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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Myth of Brad Brascoe or The Ladies Just Don't Understand

For awhile there he was nameless. I just sensed him like a phantom behind every single girl that I've ever been interested in. But after various experiences, I began to learn of him. Know him. And in effect, dread him. Though I've never ever officially met Brad Brascoe, I know all about him.

It became apparent when any time I was remotely interested in a lady, she always seemed to be talking to various other guys. Usually the one that she chatted with most was Brad Brascoe.

Also whenever an ex or an old flame, or fling, or even just a crush found someone just after the closure (or the closest thing to a closure)...well, that person was also Brad Brascoe.

And whenever I was wrapped in the arms of a lady and the first disenchanted look fell on her face and there was a pause --what was she thinking about? Why, it was none other than, you guessed it, Brad Brascoe whom she had dated before or whom she had just met at Starbucks that week.

Gentlemen, you know exactly what I speak of. Somewhere, sometime you've called some lady's number with the artful intention of hooking up but found her number to be busy. Who could she be talking and ecstatically giggling with?....Brad Brascoe.

Another time, another place perhaps another girl you thought of taking the internet approach but on her facebook page there is always some ostentatious shmuck with his shirt off or surrounded by children who writes flirtatious things on her wall. Who else?...Brad Brascoe.

It was always a difficult thing to learn of him. But I found that if one sits and broods about it long enough then even characteristics about him begin to surface. So what are his characteristics and traits? You'll notice certain traits clearer than others depending upon what type of girl you are after. But after awhile of seeming to get no where with a particular lady certain peculiarities are gleaned. Maybe they dawn on you in your sleep. Or maybe they dawn on you when you have asked a lady out and no reply is coming quite as fast as you like. And if there is a "no", well, then Mr. Brascoe's characteristics all come out all the more colorful. Here is what I know about Brad Brascoe.

I once thought that the list of countries that I've been to were kind of fascinating and impressive, until I learned that Brad Brascoe had been to every single country that I'd been to and many others...the biggest difference is that he had helped build orphanages in these countries as well.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

He just finished his law degree but is deciding to become a doctor instead to help the ailing of the world. For his undergrad, he turned down a full-ride scholarship to MIT in order to go on a Humanitarian Aid trip to the Amazon with professors from Harvard. But he had to come back to see to the 4 businesses he's started since he was a teenager. One of these businesses is about lost puppies being reunited with their grieving families.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

You know he spends his Saturdays visiting a nursing home where he plays piano for all the old ladies. They try to marry him off to their granddaughters and they bake him pies. He takes these pies and turns around and gives them to the leper colony down on 5th Street.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

He's a horse whisperer. He can talk to the horses. But he only rides bareback. This he does while he juggles bouquets of flowers.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

The only way to explain his looks is to point out the fact that random people in public have stopped him several times to say, "You must look just what Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's children will look like one day". That, and he’s caused three wrecks at three separate times from just walking down the sidewalk. Now he wears a toboggan or cap to disguise his good looks. But everytime he sees a homeless man he gives him his toboggan or cap and he’s once again outstandingly good looking and radiant and causing traffic accidents again.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

Rumor has it that every now and then a message is left on his answering machine saying something to the effect of, “Hi, Brad Brascoe, this Mr. Sparks…Umm Nick again. Call me if you’ve got the time. I’ve run out of ideas again.”
…dang that Brad Brascoe

He, of course, plays guitar. There is not a guitarist like him. It is rumored that half the women in the audience pass out from sheer exuberance overload. He could've gotten a record deal but his mother told him that she couldn't see her son living the rock'n'roll lifestyle. He wasn't going to listen at first but sign the record deal anyway for he is something of a rebel, but his mother ended up passing away. So now, in her honor, he'll only play for that one special lady that he hopes to find in his life.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

He likes to give massages in his spare time.
…dang that Brad Brascoe.

