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Preview: Tinsel and Rot

Tinsel and Rot

Always fighting, rarely winning

Updated: 2018-03-02T11:49:32.705-05:00


Guaranteed to have the time of your life


There comes a time in every baseball fan's life when you begin to realize that your capacity to sit in an open field in upstate New York for four to five hours on a late July day is probably not going to grow. And, for Mets fans, there is the added realization that there may not be many more opportunities to see someone go into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Met.So, with that in mind, when I saw that the 7 Line Army (the group of hardcore Mets fans who occupy the right center outfield section of Citi Field and occasionally travel to other ballparks) was planning an overnight camping trip to see Mike Piazza enter the Hall of Fame, I was intrigued. Intrigued, but not completely sold.I have deftly avoided camping my entire life, and I wasn't sure that 39 was the right age to jump into that, especially on the grounds of the Ommegang Brewery with, I was assuming, people who probably enjoyed drinking beer a lot. And I'm not a huge fan of the idea of sleeping in mud and/or being pelted with rain while I slept, so the weather variable was an issue.So I waited a long time to commit, but when it seemed like the forecast was good I finally decided I was in and made the trip to Sears to buy my first tent and a new sleeping bag. And then I went home to reserve my seat on the bus. Which is when I discovered that the trip was sold out.Whoopsie.That put a crimp in things. But after the initial disappointment, I decided it just wasn't meant to be. Though I might never see a Met get inducted into the Hall of Fame, I could always go back some other year (and one with a much smaller crowd than was expected for Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.) and still cross "going to a Hall of Fame induction" off the bucket list.Except I couldn't quite give up on the idea. I've been going to Cooperstown since I was a kid. I think the first time was when I was maybe 8 or 9, with my family, and I've probably been there more than a dozen times since, both with family members and with friends from college on what was once a yearly trip to the Hall before life and adulthood got in the way. And I'd always wanted to see an induction ceremony. Seeing a Met inducted would be great, too. And, well, it's been a rough year so far. So this year, more than any other, felt like the year I had to go to the induction ceremony.So I checked on the 7 Line forum to see if there was any one who had a last-minute cancellation and maybe had an extra ticket. You gotta believe, right? There wasn't anything when I first checked, but when I checked at lunchtime on Friday, there was indeed a message posted an hour earlier saying that a friend had a last-minute emergency and couldn't attend. So I quickly fired off an email, and an hour later, the trip was on again. Now I just had to figure out how to do work I had planned to do over the weekend in the next 10 hours so I could get to the Citi Field parking lot at 5:30 Saturday morning.Somehow I did it and left my apartment a little after 3 a.m. to begin the multitrain journey to Citi Field. I arrived early, because I'm a champion. A very tired champion. And I still have a little of this kid on his first trip to Cooperstown in me.After settling up with my last-minute ticket connection, I boarded one of the 13 buses chartered for the trip and burned up the last bit of adrenaline keeping me alert. We sat on the bus for a bit as we waited for all the seats to be filled (one of which was occupied by a guy who came wearing a Yankees A-Rod jersey...I can't even), but we eventually pulled out of the parking lot around 6:45. And, then, at about 6:55, we pulled onto the Grand Central Parkway. That would've been great if we were, as the sign leading up to the ramp said, a passenger car. We were not. We were a bus. With a height that would be problematic when we reached an overpass with a height a few feet lower. Which we did about a minute later. And that's when our bus, and the bus behind us, proceeded to go in reverse on the Grand Central Parkway.Strong start to the trip.We made our way out of that alive (and also survived making a thoroughly illegal[...]

What I Liked About August


(image) *Billy Ocean, Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC
*Carrot cake pancakes, Sweet Sue's, Phoenicia, NY
*The Levon Helm Band/Lucinda Williams, Levon Helm Studios, Woodstock, NY
*Newark Bears vs. Worcester Tornadoes, Newark, NJ

*The J. Geils Band, NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY
*Spanish shortcake, Hartmann's Kaffeehaus, Round Top, NY
*Mumford & Sons/Dawes, Pier A Park, Hoboken, NJ
*The Del McCoury Band, Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY


*Jimmy Sturr/Alex Meixner Band, Hunter Mountain, Hunter, NY
*John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
*The Sunday Blues, Arlene's Grocery, NYC
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

The Day I Met Bob Dylan (or, What Is Buff?)


