Saturday, April 25, 2020

For immediate press release

The Devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin' for a soul to steal
He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind, he was willing to make a deal

~~ "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band

(SNN) Satan News Network has announced that the Dark Lord has not only canceled his plans to attend and participate in this year's Fiddle Throwdown in Marietta, Georgia, the sponsor of the shindig for ten years has canceled the entire festival. 

The spokesdemon for Satan said, "In all good conscience, Satan cannot allow people to gather in large numbers, despite the Governor's relaxation of stay-at-home orders. While he is not opposed to large numbers of people dying and the possibility of harvesting their souls, he feels that it would be counterproductive to let them die without doing his dark bidding on Earth for the maximum amount of time before they die. Therefore, Satan is canceling the Throwdown." 

Satan threw down his pen on his desk, raising a puff of smoke. He looked up at his advisors. "So you're telling me that we can't do the Throwdown this year?" Steam rose from his forehead.

Vice-Lord Penemue bowed his head and said, "Dark Lord, I think we have to cancel."

Satan pounded his fists on this desk. "Why?" he thundered. "I was all set for another match-up with that hillbilly Johnny. I've been practicing!" 

The Vice-Lord cringed. "Sir, we just feel that the risks don't exceed the benefits." He pulled back the black drape over the easel beside him to reveal a graphic. The Dark Lord seemed to respond best to graphics rather than detailed briefings. He pointed at the graphic with the bone of an alligator arm, ending in a claw. "If you look at this, you'll see that the immediate deaths will far outpace the long-term benefits of people who come over to our side and do your work for the years they are living. They would recruit many more if they lived longer." 

He revealed the next graphic. "As you'll see here, the souls we will benefit from with the Throwdown are considerably less than those that will join us and spread the Word." He pointed with the alligator claw. "Here are the addiction benefits we would reap if people don't die." He pointed again. "And here are the relationships destroyed by behavior at the Throwdown. We're talking divorce, affairs, you name it. All of these will be wiped out if people attend the Throwdown and die quickly, which the medical experts predict will happen if we allow it to go on as scheduled." 

Satan put his hand on his forehead, between his horns. "Beelzebub Almighty." He looked up at Penemue and sighed. "So what's the financial damage?"

Penemue said, "I'll let Advisor Mammon address that." 

Satan said, "Fine. So what's the damage, Stefano?"

His chief economic demon, Mammon, cleared his throat. "Well, as you know, our investments in the stock market have already taken a hit." 

Satan yelled, "Yes, I know!" A hot wind blew from his mouth and washed over Penemue and Mammon, singeing their eyebrows. "Tell me what we're losing on the festival!" 

Mammon said, "Seventy billion." 

Satan's eyes bugged out and smoke billowed from his ears. "You have got to be kidding me." 

"No, sir. Between the cost of the drugs we bought from the Mexican and Chinese drug cartels, and the security detail from the Yakuza...well, it all added up. Then there are all the girls. As you have repeatedly said, only the best quality when it comes to temptation. We didn't hold back this year and our losses will show it." 

Satan said, "Well, fuck." He looked at the fireplace in the corner of his office and the kindling and wood set there burst into flames. The glow filled his office and flickered on the faces of his advisors. He sat back and crossed his arms and looked down petulantly at his desk. He had a copy of Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" underneath the glass on his desk and it usually cheered him up. Not today. 

He looked up and stared at Penemue and Mammon, his eyes blazing. They both looked down. "Praise me." 

They both immediately fell to their knees. Penemue spoke first. "Thank you for your leadership, Dark Lord. Your guidance has been perfect. Your response to this has been perfect. Every phone call you've ever made has been perfect. YOU are perfect." 

Satan waved his hand and Penemue immediately stopped talking. Satan had grown tired of his obsequiousness. He was still a loyal demon, but fucking hell, what an ass-kisser! He looked at Mammon. 

