Wednesday, January 31, 2007

An open letter to my readers

Remember at the end of Doogie Howser when he would sit down at his little computer and write what in hindsight was really a blog? Yeah?

Well that’s pretty much the same reason I write mine. Sometimes it’s to entertain you, sometimes it’s to entertain me, and sometimes it's just to get it out there. But most of all, it’s to write.

I’m a writer. My business cards may say “copywriter” but ultimately, I’m a writer. And in order to do the job I’m paid for, I have to write. More. My ad writing is better because I write about concerts or travel or funny stuff I see or the fat girl who lives above me. The two are inseperable as far as I see it.

And like any artist, I'm constantly striving to improve my craft. I’ve always found the more I write, the better I get. It’s as simple as that. And while these pages may not always turn out to be gold, they force me to write. Something. Every day. Good, bad or whatever, I'm writing something every day that makes me happy. And hopefully makes me better as a writer.

Which brings me to the point of this whole rambling thing.

When I opened this thing up a couple of years ago and got serious about it six months or so ago, I never gave much thought to who would read it. Honestly, there were two people who inspired me to begin doing it because what they were writing and creating was entertaining me and inspiring me and so I took the leap too. Thanks, Dave and Tania.

Then a few hundred posts in I began to realize people are reading it. Lots of them. And a lot of people I know don’t even know I'm writing it. So what to do about that? I always just figured it would grow organically. But in the past couple of days, I cut some new people into the loop. And I understand some other people have found their way here. So welcome. All of you.

But at the end of the day, what you’re reading is simply one man’s writing exercise. There is no agenda, no intention, and no desire to create anything more than simply a writing outlet. So enjoy it.

Or don’t.

Much in the same way I treat Nickelback’s music, if you don’t want to listen you don’t have to.

And, much like I'm sure the members of Nickelback frequently feel, I'm happy to have any fans I can get.

Cheers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm for dogs

I'm always talking abut how I'd love to have a dog. The sad truth is, I'm just not home enough to feel it would be fair to the little guy. That's the truth! Everyone assures me that's not the case and dog's don't care, but it's a big responsibility. Soon, but not right now, I think.

Then tonight I see this spot on the ol' telly.

Yeah. I know.

Oh, and that cute little fella that pops his head up next to the one that looks like him! And his eyes! Lord have mercy. I mean, I've seen some ASPCA ads but this one. Wow.

My whole life I wondered why ads never truly captured our relationship with our dogs. I mean dogs chasing chuckwagons was cute and all but it doesn't really get down to the true and remarkaqbly deep emotion of the human-dog relationship, does it?

The whole "Dogs rule" campaign does it so well. Really well written, great type, great music choice, and I think Duchovny is the total right choice for the voiceover.

Ads like these just make the other ads around them look irrelevant.

And that to me is kinda the goal of what it is we do.

Bark, bark.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Dreamer in my Dreams

Tonight was the big Jeff Tweedy show. And it was outstanding. I thought I was too tired to do it, but I'm gonna go ahead bore you all with my Wilco story before coming around to tonight. It'll put the importance of tonight in perspective.

So here goes.

I got into Wilco a little late. I missed A.M. so it wasn't until I bought the stunningly good "Being There." Then I didn't see them until the "Summerteeth" tour during the summer of '99, in support of one of my favorite albums of all time. It was at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas. The show was one of those knock-down, drag out shows where like half the people have left but the band is still playing. Tweedy broke his guitar during the end of "Misunderstood" when, in a fit, he threw himself into the crowd. And I remember them closing with "Casino Queen" and then my staying up half the night talking about the show.

I was so taken by them I flew from Dallas to Austin on a weeknight two days later to see them tape an Austin City Limits taping. I was smitten. I don't think I've missed them since.

Fortunately, they seemed to play NYC a couple of times a year, usually for two nights each. I went to all of them. I saw them so much, David Fricke (the senior editor of Rolling Stone) and began exchanging hellos as he never missed them either. In fact I saw Wilco once by myself in October of 2001 at Town Hall in NY and sat next to he and Anthony DeCurtis— basically the two most important guys at Rolling Stone aside from Jann Wenner. Rabid music fans, to say the least. David and I ended up sharing a subway ride home and talked about how we thought "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was genius (it wasn't out yet but had been what they were calling "streaming" for a while. That was newfangled technology in those days.)

But in all that time, I've never seen Jeff Tweedy by himself. No idea why. It's a totally different experience seeing the songs all stripped down. I think maybe I almost cried like twice. The guy's amazing.

He came out with very little fanfare and ripped through a couple of songs before settling in and beginning to tell some jokes and chat it up with the crowd. A few of the standouts were a absolutely flooring version of "Remember the Mountain Bed" and "Hesistating Beauty" from Mermaid Avenue. "Via Chicago" and "Shot in the Arm" from Summerteeth. "I am trying to break your heart", "Jesus, etc." and "I'm the man who loves you" from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And the beautiful "The Lonely 1" and "Someone Else's Song" from Being There.

He did several songs sans PA which was great if a little hard to hear in the vastness of the Tabernacle. He wrapped up the show with "Dreamer in My Dreams" (no PA), "Passenger Side" from way back on A.M., and lastly "Acuff Rose" (no PA) from even further back in his Uncle Tupelo days.

The only disappointment was not seeing "Sunken Treasure" or "Not for the Season." But it was still great.

I took a picture of the ceiling.

I took a picture of the balconies.

I took a picture of Jeff.

I took another picture that came out all whacked but kinda interesting.

The whole show was on its way to being downright transcendental unil Drunky McFuckstein got a few beers in him and started singing along loudly between sips of beer and spilling it on the floor. And of course, he was so drunk he kept screwing up the words which was awesome. Being probably the closest to him, I took it upon myself to tell him a couple of times "dude, seriously, pipe it down." It didn't seem to do too much good. Despite the fact I knew it would totally kill with the folks in section 103, I tabled the idea of telling him "dude, American Idol's not 'til tomorrow night so shut up." for fear he might lash out at me. Probably dangerously.

But I did hunt down that bastard afterward and took a point blank range picture of the side of his head.


"There on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life's reason why
The people laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die."

Stellar.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

You gotta be kidding me

Last night's drinks had me running a little slow this morning. So I threw on some clothes and the Crocs and thought I'd run out to get a bite to eat. Only to find this:

Yeah, apparently that little warning light wasn't lying. One month to the day and whammo, a flat tire. Awesome. On a Sunday when there's nothing I can do about it. Every place even remotely close to me was closed.

So I went back upstairs and changed clothes to begin the unpleasant task of changing it. Fortunately, as mentioned on these pages before, changing the VW tire is a remarkably easy task. Aside from the requisite grit and grime of the tire. Ten minutes later, and wha-la!

