Friday, May 30, 2008

“From England to Marietta College”


c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(5-08)

Writing about music is a pleasure. Something akin to a refreshing beverage at the end of a long day of burdensome responsibilities. It is happy work.

But occasionally, these tasks require more than a simple rendering of opinions. In such instances, it is necessary to find a tangent upon which to build a readable review.

A recent example of this came after receiving a demo CD from the British group ASbos. They were a young band, typically eager to be noticed. On the networking website MySpace, the collective advertised for professional critics to hear their work. After listening to tracks that they had posted, I answered their request by providing my P.O. box, in Chardon. Weeks later, a package arrived via Royal Mail.

The disc contained four songs. All were well composed and performed. Their sound evoked thoughts of the late 70’s / early 80’s New Wave scene - with a bit of grunge tossed in for good measure.

I felt confident in giving them a positive review.

Yet when the moment arrived to opine on their music, I was stuck. A contact named Alex had mailed the ASbos disc. But… nothing else. There was no biography, no list of members… or anything.

I rechecked their website, but learned no more. Hard information about the group was decidedly sparse. And I couldn’t get in touch with my mysterious contact. To produce a competent manuscript, I would have to improvise a storyline of my own. The result was a bit of ‘Thoughts At Large’ in cyberspace:
__________

ASbos – Get in the Way

All week long, I’d been thinking about a demo CD that came in the mail from England. As the newspaper chore-list vanished, line-by-line, this single task continued to nag at my sense of well being. Why hadn’t I gotten around to writing a review? Excuses were plentiful. But they did nothing to speed along the task itself.

I continued to ponder this dilemma whilst on the road, last weekend. My niece was graduating from Marietta College, in southeastern Ohio, with a Bachelor’s Degree in music – and I wanted to attend. Speaking at the ceremonies was a living hero of the American Civil Rights struggle, Rep. John R. Lewis. This made the occasion even more memorable.

Lewis admonished the graduating class of 2008 to take an active role in society as had those who came of age with Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Get in the way!” he said. “Do not accept the Status Quo.” It was the sort of rebel’s prayer that those steeped in non-conformity take to heart.

Listening to ASbos provided an overseas echo of that same vibe in the air.
Musically, rebellion is good… because music is the ‘vibe’ that carries energy from one human soul to another.

Professional scribes are fond of reflecting on the soulful and idealistic nature of Rock music. They typically recall the birth of this genre with a sort of romanticism that has no modern equivalent. The story… has been told. Yet it bears being said over and over again.

This was the VIBE in its infancy! There is merit to repetition when speaking of Chuck Berry, James Brown, Little Richard, and Elvis.

Those inclined to deeper consideration of cultural progress may observe that a logical progression followed that golden era. The vibe ricocheted from such seedlings of primal authenticity to take root in a interpretations colored by postmodern angst, hippiedom, pub-rock, punk, synthetic noodlings, grunge, and urban/de-constructionist overtones.

Yet the paradigm became well worn. Wal-Mart began to sell concert T-shirts. Rock ‘n’ Roll was co-opted by the same corporate moguls that once decried its inception.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins/Bo Diddley/The Velvet Underground/The Stooges/Jonathan Richman/Roxy Music/The Ramones/The Clash/The Sex Pistols/Nirvana/R.E.M./U2… they were all in the past, to one degree or another.

Only the occasional flash of creativity seemed to breach this creative darkness. The White Stripes, for example. Or The Strokes.

But MySpace exploded this situation with beautiful abandon.

Suddenly, new bands were everywhere. And old bands were revived by the opportunity to breathe fresh air, again.

The vibe was loose, once more!

This was my reaction upon listening to the ASbos demo, sent by band member Alex. Hearing tracks like “That’s Right” and “Stanlow” was like tonal therapy. It connected the portion of my brain responsible for remembering late 70’s/early 80’s New York with the part that serves as a repository for cultural hope.

Note: Asbos are ‘Anti-Social Behavior Orders’ in the United Kingdom. In other words, charges against those who have engaged in public behavior that is considered disruptive and disorderly.

Yes, everything old really can be new, again.

Call it punk, powerpop, D.I.Y. or street-cred. There is power in the disaffection of woeful young voices.

“Not An Animal” (forgive me for paraphrasing some of the titles here) had just the right hook of sub-metallic thrash to resuscitate my cerebral network. Plus a bit of Sterling Morrison for good measure. And mob harmony borrowed semi-politely from the Pistols.

