Bryan Hanks turns 60 Part II: Electric Boogaloo

Bryan Hanks turns 60 Part II: Electric Boogaloo

If you read my previous column, you know Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks recently turned 60. This week we're going detail the multi-day, Mardi Gras-type celebration of that ensued.

Last Saturday the plan was for Hanks, Jonathan Massey and I to meet at my compound in Bucklesberry and head to Raleigh. Whereas Massey and I view our own birthdays just as any other day plus cake, Hanks birthdays are lavish affairs in the tradition of Liberace.

Therse's not a parade, half-time show or presidential inauguration that can hold a candle to a Bryan Hanks birthday extravaganza. For proof, check out this video of the 2018 59th Birthday Salute to Bryan Hanks at Grainger Stadium:

A squadron of drummers announces Bryan Hanks’ 59th birthday at Grainger Stadium in 2018.

Hanks, Massey and myself enjoy road trips, so the ride from La Grange to Raleigh was designed to be part of the celebration. Massey and I even went to the trouble of telling Hanks we wanted to leave at 10 a.m. to ensure he'd be there by 11 a.m. Some people see watches as tools; Hanks sees them as instruments of oppression.

Everyone agreed to the plan too easily, therefore I sat in wait of the moment a fly would crash into the ointment. As it happened, the fly landed the Wednesday before the trip. Hanks decided to go to a hockey game in Raleigh on Friday night, which made sense as he'd gone upwards of three minutes without attending a sporting event that week.

As noted by Jonathan Massey, however, with Hanks already being in Raleigh we'd be able to leave on time.

We met up with Hanks at King's Entertainment in Raleigh. It's a bowling alley/pool hall/restaurant with 15 televisions of sports going at all times - much like Hanks' rarely-occupied home. King's Entertainment gives off a vibe similar to that of Jack Rabbit Slim's in the film Pulp Fiction, although Hanks' traffic cone orange UVA/Nike hoodie was a bit like dropping a tin of tuna in a punch bowl.

Conditions were perfect for Hanks as the TV above our booth was showing my beloved Tar Heels being beaten like a rented mule by an un-ranked Louisville squad. Even though Hanks is a fan of Coach Roy Williams and likes many UNC players, he insists on rooting for the University of Virginia.

No one knows if Hanks’ UVA fandom springs from the fact that they were good for about 15 minutes during Ralph Sampson's tenure several decades ago, or maybe their orange outfits remind him of his summer as part of a North Wilkesboro chain gang, but his condition baffles clergy and clinicians alike.

I thought Hanks' glee at watching UNC flounder would be enough, but it wasn't. He asked our waiter if the television could be switched to the Virginia basketball game. Upon being asked, the waiter looked puzzled, but being someone who works for tips he quickly recovered and set out to change the channel.

It took two managers, a waiter and someone from the Army Corp of Engineers to find a network desperate enough for content to carry the Virginia game. After what felt like an eternity, the UVA game was located on the Al Jazeera network, otherwise known as 'The Voice of the Cavaliers'. 

It took about seven seconds for everyone in the the restaurant to erupt in disapproval of the channel change. Moans were moaned, expletives were bleated and the odd chair was busted.

"Wow, people at a North Carolina restaurant want to see the University of North Carolina basketball game," I said to Hanks. "What are the odds?"

After eating, we found a vacant ping-pong table. Massey and Hanks played while I chased down ping-pong balls sent into the atmosphere by Hanks' and Massey's flailing swings of the paddle.

One erratic swat by Hanks caused the ball to land on an adjacent bowling lane. I volunteered to retrieve it, forgetting that bowling lanes are slicker than boiled okra. Peggy Fleming had nothing on me as I slid around that boiling lane like a disoriented penguin looking for his car keys.

Apologies to Lionel Richie / video by Jon Dawson

From King's we went to a record store where Hanks bought a Who album (I have taught him something), and then to the Flying Saucer, where Hanks had some sort of quadruple chocolate thing topped with vanilla ice cream. I sipped ginger ale, while Massey ate what looked like a grenade-sized wad of jalapenos all at once.

The sweat pouring off Massey's brow caused flash flooding in the restaurant, thus we were asked to leave soon after the fire department arrived.

This was intended to be the final chapter in the saga of Bryan Hanks' 60th birthday, but I'm out of space and haven't even gotten to the two hours we were stranded on the side of the road or why BJ Murphy's dad tackled Hanks the following day. 

Please join us in this space next week for Bryan Hanks Birthday Part III: Return to Addressee.

Contact Jon Dawson at and

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