Friday, March 27, 2009

A rainy day at the beach pt. 1

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 5:27 PM

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Six months ago Bobby Ubangi (B. Jay Womack) of local punk/garage rock/shit-fi bands the Gaye Blades and the Soft Spots was diagnosed with stage IV small cell lung cancer that had spread to his brain. The prognosis was terminal. Chemo and radiation treatments would slow down the cancer, but he was given a life expectancy of about six more months. The time came and went without incident, and when everything seemed to be working, Womack learned that the cancer had spread to his liver, and when that goes, he goes.

At the time he was initially diagnosed, I asked B. Jay if there was anything that he wanted to do; something that he had always wanted to but never had the time, and without hesitation he said, "I want to go to the beach."

Plans were made and put off a couple of times, but when the latest round of bad news came down the pike it seemed that a trip to the beach was in order sooner than later.

He chose Destin, a beach/fishing town in the Florida panhandle. Travis Flagel from Rob's House Records, and his girlfriend Analucia McGorty from the Busy Signals, rented a large gray Chevy SUV, drove down from Chicago and invited me along for the trip. We headed south on Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 a.m. sharp. The first order of business was a rendezvous with the Gentleman Jesse/Black Lips touring caravan in Ft. Walton. Both bands were on the road together en route from SXSW to Tallahassee.

We met on the beach, waded in the water, dodged a smattering of dead jelly fish on the beach and Cole from the Black Lips stripped to his underwear and went swimming.

The waves were huge and the air was cold. Bad weather was headed our way so we needed to get as much time in at the beach before some bad ass storms enveloped us.

The Gentleman Jesse/Black Lips vans soon headed east. Destin is no doubt a tourist destination. Every restaurant is named something like "Hog's Breath Cafe," or "Fudpuckers," and I'm not joking. All of the food there is fried and costs about twice as much as would cost anywhere else. This was to be our lifestyle for the next three days. B. Jay is on a strict regiment of medications, one of which is Xannax, so after the beach he konked out pretty quickly.

The next day was to be another early trip to the beach, but the Weather Channel's prediction for things to come looked ominous: flash flood and tornado warnings were streaming across the ticker on the TV and red warning flags were waving on the beach.

Read "A Rainy Day at the Beach, pt. 2."

(Photo by Armando Celentano)

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