It’s a statement that rings with meaning from the segregated south, in America, to the working-class neighborhoods of Britain. “I am a human being!”
“Miracle” evoked the spirit I felt when buying JEM-import vinyl releases by groups like The Stranglers, Magazine, Squeeze, and Ultravox. Even in the pre-Internet era, there were experimental, progressive bands on the horizon. Today is no different. Yet one must look beyond the hype.

Look carefully. ASbos might not be on your iPod radar. But they should be.

On their net page, “That’s Not Mum” made me grin. Instead of a breathless, overdone rant, the tune speaks with humility. The sum – a mash up of wonder/hurt/resignation/self doubt/sadness/tears/betrayal played out with keyboards and guitar. The song nearly seems to march toward family catastrophe. What to do? Tell Mom and unmask Dad as a scoundrel? Or live with the secret, and strange perfume?

“Weird Dream” is a bare-knuckled look inside the human psyche. Guilt? It’s here in spades. But to what end?

The upshot yielded by listening is this: ASbos represents a collaboration brimming with musical chops, personality, compositional skills, and satirical poise. I’d be glad to have their catalog represented in my household collection.

Would you? Listen, and decide.

Just don’t wait to be led in that direction.

__________

I posted the review with a grin. Though not strictly about the band itself, my bit of prose was typical for the Icehouse. I hoped that ASbos would receive it cheerfully. Not to mention… the graduates at Marietta College.

Postscript: Our condolences and love go out this week to the family of Rebecca M. Malloy, who passed away on May 19th after a brave period of illness and survival. Her daughter, Mary Bramstedt, is a Chardon City Councilperson and an active resident of Geauga County. Mrs. Malloy will be missed by friends and family, everywhere.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

“Letting Go of Lawson Ford”


c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(5-08)




It was a quiet morning in Chardon, just after daybreak.

I took a thermos of coffee from my truck, and poured a cup while reflecting on the awakening day. Steam rose in delicate wisps from the container. A solitary gull flew overhead. Finally, I lifted the hot beverage in a toast.

“Goodbye, old friend,” I said.

The dealership parking lot was empty. Though mere days had passed since closing, it might well have been months, or years. Emptiness was in the air. Only a farewell note in the window gave testimony to what had gone before.

A stray automobile brochure flew overhead, carried by restless gusts of wind. I tried to catch the wild squares of paper, but had no luck. Standing bare and pale, the building seemed to scold my attempt.

“Let it go,” the structure whispered. “Let it go.”

I sat on the tailgate of my black pickup. Rays of sunlight peeked over the dealership roof as I wandered in reflection. Somewhere, I heard a dog barking at the brightening sky. My Java was flavorful and satisfying, with outdoor aromas mixed in for good measure. For the tenth time, I read a letter that had arrived about the dealer closing their Geauga County operation:

“Dear Rodney, Thank you for your previous business! (We) would like to announce the consolidation of… Ford stores in to one… location. We will continue to offer the best customer service and attention to detail that you received in the past.”

In the midst of a sip, I heard the sound of tires creeping over the asphalt. Quickly, my eyes turned toward the driveway. A car was approaching. It radiated various tints of metallic pink.

I sighed. It was Liz, my wife.

“Rodneyyyy!” she sang, while parking next to my truck.

“Good morning,” I said. “Sorry if I woke you…”

“I could feel that you were gone,” she observed, still sitting in her car. “Honey, are you okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, of course.”

She was unconvinced. “Mind if I join you for a cup of coffee?”
I scooted sideways on the tailgate. There was a spare cup in my cooler.
“Well, Rodney,” she chirped. “You’ve done some unusual things for a newspaper story. But this one has me flustered. Why would you want to see the sunrise at a… car dealer’s parking lot?”

“A closed car dealer,” I said.

Liz shook her head. “Well… wow, you’re right. All the cars are gone. I thought maybe they were resurfacing the pavement.”

Silently, I handed her the letter.

“Hmmmm,” she said, while reading. “I expected this might happen. But they’ve included a twenty-dollar gift certificate. That’ll come in handy!”

I nodded. “Things change…there’s no stopping the march of time…”

My wife snuggled closer. “So, are you sad about this? Is that why you’re out here this morning?”

