Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rudely Awakened.

So it's 8:25 this morning and, you know, I'm asleep. It's Saturday, after all.

And then suddenly, the place starts to rumble and I shoot out of my bed and try to look out through the blinds at what I'm sure is an approaching cloud of fall-out only to be blinded by the easter sun. Then for another 15 seconds it continues rumbling as I sat there hatching my plan. There's no other sound like that.

What was it?


A little heads up would have been nice.

Here's the story from the folks at the AJC:

"Atlanta landmark is no more"

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/30/06
The building known as 615 Peachtree Street was imploded at 8:25 a.m. today.

There was a series of loud explosions — 250 pounds' worth of a TNT derivitive — as the building took 20 seconds to turn into clouds of smoke.

The site will be replaced by a development of Cousins Properties called Fox Plaza. The first building to go up will be called the premiere. It will be 30 stories with 200 condominiums ranging in price from $300,000 to $1.5 million for the penthouse.

The demolition by D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. went off later than scheduled because authorities had to clear onlookers off the balconies on the Windsor, the condo building across Peachtree Street. People were perched on nearby rooftops, including Crawford Long Hospital, and crowds turned out on the street to witness the downfall of an Atlanta landmark.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Call to a Generation.

This is a speech I'm hoping to deliver real soon. Somewhere. I think we need it.

I’d like to begin by saying the next person who tries to get my vote by convincing me that they’re the only thing between me and oblivion is going to get punched in the face. And if you try to get my vote by telling me what’s wrong with the other guy? That’s at least good for a punch in the gut.

I'm so tired of trying to be nice about it that I’m giving it up. "Everyone has their opinions," I used to say. But not any more. Because that doesn't change the fact some opinions are just bad for business. If you don't agree with me, go on and go. It's probably for the best. But if you want to get on with the business of making this country a better place, join us.

Seriously, we’re old enough to do something about it now. I’m starting my campaign tomorrow. When will you start yours? When will you say, “I’m going to make the world a better place, starting with making my world a better place?"

Better breeds better.

So if it takes our parent's generation to wreck the country our grandparents made great, let it be us who saves it. If our parents can borrow us into a hole so deep our kids will be paying to get out of it, let it be us who saves it. If our parents can pollute our atmosphere such that our kids can’t breathe, let it be us who saves it.

If our parents can use yesterday’s weapons in a futile effort to "win" today’s wars, let it be us who saves it in the hope our kids don’t have to have wars.


Think about it. We all want the same things from our short little lives. Whether we live in Timbuktu, Khatmandu or Kalamazoo, we know our time here is limited. We would all just assume not spend our lives fearing for them. We all want peace and safety and lazy days in the park and Sunday papers and coffee and ice-cold martinis and dinner with friends and travel and seeing our families and the chance to tell Jennifer Connelly "it's over because Uma and I are getting married." And we want to do it without the fear of getting killed.

But we’re never going to do it all without the fear of getting killed until we stop the fear. And start spreading a little more hope. Here. There.


So unless we want to spend the rest of our lives under perpetual orange alerts, supposed foiled attacks (after all how can you prove something that didn’t happen was supposed to?) and dumping out lip balm and eye drops before we get on a plane and we still don't even know if the guy in 34G packed his suitcase full of explosives and perhaps connected out of an airport that doesn't screen checked bags and could send the whole thing spiraling down at the push of a cell phone button, let's drop that divisive crap and realize it’s doing no one any good. We are, quite literally, in the same boat.

Perhaps this is nothing more than a hearty "fuck you" to everyone in congress, Republicans and Democrats. Everyone who doesn't do anything except run for reelection and align themselves with the right people who are often the worst, most divisive people we have. Why should the most extreme people make decisions for the rest of us? Fuck them.

And to those politicians, I don't give a shit about your free lunch, private jet, overpaid life. I give a shit about mine and everyone else's who's tired of listening to you point fingers at each other because you're all clearly focused on your own futures, not ours. Do something. Be the public servants your jobs were designed to be.

Or lose in November. After all, we're not electing you to look pretty and make talk-show appearances. Or to run for president. Or sell fucking books. We're electing you to represent our hopes. We're electing you to represent our dreams. We're electing you to make our lives better than they were 4 or 6 years ago. And though it will be hard and require sacrifice, to make our kids' and their kids' lives better. Maybe even allow them to go outside from time to time without collapsing from funked up air.

