Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Archive for March 2009

Charles Manson vs. Peter Cottontail

with 8 comments

After reading this, please don’t form an angry mob outside my house brandishing pitchforks, torches, sickles, and lanterns. There’s no right or wrong position being espoused here. I’m just sayin’ . . . .

Charles Manson is well known for his cult following of marauding murderers and sadistic killers. He had a way of convincing some folks to snuff-out lives indiscriminately, without conscience. Fortunately, he hasn’t been executed, otherwise for some sickos a martyr would be born.

Don’t you think it’s strange we have a goofy rabbit, sometimes referred to as Peter Cottontail, who (as the folklore goes) carries a basket filled with colored eggs, chocolate images of himself and jelly beans (shaped like eggs) and delivers them to children on a day that celebrates the resurrection from the dead of the executed savior, Jesus Christ? I don’t quite understand the correlation of the two, but I assume when the Easter Bunny was conceived, some thought went into associating his origin with the death of the Messiah.

In its infancy Christianity was considered a personality cult. Throughout history, many people were killed by the followers of Jesus. The difference is it was not at his bidding; where as, Charlie Manson commanded his people to rain mayhem down upon unsuspecting souls. Christ couldn’t know what was going on (as he was dead), even though those doing the killing and torturing declared they were doing so “in his name.” Was Peter (the rabbit) created as a sort of soothing distraction? Who could blame a cute little bunny, giving away treats, for any indiscretions of the past? I’m sure anyone being tortured during the Spanish Inquisition did not have furry little critters dancing in their heads. They were just a little busy croaking.

There were several phases of inquisitive behavior (1184 – 1860); however, the Spanish Inquisition (1478 – 1834) is considered by historians the most notorious of them all. It’s quite a blemish on the permanent record of influential distributors of The Word. There is not much mention of it during contemporary sermons. It’s better to forget and let bygones be bygones. After all, those who were involved are no longer available for interviews, and descendants can’t change whatever an ancestor considered appropriate.

Although the episode was referenced by many at the time as a “cleansing of souls,” it is argued to have been an economic grab bag, “unofficially” endorsed by the Spanish Monarchy to beef-up a depleted Treasury, whose bills were coming due. The Horror Show began as a campaign to rid the land of non-believers and establish the Catholic Church as the one true religion.

But, a big factor in its intensified purpose was the King of Spain owed lots of coin to Jewish merchants and money lenders, who helped finance overseas exploration and military campaigns (the Crusades), expecting to eventually be repaid. Because the King’s cupboard was bare, the best way to avoid paying back the loans was to force the Jews to become Christians, and if they refused (which most did) they would be killed under torture and their estates surrendered to the Churchstate. It was a win/win. If the Jews converted, they would donate a hefty portion of their funds to the Churchstate and if they didn’t, the money became Churchstate property upon their expiration.

Apparently, the fun part for the Inquisitors was the torture. They developed torture devices that no Confessor could ever withstand. Anyone subjected to these confession-letting tools eventually agreed they were heretics or would become Conversos, or died before they could. It’s interesting to note that several of the torturous contraptions had some underlying sexual perversion (hmmmm) associated with them. Some were attached to genitalia or inserted in orifices normally used for sexual activity or expulsion of bodily fluids and waste. I can picture in my mind a Church official wringing his hands, while slobbering on his bib during the confessional ceremonies, enjoying the suffering of the soon-to-be convert or corpse (maybe that’s why they wore the long robes). Once they were done with Jews and heretics, the Inquisitors turned to witches, which gave them even more opportunity to indulge their sexual repression.

As a youngster, Easter meant coloring eggs, eating chocolate, a new suit from either Robert Hall in Suitland or Hecht’s Bargain Basement in Marlow Heights, those colored chicks from the 5 & 10 in Capitol Heights that always died within a week, and pancake breakfast at the First Baptist Church on 57th Avenue. Then there was fidgeting through the preacher’s talk about Christ and why we celebrate Easter, but all that went over my head because I couldn’t wait to get home to find the hidden eggs. I bet more children overdosed on hard-boiled eggs during that time of year than any other. The eventual flatulence was cause for celebration as each kid tried to out-toot the other. It was a grand time, followed by several days out of school. So, what about Jesus? Lost in the childish celebration of Easter is the reason for the holiday.

