“What is it with cherubs? I mean, are they barfing or something?” – Millhouse Van Houten

As long time readers of the blog (if any) know, the Simpson’s quote in the title means this is a random post.  However, I’ve been told there are some folks passing around my blog address to members of the McGuire Family so they can read the post I wrote about Momma McGuire.  I’m touched by that.  In case you’re one of those folks and you only got the general blog address, the direct link is here: https://derekbrink.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/rest-in-peace-momma-mcguire/. Thanks for stopping by!

Now…here’s the usual format…

  1. I’ve learned that St. Louis staple bar/restaurant Cicero’s is closing.  That’s sad to learn.  Been around since before I was born.  They say that they have “determined it no longer makes sense to continue.” Which doesn’t really answer any questions.  To most people in town the news comes as a shock and the announcement ITSELF doesn’t make sense…but I guess they probably have their reasons, some of them probably stemming from the original owner’s death last year.  (But I read the release and it’s a bitter mess with no real information in it.  We’ll never know what really went wrong, I’d imagine.)  I’ll miss Cicero’s.  I kinda fell in love with somebody there, once.  But she determined that it didn’t make sense to continue, too…so there you go.
  2. I’ve been sick today.  I blame Burger King.  I haven’t gone to Burger King in probably close to a decade for lunch/dinner (I’ve had a couple breakfasts), so I guess my resistance was low.  Or the sauce they gave me for my nuggets was bad.  It’s kind of defeating to have food poisoning.  Eating’s the one thing I do really well and I even managed to fuck that up.  Stayed home today.  Think I slept for about 6 hours of what would’ve been my 8 hour work day.  And now I’m writing this, which is the first thing I’ve done that you could call “productive” all day.
  3. I think I mentioned some time ago that I’d started reading Paul Auster’s novel “4321.”  Well, I’m within the last quarter of the book.  I put it down for a while and took longer than I meant to in order to get back to it.  It’s a great book, but it’s a difficult read.  (As an example, the sentences are very long, complex sentences that seem like run-ons, but are grammatically correct.  I counted one particularly long one and on a page with 38 lines on it, 21 were one SENTANCE.  Not paragraph. Sentence.  And there’s 866 pages of that.  It’s a tough read, even though it’s great.  It’s like scaling Everest, if you really like climbing mountains.  After this, I’m going to read some short stories by Denis Johnson, with whom I was unfamiliar prior to his death, but who came highly recommended by those mourning him.  Even if they’re hard short stories, at least they’ll be SHORT!  🙂
  4. I’ve picked up a TON of new music in the last couple weeks.  Just among the new releases, I’ve picked up stuff by Jason Isbell, Jade Jackson, Cheap Trick, Flogging Molly, Roger Waters, Glen Campbell, and Los Straightjackets.  And it feels like I’m missing one or two…  So far no stinkers…  But I also don’t have a frontrunner for my favorite album of the year yet.  There’s plenty in the running, though.
  5. Had a bit of a power outage on Saturday night into Sunday.  I was without power for 9 hours.  Some others in town hit at least 24.  Because every storm in Florissant is absolutely the first one we’ve ever experienced.  In fairness, it was a pretty aggressive one.  Knocked down some branches at the house, too.  Although I was up for it, and it didn’t seem that bad.  Over in about 30 seconds.  But I guess that’s enough.
  6. Don’t have anything to update on the progress of my next record (“It Could Be Worse.”)  I need to do vocal takes, but keep putting it off.  Which may be a good thing, actually, as the song “No One Leaves St. Louis” needs a small re-write because it mentioned goddamn Cicero’s in a way that implies it’s open…  So for once my laziness is a blessing in disguise.  It’s going to be a good record though, and I’m excited about it.  I have set up the microphones in a somewhat experimental way for the vocal takes–I want to use the room to create a natural reverb and I think I’ve got a decent approach…just need to actually TRY it now.
  7. I paused between entries 6 and 7 to deal with my stomach issues again.  I have no idea what I was originally going to write here.  I’m just hoping to make it to work tomorrow at this point.  Don’t worry…I’m staying hydrated.
  8. I think I noted previously that Dave and I have tickets to see the Descendents play in St. Louis in October.  Last week it was announced that The Get Up Kids will be opening.  I LOVE The Get Up Kids!  in the early 2000s, they were regularly in my player right next to the Descendents.  I associate those two bands with one another, and I’ve never seen the Get Ups, either!  So the show became a two-fer for me!
  9. There’s a cool guitar pedal board thing I really want to buy.  But it’s a little bit expensive and I’m not in a regularly playing band right now, so I’m having trouble justifying it.  If I were at least playing at a church every week, I could maybe talk myself into it, but we’re not there yet.
  10. I’ve been lazy about getting plugged in to a church.  Got used to sleeping in on Sundays, mostly.  Plus, there keep being other factors keeping me away.  Like a Memorial Day picnic, or the person I know at the church is going to be out of town and I don’t want to sit alone, or there’s a storm that knocks out my power overnight, or I’ll look at the clock and realize it’s 4am and I’m still up so there’s no way in hell I’m waking up in time, and stuff like that.  God probably understands that, huh?

Well…this is a bad post and I’m exhausted from being sick.  So I’m going to stop.  I’ll try to be interesting again soon.


Current Listening:

  • Jade Jackson – Gilded — Heard a lot of this record milling about in Barnes & Noble while my brother shopped for a Father’s Day gift for our Dad.  Liked it a lot, asked who it was, and bought it.  It was produced by a member of Social Distortion (although it’s NOTHING like them), which might have something to do with why I liked it.  Good folky rock.
  • Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound — Pretty good.  Not his best album (that’d still be “Southeastern”) but it’s got some deep hooks and I like it a lot.  For the first time in a while, the rock songs are stronger than the ballads.  So that’s pretty cool.