Brad Brascoe reads voraciously and can quote authors right and left. He can beat anybody in a debate, but he rarely argues. Although he is never ever wrong with the facts or the concepts, he almost always allows the other person, especially when they are female to think themselves as being right. For 14 consecutive weeks, he has been the contending champion on Jeopardy. And during one of these shows his competition was none other than the creator of the television series, “Sex in the City”. They got to be really good friends and because Brad Brascoe let him win the final round of Jeopardy, this TV mogul imparted all his knowledge and all his understanding that he knew about women to Brad Brascoe.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

In high school he was quarterback, SGA president, Valedictorian, the Homecoming King, and the lead actor in the Homecoming play. But he had to disappear midway through his senior year because he helped save someone's life who the Mafia had tried to kill. Then the Mafia had it in for him. He stay hid for 3 months until he was eventually found out by some of the mob, but he single-handedly beat down all 6 of them with a coat hanger. Now the Mafia respects him and he gets free pasta dishes at Carrabba's.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

I once heard from a girl that kissed him that he tastes and smells just like the richest, dark chocolate. -Not that mass produced stuff. No, like the carefully melted and stewed fudge fondue from the forests of Switzerland. She described kissing him as "floating in a stream of hot, sensuous Godiva."
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

He used to be a yacht magazine model. There are lots of pictures of him out on the ocean blue, in front of sails with his shirt ripped off and his bronze-toned, six-pack and pecks gleaming in the sun. He was so good at this that he won the Champion Yacht Magazine Model of the Decade and won a free yacht. He used to sail medical supplies to impoverished countries...that was until he happened on an undiscovered island in the Caribbean. Now he owns his own yacht AND tropical island.
...dang that Brad Brascoe.

Some great-uncle of his passed away and it became known that he was the next in line of royal blood of the dukedom of Luxembourg. He inherited a large castle, a butler, and the local florist shop and chocolate boutique. Not to mention some fine collection of jewelry. This started him on a frantic quest for the most beautiful diamond in existence. He searched high and low never finding the one diamond that struck his fancy. So he stopped his hunt for a short while. That is until, he happened to rescue an entire Jewish family from a house fire. They quickly gave him access to the greatest jewelry around the world for a discounted price and he found his one true diamond on a ring. And the Jew who sold it to him said that he would only depart from this beloved diamond ring if Brad Brascoe would swear to only give it to the one true love of his life. He agreed and now he keeps it in a royal cabinet in his royal castle awaiting its true possessor.
…dang that Brad Brascoe

Really, truly, and in all actuality, maybe….I don’t know....perhaps…. he’s just a man who simply believes in himself.
…dang that Brad Brascoe.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Adventures in Writing

So I have been writing more lately. Oh no, not these cumbersome sort of notes, where one has to appear narcissistic to indulge one’s deep-felt need to communicate –to speak, and above all else –that divine function –to create.

But I’ve been delving into sentences where they run the greater chance of only being seen by my own eyes. Alone paragraphs that are definitely born in solitude, could sadly span its life in solitude, and quite possibly, die in solitude. It’s a horrible thought for the types of people who feel that they must deliver something to other people. But my skin’s become tougher over the years. I find the falling of a quiet night inviting. My nature seems to thrive in the mysterious silence of the night, even as much as the maddening buzz and hum of this globe which I seem to wander through.

Lately, I have been to a writer’s group. Nothing particularly fancy. About the only thing that St. Clair County in Alabama has to offer. But I saw it as an opportunity nevertheless for some form of coaching, which I believe I may need. You see, I’m a little weak on full guidance on just how to write. In the scholastic world, up and down the country, schools teach you one thing…how to sound like the student before you. Whereas the serious advocate of any art is after how to sound like himself. This is one of the great ironies in learning to write.

