The Excitable Boy
Turns Over in
North Country Restaurant

By David Spiering

"Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best / Excitable boy they all said. — Warren Zevon

THE NORTH COUNTRY Jim Minks is the original excitable boy, spun like a corn beetle off Zevon's whirling marry-go-round disc. Minks hears in his head cadences of night freight trains going through the switch yard and Kerouac, making up a mixture of nuts, bolts, whiskey, crack and momentary wisdom's flash slashes, he tries to smear sesame-butter-like on peoples' palms. People don't take him well.

He sits in the Brown Bottle Bar, an empty plastic French fry basket sits on a restraining order his family placed on him, after a blow-up at family reunion dinner at The 01' Good Hunter Inn. The police held him over night.

For years Mr. Minks has been trying to establish himself as a recording artist. He played with many bands that almost made it. In one case, they had an Atlantic Records talent scout offer them a recording contract if they could come up with a dozen original songs. Minks told his band mates, "I'll get working." The others were so stunned; they quit the band, and found regular jobs. Minks sent the talent scout a tape of 15 songs, and he replied with a hesitant maybe. He formed another band. Their aspirations clashed like crossed lightning bolts.

Jim started puffing the smoldering ice-colored rock, squeezed up smack, danced long and often with maryjane. He smoked strong menthol self-rolled cigarettes, and pounded beer and whiskey he found himself strung-out like blood and lipstick screeds written on bed sheets clothes-pinned over curtainless windows.

He wasn't writing or playing music then; he felt like he was wasting away in a drug-nap. The only vibrations his guitar took were from upstairs neighbors' coughing sub woofer, the neighbors' day and day, night and day, day and night and night and late night, flying on sliver flecked crimson crystal meth wings. He's sleepless because of the noise, and that noise informed him he must change, and he come back from his dead man walking state, and re-started writing music.

Jim said he punched his Republican brother-in-law in the mouth.

"I shouldn't let an idiot like that get to me had too much to drink it's like the guy has emotional autism he wears a rug he has trouble thinking things through; thoughts don't link in chains that make sense to him. The staff got me down on the floor and called the police. My mother and my sisters cried they carry their husband's party lines like so many women have done. It makes me mad, and I want to break it up.

Jim works as a picker at a warehouse home improvement store. On the weekends, he plays music, records it, sells it at his shows, tries to get distributors to pick up his stuff. He tries to sell his stuff to song publishers. Because of his life plan, he doesn't have much money. He lives on beer, snickers bars, frozen pizza, and oven-ready chicken tenders he buys in 10-pound bags, reduced in price at a restaurant supply store.

He pours more red ale from the pitcher.

"Because of this thing (he touches the restraining order) I shouldn't be here my life has been a battle of shouldn'ts this America is a corporate Republican game greed and money go first the rest of us go to hell but I'm one who refuses to leave refuses to let them have their way this America is set up to destroy artists it's Plutonic in the way it has exiled "poets" from the republic. In a world one click better than this, I should be able to balance my art and my need to survive. My Republican siblings tell me to marry a rich girl."

He pours more red ale, and squirts catsup on an another happy hour priced load of fries.

"My family's very working class my siblings took seriously the notion of bettering themselves, in the process, they became horrible conservative Republican snobs they want to be Mrs. Astor and Mr. Rockefeller on 60 thousand bucks a years."

He washes down a mouthful of French fries with the sudsy ale.

"The punch in the mouth was about a lack of understanding they want me to conform to their way of thinking one them said to me if I had money I'd become a Republican "to protect it" I said, "I'm not as shallow as you are" I'm a black sheep; I'm, in effect, a motherless child I'm my own mother and father I steer the car where I want it to go but, it would be nice, sometimes, to be petted with genuine affection."