Monday, January 30, 2006

yaphet kotto sings no songs

One of the benefits of being sick is that it gives you more of a deep and raspy voice. It is a voice with character, and it makes you sound like a man who has spent a night of debauchery so unfettered as to earn you the experience of waking up in a Guatemalan prison without the benefit of knowing exactly how you earned it or precisely where you left your pants. There is blood on your shirt. A loud and brightly feathered toucan taunts you from just outside the bars, and his shrill bird laughter is like a sewing needle in the ear. Life quickly simplifies, and you pray without ceasing for God to smite the toucan.
We've all been there.
Anyway, I find singing the songs of Lou Rawls to be the best use for the sick voice. You can even impersonate Mr. Rawls over the telephone if the person on the other end is sadly unaware of Lou's passing. If not, you can pretend to be the ghost of Lou Rawls.
I'd like to take my sick voice with me when I am again healthy. It is so much better than my healthy voice. It probably only sounds like Lou Rawls in my own head, but the voice of Lou Rawls is smooth as a hot-buttered anesthesiologist on a tin roof in the middle of August. It is the complete opposite of shrill toucan laughter, and the false sense of having the voice of Lou Rawls is still more than most men stumble across in their quiet and desperate lives.
But sometimes my sick voice more resembles Yaphet Kotto. I can then can act out scenes from Live and Let Die or the first Alien film, but that only gets one so far.
Yaphet Kotto sings no songs. He is a bit more interesting than I assumed, but you're not "gonna miss his lovin" as you would Lou's.
Still, I wish my name was Yaphet Kotto. A "Yaphet Kotto" is not to be trifled with, and the man bearing such a moniker is surely impervious to the common physical ailments that afflict each of us from time to time.
Should a son be born unto me, I will christen him "Yaphet Kotto Camino", and he will go on to things far greater than blogging while on cold medecine.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


When sick, I generally subsist on orange juice, chicken soup, and various hot teas seemingly comprised of chai, ginger root, and the discarded toenail clippings of Himalayan Sherpas. I stay medicated and make a valiant attempt at avoiding all alcohol, tobacco, and even firearms. The inability to sleep and breathe makes for great motivation.
Last night I broke the cycle of infirmed sobriety with the help of Guinness Extra Stout. It worked, by God, and for most of the evening my sickness lifted. My body was numb, but my brain was thankful for the oxygen. I was cured.
Can we then assume that there is a greater healing power in Irish toenails?
It is possible, I suppose, but sadly short-term. When the Guinness and subsequent Miller High Lifes (or is it Miller High Lives?) faded, my disease returned.
This leads me to ask this important medical question: Is there anyone out there with recognized medical license willing to write me a prescription for Guinness that is acceptable to my employers? You can even write a case study with me as the lab rat.
This is science, damn it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

medicated ramblings

It was a damn busy week that was compounded by a sickness not unlike that bird flu that has yet to materialize. Perhaps this is the materialization. Perhaps I am the first and they will christen it Rex L. Camino's disease. It feels like your typically seasonal coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, pray for death sort of fair, but there is an added element of slight vertigo that makes the morning rush hour a bit more interesting.

Also, I am hallucinating more than usual.

As if this wasn't enough, there was also some recurring insomnia that probably stemmed from my body wanting to breathe. I used that time to read from whichever of the Ross McDonald "Archer" novels I'm up to, but the lack of sleep only worsened the vertigo and hallucinations. I tried to make coworkers don little signs stating that they were real, but the hallucinations quickly emulated this technique and thus thwarted yet another attempted at feigning sanity.

However, your day will come, hallucinations.

No, it won't.

Anyway, the icing on the whole week was that I had to drive to Huntsville for a bass playing gig last night after working late. I took the back way through Shelbyville that then leads through narrow and winding roads littered with dingy trailers still wrapped in Christmas lights and the occasional crumbling Antebellum estate. There was an eighteen wheeler clogging the road, but it did not delay me and keep me from having to sit around in a smoky bar drinking orange juice and trying to suppress my disease for a good two hours before going on.

