03 November 2010

The Hub Of Power In Honeoye

HUN-ee-oy is how you pronounce that word.  Honeoye is an Iroquois word meaning "a lying finger" or "where the finger lies."  I know this is true because I looked it up on Wikipedia.  The town of Honeoye sits on the north shore of Honeoye Lake which feeds Honeoye Creek which flows through the town of Honeoye Falls, where I grew up and went to school.  Honeoye Falls is a long ways from Honeoye, probably a good fifteen to eighteen miles (I'm too lazy to look it up just now), a little known fact which has repeatedly led me to have this conversation:
    Stupid Person: Where are you from?
    Me:  Honeoye Falls.
    Stupid Person:  Wow.  And you drive all the way here?
    Me:  Umm, yeah.  It's all of twelve miles or so.
    Stupid Person:  Yeah, right.  It's like fifty miles away.
    Me:  No,  you're thinking of Honeoye, which is about twenty-five miles away.
    Stupid Person:  Oh, really?  Are you sure?
    Me:  Yeah.  I grew up in Honeoye Falls.  You're thinking of Honeoye.
    Stupid Person:  Yeah, Honeoye, Honeoye Falls.  Same thing.
    Me:  No, they're actually two separate towns.  I would tell you how far apart they are but I am too lazy to look it up just now.
    Stupid Person:  Oh.  Gosh, now I feel stupid (they never say this!).

Honeoye is not a big town nor particularly ornate.  No big houses on Main Street, no nice side streets lined with elm trees, no solid block of interconnected brick buildings as its business center, but it does have a lake, and a main strip, and a barbershop.  There are some nice houses in Honeoye but they're more here and there than most Western New York towns.  The barbershop is part of the main drag in town, with an old fashioned barber pole and a storefront walkway that looks like it was made to hitch your horse to.  I mentioned to my dad that I needed to get my haircut and he called me and mentioned this place.  "I'll take you down to Ralphie Angelo's."  This seemed more like a foregone conclusion than a suggestion.  Ralph Angelo is known for his hunting dogs and his barbershop.  His shop is next door to Ace's Restaurant, for years the best place around to get a fish fry.  The town didn't look like much on a Wednesday afternoon in April but I think that on a summertime Friday evening, when people are renting houses and enjoying the lake, it might have a bit going on.

My dad called Ralph ahead of time to make sure he was open.  "Yeah, I'm open every day except Sundays.  If I'm not there when you get there, just wait.  I probably ran over to the town hall."  Sure enough, I walked in and no one was there except for a couple guys waiting.  What kind of proprietor, I thought, leaves his business and leaves it open in the middle of the day?  I thought that was pretty cool.  When I sat down in the chair Ralph didn't ask me how I wanted my hair cut but he did ask to see the monster buck I shot last year.  How did he know me and how did he know I shot a monster buck?  Well, he knew I was coming, knew who I was, and heard from my cousin about my trophy deer.  Then he clipped my hair like he was Edward Scissorhands.  After that he put shaving cream around my ears and on my neck and shaved it with a straight razor.  A straight razor!  Definitely old school.

When I was done I paid him and gave him a fifty percent tip (it was only an eight dollar haircut).  I was impressed: the barber pole, the straight razor, the Edward Scissorhands-like efficiency.  I left and told my dad about Ralph being late and asking me about my deer.  "There was nobody in there?  Really?  Usually the boys are there hanging out."  Oh, I thought, I get it.  Ralph's was like the old barbershops where the boys went to hang out.  It made sense.  "Yeah, I think Ralph is the Town Supervisor.  And, I'm not sure, but I think he's also the head of the schoolboard."  Now it really made sense.  The town that gave me a Mayberry vibe was actually old-fashioned enough to have its hub of power centered in the barber shop.


(Friday conversation: 4:45p.m.):
This really has to be done today. 
I know.  I've looked for it.  I can't find it.  The office closes at five and it's half an hour away. 
I know, but he needs it today.  Can you look for it now? 
I've looked for it, I'll keep looking for it, but I can't find it.  If I find it I will fax it to him. 
Ok, because he would really like to send it out today. 
Yeah, I know. 
(Twenty minutes later):  Did you find it? 
No, I haven't found it.  When I find it, if I find it, I will let you know.  If not I'll have to wait until the office opens on Monday and get it then. 
Ok, because he really needs it. 
Yeah, I know.  I talked to him.  He told me to fax it to him Monday after the office opens.
Ok, because he really needs it as soon as possible.
Yeah, I know.  I don't have it right now.  I talked to him.  He said I could go to the office and get a copy and fax it to him Monday.
Ok.  Well make sure you do that.
Yeah, I know. 
The next day (a Saturday - same conversation , different person):  Do you have something you need to get to him?
Yeah.  I can't find it.  I have to get it Monday when the office opens. 
Well make sure you get that to him as soon as you can. 
Yeah, I know, that's why I asked you to take me first thing Monday morning. 
Ok, because he really needs it as soon as possible. 
Yeah, I know.  The office doesn't open until Monday.  That is the earliest I can get it. 
Oh, okay. 
The next day again (Sunday):  What time is your appointment tomorrow? 
I'm not sure.  I have to call.  I figure we can go to the office before the appointment. 
Well, let's go to the office as early as possible.  He really needs that thing. 
Yeah, I know.  It's why I asked you to take me first thing in the morning. 
Okay.  We gotta get started early though. 
Yeah, I know. 
Like, eight o'clock. 
Yeahhhh, I knowwwww.  I told you - the office opens at eight.  It's why I asked you to take me first thing!
Ok.  Well, you got to get this stuff taken care of.
Yeah, I know.  We'll go in the morning, before my appointment.
Ok, because he really needs that thing as soon as possible.
I knowww.  The office doesn't open until eight.  I can't get it until then.
Repeat ad nauseum.  It's the god-damned TPS reports over and over again.