I'm tired of being a country of nagging whiners who bitch at each other like some goddamn Survivor re-run. What happened to being hopeful? What happened to the optimism that came from knowing when we put our minds together there was nothing we couldn’t do, no reason to think tomorrow wouldn't be better than today? One might even say we had nothing to fear but fear itself.

What happened to the same hopeful people who were a light of hope for half a century starting with the Marshall Plan right on through the end of a bloodless cold war?

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Coo-coo-ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson.



That's all you can ever win.

You can’t win a "war on terror.” It would be easier to win a war on "lying" or "jealousy."

So let’s all stop acting like we live in the right half of the country and everyone else is wrong. Let’s stop acting like it’s someone else’s fault. As the kids say, whatev.

We all live in the same country. Last I checked, it’s called America.

And that’s our flag up there.

Good night. You’ve been great.

[hold for applause]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Overheard at the Braves game.

So the Braves game was a total blowout, 12-0, in favor of the Braves over the Mets. But again, the Mets will be playing next week so I can't think they were too upset about it.

Then after the game a comment was made in the bathroom about how the Braves smoked them. And then some guy said, "Yeah, wish we could have done it in August."

That guy?


"We?" I'm not even really a Braves fan. What got into me? I think the Mets got a shot to bring it all home. But I guess perhaps I was caught up in the moment.

It was, after all, a glorious night at the park. 70 degrees maybe. Almost chilly.

Reminds me of some games in a certain other ballpark where they've won 26 World Championships.

I think it's in the Bronx.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A couple of TV notes. And maybe some other stuff.

Two quick TV notes.

1. That Studio 60 show is incredible. It's like the West Wing for those of us who thought politics was too full of crooks and liars to be played by a bunch of talented, passionate people the way it was. It always made me sad because I wish our West Wing was filled by people who actually cared about Americans more than they do their own careers the way those actors did.

But Studio 60 is really smart and has some great commentary on how we allow our cutlural output on television to be dictated by a couple of zealot amateurs in places like Little Rock or Oklahoma City. Because a couple of right-wing crazies don't have the balls to change the channel or because they want television to raise their kids we can't have television that pushes boundaries? You had the kids, you're in charge of them. Not NBC. You don't want your kids exposed to something, don't let 'em watch it. Talking about family values doesn't cut it. You gotta walk that talk. Bitches.

Oh and the direction, camera work and choreography of the show are outstanding.

2. And hats off to Bill Clinton for not taking any crap from that hand-puppet, Chris Matthews. "Come on my show and talk about your Global Initiative—the only thing that seems to be getting anything done around here, especially in Africa—that gigantic continent south of Iraq." Oh right. That was until Ken Mehlman called him and made him throw that stupid "why didn't you kill Bin Laden" question at Clinton. Oh please.

5 years, 14 days. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing.

Let's talk about that. Bitch.

Did you know the Superdome is the largest enclosed sporting facility in the world? Well it is.

Sorry I fell off the bloggin' horse for a couple days. Crazy weekend even though I didn't do alot. But I did. Here, check it out.

Saturday was spent watching gobs of football with Justin at a place called "Stool Pigeons". Kind of a cool place with good windows unlike most sports bars that feel like midnight at noon. The Texas game was cut short by a nasty Austin thunderstorm. Of course the game continued but the satellite feed didn't make it. But we won so that's all good.

Then Jeff called and said he was going to see Jose Gonzalez at the Earl so off to the Earl it was. He was really cool if a little mellow and sitting down on a stage where most everyone can't see your head isn't the kind of thing to get the crowd whipped into a frenzy. But he did play that great song "Heartbeats" from the beautiful Sony "Balls" spot.

For that spot they really released 250,000 bouncy balls down a street in San Francisco and shot it beautifully. I'd like to put a few of those on my reel. Of course I'd have to go to the UK to do it it seems. Check it out.

Our Sunday morning soccer game was washed out by rain. Wish I'd known that before I got up there and suited up. But we kicked the ball around a bit and got some mild exercise so perhaps not a total wash.

There was an amazing shelf of clouds this morning on the way to work where literally the souther half of the sky was covered in clouds while the north side was beautiful blue and cool weather. I don't know if anyone else noticed but it was fantastic.

Then we had a conference call today with a remarkable director, an English fellow, who's shot gobs of stuff you'd know. Sorry to be so vague but these are touchy matters until we make a decision sometime late next week. But he called a bit later in the day to say he really liked the idea so if we want him, I think we could get him. I mean, to have this guy liking our work and telling us the bits he thought were great was massively exciting. We had a hard time focusing the rest of the day.

