of the most beautiful country we've ever seen, where Mansions and tumble-down shacks seemed to play boy-girl-boy-girl with each other, and in between were horses, goats, pigs etc. I also came up with the idea to design refrigerators and washing machines that were INTENDED to be on the front porch. They have indoor/outdoor furniture, right? Why not appliances? A washer to match that '68 Ford in your lawn, a Fridge to match the couch on your porch...I'm onto something here. On a strech further up in Tennessee, we saw a cement strip with a smattering of dealers set up, willy -nilly...we got out of the car and immediately, i heard what i knew was someone playing live music. What I thought would be some chump in a Garth Brooks shirt torturing the few yard salers with Toby Keith and Tim McGraw shite, I was found to be very, very wrong. As I walked up, I heard a beautiful sound. Two Old Boys playing the good stuff....amazingly. I ended up staying, and playing, for well over an hour and a half. I have to name check them, because my heart swelled when i heard them, and i'm going to post a little video of 'em here, too. Ed Frazier and Sanford Brewer were awe-inspiring, and i was the only one there listening. They were anything BUT hacks. These were seasoned pros that played the right stuff in the right way. If you know me well, you know I hate everything that I don't like, if you know what I'm saying, and I sure liked them. My ma walked up, after talking to some guy she referred to as "Goober" about his watermelons...(she said he had so few teeth he could gnaw an ear of corn through a picket fence!!!) She just leaned in and said "You know he (me) won't be leaving you alone for a while!" Ed was one bad-ass guitar player...and he was 73 years old, Sanford was 74....and they'd been playing together since GRADE SCHOOL!! They were both playing cheap guitars they were selling, and were trying to raise money to restore the county's first fire truck! I gave 'em a twenty after their very first song, just so they knew I wasn't goin' anywhere. We talked, mostly about the Louvin Bros. (Mine, and Ed's, very favorites!) and George Jones, Hank, etc. I played "Wedding Bells" with them, and Sanford said "I knew the man that wrote that song. He wasn't a very good musician, but he wrote that song!" Damn! I told them next time I'm playing in Tennessee, they're on the bill, and I meant it! When Ma finally dragged me away, kicking and crying, there were numbers exchanges, pictures taken, and hugs all around!
We were gettin' tired, and headed on down the road...it was gettin' late and we were gonna find a room....driving through Crossville, Tenn., (population, like, 1.180 or something) I saw a music store. I swerved into a parking spot (i was the ONLY car on main street) I walked in and saw it. It was next to a '30's Gibson Banjo (he wanted 4 Grand for that!) I saw a '59 Gibson Melody Maker, and he wanted $699 for it. A very very fair price. So, naturally, I said "Will you take $600...cash...for it?"...the three heavy metal-ish lookin kids in there just stopped what they were doing , and froze.. like I said "Draw, Cowboy" or something like that....a tumbleweed rolled by...cue the Clint Eastwood music...the store owner just stared..i could hear the gears cranking in his noggin..another old gentleman said "ha...the Pause that Refreshes"...I think I was the only one that got the joke....and the store owner said "How about $625..it's got the original case and strap"...i said "sold"...I'll bet it was the fastest and easiest sale he had ever made. As he was writing me up, the other gentleman and his wife asked the question I had answered about a hundred times on this trip "Where y'all from?"..etc....extremely nice people. His sweet wife said she was going to pray for me and my mother, and was there anything special she should pray for? Feeling a little uneasy, and a little uncertain about my relationship and good standing with the man upstairs, I said "My Liver!" and she came back, lightning fast, with a quote from the bible (or maybe it was Mad Magazine) about the liver!!! She even came out to the car and said hello to my mom, and said she was going to pray for us, and my liver....mom didn't know what the hell she was talking about...we said "thanks and toodle-oo" and drove on. I was a very happy camper. As we pulled away, Ma asked me why she was going to pray for my liver...I just said "Oh, I don't know...you know how these folks are!" They really were super-sweet people. I was antsy and excited and I couldn't wait, so I pulled into a parking lot and called my extremely knowledgeable guitar-headed NY friend and told him of my minutes-old purchase...He said "You stole that guitar...does it have the big or small pick-up?" I said "big" and he said "That's a rare f*ckin' guitar" and I said "Ma, he said it's a rare f*ckin' guitar" and he said, on the other line "Did you just say that to your mom?" I said "Yes". He went quiet. It was still a beautiful day, and we decided, after a few more stops...we were tuckered out and done. I asked Ma "you wanna head North?" and she just said "OK!".....What a great, memorable trip, and it really ain't over, not until i land at Laguardia, and smell the ass that is NYC!
