New York State of mind

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It can be argued when you are away, you have plenty of free time on your hands, so why not take time to update your blog more?

The basic fact I am away, where I get up each morning, with the desire to go out and see as much as I can, then to return to as little sleep as I can get away with, shower and shite included is why I do not update my blog often enough and I am sorry for that. I was back in Sunny Perth for 5 days and that would have been an ace time to write some more spiel about New York. However, I spent most of the time catching up, planning the next 6 weeks or just sleeping. A tired wee bear was I. I must add it this point, WordPress is shit! Just not flexible, very restrictive on uploading and takes ages to create a blog. Not worth the money unfortunately.

So, Bowie aside the rest of my time in New York. I did not do very much to be honest. Lots of walking and visiting bars I had been in many years ago like the top Scottish Bar ‘Hole in the Wall’. As I was missing Scotland at the Azteca, I splashed out and got a ticket for Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens. It was pricey, but strangely enough the same cost as a ticket for the Peru game and the Maid of the Mist aside, easily the best money I spent since I have been away.

Now it was not a one off concert. Billy has a sort of residency at the Gardens, but that does not mean that any of his 50 performances to date have been any lesser than my visit. It could be argued that I am a fan of the Joel. Songs like Uptown Girl, Vienna, Woman, Ballad of Billy the Kid and Piano Man are staunch solids in most playlists I have. I even like the Westlife version of Uptown Girl, it is that good a song baby! I’m in early and I am punished by the horrific $13 a pint for Stella on the go. This will not deter me peoples, I head up to my seat just as he starts off his first tune. I’m at the first row, right at the top of the stairs and end of the row so I can stretch out.

I have argued in the past that music and specifically live performances can has such an emotional effect on you. So much so, that you could come away from any gig, saying that was the greatest gig I have ever been to, the adrenaline is flowing that much and your emotions are all over the place. I have seen the Beastie Boys live, Fun lovin Criminals with Scrimmy at the city hall, Madonna, Showaddywaddy and even Elvis Costello. But, there is always that one Artist or band, you wish you could go back in time to see. For me it was Queen, specifically Freddie Mercury live at Wembley. I would spend every penny I have to my name to go back, to get two tickets to the Live Aid gig at Wembley and to take ma mammy. Now that would have been braw, I can tell ya.

For now – I seen Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens and he Rocked Da House! I was sitting next to Darnell. I put my hand out when I sat down and said Wardy and he said Darnell. He was very shy watching the performance and not long after I belted out Piano Man, top of my voice, I think he come out his shell. There was this song Scene’s from an Italian Restaurant and he went daft, body movin and singing and the likes. The rest of the gig was us both standing, clapping, singing, body shaking and the likes, it was proper ace. Now Billy does this amazing thing, he says I will give you two songs to choose from and the one with the most noise gets played. He names a hit and gets a cheer. He then names an album tune, that everyone loves and he gets a bigger cheer. On the encore he comes back to the hits, he is a wise man. Totally blown away by the way, such a great thing to be part of.

On Sunday I visited Chelsea Markets after a good wee wander round about 300 street stalls they had on the go, buying tat and muchying. Chelsea Markets are a bit pretentious and expensive I thought for my liking. I went to Pier 64 and tried my hand in a batting cage at the old baseball – Wow, so hard to hit the ball coming from the machine, even tho you know and can see it’s coming. I have a greater appreciation for baseball players now.

I am in love with a woman called Shani Stewart. I like her style, she makes we laugh and we can chat and chat. She put me onto the New York High Line. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail, created on a former New York Central Railroad on the west side of Manhattan. So, I had a leisurely stroll for about 70 mins on a Sunday lunchtime.

Once you get past the foreigners and what my cousin Chuck calls the Sex and the City ladies (Idiots who walk 3 or 4 in a line in a 2 way path), once you get past the frustrations of barging thru these fools, it dows so much for the soul. A big bonus is that St Johns legend Stevie Campbell has enjoyed the same experience and gave me a big thumbs up for my Instagram post – Cheers Stevie.

For the rest of the day I visited a few ole drinking haunts like the Hockey Puck and Hole in the Wall. I could have done a whole lot more in New York, but I think I done enough. I spent a good full day vinyl hunting as well as 3 hours in Macey’s, getting some info for friends coming later in the year and a bit kiss n cuddling on Sunday night, which was choice!! 

I’ve been home, sorry if I did not see you. I’m off to Europe for 6 weeks or the final countdown as I’m calling it (Get it – Europe – final countdown!!).  Keep following to see where I end up tho, love you all.

Cheerie

Ps. hopefully, the videos have added at the bottom. Please enjoy

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Labyrinth

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Changes to my travel plans has enabled me the opportunity to once again go to, what could probably be the worlds most sought after travel destination. A place where many movies are filmed, songs are sung and in case you were wondering, a place where it’s perfectly legal to walk around topless. To help get that image of my chubby body topless, skin tags and everything, I will confirm I am referring to the Big Apple itself, New York, New York.

Before I rabbit on, here are two interesting facts I learned thru chatting to some local Yorkers.

