Yesterday was an incredible day all the way around. Tom Franklin, author of
has just released his new (and first) novel, Hell
at the Breech. We had a signing and reading at the store and afterwards
went out to Johnny’s for some barbeque and craziness.
The reading went incredibly well. The bookstore readings have been in limbo
since MQ closed, and after trying to have the readings in the bar, and finding
the energy in a vacated bar just wasn’t right, we set up shop in the 2nd floor
of the old MQ spot. Thomas, Bill, Amy and Maggie got the place looking great
Johnny sprung for beer, water, and Cokes so we would have refreshments. The
reading (hear audio and see pictures from it here)
could not have gone better. Tom told some great stories about growing up in
Alabama and read from his new book. The crowd was big and everyone had a fine
time. Finally able to record the readings on my own laptop, I got the highest
quality audio I ever have recorded from a reading, which pleased the audiophile
in me to no end.
After the reading we all gathered out at Johnny’s pad for some fun.The barbeque
was incredible and libations flowed freely. 10:30 pm found us gathered around
the fire pit with all of Johnny’s African drums that he recently purchased at
JazzFest from a band that could not take them back to Africa with them. With
heat lightning flashing around us we got a good vibe and a raucous drum circle
ensued. Jamie from Square Books had come down for the event, and he, Johnny,
Bronson, Bobby, Matt L., Matt M., Amy, and myself had a fine time groovin’.
Beth Ann got in to the mix with the harmonica, and Melissa gave the cowbell
a mighty whackin’ as well. This was the first time I’d seen Johnny drum and
it was quite a sight to behold. You couldn’t find a rhythm with him and he had
more stamina than anyone else out there. The circle ended with only Johnny left,
going nuts and loving it.
I originally was going to drop my sleeping bag on the ground to crash when
the party was over, but Johnny offered me the barn as no one was staying there.
Turned out to be a good thing, as I awoke to the sound of torrential rain on
the tin roof. Had I slept outside I would have been washed away for sure. Instead
I got to the listen to the rain drum on the roof, a singular sound that seemed
impossible to come from the individual rhythms of thousands upon thousands of
rain drops. It reminded me of the rifle volley’s I’ve heard at Civil War reenactments,
where the rifles fire almost simultaneously and you hear it as one continual
tone rather than as its individuals pieces. The horse’s stalls are below the
barn’s bedroom, and they were whinnying for breakfast as I awoke to the rain.
There are few better ways to start your day (not to mention awaking hangover-less
because you remembered to have 2 glasses of water before bed).
The next day I came to find that the Yankees had been no-hit by the Astros
(I hate the Yankees, damn ’em), the Nets had pulled off a win against the Spurs,
and both David Brinkley and Gregory Peck had died. I would like to think that
even with the knowledge of those events still unrealized, our lightning accompanied,
booze and barbeque fueled drum fun, plus a great reading by a great author allowed
us to celebrate milestones in our own weird little way. There was a lot of energy
everywhere last night and I’m glad my friends and I were in a place to play
our own little part in it.
PS – I just wanted to give a short thank you to Gregory
Peck and David Brinkley, both of whom have died in the last 24 hours. Both
of these gentlemen worked in industries (film and news) that are overrun with
egos, and a fair amount of bullshit, yet they both did their work with exceptional
grace and quiet dignity. Two of Mr. Peck’s films, Roman
Holiday (the film that first made me fall in love with Audrey Hepburn) and
To Kill a Mockingbird
are two of my favorites and widely considered two of the best movies ever made.
I always found David Brinkley’s reporting to the point and devoid of spin, which
is hard to find these days. He cared about news and about reporting it fairly.
May they both be blessed wherever they are now.
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