Uptown Rantz

Don't Wanna Be No Uptown Fool

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright…and the Nose-Picker

I once read in an old Glenn Frey interview that the way to maintain a constant buzz is to drink two beers immediately and then one beer every one hour and 20 minutes. My experiment with that began back at MSP International. I set the alarm on my cell phone to remind me when I’m due for another. It will necessitate a couple of beers on the plane, so I make sure to have the exact change like they always request on the pre-flight announcement.

I board the plane and take my seat next to a high school kid. He continually picks his nose and then touches his iphone screen. Pick. Touch. Pick. Touch. He has a Led Zeppelin biography on his lap. I know everything that’s ever been written about that band – the tour debauchery, musical virtuosity, the heroin, the witchcraft, the gangster manager, the shark and the groupie, the Yardbirds, the vomit asphyxiation. I know it all. It all remains the same. Pick. Touch. Pick. Touch.

On my lap is A Preferred Blur by Henry Rollins. H.R’s not a great writer. He’s not even a good writer. I’ve read enough of his books that I’m used to the typos, poor syntax, staccato phrasing and repetitive themes of solitude and anger. His books are self-published so there’s no strict editorial process or publishing house standards to live up to. He writes despite his lack of formal education. But his books are a diary of his lonely, manic, focused, information-craving and sleep-deprived life that would make anyone feel lazy. His only ever “real” job was serving ice cream at a D.C. Haagen-Daz in his teens, and he still keeps in touch with the former manager who told him that if things didn’t work out with Black Flag he could return to the store no questions asked. Overall, he’s lived an uncompromising life and how do you not respect and admire that?

The flight attendant hands me my beer. Pick. Touch. Pick. Touch.

The humidity penetrates Austin Bergstrom Airport. The terminal feels slightly tropical, but I don’t mind. I text Kathleen to let her know I just landed and should be at her downtown loft within 30 minutes. For the past year, Kathleen has enjoyed a sweet gig as a freelance writer for Yahoo. Now that her contract is coming to an end, she was more than happy to rent her place to me again. We’ll spend a beer catching-up, she’ll hand me the key cards to the building and her loft, I’ll hand her the cash for the few days of rent and she’ll be off to her parent’s house.


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