"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

Goodbye My Cherokee, I’ll Miss You So

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 28, 2003 at 10:26 am

I’ve visited the new location of the Cherokee Drive-In three times now. Of course
I knew it was going to be different, but after this last visit (my first in
the evening) it is time to sit down and write a tender, teary elegy for the
Cherokee I once knew and loved.

For those of you that don’t live in Jackson, a brief history. The Cherokee
Drive-In is one of Jackson’s oldest and most revered (and therefore greasiest)
eating establishments. Since the 1950’s it was located in a building that can
only be described as more than mildly dilapidated on North State Street just
past Northside Drive.

I could fill volumes of personal reflections and recollections on my time at
the Cherokee, so let me briefly summarize. My personal love affair with the
joint started when I was 17, when Lucky first introduced me to the hallowed,
tobacco yellowed, halls. From then until the doors of that building closed for
good I rarely missed (aside from when I lived in New Mexico) eating and/or drinking
there once a week. In short, the place was my second home in Jackson:

It was:

  • where, by far, the coldest bottled Budweiser in town was served.
  • where I took many an ass-whooping on a fuss ball table on my way to becoming
    an above average fuss baller
  • where, on my 18th birthday, I had chili cheese fries and a couple of beers
    before running over to golf world for some of the most raucous go-cart riding
    I’ve ever had the pleasure to take part in.
  • where, while in college, I could go and shoot pool and drink beer at 3
    pm after class on Thursday with my girl and watch the winter sun sinking early
    over the railroad tracks through the one gun slit-style window in the room
    above the bar.
  • where I have placed my only piece of bathroom graffiti (‘Time isn’t until
    it was’ – William Faulkner).
  • where the old black cook, Ms. Dolores, who has only called me ‘Youngblood’
    since the day we met, and I would sit at the bar and have a beer and talk
    about goings-ons.
  • the home of the famous Roast Beef Thursday (and still is) and the not so
    famous, but equally delicious, Country-Fried Steak Friday, as well as the
    best fried chicken sandwich (topped with swiss cheese and ranch dressing) in
  • home to a touching memorial to my college friend John Huber, who bartended
    there and died in a fiery car crash in 1995.
  • home to the best game of pool I’ve ever shot.
  • where all my friends knew to show up in the days before and after Thanksgiving
    and Christmas. You were going to see somebody you knew and probably hadn’t
    visited with in a while for sure.
  • where, while I lived in New Mexico, I could return and Lance would still
    hand me a Budweiser without having to ask what I wanted, as if I had never
    really left.

And the list goes on, and on, and on.

The Cherokee lives on in name, but for now it’s only a sad reminder of the
glory that once was, even though the same great people own and operate it. The
new building is clean and huge. The cooks are hidden in the back out of sight.
The food isn’t quite as greasy as it was (which leads me to believe the grease
permeating the air of the old location served to flavor the food both before
and after it was cooked). Having moved across the interstate it has (inadvertently?)
garnered a respectable, family-oriented clientele. Last night small children
and suit-clad professionals outnumbered faces I recognized from the old location.
Which actually bodes well for the bold new Cherokee, I guess. They have to pay
for the new building somehow. But it leaves me longing for the grimy, intimate
little building on North State that few respectable Jackson socialites would
dare step in, much less expose their children to.

These are the lessons of life. All things must pass. I actually think mourning
the passing of the old Cherokee is made harder by being able to frequent it’s
new makeover. If I was left only to my memories there would be nothing to ruin
them. Maybe it will take another 50 years to make the new Cherokee into the
beloved dump that I wish for so dearly. Until then I will certainly still frequent
it, though more likely in the early afternoon rather than during the yuppie day-care
that the evenings have turned into.

So goodbye my Cherokee, I will miss you so.

Want to learn more about the Cherokee? Read this article
from the Clarion Ledger.