Thank god it has a full-size spare but it's still ugly and you're not supposed to not drive fast on it. Curiously, it's a Pirelli. Fancy. I'll get it fixed tomorrow. I'm sure a little plug job will do the trick.

Lastly, I was able to hook up a Jeff Tweedy ticket from a super-cool guy on Craigslist. Only $30! His only stipulation was that I not mind sitting with some hardcore Wilco fans. So it should be fun.

A thousand different versions of yourself

Friday night we left work only to make it downstairs to Emeril's (it's the restaurant off the lobby of our office and while I've never eaten there appears to be quite nice despite the massive like 8 foot tall canvas of the man himself. Bam, indeed. And not in a good way.) The next thing I knew I had spent the entire evening in Buckhead. The thing was that it wasn't horrible. A lot of it had to do with some serendipitous music happenings. Over the course of the night I heard The Stone's "Loving Cup", "Emotional Rescue", and "Jigsaw Puzzle" as well as Widespread's "Ain't Life Grand." I mean, music like that could make a Promise Keeper's convention tolerable. Well, maybe not. But you get the point.

Then the weather yesterday was fantastic. So I shot up to the mountains again. Or at least the woods of Red Top Mountain State Park. I made sure to bring the ol' iPod this time so had a chance to listen to all the new music I've been clogging these pages talking about. The last thing I'll say is The Shin's "Black Wave" is a great song to put on if you find yourself in the woods or the park or whatever. And, of course, I took some pics.


Apparently the lake is dramatically low.

And I thought this was interesting and a great way to spend Saturday afternoon.


And while the seat warmers have been great this winter my car has a tire pressure warning light that's getting on my nerves. It came on Friday night, I went by yesterday and checked/filled all the tires yesterday, the light went off and then it came back on last night. I mean, what, are they supposed to always be perfectly 30 PSI?

Typical Germans. Mein carmph.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Queen

I swear this blog won’t turn into some kind of indie music fanzine but, like I said, a lot of good music is flowing down and so I gotta talk about it. I mean, you could have the unfortunate luck to be with me in person and get to listen to me go on and on about it non-stop!

At ant rate, while we were sleeping a little band put themselves together over in dear England. A few guys named Damon Albarn (Blur frontman/Gorillaz creator/Mali Music curator), Simon Tong (former Verve guitarist), Paul Simonon (The Clash bassist!) and Tony Allen (the famous Afrobeat drummer) got together and call themselves The Good, The Bad and The Queen.

The album is a tad on the dark side but it’s shockingly good. Then again, with a name like that, you’re not setting out to ingratiate yourself to the Windsors, are you?

This is the first song from it, “History Song.”

In many ways, I think he's picking up the torch that the late Joe Strummer left. I mean, it’s no easy feat to make protest sound so good. The Clash made a career of it. And oh, Simonon, still with that heavy handed reggae-beat bass. So good. You could draw a straight line to his masterwork, "The Guns of Brixton."

"It's eighties life
But it all looks good on you

Suddenly police run out
And hope is found in a sound

'Cause I don't want to live a war
That's got no end in our time."

Nice, right?

And, of course, bonus points for the top hat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Because you had to know that I was fond of you. Fond of Y-O-U.

The new Shins record came out yesterday and for my money, it’s pretty doggone good. Really good. I had read a bunch of reviews that whined things like it’s not “Chutes too Narrow” and “Oh, Inverted World" or whatever. Indie geeks.

Wait? What’s that? It’s different? A NEW Album?

Yeah, well it’s also really good. Third albums very frequently involve a stretch. “Ok Computer”, “Summer Teeth”, “The Boy with the Arab Strap.” A stretch that usually takes the band somewhere new.

I think “Turn on Me”, “Phantom Limb" and “Split Needles” are right up there with “Caring is Creepy”, “New Slang”, “Gone for Good” and “Kissing the Lipless” in terms of my favorite Shins’ songs. Already.

Yeah it's different, but in the “my neighborhood’s going to the crackheads and I’m afraid for my life since they all think I’m a snitch and meanwhile I’m trying to write a follow-up to two massively well-received records and a shout out in a generation-defining movie.” Apparently that's the story behind James Mercer's time spent writing it. Listen to "Sleeping Lessons" through that filter.

So yeah, there may be a darker side to it. But it’s beautiful.

Truth is, pretty much everything sounds great to me right now. And the Shins have always been in my little stratosphere of can-do-no-wrongs. Great pop songs. Nothing more.

Best of all, this is really just the first release in a spring that I hope totally reshapes my musical world. A perfect storm of new music, if you will. There are so many good albums coming it’s sick. The Good, the Bad and the Queen's album (Damon Albarn's new project) came out yesterday too but I've not bought it yet. I hear it's wicked good. Damon also lives in that little stratoshpere.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My State of the Union

Despite the fact I was somewhat impressed with Bush’s speech tonight (he actually mentioned Darfur, AIDS in Africa even if his idea is abstinence preaching (be realistic), the staggering deficit, alternative fuels, and the fact that global climate change is a problem even if he stopped short of drawing the connection between our excessive use of fossil fuels and that change) it wasn't enough. I don't have time to get into the economic smoke and mirrors show or that Iraq disaster. Another day, another post.

But, given the occasion, here is a little speech I would have given. Most importantly, they’d have never seen it coming. Or Barack Obama could give it. I like that guy alot.

[Pause for the no doubt extensive applause as I arrive]

Thank you so much.

Way back in 1630, long before these United States of America, as the Plymouth Bay Colony was struggling for survival, a man named William Bradford said, “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.”

Fortunately for every one of us here today, the people of that young Plymouth Bay Colony rose up to meet that challenge. If not for them, none of us today would be here—not in this way, not in this place and certainly not without their courage and countless sacrifices.

Today, history is calling our generation to rise up and meet a new challenge.

This challenge is not a matter of pride. It is not a matter of contention. It is not a matter of life and death.

In fact, it is far more important.

The generations who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, the first wave of nuclear power, the first wave of space exploration, the continuing wave of computer and wireless technology, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of energy exploration. We don’t mean to merely be a part of it. We mean to lead it.

For that reason we, as Americans and as stewards of this Earth, choose to find a clean, carbon emissions-free, portable and renewable energy source. To power our cars, our buses, our trucks, our trains, our lives.

And we choose to do so within the next ten years. And yes, it will come at oil's expense. Because time, my friends, is no longer on our side.

We can no longer afford to support those whose aim it is to destroy us by buying fuel that when burned will do just that. It is unconscionable to continue doing so. And so we will solve it.