I’m sure Chuckie Manson is not praying in his cell. Most likely, he’s performing some sort of Pagan ritual, the meaning of which is known only to him, while he spits at the guards as they walk by (probably flinging stuff, too). His cruelty is ingrained and his followers were led by the nose to believe his word was god-like. They killed for him and are paying their debt to society.

The Spanish Inquisition was evil, regardless of how it was perceived while taking place. Hindsight and our evolving mores tell us that something like that should not have happened. But, it did. The views of torture and execution change with the times. Anyone subjected to the Inquisitors, would think Abu Ghraib was like summer camp.

It’s over and done with and we just have to live with the fact it ever occurred. Fanatic following of any personality can lead to evil and multiple deaths of innocents. It just has to be kept in check. We can declare all the holidays we want to make it seem better, but it can’t erase the past. Charles Manson should never be forgiven. My hope is he dies a slow and excruciating death. His victims can’t speak out for themselves. Neither can those who suffered during the Inquisition.

I’m just sayin’ . . . .

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Digg! StumbleUpon My Zimbio

Advertisements

Peanuts, Pinball and Pool

with 7 comments

Take a gander at the picture of the pinball machine. I loved Eight Ball Deluxe. Walking into a bar, ordering a beer and cashing a few dollars for quarters was a thrill that is now just a memory. You can still play pool in a tavern, but very few have pinball.

I was good, shaking the machine just enough to keep the ball alive and avoid tilting. Sure, there were other people who played better, but on any given night I could rattle the machine, while my beer sat on the little table or nearby shelf waiting for me to lose the ball so it could resume it’s intended duty.

One of my favorite watering holes was Town Hall, just outside the University of Maryland campus. I worked at the school, and after my shift was over, a few of us would stop at the bar, walk though the smashed peanut shells on the floor, scuttle up to the bartender, order a beer, purchase quarters and begin the journey into Pinball Heaven.

Town Hall has been open since 1960; soon to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. That’s quite an accomplishment for a drinking spot. Those that come and go are usually “theme” bars catering to whatever fad or style is temporarily occupying the minds of its semi-loyal patrons. Dance clubs seem to last the least amount of time, usually laid waste by fights, drug busts, marriage, and the quick aging and waning interest of its clients. But, Town Hall has lasted through student migrations, sporting event-driven traffic, all the recessions and economically-challenging occurrences during the five decades of its life, and the probable deaths of several of its clientele who just didn’t outlive the joint.

I don’t imagine there was a secret plan scripted by the owners. They just offered cheap beer, a liquor store next door, free peanuts, pinball, pool, slim jims, pickled eggs, bags of chips and party mix, standard bar food, those red sausages in the big jar that I only had the nerve to eat once, and an unpretentious atmosphere. It worked, and my guess is they are not even paying attention to the Golden Anniversary approaching. It’s doubtful the customers care one way or the other.

Despite being within 200 yards of University of Maryland’s main entrance, Town Hall caters to locals. Students really only go there after a football game, basketball game or any other event that brings with it doting parents and seekers of learning, spilling out to quench their thirst after a couple of hours of cheering and jeering; much to the chagrin of the regulars who adjust to the noise, silliness and immature behavior of the privileged bunch who have just invaded their space. It only lasts a short while until the nerds and their entourage decide to shove off for haute cuisine, laced with over-priced, but oh-so-pretty beverages. Once the children are gone, the slim jims and suds taste better.

People reading this outside the College Park area most likely are unaware of Town Hall. Some may have stopped by when following their team to Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium (god, that sounds awful), Cole Field House or Comcast Center. If so, you probably didn’t even notice the regulars smoking their butts (when it was legal) and drinking their draft, while arguing Redskins football or some other non-college thing. Don’t worry, they ignored you, too.

For me, it’s now nostalgia. Occasionally I am in the neighborhood on business, but beer, pool and peanuts are not on the agenda. When home, I play pinball on my computer, shaking the machine with key strokes. Diet soda in a can or plastic bottle is my “draft.”