“No, not really” I replied. “I’m just taking inventory.”

“Inventory?” she said with puzzlement. “Of what?”

“Of my memories.” I answered.

Her surprise was evident. “Okay… well, at least you’re not out here having a powwow with Agent X. Or your friend Ezekiel Byler-Gregg!”

The mention of imaginary characters from the newspaper brought a smile to my face. “No, this is a solo mission,” I said. “Maybe next week I’ll see those guys again.”

Liz squeezed my hand. “So, tell me, Rodney. What are you remembering about this place?”

It had been a long time. But my thoughts were clear. “It started when I left New York State, in the early 80’s. In those days, the business was called Lawson Ford-Mercury. I bought a second-hand Volkswagen here, after coming home to Ohio. A fellow named Stan was my salesman. When I found an Econoline Van at an auction in Pennsylvania, they did the title inspection to get it street-legal. This was the first place I saw a new Taurus, thanks to a friend who worked for the company as a mechanic. That was over twenty years ago…”

Her eyes were wide. “What else?”

I took a deep breath. “I bought my ’79 F-150 4x4 here. It was my first truck. When the negotiations became tricky, Milt Abrams got involved personally.”

“Milt Who?” she said.

“He was the owner,” I explained. “A cool fellow. Very cordial and direct. I remember that he wore a belt-buckle made out of coins.”

“Wow,” she laughed.

My retrospective continued. “I rented cars here when the family needed to make long trips, comfortably. Then, my stepson, Jason, started working in the service department. I came here to buy parts for my ’85 Ranger pickup, and my ’96.”

“But the business changed hands?” Liz wondered out loud.

“Yes, a few years ago,” I said. “Can’t remember when… the place remained ‘Lawson’ for most of us, though. I noticed it’s still listed under that name on the Internet, quite frequently.”

She patted the tailgate where we were sitting. “And you bought this mule here, too?”

I nodded again. “Yes, another F-150. Leased it first, from a young guy named Mike. Then bought it from a fellow named Dave. It’s been a workhorse.”

“And the story ends there?” she said.

“Actually, it ends right here,” I answered, after a pause. “Our lives have become so busy… somehow, I lost track of time while working on writing projects.”

My wife grinned. “Calendar pages keep turning…”

“They sent notices that my vehicle was due for an annual checkup,” I recalled. “But my first priority was to finish a book on handicapped athletes and their personal growth through competition… I hadn’t visited the dealership this year. Then, their goodbye letter arrived. Suddenly… everything stopped! I had to come here. Just to say farewell…”

Liz turned philosophical. “This is part of life, Rodney.”

“Yes, you’re right,” I agreed. “Just like Fisher’s Big Wheel going away. And Conley’s. And Valu King, Bi-Rite, Woolworth’s, Golden Dawn, Ash Motors, the Sohio filling station, Longo’s, Fina’s, and the Goodwill store. This area is changing, forever…”

“Remember the newspaper you found, from 1919?” she said. “Imagine those people seeing the county as it is today! They would barely recognize what we take for granted.”

“So true,” I agreed.

“You’ve got to let go of Lawson Ford,” she pleaded.

I looked again toward the empty dealership.

“Let go,” the building whispered once more. “Let go…”

Moistness flooded my eyes. I raised the coffee in tribute.

“It’s time to leave,” Liz said, emphatically.

“Goodbye,” I mumbled.

“I’ll treat you to breakfast at the New York Deli…” she promised.

The moment was at an end. I patted my belly with anticipation. “You always know the right thing to say!”

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

MAC & CHEESE



The blue box. Who doesn't love it?

7.25 ounces of America in a tidy, cardboard package. A pre-fab 'MRE' for the masses. In dry-storage stasis, ready for use when the proper moment arrives. A cheap meal for palates trained by Wonder Bread, Bazooka gum, and Budweiser beer.

You'll earn no style points for consuming this off-the-shelf concoction. Still, it has a delectable character that transcends reason. College students, blue-collar laborers, and retirees dependably tout it's magical ability to nullify hunger. The Blue Box will rock your socks off... just ask the Cheeseasaurus.

When I worked at Channel 13 in the 1970's, this was my dinner of choice. After long hours of video production, I would bust into a box at home, for sustenance. Mixed with hamburger or bacon, chopped peppers, onions, and whatever the refrigerator yielded, it always tasted right.