No longer can we afford to transport our children in oversized vehicles in the name of safety while those very same vehicles poison the air they breathe. And so we will solve it.

No longer can we afford to sit idly by as our planet continues a precipitous decline into imbalance. Its rhythms, its seasons, its health in turmoil. And so we will solve it.

No longer can we continue to convince ourselves that our actions do not have ramifications or that someone else is causing the problem. We are causing the problem. And so we will solve it.

No longer can we afford to borrow against the lives of our children, their children, and all future generations. There can be no stronger act of love than leaving them this Earth better than when it was left to us.

Therefore, we choose to find a viable, renewable, clean energy source. And so we will.

To quote the great John F. Kennedy, we choose to do so not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and to measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win. Our very lives depend on it.

No single project in our lifetimes will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range survival of not only our species, but all species great and small. And none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

History, my fellow Americans, is calling. History, my fellow Americans, will judge us. And history, my friends, will not look kindly on us should we fail.

This is the same nation that defeated the forces of global tyranny in just four short years. This is the same nation that put a man on the moon in under ten. This is the nation that gave the world jazz, blues and rock and roll.

There is nothing we cannot do.

History is calling us. Let our generation answer it.

Thank you. And God Bless America.

[hold for the incessant raucous applause/curtain calls, etc. as the chamber and country goes totally ape]

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why we fight

I try not to recommend every movie I watch and like but sometimes I see something I can't not talk about. On Saturday I watched a documentary I'd meant to see last spring but never got around to. Tto say it was eye-opening would be one of the greatest understatements ever made. The movie?

"Why We Fight."

In short, it documents not only this current war but almost all of the wars since the second World War and how with the military machine we've built up, we can expect to see more of them. Lots more.

Nothing could be more upsetting.

Below is a little tralier clip of it. I highly recommend it.

I suppose I've always been a pacifist. How it can be illegal to kill someone let alone punch someone if they're an American but totally accpeptable (even endorsed and encouraged by so-called Christians) to kill those who are not in the name of these United States will never make sense to me. If there is a reluctance by our French and British counterparts to enter into war it can only be because many people who live there have seen the effects close up. These shores have never known invasion or occupation in our life times. Few people aside from soldiers were in Pearl Harbor that December morning.

If as New Yorkers we stood up and decried the race to war, it was because the memory of September 11 was too fresh in our minds to imagine inflicting that misery on another people. We're supposed to be a light of hope. We are failing our forefathers.

In reading the news today and for the last four years, I can't help but think the damge we are doing to a generation of Iraqis who live their own September 11 everyday. When I was last in New York for that radio session somehow September 11 came up and we all talked about where we were and how its memory was still fresh in our minds over five years later. What must it be like to know every time you go to the market you might be blown up. I'm not saying things were perfect before in Iraq but at the very least, they weren't expressly the fault of the United States of America.

I often think our generation, with our technological advances and readily available access to travel and living abroad, might be the first in history to see that even through our differences people are people no matter where they live or what they may believe in. We cannot kill them because we think they are wrong and somehow God has deemed us right. Sure there will always be bad people but that doesn't mean we can't be good. In our hearts, in our minds and, most importantly, in our actions.

We cannot wrap ourselves in the values upon which this country was founded if we don't live out those values. It cannot be simply lip service.

We can be better.

We can start today. If not, when?

We're not here long enough to live like this.

It’s blurry even without light

Ever have one of those nights where your mind decides to go ahead and contemplate your entire future for you? I had one of those last night. It’s been years since that’s happened to me.

Oh sure, you can try to put it out of your head. But that’s not happening.

The next thing you know you’ve been flopping around like a docked fish for the last two hours. It’s frikkin’ 2:30 in the morning but instead of sleeping I’m playing out in my head how I’d move to another city. Would I sell my stuff and move in my car or do I U-haul it and tow my car or do I pay someone to move it? Hell, I don’t even have that much stuff so it wouldn’t make sense to pay thousands of dollars to move stuff that’s probably not worth that much. I’d probably take all my electronics and stuff in my car anyway. That just leaves clothes, some climbing gear, kitchen stuff and furniture. How did the Patriots lose? Why would you ever build a dome? A company would pay for the move anyway. Meanwhile, and what feels like simultaneously, I’m going over a list of people I need to call this week, people I need to mail stuff to and all the while imagining phone calls I might be missing because my phone is somewhere in the mail. Would I even work on a car account? Where is the Sprint account gonna go now that they’ve left Chiat NY? Who could even take it without it being a conflict? Why do I have so much stuff anyway? I need to give some stuff to charity. Where is one around here? I need to clean some stuff out. For some reason, the heat seems really warm tonight. I get up and turn it down. The sheet is now twisted up like a vineyard vine. I think my comforter is sideways. I turn diagonal to maximize coverage. I’m planning a backpacking trip, I’m thinking about Europe, or maybe it’s Asia, or maybe I’m wondering why I’ve never been to Hawaii. I saw some pictures in Rolling Stone of a lot of rock stars who’ve been there. Now it’s getting cold. I think it’s like 5. What's that song "You Legs Grow" even about? How can your legs grow? But I really like it. I don’t even know if I’ve been to sleep. Do trees sleep? How do they suck all that water up to their tops—especially like redwoods? Wait, what’s that noise? Is Big Mama getting up? I put in my ear plugs. Maybe my own heartbeat will help put me to sleep. Man, what if we were shooting that spot this week? Where would I be right now? Is it warm there? I bet it’s not raining. I wish I was there. That radio I wrote blows. I’ll go in early and fix it. Who schedules a 9:30 meeting on a Monday morning, anyway? Nazis, that’s who. I need to pick up my license plate this week. I’ll do that Tuesday morning. The alarm goes off. It’s 8 o’clock. Time to get up. Did I make coffee?

Sucktastic.

What the hell happened?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Helpless

Remember that new phone I mentioned? Well apparently it's been activated. I realized this yesterday evening when about 7 I thought "I can't believe no one's called me all day. What's up?" I picked up the block that is my current phone only to realize she's not making calls. My account's already been transferred to a phone in a box on a sorting facility belt in Memphis or wherever FedEx has it.

The scary thing is how helpless I became. Immediately.

I don't have a home phone. I don't know my neighbors. Don't really want to. So that was right out as an option. I needed a payphone. But when's the last time you saw a payphone anywhere? I gave a woman a dollar at the Whole Foods recently (she seemed to be truly in a pinch) and I remember she asked me if there was a payphone nearby. I remember thinking "lord, do they still have those?"

Surely there's one somewhere.