*Sigh*

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Check Out the Pinball Room

Digg! StumbleUpon My Zimbio

Deathball Revival

with 5 comments

So, you’re sitting in the bar with your friends and you start to think about ordering food. A good steak usually satisfies, but you are not that hungry. Chicken tenders and wings have become old hat, and nachos or chili go in easy and exit violently. What to order? What? Then the hot waitress or waiter you’ve been ogling and hoping may find you appealing, suggests sliders.

It’s not surprising because they’ve been appearing in scores of bars, taverns and restaurants lately, and now’s your chance to check them out. Hell, even Burger King is advertising them these days, but theirs are called “Burger Shots.” As if you stuff one in a small glass and gulp it down with a beer.

They’re nothing new, even though they seem to be all the rage. The tiny burgers (sliders) originated with White Castle restaurants in 1921; the true beginning of the fast food hamburger trade. Then in 1928 Harry Duncan relocated from Louisville, KY to Washington, DC and opened the Little Tavern at 814 E Street, NW. The onslaught of “deathballs” in the Washington – Baltimore area began, and by 1939 there were 50 locations.

Devotees of Little Tavern affectionately called it “Club LT,” and referred to the mini-burgers as “deathballs,” which was a reference to how they were cooked. The “chef” would line the grill with little balls of meat, with chopped onions and fry a bunch, then place them on the small buns along with a pickle, and store them covered by a damp towel in a drawer under the grill.

I didn’t really frequent Club LT when I was a kid. As a teenager riding around in cars and drinking beer with my friends, we usually stopped at Eddie Leonard’s for a sub when the munchies set in. It wasn’t until about 1973, while driving a cab, that my gourmet habits developed. You see, I always worked the night shift and Little Tavern was open 24 hours. The only other place open was 7-11 and at that time their food just wasn’t very tasty. They carried the Stewart sandwiches that needed to be heated in their toaster ovens (microwaves weren’t available), so my late night meals were three LT deathballs and a cup of coffee. I’m not one who usually goes for coffee with anything other than breakfast. It just sort of says, “I’m an old fart and don’t care any more.” Coffee with dinner just doesn’t seem right. But, at Club LT the coffee was delicious, served in the thick mugs that somehow made it better. Not to mention, I needed the caffeine buzz to continue working.

After relocating from the Marlow Heights territory to the Hyattsville driving zone, my favorite cab stand was the College Park Little Tavern, referred to by the cab company as “The Ritz.” Since this location was right across the street from the Rendezvous Inn, I’m sure they had many visits by drunken U of MD students when the bar closed. Like all Little Taverns, this place had a few stools (a large LT had about a dozen). The sit-down crowd was certainly welcome, but “Buy ’em by the bag” was the slogan. When Harry started the business, burgers were a nickle, so walking out with a bag full was a pretty easy task. You could feed the whole family.

In 1981 at age 82, Harry sold the chain to an attorney, Gerald Wedren, and moved to Florida. The business had dwindled to 30 locations at this point, caused primarily by the proliferation of fast food burger chains in the area. McDonald’s, Burger King, Red Barn, Wendy’s and others had been tapping into the profits of LT for quite some time, and Harry decided to let go. The imminent demise was on the horizon, as Wedren tried to “class up” the joints and extract some profit by competing with the big guys. Dress codes were implemented, and the menu was changed by adding more items. They even opened a fancy diner named appropriately, “Club LT.” But, the flavor of Little Tavern was lost and in 1988 Wedren sold the enterprise to Atlantic Restaurant Ventures, Inc., a firm that held the local Fuddruckers franchise. The writing was on the wall.

After only three years, ARV sued Wedren for fraud, accusing him of misrepresenting the value of the business. Shortly thereafter foreclosures of the various properties began and four of them hung on, being temporarily rescued by Al Wroy of Belair, who had joined the company during the Wedren reign. He tried to keep it going, but the last Little Tavern, located in Dundalk, closed on April 29, 2008.

Well, that’s the story of the deathball; gone from our area forever, but living on in its evolved form. The next time you’re at the Green Turtle, Burger King, Chili’s or any place advertising sliders, think of Harry Duncan as you bite into your order. They’re no longer a nickle, and probably not as good, but three deathballs and coffee always hit the spot.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Digg! StumbleUpon My Zimbio