Okay, this habit of grubbing out on the Blue Box probably helped to aggravate my personal tendencies toward carb intolerance and weight excess. But it filled the need when it needed to be filled. And at a bargain price. I literally grew up on this staple item from the Kraft line of food products.

Did the Box help make Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Mosrite guitars, The Ramones, Hunter S. Thompson, and John Belushi more appealing during those formative years? I can't be certain of that...

But I can hope.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day brings horses and horseless carriages to Thompson

by ROD ICE

Bowed heads, or burning rubber? You’ll find both in Thompson. Especially on a warm-weather holiday.

This township in northeastern Geauga County is the sort of community one might envision when describing the essences of midwestern living. Traditional values, a strong family structure, and faith-based activities are plentiful here. Yet this point on the map is still known to many Ohio residents as the home of NHRA-sanctioned Drag Racing.

The weekend offered a series of ‘Asphalt Wars’ and regular competition at Thompson Raceway Park. But Memorial Day was observed with a traditional parade and ceremony on the township square. Featured were a color guard of local veterans, and a mounted officer in full-dress uniform. Marching musicians from Ledgemont High School joined members of the fire and police departments in this celebration. Their procession opened the holiday services with much pomp and pageantry.

After an interlude of patriotic songs, Geauga County Auditor Tracy A. Jemison addressed the crowd with a message about the significance of this special day. Lincoln’s famous ‘Gettysburg Address’ was also read aloud, in keeping with holiday traditions. It was a moment when citizens seemed to be united in their gratitude for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for American liberty.

After the ceremonies in Thompson, visitors walked to the township cemetery where a 'roll call' of heroes was commenced. The names began with fallen soldiers of the Revolutionary War, and concluded in remembering those who perished more recently, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not everyone was content to observe the day with leisure activities, however. Ladies from the United Methodist Church used their on-the-square venue to conduct a benefit plant sale for those suffering from gardening fever. The flowering goods on display proved able to stop traffic dependably, as holiday travelers passed through the township on Route 528.

Meanwhile, at Raceway Park, preparations were being made for the next slate of tire-shredding shootouts, to be held on Friday. High-octane fuel and new-mown hay filled the rural air with potent aromas of a summer on the way.

Moving on wheels, hooves, or just humble scraps of shoe leather – it was a day to remember our heroes through prayer and reflection.


A color guard of local veterans led the parade.


The Thompson gazebo provided a perfect venue for Memorial Day observances.


Patriotic songs brightened the day of celebration.


The Ledgemont Marching Band entertained guests with their exciting performance.


From Ledgemont Twirlers to Thompson Police, everyone was on hand for Memorial Day.


A mounted officer added pomp and pageantry to the parade.


Megan Webber enjoyed puppies that were brought from the Geauga Humane Society.


Geauga County Auditor Tracy A. Jemison addressed the crowd.


Thompson Town Hall offered shade for visitors who attended.


Jamie Ice enjoyed the festivities with her daughter, Carly.


video

Video of the Memorial Day Parade in Thompson.

Friday, May 23, 2008

GROOVIEST GUITAR

Ah, the proverbial church rummage sale... is there anything better?

Today, a pause in Geneva netted several interesting trinkets. Included were treasures like a hand-carved, Italian ash tray from the 50's, made of alabaster. And, a toy Mini Cooper automobile, outfitted correctly, just like the real British import.

But coolest of all may well have been the following music textbook. It is a 1969 publication of CHARLES HANSEN, with arrangements done by Bill Oliver. In the back, this manual even includes a three-finger chord chart.





Also notable about this book - the cover illustration is of a multi-colored MOSRITE guitar, with the vibramute tailpiece and angled neck pickup.

As the cover says, this volume is full of "GREAT BIG TOP HITS" including Hey Jude, The Look of Love, and Scarborough Fair.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS

HERE'S A NEW LOGO I DESIGNED FOR DAVIE ALLAN. IT'S A JAZZMASTER GUITAR WITH TWIN S&S PANHEAD MOTORS... AH, THE CUCLE-DELIC REFERENCES CONTINUE...

LONG LIVE THE KING OF FUZZ!

Photobucket

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ANTI-HERO?



He is huge.

There's no escaping that first impression. Trivisonno is a bombastic, overgrown oaf in sunglasses and attire rescued from the laundry hamper for a second go-round at being worn in public.