So I grabbed a fistful of quarters and left the house. To find a payphone. To find out what I've been missing. So I head north knowing that while there probably is a phone in cracktown it's probably broken/stolen/covered in something and you just know "white boy with pocketful of change" would be too tempting to not constantly harass with "hey man, I need to get some food" or "my wife's pregnant and we need to catch the bus". I wasn't in the mood for any spontaneous charitable donations.

Piedmont, 10th st., Midtown arts plaza, Virginia Highlands—there are no phones anywhere. Traffic is crazy bad. I have no idea why but I'm borderline paniced. WTF?

I finally find a phone at Buddy's on North and N. Highland (rule of thumb: where there are hipsters there are payphones). It is literally at the corner and I know everyone is looking at me like "dude, get a cell phone!" I make a point to hold my cell phone (which at this point is nothing more than a glorified phone book) in my other hand. A payphone call costs $.50 now. I'm shocked. I call Justin who tells me he's going to watch some hockey—and thank god he answered too 'cause I was thinking "dude, no one's gonna answer 'cause you're calling from some sketch phone number". I say I'll meet him there in hopes I could use his phone to make some calls. I make one other call to my phone's voicemail. I don't know how to access my messsages. I still don't.

I suppose that's one of the dangers of being too responsible. I don't lose my cell phone, or leave it at a friend's house, or misplace it in bars/restaurants/buses/subways/taxis. So I'm not accustomed to living without it. That's just not something I do. To give you an idea of how often I lose things, I have on my keychain the key to our house in Austin that I was given the day we moved into it in 1984. That's just how I roll. Mental checklists.

So I'm helpless until tomorrow or Tuesday.

Come on, little buddy. I need you to get here. Fast.

I'll be checking email until then.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I can rock a house party at the drop of a hat

Last night, Jeff Bell and Justin and I went to a house party. Whose party you ask? No idea. A friend of a friend of a friend of Jeff's. We were assured it wouldn't matter. It didn't.

We met up at the Earl (again) and then walked over to the party which was not too far away. Let me set the scene.

The house is completely without furniture, save for a few sad pieces here and there. The air is thick (and I mean chokingly) with weed smoke. A DJ is spinning on a little balcony-like space overlooking the living room. The bar between the kitchen and the living room is, in fact, a bar. Full service, with tip jars even. Only it's free. I'm thinking to myself "how could this whole thing be more illegal?" It's like that scene from Garden State.

We notice some people heading through a narrow door and down somewhere. We go too.

And down into the basement. A fully-finished basement, you say? Oh no, this thing is like a storage space. A storage space where a band is rocking it out at full volume. We're ducking under air ducts and weedeaters. The place has got a nice gasoline aroma kicking from the assorted lawnmowing devices we're stepping around and over. There's a beat-up recliner on its side. Two people are sitting on it nonetheless. There seem to be a large amount of power cords to negotitate. It's twice as smoky as upstairs was. All the black guys are downing blunts like they're going out of style. They're even smoking out the bass player who is now in the crowd. I'm dodging the neck of his guitar which is flailing near my face space. The floors are nothing more than sheets of plywood laid atop wood beams. They are flexing violently up and down under the weight of the maybe 80 people down there. Jeff assures me we won't far fall when they go. I try to locate the beams and stand on them. All the while I'm thinking "Great White, Rhode Island, 2003." There's a basement window behind the band. I keep my eye on it. The soundboard beside the band is bouncing off the floor as the crowd is jumping in unsion. The band is surprisingly fun and wraps up their set with a fuzzed-out version of "Paint it Black." It rocks. I like them. The guitar player is like 300 pounds and has pigtails and no shoes on and is playing a Gibson SG. There's a fire ouside the window. A bonfire. I say we go check it out. The fire is shooting sparks everywhere. Dangerously. I notice they're burning scrap lumber, not firewood. Pressurized. Treated. You know, it burns a little different. But it was cold so we hang around a bit and dodge sparks and make Michael Jackson Pepsi ad jokes.

I'm so pissed off I didn't bring my camera I can hardly stand it. It was after two and alot of weirdos began showing up. So I split.

However, I did buy dope-ass new phone yesterday and it should be here in the next couple of days as I bought it online (the only way to go, by the way, and you don't have to go in those god-awful stores). And it has a camera, so next time I'll catch it all. I know, I'm slowly joining this century. Pictures of said phone forthcoming.

This morning I went for an extended bike ride out the Path trail to Decatur. A little chilly but loads of fun.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sunken Treasure

On the heels of this morning's negativity and a week spent discussing crap music, here’s a little positivity. And some sweet tunes to boot.

Many of you probably know I think Jeff Tweedy is god. He and Ryan Adams and Isaac Brock kind of round out my top three favorite songwriters. In a desperate attempt to find a ticket to his solo show here next week I ran across some clips I couldn’t not share.

First off is a cool little one-minute trailer from a movie documenting his solo tour through the Pacific Northwest last summer.



Second is a clip of him performing “The thanks I get” from the same tour. It’s not gonna be on the upcoming Wilco record but even if was it would no doubt be covered in fuzz and feedback. I like it like this.



I love how when someone yells out “rock and roll!” Tweedy just gives a little “yep.” I’ll write more about my Wilco obsession some other time.

Hopped up on coffee and the donuts are dunkin’...

....Friday night and Jamaica-Queens funkin’.

So last night I got talked into meeting a few folks at the East Side Lounge for a few beers. I then somehow got talked into going to a hip-hop show at the Earl. I had missed some hip-hop open mic night at the Apache Café on Tuesday and everyone has made it abundantly and repeatedly clear to me how awwwwwwsome it was. So I figured I should muscle up and see this one.

Besides, this had a few things going for it: it was supposed to be more De La Soul/Roots-y than that crunk trash and it was at the Earl. They don’t book crap. They were called Collective something or another.

I should probably backtrack a little here to tell the story of me and rap/hip-hop to give some context. So here goes.

I grew up on rock. Guitar rock. Electric guitar rock. Being from Texas and all, I dabbled in a couple of “maybe I’ll listen to country” phases. But it doesn’t take more than a day or two to realize aside from the Outlaws, that stuff sucks. Willie and Jerry Jeff were always spinning in our house and I’ll always love those guys. But a kid’s got to form his own taste. So I did. Alone in my room playing records, for hours upon hours.

I grew up a total child of the eighties on bands like Men at Work, Hall and Oates, the Pretenders, the Police, Duran Duran, Johnny Cougar, Van Halen, U2 and the Beatles. Those bands laid the groundwork for what was to become my musical taste. Hooks, melody, good lyrics. I still listen to all of those bands I just listed.

Oh, and of course there was a teen rebellion phase involving Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot and some other crap hair/metal bands. That didn’t last. That music scared me.

