Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ABEL RAISES CAIN arrives in Tupelo, MS

Crossing the Mississippi border, it doesn't feel much different from Alabama. We're on mostly state highways as opposed to back roads. I click the radio on to NPR and the top of the hour headlines are about Justin Beiber and Ken winning Barbie back. I'm not sure if I've gone crazy or if the news is just plain crazy. My dad may be out of a job soon. How can you poke fun at a media that's already so absurd? And NPR no less! Maybe my dad is responsible for cultivating this ripe new media saturated with mind-numbing infotainment.
We finally made it to Tupelo and checked into our motel. The most giant gift basket I've ever seen was waiting to greet us in our room!
We felt like a pack of wild wolves as we gleefully hoarded the goodies inside. Thanks to the Tupelo Film Commission, Pat Rasberry and her crew. They must have all known that the Abels truly relish anything that's FREE!
Its funny, it seems that every time I sit down to write, I hear that distant train blaring its horn again. It serves as a backdrop to the sound of people ordering food from the Steak Escape drive-thru next door. The lady at the front desk with blue eye shadow says the food is really good there. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'm a vegetarian.

My dad is taking a nap and it's hard to concentrate. His snoring sounds like a brass and wind section. The tuba and trombone take turns dropping an accented bass note while the winds follow up with a low eery glissando phrase. It's reminiscent of the first track on Charles Mingus' "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" album.
I quietly get up and gather our stuff to take to the laundromat. While I'm there, four hunters in camouflage pull up in a giant white pick-up truck. I watch as another group of guys are getting rowdy, swizzling beer in the parking lot. I turn to meet the gaze of a pre-pubescent teen sitting next to me and staring at me creepily. It was Twilight Zone time. Even though our clothes weren't fully dry, I pulled them out of the dryer anyway. I had to get out of there. Nothing like doing laundry in a strange city on the outskirts of town.
The next morning, we have the pleasure of meeting Pat Rasberry, a beautiful woman with a warm heart, a sweet demeanor and a honey soft voice. She knows everybody in this town! She drove us over to WWMR 102.9 in downtown Tupelo, MS to do a radio show. My dad went on the air as Irwin Leba, founder of the organization to tax people according to their body weight. His slogan: "The more you weigh, the more you'll pay." The show is called "Delta Talk" and the host, Mike, has a great sense of humor. Of course we ran out of time, because my dad and I sure know how to fill up the segment with lots of babbling.
Usually, when I try to describe to others what my father does, I refer to him as a media satirist. But people don't really get it, though, without having seen the film. I'm either met with a quizzical stare or a lost gaze combined with a slow nod. Mike at the radio station got it without hesitation.

We're hopeful that morning commuters are swayed to come on over to the screening and blow off the city-wide furniture convention and another popular event, called 'Taste of Tupelo.' I cross my fingers that we get some actual bodies into the screenings. But not just any bodies, ones with a sense of humor!

We went over to the theater to check it out. The Link Centre is a converted church that is now a community gathering place for film, music and other family activities.
It turns out it was a packed house! Pat Rasberry and Melanie Deas went out of their way to publicize the screening. And their hard work paid off. The audience seemed thoroughly entertained, particularly the group of older ladies in the front row. They hooted and hollered throughout! I found out that they hadn't been to the Link Centre in twenty years, when it was still a church.
Later that night, I had strange dreams about a squirrel making pancakes, driving through a city filled with blinking neon lights, and going to see a Brad Pitt play, but nobody was in the audience. When I woke up, I thought that an exotic bird was singing outside.

But, in fact, upon closer listen through my earplugs, it was my dad snoring. This is the view out of our motel room window at sunrise. A pretty furry-looking bunch of trees, if you ask me.

Goodbye, Tupelo. Onto our next two stops in Mississippi...

Location:Tupelo, MS

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