Faith ‘n Begorrah! Another in the Books!

A Happy St. Paddy’s Day to one and all! (and a bit of a sighing on our part that we have gotten through it…) Corned Beef, Shepherd’s Pie, the occasional beer – green or otherwise.

We’ve had the experience of a few years to build on, but there is that old saw about the “best laid plans.” Today there were more crocks of food in the kitchen than last year when we ran out early. Better prepared this go ’round – but then, this year more people arrived at our door at lunchtime and once again we sold out.

Better to sell out than throw out, is my way o’ thinking.

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A special thanks for the kind restaurant review by Mr Scott Cherry of the Tulsa World – published on Wednesday – which was responsible for a number of our St. Paddy’s Day patrons. (Thanks also to our regulars, including a few who only visit for the annual wearin’ o’ the green.)

I’ve described St. Patrick’s Day as an event similar to surfing a big Oahu wave, leaning in to the point of wiping out, but managing to ride it to completion. We were at that point today for a few moments, when it seemed like we might be thrown head-first from the board – but then wound up gliding in safely onto the sandy beach.

Afterward, we decided that it could not have been possible if Kathy Hoefling Williams had not been managing the cash register, refilling drinks, and clearing the vacated tables. She had already left us by the time we acknowledged the fact, so this will have to serve as a heartfelt Thank-You Kathy! until next time we see each other.

I have no false pride in thinking I could have run the floor by myself today… if Alicia Davis had not put on the shamrock shirt and the apron and came to our aid, our lunchtime party could have been a wipeout of highlight reel proportions. Hugs of appreciation to both ladies for the ready smiles amidst the hard work.

Since the plan was to prepare enough food to serve an estimated number of diners at lunchtime, and since we met the estimate (even if our guess turned out to be a bit of an under-estimate) – the day must be considered a success. That achievement is due to the hard work, long hours, and sleepless nights of Dustin Hoefling, whose St. Paddy’s Day fare was on a par with any green-beer-presenting establishment in the entire US.

Sometimes we forget that those plates of food start out as planning and purchasing, followed by a heap o’ cutting and cooking. Dustin was in the kitchen well into the evening several times this week, and dragged himself out of bed before 5 am Friday to make sure everything was in order.

All I had to do is trot from table to table and claim complete credit (just kidding there, Dustin…).

As I type this, the other Irish-themed spots are gearing up for the second wave, that hectic white-water ride that is St. Paddy’s Day partying on a Friday night. Someone asked if I planned to have an Irish evening, and I thought of Kilkenny’s, McNellie’s, and Arnie’s and their annual Tulsa traditions. Thought about my old roommate Kenny Wagoner from Paddy’s Irish days, who has revived the brand and reopened under that name at 101st and South Mingo, and who will be having a particularly long night of it.

Then, I thought about my own long day, my tired feet, and the bed. St. Paddy’s Day will be back again soon enough.

Tonight, the bed gets my vote.

Thanks to all who came by for our modest party, (particularly those of you who had to wait for an available table), and may the Luck o’ the Irish be with all of you until next year!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow, OK!

Brushing up on Retirement.

I remember some light-hearted fun-poking when it was discovered that former president George W. Bush had taken up painting in his retirement. It may be that the teasing was a little premature.

His latest book (he has had more than one on the best-seller’s lists) – his latest is called Portraits of Courage, a collection of military veterans paintings done by the former president. I didn’t really study his early works – a couple of self-portraits were among the earliest – but I know from experience that it is much easier to put down criticism than it is to pick up a brush.

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When the book arrived in the shop today, I was immediately impressed with the cover. Boxing in the title are a series of portraits that – taken at face value (nyuk, nyuk, pun intended) – are fairly striking. Stylized faces in soft colors.

Most artists of any note have their own technique, and if the result is supposed to look exactly like the subject, then a cell-phone photo ought to suffice.

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Of course, President Bush has had a few years to work on his technique: two terms and a swearing-in ceremony’s worth of time.

I’d say he’s made the most of it.