I had a decision to make when the power went out on August 14, 2003.Seeing as I was at work in Hoboken and, thus, separated from home in Staten Island by a few different bodies of water, getting home was not going to be easy. Of course, when you live on Staten Island and don't have a car, getting home is never really "easy" in the average person's definition of the word. But without any trains running, it was more challenging than usual.Still, I had some options:(1) Go to my sister's apartment in Hoboken and wait out the power outage there. This was clearly the easiest, most sensible option. I dismissed it almost immediately.(2) Take a ferry from Hoboken to downtown Manhattan, then walk to the ferry terminal and take the ferry to Staten Island, and then grab a cab or walk home when I got to Staten Island. Not too much of a hassle, but still a bit too easy for my tastes.(3) Walk to the uptown ferry terminal in Hoboken (about a mile away), then walk past the Hammerstein Ballroom to see what the deal was with that evening's scheduled Bob Dylan concert, then, assuming Dylan wasn't doing a special candlelight acoustic show, walk from 34th Street all the way to the ferry terminal to see what the city looked like without power, and then grab a cab or walk home when I got to Staten Island.So that's how I wound up on the uptown side of W. 35th St. in Manhattan, across the street from the Hammerstein Ballroom stage door, staring at two tour buses and wondering which one Bob Dylan was in and if maybe he might come outside to soak in the experience.It seemed like a fun thing to do during a blackout.***Granted, I didn't hold out much hope for Mr. Dylan coming out to take in the sights. I figured I'd stare at those buses for a bit, try to find out when and where I could get my money back for the show, and then head for that 60-block walk to the ferry before it got too dark out. Truth be told, I was fine with the show being cancelled, as I had already seen the first night of the scheduled three-night run. Nils Lofgren sat in for most of the set, a fact entirely lost on me, as I spent most of the show wondering who the tiny gentleman on guitar was (please relax; I did not live in New Jersey at the time -- I have since, as a requirement for my residency, audited some E Street classes and learned some things). It was a fine show, but it was still in that period where Mr. Dylan had switched over to the piano, and that took some adjusting on my part. I would've been perfectly happy to get my money back for the cancelled show and put that toward my "Get Out of Staten Island" fund.But before I found out about how that would happen, there was that staring at the buses to take care of. It wasn't very exciting, but my time as an autograph collector has made me quite good at staring at vehicles of many different shapes and sizes, so the time passed pretty quickly. There was enough activity going on around the buses that it seemed like something could happen. And the thought that something could happen is generally enough to keep your average (or, in my case, slightly below-average) autograph collector intrigued enough to stick around.So when I saw the door of one of the tour buses open, I figured, "Ooh, activity! That means I can justify another 10 minutes of staring!"And that's when I saw Bob Dylan come out of his tour bus.***I should point out that I wasn't the only person who had decided to spend the blackout staring at buses on W. 35th St. There were a few other Dylan fans with the same idea I had. And when we saw Bob Dylan from our various spots on W. 35th St., we looked at each other, then back at Bob Dylan, then back at each other, and thought, "Well, what do we do now?"There was a brief hesitation. Then we advanced.I would like to tell you that we all calmly chatted with Mr. Dylan about various things. But we most certainly did not. Naturally, the craziest people were the most eager to begin the conversation, which is how Bob Dylan was given a pair of panties with "Bob" in a heart ove[...]

What I Liked About July


(image) *The Stanley Cup, Ithaca Ale House, Ithaca, NY
*Meeting Tiffani Thiessen
*Plain pizza, Sally's Apizz, New Haven, CT
*Hudson Falcons, Partners, New Haven, CT

*Getting Robin Zander to sign a picture I took
*The Campbell Brothers, Hecksher Park, Huntington, NY
*Amy LaVere, Joe's Pub, NYC; Rosie's Cafe Concerts, Brick, NJ
*Adding three new names to my semi-retired Woodstock poster


*Los Lobos, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY
*Star & Micey/Carolina Story, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC
*Pot roast pierogies, Veselka, NYC
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

What I Liked About June


*Clearwater Festival, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
*Jon Langford and the Newport Nippers, Madison Square Park, NYC
*The reopening of Torico's

*Joe Walsh, Apple Store, NYC
*Tuesday Night Pizza Party, Staten Island, NY
*Buddy Guy, Barnes & Noble Tribeca, NYC
*Dustin Brown winning the Stanley Cup