> The performers you hear on the subway have to audition each year if they want to be officially recognized by the MTA.

> Back in 1907, a car salesman suggested yellow was the easiest colour to spot from a distance, hence why Taxi’s are yellow.

I was getting in late on Wednesday night, mainly cos the Amtrack was late yet again, 2 hours this time, I only needed a gaff where I could lay my head. I also had the added condition of needing something close to Brooklyn, where I would not only be record store hunting, but visiting the Brooklyn Museum to hopefully pull a few heart strings, fill my mind with wonderful songs and while away a couple of hours. That’s no excuse for the £37 a night shithole I did book, called the Bowery Grand Hotel. Let me tell you, there was nothing Grand about the place. My review on booking dot com was ‘If you had the choice between this hotel and a hostel, choose the hostel.’

I’m up sharpish and out for some brekkie, to get a better wifi. Just as well as it’s raining today, but i’m well prepared, I still have the brolly I bought way back in Guangzhou visiting the fish market. I have my route planed. There’s a subway roond the corner that takes me to Atlantic. From there I can walk a couple of km, taking in hopefully two vinyl stores on the way to get to my desired destination. First one was decent, not over priced like many are, but I just have a donder around and head to 595 Washington Avenue. A fellow fan of the old Vinyl music playing has asked me to source out this gaff, before he hits the town in September. Bad news bears for the chap however, it’s now an Indian Restaurant. The only vinyl on the go are the Bollywood tunes playing in the place.

I would stop for some lunch, but I spotted a place up the road called Tom’s Restaurant, which reminds me of some plumber boy, so I head up there, I need to fill masel up for my next museum visit. At this point I will say I have been having troubles with my mobile. When I type a comment on facebook and post it, sometimes, what I post makes its way onto a messenger contact. I can’t explain it and if you have had one from me, this is the reason why. I met a lass a few years ago at Rewind and occasionally we have chatted on FB. The last time was last year until I sent a thumbs up and a message of ‘Just dad to’. What followed was like a scene from a movie as I tried to explain the mix up, asking her to look at the exact same post about the café I was in, but clumsily and genuinely saying I was glad it happened. Were back chatting.

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I’m at the Brooklyn museum to see ‘David Bowie Is’, but as they have timed showings I have an hour to kill. As you get museum access and Bowie exhibit access in the one price, I decide to work my way up the 5 floors to kill some time. If you have not been to the Brooklyn Museum, it’s certainly worth a visit. If I stayed anywhere in the US, I would get an annual membership and visit regularly, mainly as it only costs $75. It’s massive, with many differing exhibitions on the go at one time. Also it has movie showings (art-house) and get together’s, so well worth the money. Arts of Korea, Ancient Egyptian Art, American Art, European Art and collections are the halls I donder through, choosing snapshots that interest me. Collections is the most interesting exhibit, it’s full of modern day (80’s, 90’s and 2000’s), furniture, paintings, toys, stamps and even cutlery we used to have years ago.

There are no photo’s allowed to be taken in the David Bowie exhibit, which is understandable and did not stop one or two sneaking a piccy. Disappointing tho, as I would of liked to post photo’s of the tons and tons of interesting song writing notes, drawings, set designs, outfits and the likes on show. Headphones are the order of the day, its an audio visual exhibition, multiple rooms and the fancy wee box attached to the headphones, pick up where you are and tell that part of the story.

Fascinating, enlightening, but emotional and brings a tear to your eye. If your a fan of Bowie and if you have the money and the time. Take a Friday/Monday off, get a cheap flight over and back with 2 days of clothes and go to this b4 it closes on 15 July. A lot has been donated from private collections of Terry O’Neil and Kevin Cummings and the David Bowie archive. It tracks his career from his early days at home, the various bands he was lead singer for and his, at times desperate desire to be famous and be a style Icon. It’s funny, but it made me think that David Bowie was the original X Factor wannabe, before this was ever a thing, so desperate he was to be successful, to be recognised for his singing/ song writing and as a style icon. This is not my opinion, he says it himself, the X factor I added.

From the ludicrous and spectacular outfits created by Yamomoto that he wore on stage. His movie and stage career, playing the Elephant Man on Broadway, his continual re-invention and elaborate stage designs for his tours like Serious Moonlight to the cocaine spoon he, by the looks of it, worn out in the 70’s. Rob Sheffield wrote in Rolling Stone – “It’s not just a collection of his artefact’s – its a collection of all the different people he was.” The most interesting time it seemed when he travelled from Tokyo via the Trans Siberian and ended up in Berlin, with Iggy Pop of all people, who said of Bowie “I think I functioned as an outlet for his overflow – He resurrected me.”

It might sound cheesy, but around every turn, just when I thought I had seen everything, there was another hall, with more interesting Bowie stuff. It truly felt like a Labryinth of sorts. If I find myself with a spare £500 in my pocket between now and 15 July, I would jump on a very cheap, no frills flight over, stage 2 nights in basic accommodation just to go once again, truly magnificent.