Valley Days

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 22, 2003 at 12:49 pm

‘Hurricane’ Valley Gordon has blown through town once again. I was planning to head home
last night but she called and invited me to eat sushi with Charles, Kyra, and
her. I had to be into the bookstore early to change out the terminal server’s
floppy drive anyway, so I figured I’d stay the night and kick it with the Valley

Dinner at Little Tokyo #1 was excellent as always. Mr. Charles was in prime
conversational fashion and topics ranged from the new deer camp on the Louisiana
side of the Mississippi River to his dad, an Air Force gunner/radio operator
who lost his leg over the Solomon Islands (winning the Silver Star and Purple
Heart in the process for crash landing the plane, saving himself and the only
other person alive on the plane, after being wounded, as the pilot was killed
from the fire they’d taken) and went on to the a sheriff’s deputy in Madison

After dinner we headed out to Valley’s sister’s house, to visit with her and
her husband. They’d just bought a new ski boat that Valley is anxious to try
out on Sunday on the Reservoir. While the ladies rambled around the house Dale,
Mr. Charles, and I watched the Astros whip up on the Cubs (Chuck, Steve, and
Scott were at the game so I wanted to look for them but didn’t see them). Mr.
Charles recalled his days catching in high school and reminisced on seeing his
first major league game in the AstroDome and also about meeting Boog
, a hard hitting, smash-mouth baseball playing first baseman for the
Orioles back in the 60’s and 70’s. Now Boog owns a big BBQ joint in Camden Yards,
which Mr. Gordon was most impressed with (being in charge of a Pig Pickin’ himself
he is a most discriminating judge). Boog sits around talking with anyone who
happens to wander by and will give him a minute of his time, which is how Mr.
Gordon happened to meet him. Valley regaled us with a couple of songs on the
guitar, including her first performance using a slide, which she is in the process
of learning to play with. She was singing a song about cooking bacon and grits
and Dawn asked her to sing a song about Gouda grits (high brow cheese grits
to the uninitiated) and Chardonnay. I will have to try to sneak a recording
of Valley playing the song she made up on the spot for Dawn, as I can’t recall
it now but it had me on the floor laughing at the time.

After leaving Dawn & Dale’s, Valley and I went by to see Allison at her
house just off Grant’s Ferry Road. Jeremy, Allison’s new beau, who I’d
met around town before, came over and we had a fine time sitting around discussing
music. Topics ranged from the Greenwich Village photography of John
(check out his book ‘There Is No Eye’, it’s phenomenal), who was around
to record the hay-day of the Beats and the emergence of the Greenwich folk scene (he has some photographs of Bob Dylan newly arrived in NYC looking like a 12
year old kid) to DJ Jimmy’s club dance hit ‘Give Me What You Got (for a Porkchop)’.
Also, whenever you get Allison and Valley together, you have to re-hear (though
they never get old) their favorite stories of growing up together and being
best friends since second grade. The most often told is when Valley and Allison
were 7 or 8 and Valley confronted Allison on a trip to the zoo with the fact
that she didn’t like her anymore because Allison had more neon clothes than
she did (neon being in high style) and she always said ‘please’, ‘thank you’,
and ‘may I be excused from the table’ to Valley’s mother, and Valley was sure
Kyra liked Allison better than her because she was so sweet.

After leaving Allison’s we headed back to the Gordon’s and had triple milk
cake while watching From
on HBO, which I hadn’t seen since I saw it first in the theater. I
fell asleep on the couch and climbed into bed around 3 am.

I had to be at work early enough to beat the regular crowd of customer’s since
the server that provides inventory and POS services had to be off to get the
drive changed. Valley would not let me leave without eating Gouda grits, blueberries,
and peaches for breakfast. Valley always insists on saying grace before meals
(which reminds me that I will one day have to tell the story of a most memorable
blessing before a meal at a Mexican restaurant in Oxford) and this morning she
thanked the Lord for a delicious meal, delicious company (I don’t know if I
would be considered delicious having not showered), and telling him she hoped
he had a nice day. I don’t know very many people who think to wish the Lord
a nice day, but that’s just Valley’s style.