As for this writer’s group in Alabama...you’d be surprised at such places in the South. For once the football ruckus ceases to cheer or pout, and in between the larger than life fishes caught and deer snagged, there out of the grappling kudzu emerges semi-cultured types who’d be willing to arm wrestle William Faulkner, or out spit Flannery O’Conner in a watermelon spitting contest, all in order to win that Pulitzer Prize…but only if it requires them to focus on such huge themes of our Southland….strange accents, religion or fundamentalism, poverty, and dare I forget racism.
These constant themes strung along in dusty realism that drags one through the flat cottonfields as you read it. So this is what I find in my writers’ group. Three old women constructing their own Gone with the Winds. Actually nothing that good or epic even. Just struggling memoirs that would make you wish that Gen. Sherman would come down again and blaze another path with fire but this time using some of their pages as kindling.

But in all honesty, one of the ladies, the leader, of the group is noteworthy. Her advise is very legitimate and everything she says I hold onto, but sometimes I feel like her scope is a bit narrow. As though she looks through only Magnolia tinged lens. But her skills as a methodical critic are very good. Better than I could ever be.

Another of the ladies is not Southern, not even American. She’s German. Her accent is exceedingly strong. Everytime she speaks, I always imagine that she is talking about some gingerbread house in a secluded Bavarian forest. But unfortunately, I found her not so fanciful as that. I really thought that the German would exude some rich, brilliant traces of Goethe. But, I forgot, no Germans think like Goethe anymore. There’s not a romanticist left in the country. They’ve all morphed into Kafka, with more of a penchant for precision than an insect would have. So this old German frau was fervently into a sort of reductionist science. Wanting to only read or write what could actually take place. Ask a German to accept suspension of disbelief and they scoff. But one thing she said, I think truly shows keen observation on the southern literary scene and that was her visit to a large mansion in Georgia where she presented one of her self-published novels. It was a work set in Southeast Asia, and the Georgian couple were appalled and really thought that she was going to focus the setting on them, that is the South, about the southern gentility, about the willows that hung over the path to their mansion, and all the “Yes, sirs” and “No, ma’ams” that you could fit in between two covers. It’s as though they thought the only novel to be written was southern. The German joked about this and the egocentric behavior of this belle and beaux. But I find the thing indicative of the beliefs of the majority of a lot of authors and readers. That is read and write only what you know. I can’t fathom that. If one must be confined in one’s physical location, why confine one’s imagination to the same location? Why not imagine and discover a bit more? But no, the chief goal of most southern authors is to write that “Puh-fect Suuth-uhn Nov-uhl”.

And there’s only two ways to go about this southern novel, and believe it or not, its not whether its black or white, it’s either rich or poor. It’s southern aristocracy sipping sweet tea under a verandah on a sweltering day in July, or it’s a hard-luck family sweating in the pea patch on the same sweltering day in July. But either way you go, I feel its all worn out. Yes, those mockingbirds never truly die but keep warbling and mimicking on; they’re impossible to kill.

So I was the only person in this group below the age of 60 and the only male. I brought with me this short story that I had just finished called, “Maguerite of the Skies” A fantastical piece that deals with the exaggeration or overabundance of themes, rather than the rustic narrative of life as it is. It is about this stewardess who was the very emblem of beauty, but only when she was in the air. When the plane and crew landed she became ordinary. Perhaps, I wanted to say something about the nature of beauty, the nature of inspiration, and possibly the nature of ideals as a whole. But I must have failed in my execution because nobody at this literary tea party could understand why I would write a clearly humorous, quirky piece about such unbelievable events. It lacked realism the German said. Well, of course it did. If I wanted to bog myself down in matter-of-factness then what’s the point of writing fiction. I might as well write grocery lists.