Cheerie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Big Fat Hockey Binge

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As I have said before, you can be the best planner and itemize a trip down to the exact day here and there, but it’s always the changes that happen en-route that are the best. Changes of the mind and changes of heart. My Niagra Falls experience was brilliant, such an adrenaline rush and unique to that moment. Another form of fuelled adrenaline is the excitement of meeting family, sharing stories, hugging and just spending time in each others company and wanting more.

As you grow older that seems to lessen and lessen unfortunately and it’s nobody’s fault. We all feel we should do more, see loved ones and close friends more, but everyone has a different path in life. The most recent poll indicates there are some 7.6 billion people in the world – yowzer. What will blow you’re heads is that number is not even accurate, there’s plenty more as in certain areas of the world, families are a lot larger and people without a residence are not registered to vote, to some they don’t exist.

Here it is as a number: 7,600,000,000 to 1. Jesus, I we all have a better chance of winning the lottery! I always remember when I was rite young, spending New Year’s up at Patsy & Mick’s, stealing a can of Sweetheart stout, actually getting on with the mothers daughter and all the shouting, then signing songs that happened. Songs like…

Every nicht I sit here by my window – window
Starin down the lonely avenue – avenuuuueee
Watching lovers holding hands and laughin – laughin
Thinkin bout the things they used to do – Thinkin bout things……

Times you would never change with Jessie, Kev & Moira, Bri & Di, Pam and Neil. Alan & May, Michael and Denny and Teresa and Owen. Multiple birthday B-B-Q’s @ 20 Tweedsmuir Road, with Rigadon, Fordy, Dave and John Joseph. Not forgetting those legendary Dickens Barbie’s that morphed into the Saints Club celebrations as well, front and centre most times were Denzil and Gary, Omar moaning about something.  Darling’s come and go until you find that one. Anyway, as i stop rabbiting on, I headed up to Toronto as my Favourite cousin called Chuck (I only have one), was passing thru Toronto back home and changed all his plans to not only meet up with me, he put me up in a swanky hotel and had a bottle of Tanqueray for our nightcap every night. He’s a good lad.

I got the Megabus up from Niagra Falls, which was a sweet ride with wifi. I get there Saturday, an hour before the Champions League final and I have a place picked out to watch the match. That was until I find there’s a queue outside?  Hussle down to another ‘pub’, I’m in, Stella going down well and grub ordered – shame about the result. Saturday night on my tod was quite interesting, Toronto is a cool place to go out in. Sunday comes and Chuck has put me onto a flea market, lots on old stuff, vinyl, picket watches, coins and the likes so I head down to kill some time. I love that sort of shit, hence why i went round twice and spent 3 hours there. The gaff is miles away, but I hot foot it cos its a lovely day and i have Bowie tracks on the go.

We meet up and he takes me to the right trendy spot to get some scran and a few beers. We watch some of the NBA and head back for a nightcap, got a big day tomorrow. Chuck is retired and lives the good life. Summer’s in London, Ontario and winters in Australia (he even has the accent). Were both used to long lye ins!! I never knew Toronto housed the hockey Hall of Fame and were going baby, Chuck is paying as well. I was in hog heaven in the place, all the history, teams, players, nations, kit masks and memorabilia. It’s definitely up there with one of the top 5 places (Museums and the likes), I’ve visited on my travels. Chuck is so knowledgeable, he’s a great ‘guide’. We have a go at taking shots on a hockey simulator. Wardy 0 Chuck 2. On the hockey fuseball – Wardy 1 Chuck 8. Best part of the day – Photo taken with the actual Stanley Cup, with ma Cous!!!  I touched it, I caressed it and kissed it baby! You have to go right to the bottom tho, see what I did there.

A few streets away is the local ferry to Toronto island, which gives you great views of the city. It’s scorchio so we head over for an ice cream, a beer and to fight with the seagulls. We cant stay too long tho, Alison and John have very kindly driven for an hour in busy traffic to come out for a meal and a catch up. Where do we go – Scotland Yard of course and it was great to see them both. Get this – John was tellin us about a drone he has been bought as a gift, that he can set up to follow him on his Harley Davidson as he heads down the motorway, how cool is that.  The Stanley cup play offs are on and there are one or two boisterous Caps fans in the boozer, so I’m cheering for Vegas Baby. A couple of beers and cos I’m being noisy Chuck orders me back to the gaff, to catch the end of the game and some more gin.

Earlier start on Tuesday, as despite having to get a train back down the road, Chuck makes time to take me out to Whitby to see the McLuskie’s, confusingly both called Alan. Our family have not been the greatest at naming Boys born. I think when there are a couple of names up for grabs, they always decide just to go with Alan. Chuck’s up early to get the Meats, breads and salad for lunch and were on the GO train. Despite only buying this condo overlooking the marina about a year ago, Alan has it sold and they are moving yet again. Not had time to unpack, so its handy they will be packing again. Now the Mcluskie’s and I mean all of them, can talk, which is great as there is soo much to learn and find out, with what’s going on in everyone’s life. Auld Alan is in fine fettle, good appetite and keen to get back to Scotland to see family, friends and get to the bookies. Despite it being only a quick two hour pit stop, its was a heart warming and cozy pit stop. We get the GO Train back and say our goodbye’s at the station. Chuck is on his waaaay home and I have another night till I head to NYC. I wander the street looking for a good place to eat, rather than look online. Lots of opportunity to get good, funny snapshots to send to pals on facebook and Instagram.