This weekend is shaping up to be a humdinger. I’m supposed to go fishing with
Valley and Lucky in the morning, then get back to Brookhaven to act as proxy for
Darin and Herwig in the live Fantasy Football Draft being held at the Boerner’s
cabin (complete with a keg of Abita
and a large quantity of smoked meats). A lot of the college pals are going be
in for the draft and the shin-dig following. Sunday, if I’m able to drag myself
out of bed, it’s back to Jackson to get out on the boat with Valley for an afternoon
on the Reservoir. As much as I love the girl, it’s somewhat a blessing she’s
only in town every 4 months or so, or else she’d kill me with fun.

I’m Baaaaaackkkk

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 20, 2003 at 11:08 pm

Howdy All. Just checking in. Am back from helping Aiyana move her grandmother’s stuff from Tampa, FL to Westminster, MD. A full report and some pics to come in the next day or two.

I’ve been on my computer for a couple of hours now and have to admit I’m utterly amazed at how SoBig.F is propagating itself. I’ve gotten over 300 messages total from it and just in this sitting have gotten 30 or 40. Nasty business, but effective, and impressive, I must say.

Okay, that’s it for now. More to come soon.

Blue Moon Cafe Fun

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 13, 2003 at 10:37 am

Wow, what a crazy weekend. Having just returned from Oxford after a weekend
of Blue Moon Cafe fun, I’ve found I’ve been gone long enough for a spider to
weave an intricate web across my back door, a true testament to how long it’s
been since I’ve been home and slept in my own bed.

Everything for Blue Moon went off without a hitch. The authors seemed to have
fun, the bookstore staff had a blast, and everyone that attended seemed to appreciate
getting to hear and meet so much talent all in one place. Friday started with
the first round of readings. Kyle and Sonny did a magnificent job rearranging
the downstairs of the old MQ space to create a comfortable atmosphere. Barry
Leach, a local guitarist from Jackson (of Vamps fame) who just put out his first
solo cd started things off with an acoustic set. All of the writers were excellent,
my personal favorites being Michelle Richmond and her hilarious ‘fictional’
account of encountering a swinging couple while on vacation, as well as the
incredibly evocative poetry of David Fuller. I’d worked pretty hard to get the
PA settings correct and aside from a couple of erroneous knob tweaks, the audio
recordings of all the readings came out exceptionally clear. After the readings
I went over to Bronson’s and he, Erica, Matt and I sat around talking and drinking
some beers. There were a lot of things going on in Jackson this last weekend,
but too much unfortunately, and rather than heading downtown after leaving Bronson’s
I went to Graham’s and hit the sack.

On Saturday I was at the store at 9 am and kept pretty busy throughout the
day. Jill Conner Browne and Frank Turner Hollon came in early to sign their
stock with everyone else coming in (some dragging in after a late night at the
Edison Walthall Bar) around 10 am. I had a nice chat with William Gay and Suzanne
Kingsbury about the oddities of living out West (Suzanne lived in Arizona, I
lived in New Mexico), how you have to alter or remove tattoos when you break
up with your significant other (a la Johnny Depp & Angelina Jolie) and some
of our favorite Hunter S. Thompson pieces. William also mentioned that he was
a Neil Young fan when ‘Cripple Creek Fairy’ from After the Gold
(my favorite song on that album) was playing on the stereo.
Always nice to run into another Neil fan, especially when it’s an author whose
work you enjoy.

After a little break the public signing commenced. There was a good crowd and
it was nice to see some of the newer, less established authors getting a chance
to meet a large number of readers face to face. The Blue Moon Anthology really
gives some up and coming writers a chance to interact with a reader-base that
they might not ever have assembled in one place otherwise. After the public
signing I was pretty whooped and found my way upstairs for a short rest where
the MQ bar used to be (and coincidentally the home base for last years Blue
Moon festivities).

Saturday nights reading went over really well also. Jack Pendarvis competed
for ‘funniest reading’, at least tying, if not besting Michelle Richmond’s performance
of the night before. He read a fictional ‘letter to the editor’ of a newspaper
asking a superhero to please quit beating him up. Apparently the letter’s writer
had been mistaken for an evil-doer. Hopefully I’ll have the audio available
for posting soon.