It’s not as though I’m against realism, I mean, Russian realism is some of the greatest stuff out there. Here you have the author, say for instance, Dosteovsky taking the reader through depressing scenes of misery and poverty. The dragging kind of misery, that makes all life seem a burden. And he does it wonderfully well. Maybe that’s his genius alone. Which many try to copy but few can actually do.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t like reading about things that seem so commonplace. I mean “Old Yeller”, “The Yearling” and “Where the Red Fern Grows” all bored me as a kid. I could just go over to my mother’s hometown and get the same dialogue and stories. It seemed so ordinary. I wanted to escape –to go to a place that I’d never been before. Give me a story about King Arthur or Robin Hood. About Odysseus or D’Artagnan. Just not another blasted tale about a southern poor boy with his pet.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Conversation of the Week

The conversation was after hearing a fabulous jazz rendition. I would be willing to bet that some of the best jazz performances in the country, no, in the entire world, have taken and still continue to take place at the Preservation Hall in the heart of the French Quarter, New Orleans.

Well, I happen to know that the chairs are limited and that they lay pillows out right smack dab in front of the jiving, thriving jazz band, where horns are blowing and the musicians are sitting, standing, swaying, thrashing about in a frantic fever there, unleashing their instruments. I happen to know that if you come in towards the end of the line, and all the chairs are taken you can claim these pillows, before any of the other guests realize that they're there for the taking and they make a fine close-up seat. That night, the sax player would blow his horn nearly directly in my face. There is no better way to experience jazz then by a live, close-up performance.

I hapharzardly sat next to this cute girl who happened to be French. All the way from Paris just to see how French America can get. This brought her to New Orleans. Actually she had been living in New York awhile working with poor children in Harlem. We talked during the intermissions, she was 26 and a Civil Engineer. Though remarkably young looking and very cute. Her English wasn't all too sharp. I was hoping that she might've misunderstood me when I invited her to go for a drink afterwards...in the fact that she said, "No, I'm sorry...I must get back."
I mean. Her body language and her incessant conversation told me that she could not possibly say she couldn't hang out. Maybe she really had something really important to tend to. So I wandered down the street thinking about her. How embarrassing, how shameful it all was. Her and her dark eyes and complexion. She looked more Arabic than French. I guess she was Mediterranean French, though a Parisian. Oo la la...Oh well...
But there was one place I knew that would make up for the loss and that was at this snug little joint, the Pirates' Alley Cafe...where interesting conversations are always abounding, and these have yet to fail in interest or entertainment. (This was the very place I had in mind to take the French girl. But enough about her.)
I walk in and I was left with a lady bartender in her 40's. Maybe older. And a bar fly about the same age. This bar fly happened to be a street artist that sells her paintings in Jackson Square, she had actually grown up in Jackson Square, or so she bragged, her mother a street painter before her and her father owned a strip joint on Bourbon. She drank her cocktail and began describing her life growing up as a wretched little street urchin in the French Quarter. As though letting loose children on these streets makes them sow their wild oats early and also makes them crazy. I was so immersed in the conversation, I hardly dared to speak at all. I found this lady ever willing to let flow these stories, sometimes about long ago, other times about some awful crime scene that had just taken place. Danger and Wonder were two dominant themes in her conversation. Maybe with a twist of Crudeness thrown in there. I wonder if these elements ever featured in her artwork. Or was she just a commercial artist, painting pretty pictures of old buildings without tapping into the themes that she was painting right there before me with her words.

Just then, when the conversation seemed unable to to get any more ideal and picturesque, this pirate walks in. Yes, a full-fledged bucaneer with a 3 cornered hat, fluffy shirt, sword, musket, and all. No parrot, no eyepatch, and no missing limb. But the finest dandy of a pirate that sauntered the streets of the Quarter. He was a street performer. I had seen him earlier on Bourbon St. a still life effigy of Jean Lafitte, Lousiana's pride and persona of self-indulgent heroism. This street performer got his bacon, bread, and of course, as I was witnessing, his beer, by simply posing in the middle of the bead-wearing, grenade-guzzling crowd. Lively spectators some with romantic notions of New Orleans history, most of them just drunk and amused, "Look, Farley and Hud, a piirate!" Then they'd swarm about him, as he stood still as a statue, camera flashes going off and somehow or another this forerunner of Jack Sparrow would earn enough to live off of. He sat down at the bar, still in full costume, though he flung off his hat, and seemed agitated about something, but also willing to moisten that agitation a bit with a drink or two, while he counted up his earnings for the day. All during the conversations, I kept eyeing his flintlock pistol, wishing that I could have an excuse to carry one around with me.

