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Monday, July 10, 2017

BELOIT 2017 Just a typical Long Weekend in Boardville


or Mykel's 45th Beloit Reunion

by Mykel Board

I hate it when things go right... especially before an out of town trip...Smooth packing, not forgetting anything.... quick subway connections... sailing through security... plane on time... Waiting seat next to a working socket.... beautiful passenger sitting next to you in the waiting area... thrilled that you speak the exotic oriental language... and you're going to Chicago...
私もそこに行くよ! セックスコンベンションのために。 あなたは滞在する場所が必要ですか?

Those perfect leavings use up my entire stash of trip good luck... leaving nothing but broken mirrors, black cats, and inside opened umbrellas for the rest of the journey.

I write this from Gate 37 at the American Airlines terminal at Kennedy Airport in New York. From the way things have been going so far, this will be a great trip. An unclaimed backpack sits ominously alone by the window. I reported it an hour ago... no one has come to look at it. That's the least of my problems.

But let's begin at the beginning... this morning? Last month? 45 years ago? 72 years ago? 5777 years ago? Okay, forget that. Let's jump around like an avant garde novel.

1972: I graduate from Columbia College in Chicago. I've only been there a year and a half, but that's where my BA is from.

1991 It's the SPEW festival of fanzines in Chicago. I'm there as an observer, trading my just budding underground notoriosity for some free zines and beer where I can find it. What a crew. I meet Larry Bob, Dennis Cooper, the editors of a bunch of zines, including the best sex journal BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED. (He asks me to write for him.)

Then, there's this guy, somewhat shlubbish, somewhat just over the edge... on my side of that edge. He hands me a folded zine, xeroxed... so DIY-looking it reads itself. COPS HATE POETRY is the name.

Hi,” he says, “I hear you're Mykel Board. My name is Charles.” We shake hands.

1968 I travel from the riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention to my first year at Beloit College... a small mid-Western liberal arts college that has yet to see the likes of me... or the dozens of others fresh-from-Lincoln-Park warriors. Though I wanted to go to NYU, my father said NO!

If you go to school in New York,” he said, “you'll think the whole world is New York... you'll have no idea what the real world... or even America is really like.”

So I go to Beloit.

I spend three years there... including a 6 month “working experience” term in London, where I write for an Anarchist newspaper. I return to New York in 1971, quit Beloit and move on to Columbia College in Chicago.

2016 I get the notice in the mail... Time for your 45th College Reunion. It's a big one, Mykel. If you knew how few times in my life I've heard It's a big one, Mykel You'd know how enthusiastic I was in reading it. Even though I didn't graduate from Beloit I feel closer to it because I made more friends there and it was so isolated from urban America during my time there...except for the occasional riot in Madison. Plus, I can fly to Chicago, see Sid Yiddish who used to be Charles Bernstein, who I met all those years ago at the Spew fest and who I've stayed in touch with, traveled with, adventured with through the 25 years since.

2017 January or so. Arrangements are made. The plan: Visit Sid on Thursday June 8... He meets me at the airport around 7 and we go out Thursday evening. I rent a car on Friday. Drive to Beloit... Couch-surf there then go back to Chicago for a day the next week. Smooth as an Oriental's leg. Yeah, right.

2017 Thursday June 8 10:30PM: I now sit at the WORLD OF BEER in Evanston IL. I'm drinking a Sweetwarder Hash Session beer that that one of the Beer Citizen reviewers says has “definite notes of week.” It's not as good as my first beer here, the Ale Asylum Madtown Nut Brown (misspelled Adtown Nut Brown on the menu)... but it'll do. I arrived at 9:30. Sid's last text was he'll be here at 11.

June 7 earlier today: Packed, just leaving home... I check the gas on the stove... all burners off. I rap my knuckles on the wall. The pain will insure that I checked. I pick up my bags, struggle to turn around in the narrow hallway. Then go out the door, locking the door behind me , this time biting the middle nuckle of my right hand to remember the action.

I go down to the street. Cross the street. Still feeling the pain of the stove and door lock.... FUCK!!! I forgot the folder full of stuff I had for the library. Old papers, threats of expulsion.. clippings of condemnation from the dean...

Should I get the folder.. or just go to the airport... I still have time and I do want to bring that stuff.... Damn... I turn around and go back.... Crossing the street... up the agonizingly slow elevator unlocking my apartment door... suddenly overcome with the ferocious stench of natural gas.

I check my stove again. One of the burners is on... unlit and leaking gas into the apartment. I must have brushed against it when I picked up my bags. If hadn't gone back... who knows?

Gas turned off I go look for the folder for the archives. I find it. It is empty.

Sid's Mom
2017 January-Feb: I'm in Arizona visiting Sid's parents with him. He's become a part of my family over the years and met my parents shortly before they died.. He's friends with my sister, my cousins, their kids... one of the family. Now it's my turn.
Sid is a big guy but his parents are not. They small... fragile... look to be in their mid-80s. Dad walks with a cane... Mom seems in better health with a loving sense of humor. Her Spanish isn't bad either, though I was forced to go to Walmart to help her shop. She made a cake for Sid's and my birthday... close on the monthly calendar... about a decade on the yearly one.

It's nice to meet mom, I've been sending her my duplicate quarters for years.. and she knitted me a TUKE with my name on it. During this trip... I bought her a couple books to put the quarters in.