So, with a sunburn and a Budweiser in hand, I bid y'all adieu and thank you eternally for the fun you've given us as an audience ....it really made it something special to be able to share this unique trip with you..I really wish there was a camera in the car...we just laughed and laughed and laughed. .There might be a few updates in the next few days, and definitely more pics and vids...oxoxo tom and mom
Monday, August 9, 2010
Hang in there! We got back late last night....long drive, and i can't put my new guitar down. Posting new vid and other junk tonight. Some other vids and pics, too. I can't thank you all enough for the kind words...it's really made this trip extra special that you all could come along...it really did! Mom is out getting her mail re-started, and buying a pair of big Jackie O sunglasses..and probably hiring some local kids as security in case the paparazzi gets outta hand at the gig on Wedsnesday. We all know what happened to Lady Di, and she wasn't half the star Ma Clark is...so....an ounce of prevention....
and she's already asked me what 'bling' is, and how she can 'pimp out her ride' and stylize her 'crib'....god..we've created a monster!
and she's already asked me what 'bling' is, and how she can 'pimp out her ride' and stylize her 'crib'....god..we've created a monster!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Alright...still a day behind on this...on Friday we woke up in Gadsden, Georgia, and hit the start of the whole thing, again, since we got a later start the day before. The skies were a bit threatening on and off, and there was some brief but brutal storms the day before...many tents went-a-flyin'...huge trees uprooted, etc...but we did good, and were crusing along nicely! We are still overwhelmed by the whole SIZE of this sale...i had NO idea it was SO non-stop....I can't believe how many people came from all over to sell and attend this. Every body is so damn nice, too. REALLY nice. I think about fifty people have offered to adopt mom...I'm still holding out, though, for a better offer. Bought mom some BOILED peanuts, an apparent southern delicasy. It's kinda like peanut mashed potatoes in the shell. It's good...for about five minutes...the squirrels and whatever other critters got the rest. As we cruised into Tennessee, trying to outrun the storm..a strange and unwelcome thing happened in our sweet little rental car...the engine light went on. Not what you wanna see when you're heading into the mountains...windy, scary, twisty, turny mountains. After many phone calls, texts and googling of manuals (yes, we didn't get a manual with the car!...and it was amazing that we got reception at the moment we needed it...didn't have ANY phone reception in the mountains of Georgia...and SOMEHOW got a wi-fi signal outside a dumpy gas station on the hill!!) We were informed it was probably cheap gas, a wet computer thingy in the car or a loose gas cap. It made for a stressful continuation of the trip, that yellow engine shaped eye staring at me...Oh, on this day i DID find a guitar...a literally busted up '30's or 40's cheapo with a GREAT huge decal on it that says "El Torreadoro"....bullfighters and bulls ..very cool, but needs a lot of work to just become a less crappy guitar!