*Somerset Patriots v. Bridgeport Bluefish, Bridgewater, NJ
*Getting Emmylou Harris to sign three LPs
*Johan Santana's no-hitter and R.A. Dickey's one-hitters
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

Great Moments in TV History: Robert Culp Falls Asleep While Standing Up


I have been carefully rationing my viewing of the fantastic Celebrity Bowling DVD (which everyone should buy immediately) because there are only three discs and I can't bear to think that there will be a time when I have no more Celebrity Bowling episodes to watch (though I can buy the Brady special edition, which I will be doing the second the last match on Disc 3 ends). So, after breezing through the first disc several months ago, I held off on Disc 2 until Saturday afternoon.

After watching the team of Ed Asner and Elena Verdugo (whom I don't know and who genuinely seems annoyed about her inability to bowl throughout) lose to Gavin MacLeod (Go Bombers!) and Loretta Swit, I skipped over the Billy Barty episode (saving it for last because my eyes are not ready to see the majesty of the great Billy Barty on a bowling lane) and went to the Bob Newhart/Bobby Troup (from Emergency!, which I vaguely remember, and, holy cow, he wrote "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and "The Girl Can't Help It"!)) team take on the Roy Rogers/Robert Culp squad.

I was excited for this one because I had seen past episodes with Newhart and Rogers and they are both good bowlers. Rogers seems to take the game particularly seriously, which, combined with his ability to produce the all-time best fast food biscuit (yeah, KFC, I said it), might make him some sort of god. Newhart has also clearly spent some time on the lanes, but if I had to choose one, I'd go with old Roy.

The highlight of the show, however, has nothing to do with either Newhart or Rogers, or Bobby Troup for that matter (though his measured bowling approach turned me into a fan). No, the highlight of the show comes before the bowling even gets under way, when the snazzily shaded, chest-bearing Robert Culp, in the midst of host Jed Allan explaining the rules. falls asleep while standing up. I videotaped it off my TV (illegal, yes, but I'm doing a public service here; I'll take it down if there are any complaints from the Celebrity Bowling people, whom I love with all my heart and would never harm) so you can see it. The nodding off begins at the 35-second mark. It is awesome. (Forgive the sound; I can only blast Celebrity Bowling so loud in my apartment before the neighbors talk.)

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Thank you, Robert Culp, for that Great Moment in TV History.

(And as if that weren't exciting enough, while looking up links for this post, I discovered that there is a new Celebrity Bowling DVD. Glory be!)

What I Liked About May



*Hanging with the McCormicks, Wilmington, DE
*Sigman Family Mother's Day Weekend Road Trip
*Ray Price/Gene Watson, American Music Theatre, Lancaster, PA
*Avett Brothers, MLB Fan Cave, New York, NY; Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

*The Wandering, Concerts in the Studio, Freehold, NJ; Joe's Pub, New York, NY, World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
*Clemmy's Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream
*The Guttenberg Bible
*Amanda Shires, Living Room, New York, NY

*Getting Al Anderson to sign my Lou and the Q LP
*Boston cream cupcake, Robicelli's, Brooklyn, NY
*Oatmeal raisin pancakes, River's Edge Cafe, Oakhurst, NJ
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

Sitcom Kitchens I Have Loved


While watching one of the countless marathons on TV this weekend (I am sorry, soldiers who have died for my freedom), I started thinking about the greatest kitchens in sitcom history. Yes, this is what I do when I'm alone in my apartment with nothing to do. And you wonder why I travel all the time.

Anywho, I'm gonna go with these as my Top 5 (honorable mention: Diff'rent Strokes, because of the spiral staircase, which was pretty awesome).

5. Growing Pains--Lots of light in this one, and I like the idea of a bookshelf/nook by the kitchen table. Maybe a little overboard with the plants, but, hey, if that's what the Seavers like, that's what they like. Who am I to judge?

4. The Cosby Show--Nice layout. Doesn't look cramped. Tastefully decorated. And that cool fireplace. I also like kitchens that you walk right into from outside. One of my grandmothers had a kitchen that you could enter through the back door, and I think that's why I liked hers best of the Kitchens of my Childhood. Our kitchen was OK, but it wasn't better than anything in this Top 5. No wonder we never had our own sitcom.