Mammon spoke up and said, "Your leadership is unparalleled in the history of Hell, my Lord. Your guidance has led us to the best economy Hell has ever had. It's only a matter of time before we'll put this behind us and move on to the next crisis." He realized what he had said and abruptly stopped talking. 

Satan glowered at him but then smiled, his fangs flashing in the firelight. "Yes, of course. As long as I run Hell, there will be another crisis. And I'm not going anywhere soon." 


This little story was inspired by the meme my friend Toni posted (seen above). Thank you for being my muse, Toni! Love you lots! 

As much as I dislike this song and this band, there is still no better version of this song, in my opinion. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A melancholy lament

Hey I guess you're lonely when
I gave you all it took so then
Stranger than it's ever been

~~ "Godless" by The Dandy Warhols

We had an email yesterday from one of our favorite restaurants downtown, LaSalle Grill/LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern. (The Grill is downstairs and is the fancy place that has the wine dinners we occasionally go to and is considered one of the best restaurants in town. Its upstairs companion is more casual and we go there more often for dinners before a show or a drink after. They share the same kitchen, though.) They were offering a dinner for curbside pickup consisting of Wagyu beef burgers, their wonderful mac n cheese, a couple of other things, and a 6-pack of good beer. It was a great price and it was hard to say no, especially when we're doing what we can to support local restaurants. 

Our last night out for a meal was March 7th, when we went to dinner before a show, so we jumped on the deal. I just told Ken that I wanted to ride along when he went to pick it up. I've been out a couple of times to the pharmacy and the store, but I find that when I'm driving, I feel oddly on high alert, like someone is going to plow into me at any moment. Considering our rural area, it could even be a plow. So I feel very weird when out driving right now. I was looking forward to just riding along and seeing our beloved downtown. 

I didn't anticipate how utterly sad and emotional it would make me feel. I mean, I really did not see that coming. I thought it was a chance to get out and enjoy a little ride on a nice sunny day. The first hint I had was seeing a fence along the main drag into downtown where someone had woven into the chainlink "Stay Strong USA" with a heart. That's when I started getting choked up. It only got worse as we got into downtown. There were still cars out and about but they were much sparser than an ordinary weeknight evening. 

I saw so many familiar places and sites but everything was closed down. No one was bustling about going to dinner or grabbing a pint at Brew Werks and the marquee at the Morris was dark. Our usual haunts seemed...well, haunted. 

By the time we pulled up at the LaSalle, I was feeling genuine anguish. Because I was the one curbside, I put my mask on. When our server came out with our food and put it in the back seat, I said, "Stay strong! We love you guys!" and I felt a tear fall out of my eye. Then another server brought out our 6-pack and put it on the floor of the backseat and I said, "Hang in there!" and we thanked him. 

As we drove off, we went by Fiddler's Hearth and Madison Oyster Bar. No inside patrons. No one walking on the streets. Speaking of that, even the streets of South Michigan Street (what could be considered our small red-light district) were empty, and The Torch and Peaches were closed. I said, "Man, you know it's bad when even the strip clubs are closed!" 

What I thought would be a pleasant little drive downtown—and my goodness, I'd forgotten what a simple joy I felt as a kid when my parents would say, "Let's go for a drive!"—turned out to be something that made me feel really sad. It made me think of all the fun times we've had downtown, out for dinner, out to see a show, out to take visiting friends to show off our Riverlights or to have brunch with the Kansas City/Chicago Crew the morning after our annual house show, out to take in a South Bend Cubs game on a warm summer day, out for the Riverlights Music Festival, out for Art Beat, running into friends and family, sharing hugs and laughs...all the little things that make my life so enriched and joyful. 

I miss them. I miss them all. 

So tonight I'm going to allow myself to feel sad and mourn those things. I know they're not gone forever and I know we'll get back to enjoying all those things and more. We'll make new memories. But I don't know when that will happen. At the moment, things feel broken, and I feel like the repairs will be slow and sometimes painful. Will some of our favorite places survive? 

It pains me to say it, but I just don't know. I hope so.