But me and rap/hip-hop have always had a stormy relationship. I think from ’86 to maybe ’90, I forced myself to like it. But then, a lot of that was the golden age of Run DMC, the Beasties, De La Soul, NWA, and LL Cool J. Later it was shockers like 2 Live Crew, The Gucci Crew, The Geto Boys, and Too Short. That was also a period of total crap for rock music. As soon as Nirvana came out, it was curtains for me and rap. I never cared enough about Biggy and Tupac to care when they got killed. Even now, I don’t hear much when I listen to them to see what all the fuss is about.

Here are a couple of my objections to the genre.

• Lyrically, it’s not good. Rarely do you get anything approaching a narrative. Boasting can only take you so far. At some point you do have to back it up. Your voice is your instrument. Play it like it’s on fire.

• The beats are often monotonous and derivative. Not as bad as gay house or R&B (the worst of the worst) but still pretty dull.

• It conjures up few if any emotions. Ever heard a rap song that made you go “geez, that’s heavy.” Neither have I.

• The live shows are dreadful. There’s not much to look at. And I mean, look man, I’m here to see you. That wasn’t an accident. So when you hit the stage, I’m ready to see you. I don’t need 5 minutes of waving my hands in the air and shout outs and hey-o’s to get me going. What I do need is some tunes. Rock this bit-atch. Let your music do the talking. Oh and try to play more than 40 minutes of music. I’m looking at you, Collective something or another.

I said last night that where the wheels came off for me and rap was when the Beasties released “Paul’s Boutique.” Nothing will ever come close to that album. What do you do to top “Licensed to Ill”? Move to LA, smoke a lot of weed, play video games and write a masterpiece. It still boggles my mind to listen to it. I even went by the store pictured on the cover—it’s somewhere on the LES on Ludlow I think. It’s probably a loft now.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The stars are projectors

I’ll come right out and say it: I watch the piss out of American Idol. At least until they get to Hollywood or whatever. If it’s the auditions phase, I’m watching it.

I’m positively fascinated by how deluded people can be. I’m also fascinated by people that seem less interested in artistic achievement than they do in achieving fame. Art as a vehicle for fame. It’s so vain and runs so counter to what art is about. To quote Bansky, that’s like going out for a nice meal because you want to have a shit. It’s pointless. Of course, so is calling covering someone else's songs "art." Performance, perhaps is a more accurate term.

I’m also fascinated by these people who supposedly love them—their families, their friends, in some cases their vocal coaches. I mean, I suppose my parents never were honest with me that I couldn’t hit a hanging breaking ball for shit. But then again, I didn’t try out for the Yankees, did I? I think those who love me were honest enough with me to not let me make that mistake. I’d have looked like a fool. I hadn’t worked near hard enough to compete at that level.

How some of these people delude their children and friends into believing they’re cut out to be pop stars is beyond me. “She has a beautiful voice when she sings around the house.” You should hear me in the shower! I sound like a bird!

I think love involves a certain amount of honesty. At least when someone you love decides to go out on a national level with their “talent.” I suppose if someone had told me as a child that I couldn’t write I’d have been upset. But had they told me a few years ago that I might need a little brush up on my skills before I go and call up Dan Wieden, I’d be pretty damn thankful. I’d have looked ridiculous.

Truth is, in school my favorite teachers were the ones who shot me straight and said “that shit wouldn’t get you hired at Podunk Advertising let alone somewhere good.” If I wanted my hand held, I’d call up my eighth grade girlfriend. Give me the truth. The brutal truth. Is there another kind?

Which brings me to my last point.

Simon’s the only one doing these people any favors. If they truly love singing, if they truly want to enrich their lives via their art, they need to hear the truth. Yeah, it’s painful to hear you’re nowhere near your goal. I mean, some of these people aren't just a dash of mustard and a pickle spear from a delicious sandwich. The seeds for the wheat haven't yet been planted. Know what I mean?

And I mean, no one wants to admit this, but pop music is 80% looks (if not more) and some of these people would stand out in the line at the DMV. Have they noticed how many fat and/or ugly pop stars there are? Yeah, that’s because there aren’t any. That’s why they call it pop. It’s not charity, that’s for sure.

That’s the most honest thing you can tell someone. The ruder the better, honestly. They need to hear it. How are you gonna get any better if everyone around you keeps telling you you’re great and you don’t need any work.? That’s like W’s cabinet. And you’ve seen how well that works. Exactly.

And ‘cause you’re wondering, my favorite from tonight’s episode (wall-to-wall freaks, by the way) was the blonde chick with the gigantic swingin’ breasts and nurse's shoes who was there with her mother, who apparently was a resurrected Joey Ramone. She’d have lost a talking competition. Unbelievable. From under what rocks do these people crawl?

Oh, and apparently Paula really is totally wasted. Straight up, you need to stay off the pills, girl. Or the booze. Or whatever it is you celebrity types take.

With that, bring on the ice storm. Please.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Oh what a world we live in

First off, a happy MLK day to you all. Mine was spent sleeping in and running a few errands as work was kind enough to give us the day off. Hardly what the Dr. intended, but much appreciated. The only thing I forgot to take into account is how close I live to the MLK National Historical Site. The roads were packed. And I'm glad they were. They should be.

But some good tunes made up for a longer than expected drive.

Yesterday I managed to get my hands on a couple of songs from the upcoming Shins album and can hardly wait to hear it all. As I was driving around today, I listened to them both. A lot. The first, “Phantom Limb”, is marvelous and winds out with some super-catchy “whoa-oh’s” toward the end—similar I suppose to the "la-la-la-la-la's" at the end of "One by One All Day". They’ve been coursing through my head ever since. The second, “Sleeping Lessons”, is built around a great vibraphone piece (fully appropriate for the title) before launching into full-volume guitars. Bonus points for the incredibly rich and thought-provoking titles of the songs.

Other big releases to look super forward to in March: Modest Mouse and the Arcade Fire. Pretty much once those come out, you won't see me not wearing headphones. Or see me at all for that matter.

Then tonight the Golden Globe Awards are on. Something I’d been thinking about all day was actually captured by Jeremy Irons. He said, “how is it that the jobs that are the most fun give the most awards?”

Nothing could be more true.

Working in one of those industries, I’ve gone on a personal quest of late to remind people of that. The other night a co-worker was bitching up a storm about the industry and how unfair it can be and all that. I just asked him “how much weight did you lift today? Are you sore from it? Did you punch a clock? What time did you get up this morning? How was the temperature where you work? Let me see your finger nails.”