3. The Brady Bunch--I like the layout and colors, and I've always liked kitchens with the ovens in the wall like that. Like everything in the Brady house, it seems like it should be bigger considering nine people were sharing it (10 when Cousin Oliver came). But the design is solid (nice work, Mr. Brady) and it feels like Alice has her own command center in the middle. The little window into the den and the sliding doors leading outside (watch out for footballs) are a nice touch, too.

2. Benson--The forgotten kitchen. Spacious, a checkerboard floor (like my kitchen!), windowed cabinets (like the Huxtables'), and a nice simple table in the middle. Seems like it would be a nice place to have breakfast in. I suppose it oughta be nice, seeing as it's a kitchen in a mansion, but, hey there are no guarantees in life. And as much as I like the idea of a bookshelf in a kitchen, I love the idea of a desk. Imagine a kitchen so big you can have a desk in it? Man, I have to get rich. Or become governor. Or be spun off from another sitcom.

1. Family Ties--The reason why I even started thinking about this list. It's the best. What else can be said? Lots of space. The nice island in the middle. The sweet stainless steel oven. Nothing too fancy but everything just right.

Of course, because everything has already been discussed on the Internet at some point, there's this slideshow with its own votes (kudos to them for the Benson shoutout, even if I question some of the other choices) and a discussion here that gives the Full House kitchen some well-deserved props. But I'm sticking with my choices.

You're welcome, America.

What I Liked About April


*Last Call, Lakeside Lounge
*The arrival of Emrys Henry Micholychak
*The Baseball Project, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
*The meeting of the Hockey Film Appreciation Society


*The Sigmans' return to Atlantic City
*Trampled By Turtles, Webster Hall, NYC
*Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
*Celebrity House Hunting

*The space shuttle flight
*Kathleen Edwards, Webster Hall, NYC
*NRBQ, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

On Levon leaving


The last song I saw Levon play, Levon Helm Studios, 2.4.12 (taken from this video by the Talbot Players in association with PBS Arts)"Mr. Helm, would you sign this? Thank you.""Mr. Helm, would you sign this? Thank you.""Mr. Helm, would you sign this? Thank you.""Happy birthday!"To the best of my recollection (and perhaps slightly paraphrased), these are all the words I spoke to Levon Helm before his passing last Thursday at the age of 71. And, thus, the words he spoke to me were likely some variation of "Sure" three times and "You, t...Thanks!" (the latter I remember more clearly from last year's birthday Ramble).What I'm saying is we didn't have a lot of long talks. Or really more than a minute of direct interaction.So, why, when someone walking up the stairs of the Grove St. PATH station tapped me on the sleeve of my Levon Helm Band hoodie Thursday night and said, "Hey, nice sweatshirt," did I start to cry a little?Because music does that sometimes. Especially when it stops too soon.***I came to The Band in a different way from most. My first exposure was to the post-Robbie, post-Richard version, via their cover of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" during the radio simulcast of the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration from Madison Square Garden and the subsequent TV airing on PBS. I was initially drawn to the harmonies and the one verse sung by the bassist Rick Danko (probably because of the guy incessantly yelling out, "Danko!" as The Band took the stage), but, over time, the main voice in the song--Levon's--was what hooked me for good. In fact, the last line of the song ("Someday everything's gonna be different, when I paint my masterpiece") was given the prime slot of being my high school yearbook quote. Credit was given to "BD" for the line, but if I had more space, I would've added an "As sung by LH."And then I worked my way backward, slowly at first. In fact, there was a long time where I actually had more post-Robbie studio albums than pre-Robbie ones. I still like Jericho (whose promo poster was one of the first wall decorations in my freshman dorm room) and High on the Hog a bunch, because those were the ones that got me in the door. And because the cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" on Jericho is one of the best covers ever. I also have a soft spot for one of the oddest covers in the Band catalog on High on the Hog, a version of En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" sung by Levon--and sung pretty damn well. Of course, there wasn't much Levon couldn't make you feel.In the days since Levon's passing, I've thought about how lucky I was to have the chance to see Levon play, whether it was with The Band in Central Park, at a free 4th of July show near Wall Street, or on the every borough of my birth (I actually worked as quasi-backstage-security; I had to have been terrible at that, but no one was killed, so I declare it a success); for a few Barnburners shows (including one on that consistently terrifying Blues Cruise around NYC); and, of course, quite a few Rambles. By my unofficial count, I saw Levon play 30 shows. A pretty good number.I just wish there had been time for a few more. ***I'm not the first person to say it (and this is surely not the first time I've said it), but there really was nothing like a Ramble at Levon's place. Sure, the Levon shows I saw at the Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, Newport, the State Theater in Ithaca, and elsewhere were great, but they didn't have that magic that the Woodstock Rambles had. That drive up Plochmann, which always seemed longer than you remembered but only because that anticipation was killing you (though I did walk up the road once and, I assure you, it's pretty long...and hilly). The way Levon's dogs, Lucy and Muddy, checked you out and, in Lucy's case, stood in the lake and barked at you. T[...]

