‘You show ’em, Spike!’

(Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Monte Dutton

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, June 19, 2017, 11:37 a.m.

The highlight was the boiled peanuts.

Nonetheless, a lot went on over the weekend.

Hamlin over Byron on Saturday. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

For the second time in as many weeks, NASCAR’s Xfinity Series outshone its Monster Cup, or, it would have had there been as many sightings. Both Brad Keselowski’s stirring Pocono victory and Denny Hamlin’s side-by-side heartbreak of William Byron at Michigan were seen by a few thousand in person and an electronic smattering on TV.

Yeah, the Cup carpetbaggers won, but at least they were fine races.

John Hunter Nemechek won the Camping World Truck race at Gateway near St. Louis. I watched while switching back and forth between it and the Red Sox game in Houston. Every time Nemechek wins, I think of a chance encounter many years ago when I bumped into John Hunter and his father, Joe, at a Las Vegas casino buffet. We ate dinner together as a result. John Hunter was, oh, about 10, I’m guessing.

John Hunter Nemechek in Victory Lane. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

All else was standard operating NASCAR muddle.

A debris caution flag shaped the Michigan ending and helped Kyle Busch avoid an official Monster Cup victory, a task at which he has excelled all year. Instead, the currently winning Kyle, Larson, won for the second time in a row at the two-mile track, and Chase Elliott reprised second place, as well.

Yes, Kyle won the Monster All-Star Race, but that doesn’t count, and, yes, the driver with the perpetually poked-out lips retreated to the cozy comfort of his motorcoach, there to ponder what had happened … and maybe throw a few things. He offered no public insight into his misgivings.

Tony Stewart, still terrible but too old to be enfant, tweeted about NASCAR’s vigilant protection of plastic trash bags. Tweets are official policy instruments, as the Trump Administration has decreed. The change in journalism is basically this: Where once a story read, “After the race, he said …” now it reads, “After the race, he tweeted …”

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

 

Drivers, at least the young and forever so, often feel smothered by the intrusions of the media.

Hey, when I started racing, I did it for love. I didn’t sign up for all these other things, like talking to the media.

The problem came when they started racing for money, as well. As any welder with two kids and a wife knows, with money comes responsibility. Life changes when a man becomes a shift supervisor.

When once presented by a then bright, then young, driver, with this psychic trauma, the late David Poole, said, “Well, you know, you don’t have to be famous.”

Huh?

“You can go back to racing sprint cars three nights a week, and do it for love, and then you won’t have to be bothered,” Poole said, with a touch of paraphrasing induced by memory loss. “But racing right here, at this level, means you have certain commitments.”

Jamie McMurray (left) with Kyle Larson. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Acolytes descend upon our bright, young heroes, to bask in their talented glow and assure them that everything they do is, like, so cool. They encourage the heroes to figuratively spit at their inferiors.

They remind me of the old cartoon of Spike, the tough bulldog, and Chester, the yapping Chihuahua.

“Hey, Spike, you wanna go chase some cars?”

Only Spike never slaps Chester against the wall and yells, “Shaddup!” at least not in the warmer climes of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. There the Tunes are Looney in other ways.

One such episode involves Spike, thinking he’s going to knock Sylvester the Cat around to please Chester, unwittingly running up against an escaped panther.

Few panthers stalk the media jungle, but they can get ornery, when aroused. It doesn’t take slicing poor Spike to shreds. He can be sliced by his own actions.

There’s an aspect of class warfare in it. Lots of entitled racers lack respect for the radiation-zapped (little ink these days) wretches. They’ve heard rumors that the media doesn’t make much money, and in a world shaped and framed by bank accounts, it’s natural for them to assume that its ranks are composed of men and women who obviously couldn’t do anything else.

Never mind that they can’t do anything else. The market value of racers is high, and, as anyone who is on social media obviously knows, anyone can write.

 

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Boiled Peanuts

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 9:34 a.m.

This weekend I have in my possession one of those foods that Southerners consider delicacies and those from other places dismiss as gross, tasteless, backward, and lacking in redeeming value, social or otherwise.

Boiled peanuts.

