Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mobile, Alabama

I spent the day hanging out in Mobile, a city I have passed through many times on the interstate but never taken the time to investigate. It is a 300 year old port city with hints of Creole French and Spanish conquistadors emanating from its ancient buildings and narrow oak lined streets.

My over all impression of Mobile is that it is a quintessentially Southern place where time and people move very slowly (especially in July) and change has come only grudgingly. My kind of place. Y'all should check it out sometime.

Presley Chapel

Old neighborhood near downtown

Ba Ba's Cafeteria

A specialty at Ba Ba's


Church Street Grave Yard

Mobile Harbor

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Blue Sky Blue

I bought the new Wilco album Blue Sky Blue at my favorite music store, Groovacious in Cedar City, while visiting Utah last month. Since then I have become addicted to this record and play it in my car almost constantly.

This is their first studio effort with new band members Nels Cline and Pat Sansome (who have been touring with Wilco for three years now) and you can hear the difference, especially the guitar work of Cline. Band leader Jeff Tweedy has woven a delectable, hook filled tapestry that is part mid-sixties electric Dylan, post-Beatles John Lennon, southern-fried Ziggy Stardust, early Steely Dan (the guitar duel at the end of Impossible Germany sounds a lot like the solo from My Old School), Mott the Hoople, the Faces, Uncle Tupelo and a very liberal sprinkling of Neil Young three-chord electric guitar chops spread throughout.

There is a humble and gracious attitude of celebration in the simple things of life that make the lyrics a throwback to an earlier time in American life, which I like muy mucho.

Sunlight angles on
A wooden floor at dawn

A ceiling fan is on

Chopping up my dreams
What is left of them

I take to sleep again

Where I dare pretend
I'm more than I seem

Suffice it to say I highly recommend this record, which is available at your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart.

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Eating along the road less traveled

Little Manatee River

We've been down in Osceola County for the past two weeks, using it as a hub from which to launch adventures into the the vast and exotic lands of the Florida peninsula. We visited the Atlantic coastal beaches at Canaveral National Seashore, the interior jungles and savanna of Lake Kissimmee State Park as well as the crystal white sands and deep blue surf of the southwest coast along the Gulf of Mexico.

Generally I pack my own food when traveling but we did patronize two excellent establishments for lunch that were welcome culinary throwbacks to a bygone era.

Our first discovery was on Canal Street in the old downtown section of New Smyrna Beach, along the Atlantic coast, where we accidentally stumbled onto a gem of a drugstore that still had a functioning lunch counter that also happened to be the social hub of this small close-knit community.

Little Drug on Canal St. in New Smyrna Beach, FL

The old-fashioned lunch counter in Little Drug.

We sat down and ordered our lunch while I wrote postcards. In no time at all people sitting nearby took an interest in us and we began engaging in friendly conversation. A lot of the talk was fond reminiscing about eating in places like this when we were all kids.

I had the Hot Dog Platter

It reminded me of the old luncheonette in the Kresge's at Wheaton Plaza in Maryland where my mother would take us after shopping for school clothes. If we were good we'd get a banana split or ice cream sundae afterwards and if you ordered a lunch you were eligible to choose from one of the balloons hanging from the ceiling that contained a lower price for dessert inside of it, that your waitress would pop, revealing a small piece of paper with the price you had to pay written on it. I'll never forget the day I got my dessert for a penny! Talk about your cheap thrills.

Butter pecan!

Locals relax at the counter.

The other culinary gem was Junior's Barbecue on Hwy. 46 in Sanford. This was some of the best southern style pork and chicken barbecue I've tasted in a long time. Owner Elic Green, Jr. (hence the name) was nice enough to let me take a sneak peek at his smoker and kitchen, which is about the size of a small pop-up camper.

Junior's in Sanford, FL

He will soon be relocating to downtown Sanford by taking over the space that was formerly the old Stokes Fish Market. Give him a holler if you're ever down in Seminole County and you're hankering for some of the best barbecue this side of Georgia.

Pork Sandwich Special