A fantastic time catching up with family and seeing Toronto. As much as I want New York, New York to be as good, I feel it will not even come close. Did you know, when Chuck had a condo in a trendy area of the city, he was approached by a film company to film scene’s outside and inside his property for the film – My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Hence the title.

Cheerie

PS. Check out the photo of WalterBabePratt, that’s boy is family – doozy

 

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Play Misty for Me

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The oldest memory I can think of relates to Niagra Falls. I can think back when I look at old photo’s and recall playing footie in the back garden against Neil ‘Mary’ Mcgregor or getting a photo taken in our school uniform taken in the front garden (when we had one), with the mothers daughter, back in the day on Tweedsmuir Road. That said, my oldest memory is when we had been on holiday in Canada, no doubt partly in Toronto and Partly in North Bay.

I can remember the photo’s, even though I have not seen them for a while, there is one with me wearing a proper dark green raincoat, with a proper sour puss on me, cos I probably just get soaked on the Maid of the Mist, that goes in the centre of the falls. But that’s not the photo I am mentioning here. There was one off my mother in a sort of comedy pose trying to throttle my father and it was done in a newspaper front cover stylee about a wife trying to throw her husband overboard. When you’re a kid, you love that sort of stuff and when they offered to take my photo, for a cost obviously, as I was on my own, I could not help myself. I make no apologies, I know I’m an arse, but I’m a cutsey, cheeky arse.

My plans have been changing as I go along and when I got the idea to go to the falls, I contacted my cousin Chuck for the sound advice* (*Sound advice meaning he said the American side was a shithole and I should stay on the Canadian side!!). He not only gave me the boss tips, but said he was heading to Ottawa when I would be over the border, but would happily meet me on his way back to his home in London, if I could make some time to come up to Toronto. A Sort of Vietnam meet up reunion sort of thing and I am so glad we could both find the time, but that will come in another post.

I arrive in Buffalo, get off the train at 10am, phone Amtrack to change my plans and I’m on another train, over the border @ 3.10pm, it’s that simple and no extra cost forza big cheese. I have some time to head to a mall, get some lunch and a badly needed paid of Adidas three stripes. The bus for $3, picks up at the train station, takes you to the mall and takes you back – perfect! The train was unfortunately a little delayed, but spirits are high. We get to the NY side of the border and Immigration go through the train, take the old thumb prints and ask you a fairly standard set of questions about your travels and reasons for visiting, it’s all good. I thought it would be a similar breeze the Canadian side, but as I was not on the manifest, having changed my train so late and no doubt a concern having come from Asia, into the States and travelling thru a few ‘legalized’ states, I was rightfully a concern. First time it’s happened to me, with a full phone search, sifting through my laptop, bag, case and checking the prescription. Hey, I get it, they’re just doing their job and it was only 20-25 mins or so and I was on my way. I tried to be cool, but even tho you now there is no issues and I have a spotlessly clean record, you still get the fear. The only downside was, even though I was not getting back on the train, it can’t go until everyone has cleared Immigration. I bet all the smokers were loving me.

I’ve got a decent gaff, with a swimming pool, working gym this time, but also a Jacuzzi in my room and the good thing is it’s easily £45 a night cheaper than on stateside. I have already been to the Lush store in the mall to get a couple of bath bombs and I’m in the room, not even unpacked, but the beers are on ice and the hot water is running. Groovy baby, Groovy. It’s still early doors and the hockey is on. The TV Pulls out and tilts, so you can watch it in the tub – This is ace baby! Once I’ve relaxed, it’s time for a late dinner, few drinks and a wander of the area to get my bearings. First thoughts however, is I have walked into a giant theme park, which for my view unfortunately seemed, well, a bit tacky. Don’t get me wrong, the main tourist attraction for the area is the Falls itself, possibly the couple of casino’s downtown and the many choices of eateries, of some good, decently proceed grub. The rest of it is for the kids, Guinness World records, Frankestines Haunted House, arcade’s to win tokens to get gift, karting, big well and plenty of similar things. If I had a wife and kids, or if I just wanted to see the falls and have a gamble and I lived not too far away, I would probably come quite a lot, so don’t let me put you off.

The lesser Casino does a great all you can eat buffet, and the Wardy loves his grub baby. I’m down about 2pm the next day. I’ve shelled out $60 already on the fruit machines. I have something to eat, the cash in $200 for the 3 card poker. $10 bucks a bet, goes to $15 then to $25 cos I’m winning. 10 mins later its all gone, the dealer get my last $5 chip, cheers pal! I play a couple more machines and another $40 bucks lost and I’m calling it a day. I need the loo tho and I walk to a corner thinking it was the loo, instead it was free juice and coffee. I have some pepsi and another and cos I feel bad standing drinking and no playing, I punt another $20 in a machine – 20 mins later I am cashing out some $280 and only down $40 or so for some 3 hours playing. I’m feeling bolshy, so I’m hitting the Falls. Right down the hill to the fine view of the Yankee side and the Falls. I’ve paid my money for the Hornblower Co to get on the Maid of the Mist, made my way down, got my poncho on and we’ve just got on the boat.