He is loud and uncooperative. His rants about Program Director Ray Davis are the stuff of legend. But everyone in Cleveland knows that he is an unrepentant footsoldier for the everyman.

In reference to fans: he is glad to have 'gotten over' in an industry dominated by chaos, and marketing bullcrap. Triv invites lesser on-air celebrities to eat his dust.

In reference to detractors: he knows you don't like him. He doesn't care. He suspects that you are jealous of his success as a blue-collar hero. That validates his considerable ego. Trivisonno is Joe Six Pack with a winning lottery ticket. Short on pedigree, long on savvy. His personality is a bi-polar dance between exuberance and scorn. Yet he remains pure, like rough-hewn lumber or forged steel.

Triv doesn't just speak for us - he IS one of us.

We are Cleveland. We are cranky, under-appreciated, overworked, wrinkled blobs of humanity. We distrust government, but cling to the flag and our bibles. We drink, smoke, and gamble while we pray - not always in church, but religiously in front of the television. We pray for an elusive sports championship in football, baseball, or basketball. We pray for hope amid construction, neglect, and mismanagement.

Triv is our mouthpiece. He says what we'd like to say. He offends those we'd like to offend. He offends even those on his side of an argument. But it's all part of the formula. It works.

I met Trivisonno in Painesville, in the 90's. He was an unmistakable figure: long, shaggy hair, pro-wrestler sunglasses, a Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to his belly, wrinkled beach shorts, and sandals. We shook hands after I pretended to know him. It was a close encounter with lightning-in-a-bottle. His personality seemed authentic, captivating, and proletarian.

In my own mind, the legend became flesh-and-blood on that day.

We met again a decade later, during a station tour provided by Monsieur Davis. Triv was surrounded by his troupe of radio performers. Marty Allen, Paul Rado, and Alison. Mark Schwab popped up in a sound booth, going over a sports report. The air crackled with improvisational magic.

Is Triv an example of success through smoke-and-mirrors? Maybe. Or perhaps he wants you to believe in the miracle of a guy from the street gettin' paid. The truth? He works hard to assemble each show. His contacts around the Northcoast are many. It may look easy, but YOU couldn't replicate his success.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Believe what you want. Just keep listening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

THREE-FOR-ONE SNACKFEST

HERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT SNACKS PURCHASED RECENTLY FOR LEISURE-TIME ENJOYMENT IN THE ICE HOUSEHOLD. EACH HAD ITS OWN UNIQUE FLAVOR-PERSONALITY AND AMBIANCE. READ ON FOR THE DETAILS:

1. KROGER BBQ PORK RINDS





THESE WERE TASTY, AND A BARGAIN AT $1.19. JUST A GREAT, CRUNCHY TREAT FOR GRUBBING OUT DURING RESTFUL HOURS WITH BEER OR ICED TEA. NO PRETENTIOUSNESS, NO BOMBAST. A STRAIGHT-UP FEAST-IN-A-BAG!

THE KROGER COMPANY
CINCINNATI, OHIO 45202

2. RUDY'S 'FAMOUS' PORK RINDS



THESE RINDS WERE THE OPPOSITE OF NUMBER ONE. ADMITTEDLY, THEY WERE PURCHASED AT BIG LOTS, WHERE I'VE SOMETIMES FOUND FOODSTUFFS THAT WERE WAREHOUSED A BIT TOO LONG. YET THE SELL-BY DATE WAS A MONTH-AND-A-HALF AWAY. SAID PLAINLY, THEY TASTED STALE. JUST NOT A SATISFYING WAY TO NULLIFY MY HUNGER. I SHARED THE LAST HALF OF THIS BAG WITH OUR LABRADOR RETRIEVER. (UNLIKE MYSELF, HE HAD NO ISSUES WITH THE TASTE.) SO GIVE IT ONE THUMB DOWN, BUT A PAW UP.

RUDOLPH FOODS COMPANY, INC.
P. O. BOX 509
LIMA, OH 45802
WWW.RUDOLPHFOODS.COM

3. MIKE-SELL'S DILL POTATO CHIPS



I'VE NEVER HAD A BAD PRODUCT FROM MIKE-SELL'S. THEY WERE AVAILABLE IN THE CLEVELAND MARKET BRIEFLY, ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO. BUT FOR COMPETITIVE REASONS, THE COMPANY DECIDED TO DROP OUT. THAT WAS A PITY FOR THOSE OF US ON THE NORTHCOAST BECAUSE M-S PRODUCES SOME INCREDIBLE SNACKS. THESE DILL CHIPS WERE AS DELECTABLE AS ANY I'VE TRIED - ON PAR WITH HERR'S FROM PENNSYLVANIA, UNCLE RAY'S, OR SOME CANADIAN VARIETIES I'VE TRIED. GREAT STUFF!