Farewell, Lakeside


Chip Robinson and the Roscoe Trio, Lakeside Lounge, 2009I don't drink, but I always figured if I had the urge to get drunk off my ass, there was only one place befitting such an occasion: the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B. Well, it turns out I only have two weeks left to get that urge, because the Lakeside is closing at the end of the month. And, quite frankly, I'm far too bummed about that to want to get drunk. It'd be a real sad bender, and no one likes the sight of a teary drunk.Will Kimbrough, Lakeside Lounge, 2007I haven't felt this awful about someplace closing since the Bottom Line went away (I still get a little misty/angry when I walk by the corner of W. 4th and Mercer), and that makes sense, because there were no two places that made me love live music as much as the Bottom Line and the Lakeside. The Bottom Line and the Lakeside were the only two places I "snuck" into for an over-21 show, and the Lakeside was the only one where I did so on my own. I don't think I knew the Lakeside was an over-21 place when I saw that the Yayhoos (Lakeside co-owner Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Terry Anderson, Dan Baird, and Keith Christopher) were playing there on, I'm guessing, March 10, 1997 (thank you, Internet!). In fact, I don't think I knew anything about the Lakeside at the time, and I may not have even known that there was a part of Manhattan where the avenues were letters. All I knew was that I loved the Georgia Satellites and the Dan Baird solo CD, Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, and I read some article somewhere that said Dan was in a band with these guys who did cool covers like "Dancing Queen" and "Daydream Believer." Sold!Dan Baird (The Yayhoos), Lakeside Lounge, NYC, 2005So I figured out where this so-called Avenue B was, got to the Lakeside way ahead of the time the Yayhoos were listed, and nobody said a thing to me when I walked inside. It probably didn't even look like a show was going to happen anytime soon (it never seemed to when I got to the Lakeside on the early side), but there was a cool photo booth and a tabletop Ms. Pac Man, so the place seemed all right. And after the show started and I had seen the Yayhoos for the first time, I felt confident that the Lakeside might be the coolest place on earth. I have not wavered much from that initial assessment.Dave Bartholomew and Terry Anderson (Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team), 2010I can't recall ever leaving the Lakeside feeling anything less than ecstatic that I lived so close to such a cool place, where I could see bands I loved without a drink minimum or even a cover (rest assured, I always contributed to the tip jar, and those that don't, at any club, should have their ears ripped out). Even if the show itself was underwhelming (which couldn't have happened more than once or twice), it still felt good to be at the Lakeside. And it felt even better when the night's inevitable newcomer stood confused at the emergency exit door by the stage and had to receive his or her mimed directions to go to the next door down to get in the bar. When you saw that, you knew someone was about to have their first Lakeside experience, and would undoubtedly wind up the better for it. Or else the person had such a good time the previous go-round as to forget how to enter the Lakeside. Either way, cool.Jason D. Williams, Lakeside Lounge, 2010I have tons of great memories of shows at the Lakeside, whether it's the two Yayhoos shows (easily among my favorites anywhere), a bunch of great Chip Robinson shows (one or two of which I might've almost cried during as he played "Story"), the kind-of secret Elvis Club (aka the Del Lords) show, the completely insane Jason D. Williams show, or watching the people outside the Lakeside staring open-mouthed as Keith Christopher ripped off a solo on a cover of the [...]