The barside chat went around from all 3 participants. Sometimes, I felt as though I was a ghost intruding on their talks. Because I hardly uttered a word not wishing to take the conversation from its delightful course, as though it was a continual flow and anything that I might say could easily disrupt its naturalness.

Both street artist and performer were from New Orleans born and raised. The bartender was originally from the Southside of Chicago. All 3 had an altogether different upbringing and life's experiences when young than I had had. I kept thinking that I was interviewing them for a documentary or something similiar. As though they were speaking and the cameras were just rolling capturing the color and confusion of their Bohemian lives. Their speech and subject matter was so rich, though coarse and bawdy, but still, it was alive. They began talking about how years ago it was very apparent you could hear a tug boat, maybe an ancient relic of a steamboat, or maybe just a mundane barge would sound its foghorn as it glided by in the nearby Mississippi. It was not loud nor abrasive, but faint and always far off. They said it still occurs from time to time even nowadays. A sound of enchantment from a time since gone. One of the ladies was talking about how soothing it was to be taking a shower or something or other and hear this far off cry of nostalgic river days.

They often talked of well-known folks in the area; celebrities or legends of the French Quarter. One of the most striking was when the street artist lady spoke up, "Oh and then there was the big deal about Perry the Clown. You remember?" And she would go on about this famous or infamous, Perry the Clown who dressed up like a hobo clown. And the children and their families would flock around him and he'd do his clown bit. He had this rubber chicken with him at all times, and wasn't it a big surprise when the cops busted him for carrying his large stash of dope inside the rubber chicken, and selling it to his many buyers all around the Quarter. So poor Perry the Clown ended up serving some time in the slammer.

Then there was the story of the tapdancers. How years ago there'd be a bunch of black boys who'd get money by tapdancing. The cops in those days were big jerks and just for kicks and maybe because of a complaints of panhandling. -Maybe they were pestering people, they'd approach the boys, get them to hand over their shoes and then they'd use a knife and pry out the metal from the soles of the tap shoes, which never came cheap. So the boys would be without tap shoes and couldn't tap dance. But one clever boy took it into his head to nail old metal Coke bottle caps to the soles of his shoes and away he would dance. Other tapdancing boys followed suit. And when the police came around again, tearing the bottle caps from their shoes, the boys could always get new bottle caps. So the police just gave up.

There was some curious story about a handicapped woman who could hardly do anything of talent. Couldn't play an instrument, didn't care to paint, and I guess Tarot and fortune-telling were not her thing, so she would put on this gorilla suit and sit on Decatur Street. The people would pass by thinking, "Look, a gorilla!" and they'd drop coins in her bucket. She wouldn't do a thing. No banana act. No grunts or anything, just sit in a chair in a gorilla suit and would take home about a $100 a day. Or at least that's what the pirate said. Then the 3 of them began to talk about sex which I have the decency to leave out of this narrative.

All during these conversations, I began to realize that I was not an intruder of their stories, I was their main audience. It was as though each knew each other's stories and they were merely performing for the ego boost that I was giving them by sitting on the edge of my barstool attentive and polite to everything they said. I was listening to the voices from the street instead of contributing to it. Which rarely happens among the tipsy hubbub or the excited hurly burly that clamors raucously down the Quarter. What's a Bohemian without an audience?

The bar was closing. And they invited me to go with them to another. But seeing how I didn't want to get drunk and I had to get to my hotel, I declined their offer and left, I would've like to have heard that distant foghorn being sounded far off down the Mississippi, but I didn't.