MIKE-SELL'S INC. & SUBSIDIARIES
DAYTON, OHIO 45404
WWW.MIKE-SELLS.COM

Thursday, May 15, 2008

“Paris Promenade”



c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(5-08)





It was a quiet morning in the Icehouse home office. A half-eaten breakfast of cheese grits and Vienna sausages waited for my attention, in the midst of scattered newspaper clippings. But my morning routine was on hold, for the moment. I had nearly finished my third book – a sports adventure based around local softball games from last summer. Yet the work had gone more slowly than I wanted – until today. The focus and concentration that I’d been seeking were now in full effect. Food held no attraction in the moment. I crouched in front of the computer monitor, with wordsmithing determination running hot in my veins. At last, this daunting task would be complete…

Rudely, our telephone rang as I composed the final paragraph.

My fingers stumbled on the keys. I rattled to a creative halt. What followed on the screen was pure gibberish: “Nbvfel@&#?”

I groaned out loud. The writing program indicated that a grave error had been committed. Suddenly, it was impossible to think. A window for spell check opened to highlight my improper entry. From across the room, our telephone continued to ring.
Chaos had claimed my creative moment!

I held my head while trying to regain control. “Make it stop!” I yelped, while picking up the receiver. “Please, make it stop!”

Liz, my wife, reacted with sheer befuddlement. “What??” she said over the telephone. “Rodney, are you okay??”

I stammered with embarrassment. “Honey! How are you? Sorry for answering your call like that…”

“What’s wrong with you today?” she said quizzically.

“Nothing,” I explained. “Just a bit of writer’s anguish.”

“Of… what??” she asked.

“Nothing. Nevermind. How are things at work?” I said with a smile.

She paused to collect her thoughts. “Actually, I called to ask you a question. How would you like to chaperone a prom this month?”

“A prom??” I coughed.

“Yes!” she chirped. “At the Glad Tidings Academy. We’ve been asked to participate this year, with Leigh!”

I felt old. “Leigh…? Is going to prom?”

“Yes,” Liz whispered. “Our girl is growing up! We’ve got to find her a dress, and matching shoes, and make an appointment for her hair, and buy special jewelry, and make corsages, and…”

I was dizzy. But it didn’t matter. A mother-and-daughter rite of passage had arrived in the Icehouse!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The theme of Leigh’s event was ‘Paris in the Spring’ – accomplished with banners, props, and decorations donated by a local high school. On each table, Eiffel Tower candleholders glowed romantically. The cafeteria had been artistically adorned in pink and black. A balloon archway filled the hall, outside. A mirrored, disco-ball hung at the center of this incredible display.

Music of all sorts filled the air. There were sparkles of color from sequins, lace, satin, and ribbons tied into festive curls.

Our teen bubbled with excitement, from her wheelchair. “Mom, this is so fantastic! We’ve never been dressed up at school like this, before!” She glimmered in deep purple and gold.

“You look like a Hollywood star!” I said with pride.

Liz blushed. “Doesn’t Chatham look spiffy in a suit? And Lodi wore a striped shirt, just like a real Frenchman! C’est magnifique!”

“And Kara wore yellow,” Leigh exclaimed. “It’s her favorite color!”

While we got in line for punch and snacks, I noticed three men, in matching polo shirts. They were already on the dance floor, mixing with students. My eyes could barely read the logo each one carried… WYBL 98.3 - The Bull.

I whispered to my wife. “Hey, who are the three guys in tan shirts?”

She giggled. “That’s Roger McCoy, Scony, and Dominic the Tow Truck Driver from my favorite radio station… The Bull!!”

“Here??” I said with disbelief. “At the Glad Tidings Academy?”

As if on cue, a rousing tune by ‘Trailer Choir’ began to play over the loudspeakers. The tables emptied as even the most shy participants got up to jam.

Leigh struggled out of her wheelchair. “Mom, I want to join my classmates!” She took turns high-stepping with Chatham, Lodi, and Keeney. Then it was time to break for punch and cookies.