Let's talk about it and talk about it and talk about it some more when there isn't anything we can freaking do about it right now.  I hate being nagged when the problem that is the source of the nagging can't be solved immediately.  Why, women, do we have to hear about it over and over and over again?  Will you give it a rest already?  I know that women like to talk about their problems and men like to fix the problems.  I get that.  I can listen.  That's fine too.  But please, for the love of God, there is nothing that can be done about it right now.  I say I'm gonna take care of it first thing and I mean it.  Can we please move on to something else?

Books I Love

My friend Vicky posted a new Facebook profile pic of herself and I could swear it's Audrey Hepburn. Not that she looks alot like Audrey Hepburn, but it's a neat pic and she looks shy and coltish. She is wearing a yellow dress and holding a gauze umbrella and wearing cowboy boots (?!), standing with her back to some pretty fall trees. She doesn’t look like a girl who knows all the words to Jay-Z. I had to send her a note telling her how much I liked the pic and, knowing that she's always looking for books to read/music to listen to/and (especially) films to watch, I recommended the book Winter's Bone to her. It got me thinking about some other books she might like to read, which again got me thinking about my favorite books to recommend to friends. These are books that I buy over and over again, just in case I want pass one along. I like books and books that I really like, I like to horde. That sounds like a sentence from Dr. Seuss. Anyways, here they are.

                                                    Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Ree Dolly is sixteen and lives with her family in a part of Missouri and the Ozark mountains where people don't care to keep up with the times. If not for the references to Ipods and crystal meth, you might think that it's set in the Depression. Ree is the head of the family, caring for her mentally absent mother and her two younger brothers. She chops wood and kills squirrels for sustenance. She dreams of joining the Army, where there is order and people need to keep things neat and clean. A visit from The Authorities brings Ree a dilemma: her crystal meth-making father put their house up for bond to get released from jail and, if he doesn't show to court, Ree and her family will be put out on the street or, in the case of this part of Missouri, she'll have to live in a cave like a dog. Ree must confront distant family members that are clannish and closed off and who think nothing of knocking a teenage girl on her ass, or worse, if she starts asking the wrong questions. Woodrell brings Missouri to life in a way that is captivating, fascinating, and revealing.  Ree Dolly reminded me of Lisbeth Salandar from The Girl Who... series by Stieg Larsson. Mr. Woodrell builds suspense while creating a world I did not suspect still existed. His style has the skeleton of a thriller told with the words of a poet. I hope I can read about Ree Dolly again.

                                        The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson

This is a classic collection of essays and whatnot by the great Hunter S. Thompson. Although he received alot of attention for his drug, alcohol and weirdness consumption, Hunter was above all else a compelling writer. His "serious" pieces on Peru or Hemingway or Kerouac and the Beats are interesting as straight reporting. His later "Gonzo" pieces are pure entertainment for entertainment's sake. The rest of his work splits the middle, with humorous asides and serious analysis, without a false word. The neat thing about this collection is the time and events and cultural shifts that Thompson covers. I must have read a paragraph he wrote about breakfast about a thousand times. He writes about Watergate, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Jean Claude-Killy, and this book also includes his classic piece "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" and notes on the genesis of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I carried this book everywhere I went for years.

                                                 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I know it's cliche but I love this book. I read it every summer. It takes me back to the summer nights that Scout and Jem and Dill spent running around the neighborhood. You know what's going to happen but who cares? This is Harper Lee's only book. Talk about a one-hit wonder. If you really like this book, then read Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields, a history of the book's genesis and a biography of Harper Lee.

                                            Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Critics have called him a modern day Mark Twain. This collection by David Sedaris exposes the humor of a guy who just kept writing despite a crystal meth addiction and various shitty jobs. Sedaris' essay ("Go Carolina") chronicling the battle with his 4th grade speech teacher is funny but, like the rest of his work, hints at something below the surface. In this case it is the indoctrination of might-be-gay fourth graders into the Straight world. There is another hilarious piece about his sister Amy Sedaris, who wears a fat suit home to fool her dad, another in which she is featured in a New York magazine as one of the most eligible bachelorettes of Manhattan (at the photo shoot: "Make it look like somebody beat the crap out of me") and yet another about Big Boy, a "party favor" that won't flush. I gave this one to a waitress at my favorite diner and haven't gotten it back yet. And that was six years ago.

                                                        The Liar's Club by Mary Karr

I don't know what to say about this book. It's the best book I've read since the 1980's.  I fell in love with the twelve year old Mary Karr when she ambushed her neighbor with a bb gun as they were coming home from church. Mary's father had the high cheekbones of a Cherokee, fought in WWII and worked the oil rigs off the coast of Texas. Her mother was a would-be artist who nearly killed the whole family at one point or another. Both drank full-time. Mary's recollections are all true and all hotter than a Texas August afternoon. I am not kidding when I say you should read this book immediately. It's available everywhere, but if you can't find a copy email me. I always keep a spare on hand for just such an occasion.