Queen of Soul

There is so much to love about these 5 minutes of Carole King being honored at the Kennedy Center: How Aretha Franklin comes out, inexplicably, in a full-length fur. Carole’s excitement at hearing Aretha play the opening chords to “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” The leader of the free world wiping his eyes. The mink drop. The audience on its feet, even mildly puzzled George Lucas. Carole’s continued giddiness. But the best thing is hearing Retha kill that song dead, and knowing why she’s the absolute Queen of Soul.


I had many ideas about how the observance of my half century was going to go down, but thanks to a Cool Hand Lukeian failure to communicate and external circumstances, none of those ideas came to fruition.

I did plan to bake myself an angel food cake, which to me always has said and always will say: birthday. And I was going to do it from scratch, a new thing for me.

I woke up on my natal day, padded down to the kitchen, and approached my carefully chosen recipe. There were 14 eggs to be separated. Flour to be sifted three times. Another sifting with the rest of the dry ingredients. Yet another sifting over the whipped egg whites. Maybe, after baking the exactly right amount of time, I could get it out of the pan in one piece. Then I would eat it all myself, because no one likes angel food cake as much as I do.

After deliberating at the kitchen counter for a few minutes, I said You know what? Fuck this cake, poured myself a glass of champagne, went back to bed, and read Blue Highways until I felt like doing something else. That is how my 50 started, and that’s how my 50 is going to be.


If one were driving through the tiny Missoura town of Tightwad (really) and happened to look at the grass lot beside the Soul’s Harbor Worship Center, one would see a large tent. The tent isn’t housing a revival, although that would not be an unreasonable guess. No, it is selling fireworks.

The vendor of these explosive and in many cities illegal wares is Osceola Assembly of God Fireworks (really).

I am not certain what Jesus would do here, but I hope it would be something besides his SOP of driving out the buyers and sellers and overturning the tables. Something’s liable to go boom.