And I think some friends and I may take the company tickets to an utterly meaningless Braves game tomorrow versus the Mets. The Mets won the East by a mile, the Braves are booking tee times for next week.

Lastly, that Green Day/U2 opening to the Monday Night Football game in the Superdome was pretty cool. "Wake me up when September ends" is a wicked good song and the energy of that place coulda blown the roof right back off.

I'm so glad New Orleans and the league didn't desert the Superdome as it is the grandaddy of domes. You could fit the Astrodome inside it. The roof is 270 feet off the turf. Its roof is over 9 acres. Yes, I've taken the tour if you're wondering. And I've been to two games there. It is massive.

Glad the dome's back if not the entire city. But that's good for tourism I suppose.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A busted night.

So last night we went out for Justin's birthday. I'd been looking forward to it all week with dreams of shutting down MJQ surrounded by friends. Perhaps even going somewherre I haven't before. Who knows.

So last night we went early to the Righteous Room to meet Brendan and Kelly and a bunch of people for Brendan's birthday which was last night. It was fun. There were people there. People from work. Girls, even. Girls we knew. I don't know why we would have left.

But we just had to go to Hand in Hand. And it sucked. Hard. Same as it always does. Unless I mean you like a place full of a shitload of frat guys and c-rate girls. That place blows. Why ever go there, honestly? And then we just stood there and drank their flat beers and stared at all the cell-phone clipped-on-the-belt schmoes and their hair gel stumble around too drunk to walk. Good times.

I was home at one.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hey look, a dead horse!

My as well beat it.

So we went out for some celebratory beers last night (obvious recent successes and a pre-celebration for Justin's birthday today). A good time.

But that was all quickly dashed when this morning I casually drove out of my place and right into the worst traffic jam in the history of man. Apparently there was a jumper on the elevated decks of 85 so they shut the whole thing down. So I exited, I took Northside. I sat forever. Then I cut across Peachtree Battle and up Peachtree to the office.

Total time: one hour. A little over 7 miles. I got in a little before ten.


I could have let it go. Honestly. The weather is stellar, I'm in a good mood. But Atlanta don't play like that. She takes it up a notch this afternoon and clogs every road in the city. Every. Goddamn. Road. It was amazing. Highways, streets, sidestreets, alleys, you fucking name it.

Total time getting home: One hour, ten minutes.

We had a good run honey. But Atlanta, I'm leaving you as soon as possible. You're awful.

I'm dreading tomorrow. Already.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Well folks, we finally got the greenlight.

Roger that, it's a go.

So we're looking at directors and all that.

I think this is most gratifying because it's an idea I'm really proud of and something that reprensents me well. Especially after all those devastating losses on other assignments last spring (some of them just comically cruel).

It's so frikkin' macho.

Mystery object?

Apparently a "mystery object" has fallen off the space shuttle. Could be something valuable, could be nothing. You know what would be really cool is if they just brought that thing back to earth in one piece like as soon as possible.

Oh and now I've read a second piece has shed off. Sweet Jesus.

My life is literally riding on that thing.


Monday, September 18, 2006

A year of work.

Friday was my one year anniversary at at work.

I honestly couldn't remember if it was September or October in the hecticness and sleeplessness of last fall. Between the thoughts of "should I stay or should I go" and economic uncertainty of the whole oil/Katrina thing, it was very hard to get a read on where the economy was gonna go. In fact, save for a few exceptions, most of my other PC classmates didn't end up finding work until the new year. So that worked out.

But given the developments of late, I think I did make the right decision. Sure, there's been some brutal moments of wondering over the past year. We had some terrible strings of bad luck last spring. But Justin and I have had some nice successes over the course of the year.

Even if we did get shut out of CA this year.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm bringing macho back.

After our soccer match this morning (we won 8-1, although I was miraculously held scoreless) we went to lunch and watched a little football. After I demanded Kalen remove a plant from our table because I had deemed it "dusty as fuck", Alok, Kalen and I decided there's a word that needs to be brought back into the vernacular. That word?


I'm bringing it back.

It will be used in much the same way "cool" or "hot" or "sexy" is used. "Dude, check out this macho new shirt I bought." "Oh snap, that goal was macho!" " I like her alot, she's macho as hell." "This place is macho!"

You get the idea. And it will be fun. Give it a month or two and you'll hear it somewhere you never expected and you'll know where it got its start. Right here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Don't you mean football?

My friend Alok talked me into playing soccer on the work team. I guess there really is no hiding natural talent.

Shocking, I know.