Point is, we work in one of the most cush jobs around. Yeah, sometimes it asks a lot of us. And sure, sometimes it’s not fair. But I’ll never stop looking out the window of the plane as I’m off to some cool place to notice those guys heaving luggage into the underside of the plane. Or stop noticing those guys under the hot sun resurfacing the roads that take us places he can't afford to go. Or not appreciate the guy in the kitchen who makes a fraction of the actor/waiter that brought my food out then made me feel like an asshole for only getting the $40 bottle of wine and passing on dessert. There's work and there's hard work. Ours is hardly the latter.

To quote Luke Sullivan, I spend my day with my feet up on a desk, talking about music and movies, and writing stuff that makes me laugh. And hopefully makes someone else laugh. No spreadsheets, no powerpoint, no math.

And if I’m lucky, I get to go to some swank awards ceremony and be feted by my peers for work that is not hard.

I suppose this is all my upbringing and my parent's incessant reminders to “count your blessings.” We never wanted for anything growing up but we never took for granted how blessed we were. We don’t do enough of that. We should do more. Speaking for everyone I know who reads this, we’re some of the luckiest people in the world. Surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world. You can't beat that.

And outside the sun is shining.

If not, give it a day. It’ll be back.

And if you still feel less than fortunate, put on Rufus Wainwright's "Oh what a world."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A walk in the woods

Given the obscenely warm weather yesterday, I loaded up the old pack and headed north for a little hike. Naturally, I got ahead of myself and it turned into a ten mile jaunt out and back to the Hike Inn Lodge at Amicalola Falls State Park.

It's a pretty cool little self-sustaining lodge they built five miles out in the woods where the only way in is a five mile hike. Here are some pics of the place. It looks cool.


I think the people sitting around the decks drinking tea and playing cards thought I was a little loopy when I stopped for a few minutes and had snack and a sip of water and then threw my pack back on and headed right back.

The trail in is solid and easy to follow and, despite the constant ups and downs, very scenic.

Those little mileage markers (on the far right, in yellow) that popped up every mile or so got a little tiresome, however.

But the views made up for it.


The lodge did have this weird equinox/solstice/stonehenge thing going on, however. Not sure what to make of that.

But it made for an interesting shot.

Despite the fact I brouhgt my iPod, I forgot one vital piece: the headphones. So it was ten miles of solitide, silence and thoughts. So I stopped periodically and took some pictures of myself in varying degrees of suffering.


There was this sign on the way in suggesting it would take three hours each way.

Pfff. Maybe on stumps. I knocked it out in four hours, car to car.

Not pictured were the not one, not two, but THREE Jesus groups singing songs in the wilderness. Not gonna lie to you, it kinda gave me the creeps. The way they'd stare at you and the way they were all wearing name tags and divided into "groups." At least when I would cut through them on the trail the leaders would say something like "group 2 come this way" or "group 1 move over here." Unless of course it was all code for "sinner coming through." Whatever, Jesus kids.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

City of Blinding Lights

An interesting shot of NYC I took of the city this evening from the plane as we were climbing out.

You can't see it as clearly in the photo but I always loved how the avenues alternate from white to red depending on whether it's a northbound or southbound. Hope all my New York peeps was smilin'.

Beautiful though, isn't it?

Oh, and I was lucky enough to be in town for the first snow of the season. Sadly, we were already in the studio and could only see it out the window but it was nice. But is anyone else a little alarmed that it was the first snow of the season in January. Weird.

Are you tunin' in?

Yesterday’s recording session was probably one of the easiest I’ve ever done. Three scripts in about as many hours, none more than 5 or 6 takes. Beautiful. In fact, given that rather than play the edits over the phone for the client we sent them mp3’s for approval, we had a lot of time to sit around and wait. And talk about the Beatles. And listen to the Beatles. And Oasis and the Verve and Talking Heads and old Derek and the Dominoes records. Here was the scene.

That’s always the best part of being trapped in a room with sound engineers: they love music.

Good thing I do too.

I did meet Matt and Kelly and Lauren out for some drinks last night which was great and all but kept me out until far too late. But it was fun. And somewhere along the line I saw this and convinced myself last night I found a Bansky stencil.

It’s not. But it was like behind this pay phone which was kind of in a weird location anyway, kind of like it was part of the installation. In hindsight, I should have picked up the phone to see if it worked. It could’ve been, that’s all I’m sayin’. And someone scrawled the word "fucknuts" above it. That's gotta be worth something.

To everyone I didn’t call or see this trip (all my old and new PC folks), I’ll be back in a couple weeks for some editing. We’ll catch up then, I promise. New York is always a difficult city for me to visit because I know so many people here and from so many different circles (friends from when I lived here, high-school friends, college friends, PC friends, old co-workers, etc.). Next time, I promise.

Oh and I was reminded of something yesterday:

New York City. The nicest people in the world.

Hands down.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My brains been battered, splattered all over manhattan

The flight in was pleasant and the city is as delightful as ever. Cold, but not too cold.

Upon arriving at the gate, I saw that we would be traveling on a Song jet despite the fact my ticket most clearly was for Delta. I thought the same thing: budget airline seats. You know what I'm talking about. Once on board, it was great. First off, I had managed to put myself in the ever roomy exit row right next to the door. Secondly, they had live tv! JetBlue style. An iPod and tv make flying so much more pleasant. And Richard Ashcroft's "New York" came on the iPod during final appraoch. I know, it should have been off but I don't buy that "electronics have to be turned off" bidness. Like an iPod's gonna bring down a 757.

I checked into the pretty alright Hotel Giraffe (the W's were booked up) and then walked over to Dewey's Flatiron for the traditional welcome pint as they were playing the Stone's "Shattered." I love when that happens.

Pride and joy and greed and sex, that's what makes our town the best.

Sorry to everyone I didn't call but I didn't get in until like 11. You understand.

Yeah, that's Jersey

Lesson #1: if there's a stink in the city, it's probably wafting in from Jersey. No doubt it was a cloud of cologne riding a southern breeze up from the shore. Or just chemical waste.

Isn't it always Jersey? Either that or that freak-ass Roosevelt Island.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It’s that time again.

Every year around this time I start getting the itch to go to the mountains. Or at least to start planning something for the upcoming warmer months which usually leads to more backpacking and such wherever I'm living. Unfortunately, my whole life that's never been too close to the big boys. Catskills, north Georgia/NC mountains—that's as close as I get. Just hills, really.

The whole thing usually begins with a book I’m reading. Two years ago it was Aaron Ralston’s “Between a Rock and Hard Place”, a gnarly account of his self-amputation of his arm but a remarkably similar story to my own pursuits. This year, it’s Ed Viesturs’ “No Shortcuts to the Top” about his climbs of all 14 peaks of 8,000 meters or more. No small feat, that one. Not gonna go for that goal anytime soon.