I don’t often buy them. I prefer to, uh, boil them myself. I am a certified boiled-peanuts chef. I once studied under my grandfather, who ran a grocery store. Grocery stores were once the centers of boiled-peanuts learning.

On one of those rare days when the produce department at Bi-Lo has an availability of green peanuts – ripe ones won’t work – I greedily scoop a weekend’s supply into one of those cellophane bags that take five minutes to unfold, and head home a happy man.

By Monte Dutton

Occasionally, I buy some boiled peanuts at a baseball game. I rather like the Cajun-spiced ones. In general, though, my problem with “store-bought” boiled peanuts is that they are soggy. It’s one of those natural consequences of modernity. The sublime boiled peanuts of my youth were ruined by plastic bags.

Dutton’s Grocery — which inexplicably had Dutton’s Market on the sign after Granddaddy painted the whole outside in a combination of bright and pale orange, oh, in about 1969 or ’70, thereabouts — sold boiled peanuts. In those days, they were sold in small, tan paper bags. If soggy peanuts were placed in those bags, the bottoms fell out. Hence, we had to drain the peanuts before we bagged them.

Granddaddy would get on one side of a huge vat of boiling peanuts, grasp a handle with one gloved hand and place the other under the vat, while I, oh, 12 years old or so, would do the same on the other side. We then hoisted the container and dumped its contents into a basin in the store’s back room, the same location where chickens were chopped, bologna sliced and steak cubed.

Scalding was a possibility. That never stopped us. Neither of us, nor anyone else who worked there, ever got scalded, at least not during my youth.

We let the peanuts cool and drain for a few hours. Then I sat on a high stool in front of the basin and proceeded to bag the peanuts. They were arranged on a cardboard beer flat and placed on the counter, with several reinforcement flats stored in “the cooler” which was one of two refrigeration units, one out front and the other adjoining the back room. As a general rule, the outside cooler contained reinforcements of watermelons and the inside one contained reinforcements of beer.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

 

It is my recollection that a bag of boiled peanuts, at about the turn of the ‘70s, cost slightly less than a pack of cigarettes and slightly more than a Coke. Twenty-five cents.

I still prefer my boiled peanuts drained. They aren’t as messy. Salty water doesn’t leave stains on the front of the shirt. They taste better, or maybe that’s because it’s the way they tasted when I was but a lad.

Those from the non-boiled-peanut states sound almost exactly the way those from the non-grits states sound.

I don’t get it. They’re tasteless. So bland.

My answer is the same. You like potatoes? They’re tasteless, too, until you slather them in butter, salt and pepper, and/or ketchup.

Besides, my buds don’t taste for anyone but themselves.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

What’s to Bless and What’s to Blame?

Brad Keselowski won a Pocono classic in the Xfinity Series. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 11, 2017, 11:35 a.m.

This week’s NASCAR Monster Cup shindig is at Pocono Raceway. Unsurprisingly, it’s in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania. The mountains aren’t very high compared to the Blue Ridge. They are minuscule compared to the Rockies. They are scenic, though. I used to enjoy visiting.

My first visit was in 1989. I had gone to a friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh. I thought, well, the track is in the same state. The drive on Sunday was grueling. It’s a long way from Pittsburgh to Long Pond. It’s a long way back. I nearly fell asleep at dusk in Indiana. Indiana, Pennsylvania. I revived myself looking at the statue of James Stewart. He was from there.

By Monte Dutton

I hope this 400-miler isn’t anticlimactic, but it will be hard not to be. Brad Keselowski brilliantly won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, and it’s not often I use such an adverb to characterize a race in that series. Keselowski, who was the Sprint Cup champion the last year I wrote about it full-time, passed Kyle Larson on the final lap, culminating a stirring comeback. I was glad I got finished mowing the lawn in time to watch it.

The IndyCar race from Texas dragged on until past midnight. The term that comes to mind is “too much of a good thing.” That race was run as if a bunch of fighter pilots decided they wanted to have a dogfight without leaving the ground. It was won by willpower in the form of Will Power.

Some say IndyCars ought to be equipped with canopies in the interest of safety. I think they ought to be run inside laptops because that’s what it looks like. The real race appears to be run using special effects. How do they manage to photoshop the action with only a seven-second delay? It must be the way that a sporting event in my high-definition living room occurs two seconds later than the regular-definition screen in the bedroom.