Now, for anyone who has not been to Niagra Falls and/or has not done the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour, I will tell you this. It’s the single, greatest thing I have done throughout the 3 months I have been away. You are filled full of anticipation having watched the other boat, head up to and rock side by side, right in the middle of the crescent of the falls. You watch them all get off the boat, absolutely drenched, with massive smiles on their faces and cock-a-hoop from the experience. We all get on the boat, which has wifi and allows you to shoot live videos to the Facebook. There’s the anticipation and the buzz about what it’s going to be like and although you know you are going to get soaked, wow! That is all I will say brothers and sisters, you need to experience it for yourself. Hopefully you may have seen one or two of my videos, with seem to be an amalgamation of two in one, cos my moby got soaked and it’s not waterproof.

I have a ferrit aboot the shops the next day, but they all seem overly expensive. I power a couple of hours in the gym as I had it tae masel, followed by a nice relaxing 45 minutes in the pool. It’s funny, I’ve no been proper swimming for years and years and this place had a pool that went down 9 meters. I have been in for about 15 mins dossing around and I had done a couple of lengths. From the side I dive down to the bottom and back up again and talk about gasping and grabbing for the sides of the pool – Jesus.  I’m out at a decent time to hit the Boston Pizza place for ma tea, a few beers and to watch the Basketball. $25 for a medium pizza I thought was a bit pricey, until the fecker arrived. Twice the server lassie came back in between my breaks from eating through this thing to offer me a box to take it away in. “Just you keep the Hendricks and tonic coming lass, just let me worry about the Pizza.”

I have made some daft decisions the 3 months I have been away, but coming to Niagra Falls and then onto Toronto to see the Cousins, was easily the best one. I suppose I have to thank the arseholes at the SFA for the fecking of their communications of the ticket sale. Sure, I’m missing the no doubt $1 beer and good times in Peru and Mexico, with a good couple of humpings of football in between. I think we will get beat 2-0 in both games by the way. But thinking now, having met family in the City and having dinner, brunch and few beers to boot with them, that’s where you should be going, every time you can.

Anyway, Cheerie!

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Shaft

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Of all the musical styles on which soul music is built, the two most prominent are gospel and blues. Both are expressions from the human heart of love, pain and longing. Gospel is church-based and sung to God, while the blues is secular and often sung to another person, often a spouse or lover, present or former. Both musical forms release the participants from their immediate confines offering refuge for the spirit.

The train from Jackson gets in pretty late. I order my Lyft and head off to the gaff. Another Airbnb and this time a lock box to get access. I sit up and catch up on social media, as most will be wakening back home and on this leg of the Amtrack journey, no wifi. Turns out the other two in my room of 3 are here working and they finish at midnight. Quick 5 min catch up and were all off to bed.

Of my 3 days in Memphis, I can easily say the Friday was the best. I seen the railroad museum today and walked by the Civil Rights Museum, with the Lorraine Motel, where MLK was gunned down 50 years ago and visited the Sun Record Studio, where Rocket 88 was recorded, which has come to be known as the first Roll N Rock single of all time. In fairness, the past two days have not been the greatest, however, I shall not dwell on that. I have had a superb 3 months to date and Friday was a hoot. They have a festival on called Memphis in May and the B-B-Q World Championships are on. I say World Championships, it was mainly American teams, but I was kicking myself as both Big Daddy Kane and Mix Master Mike were DJing and I missed them both. Too busy chatting hotties and drinking da Stella.

Graceland – everybody says to go, but it’s a bit out of town, so I dinnae bother. I have my day planned. Bus round the corner right to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Another bus takes me downtown, where I get a tram up to the Peabody to see the Ducks, wander down to Beale Street to see the Elvis statue, get some B-B-Q and soak up the atmosphere with a few cold ones. If I have time I can maybe sneek in another museum.

Now, for a chap who loves the Vinyl, I was in heaven in the old Stax Museum. You first get taken into a mini Theatre and watch a 20 min film of the history of Stax records, from when it first started, the musicians and songs, to when it died a death after the boy MLK was gunned down. It was just never the same after that. Two couple in the row in front ken their stuff and they’re talking and singing as the film is going on, which makes it feel better. As we walk round, a kind of sneaky behind them and listen to what they say about the things on show and the songs. They ken what I’m doing and do not mind.

The most interesting part of the video was where they talked about 67 and the ‘Revolutionary’ European Tour, where the artists were so blown away with the crowds and knowledge when they hit they UK and one of the Memphis Horns guys said he was awake for 2 weeks, just to make the most of it. It was soo different to life back in the states, where tensions were getting worse. It seemed like a kinda release. Despite the hatred and violence, the artists who were not able to stay in the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants, and even go to the zoo on the same day, back home, were one big family on tour.