2017 Earlier today. I'm pissed off... I have TWO American Airlines frequent flier PLATINUM credit cards. That's supposed to be me group one booking on their flights. My Delta Goldcard gets me that... and Platinum is hoitier and toidier than gold! When I print my boarding pass from home, it comes out with the stamp GROUP FIVE.

At the airport I walk to the PRIORITY line that says its for ELITE PASSANGERS there are six attractive check-in girls servicing the fast-moving line. According to the sign, PRIORITY Includes first class, business class, and Platinum card holders. I show my drivers license and Platinum card to one of the two guards making sure only the priority-worthy can get on the end of that line.

Sorry, sir,” says the male guard. (I HATE being called SIR! It always means trouble.) “You have an ordinary Platinum card. The priority line is for Platinum SELECT members.”

“I just have an easy question,” I tell him.” I need to speak to someone about the boarding group.”

You can just go to that line next door,” he tells me. “No problem.”

(I HATE being told NO PROBLEM. Of course it's no problem for you, asshole. But it's a fuckin' problem for me.)

I move to the other line-- three people in front of me, including a lady with a small dog. . One unattractive woman at one check in counter. She's talking with a family showing their passports. She's laughing. They're laughing. They talk some more. The line grows behind me. 5 minutes in one place on line is a century. 10 minutes is an eternity. 15 minutes later they're still talking. The line has grown to half a dozen... a dozen... a dozen and a half. The man at the counter thanks the woman, the little kid... who has been passing in front of his parents like he was on line grabs his little suitcase... they're off.

Next,” she says.

This goes on for the next person... another 15 minutes. Then the woman with the dog. 45 minutes for 3 people.

The guy behind me looks like Ron Jeremy without the mustache.

Next,” she says.

One person before me, another woman comes to an empty counter. In 10 minutes I reach her.

I know it's not your fault,” I tell her, “but there has been only one person here for the past hour.”

I show her my credit card and drivers license to prove who I am. Then, I explain my group 5 problem.

The groups go up to 9,” she tells me. “Five isn't so bad.”

She pushes some buttons and prints me out a boarding pass. Boarding group 5.

Then I walk through the gate toward SECURITY. If there's anything I hate it's SECURITY. More than people who stand on the escalator walk side. More than subway riders pushing into the car before everyone gets out. More that drivers going the speed limit in the left lane... that's how much I hate airport SECURITY!!!

This time I'm prepared. I've only got a backpack and a small computer bag. In the computer bag is a folded trader Joe's shopping bag. I take it out... open it up... take off my boots (they always set off the metal alarm) and put them in the bag. Then I take off my belt... empty my pockets... wallet... keys...cough drops... ying-yang hankie... spare change... comb.. dump it all in the shopping bag.

Then I take out the computer.... the one I'm using now... a gift from Jody... a Eiiiiiiii... made it Taiwan. I put it in the shopping bag. Hah! I'm ready. I reach in the bag, pull out my wallet take the drivers licence out (ID, don't you know)... grab the just printed boarding pass (GROUP FIVE) and head for the security gate.

Excuse me Sir,” says a very butch-looking colored girl at the gate. “You can't go through security with three bags. It's against regulations.”

I don't hit her.

She looks at my boarding pass.

“And Sir!” she continues... (if she says it again I WILL hit her)... “You have priority boarding. You don't have to take your computer out or empty your pockets. You can leave you shoes on and just go through that short line over there.”

I don't cry.

They make me take off my shoes when I get to the gate... the metal sets off the alarm.

EARLY JUNE: Message from Sid. His Mom just died. She's been in and out of the hospital... had a pacemaker... “called to say good-bye”... all very sad. I was lucky enough to meet the fine woman on a trip to Arizona last year. She made a dual birthday cake for Sid and me. Now tragedy hits... and here memorial service? You guessed it... the day of my arrival... just too late for me to attend, but close enough that Sid has to be there when I arrive.

So, I just have to go to World of Beers... drink... and wait until he shows up. 

He shows up... things go... and here's a picture of us at the Diner the next day... with the waitress.

MONDAY JUNE 12: Back in Evanston returning the car. The Beloit weekend was over. Of course, it went well. So well, in fact, that I could stay on campus free... (a friend who didn't show up for his room). One night with a spectacular couch surfer.... and a trip to the great Rock County Beer Company in Janesville.

The highlight of the trip was on campus. I'm walking with Arthur Thexton and Jim Long... back to the dorms we're staying in... through the campus familiar to us from 45 years ago. Some girls are sitting on the wall by THE COMMONS. Their nametags say CLASS OF '07. This is their 10th reunion. They come over to us... talk to us... small talk. Then:

“We've got a little bit of money... you know where we can get some weed?”

YES! YES! YES! We're a John Holme's penis length more than double their ages... and they're asking us for drugs! WE'VE STILL GOT IT!! We still look like we could bring them drugs... or something equally alternative. YES! YES! YES! I may be old, but they still ask me for drugs!! HOOOOEEEEY!

JUNE 12: 3:32PM: Now I'm waiting at Portillo's Hot Dogs in Evanston. Ten miles away from the car rental place. Sid has been taken to lunch, so I have to wait until he returns. I sit at this old-style-order-at-the-counter-but-not-fast-food place, having just finished my giant chili dog... eaten with the first coke I've had this year. I'll wait until the food moves south a bit... finishing this blog... and giving Sid time to finish his lunch.

Too not be continued now... but with new adventures soon!

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