Like a laaaaasser beeeeeam

I received an e-mail asking, that “There are so many of you…” line above the counter on your page…where is that from? It sounds so familiar, but….

Not suprising; the reference definitely falls into the obscure category. It’s a line from “Rejoyce,” a Jefferson Airplane song inspired by James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” From the notorious “After Bathing at Baxters” album.

To wit:

Chemical change like a laser beam
you’ve shattered the warning amber light
Make me warm
Let me see you moving everything over
Smiling in my room
You know you’ll be inside of my mind soon.

There are so many of you.
White shirt and tie, white shirt and tie,
white shirt and tie, wedding ring, wedding ring.

Mulligan stew for Bloom,
The only Jew in the room
Saxon’s sick on the holy dregs
And their constant getting throw up on his leg.

Molly’s gone to blazes,
Boylan’s crotch amazes
Any woman whose husband sleeps with his head
All buried down at the foot of his bed.

I’ve got his arm
I’ve got his arm
I’ve had it for weeks
I’ve got his arm
Steven won’t give his arm
To no gold star mother’s farm;
War’s good business so give your son
And I’d rather have my country die for me.

Sell your mother for a Hershey bar
Grow up looking like a car
There are so many of you;
All you want to do is live,
All you want to do is give but
Some how it all falls apart

Meet the Oysters

Tennessee Williams said there are three great storybook cities in America: New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco, and, as usual, Tennessee was exactly right. I’ve been lucky enough to live in New York and New Orleans, and every time I visit San Francisco, I want to move there.

I recently found a 20-year-old postcard of the French Quarter with a fading blue arrow drawn to one of the buildings. I had sent it to my parents to show them where I was living. In a postcard. On the back, I’d written: “It’s better than New Jersey.”

I only lived a year in the Big Easy. The economy was wretched, and I was back in radio, a notoriously uncertain industry. “Good morning. We’ve changed our format. You’re all fired.” Yet, that year left me awash in images, like a bucket of slides dumped on a light table. Put a loupe to any one of them, and a story begins.

Here we’re looking dueling oyster bars. A New Orleans oyster bar means they pluck ’em fresh from the Gulf, and they’re still alive when the guy behind the bar slips the knife in the shell and pops ’em open right on the bartop. I preferred the Acme to Felix’s. The Acme was unpretentious, down home, had great red beans and rice every Monday, and was where I first encountered oysters in their natural state. It was Mardi Gras, and I’m certain I’d never have made it through without a couple margaritas, but there they were, six of ’em lined up in front of me. No plate. Just shells and a fork.

“What do I do with with them?” I asked the oyster barman. He looked at me like, you poor Yankee bastard. Then he patiently explained that you take little sauce from this tin, a little sauce from that tin, a little horseradish, put it on the oyster, then tip that shell up and let ‘er go.

No, really. What do I do with them? But I’d had a few drinks, so, what the hell. I wasn’t sure whether everyone at the bar was going to laugh at me or not, but I did as instructed, and the taste was…fresh oysters on the half shell, pungent and sharp and beautiful. If you don’t care for oysters, I’ll never be able to explain it. If you love oysters (and there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground), you will know. You never forget that first time.

I immediately ordered another half-dozen. And a margarita. And I slipped an Acme Oyster Bar matchbook in my pocket.