After Saturday’s festivities wore down I helped John, Thomas, Joe and Adam
disassemble the MQ reading space then headed over to Bronson’s for a night cap.
Other people were supposed to show up but no one did so he and I took the opportunity
to listen to some Neil Young records. Not very many of our co-workers (nor the
general public) are quite as fanatic about Mr. Young as we are, so it’s rare
that we hang out together and with our other cronies and get the chance to listen
to a bit of the large collection of Neil Young record’s Jason owns. We enjoyed
both Tonight’s the Night and On the Beach, both of which will always sound better
on vinyl than they ever will on CD.

I got to sleep late on Sunday then Graham and I had a Lenny’s Philly Steak
and Cheese (with their trademark and incredibly tasty pickle relish) for lunch.
Then I was off to Oxford to attend Tom and Beth Ann’s annual Blue Moon ‘wrap’
party. I hadn’t originally planned to go since I’m leaving to help Aiyana drive
a moving truck from St. Petersburg, FL to Baltimore, MD this coming Friday.
But I haven’t had a trip to Oxford all summer, I had just dropped $500 to get
my car’s AC fixed and figured I might as well get my money’s worth, and mainly,
when Beth Ann invites you to a party (especially after winning best book inscription
with a most salacious entry in my copy of Blue Moon II) you just don’t say no.

The trip up was beautiful. There were butterflies everywhere. which unfortunately
meant I hit way too many. There are few things that strike me as absurdly cruel
as smacking a beautiful butterfly with your car as you’ve watched it joyfully
flit its way across the road, only to wander right into the path of your windshield.
What more is an automobile than a 70 mph battering ram to a butterfly out for
a leisurely flight on a beautiful summer day? Killing innocent butterflies aside,
the trip was great. The summer’s corn is dying, the whole field of stalks brown
and withering. The cotton is well on its way to maturing, all signs that fall
is almost here.

I arrived in Oxford and passed by Lucky’s house to find him not at home. I
parked in the Square and wandered around, taking a couple of pictures. I stopped
in at Off Square Books, where the Blue Moon authors had just wrapped up their
public signing, and talked with Jamie’s wife, Kelly, for a while. They headed
over to Tom and Beth Ann’s and I swung by Lucky’s again to see if he was home.
Finding him just arriving from doing laundry we sat around for a while then
headed over to Tom and Beth Ann’s house to get our party on for real.

Tom and Beth Ann have just moved into their new house on Sisk Avenue. The evening
was surprisingly and pleasantly mild and it was nice to have a cool evening
outdoors in August. MacAdam-Cage was nice enough to spring for plenty of booze
and barbeque. Everyone looked somewhat relieved to get three days of book dealings
behind them and be able to hang loose with the knowledge no one was going to
be forcing them out of bed the next morning to sign a couple of hundred books.
Jere Hoar and Barry Hannah were both in attendance and I had a nice chat with
them. Jere bests Barry by a number of years but has just released his first
novel, The Hit. Barry (perhaps he warrants a Mr. Hannah) is perhaps Mississippi’s
most revered living writer. He met my parent’s rector at a wedding a few months
back which led to an entertaining discussion of Southern Baptists, Episcopalians
(and how the former are more likely to become the latter), and our opinions
of the church in general. If you’ve read any of Mr. Hannah’s work then you’re
aware how entertaining a conversation with him of that nature can be.

I also ran into Jeff, who I’d met at last year’s Blue Moon party. Then he’d
been in the process of finishing a screen play. As of this year’s Blue Moon
party he’s sold the screenplay as a novel to be published in the Spring and
has a couple of good offers on the screenplay. I had a great conversation with
Eric Kingrea, the youngest of the Blue Moon authors at a shocking 19 years young.
We share a couple of opinions on the lack of quality southern literature set
in the modern South. Eric is extremely talented and I’m sure he will go places
(he is already 30 pages into a contemporary novel set in southern Alabama).
It was nice to meet one of the up and coming members of the new generation of
southern literati. After giving our best wishes to everyone, and hopes of seeming
them in attendance at next year’s Blue Moon festivities, Lucky and I gave Eric
a ride to his motel then headed in and crashed ourselves.