Oh, and the first game?

Tomorrow morning.

So much for training. But I guess for the last few falls my friends and I have always played flag football so I'm up for it. I'm fast and have killer coordination but soccer takes alot more running than ours does. Hope I can hold out.

It's an 8-week season. This should be fun.

See you on the pitch.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Less Art. More Rock.

Aftet that stupid post about malls, I gotta cool it up a bit. So since I haven't stopped boring people talking about it in real life, I'll bore you good people. The new TV on the Radio album "Return to Cookie Mountain?"

In short, it's good.

Really good.

I've been a fan of theirs for a few years and have always loved their fuzzed-out freakiness. But I wouldn't exactly call their sound commercially viable or easily palatable. They were one of the few bands a few years back that really put the Brooklyn music scene on the map. And I don't mean the bands priced out the East Village. I mean real grit and art—like Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands...., etc. Unfortunately TV on the Radio's tunes always lent themselves more to the art side of the equation. They've now come around to making rock art, not just art rock. There's alot of exciting stuff happening in Brooklyn right now. It'd be cool to be back there.

Besides, how could a band that looks this cool ever make anything not amazing?

My hidden love affair with malls.

Not realy. In fact, I've never liked malls. Even as a teen I had no desire to hang out in them. I've merely tolerated them my whole life. I mean, alot of places I've lived that's all you got when it comes to buying clothes or whatever other reason I've ever been to the mall. Can't think of any right now.

Add to that I'm not what you'd call a slow walker or a meanderer. Not by a long shot. When I'm trying to get in and out of somewhere, I go. I think that's why malls and I have never seen eye-to-eye. Everyone aimlessly wandering at like zero miles-an-hour. I mean maybe other people truly have nothing else better to do. But I like to think I do.

And it so it came to pass that I ran over to Lenox Mall (which mercifully is right across the street from the ol' office) this evening for a little bout of shopping after work. A new pair of jeans and a shirt came out of it so it wasn't a total loss.

But I sometimes get so flustered at being in malls I run back out without buying anything. It's overwhelming. Teens, stragglers, profesional-shoppers, wanna-be gangsters, real gangsters, general suburban posers—it's too much to handle. Once here in Atlanta I went in the middle of the afternoon during the holidays to the mall and literally fought traffic to get to it and find a spot only to walk in the door and right back out. It was a zoo. I didn't go back for like a year.

Thank god tonight wasn't that bad. But after the mad success of a pair of jeans and a shirt I figured that was enough for the night.

Now all I need is some new shoes. No idea what kind I want.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Family Values. The Road Show!

Everyone loves to talk about the South and how friendly everyone is. I'm not so sure I'm totally buying it just now.

At least when they're driving.

Something goes horribly wrong once everyone is safely atop their SUV's and behind all those "support out troops" ribbons and "W—Still the president!" stickers. Those are my favorites. I mean, gloating is a good positive trait we want to instill in the next generation, right? That's a real "uniter", that one. Let's see a picture of one of those now!


But I digress.

So here's a couple of etiquette pointers for my good friends in the genteel ATL:

• When someone yields their lane to you (which of course they're under no obligation to do), letting you get in front of them, there's nothing wrong with a little wave. It's not even that hard. Yet no one does it. What's up? My mom will even mouth "thank you." She usually waves a couple times too and gives the "oops, sorry" shrug. But then again, she's not just talk. She really is nice.

• Despite the fact I drive a small German car with Texas plates, I don't remember putting a bumper sticker on her that says "Please get as close as you possibly can to my rear bumper. Seriously. In fact, if your car is mega-huge (and whose isn't, right?), see if you can get that sumbitch right up in my backseat. 'Cause I'm probably not gonna stop anytime soon. Probably. Maybe. Bonus points if it's a downpour and the roads are slick like grease." God help me if I did have that sticker 'cause that would be one less-than-catchy bumper sticker. Sales would be slow on that particular model.

• And this is neither here nor there but you might as well go ahead and get on the ol' cell phone. No one to call? Oh come on! There's got to be someone! Dialing, people! I want to see dialing! And none of that lame "hands-free" stuff some states require by law. Let's die the way WE want: talking!

So let's turn down the Rush, put down our bibles and the day's "talking points" and focus on doing unto others as we'd have them do unto us.

Feel like I read that somewhere.

Maybe I'm just too nice and crippling empathetic to hack it here.

Ya'll be good now. I'll see you out there in the morning.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thoughts on a rainy night.