It may be favorite-son status, or former US president notoriety, but a collection of the original portraits is currently on display in Dallas, and the book is currently on display at the top of a number of national best-seller lists.

He writes in the book that he isn’t sure how his efforts will be received, due to his status as a “novice” – but he adds that “each painting was done with a lot of care and respect.” His efforts in those regards are apparent. His may be a quick ascent to the book lists and art galleries, but then again – maybe he paid enough dues in a different arena to legitimately bump up his place in line.

At lunchtime today I spotted someone looking over John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” – published in 1961. I can easily imagine someone giving President Bush’s “Portraits in Courage” the same consideration in another half-century.

Providing that these things called “books” are still around then.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 S. Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Looking Back is a Bad Habit: Rooster Cogburn

The three of them would walk down to Owl Drugs after school, and there they became a cartoonist’s club – of sorts: Paul Davis, Russell Myers, and Archie Goodwin. And who would have thought of the trio of Will Rogers High School students as headed for stardom?

What?

You don’t know them by name?

I had a surprise there, too. Opened up the mail and pulled out a first edition copy of True Grit by Charles Portis, which ranks somewhere near the top of my list of favorite books. As it is with any new acquisition, I was checking the copy, making sure it was everything it ought to be.

It was.

Portis wrote the story with a rural eloquence that is almost poetic. Then there is that wry humor as typified in the courtroom scene:

Goudy: I believe you testified that you backed away from old man Wharton?
Rooster Cogburn: Yes, sir.
Goudy: Which direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backward. I always go backward when I’m backin’ away.

My examination had me lingering over the dust jacket and the artwork. A singular style, I thought. Simplistic but powerful. Knowing the story, I thought it captured the essence of both Mattie – the main character – and the title of the book.

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I wondered who had painted it, and that’s when I learned about the after-school artists and Owl Drugs in Tulsa. Paul Davis did not linger in Tulsa long after high school. His skill with the brushes earned him a scholarship at a New York City art school, and he established a reputation and a clientele in short order.

His works were visible on the streets, on television, in magazines, and on movie sets. He painted record album covers and advertising art. He was in high demand as an illustrator even before he founded Paul Davis Studio in 1963. It was five years later that he was commissioned to do the dust jacket for True Grit.

It positively shocked me to learn that he grew up in Tulsa.

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But I could relate to the idea of a cartoonist’s club. My ninth grade buddies and I considered ourselves more of a clique than a club, but we spent more time than we should have, putting pen to paper. Shortly before the end of the semester, my English teacher took me aside and informed me that I had turned in so few assignments that she was going to be forced to fail me.

She told me she hated to “Fail” anyone, and intended to record my grade as – I – for Incomplete. The letter wouldn’t make so much difference, I thought – figuring whatever letter she wrote would probably keep me out of tenth grade, or have me in “summer school” at the least.

It likely wouldn’t happen today, but she allowed me to stay after school each day of that last week of school, starting at the top and working my way down the stack of the semester’s worth of assignments I’d failed to turn in…

…because my buddies and I were too busy free-handing the line art from A Tale of Two Cities.

It was passable art that almost kept me from passing out of ninth grade, but – obviously – not enough to win an art school scholarship.

On the other hand, Paul’s art buddies managed to find their ways into the art world. Archie Goodwin – whom I had the good fortune to meet on an occasion – made his mark in the comic book world and was a frequent guest at conventions.

The work of Russell Meyers is something I examine every morning. The Tulsa World carries his comic strip Broom-Hilda, which Meyers syndicated in 1970 – the same year I squeaked into my sophomore year.

It doesn’t surprise me that so many talented folks have ties to the Tulsa area, but I am surprised at the number – with international renown – who have managed to slip under my radar.

Being a fan of True Grit, it tickles me greatly to know that the story is set in our general area (including a visit to JJ McAlester’s General Store!) and is such a wonderfully written book wrapped in artistic local color.

Like to own a copy?

I just happen to know where I can lay hands on a First Edition…

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!