Loose ends

by Brian Clarey

Winter makes its last stand here in the Triad this week, and the kittens venture forth from my daughter’s bedroom. The wee furries are a good reminder that in spring, we are reborn — the world is new again, filled with wonders and curiosities we can’t even begin to imagine. There is much to see and much to learn, and it’s as good a time as any to clear out the cobwebs and tie up loose ends.

I finally gave up on the old lawnmower, handing it off unceremoniously to the neighbor’s landscaping crew. The mower, which has served me through eight seasons, is perhaps the best $150

I’ve ever spent, the second-cheapest on the line. I knew it was due to give out after a tubercular coughing spasm towards the end of last summer took most of the fight out of it. We’ve logged a lot of miles together, that mower and I, and I felt almost guilty doing the upgrade with a racy, red model that looks, I swear to God, like a Mustang. It’s a bit wider in the chassis, this new mower, with a larger cutting radius, and I’m looking forward to creating a new pattern on my lawn with it.

This could be the year, I’m thinking, that I finally get my yard in order — a task that should involve several weekends, at least four people and about a grand. But the late-season frost has done nothing to stem the crabgrass erupting at the fringes of my yard, and if I don’t wipe it out now it will encroach on my few bits of actual lawn for another year.

The cold weather this week will likely kill off the fruit trees this season, something that happens here every couple of years, but the garden will remain unaffected. This is because I haven’t touched the garden since last July, and the tangle of weeds it has become will only improve with that last, fatal frost.

I made it out to see Prince this weekend, part of the appreciative crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum. I’ll leave the music review to Ryan Snyder (see page 27), but I’ll say it was one of the more exciting shows I’ve seen in a while, and not just because of the performance, as inspiring and proficient as it was.

It was the kind of bona fide spectacle that brings people together — every color, every age, every income bracket — and engenders a

spirit of love that seeps through the community.

Think I’m reading too much into it? Consider the case of my friend Tim LaFollette, the Triad’s favorite ALS patient whose battle with the fatal disease has been chronicled by local filmmakers Blake Faucette and Andy Coon at All Aces Media ( and supported by the Often Awesome Army — a squad of volunteers who help Tim and his wife Kaylan and raise funds for awareness of the disease.

When word got out that Tim wanted to see Prince before… you know… a crew of people — some part of Tim’s circle, some not — swept into action. Tickets were secured, logistics mapped out, a secure viewing area demarcated. Tim, in his heavy-duty wheelchair/ life-support combo, saw Prince. Great seats, too.

It could not have happened without the generosity and efforts of the Often Awesome Army, YES! Weekly publisher Charles Womack and an incredible crew at the coliseum, particularly Guest Services Manager Doreen Lumpkin, a real champ.

“The coliseum is a facility for all guests,” she said, and worked to make that philosophy a reality.

My own relationship with reality becomes increasingly tenuous every spring, more so this year, I think, because of my various literary extracurriculars (plug alert: You can buy my book, The Anxious Hipster and Other Barflies I’ve Known, at my website,, or come on out to a reading), but also because of the day we celebrate with this issue: April Fool’s Day, a holiday I’ve been celebrating with vigor since I was a boy.

It’s proper, on or about April 1, to poke fun at reality and the people who cling to it, a time-honored tradition, particularly in the media, which has been responsible for April 1 hoaxes like spaghetti trees, the three-dollar coin, flying penguins and a free Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Greensboro’s Center City Park.

My warning to you: Beware this April Fool’s Day, because it’s likely someone is trying to punk you even as you read this column. And even if you get had, remember to laugh — at the circumstances, at yourself, at the general absurdity of life so evident this time of year. Who among us couldn’t use a good chuckle?

Me, I’ve got a house full of growing children, three brand-new kittens and a knack for attracting all that is ridiculous in life. I’ve been laughing for years.