I once read an article in the New Yorker about a guy who was blind and his experiences with the condition—none of that "it enhanced my other senses!" crap. It was deeper. One of the main things I remember about it was how he said that when it rained it gave him the unique experience to be able to make out a three dimensional mental picture of the world around him. By listening to the drops hitting objects around him he was able to see the fence, a patio table, the chairs surrounding it, the birdfeeder, plants, trees, the house itself, etc. It was fascinating to think of it that way.

So often when it rains, like it is tonight, I’ll go out and close my eyes and try to hear what I’m seeing. Of course I mostly know what’s around me but it is still an enlightening experience to try to see with your ears. I always say in the “blind or deaf” argument, I pick blind every time. I mean, music. Think about it.

Staying on the topic of blindness, I once read a story about a about a guy who was blind and was able to have his sight restored. I didn't know it was possible either. The surprising thing was how irritating sight was to him once he had it. Think about it. In our heads, everything is perfect. It's only once we see something that it either meets or exceeds our expectations. Or falls short.

His experience was that in his previous world there was no dust, there was no chipped paint or uneven picture frames. There were no unaligned remote controls, condensation rings or food splatters about the stovetop. Food did not suffer from color issues, trees did not have or not have leaves, and the grass was always green. Regardless of the season.

In essence, the world was seen as if it was a book and not the movie version we all live in day to day.

Think about that.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On, Part XI

Naturally, today's will be the last of these posts and then I swear I'll write more about fun stuff in the weeks to come to make up for it. This has been a more difficult project than I had anticipated. So I'm glad to be wrapping it up.

This last post is a letter my grandfather (Paw-Paw, we called him) sent me the next week after having read what I had written about it. Until now, he and I are the only two people who've ever read what he wrote. But there's a lot of wisdom in there.

He died during my last few months living in NYC in March of 2003 just before I moved home to Austin. That always made me sad that I just missed him. He was the coolest guy I've ever known.

The last thing I'll say about all this is I wouldn't be where I am today if not for everything that happened that day. I suppose I never had the drive or courage to do what I really wanted to do before it happened. In many ways I have a lot of natural talent and I can be good at lots of things—I could have been hundreds of things and made a decent living at it.

But it's another thing altogether to be good at something you love. That's what I want, what I've been working towards and hopefully what I've become.

I think I went to live in New York in May of 2000 for a reason. Perhaps a reason I didn't understand then. I think that the threat of losing my life that day forced me to make it a life worth living. And I like to think I've spent the five years since working diligently, at times doggedly so, towards that end.

And hopefully I'll never stop in that pursuit.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five Years On, Part X

On Wednesday the 12th, Sam and I woke up totally bleary-eyed from a largely sleepless night and honestly didn't know what to do. We knew there was a danger that whatever this was was not a one act play but we didn't know what to do. We didn't want to sit in front of the tv anymore for sure.

So we both went to work at like 10 or so. I think more than anything it was to regain some semblance of normalcy but I suppose it was a lot of confusion as to "well, what exactly is the protocol for the city when 3,000 people were killed down the street the day before." We rode the subway in that day and it was empty. The city was empty. We walked together down the street alone. I held her hand. After everything we had been through the day before with unconnected and disconnected calls I'm surprised we separated at all. But we did.

I mean, my three friends who used to work down there in the financial district all had made the move to midtown in the past year. I knew they were safe. I had talked to all of them the night before. Nothing expressly bad had even happened to us.

My office was empty. There was no work to be done. No one was anywhere in midtown. Besides, who would ever want to buy anything after what had happened? I figured the industry was dead.

So I sat down at my computer and for lack of a better idea of something to do, I just typed. This is what came out. No plan, no editing, no nothing. Now as a writer I look back at it and scrutinize it but it was written under such duress. I just typed. There was nothing else to do that day. I knew I had to do it. I don't even know why.

But as much as I want to re-type it now, here (photographed, even) are the exact two pages I printed out that day before cutting and pasting it into an email to send around to the country to everyone I knew in the hopes it would help them make sense of it. And help me. So much has changed since then but 24 hours on, this is where I was. You probably have to click on the images to be able to read them.

Just note that I make no mention of how Pat Kiernan on NY1 had given no indication of the severity of the crash and so that's why we even left home. Sam and I talked as we waited for the elevator and since she had lived in Jakarta and lots of other more dangerous places she speculated that it was a terrorist attack but we both never expexcted it to be what it was to become.

