Texas in March

Texas Longhorns Marching Band

[excerpted from original kolumn – date approximate]

Permit me to recommend Texas in March (a song title if ever there was one! -can you forget “April in Paris”? “Moonlight in Vermont”? “Autumn in Philly”? Or what about “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair”?) and here’s why:

  1. It’s far away.
  2. It’s also very big and should be easy to find.
  3. It looks just like France. (My wife, the scintillating Mrs. Kelp, and I were recently in France and so can both testify that Texas and France are virtually identical except get this! -there’s hardly any French guys in Texas! The other difference is that all over Houston and Austin they have these billboards for vasectomy reversals which I don’t recall seeing in France, although I carelessly never got around to learning the French phrase for “vasectomy reversal” so they were probably all over the place and I just didn’t notice. Still, I’m kind of surprised that Texas would have gotten so far in to the whole vasectomy craze back in the Reagon era that there is now big money in reversing some of those decisions under the current democratic regime. (So much for political commentary.)
  4. It’s way cheaper than France. (Of course it’s not an actual foreign country like France is.)
  5. It’s not an actual foreign country like France is.
  6. You can go to Memphis on the way. Memphis, being the home of rockabilly, Stax, and W.C. Handy, is pretty irresistible to most music buffs; we also had absolutely the best barbecue sandwich I’ve ever had in my life at a place called the Little Pigs. But the experience par excellence that really stunned us was bumping into Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at the original Sun studio, a place I’d always been dying to see in large part because of the seminal recordings they made there, they and their cohorts Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, literally a host of others, and, oh yeah -that Elvis guy. And speaking of Elvis, damned if his original drummer and bass player, D.J. Fontana and Scotty Moore, aren’t backing up Carl singing “Blue Suede Shoes”.So I’m already feeling like I just ran in to Michelangelo whilest hanging around at the Louvre when Jerry Lee rolls up. Now, I saw the great man park, and I must tell you that I will never forget it. First of all, it was good to see that Jerry Lee was driving his own gigantic car, and in general looking a great deal more healthy than I have seen him in a very long time. Gone was the gaunt, frail look of the last few years, replaced by absolutely the best looking 1994 version of the Killer you could possibly imagine, slickly got up in a gray striped suit and matching vest.

    A more meticulous approach had already been signaled by the killer’s genteel parking style, which completely took me by surprise . I would’ve figured Jerry Lee to be the kind of guy who would just roar into a parking space, callously smashing any lesser vehicles ignorant enough to infringe on his general plan out of the way and down the hill into the requisite Hollywood ball of flame, but it wasn’t like that at all.

    Here was one of the south’s most famous hellions, the guy who married his thirteen year old cousin and damn near tried to shoot Elvis! -doing the most careful, considerate job of parking I’ve just about ever seen. Back and forth went the killer, more and more gingerly, about six or seven -no, why build it up? It was exactly six times. On the very last one he just went forward exactly straight for about two and a half inches for no particular reason. It was the best parking I’ve ever seen -ever hope to see.

    Turns out Carl and Jerry Lee were down there to shoot a video for Time/Life, so they interviewed them too, so I got to see Jerry Lee, who had already left Elvis out of his list of the world’s greatest singers (the guys who made it were himself, Hank Williams, Al Jolsen, and Jimmy Rodgers), respond graciously as ever to the question, “What did you think was the greatest thing about Elvis Presley?” with “His managers.”

    It was a perfect day.

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