Number of miles driven today: 0
Total miles driven on road trip: 5,546
Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts? Dunkin' Donuts
Starbucks' record (# of days Starbucks was more common): 19-6-1
Dunkin' Donuts' record: 6-19-1
Cheapest gas I saw today: None. I barely left the hotel!
Number of states visited overall: 11
Number of red states visited overall (as of 2012 presidential election): 8 (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia)
Number of blue states visited overall: 3 (California, New Mexico, Florida)
Cougar social club that I never knew existed until today: The Red Hat Society
Number of child actor stars I drank with today: 1
One of the most unexpected surprises of the trip has been the people I've unwittingly stumbled upon as I go about tracking down these 14 ex-ballplayers. In Houston, I happened to sit next to a guy my age who happened to be the son of one of Mike Schmidt's college teammates and a former pro ballplayer himself, Bob Morgan. When knocking on doors in Vince Coleman's childhood neighborhood in Jacksonville, one of the men who answered happened to be the father of current Houston Texans nose guard Louis Nix.
And today, while nursing a drink called "Red Dawn" (no, it did not come in a Patrick Swayze tankard), the barback informed me that he had been part of a Broadway troupe with the kid from Kindergarten Cop. Yes, that kid. Mr. I-need-to-climb-this-tower-to-activate-my-lasers. The kid whose kindergarten class brought us one of the most unintentionally funny and frequently quoted lines in the history of cinema: "It's not a tum-ah!"
According to my barback friend, a shortish, floppy-haired white guy named Cory, the Kindergarten Cop kid was also a colossal dick.
Cory had the bright face of an ex-child star. He grew up in New York, and when his parents saw him reading at age 4 and demonstrating the ability to memorize anything, they steered him into acting. But Cory was always fonder of music, specializing in polka lessons. He relocated to Jacksonville to help his ailing grandfather, to work on his degree, and now, alas, to get me drunk.
I needed it. After two full days of stalking the ghost of Vince Coleman here in Jacksonville, I needed to cut loose a bit. None of my leads to get more info on Vincent Van Go had panned out, and my Hail Mary text message to Vince himself, including a photo of his childhood home that I snapped yesterday, had produced silence (and hopefully not a restraining order).
So I fired up Tinder to get some good nightlife recommendations (sure, if one of the girls happened to want to meet up that would be nice too, but more realistically, travel Tinder is helpful to get locals' advice on where to go out). To paraphrase the old Magic 8-Ball, "All signs pointed to Dos Gatos."
Dos Gatos is an understated-on-the-outside, dimly-lit-on-the-insde den of fun. In the front bar area, a hipsterish (thick black frame glasses, suspenders) Caucasian bartender with celebrity bartender aspirations named Cody slings potions alongside a sultry, tatted-up Asian girl named Brandi, with assists from the aforementioned Cory. (Despite the child actor theme of this post, no one has the last name Feldman as far as I can tell.) In the back, a dealer named Brandon who claims to have passed the law bar twice runs a blackjack table where you earn credits by buying drinks and play with fake money.
Seated at the bar next to me was a large, loquacious African-American woman named Tonya. We hit it off, talking about accents in the South (she's from New York) and her distaste for women's magazines. When she discovered that I was from the San Francisco area, the conversation took a salacious turn.
"Can I ask you something?" she started.
"I saw this documentary on PBS recently about San Francisco on the 1960s and all the free love and swinging that was going on, especially between men. Is it really like that out there?"
"Well," I said, "it does have one of the biggest gay populations in the country."
"Really?" she said. "Bigger than Atlanta?"
"Not sure," I replied, "but it's still a very thriving community. They have a street festival on Folsom Street where you'll see guys giving each other blow jobs out in the open and the cops are just hanging out sipping their coffee."
She pulled back in astonishment and giggled. "Wow!" she said. "That's hot."
Tonya went on to tell me how much she liked watching two guys get it on, "as long as they're big strong guys" she clarified. She introduced me to a whole genre of gay erotica written by women ("it has its own category on Amazon!" she tells me. "MM."), but ultimately seemed disappointed when I told her that I was straight and therefore didn't have any personal MM stories to recount.
It's funny how stereotypes around the country work. If I had said I was from Oakland (which is technically true), the sex conversation would probably have never come up.
We talked some about my trip, about my experiences with players so far, about my failed attempts with Vince Coleman. Eventually, we went to the back to join the blackjack fun where I lost a fake $200. It's amazing how much losing fake money still hurts.
Alexis glanced at her watch, yelped, and told me she had to get up at 6:30 for work. When I returned from the bathroom, she was gone.
I was alone again, with 14 showing against the dealer's 2.
I hit. And busted.
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One Pack. No Turning Back.
Day 27: Jacksonville, FL, 7.15.15