What I Liked About March


*Amy LaVere, Rochester, NY; Ithaca, NY, Cambridge, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Annapolis, MD, NYC
*First time at Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca, NY
*Hanging with Josh, Ruth, and Nate, Hoboken, NJ
*Islanders 1, Devils 0
*Hanging with Brett, Jessica, Sam. and Fiona, Oneonta, NY

*Andrew WK, Wolf Den, Uncasville, CT
*First time at Dinosaur BBQ, Rochester, NY
*Hanging with Abby and Jesse and eating the Burporken, Red Palace, Washington, DC
*Bowling with Liz, L&M Lanes, Rochester, NY
*Hanging with Bryan, Kelly, Everett, Wesley, and Eleanor, Tully, NY


*First trip to Frank Pepe's, New Haven, CT
*Getting Henry Winkler to sign a picture of the Bronze Fonz
*Dinner with Jon at the Red Rose, Brooklyn, NY
*Hanging with D.J., Wendy, and Kaelin, Peabody, MA
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: The End


A view from the harbor, Annapolis, MDSunday, March 18Bus from Annapolis to Glen Burnie: 5:08 pmLight rail from Glen Burnie to Baltimore: 5:58 pmAmtrak from Baltimore to Newark, NJ: 8:04 pmI don't think I've ever attended a rock show at 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday before, so I can now safely add that to the list. What list, you ask? OK, I'll be honest with you, because you've been nice enough to read this: I'm not keeping a list of concert start times. I just needed a way to start this post, and it seemed like as good an idea as any. But don't tell the others. Let them think I keep a list of concert start times. We'll know the truth.After an early rising for some churching and a literal wave hello and goodbye to Jesse's daughters, Paige and Harper, it was time to get in Jesse's car and head to Annapolis. As if his magnanimity in foregoing an evening of March Madness to come see the rock show and watch me shove meat down my throat (that doesn't sound right...) weren't enough, Jesse also agreed to drive me to Annapolis on the way (sort of) to dropping his mother off at the airport. As we discussed with his wife Anna before my departure, not only was this not the shortest time I've ever spent with them during a visit, but it wasn't even second (my impulsive decision to meet them at a Nationals game last year at which Paige served as between-innings cohost stands as the first, and the Obama inauguration--my sister and I arrived at night and left well before dawn cracked--takes second, though it's first in Actual Waking Hours Spent). If the secret to being a good guest is not overstaying your welcome, I might be King of the Guests.Despite all the food I consumed the night before, I still wanted to eat a Belgian waffle at the Ram's Head Tavern during the show. Because, really, how many times are you going to get to eat a Belgian waffle during a rock show? Alas, my dreams were shattered when my waiter informed me that the brunch menu was not available in the concert venue section of the Ram's Head. What a punch in the face.As it turns out, though, I might not have had time to finish the waffle during Amy's set anyway. Because there was an evening show (jazz fusion guitarist--and, as I discovered in I Want My MTV, an early MTV favorite just because he had videos--Lee Ritenour) and the room had to be cleared and, I assume, there had to be another soundcheck, the 1 pm show was on a tight, done-by-3 schedule, which meant Amy and the guys had a whopping 25 minutes. But they made the most of it, and Amy even had time to throw in a Sunday-related joke in the set.After helping with load-out and listening to a dizzying array of questions and comments from a fan (of Amy, not me), I finally got my Belgian waffle, albeit outside the concert venue and in the tavern part, as we sat down for brunch. It was fine, but it would've been better if I could've consumed it while listening to the show. C'mon, Ram's Head, if you're going to schedule shows at 1 pm on a Sunday, just go all out and have a rock 'n' roll brunch. It's the right thing to do.I was off merch duty in Annapolis (the Ram's Head controls the merch selling, for a cut of the profits; this makes the Great Waffle Denial even more egregious), but by the time we were done eating, I only got to see two songs from Rich Robinson before wandering around Annapolis for a few hours prior to my multilayered trip back home. The dread of having the fun stop began to set in, and I realized that I would have to be at work in the morning. Blah.Luckily, perhaps my favorite line of the tour came as Amy, Dave, and Shawn were getting ready to leave. A Rich Robinson fan who had been to more shows on the tour than I had (I forget the final tally, but it was close to 10) lamented to [...]