It’s a fascinating read, especially for someone like me who maybe once aspired to climb the super bigs but realized later I love the mountains too much to suffer that much on them. Those guys literally kill themselves slowly for months to summit out. F that bidness. I like a good-multi-day climb as much as the next guy but coughing up blood and mucus and your brain swelling and your lungs filling just seem to be a tad on the excessive side.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not already deep into planning a nasty trip for this summer as we speak. I’d really like to go somewhere I’ve never been and ideally kick it in the backcountry for like a week or more and hopefully hit some high peaks along the way. Potential sites right now include the Sierras, the Canadian Rockies, the Wyoming Rockies, and the Cascades (lot of rain and lots and lots of snow and crevasses, however). Or maybe the southwest corner of Colorado down near the San Juans or the Sangre de Cristo range. Not sure yet.

Last year's trip to the Rockies was fun but only one climb (the painfully laborious Navajo Peak) was truly new. And the altitude sickness/food poisoning I suffered on day three threw my energy for a loop on the last two climbs. In hindsight, zipping up to 13,000 feet the day after I flew in wasn't smart. But I was rarin' to go! I couldn't help it!

And not really being a hard-core exerciser for the sake of exercising, it helps me to have something to train for. Fortunately the weather is sunny and nice out.

In other news, I’m off to NYC tomorrow for a couple of days of radio records and hopefully see some friends if I get a moment. And then it looks like we might be shooting another spot in the next three weeks or so and so will be gearing up for that. Big times. I’m telling you, this is the year.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

May the road rise to meet you, Old Red

This morning I parted with Old Red and put her in the caring hands of a nice guy named Patrick who was going to put a new engine in her and give her new life. Of all my options something about him struck me as the one who should have her. That and he paid in cash.

I've never been very nostalgic about cars but for this one I'm allowing myself to be. I didn't realize how much that car meant to me until that night it broke down and it dawned on me that it may very well be the last time I drove it. It was.

Back in 2003 after I had hastily fled NYC and was back in Austin in full "what next?" mode I decided to come to Atlanta to the Portfolio Center. I was gonna need a car. Mercifully my grandfather had left us some money when he died and so I was able to buy one. I found this '96 Jetta on a lot in south Austin and was able to buy it for $6000. Cash. It only had 72,000 miles on it. I knew from the second I drove it it was the one.

The reason I'm waxing all sentimental about it is it never let me down. Not once. She drove me to that awful job in Austin that summer. And for two years as I lived hand to mouth, a shade above the poverty line, she stayed strong. She got me here to Atlanta. She got me to the mountains of North Carolina a few times for much needed vacation. She took me every Saturday night to valet park much nicer cars and waited patiently until I got back in her and tore-ass home with the radio blaring, a six pack in the passenger seat. She took me to sample salsa at Whole Foods in Gwinnett County and Alpahretta. She took me to assist that photographer guy and to be a PA on those Rooms-To-Go shoots. She did it all. She knew I was working my ass off to make this happen and so she did too. In fact, she waited until I started making real money this fall and held out until just before the holidays to croak. She knew I'd need a week or so to think and then a week or so to shop the year-end deals. For that I'll be forever grateful. I took the front license plate off this morning to remember her by. For whatever reason, Georgia only requires one.

From Santa Monica to Austin to Atlanta to wherever Patrick takes her.

Godspeed, little buddy.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Employee of the year

The last two days have kind of been a blur. A good blur.

The birthday ended with a super-fun turnout at the Righteous Room and later the quietest room we could find at Manuel's. We called the room at Manuel's the "liberry" because it was so quiet. And everyone keppt laughing 'cause I called "Manuel's" by its Spanish pronunciation rather than the way everyone else does which just sounds like something to do with hands or instructions. I think I made a bunch of jokes about how c-sections and breach births were merely the beginning of parents baby-ing their kids: "oh that's ok honey, anyway you want to come out is fine—let mommy cut you a special hole just fo you!" Back in the 70's, we came out the old-fashioned way! There were lots of shots and laughing and then it was January 5th. And so I went home.

Then I came home and showed the old car to a guy who offered me $500 for it. I'm very tempted as he was not only a cool guy but trustworthy. Everyone else I talk to seems so shady and their broken-english emails say something like "when can come get car?" as if it's just for the taking. Whatever, Sergei.

Then a violent storm blew through. I took a nap. I spent the rest of the day was spent running errands and buying a new pair of jeans. Then I took another nap. It was the best.

Then last night I met Justin and Kalen at a bar where—I'm not kidding here, folks. This is the part where you might want to sit down if you're not already—we played beer pong. Have you seen this game of filth? Let me shed some light.

In short you set up a wedge of half-filled beer cups much like bowling pins at each end of a ping pong table. The object is to throw ping pong balls into the other team's cups so they have to drink them—slam them, rather. The part that makes me want to projecticle vomit even now is that the ball doesn't always go in and sometimes ricochets off and onto the floor or under a cigarette machine or under the table or onto that carpeted area that's been there sicne the 60's or that little corner where that trash can is or next to that GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

Sorry the vomit on my keyboard was making the keys stick.

What did I turn, 23? How I ended up there, I have no idea. I'm gonna go outside now and enjoy out 70-something degree January day. Global warming rocks!

(speaking of, Schwarzenegger gave a pretty impressive little inauguration speech yesterday morning in California. I was amazed)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Let them eat cake

Pretty much since I left home, my parents have always sent me a cake for my birthday. And today would be no exception. Today's cake was a delicious chocoloate-chocolate-pecan deliciosity. Behold its chocolate majesty.

And thanks to Craig who didn't didn't know it was my birthday and yet didn't freak out when he walked in my office and I said "hey, can you take a picture of me and this cake?"

And the cake's aftermath.


Not too shabby, huh?

Station Approach

So this is 33. Funny it doesn't look any different than 32. Or 25 for that matter. But to mark the occasion I cut my hair off as it was getting a little silly and taking far too much time in the morning to dry. Old man's got to get his sleep, ya know?

I always say after 27 all my birthdays have been pretty ho-hum. I distinctly remember having a shot of "oh, crap" the night I turned 27 as I'd been in NYC like nine months and (more than the whole Jim, Janis and Jimi thing) it dawned on me that Bono had written and was touring behind The Joshua Tree by the time he was my age. I still hold that up as one of the best albums of the past 25 years.

Then again, he also wrote Achtung Baby in his 30's. Despite alot of flack I get from people, I still rank that one above The Joshua Tree. Personally, it's a much deeper album. If The Joshua Tree was an exploration of America and the world's problems, Achtung Baby was an examination of one's inner struggles. Bono once said of the album "it's twelve takes on the same song. A landscape of the heart." Edge once said it was the sound of four guys cutting down the joshua tree. And it had "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" on it. I mean. goddamn. And did you kow it was the first time they ever used the word "baby" in a song? Yeah, to get it out of their system they used it 34 times. I told you I knew alot about them.

