Sunday, October 05, 2008

Retrofitting my life


The Log
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I love my job, and I love the place I work, but like any job, sometimes it stresses me out and before I went postal at the joint, I picked up the phone, made some spa appointments, and took Friday off to spa and go see the Les Paul House of Sound at Discovery World before my membership expired and the exhibit closed. Isn't it always like that? You get a membership at a museum or something and then you forget to actually use it.

I'm glad I did. Just devoting 3 hours to myself and nobody else did me a world of good, and because of it, I was able to experience the exhibit with the kind of wide-eyed wonder that it deserved. Much of it was true museum fodder -- the actual antiquities Paul used to come up with his ideas, a few hands on things, but mostly what I got out of the exhibit was an overall philosophy: this is the way a brilliant inventor thinks. He doesn't give up, he makes mistakes, he learns something from every blunder, he never stops asking questions, he never stops trying to make something better. Even if you are not a guitar-obsessed musician who wanted to see how the instrument that changed/enriched your life was created, it's still a good object lesson in how a great mind thinks. Plus his storytelling skills were as wonderful in printas they were when we saw him this year.

I was all ready to go out and see some bands Friday night, scanned myspace and everything, and there just wasn't jack to see. I ended up taking a leisurely bike ride Saturday morning, picking up some vegetables at the South Shore Farmer's Market, and ran into the Lumberhorn's Ted Jorin and family, and was convinced that maybe Saturday was the night to schlep all the way down to Kansasville, for Pete's sake, to see them at this joint called the Wildlife Refuge. I'd wondered about this for awhile. At first, I thought it was some nice little museum place, kind of like the Urban Ecology Center. No, this is definitely the wildlife refuge, a house out in the country that happened to have a liquor license, and apparently the only place where people in Racine County who are voting for Obama are allowed to congregate. Do I need to point out that it's just down the road from the Bong Recreation Area?

But we didn't have a sitter, and I didn't want to make the trip alone. What to do? I called Marlavous (whose wonderful Karaoke has been suspended "until further notice" which of course is a gentle way to say "cancelled") and left a voice mail she couldn't resist: "Hi Marla. V'ron here. I'm going on a anthropological expedition to Racine County to a house with a liquor license to see the Mighty Lumberhorn and you're just the chick to join me." Of course she voiced back, "OK, let's meet at this new karaoke where my friend is hostessing and go from there."

The new karaoke hostess is at Roberts (no apostrophe) -- that restaurant on Howell about a mile north of the airport. How many times have I driven past that place, and now I was getting in. It's a cross between a fancy oldschool steakhouse of a restaurant, and some supper club in the UP, but leans toward the former. Prime rib and shrimp specials, good bar, and OK Karaoke. It's not Marlavous', but it will do. Marla stepped up and did a few 60s girl group tunes. I tried my hand at "I Put A Spell on You" but was thrown off by the Animals' version that was on this machine, but with CCR's in my head. Dave put forth a duet of "The Lady Loves Me," we finished our drinks (mine a soda, I'm a good girl if I'm driving), and we hit I-94.


and there was much rejoicing
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
We found the Wildlife Refuge easily. We parked and walked up to a door that was flanked by decaying doric columns -- I was expecting a drunken Vivien Leigh to stumble out and spew some rant about how she'll never be hungry again.

It was just as it was described -- this was so obviously somebody's house: they got a liquor license, and went straight to Salvation Army or Goodwill to decorate the place, with stuff smack out of the 1960s and artwork that suggested "Bachelor Pad on a Budget." Lots of voluptuous women in the artwork, plenty of subtle (!) phallic imagery. It was like a bunch of college students rented the place in 1980 and never graduated. When they have bands, the pool table is pushed back to the wall, a protective board is put on top of it, and then a couch is put on top of that to allow for a kind of bleachers.

The Lumberhorn, it goes without saying, were wonderful. The've pretty much earned a spot in this column where I pretty much take their entertainment value for granted. But Marlavous had never seen them, and she had a good time.

The clientele seemed to fit the place. A mix of old hippies and just regular folk who actually just like to have a good drink and a good time. I hit the bathroom for a self portrait, as is my custom and noted a theme of impressionistic conquistadors, matadors, and mysterious latin ladies. Coudn't get a report on what the men's room theme was, though. In fact, I was torn between listening to the band (because they're one band you want to actually listen for, even their in-between song bs), and just taking in this whole place, with the various little effects all over, including ancient Playboys and tye dyed t-shirts. It wasn't contrived retro, it was all very organic without being crunchy. I didn't want the band to stop, because I didn't want to leave this house, but we were tired, and probably needed to hit the road.

But still, it did my heart good to get out and see a band again, to have a bit of a road trip to do it, and to do it at a place that I'd never been, but seemed like I'd known all my life? Why hadn't I'd been here before I wondered, as we passed a kajallion McCain/Palin signs on the way back to the interstate.

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