Wednesday, November 10, 2010

D'nF'nD '11

Wow. I can't believe this time of year is upon us again so soon. It seems like just yesterday that we were all preparing for the celebration, the togetherness, and the warmth.

Yes, Dokken Day 2011 is only 78 days away! Yep, I'm talking DD, not X-Mas. I zigged just when you thought I was going to zag.

2010's celebration was ridiculously awesome, and 2011's is going to be even bigger. The party plans have yet to be hashed out, but I can assure you that you're not going to be disappointed.

A quick recap to inform our friends new to the holiday: In 1988, Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, proclaimed January 27 "Dokken Day" and presented the 80s metal band, Dokken, with the key to city. Not sure why, but I'm glad the drunk bastard did.

The way I like to picture it is, Tom Bradley got shit-hammered drunk one night with Don, George, "Wild" Mick, and Jeff (Dokken, Lynch, Brown, and Pilson, respectively) You've got a white-collar , African-American politician decked out in a neck tie and penny loafers hanging out with the fellas from Dokken. Tom lives down the street from the bandmates, who all live a nice, ranch-style subdivision home together. They've all been bowling and have had several Busch Lights and Rumplemint shots. Don, decked out in full spandex, teased hair, chain belt, silk headband, and a bowler's wrist guard, rolls a strike. Tom Bradley yells, "Don, you lucky fucker! Roll another one! If you don't get a strike, you have to take a shot of Schnapps for each one of us here!"

"You're on, T.B.!" Don retorts in a playful manner, "If I get it though, you're drinking them, cocksucker!"

Don positions his stance, slowly brings the bowling ball up to his chin supported by his non- bowling hand, and with an intent focus on that center pin, takes a deep breath and shoots one down the center of the lane. Crash!! All ten pins explode with the force that only a metal god can conjure.

"Drink up, bitch!" Don laughs.

Tom gracefully accepts his end of the bet and throws back five shots of Schnapps in quick fashion. His eyes instantly glaze over and he stumbles a bit while finding his way back to his plastic chair with his penny loafers stowed neatly under it.

"I tell ya what," T.B. suddenly says, "you roll a third strike and I'll give you the key to the goddamn city! You miss it, and I take over as lead singer and namesake of your band." he states confidently.

Don, who never backs down from a challenge--especially in the presence of his bandmates in the middle of a bowling alley--calls Tom on his ante-upping.

Once again, Don positions the ball in front of his face just below his eyes. Focuses on the lane, the pins, the encouraging words from Jeff, George, and "Wild" Mick, " can do this." they softly say. Nervous thoughts of his amazingly talented metal band changing it's name to BRADDLY. Don clears his head.

Then, with the determination that only an entertainer--a man--of Don's caliber can attain, he bowls that third strike. Don succeeds, as he has countless times before.

Mayor Bradley, with a defeated grin, reaches into his briefcase and removes a solid gold key the size of a ukulele. As the four band members stand in front of Tom with a confident swagger about them, they remain good sports and give a Tom a pat on the back and assure him that this gentleman's wager will not effect their friendship in the least. In fact, in a beautiful act of sportsmanship, George Lynch graciously asks Mayor Bradley and his wife over for a Sunday pot luck dinner to the band's house. "Wild" Mick Brown quickly offers his famous Chipotle Potato Salad for a side dish! This was well before the word "chipotle" became a popular culinary term. "Wild" Mick is considered a "trail blazer" in the art of fine cooking.

The next morning as the band members awake from a slumber fueled by the ravages of a night of pure rock and roll bowling alley debauchery, they start to piece together the events that transpired. They manage to remember the ultimate wager that evening, and while feeling triumphant that their leader once again came through for them, they couldn't help but wonder how their close friend, Tom Bradley, mayor of Los Angeles, felt that same morning. It brought a sense of concern to all four roommates.

Jeff flips the TV on to break up the worried feelings in the room, and to the band's amazement, Mayor Tom Bradley was on live television, holding an impromptu press conference. He was announcing his decision to proudly give the key to the city to the greatest rock and roll band the world had ever seen--as well as great friends and neighbors of his--Dokken. Mayor Bradley then ends his press conference by proclaiming that day, January 27, from that day forth, "Dokken Day".

That morning Mayor Tom Bradely proved to his close friends, Dokken, that being a gracious loser, actually makes you a triumphant winner...

The band and the mayor celebrated the following day with jello molds, casseroles, salads, and a delicious main course prepared by who else, Don Dokken.

That's kind of the way I envision the whole thing happening.

At any rate, I'll get back to you on the bad-ass details of DD'11. I'm guessing that although we'll all celebrate in our homes amongst ourselves and our families on the day of the 27th, the actual festival won't kick off until the following Saturday, the 29th--just so you know. So mark your damn calendars!

Thanks Mayor Tom Bradley! You won't be forgotten in this celebration of 80s metal wonderment!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Way To Go, MO.

I'm a dreamer. But I dream about realistic, achievable things. I have a very crisp and vivid mind's eye, and sometimes what I'm seeing in my head is more romantic--more desirable than the reality of doing it. I tend to dwell on a memory or idea that is--in my head--exactly what I have to do right now.