Nor do I mention my sobbing phone calls to my mom which I was certain were our last. Or the frantic calls to Sam telling her to get out immediately and where I would meet her and what to do if one of us didn't make it. Nor do I talk about the relief it was when she finally walked in her place that afternoon. Somehow the next day it was too soon to write about.

Page 1

Page 2

It's sad what this administration has done with that love of my country. That's all that I'll say about that. If all of America had been there those days following (including our president who didn't show up until Friday), they'd understand what we could have been. And how sad it is to see what we've become.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Five Years On, Part IX

On Monday night September 10, 2001, my friends Mike and Brian (whom I worked with) and I went to a Yankees game. We took the subway up there to watch them play the Red Sox in a September pennant race game. Sadly, it was a downpour and so we sat in our sweet-ass company seats watching this little lawnmower-vacuum thing try to suck up some water in the outfield. It was a futile effort and would have taken him days to suck it all up. They finally called the game before it ever started and announced it would be made up some time later in the season. I don't remember.

So we left and went to the Ships of Fools bar on 82nd and 2nd on the Upper East Side to watch a little Monday Night Football. I remember Ed McCaffrey broke his leg but not much else. I left sometime after midnight to go back home. I went to bed feeling pretty tipsy. The weather Tuesday was supposed to be the onset of fall weather. I want to say I even slept with the windows open that night. God it was so nice that next morning for the first 30 minutes or so.

I saved the ticket from that night and it is now framed and hangs on the wall beside my desk. It's a little reminder to me to not take today lightly. If you look closely beneath the right descender of the "K" in "Yankees" you'll notice a small hole. One day in my office in New York I was super pissed off after a meeting and came in and threw a pen—like sidearm, no direction in mind. It planted itself in the ticket which at the time was merely thumb-tacked on a little cork board beside my desk that mainly held pictures of Radiohead. Million to one shot. I was crushed. I was so upset I spent the rest of the day trying to smooth it out.

I'm glad I kept up with it, though. It's the last thing I did before it all changed.

Another curious note is that the frame it's in was one my grandmother gave me of a picture of her and my grandfather eating at Windows on the World during a trip to New York. She gave it to me on Thanksgiving of that year.

Here's the ticket itself.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Five Years On, Part VIII

A still from Ryan Adams' video shoot for "New York, New York" which took place on Friday 9/7/2001. Weird. That was pretty much the backdrop for the entire video. You can check out the whole video here:

When I see it now, it was kind of the last few carefree moments when New York was so much fun and seemed like the safest place in the world.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Five Years On, Part VII: Floating in space.

Enough of that sad bastard stuff. We're taking a break.

At least for the night.

Something big is afoot.

And trust me, I can loop this around to tie into the week’s theme.

Long story short, Justin and I have finally (after about three months of non-stop work) sold a spot.

That being said, it’s been the result of some of the hardest work I’ve ever put into anything. Routine 80-90-hour weeks. My life’s been nothing besides working at the office, driving to and from it (plenty of time to think there), then writing on the couch, and then occasionally a beer out somewhere. I get out now and then but it’s been brutal.

I have a little quote just below the screen on my computer that reads “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” And I believe that. Whether I’m the guy with the talent, I don’t know. But just to be safe, I go ahead and try to outwork him every day.

So all those nights spent staring into a laptop praying for genius have apparently been worth it. For now, at least. A lot can happen between now and February. We probably won’t shoot anything until later this fall some time but when we do, the resulting work will be sitting safely atop the Monday USA Today poll, no doubt.

Oh yeah, and how to tie it back around?

Well when my dream-job hunt was dashed that Tuesday morning it began the long process of soul-searching for what I wanted to do and what I was truly best at. And honestly, this is it. I can’t do anything else well.

Back in the fall of 2002 when I was quitting my job and hearing from everyone about how I was crazy, I told my old friend Marc who believed in me the honest reason I was quitting my job: it would never afford me the opportunity to sit in a room full of my friends on a Sunday in early February and watch my art be beamed to millions of people. Who knows, come February I may very well be doing just that.

Good out of the bad.

Then great out of the merely good.

That’s how I roll.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Five Years On, Part VI

A fun little tidbit few people know.

That summer of 2001, my girlfriend Sam and I had decided that going to business school to get MBA’s would be a smart thing to do. I mean. Cha-cha-ching, right?

Well, the truth is she decided it was a good thing to do and I thought she was the coolest chick in the world so I figured “whatever she thinks must be the right thing to do.” Sometimes I can be very easily swayed by girls I’m afraid. Especially one so smart she intimidated me.