We were gettin' kinda hungry and pulled over for something to eat on our way to somewhere else to eat....we saw a hot dog cart run by a cantankerous, foul-mouthed, story-telling lady known simply...and scarily...as 'Granny'. For some reason, as they all seem to do, she loved my mom. In about 8 minutes, mom got her whole life story. She was married at 13...moved to Chicago with her husband...eventually called daddy and said she wanted to come home, daddy came while the perv...i mean husband...was at work...and dragged her home. Down the line...she still managed to have four sons...(um....see photo...I...uh....nevermind...i just can't...oh....uh..like i siad..nevermind) She had the shirt she was wearing made custom, i'm guessing...she was VERY proud of it. So...when we were able to pry ourselves away from granny's grubby grasp, we made our way up Lookout Mountain...engine light on....when the day was winding down..we looked at out last buncha dusty diamonds...we saw an old converted gas station-into-diner that JUST re-opened under 'new management'...which to me says "Hey, Bubba...you been-a managin' fer two months...i think it's my turn".."whatever, Cletus"....(puts sign in window "Under New Management"....It was called 'Pat's Diner"..and the food was actually very, very good. We had two REAL cheeseburgers, curly fries (peeled from a whole potato...it was almost one looong peel!) drinks....and it came to 9 dollars and some change. For the both of us!! I took a pic of the menu..i'll try and post it. It said they had "balONGA sandwiches....you ALMOST got it right, Junior! I asked how to get back to where we were going...and got a "follow the yard sale signs"...oh, ok...will do! So, we started following the red signs at the crossroad....and followed....and followed ...have you ever been on Lookout Mountain? If you have, you know what i mean. It's freakin DANGEROUS! When we left Pat's i said "Ma, i've been on this mountain, and i wanna get us off while it's still light outside...GPS lady was sleeping, but hey, we could follow those signs...we drove, and drove, white-knuckled..through twist and never-ending turns...it got dark. I guess I had lied to Mom. We were still on that freakin' Mountain. The fog was rolling in, it was dark, and the headlights were like lasers in my eyes...the local yokels who knew the mountain like the back of their own cousins hand, were flying by and threatening to scare me off the unprotected, no guard-rail cliffs..."soon, ma...soon...hey, that looks familiar...."...we drove...and drove...an hour and a half since we left Pat's Diner...we round the bend, pull up the road...and there it is...Pat's Diner. You couldn't make this stuff up. We were EXACTLY where we started. I said the F word sooooo many times in front of my dear mother...i'm SURE I'm going to hell now. Devastated, embarrassed and pissed off, I called my friend Elaine in Chattanooga..our destination city for the night...and once she FINALLY stopped laughing (like I didn't feel dumb enough) she set us straight..it went like this.....Mom: "What's she saying?" Me: "Nothing, she's still laughing"...She said "Put this in your GPS"...I typed it into the GPS thingy...it said "calculating route...."....Oh, fourteen miles...so, another 20 minutes of teeth-clenching driving down that friggin mountain, we were in downtown Chattanooga. I hate that Mountain now. It is NOT getting a Christmas card from me.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
We woke up in Paducha, had MORE biscuits and gravy...and hit the road. I'm beginning to have a real love hate relationship with the broad that lives in the GPS...sure, she rewards me when i make the right turn with a "ding ding"...but then she's quiet for miles and miles...and sometimes, i can't get her to talk when I need her to.....Mom, on the other hand, has been telling me the greatest stories of growing up in Maple Park, and others. We drove and drove and drove...some real backroads, too. Mom LOVED the mountains and the tumble down shacks along the way (me, too...always loved those ''ghost buildings') Mom really loves the old rickety barns....she thinks they look 'sad'! The first really wrecked one she saw she said, in all sincerety..out the window, toward the barn "awwww....I'm sorry!"