It would have been a perfect time to go live to Pocono and ask a NASCAR driver if he’d like to “do the double” (Indy-Charlotte) next year.

Hell, no. The Coke 600 is exciting enough for me.

An astronaut would say this. The only man who ought to “do the double” was Evel Knievel, and he’s gone.

It was must-see TV, though the ratings are unlikely to support this view.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

 

Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck race was in Texas, in the form of an IndyCar undercard. The winner was Christopher Bell, though the replays seemed to show Chase Briscoe ahead when the track’s flashing yellow lights were activated.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

It turns out those yellow lights, which have been in use at Texas Motor Speedway for many years, were just a publicity stunt. They weren’t hooked into race control, as the small, non-flashing, lights were. In order to justify the awarding of the race to Bell, not Briscoe, NASCAR officials basically had to reveal that the track’s rolling lights – they make it look as if yellow bands of light are chasing each other around the track’s catch-fence perimeter – were little more than a spectacular hoax.

No one ever disclosed that as long as their accuracy wasn’t an issue. When the high-ranking NASCAR official with his hand on the switch yells “put her (yellow flag) out!” and flips it, the fancy light show doesn’t activate. Apparently, that requires some other fellow to say, “oh, yeah,” and flip another switch as soon as he gets around to it.

This whole, convoluted story is emblematic of the way NASCAR does business. No one ever knows how things work until they don’t work well.

On the one hand, I’d like for today’s race in the Poconos to be without such drama. Other drama, such as the last-lap pass in Keselowski’s Xfinity victory, would be marvelous. Races like that don’t happen at Pocono Raceway often. It’s not a bad place, though. It’s an interesting place. A fan has to pay attention.

Fortunately, the Red Sox aren’t on until tonight.

 

(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

 

Same Old Stories, Time After Time

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, June 1, 2017, 9:53 a.m.

On Sunday night (and into Monday morning), I sat in a box high above Charlotte Motor Speedway and wrote about the world’s longest stock car race.

By Monte Dutton

On Wednesday night, I sat on the front row of the Clinton High School gymnasium – officially, it’s known as the Clinton High School Gymnasium – and took notes on graduation. I almost wrote “commencement,” but, of course, it’s not, and graduation sounds so much better than “termination.” “Concluding” might work.

Here’s the story on graduation at golaurens.com.

What do a NASCAR race and a high school graduation have in common?

Nothing. I’ll strain, though.

While teams pull stock cars out on the grid, the Indianapolis 500 is on the video board.

In Concord, N.C., where the track named Charlotte actually is, lots of the kids – and being young enough to be a kid makes one as eligible to drive a race car as kick a football – were home-schooled in the liberal arts of reciting sponsors and talking points.

The racing was unruly, though not as much as some fans wanted.

The graduation was organized and civilized. At the beginning, the student body president, Ashi Smith, set some ground rules, and one of her points was that she didn’t want any uncouth parents ruining everything for their graduation. Mainly the parents behaved, but some could not restrain themselves from yelling something like “woot-woot” when their young’un’s name was called.

“Yeah, that’s my baby!”

“Sshhhhhhhhhhhh.”

“I’m awful sorry, y’all.”

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Back in Charlotte, in the wee hours after marathon racing, Kyle Busch had been so put out by having to settle for second place that he went all churlish, conducted a glowering media conference of six ever-loving words – “I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations” – and used his ability to transmit laser beams from his eyes to prevent anyone else from asking another question.

Had the manchild been in Clinton – and had more of a defense for the child part – the appropriate action would have been to have him write 100 times on the chalkboard:

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations. …

Except, of course, that I don’t think they actually make students write on the chalkboard after school anymore. They may not even have chalkboards, or if they have boards, they probably don’t have chalk. No one gets paddled, particularly not bare-assed.

I’m not going to be like others my age and bemoan the fact that kids don’t have to write on the board and be paddled. I wasn’t in favor of it when I was a kid. I’m glad they’ve gotten civilized.

Stock car racing? Not so much.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).