For months I had envisioned going back home to Missouri. It was to be a perfect visit--obviously, seeing as how I'm dreaming about it. There was to be fishing at my favorite old spots, seeing friends that I used to get into trouble with, grilling meats and frying fishes in the parents' backyard, and spending very necessary time with my family. I had grown homesick. I had started to yearn for the things that used to be everyday life for me years ago. The visions of all these things in my head made me even more excited and ready to embrace my roots once again.

Well, I went. And with very few exceptions, it was absolutely perfect.

The visit started out swell. A good friend of mine, Bryan, took my dad and I out on his boat (my dad and I sold our boat, seeing as how I moved away) to our favorite launch on Stockton Lake. Since I cannot travel well with my conventional fishing tackle which is now in my garage in Colorado, my dad purchased a new $30 spin combo for me at the Bass Pro, or Pro Bass, or "Probe Ass" as it has become so affectionately called. After we arrived at our old honey hole, my new rig backfires before I'm able to make one cast, thus creating what us boat anglers call a "fiddle dee wa". It was an annoying beginning, but after 5-7 minutes of untangling my line from around the inside of my spool, I make my first cast towards this hallowed bank. On my second fling, I lace into a sizable white bass, the very species that we were hoping would be hungry this particular day. You see, white bass to some are a dirt fish. Possibly not a sport fish, and some do not consider them good eating. Those people are wrong and ignorant.

Here's a quick side note on the perception of certain fishes: Where I'm from, people love crappie. They are supposedly the most delicious fish, outside of the walleye. I disagree. Crappie do not have much taste, so most people--who likely don't like fishy tasting fish, prefer crappie. White bass, on the other hand, very much so have a fishy taste to them. Not overpowering, they just taste like a fish should. So me, and my friends and family who appreciate fresh, fishy tasting fish, prefer the white bass over the crappie. Hell, you're coating it in flour, cornmeal, salt & pepper, and cayenne--then dumping it in oil anyway, so a little fish taste certainly complements its crunchy, seasoned exterior. I do not turn my nose up at a crappie, mind you. I simply find it less tasty. Walleye are still the cat's ass when it comes to delicious fish sides. That can't be denied.

Okay, the white bass is tossed in the live well, and from then on we accumulate many, many more to accommodate the boat. The predominate species is the white bass--some in the 20 inch range--but also largemouth bass, walleye, and yes, crappie are added to the mix. Even a couple big, nasty catfish are thrown in. Several keepers are actually tossed into the boat by way of my fly rod. It's a little more work--especially when your fly line keeps getting tangled in the trolling motor foot controls--but well worth the effort!

A day and a half of this results in over 60 kept fish between the three of us. This is going to be fine fish fry.

The second day of fishing ended earlier than the first, due to the amount of fish that needed filleting and a few friends coming over to drink some beer with us. The picnic table was positioned just right in the back yard, two cutting boards placed on it, one electric fillet knife and one conventional for cutting rib cages out, cold Budweisers within arms reach, and country music cued on the CD player. Not pop country--I don't listen to that crap. No, good country. Our traditional fish cleaning country artists are BR5-49, Ray Condo and His Ricochets, and Willie Nelson. Any mention of Rascal Flatts and someone's getting a fillet knife in their thigh.

During the two hour process of preparing fish sides for the following day's fry, my good friend Jeffrey shows up with his Weber grill and three slabs of spare ribs.

Now, earlier when I said that I have a vivid mind's eye and dream about realistic things that make me incredibly happy--this is certainly one of those things. But it actually was better than how I envisioned it. Hickory smoke and fish stench in the air. BR5-49, sizzling ribs, and an electric fillet knife providing the soundtrack. Comrades that I see way too little of these days. It was one of those times that I have to take moment to absorb it all in. And I did. And then grabbed a can of Budweiser with my red, slimy hand and took at hearty quaff, and grinned in satisfaction.

The following evening was perhaps the crux of the visit. After a couple preliminary beers during the Nebraska/Mizzou tackle football contest with some old friends, it was time to prepare for the evening's festivities. 60+ fish equals 120+ fish sides. These were to be fried. Bryan, who has become an avid hunter, supplied venison loin that my dad was to hickory smoke on the grill. After old friends pulled into the gravel driveway one by one, Bud Lights were inhaled like the good old days and stories of the past were repeated like they are each time we meet up. A competitive game of horseshoes quickly led to further preparation for the night. We instinctively split into groups. Some get wood ready for the large fire, some help prepare the grill, and some assist in creating a fish frying station in the backyard.

Like usual, there was more food than all of our hearty appetites could consume. And like usual, an S.O.S. went out when the beer supply became thin. The crisis was quickly averted when my best friend, Kevin, showed up fashionably late with two cases of cold beer. To my recollection, there was much beer and laughter alongside a blazing campfire. Pickup trucks and lawn chairs circled the pit, and sing-along 80s metal provided a familiar backdrop.

It's different now, yet the same. My parents' backyard has always served as the stage for incredibly successful get-togethers. My friends and I, once being the kids that populated these shindigs, are now much more few and far between. People grow up. They move away. They move on. But there are still a few soldiers that carry on. The parties are less--especially now that I live 700 miles away. But when word gets out that a fiesta is in the works, there is always a swell crowd that delivers. My parents' backyard now has less of "us", but more of our offspring. 4 year-olds chasing each other around and playing tee-ball has replaced 22 year-olds doing keg stands and running through the fire. We still get together, though. We're not as rowdy, but we still have just as much fun.

Nice job, Missouri. Way to come through.