We ate in a GREAT big place in Tennessee that was insanely good. we had INCREDIBLE fried catfish, collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, homeade pan-fried cornbread, cole slaw and drinks....Total? $13.75!!! For the both of us! You couldn't get it cheaper off a drunk indian! (sorry, non-pc old SNL joke...) The waitress was incredible. Mom said "Tom, that waitress is like that girl from "My Name Is Earl"...and I kid you not, she was right!! She looked, and talked, like Jamie Lynn Pressley's Mom...who tried to look and act like her daughter....she was, um, about 55, quite 'rack-tastic' (Ma said "she's gonna put someones eye out with those things!!) .....and...here's the best part...she had a t-shirt that said "Put Me On Your Wish List"!! ..35 years ago, I just might have, Lady! She was very sweet, too. We're setting the clock for 4:30 a.m....and , yes, i'm coming back next year. xoxo tom and mo
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wow...What a day....woke up in Illinois to an unbelievably violent rainstorm...rattled the crap outta me...didn't know what the hell was going on!! I can sleep through a gunfight between the Crips and the Bloods on Flatbush Ave....no prob...but JESUS, the noise it made this morning at about 6! We were ready and raring to go...after buying some last minute supplies (and, bein' one who can't pass a Crane Machine, I actually had to win a stuffed Minnie Mouse...in one try) we were set to go. I received a call from Enterprise Rental Car, where i had booked my car in advance, with no chance of screw-ups....to ask if I still wanted my car "Yes!" I said "of course...I was just about to call and see if I could pick it up early!" and he said..."Uh, actually, I was hoping we could keep it a noon"...ummm....dang...but OK...that's what we AGREED TO WHEN I BOOKED IT...AND GAVE YOU MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER...AND ALL MY INFO"...so...we went to my little bro, Tim's place (His gal, Heidi's, place, really!) and borrowed his GPS thing-a-majiggy....then went to the rental place. What a buzz wrecker. This nerdy dude there, Mike (as mom said, "such a wuss"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) said "Tom! Hi! GUESS WHAT!!?? I'm gonna do you a FAVOR and upgrade you!!"...i said "huh?"...he said "we don't actually have the car you ordered...so we're gonna give you an EXPLORER!!" I said "I don't WANT an Explorer" He whined "Hey, i thought i was doin the 'nice guy' thing for ya there, buddy!"...I said "Really...this is my Mom...she's 76...she can't get up into an Explorer...i booked a car in advance. And this is the ONLY thing you have? " And this jackass kept going on about 'doin the nice guy thing.."I can cut you a deal, too...a tank of gas".."Oh, really...a tank of gas? How much gas do you think we'll be going through in the mountains of Tennessee in an EXPLORER??? And do you think my mother could drive it if she had to??" Idiot..OH!..then the chubby chick behind a desk said to MY mother...."Awwww, how come you can't get up into the truck....ARE YOU A LIL' SHORTY????" Whoa. She obviously had never met Ma Clark. Mom said "No...I've had two spinal surgeries." Oh, man....my mom was about to go show her who a 'Lil' Shorty' was!! I could see it. Remember, she raised five boys. I laid into him some more then said a fewmore choice words..then said "So...where else can I get a car?" and he mumbled..."Uhhh, well you could wait two hours and I'll have a Charger here".....No thanks, Jackass. "There's a Hertz a couple doors down"....We sat in the car outside and I just stared to make him nervous. Then...we went next door to Hertz....The Skies Opened Up...The Angels Sang....and we met Ryan...Saviour of the Trip. He not only matched the deal...we got extra days, extra gas...a GREAT car...and unbelievably courteous service. Am I gushing? Yes. Do I mean it? Yes. Here's the best part. The Very Very Very Best Part. As we drove off (and the whole transaction only took 15 minutes and we were off the lot!)...I was following behind my sweet, dear , grey haired mother in her car...I saw her motherly hand reach out the window...and flip the bird to the fat ass at Enterprise. This is a GOOD trip so far, and we hadn't even left Dekalb.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
And I'm off...zooming on high-0ctane coffee..waiting for the car service to come get me. I'm flying with an expensive guitar I'm pretty sure the airlines will destroy despite a super-heavy duty case...we'll see. Got my best Ricci Ricardo shirt on...here we go!