Huntsville was always the Mt. Pilot to Florence's Mayberry when I was growing up. They had foreign restaurants and a mall with an escalator. I don't know what it tells you about my childhood, but the highlight of every Huntsville trip for me was getting to ride the mall escalator.
They also have a space and rocket center somewhere that sells genuine astronaut ice cream.

As I got older, I didn't care too much for Huntsville. There are all kinds of people there, and I'm sure that most are decent human beings, but they generally fall into one of these camps:

1. Rocket scientists and those who assist them.

2. People who imagine that they are living in a Bob Seger song.

Rarely will you find anyone who falls into both categories. Bob has rarely written from the point of view of a rocket scientist, and it is quite difficult to build rockets while working on "night moves", as it were.

I don't mean this as a slight to Huntsville, Bob Seger, or the field of rocket scientistry, and I certainly hope that I do not offend those factions. I am merely making an observation.

At any rate, I will not complain about having to play music. That part of it was fun, as always, but I will try to keep from focusing on the fact that I probably made less than forty bucks for a total of four hours driving time. Logic tends to only get in the way if you try to apply it to music or any other artistic pursuits. The math doesn't always work in your favor, but there are worse ways to make forty bucks.

Besides, it was probably good for the hallucinations to get away for a while.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

physical graphite

Something about broken pencil leads has always made me think of severed fingers, but it has to be the sort with wood still clinging to a majority of the circumference. I can see a small broken graphite point by itself and just see a broken pencil lead. Those do not give me pause when I open an otherwise empty desk drawer, but something about seeing a broken pencil lead with a fringe of wood causes a Bernard Herrmann film score to slowly build in the back of my mind.
I don't know why this is. It could be that the broken wood around it gives it a more flesh-like or human appearance, or there could just be something creepy about the now phantom pencil that it is no longer attached to.
Then again, seeing a pencil with a broken and missing lead does not bother me, and I do not suspect that they are behind the door hoping to catch me alone or biding their time at the back of an otherwise empty drawer just waiting for that perfect moment when the suspense has passed and I have breathe my sigh of relief to leap from the shadows and...
erase me, I suppose. There is not much danger to pose with the pointy bit missing.
Sometimes it is more a David Lynch moment than a Hitchcockian one, but the sight never fails to briefly derail my train of thought.
Then again, I suppose it is seldom on the tracks anyway.

Monday, January 23, 2006

you gotta shake it, baby. yeah.

I made the mistake of watching the Weather Channel before leaving for work this morning. The weather guy and his perfect hair started on the California end of the map to tell me about the Santa Ana winds, and those soulful back up singers from Steely Dan’s "Babylon Sisters" began to smoothly roll out their line about that very same phenomenon. Once implanted, it would not leave my mind for the duration of the workday, and that is a hell of a thing to spring on a man on a cold and wet Monday.
Now, let it be known that Rex L. Camino has nothing but love for the Steely Dan. The world is divided into those who love them and those who hate them, and when the conflict is brought to a head and each side takes up arms to smite the opposition you can count Rex L. Camino to be on the righteous side of the Steely Dan army. I will probably wind up shooting myself in the foot, but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s gin soaked beat poetry over that tasteful blend of rock and jazz has been known to motivate people beyond their mortal confines. A bullet in the foot won’t hurt as bad as it would if I had taken it for the Captain and/or Tenille.

Still, having “Babylon Sisters” in my head tends to affect the way I walk around. I know that most songs tend to do that and that people are generally too lost in their own songs to notice that sort of thing in others (unless you happen to be transporting a can of paint down a city block with “Staying Alive” reverberating through the confines of your cranium), but Steely Dan can be a bit dangerous.

“Babylon Sisters” causes me to unintentionally creep around, and this only amplifies my already cat-like ability of movement. I often have the misfortune of sneaking up on people. In my mind I am announced by Donald Fagen’s crooning plea of “So fine so young. Tell me I’m the only one” or those same back up singers proclaiming “You gotta shake it, baby, you gotta shake it, baby. Yeah” in a hypnotic rhythm that is only interrupted by the sound of a scream or some other primitive sign of shock from those who do not expect me to be behind them. People who are holding things will sometimes drop the things they are holding. They will then say things like “damn, you’re quiet” or “I didn’t know you still worked here”.

I can only laugh it off, secretly curse that rat bastard in the hairpiece from the Weather Channel, and then do my best to pretend that I really do still work there.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

a day without football

Yesterday was painful. They do a good job of slowly weaning us from football by spacing the games as they do and then having the relatively insignificant dog and pony shows that are the senior bowl and the pro bowl, but it does very little to alleviate the pain and emptiness that accompany that first Saturday without football.

The first thing to fill the emptiness was regret. I thought back to the day of the Notre Dame - USC game and how I was helping my brother-in-law pour concrete that day and how I can never have that day back. I do not TiVo, folks. This blog existed on my typewriter for years before Mrs. Camino taught me how to use the internets, and you may recall that this is my IPOD.
Still, I don't blame my brother-in-law. He is more a NASCAR person, and it was my responsibility to have a better excuse at the ready and a stronger determination that football is more important than family.
I can't get into NASCAR. I speed and make left hand turns on a regular basis, and I do not consider myself an athlete while doing so.
Hockey and basketball will not fill the void either. Their entertainment value will certainly grow as the months put some distance between them and football and comparisons become less evident, but I cannot fool myself into thinking that I'm watching football. The Predators are doing well, and I am not above bandwagon jumping, but I would still prefer to be in the midst of even a lackluster Titans season.
No, I will fill the emptiness by hiking with the dog or spending time with family. They will, of course, be without the need of my assistance now. They will wait to pour their concrete, get married, give birth, or have major operations when football is in full swing, as family often does, and my love of football will be again put to the test.
My love will be stronger next season, by God.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

he blinded you with political science

I will need a good campaign bio to get anywhere with this, so here is a rough draft of my early years:
Rex L. Camino was born in a tarpaper shack that he helped his father build sometime in the mid seventies in rural north Alabama. The Caminos were an impoverished share cropping family who shunned literacy and anything that would keep them from rising above the lot of impoverished sharecroppers. Father Camino was known to torch fields of crops that appeared to abundant and profitable, as good fortune was known to bring about literacy, hygiene, and an all around state of unpoverishedness that would eventually lead comfort and an “uppityness” that so often accompanies education and the realistic expectation of living to meet the given average life span of the time.

By the way, the Caminos grew tobacco (unless you happen to be a registered voter in a non-tobacco growing/anti-tobacco state. In that case, the Caminos grew a bunch of organic crap and were friends with Willy Nelson. Hell, the Willy Nelson thing works for all states, so we’ll run with that part either way).

Father Camino also had some sort of factory job and belonged to an assortment of unions, most of them having nothing to do with his particular factory, as it was actually an un-unionized place of business. He simply believed in paying union dues…and church tithes. He would often take the family by horse drawn cart to have their blood and plasma withdrawn to meet these dues and tithes. The horses, by the way, were well treated and often slept in the single bedroom of the tarpaper shack while the family tried to sleep in the cart, one of them always remaining awake to fan the smoke of the burning fields away from Mother and Father Camino and the other eighteen children.

Yes, there was a total of twenty-one of them living just outside that one bedroom tarpaper shack, and most of them had these really unfortunate names that Mother Camino had picked out from the Bible.

It was hard to feign illiteracy while reading the Bible every night, but mother Camino was able to pull it off.
At any rate, with eighteen other siblings around, it was relatively easy for Rex to slip off during a rare family vacation to Dollywood. He was drawn, like so many before him, to the bright lights and infinite promise of the greater Gatlinburg dinner theater scene.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a television confession

People are always asking me about how I maintain such a svelte and trim, yet robust appearance, and I tell them…

Who the hell would ask you that?

Uh…mainly telemarketers who interrupt the second hour of the cocktail hour here at Casa Camino, the occasional blind person, or anyone else who I deem it necessary to inform of my svelteness and whatnot.

Anyway, I always tell them that it is due to my strict regiment of closing the blinds every Saturday afternoon and dancing along with Hispanic hip-hop and tejano beats provided by Caliente on Univision. For my money, there really is no better foreign language dance program provided by the Murfreesboro cable system.

Also, there is just enough time for plenty of cerveza and a good siesta between that and Don Francisco’s Sabado Gigante.
I just wish I knew what the hell those people were saying.

Monday, January 16, 2006

in which there is nudity

I was filling the sock drawer with handfuls of freshly laundered socks last night when I came across a semi-nude photograph of myself. I remember putting it there some time ago and I remember moving it from its former location to keep from offending a nice Mexican family. However, I can’t remember what the nice Mexican family was doing in my house or what would have made the photograph more offensive to them than any random family viewing a tasteful and artistic depiction of me in my birthday suit with a strategically held cowboy hat.

It was taken years back, and I remember that I had forgotten all about it until the girl at the Target photo lab started laughing when I showed up to collect the prints. I didn’t remember right away, actually. I politely laughed with her and pretended to be in on it, and then it hit me as I exited through the red automatic doors that she was amused by my less than Greek statuesque physique.

That’s when the laughing stopped and the hurting began.

I actually used to use my semi-nudity as a weapon. There were always solicitors roaming through the apartment complex in college, and I would answer the door in nothing but my boxers to knock them off kilter, as it were. They would stutter and stammer while I demanded to know why they interrupted my Bible study group.

The Girl Scouts were always unfazed.

And I’m sure the nice Mexican family probably would have been as well. At least, they probably wouldn’t have been any more offended at that than they would have been at something I might have said or sung when the margaritas began flowing.
I don’t remember the family or why they came but I do seem to recall that there were margaritas, and the actual me on margaritas is undoubtedly less charming than the naked me I keep in the sock drawer.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

my fives

Wally tagged me, and I will oblige. I've never actually done of these things before, but this one appears relatively harmless. However, I would like to point out that "favorites", much like that proverbial stream of Heraclitus that connot be crossed twice, are something in constant flux, and that my "favorites" would likely be different next week or even tomorrow. It is the same for each of you, I'm sure, but I felt it necessary to make the disclaimer.
Yes, Heraclitus sounds like a dirty name.
Anyway, here goes:
5 JOBS YOU'VE HAD IN YOUR LIFE: bookstore manager, teacher, law clerk, educational assesment evaluator instructor, and freelance graphic designer.
5 MOVIES YOU COULD WATCH OVER AND OVER: Barton Fink, Rushmore, Yojimbo, Casablanca, and Young Frankenstein.
5 PLACES YOU'VE LIVED (I have to stretch to make this one. These first three are all within the same county in Alabama): St. Florian, AL; Florence, AL; Killen, AL; Murfreesboro, TN; Knoxville, TN.
5 TV SHOWS YOU LOVE TO WATCH: My Name Is Earl, Foyle's War, Mythbusters, Arrested Development, and Scrubs.
5 PLACES YOU'VE BEEN ON VACATION: Tangiers, Morocco; Madrid, Spain; Merida, Mexico; Lisbon, Portugal; Dollywood, Tennessee.
5 WEBSITES YOU VISIT DAILY: various Google searches, Nashville is Talking, Fenderforum, Wikipedia, and Myspace.
5 OF YOUR FAVORITE FOODS: peanut butter, sushi, gumbo, sweet potatoes, and key lime pie.
5 PLACES YOU'D RATHER BE: the Carolina side of the Smokies, the Alabama Gulf Coast, the Yucatan Peninsula, Scotland, or Japan.
5 ALBUMS YOIU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT (I could easily name you 50 and still leave some out.): "Eat a Peach" by the Allman Brothers Band, "Give" by the Bad Plus, "Doolittle" by the Pixies, "Time (the Revelator)" by Gillian Welch", and a collection of recordings by Django Reinhardt.
5 PEOPLE YOU'D TAG TO PLAY THIS GAME (Forgive me if any of you have been tagged already.): Ryan, Vol Abroad, Michael, 'stro, and the ladies at Cake Fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

some advice

One rarely stops to reflect in such situations, but there really are a number of things to take into consideration before making a statement like, "Maybe I oughta whip* your ass".

Foremost among them should be a full assessment of the individual on the receiving end of the statement. Can you really administer the ass whipping and thus fulfill your implied guarantee? If not, will your failed attempt be reciprocated upon you with more successful results? If this latter possibility is indeed your fate, will there be great embarrassment in having your ass whipped by this individual? Are they:

1. smaller than you
2. more drunk than you
3. wearing a hawaiian shirt
4. handicapped in some way
5. the lady at the DMV
6. a rented mule (the irony)
7. a hippy**

If not, are they larger than you? This is perhaps a better scenario unless they are significantly larger than you. If they appear to hold a slight edge, then you have nothing to lose, and a valiant effort is all that is necessary to maintain your good standing in the eyes of passers by and the random collection of gawkers that is sure to amass. Some things to consider about this crowd would be:

1. Is it a mob?
2. If so, are you a part of the mob?
3. Does the mob know that you are a part of it?
4. Do you speak for the mob? (you should never presume this one)
5. Could the mob turn against you?
6. Is the mob comprised of people from our previous list?

There is not as much shame in having your ass whipped by a group of your physical inferiors. Anyone objectively looking at the situation will understand that the numbers were simply against you, and they will assume that you tried your best.

On a related note, never assume that you can simply grab a box of Girlscount cookies off the table while exiting the grocery store and make a break for your car. Anyone who attempts this has underestimated:

1. the weight of his groceries and how they will effect his velocity
2. his lack of exercise in the past couple of decades
3. the absence of mercy in a gaggle of uniformed little girls

But I digress.

If you have taken all these things into consideration and still find it in you best interest to employ the threat of an ass whipping, then by all means proceed. Congratulations on the impending possibility of whipping some ass. However, there is one more crucial step to be taken in order to maximize your potential for success.

Most who have engaged in a successful ass whipping would never admit this, but music always play a crucial role. You can never actually bring music to have played. That would be:

1. quite embarrassing if things were to end badly for you
2. what the law likes to call “evidence of premeditation”

Your music selection is then relegated to the confines of your head, and one could theoretically use Gordon Lightfoot to accompany their actions. If so, then by all means go out and kick some ass for the Edmund Fitzgerald.

However, the majority of us summon adrenaline through a heavier fare. I find that the seventies were a good decade for this sort of thing and generally prefer Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” or Nazareth’s “Now You’re Messing With a Son of a Bitch”.

Never use “Eye of the Tiger”. It will show on your face, and everyone will know that you are thinking of “Eye of the Tiger”. You have no hope of winning. No one who has ever had “Eye of the Tiger” running through their head has ever succeeded in the task at hand. Real life simply doesn’t work that way. If you must use something from the Rocky Franchise, please go with “Gonna Fly Now”.

You should also keep in mind that teenagers will have video game music running through their heads.

But I digress again.

I think that pretty much covers it. Now go forth and boast of ass whippings with confidence, or do not boast of ass whippings.

*Residents of Alabama will need to replace the word "whip" with "whoop".
**Don't underestimate the hippies. One who invests himself in peace loving tends to accrue a great deal of pent up rage from all that damn peace, love, and women who do not find hygiene all that important.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

record stack

I had a record player in college, but it died and was too expensive to resuscitate. Luckily, I then had access to my roommate's turntable, but he eventually graduated and moved to Texas. My records were then utterly useless and sat collecting dust on bookshelves in the various apartments Mrs. Camino occupied before winding up here at Casa Camino. I have my grandfather's vintage hand-cranked Silvertone complete with the weathered copy of "He Bought My Soul At Cavalry" by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet that has sat upon it for decades, but it is an antique, and antiques are for looking at.
My meager record collection was about as useful, but all that changed this Christmas.
Yes, while many of you were overjoyed at receiving the latest IPOD on the morning of December 25th, I was ecstatic at receiving the Crosley Stack-O-Matic, a distant ancestor of the IPOD that allows the listener to stack up to six records at a time. I am a sucker for anything ending in "O-Matic" and am waiting patiently for the IPOD-O-Matic.
By the way, I'm currently enjoying Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' "Whipped Cream and Other Delights". I often feel as if I'm listening to cheesy game show theme music when I listen to him on CD, but vinyl really showcases the genius of Herb Alpert.
True, the Crosley Stack-O-Matic does become a bit cumbersome on long walks out with the dog, but there really is a difference in sound quality. I am not one to preach on the quality of old musical formats vs. new, but I hope to someday have a band so cool that we only release material on wax cylinders.
They really are better than records.
But Rex! But Rex! Grandma Ledbetter needs that heart transplant and we cain't be wastin' money on records and shit.
Ah, but you can. I can dig through a record store for hours to emerge with an armful of quality recordings and only be out twenty or so bucks.
Anyway, I highly recommend the Stack-O-Matic and other fine turntable models from Crosley. You will experience quality musical enjoyment and still have enough money left to get Grandmother a good black-market baboon heart.

Monday, January 09, 2006

more on the legal front

The Alito hearings begin this week, and in a way I am disappointed. I have nothing against the man and no real political statement to make. It's just that I keep hearing the name "Judge Alito" on the radio news, and for a brief moment I think they're saying "Judge Ito".
Judge Ito would be much more entertaining.
Sethro mentioned that the Boz Scaggs classic "Lido Shuffle" creeps into his mind when he hears the name "Alito", and now the same thing happens to me. Methinks it would be hard to beat a political figure with a Boz Scaggs theme song, but I am no expert.
As far as the Supreme Court goes, I would back Tim Calhoun, the same person who got my presidential vote in aught-four. This doesn't contain his plea to be nominated to the Supreme Court, but it will give you an idea of where he stands.

Friday, January 06, 2006

rex dispenses legal advice

To the misguided individual who found their way here by asking Jeeves if it was illegal to impersonate an attorney:
Yes, it is.
That was one of the first questions I had during my brief stint as a law clerk, and a genuine attorney assured me that it was. However, he said that impersonating Matlock was well within the law.
I next asked about the legality of impersonating a law clerk.
"There's no law against it", he said. He then patted me on the shoulder and added, "So you've nothing to be afraid of."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

another melrose place cancellation

I was sorry to see the Sutler close its doors last month. It was by no means my favorite local watering hole or music venue, but I hate to lose any place with a little bit of history to it.
I had actually only been in there once. I recall that the place obviously hadn't undergone any redecoration in its thirty years and that the stage was a bit inadequate for the five piece band I was with that night. It was more roomy than the stage at the Family Wash, but so are most phone booths.
Are there still phone booths?
Anyway, my bass and I were relegated to the far side of the stage, just out of reach for the jabbing bow of an enthusiastic fiddle player and in the midst of a few decade's worth of framed promo shots. It was probably for the best, as my Rex L. Camino mask would've probably distracted the handful of audience members.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

things to do in Baltimore when you're pantsless

A coworker immediately alerted us when this story broke earlier today.
It is a perfectly legal and constitutional form of expression, apparently, which means they won't have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

this is a little late, but

Dear Steve Martin,

The "too many kids" genre may even be worse than the "switching bodies with a parent" films, and making a sequel to one of these travesties is really unforgivable. Do you really think any of the unfortunate audience members who sat through the original Cheaper By the Dozen left the theater unfulfilled? Well, I'm sure they did--but I doubt that it had to do with any nagging loose ends. No, I think the first one pretty much covered it. You had a shitload of annoying kids and at least one scene where you were struck in the groin.
Leave that sort of thing to Eugene Levy, Steve. That's what he's there for.

Monday, January 02, 2006

a self-rising south

Two things occurred to me just north of the Greenville exit heading south on I-65 the day after Christmas. Traffic was at a complete standstill behind a minor accident, and I was looking out the window at the churned roadside. It was a casserole of red dirt, shotgun shell cartridges, cigarette butts, and twisted beer cans, and I was thinking:

1. I am home.

2. The U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was undoubtedly devised for no other reason than to keep the south from rising again.

Look in heart and know it to be true.

There were none of these things along the shores of Orange Beach. Hurricane Ivan blew it clean well over a year and a half ago, but one can still see the occasional beach house twisted slightly on its foundation and missing a significant part of its roof. Most still sport their boarded windows spray-painted with messages unwelcoming Ivan. They are somewhere on the edge salvageable, but probably worth more to the condo developers.

Ivan even took a significant part of sand from the beaches, and more is being piped in from the ocean floor from about a half-mile out. There were rumors of kickass seashells to be found in the new stuff, but I had to take their word on it.

There is really far less damage than I expected to see. There are a few missing houses, hotels, and restaurants, but the landscape wasn’t as different as I expected. There has been constant widespread construction there over the last decade or so, thus making all the rebuilding seem natural and not so different from the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in my mind. I had almost forgotten about the hurricane damage until Mrs. Camino and I got around to taking the dog for a hike in the Bon Secour nature reserve.

The reserve sits on the Ft. Morgan peninsula and serves mainly as a habitat for migratory birds and sea turtles. The trails were still closed from the hurricane damage, but they were allowing people to walk along the beaches across the bay from the thin western peninsula of Gulf Shores. That part of the island is only wide enough for houses on one side of the road in some places, and there is very little to protect it from any acts of God that occasionally drift up from the south.

About a half-mile down the beach of Bon Secour we came across piles of debris from the houses across the bay. There were boards painted pink and seafoam green, refrigerators, toilets, dishwashers, doors, parts of boats, and even a propane tank. Some of these things were still scattered through the woods, but they had managed to sweep most of it to the shore over the past year and a half. The workers apparently had the day off, and scene was eerily quiet except for the faint echoes of hammers and saws from across the water.

The other place we noticed damage was in Fairhope. That little town sits across the bay from Mobile on the western side of Baldwin County and was at the eastern edge of Katrina.

If I ever run away from home, you will probably find me in Fairhope.

The houses along the bay were in a state of mid-repair, but the downtown area seemed back to normal. It is a collection of antique stores, clothing stores, bars, coffee shops, bookstores, and local art stores. The locals are a bit eccentric, but overwhelmingly friendly.

There is a great little vintage electronics and record shop just off the main street where a guy builds guitar amps from old suitcases. They get an amazingly warm jazz tone, and he’ll customize any suitcase you bring him for two or three hundred bucks.

I am now on the lookout for interesting vintage suitcases.

I suppose that 31 is a bit too old too run away from home, and that sort of things certainly looses its appeal when you are responsible for a mortgage, but Mrs. Camino and I fell into our usual contemplation of moving to the beach. The hurricanes have done very little to deter that sort of thing. Just a run down vacant lot the size of a kiddy pool would still cost about the same as all of Casa Camino, and the few people who want to part with their property generally have no problem getting what they want for it.

Still, we could probably swing a pastel painted trailer somewhere under a Spanish moss-draped live oak or a couple of palm or pecan trees a bit further inland. Mrs. Camino made the most of her college experience and has never had trouble finding employment. I could probably add gator wrangler or shrimpboat captain to my long list of sampled occupations.
Then again, I could open Rex’s House of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and make a killing. The “man” has probably made laws against such a profitable convergence of the holy trinity, but capitalism always finds a way.