Suddenly, Dominic approached our group. He stood tall, like a redwood tree with legs. Yet his voice was gentle. “You daughter is lovely, Mrs. Ice. May I have this dance…?” He reached out with a paw the size of a baseball glove.

Our daughter gasped. “Oh my! What a cool idea!”

My wife blushed again. “Why, yes. Of course!”

The radio celebrity bowed with a graceful arc of overgrown limbs. He cradled Leigh, carefully. Then they spun away, into the crowd.

Liz dabbed a tear from her eye. “This is incredible…” she observed.

I was busy with my digital camera. “Yeah, it’s a night to remember!”

She snuggled under my chin. “This is a special night for our girl. But also, for us. You know, we never went to prom together.”

I nodded. “No. At Leigh’s age, I lived in Virginia.”

“And I was still in Wisconsin,” she remembered. “So this is our night, too!”

Before I could answer, ‘The Locomotion’ had begun to play. Dancers lined up across the cafeteria. Chatham was now partnered with our teen angel, who had returned to her wheelchair. The group filed out an exit door, then down the hall and back inside again. Voices echoed throughout the building. “Come on, come on, and do the Locomotion with me!”

I drank more punch to combat the rising indoor temperature. Every pair of feet was on the floor. I could feel the thud of wild dance steps buzzing under my shoes.

Leigh passed by with a parade-queen wave from her chair. “I’ll remember this night forever, Mom! Forever! I love you!”

After a final tour around the room, everyone gathered in a circle.

I took off my tie. Our digital camera was nearly full of images. “Okay… what dance is this?”

“It is the final song,” Liz said, with moist eyes and a whimper. “They all hold hands and sing!”

Voices and hearts joined in a final moment of celebration. I raised the camera over my head for a better angle. Everyone swayed in time to the hopeful, uplifting anthem. Then, the room fell silent.

Leigh cried tears of joy. She squeezed Lodi’s hand.

“Forever,” she promised. “This night will last forever…”

Our drive home provided a peaceful counterpoint to the festive evening. Both mother and daughter yielded to slumber inside the family truck. Alone, I marveled at ribbon-strands that blew playfully from the antenna as I drove. We’d decorated the workhorse in hues that matched Leigh’s dress. Now, these streaming colors streaked the darkness with fanciful highlights.

“From Thompson to Paris,” I said in a hush. “And back, again!” I patted the dashboard, with reverence. “Well done, ol’ hoss. Now take us home!”

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thompson residents salute Louie Run



by ROD ICE

THOMPSON – This week, Local residents in Thompson took the opportunity to join in a unique celebration of roadgoing adventure and remembrance.

The twenty-fifth annual Louie Run was held on Sunday, May 4th in memory of fallen riders from across the area. The yearly event has drawn support from motorcyclists of all kinds. But this time, the event took on a new meaning.

Parishioners at Thompson United Methodist Church, on the town square, were used to hearing the sound of roaring Harley-Davidsons during services that coincided with the weekend happening. So on Sunday, member Tom Mihalik led a group of children and parents outside to greet the riders with a personal message of inspiration and hope.

He said the idea was first proposed by his wife, Liz, about two years ago.

“These people may not all be believers,” Mihalik told the assembly. “But they represent a kind of congregation. We want to share our faith with them.”

He then read from a creed composed by the Louie Run Foundation: “As we travel the highways of our countryside, may we experience the love of life and adventure in the great outdoors, and one's peace of mind in our inner self. May we safely soar with pride in one's self and one's machine, respect the rights of others, and seek to quell all prejudices and extend the hand of fellowship to each other. And may we all stand united… as our forefathers once did when founding our great nation.”

Pastor Harley Wheeler was upbeat about the opportunity to bond with the wheeled passers-by.

“We want to show God’s love to them,” he said.

At about 11:30 a.m., Mihalik led the kids to a sidewalk in front of their house of worship, for an outdoor pep rally of sorts.

Children who participated waved flags, and held a banner that read “God still cares Today.” Their demonstration was well received by the group of riders in attendance.

Mihalik said that several members of the Thompson church belong to the Christian Motorcyclists Association, a faith-based group.

“Next year, we’d like to do even more during this event,” he observed.

The Louie Run began as a tribute to tavern owner Louie Ivcovic, in 1983.

















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