Now, while I lived as a Blues and Soul fan in the morning, I was at the other end of the spectrum 48k in the afternoon – living like a Redneck (and I’m not talking about the sunburn, even tho it was beeling). No, I went to this place called a Bass Pro Shop, which I had read about that sells anything from Clothes, to Camping Gear, to Boats, fishing gear, atv’s and hunting gear. I needed some new shorts and a new top, they done my size, so I was hot footing it. There was also a second reason, given it was Friday and all, they had a doozy Fishbowl and Grill, kind of in an aquarium, with a big tank in the centre I could do some nom nom at when I had finished shopping.

This place had a pond that goes all the way throughout the store with Fish and Alligators swimming around, crazy. I refer to being a redneck, cos the place was full of them. Pure white trailer folks in front of my eyes. You know, everyone has this one friend, who never wears a shirt and tie, unless its a christening or a wedding and someone always says “When’s the court appearance”. There was a mother, son, younger son and girlfriend of the older son kicking about the restaurant and older son was wearing a badly combined shirt and tie. What followed was a 20 min conversation about the combo, with Jeans I might add, where the GF said and I quote “I don’t think anyone in my family has ever worn a tie” – Pure Gold!

Anyway, if a Zombie Apocalypse kicked off at any time in that place, I would have been safe. They would have had all the knives, bows and arrows an the likes, killing all the Zombies. I headed up Beale Street thereafter that was kinda cool, but very touristy and a bit pricey. Proper tunes on the go and a real carnival atmosphere, so I had a good wee wander about and was in the Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler bar and one that had been mentioned on the Danny Baker show, where the lass told a story about Goats on a funfair ride. This was actually in a boozer. I’m at the bottom end of town, watching the end of the hockey and a group of 4 pop in and this bonnie wee lass has a seat doon beside me and we get chatting. What’s great is she understands me, so I’m not repeating myself and we talk about this an that and you may have seen from a previous post, this lass Lacey, was an amazing woman, who worked hard raising a family of 7, while working all level of Social work from ground level to manager and more and putting her husband, who was also a nice guy, despite the Jesus beard look he was sporting, through Medical college. The great news is he was now fully qualified, so Lacey could now kick back a little and enjoy life. So much so, she was talking the boys round the town drinking! We were in an Oyster bar and they had a plate of 10 I think, sharing of course, which gave me the perfect chance to show the pohoto when I downed 12 in France last year and to talk about a video of Keith Floyd doing like 24!.

Anyway, I felt enriched so the Jaggeur Bombs followed, as you do baby!

Cheerie

 

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Local Help Required

help

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

My visit to Jackson was quite a unique one at that. It was supposed to be a pit stop, between New Orleans and Memphis, a place to relax, recharge the old body battery and get a full wash done. When I arrived on Monday night, feck all was open downtown, so I got the bus to the edge of town, popped in this Irish Pub I had looked up, for some scran and probably one too many beers. About 9pm I walked the 0.8 miles to my Motel, which had me walking over two bridges over the interstate, neither of which had any form of walking lane and right at the side on the motorway was discarded needles – It’s gonna be that sort of place then.

I get checked in and my gaff has an upstairs bedroom and toilet and downstairs master bedroom (En Suite), lounge and kitchen. It’s a massive place and as you have probably seen from a previous post, not exactly what was advertised. I do a wash and I’m chatting to this boy Jim, he’s interesting. I tell him my story and where I work and we talk about energy. He was telling me about Corn Fuel and working in Alaska, with radiation, we hit it off. He’s a bit of a charmer, backed up when his current wife swings by and tells me so. The local chaps are trying to put up a new basketball ring, with no joy. Jim’s daughter pops buy and he heads off, she sits so we chat and she’s getting a bit of the ole Scottish patter. I will not go into great detail, but I was almost booking a second train ticket to Memphis.

To go to any shops, food outlet or to get downtown, you have to either drive or use an uber type thing. Jackson is an interesting place, with very little shops or outlets in the centre of town. You need to go to Galleria’s or Mall’s 20-30 miles away to get all that stuff. In Jackson itself however, there is tons to do. I’m out the gaff Thursday by 11am and my train is not until 6pm, I’m hot footing it from one attraction to another. I get the bus up to the Old State Capitol Building and work my way back down. It’s been the State Capitol for Mississippi since 1903 and was once the USA Capitol. It’s a working building, but I give the once around a miss. Round back is more interesting, one of 49 Caboose’s given to the USA by France when they gave them relief after the second World War. It’s down by the GM&O Depot and is called the “Merci Train,” a wooden train car given to the state of Mississippi by France after World War II. Even tho one was given for each state, unfortunately, most have disappeared over time and although this boxcar still exists, it’s a little beaten up due to it’s exposure to the elements. It’s a lot more interesting to me as a I pop by and take in the War Memorial also.

