Noonan at Noon

Noonan at Noon: The Golden Bell Tolls For Thee


It’s been a tough couple of months.

The dark winter days of February, the ides of March, the interminable wait before Game of Thrones begins anew (winter has been coming for-f’ing-ever, has it not.) It’s enough to drive a fellow to drink the middle-shelf whiskey.

6 seasons. 6,593 plotlines. Too late to turn back now.

But to grow, one must face the pain of the past. So let’s recap, shall we?

March began with the passing of British prog rock pioneer Keith Emerson – a story which gained scant national press, but I feel worthy of mentioning here. Granted, there’s not much sexy in the ways of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, or Yes. Progressive rock is where an artist goes when they give in to every vain and vapid notion they may have, talented as they may be. But who among us has not blissed out to 21st Century Schizoid Man at 2am, or read the 10-page liner notes of Thick as a Brick after (accidentally) mistaking their roommate’s pan of brownies as a sign of generosity? Perhaps this ‘80s supergroup put it best:

It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.
It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Surely any man of the 19th hole can hold a certain level of respect for those musicians who take their talents to the logical extremes— even when those extremes might be a 14-minute keyboard solo in 11/9 time followed by a spoken tone poem. It is the witnessing of a master of his craft. Like watching Nicklaus win the Masters in ’86.

Hendrix + guitar = cool. Emerson + Hammond organ = cool?
Hendrix + guitar = cool. Emerson + Hammond organ = cool?

Unfortunately, on the scale of awesomeness, prog rock ranks somewhere between LARPing and ardent unicycling. Neither is going to win one many dates. In fact, if there were ever any dates to a prog rock concert, they were always last dates. And let’s go further – being in a band like Emerson Lake & Palmer is like being the top food scientist in your field. Other scientists no doubt appreciate and admire your work, but you’re not going to impress a lady at a bar by telling her you invented yellow dye #5, which just so happens to be in in the margarita mix she’s drinking right now and – hey, where are you going?

6 seasons. 6,593 plotlines. Too late to turn back now.
“I really need to stop the whole yellow dye #5 story…”

Then, THEN, as if April didn’t – as the kids say – suck enough, Merle Haggard got called up to join Heaven’s gospel choir. News of which sent yours truly straight down to the local watering hole for a glass of misery & gin. And make it a double. This leaves us here with only Guy, Kris, and our elder Austin godfather of whom I shall not even name for fear of reminding the good Lord that not all the greats have yet shuffled off the mortal stage. What more could be said of a man who lived so well, and so miserably, and wrote so many good songs about it all? Hag, we shall miss you.

I’ll just leave this here for you to play.
I’ll just leave this here for you to play.

America needed some good news. Last week the Masters looked poised to deliver. Now, let me pause right now and say two words.

Jordan Spieth.

Jordan Motherlovin’ Spieth.

My friends, I am not one usually given to extreme hyperbole but Spieth has the strength of a bear that has the strength of ten bears. He has the fortitude of Apollo Creed, the humility of the Pope, and the deft touch of…er, Keith Emerson? It’s fair to say that all of America was rooting for him. Going into Sunday, no doubt the clubhouse tailor was making plans to cut the green cloth to Spieth specifications once again.

And then. AND THEN. That blasted back nine on the Masters. Hole 12. Water. Quadruple bogey. Curse you, Golden Bell. Curse the swirling winds that mercilessly bat golf balls from the pin. Curse every one of your 155-yards of hell. Curse the golf gods that sent Mr. Spieth’s tee shot sploshing into the water.

Not even last year’s green jacket can hide the heartbreak.
Not even last year’s green jacket can hide the heartbreak.

Spieth handled the fall with a grace and courage that belies his 22 years on this planet. The win went to Danny Willett (a Brit, with admirable perseverance and the shared last name of a rye whiskey I enjoy. So at least there’s that.)

“There can be only one king on the throne of Augusta.”

Well, as they say, on the other side of every water hazard is a straight shot to the green. So despair not my fellow carriers of the Criquet banner. Spieth will no doubt return victorious. Merle will still sing forth from speakers everywhere (ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery slightly less so, but still.) Spring is coming, the sun is shining, and the 19th hole beckons us with open arms, not to mention freshly-made old fashioneds. Pick up your golf bag, crank up the music, and swing your lucky iron for the pin. There’s fine times ahead.

Sing me back home (and be the ball),