We had talked it over one night in a pub in London while visiting her folks (along with how we’d be together forever, of course) and I thought “yes, getting an MBA is what I want to do!” Then I got back to the states late that August and signed up for a big-ass GMAT class even though I knew the Saturday classes were really gonna cut into my football watching. And I think I didn't really want to do it anyway.

I then of course lost my nerve the day before the first class started and on Friday September 7th decided I didn’t want to do that and went and dropped out. I told myself that instead I would put the effort that would have gone to studying and applying into looking for a cool-ass job. A dream job if you will.

Yes, that was my plan! Life, here I come!

I would start on Monday!

Tuesday morning I shelved that plan. No one on earth was hiring.

But you know, everything happens for a reason. And here I am.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Five Years On, Part V

A short one for a busy Tuesday.

My office in NYC was in an old building built in the 20’s so it had this great marble bathroom. Not big, just old school. Everything in it was marble or porcelain, nothing metal besides the faucets and pipes. It was great. But the craziest thing was it had a window. Not a large window or even a clear one (it had a pattern to it so you couldn’t see through it), but a window nonetheless. Crazy, right?

At any rate it was open most of the time if it wasn't cold and, being on the 30th floor and facing south, it afforded a fantastic view of not only the Empire State Building a few blocks south but the World Trade Center towers as well. So, with a little dexterity, one could turn around to take in the view whilst, you know, peeing. I actully found this picture online of pretty much the exact view from that window. I guess you really can find anything on the internet. The towers woukld have been right to the right of that black building in the center of the photograph.

I always loved that. It was so New York and one of those things that was one of the thousands of reasons I moved there. After the towers were gone we started leaving the window closed because it wasn’t something we wanted to be reminded of 3-4 times a day or whatever. But I missed seeing them.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Five Years On, Part IV

On September 5, 2001, I had to fly to Cincinnati to go scout out a location for a thing we were doing where a little kid (Alex I think was his name, cute kid) was going to get to play baseball with Ken Griffey, Jr. as part of a promotion we did. As we were only going for two days, we took the early flight out of LGA to try to make the most of it.

My car picked me up at some ungodly early hour at my apartment and we made our way to the airport across the Triboro Bridge. I didn’t normally get up at like 5 and so as we crossed the bridge I took my customary look back at Manhattan. I remember it being pretty lit up as usual but the World Trade Center towers were almost completely lit up. So much so you could make out the three service floors clearly. And then it hit me:

To me in many ways, those are our Statue of Liberty. Those are a visual representation of what makes this country great. They took hard work to build, they took hard work to work in. And the lights never went out. Those stood for every convenience store worker, every night watchman, every single person who is out there in the middle of the night saying “it’s time to go make the donuts.” Goddamn right it is. In many ways, as a young man fighting in Manhattan everyday, I saw those towers as a big finger to the world. Two fingers. I never thought it was a brazen thing but more a testament to the things that make this country great. A light of hope in much the same way the Statue of Liberty is. A post-war tribute to capitalism and the free-market economy.

Unfortunately, I suppose some other people saw them differently. Fuckers.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Five Years On, Part III

On September 1, 2001 I flew from NY to Austin to meet some friends at the first Texas game of the season against New Mexico State. While reading the in-flight magazine, I ran across an ad for Yahoo business or something that had a aerial shot of the financial district of lower Manhattan. The funny thing was, it was pre-World Trade Center. They’d been there for like 30 years! Why would Yahoo run an ad missing them. So I tore it out and I remember showing it to everyone when I got to the stadium that afternoon. I just thought it was weird. I never dreamed it would ever be reality.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Five Years On, Part II

I didn’t make it back to New York until September of 1997 when I was sent up there for some reason I honestly don’t even remember now. I think it was some meeting in Connecticut mixed with meetings in NYC. Who knows. But I flew up on Saturday September 14th of that year and met some friends in Little Italy for the San Genaro festival and rounded out Saturday night bitching about Texas getting smoked by UCLA that day 66-3 at home.

I had gone up by myself for that trip so on Sunday I was sitting in my hotel room and realized I had the day to go touring around. I remember walking around a bit earlier that day but there was one place I really wanted to go. That place was the World Trade Center.

Having not been clear about why I was going to the WTC, the cab dropped me off underneath that glass awning that one day would be shattered under the crash of falling bodies. I had actually been dropped off at the North Tower and ended up having to be pointed across the plaza to the tourist area that was the South Tower observation deck. I bought my ticket and waited patiently in line in that marvelous marble lobby before making my way through all the metal detectors, etc. In hindsight I now realize how much we don’t notice because we accept it as “well, it’ll always be there.” Little did I know.