Rest in Peace, Momma McGuire

I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I’d thought my birthday would prompt it, but here we are two weeks later and I’m just now writing something. There are reasons, but most of them boil down to “I wasn’t sure what to talk about.”  Unfortunately, I’ve got something to talk about now.  Elenore “Momma” McGuire passed away on June 11.  That’s not a Blues singer.  She’s the mother of the guy that’s probably the closest thing my Dad’s ever had to a brother.  I even call him Uncle Dan.

I guess the easiest way to describe it is that Momma McGuire was a matriarch not only to Dad and Uncle Dan, but to pretty much their whole group of friends.  That group of friends formed a club in the 60s known as The Gluttons.  The Gluttons are still a functioning, dues paying club to this day (albeit with a mostly newer membership) and celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2014.  It started out as a bunch of high school friends. Most of us at one point or another said “we should form a club” to our high school friends.  But these guys actually did, and they kept it going.  For the most part, the original membership is still in contact, though some have either moved or passed away.  Life takes different people to different places, and for myself, life placed me in the pool of the Gluttons Club as a kid, where I learned to swim, where I snuck my first taste of beer, and where I met the McGuire family.

The great shame of the Gluttons is that the members’ kids didn’t really grow close.  We all recognize each other, but for as small as St. Louis is, it’s also easy to not see someone for years at a time, and if you weren’t at the Club at the same time you might not be best friends with the other kids.  So it goes.  But I did manage to grow fond of most of my “Glutton Uncles” as Dad has always called them.  And if there’s one thing that can be said about the “Old Boys” amongst the Gluttons, they all loved Momma McGuire.  And she loved them too.  She contributed to most of their delinquencies back in the 60s.  On that note, she is very likely indirectly responsible for me being born, as she once saved my Dad’s life.

I’ll spare all of the details…but the short version is my Dad was raised in a Baptist home by good Baptist people.  Dad himself was also a good Baptist, but those Gluttons sure were a bad influence on him.  (**wink**)  After one such night of influence, Dad went home a shade of green that he found himself needing to explain to my grandmother.  Now…my grandmother was a kind, generous, warm person…  But there is no doubt in my mind that she would have killed Dad if she knew the truth.  Dad, of course, said that he’d gotten sick–I believe saying “it was something I ate.”  Grandma picked up her telephone and (I’m sure with a wooden spoon in one hand) dialed the McGuire household, speaking to Elenore, asking questions one might expect her to ask.  Momma McGuire replied telling her that “oh, yeah…I think just about all the boys got sick.  I don’t know what they ate, but it must’ve been bad…”  She fed Grandma the same load of crap my dad did.  (Because she loved those boys.)  And Grandma bought it, my dad lived, and eventually I was born.

Decades later, Dan and Don (Dan’s brother) were throwing a birthday party at the Gluttons Club for Momma McGuire.  Dad said he’d help get the place cleaned up and showed up to do so.  A couple hours went by and the McGuires weren’t there yet, so Dad called and asked if they were still coming.  They consulted Elenore and said something to the effect of “well, Dave’s over there doing all the work himself right now…”  She replied, “He still owes me.”

That’s a good story. I hope my Dad doesn’t mind me writing it down. (I’ll edit it if he does.)

The last time I saw Momma McGuire was in 2014.  She would have been 88 or 89 then, but you’d have guessed younger.  Sadly, we were both at a funeral for a member of the Gluttons family.  Barb Bolesta had died too young.  I wrote about that here.  I’d gone through the receiving line already and was milling about as one does at a wake.  In through the door came Momma McGuire.  We were well acquainted, of course, and I went over to say hello.  “Hello young Mr. Brink” she said and kissed me on the cheek–the first and as it goes last time she ever did that.  I was wearing a suit and I remember briefly feeling like I was at a mafia meeting and I just got made.  (If the mafia existed.  Which, of course, it doesn’t.  And if it did, it would be awesome.)  That was immediately followed by her pointing right at me and saying, “Is there coffee?”  And I said, “Yeah, it’s downstairs…” to which she threw a dismissive hand in the air and said, “AH! …of COURSE it is!” and she wandered off.

That’s a pretty good story too. Mostly because I also hate stairs.

It was late in the day this past May 29th when my dad called me and told me that Momma McGuire was in hospice and wasn’t going to make it.  I don’t often hear my dad cry.  It’s not fun.  By coincidence of the calendar, that was also my birthday…but who can you possibly hold that against?  Nevertheless, that’s got a little bit to do with why I haven’t written, I think.  Hospice is one of those awful things that in its kindness is also misery.  I go back and forth on whether or not it’s a blessing or curse that most people in hospice don’t know they’re there.  And what’s better for the family?  To sit around waiting for someone they care for to die, or for it to happen quickly?  I’ve never been sure, even having had some experience in the field…

I don’t know arrangements yet, but I did tell people at my office as early as May 30th that I may need to take a day off with very little notice.  Because of COURSE I want to go to the funeral.  She saved my Dad’s life, and I owe her.

Elenore “Momma” McGuire was 91.  It’s hard to feel shortchanged on how much time she had or how much she packed into it.  91 years is a good run.  And for at least 90 of those, she had the demeanor of somebody much younger.  A boundless energy and a joy of living.  “Feisty” is a good word for it.  If I live into my 90s (ha!) I hope I have even a fraction of her same energy.  I don’t even know if she meant to do it, but Momma McGuire drew people to her and when they walked away they felt better, even if they were already feeling good.  That’s a rare gift.  I’m glad to have known her and even though the memories are good, it hurts my heart to know that the last time I’ll be in a room with her, she won’t be able to make me feel better…

But damned if I won’t find a cup of coffee at the service.