I wrapped up my Blue Moon weekend by sleeping late on Lucky’s couch and having
lunch at Ajax Diner, a prize plate lunch spot on the Square in Oxford. Sonny
Brewer popped in just after I’d taken a seat at the bar and I was pleased to
know he’d thought the weekend could not have gone off any better and they are
planning a Blue Moon-themed Thacker Mountain Radio show to take place in November.
Will have to put that on my calendar and try to make it up to see it happen.
My lunch at Ajax was chicken and dumplings, garlic and cheese mash potatoes, and
marinated cucumbers and onions. I had a cup of coffee for dessert (I hadn’t
had my morning cup yet) and hit the road to head back south.

The drive home was just as pleasant as the drive up, though I’m afraid I dispatched
just as many, if not more, butterflies. The miles went like seconds and before
I knew it I was back in Brookhaven, home again. Mom and Dad are in Florida with
Graham and my aunt and uncle so I had a nice quiet evening watching the Saint’s
first preseason football game all by my lonesome, a nice way to cap off a noisy,
social, fun-filled weekend.

So many diversions, so little time

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 5, 2003 at 9:11 am

Yesterday was a nice eventful Monday. Finally got a SmartMedia card to work
in my camera (nothing short of voodoo was required, I have no idea what finally
worked) so I got out and took some pictures of downtown Brookhaven (they are
the black and white ones in this gallery).

The draft for the Fantasy Football League I’m in with Graham and some of his
pals kicked off and I picked up Deuce McAllister as my first round pick. I’m
working on the 2nd round pick right now, which is a much harder pick as there
are 19 picks between this one and my third round pick and I’m having a hard
time deciding whether I’m going for a quarterback, another running back, or
a receiver. Decisions, decisions.

Graham came into town so he could vote in today’s primary. We had Brad and
Emily over to play poker (Jeff only watched, eliciting many questions of his
manhood). Emily, being the least experienced poker player and the only female
playing, took us all to the bank, doubling her money. I wasn’t doing so hot
until the last 2 rounds, when three card drop ’em saved the day and cut the
losses to a minimum.

We are three days away from the Blue
Moon II
event at Lemuria, which is always exciting. There will be 20+ authors
in attendance to read and sign books. It’s a great oppurtunity to hear and meet
some of the south’s best authors, as well as get a first glimpse at some up
and coming talent. Here’s the schedule
and some more info
. Please try to come if you get the chance. It will be
quite a good time and the word on the street is there will be free kegs (nod,

Ashes and Water Contest Time!

Uncategorized — d-ashes on August 3, 2003 at 10:47 am

Contest #1: New Ole Miss Mascot Least Likely to be Chosen

Last week the University of Mississippi announced a contest to decide the new
in-game mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels. Having decided that ‘Colonel Reb’ no
longer embodies the progressive nature of the school, the onus has been placed
on Joe or Jane Commoner to take Ole Miss in a bold new direction.

While I’m certain someone will take care of Ole Miss’ needs I would like to
launch a side-contest. So if you are interested please submit a drawing or write-up
of the ‘New Ole Miss Mascot Least Likely to be Chosen Winner’. I was thinking
of something like ‘Sharecropper Cletus’, ‘Pattie O’Possum’ or the like. Have
some fun with it and email your submissions to davec@ashesandwater.com.
The best submissions will be featured on www.ashesandwater.com

Contest #2: MSN Emoticons

With the release of MSN Messenger 6.0 Microsoft now has the option for users
to make their own emoticons (the little images that show up in place of the
text smiley faces. Here’s a link to the existing
offered by MS. For this contest I’d like everyone to design some
new emoticons and submit them. I will use them on MSN Messenger and will offer
a download for anyone else wishing to use them as well. Emoticon designs should
each be 22×23 pixel gifs or jpegs.

Feel free to pass these contests along to anyone else you think might have
some fun with them. There is no deadline for submissions for either of these,
but know that the sooner you submit your designs then the more likely no one
else will have and therefore you will win by default. 🙂

Good Luck!