Oh yeah, and some other cool stuff is afoot once again so I'll get to that in the next couple of days.

Rock on.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fitter, happier, more productive.

I found out at work today that apparently the lease is up on my old 12" Powerbook so it had to be replaced.

With a dope-ass 15" MacBook Pro!

It is super sweet. It's way thinner, is noticably faster with the Intel core-duo processor, it has an iSight camera, and one of those cool little magnetic power cords. Bill our Mac guy was even kind enough to transfer my 14 gigs of music over for me too. Surely that's not a proper use of company materials. But a writer's gotta write, right? What am I gonna do, write in total silence? I should be expensing music purchases as work related if anything. Besides, the rest is all word files and my book.

Of course now this new computer is making me think mine (which is still pretty dope) is kinda lacking. Check 'er out:

Speaking of leases, my apartment lease is up 3/4 and since I've got to give 60 days notice of intent to vacate, it looks I'm gonna be doing so in the next couple of days. Come hell or high water, I'm not staying here. Ideally I'll be somewhere west of here by then and it won't matter.

Clickity-click-click!

Monday, January 01, 2007

My 5

Apparently Alison "tagged" me for this little exercise about five things you don't know about me. Despite there probably being a good reason behind why you don't know these things, I'll play along. Even if it all feels a little myspace-y. See previous post to see how I feel about that little topic.

1. I know more about U2 and the Rolling Stones than you could ever hope to. High school was spent obsessed with the former, college the latter. I know all the little stuff. All of it.

1A. In my college fraternity (SAE, for those in the know), we had what we called "sig names." This was like your handle or nickname you signed silly fraternity stuff with. Mine was "Bono." He was alot cooler then. Apparently in my longer-haired days we bore some resemblance to one another.

2. Once in one of my ad classes at UT we were asked to go around and introduce ourselves at the beginning of the semester. When it came time for me to do so, for whatever reason I leapt up on top of my desk and told who I was and all that. Someone later asked me why I did that. I said "well, I wanted them to remember me."

3. I was class president in high school. I launched a brutal campaign of posters and custom printed cards and obvious over-promises and crushed all my would-be challengers. It wasn't even close. I won it in a landslide. Did I do it out of a desire to serve the office? Hell no. I did it strictly for college applications. My presidency was pretty uneventful. Then again, I actually won the popular vote, my term was terrorism-free, I ran a zero-deficit, didn't roll back environmental policies, my vice-president didn't shoot anybody, and we didn't invade any other high-schools. So you tell me, who really did the job to which they were elected?

4. I once gave a devastatingly persuasive speech in college on the virtues of vegetarianism. How did I get the credibility to do that? I claimed I was a vegetarian myself. The argument is pretty simple (we have no claws, no sharp teeth, and an intestinal track that is entirely too long, etc.). The hard part is spending the rest of the semester hoping someone doesn't see you out somewhere hauling down a cheeseburger.

5. I was hit by a car when I was seven years old. I was riding my bike at my grandmother's house and darted out in front of it and was quickly smashed to the pavement. I shattered my jaw, blood was spewing from my mouth, I lost a tooth, broke two vertebrae in my spine, and when they cat-scanned my brain they said it looked like a grape it was so bruised. I don't have any memory of like 2 days. I spent a few days in the hospital, missed a month of school and spent six weeks with my jaw wired shut. My brother was the one who called 911. Had it not been for him I wouldn't be here today. I now wear a helmet religiously when I ride. Curiously, not five minutes before that I had eaten a Burger King Whopper, Jr. It was the last one I ever ate.

Everyone I know's been tagged already. If not, be a pal and tag yourself. Come on, it'll be fun.

Southern-Fried New Years

Despite the monsoon that kicked it off, yesterday/last night turned out to be pretty darn fun. I met the crew of Nixon, Carlos and Cathy at Brewhouse for a little dinner and beers before going over to the Variety for the show.

There was a raffle. I won a beer mug thing and two nights at the Marriott in Marietta. I think I made some joke on the microphone about it being the "Mariotta." The manager of the hotel who donated the prize was there. Don't know if he thought it was as funny as I did. Don't know what I'm gonna do with that one. There were free shots being passed around. I think I had a couple. They made me. They weren't taking no for an answer.

Then I had one of the best new year's eves ever. Simple, no expectations. The only way to cross it over.

We walked in just as Centro-Matic was starting up. They were crazy good—and they're from Texas so you know they've got it. They're one of those bands that I've always heard their name but never really listened to but last night made me a fan. "Patience for the Ride" and "Calling Thermatico" were solidly outstanding but then they dedicated one to the Trucker's. They ripped out a wicked bluesy cover of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." It was so unrecognizable it wasn't until the line "we're going to party, fiesta" that I picked it up. It was amazing.

Then the Drive-By Truckers came out and proceeded to take the roof off the joint.

On a deeper level, there are times when The South totally makes sense. Last night was one of them. It's one of those rare moments when our identity as southerners is not derived solely from the fact that we're not Yankees and apparently lost some sort of war a while back. No, the Trucker's are in the great tradition of being unapologetically southern in their own right and thus are what makes The South great. They are The South of Elvis and Carl Perkins and Johnny and Levon Helm. The South that's proud of what it is, not what it isn't. It's much easier to play brilliant music when you don't have a chip on your shoulder.

They would go from a sad one about drinkin' and losin' women into a totally a capella five part harmony on "Bulldozers and Dirt" straight back into a rocker like "Never Gonna Change." Three guitars minimum. Sometimes four. They played pedal steel. They soloed at the lip of the stage. They polished off a huge bottle of Jack Daniels between them. Their songs are full of detail. They gave a heartfelt thanks to the crowd and the city that has supported them all these years.

It was like seeing the Black Crowes in 1991. It was like seeing the Allman Brothers when Duane was still alive. It was like seeing The Band in '76 during the Last Waltz show. I'm not kidding. And the crowd kept the cell phones and digital camera to a minimum. Southern Rock and Roll is apparently alive and well and seeping out of places like Alabama and Texas. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to.

They rocked right across midnight—none of that unnecessary Aud Lang Syne crap and hugging and kissing of strangers. They simply dropped some balloons, kept rocking and then did like 10 encores. One of them was Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love." It slayed. The show ended sometime around 1:45.

I'm completely deaf. My ears were ringing so loud I could barely get to sleep last night. That can't be good.

Happy New Year, all.