Friday, October 9, 2015

Posted July 29, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

The strangeness of life and war

The nasal, clipped tone of the August 1945 radio broadcast reaches across 70 years. It is up-to-the-minute coverage of the loud celebration in downtown Des Moines after the announcement that Japan would surrender. WHO Radio is reporting: “Des Moines tonight personifies the State of Iowa at the end of the

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Posted July 22, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood


People actually do show up at the Downtown Farmers Market. Handsome couples. Striking men. Beautiful women. They are dressed in all types of fashions, from easy and relaxed to hipster heaven. They promenade up and down Court Avenue, showing off their most recent piercings or tattoos or beach-ready bodies. Every

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Posted July 15, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Traveling and haircuts

After the haircut was complete, the barber bowed politely. I rubbed my head and gave a broad smile, hoping to convey my appreciation of a job well done. The haircut was tight, precise, and nothing out of place. I smiled again. Another bow… and then a young woman was brought

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Posted July 08, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Wedding planners, marriage and pipe cleaners

Marriage is certainly a line in the sand. One day you’re single, and your foolish behavior goes unnoticed. The next day you’re married, and your partner is the first to tell you that shirt doesn’t go with those pants. I didn’t know that. Now I do. I’m married. My clothes mostly

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Posted July 01, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Those pesky relatives of summer

The applause is thunderous. But not from hands clapping. Instead, skateboards brought by fans are smacked against the hardwood floor again and again. The raw sound of wood pounding against wood resonates around the skating rink. Primal. Especially when laced with the dark throb of heavy metal music and the

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Posted June 24, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Not a shark attack in sight

Boredom is an art form perfected by teenagers, lifers in prison and pop culture. My money is on the teenagers as the pros in that group. When the hapless parent appears at school and tries to hand over last night’s forgotten homework, the disdain of the young teenager is something to

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Posted June 17, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

The chronically sports-impaired

The crack of a bat against a ball. The rising crescendo of the crowd as the striker roars toward the goal. The muted pound of the runners flying down the far side of the track. These are all sounds of spring sports as they turn slowly toward summer, then summer to

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Posted June 10, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Lawn Mowers Anonymous

My name is Joe, and I’m a recovering mower. Just drive around on any evening or weekend in Des Moines. Go ahead. Notice what’s going on this time of year. People aren’t at the theater. People aren’t drinking at the bar. People aren’t hanging out with their friends. Nope. They’re mowing their

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Posted June 03, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

The death of a farmer

Dave Parker died this past winter. You probably didn’t know him. He farmed with his uncle out near Mingo and lived alone in the old family farmhouse up on a hill. A big white clapboard house, with farm machinery spread out back, grain bins to the side, a carefully mowed

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Posted May 27, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Grace and the tollbooth

Tollbooths are a rare bird in Iowa. We don’t pay a toll to travel down Grand Avenue to East Village, for example. We don’t toss money into metal baskets and wait for the arm to lift so that we can drive past the shops in Beaverdale. And, frankly, I have yet to get

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