I remember the express ride to the top of the tower being sickeningly fast. 107 floors in something like 45 seconds. Ears popping, throat clearing, the works. And people worked up there everyday! God, I was jealous.

So I popped out on 107 and took an obligatory look around and peered out some of those narrow windows before wondering “which way to the roof?” I ascended the stairs to the roof and emerged on top of the 110-story building onto the little open area observation area, recessed 10-15 feet from the edge. I remember walking around the little teeny ring, taking in the views of the city and the harbor, the sound of the nation’s largest city dampened to nothing at such a great height. It was impossibly tall. The sun was setting as I snapped a few pictures on that peaceful September evening. Those are the pictures posted here.

I took the elevator back down, marveled at the towers from street level for a bit and then took a cab back to my hotel.

My mom always says it shows the difference in our generations and that kids her age always wanted to go to the Empire State Building when they were young. I suppose I just wanted to go to the tall one. I never even went to the top of the Empire State Building until my friend Danny came to visit in late 2002. While it was nice, it would never be the same.

I never set foot in the towers again. I would never again visit their observation deck. I passed by them a few times when I was downtown and they were always my southern beacon when I was lost but I would never again be that close to them. I would never again see what I saw that afternoon, perched 111 stories above Manhattan. But I would live for a year and a half a couple of miles north of them. I could see them from my bedroom window. I could see them out of our office windows.

I suppose I figured I’d see them for the rest of my life. How could something that massive ever not be there?

I often think about what it must have sounded like hanging from one of those windows, waving a shirt in the hopes someone could get to you. It must have been frustrating. And I often wonder if the cool September air was any relief from what must have been awful conditions inside. I hope it wasn’t as bad as it is in my head.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Five Years On, Part I

As much for me as for anyone else, I thought I would take a look back for a few days leading up to the anniversary of what happened five years ago. Maybe try and make some sense out of everything that’s happened. Maybe shed some light on what’s led me to where I am. Or maybe just write a bit about all the things that zip through my head every five minutes or so, everyday.

Part I

I had never set foot in New York prior to March 15, 1997. Never even seen it from the air or an adjoining state. As a kid, we vacationed primarily in the American West and made it to DC a couple of times but that was it. My childhood friend Thomas had been and shown me pictures and told me about it but that was about it.

So that Saturday my job sent me there for some stuff, not least of which the Saint Patrick’s Day parade that would take place the following Monday as part of our work for Bailey’s Irish Crème. Naturally, I was ecstatic. It was actually my first business trip.

So as our plane from Dallas came in for its approach to Newark, it banked a bit this way and that the way planes do when navigating the god’s eye of NY air traffic. And then suddenly outside my window, like a sheet of concrete and steel laid atop the bristles of a hairbrush—spikes shooting up from seemingly every square inch of it—was the island of Manhattan. It was so dauntingly gray I was mesmerized. The buildings came into view one by one: Chrysler, Empire, Met Life, Woolworth—buildings I had dreamed about from a lifelong fascination with hi-rises. I'd been known to take jobs because they were on high floors. I hope to never work in the suburbs for that same reason. I love my job now because I'm on the 19th floor. I loved tall buildings and wanted nothing more than to work in one. In Dallas I worked on the paltry 15th floor of a 16 story building. That was a pimple compared to these.

And then as we made our way further south along the Hudson they finally came into view: there at the base of Manhattan, two spikes rising impossibly high above the rest. The World Trade Center.

That evening, after checking into our hotel and a quick trip to the Raccoon Lodge (where at once I fell in love with the city and just knew I would someday call it home), we all met for dinner at Odeon, the famous 80’s joint on West Broadway. It was dark by then and as I hopped from the cab, there soaring 110 stories above my head about 6 blocks down was the North Tower of the Trade Center. I’d never seen anything like it. It was the tallest building I’d ever seen. The light upon its antenna was indistinguishable from the stars, honestly.

I suppose part of me fell in love with those towers right then and there. They were always far more beautiful at night: a billion lights in seemingly as many offices that I envisioned were full of young men like myself trading Yen and Pounds and Francs and other currencies of places that were awake. Buildings full of people I didn’t know, people I would never meet but would one day come to know intimately as I read their stories day after day in The Times.

That night, staring up at them, it was and would have been impossible to envision what I'd come to see in a little less than five years time.

Sometimes having no idea what's going to happen is beautiful.