Friday, November 4, 2011
Eric’s backyard in late October: no finer place to be.
It has become an annual tradition amongst a certain set of Online Journalists - most, but not all, of whom are based in the southeastern United States - to travel to the wilds of McMinn County, Tennessee sometime around late October. That’s when Eric, the Original Tennessee Renaissance Man, opens his home to said Online Journalists for a weekend-long birthday celebration.
What started out as a blogmeet, a sort of combination drunken debauch and mutual admiration society, has evolved into a very personal gathering of friends. The Missus and I have shown up five out of the past seven years (we were barely on Eric’s radar screen in 2005 and couldn’t make it in 2007) and we enjoy it more every year.
There are traditions. Breakfast at the Tellico Junction Café; shooting pool; a roaring, crackling fire in the backyard; Eric’s grilled country-style ribs; impromptu guitar-picking concerts by the Elderly Brothers; poetry recitations; the bittersweet leave-taking on Sunday morning. Occasionally there will be other activities: shooting, rocket launches, the inflation of the Ceremonial Rubber Sheep. But the best part is the conversation... the being together.
The roll call:
Big Stupid Tommy
Recondo32 and Georgia
Princess Fiona (mistress of the painless flu shot!)
And, of course, Elisson (dat’s me!) and SWMBO.
It was great meeting Rube and Anna for the first time - they’ve been part of the Blown-Eyed Jawja Blodgers orbit since the Wreckyll in Jeckyll back in April 2005, but since they live in London, they don’t make it to this side of the pond too often.
Drink enough whisky, and the campfire might just start looking like this.
I won’t try to write a detailed recap - Erica’s monumental post pretty much captures it all - but it is a tradition of sorts for me to memorialize the event in verse. This time, I’ve gone completely off the reservation. Enjoy.
Hysterical (apologies to Allen Ginsberg)
I saw the best minds of the blogosphere destroyed by Facebook,
tweeting hysterical shortposts,
dragging themselves through Etowah streets at dawn,
looking for a jack and tow truck,
Q-tipheaded bloggers burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who got stuck on subways for the endless ride to holy Brooklyn
on the F-train after too much whiskey and wine with K-Nine,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists sitting around a
backyard fire, escaping the pooltable doom and gazing at the moon,
yacketayakking screaming laughing whispering facts and memories
and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals
and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for two whole days and nights
with brilliant eyes, meat for supper cast on the hot grill,
who came from somewhere in South New Jersey leaving a trail
of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
who lit cigarettes in backyard backyard backyard camping in snow
on lonesome hills in grandfather night,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking
jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Bostonian
to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task,
and so took car to Englewood,
who sang all night rocking and rolling their lofty incantations
which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked porcine animals’ ribs sausage steaks bacon
& kugel, dreaming of a biscuit gravy kingdom,
who drove crosscountry sixteen hours to find out if I had a vision
or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,
who lived in Boston, who journeyed from Boston,
who came back to Boston & flew on the plane,
who fell on her knees in Eric’s garage, hopelessly attempting a pushup
but finally making a ridiculously long bank shot on the eight-ball
for her redemption,
who came from Florida and stopped to see the Flambina on the way
and who has her hands full with teenager teenager almost teenager,
who brings waffles and bacon to the masses and knows the ineffable
secret of all that is smothered, scattered, chopped,
channeled, and paneled,
who carries satchels of assorted hats & weaponry and plays
dress-up with miscellaneous bowlers and kepis and vests,
who schlepped all the way from London to endure
a whisky-soaked evening & to meet new friends,
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with
a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse
the catalog the meter & the Wordpress platform,
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor bloggy prose
and stand before you speechless and intelligent and
shaking with joy, pilgrimaging yet again to wish
happy birthday to the original Tennessee renaissance man.
Eric is never crazy about having his image plastered all over the Internet, but this photo by Richard (and mildly photoshopped by Yours Truly) captures his soul in a way that really speaks to me. Happy birthday, ya hammerhead!