A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farmers Market

The folks at my grocery store gave me a calendar. It says something about food for all seasons and sure enough there are loads of pictures of scrumptious looking foods. Of course I know the real reason for the largesse on the part of my food vendor. The thing is stuffed full of coupons, dated so I have to visit often to take advantage of the big savings. That’s ok. I would have stopped in anyway. But the calendar is really a work of art. The pictures are somewhat coordinated with the seasons. Back in January it was soup being pictured. February it was a big bowl of chili. I must admit I paged ahead to look at the perfect golden brown turkey on the November page. But right now there is fruit being pictured. In June there were plump juicy looking peaches and July features watermelon. Nothing against my local supermarket. They do a great job and now even have beer for sale, if you can stand the price. And the fact that you can only buy 12 cans at a time. But honestly, one of the true joys of living here during our short span of summer (94 days from June 21st to September 22nd if I counted right) is eating stuff that is pulled out of the ground near where I live. Now I don’t care to get into a discussion with anyone from Pittston about tomatoes. I am sure they are great there but I don’t really know. That’s because I go to the farm stands close to my house in Dallas. I also visit the farmers market that appears this time of year in the parking lot of the Back Mt. library. The tomatoes there are just perfect for me. If there is a better meal than homemade bread, salt and a big ripe local tomato I have yet to find it. In the middle of deep and dark December I dream about baby yellow squash, dark sweet cherries and blueberries bursting with juice. And now it’s here, but it’s like the days are in fast forward mode. Blink and no more good stuff from the dirt. Soon enough it’ll be apples and pumpkins and then it’s back to eating tomatoes that taste like the packing material they came in. I think the local stuff costs a little more. I am not too sure because, well I really don’t care. If I pay a little more to keep my supplier

(read: farmer) in business so he can grow vegetables that taste like they should, then I am fine with that. I saw a bumper sticker that said; don’t curse the farmer with your mouth full. Works for me.

Not with a bang but a fizzle

It was sort of almost anti-American. The very thought of it smacks of the days when missiles were pointed at us from just across the ocean in Cuba, when Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the table at the UN and shouted “we will bury you.” When we lived in fear of the big one and were taught to hug our knees under our desks in the event the Russians put the hammer down. Except in this case we have done it to ourselves. Or more importantly we haven’t done it. But let me explain what has me all lathered up this week. Last year at this time on the Fourth of July a good friend took me and the long suffering wife out to PNC field to see the Yankees of local repute play and lose and then the oh and aw of the fireworks show. We had a great time on a perfect warm summer’s night. Entertainment that wasn’t overly stimulating but still pleasant. Food in quantities sufficient to stuff a Palomino. A feeling that we were part of something that was clean and wholesome and fun. As American as apple pie, hot dogs and baseball. We didn’t go this year. And I am pretty sure we would have, if we could. The day was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky on the fourth of July when the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye. But no one two three strikes and you’re out for us at the old ball game. Mighty PNC field had struck out. It seems that when the Yankees came to town they wanted, no demanded, to play America’s pastime on blades of real grass, not some plastic compound cooked up in a scientists laboratory. And sort of like the homeowner who opts for the new roof over the old shingles they got grass, planted, so I understand, on top of the plastic turf. And this year the athletic cup overflowed and turned the outfield into a swamp but with poorer drainage. Waterfront property on the first base line. And so the long string of great Fourth of July celebrations with baseball and fireworks at the once named Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium came to end, not with a bang or even a fizzle but with dead silence. And I have to wonder if we will ever see one again. For now that all the cracks and leaks and soggy outfields of the 20 year old facility have come to light, it won’t surprise me if the Yanks, yank out like the Phillies fled before them and leave us with a decaying field of dreams. And not much more. But then again, I could be wrong.

Yard Sales Redux

It’s been a while since I have written about flea markets and yard sales. But it isn’t because I haven’t been visiting them. Far from it. The long suffering wife has the plans mapped out for weekend scrums like a field general. And this year I have noticed more than an uptick in other folks trying to do the same thing. Find something that you need and they don’t for less money than you would normally pay for it. Bargaining comes into play on the paying less for it part. I have perfected the art of picking up an item and looking perplexed. This will bring on a price that will cause me to take in a breath like I am suffering a myocardial infarction and I will put the item down like it was burning. I’ll pretend to walk away and then, Columbo style, turn back at the last moment and say those words that every seller hates to hear. “Would you take less for it?” On a good day I can bring in the deal for at least one third off, more often half. And you find an often bewildering array of stuff, much of it in still sealed brand new condition. Piles and piles of stuff. But as a public service to flea market and yard sale operators everywhere I have a list of things that I always see that are never gonna sell. First and foremost 8 track tapes. I don’t care if they are sealed. I don’t care if it’s 10$ for a box of a hundred. You’ll be keeping them. Along that line-Cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Magnetic tape as a storage medium was an iffy proposition when it was new technology. And it was new technology when Bing Crosby was on the charts. About 60 years if you are counting. Tape deteriorates. It stretches and breaks. And cassettes were hissy. Take them to the landfill. And take the cassette machines and old VCR’s with them. It’s buggy whip technology. Because you have a DVD player do you think I want your old VCR? They make fine boat anchors I am told. And last but not least. Readers Digest Condensed Books. If I had a penny for every teetering stack of those badly edited albatrosses of literary shame I have walked by I would not be searching flea markets for bargains. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Encyclopedias. Folks, there is this new thing out called the internet. As Homer Simpson says, they have it on computers now. I looked at an encyclopedia the other day. No matter what I did it wouldn’t boot up and let me search Google. But then again I could be wrong.

"¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

I just never took to her. Oh I mean she was cute and all. But as an endorser for something I was supposed to eat, no it didn’t make sense to me. And don’t get me wrong. I love to eat. In particular I love the type of food that the cute little 15 year old was hawking. It’s just that because she could speak the language didn’t mean she was going to convince me to try her brand. There were those who claimed that she was nothing more than a thinly veiled cultural stereotype. They were in my opinion way off base. And she had, as they say in the ad business, legs. She was able to last almost four years in a field where sometimes a job could last a week. Remember Herb? Sales for Burger King didn't just stagnate during the Herb campaign, sales went down. But Gidget, the real name of The Taco Bell Chihuahua, not only had longevity but her ads coined a few catch phrases which outlive her. "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" ("I want Taco Bell!" or "I love Taco Bell!"). "Drop the chalupa!" “Viva Gorditas!," meaning "Long live Gorditas!" and who can forget "Here, lizard lizard lizard...?" Of course the dog was voiced by a voice actor named Carlos Alazraqui who was also Mr. Weed on Family Guy. But as I said before I just have a problem with a dog endorsing something to eat. I have owned a few dogs. Dogs eat, well dog food. They also will eat almost anything. My dog ate, and I am not making this up, a skunk. Dogs also lick themselves in places that just can’t taste good. And they lick other dogs there too after they have a sniff or two. So having a dog suggest what’s for dinner is just not something that I ever bought into. I would even buy into that creepy Burger King guy before letting a dog lead me into a fast food restaurant. Gidget was by all accounts a pretty mellow dog, preferring to sleep. She ended up costing Taco bell 42 million dollars in the end when the fast food purveyor was sued by the alleged originators of the Taco Bell Chihuahua concept and lost. 42 million is a whole lot of burritos, don’t you think? But Gidget lived a long doggy life. 15 years in dog years is 105 human years, right? That’s even older than Manny Gordon, may he rest in piece with his catch phrase intact as well. It’s not a bad legacy to leave I guess. A catch phrase. “Enjoy, enjoy!” "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" And “…but then again I could be wrong.”
Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard