Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ode to the Flamingo

I've referenced the Oxford American a number of times on some Music Friday posts, but the recent issue of the magazine is the "Best of the South" annual issue. The issue features "odes" to various entities that are distinctly Southern or just interesting or thought provoking. Some of the ones this year are Odes to "The College-Football Fan," "A Summer Afternoon," "Ten Sexy Books," "Fishing with Love," "Regional Pride," "A (Phallocentric) Painter," "The Loneliness" (a tribute to the late author Barry Hannah), among others.

The one that sparked me waxing nostalgic and possibly moronic is "Ode to a Jukebox" where Joni Tevis talks about the old style jukeboxes and how one "exercises authority" by making selections.

As she says, "Like calling a radio station to dedicate a song--an act that feels very old-fashioned now--choosing a number on a jukebox gives you a brief share in the tune's ownership. You didn't write the music or words, but you selected it over the others, and changed the evening from what it would have been into what it became by giving it a soundtrack. Exercising your authority over song and community takes only a quarter" (82).

The jukebox that I connect with was the one in the front room of the Flamingo bar in Kirksville, Missouri. That's right, a bar named the "Flamingo" in northeastern Missouri. A pinkish hued bird native to Florida taken as the symbol for a bar in the Show Me State sense does not make. But what the hell. Bar owners, especially one like Irene, are not usually known for their poetic prowess.

But we went to the "O" for cheap drinks and because it wasn't crowded, at least initially. The bar having college kids patronize the place happened gradually for a while, and then the Flamingo exploded as the hip place to be. We, the Pi Kapps and Phi Lambs, didn't know what to think about that initially. For a long time it was a "townie bar" with some frat guys hanging out from time to time or becoming regulars.

But I still remember the tunes I connect with the jukebox at the Flamingo because, well, I spent a good bit of time there in my late undergraduate and graduate school days. Hell, some of us up in Kirksville at that time deserve some manner of pseudo-undergraduate certificate for the time we put in there, maybe a University of the Flamingo diploma like folks in northwestern Iowa have the University of Okoboji inside joke with paraphenalia.

So the tunes, right? That's where this post was supposed to headed. I'd have to go with "The Rodeo Song," "John Deere Green," and Patsy Cline's "Crazy" as ones that call out to me from those beer-soaked and pool-shootin' memories.

There are many stories to be told of the exploits and characters at the Flamingo, so perhaps I'll save some of those for other posts. But the jukebox, which was definitely not a top of the line one, played some good tunes.


TGD said...


Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Damn, "Convoy," of course.

Well, we rolled up Interstate 44
Like a rocket sled on rails.
We tore up all of our swindle sheets,
And left 'em settin' on the scales.
By the time we hit that Chi-town,
Them bears was a-gettin' smart:
They'd brought up some reinforcements
From the Illinois National Guard.
There's armored cars, and tanks, and jeeps,
And rigs of ev'ry size.
Yeah, them chicken coops was full'a bears
And choppers filled the skies.
Well, we shot the line and we went for broke
With a thousand screamin' trucks
An' eleven long-haired Friends a' Jesus
In a chartreuse micra-bus.