The main attractions for the day is the Two Museums – The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History, housed in a brand spanking new building and as I found out, only opened in December 2017. They knew I was gonna be passing through Sugar. I fleet thru security and hit the counter. As I scratch for my wallet, the lass says it’s my lucky day. Their sponsor Entergy (another Energy Co, jings) has sponsored 100 free tickets for today and guess what, Wardez in number 100 baby, hence why it said Special guest on da ticket. I will not go into any detail about the Civil Rights Museum. I’ve been to quite a few in my time here and while everyone is unique and fascinating, they all tell very similar, shocking, oppressed and corrupt stories from the time and how dark those days were. Lots of videos to help tell the story and make it personal to you the human being. There are sensors that go off when you walk under that say things like “Get to the back of the bus”, “You cant go in there, round the back”, a sort of shock and Awe about the segregation at the time. No photo’s were allowed, but What I will say is, if you have any interest in this sort of thing, look up the story about the lynching of Emmett Till. It’s on Wikipedia and easy to find. I firmly believe you will share the same amount of anger as me when you not only hear/read the outcome, but what the shop owners wife said afterwards.

Trump was one of the first to tour these both by the way.

My main posting will be about the Museum of Mississippi History and this was a real doozy and a must see for anyone, interested in history, albeit American Civil War history, but real life artefacts from the time and how people lived. It starts off talking about the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and how they lived in 13000 BC through to 1518 and example of which has a 500yo dug out canoe, which reminds me of a Billy Connelly, Scotsman, Englishman and Irishman joke – Ask me next time you see me. From then to about 1800, many explorers like Hernando De Soto and other European explorers flooded the area, bringing African Slaves and gradually forced the Choctaw Nation off their Ancestral homeland. Come 1840, Cotton is King and the number of black slaves working in the fields and houses for the Plantation owners, outnumber the white’s and from there the struggle ensues. Mississippi goes through a period of regression and Freedom, then we have WWI, the Great Depression (bet your thinking it must have been from reading this?) and then from then to the current day – Civil Rights, Diversification and Innovation, Jackson prosper baby!

There are some doozy things like a kilt, a house outfitted with the technological marvels of the 1980s, including an etcha sketch and viewer. Proper Duelling Pistols, a Knife Jim Bowie used to stab someone. Printing presses at the time and Civil War stuffs. They had a funky music area with a Wurlitzer, singles and memorabilia from olde time Jazz and Blues and a recording both, where the Big Man recorded his own message. I owned it!! Joking aside, It’s starts with an interactive information wall where you choose an object and it elaborates further. You then get a 10 minute video about the place. i spent ages there and as a result, missed having a wander round the blues trail, bar one sign. Who can turn down going for something to eat before yet another overnight train ride @ a place called Fat Albert’s – That’s the Joy!

It’s funny, i was reading this magazine in the Amtrack station about what’s going on in Jackson over the next few days, including a Truckfest BBQ with Live Music and an open air cinema, both which I never found anything on when researching my visit. Frustrating, but makes me more determined to go to tourist offices and the right places to get ‘what’s on’ local info as soon as I arrive somewhere.

Cheerie

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A Streetcar named Desire

street

As we sit on the tracks @ 2pm having boarded in Birmingham, waiting on yet another freight train passing. The 12.08 ‘party train’ has a buzz about it. I call it the party train going on the number of coolers and very little luggage being taken on board my carriage by the locals. It’s apparent the FRI-SUN party crowd are heading to New Orleans, hence why the gaffs were so expensive methinks. I should not baulk anyhow, having arrived at the hostel circa 11pm Friday night, I found a local bar, got some grub and scooped a fair few beers n Gin in a short space of time. Most things in St Charles Street seem to be open 24 hours, which is very handy.

Saturday morning I was up sharpish to make good use of the solid wifi and sample the brekkie on offer. A couple cups of sludge and ham and cheese toasted croissants went down a treat as I firstly seen the F1 Qually, followed by the mighty Super White Army, Tranmere Rovers winning at Wembley to get back into the football league. Today was going to be a superb day people’s, I just know it will be. I have this feeling about a proper skelp, starting 12 lunchtime to 12 midnight in mind.

To put to one side the urge to get completely leathered as a stranger in a strange town I head up to The National World War II museum, a short 10 minute walk through the underpass, where many homeless and in some cases, armless people live in tents, to the edge of the French Quarter and where some good action starts. It’s billed as being voted the second best Museum attraction by Trip Advisor in the World and second best in the USA. Roughly translated the best in the world and the USA is also in the USA. I will have to Google where that is, I bet its an Art Museum.

A short queue and I’m ready to roll. It’s $27 to get in and I have paid to see two shows @ $6 each. The brochure says “The Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that all generations can understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.” When you delve deeper, you get the message that Team USA were provoked after Pearl Harbour and they won the war. The UK and Russia were flagging and they saved the day. hmmm.

We start off by getting on the car of a train, similar to those used to transport troops heading to boot camp and you’re told a good 5 min story. The 4D cinematic experience, Beyond All Boundaries is powerful, its tells a great story of the US involvement and really sets you up for seeing all the exhibits and is a great show. Obviously there had been a bit of cost, with Tom Hanks narrating and the likes of John Goodman and Tobey Maguire speaking. The only one thing I would say that lets you down is were shuffled into a holding room, with no real organisation or placing, while Tom sets up the show we’re about to see. I was off to the side and had somewhat limited viewing. I could see one or two were looking round wondering was this it and why were they standing? It like when you get a briefing at work. That aside, it was powerful and more than worth the extra $6 bucks to see it. Visually emotive and interactive with shaking seats and a moving stage.

It’s an immersive tour of WWII as they advertise. Plenty of multimedia exhibits, personal accounts and lots of personal items donated by those who fought and also items of what they picked up from Japanese soldiers. Things like – Swords, personal things, rings, medals, hand guns, wallets, pictures, cards and the likes and they are all from the time and not replica’s, like at other places. The tour is broken into Campaigns, like European Campaign – D-Day invasion of Normandy and Road to Berlin. Asia – Guadalcanal, Road to Tokyo and Pacific Ocean battles. There is a general dislike of Germany, due to the war, the Holocaust and the likes, but I never knew that Italy, Mr Mussolini and his chums were in alliance with yer man Hitler for a good wee while, hence the battle of Rome. It has changed my opinion of those bastards. Here is a question for you, I shall tell you the answer at end if you follow it that long. In WWII, who suffered the most casualties?  Was it Germany, Russia, USA or another?

I’ve been for something to eat, Napoleon Catfish, with some good cold beers and onion rings. I head back to the gaff to get showered and changed and one of my roomie’s has just got back also. His name is Praise, which makes me chuckle, cos when he told me I said in response like the Fatboy Slim song and he looked at me awkwardly. I have to get it on my phone and let him listen to it. Now, when he speaks, I can only hear the song. He has been up Frenchman Street on his bike, so we chat and he tells me what it’s like. I say I’m heading off to Bourbon Street to get hammered and he is going to the French Quarter. He says about Bourbon Street that it’s really busy, full of drunk 17-21 yo girls, who get really drunk and are leary – He says it likes its a bad thing.

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I get the tram up and start off at an Irish bar just off the street. I try to order a pint of Stella x 3 times and the lass still does not understand me, so the English speaking boy I’m leaning over says Stella and she gets it – WTF? We get chatting, two boys from Houston down for the weekend. One, Chelsea fan, moved out here 7 years ago and settled with his wife and the other came out 3 years ago (Brentford fan) and married the pal of his wife. We get chatting about where I have been and I say I am getting a bit homesick, do they miss being back at home. The only thing that’s an issue is to do anything or go anywhere, especially in Houston, you have to drive to it. Back home, everything is ‘local’, more accessible and that’s what’s missed. They warn me off Bourbon Street and say I should go to Canal Street, more quality boozers, better liquor and more fun. They have both been to Glasgow and the West Coast and liked it. I say cheers and head to da Bourbon Street anyway.

I would not say I was blown away by Bourbon street, like many in Magaluf and likes, just pure party street, drinking in the street, but what probably sets it apart is the atmosphere, the music and the beat. People get married and go on a street pub crawl with a full scale brass band, it’s superb. I’ve settled in this one bar called Johnny White’s corner pub for some grub, beer and hockey. He made me down ma gin before I came in tho, house rules. The Scottish accent is both good and bad at times. Bad when your ordering and they cant understand me. I don’t know how many times when asked my name after saying Wardy twice, I change and say Alan. The good is women love the accent and just want to chat. I have taken to asking if a girl wants my number to go for a drink or a cup of coffee. Then writing it down with the line Wardy thinks your Bonnie, telling them to look it up before they call. It almost got me into a jam the night with a married lass, where I never went over the score, they were more drunk that me, but I shouted the loudest and the faster.

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I sat for two hours in a shop doorway sometime after 11pm, with a homeless army veteran, talking shop, the army and the USA. I went and bought and was drinking cans of gin and, well I think it was tonic. I offered to buy him some beer and he refused, but took some food and change for his breakfast. Really nice, genuine guy and cracking sense of humour. He had a sign asking for money, but was not begging, but had a keen eye for sussing people out and one classic was he said to two passing older couples “hey, my wife has been kidnapped and I need to raise 100k by Monday or they will let her go.” They gave him a couple of bucks and a chuckle. Anyway, after about an hour, as I usually do, I got a bit aggressive and was barking at passing, what I assumed to be rich kids, telling them they should be embarrassed and to donate. 

Just shaking my head all day Sunday and got up after lunch to get some grub and a wander round the French Quarter. Lot’s of street artists out on the go, jugglers and market stalls, but there was a chilled out, party vide on the go, with most places packed out it seemed. I did not cordon on till much later, when I noticed it was all families and some had flowers. My mother aint getting a call if you are expecting me to add this in, she already facebooked me Saturday morning, which was her birthday. My mother and technology eh, who would have thought. The rest of the day is spent supping on cocktails in one or two bars the hostel said were good and they were right. A late dinner and some more beer rounded off what was a weekend of self indulgence, supported by the superb tram system, with old, efficient streetcars that take you from A-B on about 6 routes in the city for only $3 for day pass. If you have not been and you are thinking of going to New Orleans, Wardy says you should. I said Wardy says you should. Feck, Alan Says you should.

I did take about 3-4 videos, but they aint uploading.

Cheerie

Ps. The most deaths in WWII was in China, most murdered by the Japenese, which you never her about.