The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: Part 4


John Train, Fergie's Pub, Philadelphia, PAFriday, March 16Megabus from NYC to Philadelphia: 12:45 pmSEPTA train from Philadelphia to Trenton: 11:51 pmAs I boarded the Megabus at South Station in Boston for my second overnight bus trip in a row (after having a brief moment of panic when I arrived and didn't see my bus on the Departures screen), I started to rethink the intelligence of this part of the trip. Maybe it wouldn't have been such a bad idea to spring for a hotel in Boston for the night. Actually, scratch "maybe."But no matter. I was on the bus and though we were a few minutes behind schedule, in a few hours I'd be home and, since I didn't need to catch my bus to Philly until 12:45, I could add to whatever sleep I picked up on the bus with a few hours in my very own bed. So I leaned my head against the window and looked to get a jump on my bus sleep.I heard people talking about something as I drifted off, but I was sufficiently dead to the world that it didn't bother me much. Then, after a few minutes of rest, the talking got louder and I heard someone's name being spelled out and a phone call being made. OK, I'm up. Kind of.It turns out that because of Megabus's bad-things-are-bound-to-happen-with-this policy of not providing tickets (you can either show them your receipt on your mobile device or print out the receipt and bring it with you), the driver was trying to confirm that a woman who had changed her reservation but figured she didn't really need any proof of that before boarding was in fact allowed to travel on the bus. The woman in question seemed largely unfazed by the proceedings and instead blamed the whole situation on the driver's poor command of English. Finally, after sitting in the station for about 45 minutes, everything was resolved, the woman got to stay, and we were on the road at about 1 a.m.  And once we were moving, my plans for sleep quickly went away, though I probably picked up maybe a half-hour's worth of shuteye in Massachusetts. But once we got to Connecticut, it was sleep for a minute, wake up, look out the window for a highway sign, realize we were still in Connecticut, and then repeat the cycle for the next three hours. I seem to recall arriving in NYC around 5:30, about an hour behind schedule. So by the time I got the PATH train and back to my apartment, it was closing in on 7 and what looked like a nice window for decent sleep was now about four hours. Super.But I did it and made the Megabus to Philly with plenty of time to spare. And, when I got to Philly, I had a few quality hours in one of my favorite cities, mainly spent sitting and eating at one of my favorite places on earth, the Reading Terminal Market (though being there on a Friday during Lent was kind of time, DiNic's, next time). Then it was off to the first set of one of the last weeks of the John Train Winter Residency at Fergie's Pub, another of my favorite things about Philly. I saw a few Marah fans from back in the day and was happy to hear John Train's cover of Butch Hancock's "Boxcars" before walking up to World Cafe Live for the night's Amy and Rich show.Dave Cousar, Shawn Zorn, and Amy LaVere, World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PAI hung out with the Dude at the merch table for a while before the show as he extolled the virtues of his pulled pork with cheese sandwich (the cheese was his addition, and he was quite proud of coming up with it) and then headed inside to see Amy and the guys play. It was another good night for them, and there was a reasonably steady flow of sales at the merch table afterward, where I also talked with Amy's friend radio DJ and Dylanologist Michael Tearson for a while. I am sad to note that I only discovered now that h[...]

The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: Part 3


Amy LaVere, Dave Cousar, and Shawn Zorn, Angry Mom Records, Ithaca, NYWednesday, March 14 Bus from Rochester to Ithaca: 10:55 a.m. After a quick breakfast with Liz and her mom, it was back to the bus for me, for a two-hour ride back to Ithaca to see Amy and her band play an in-store at one of my favorite record stores (Angry Mom Records) before the official show at Lot 10 (formerly Delilah's, formerly something or other in my college days but definitely not a bar). The bus wasn't all that crowded, so I figured it's be a quick, uneventful ride. And it was.Until we almost killed a dog.I was trying to block out the smell of urine hovering in the bus, reading my book, and occasionally taking a peek at the towns we were passing by when the driver started laying on his horn. When I looked outside and saw that we appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, I thought it odd that we would be close enough to a car to warrant some honking. And then the driver hit the horn a few more times and I saw a mangy-looking dog just sitting down in the middle of the road. And the pooch seemed pretty indifferent to the honking. Oh boy.I braced for an awful thud, but thankfully it never came. Without swerving at all, the driver somehow managed to drive over the dog, who, the woman across the aisle from me reported, came out safely on the other side. When we got to Ithaca, I commended the driver on a job well done. Killing a dog really would've put a damper on the trip.Turkey burger on waffle bun, Waffle Frolic, Ithaca, NYSince I had already overloaded on nostalgia on my Sunday visit to Ithaca, and I was carrying around four days' worth of dirty clothes, I declared Wednesday Laundry Day. I briefly debated breaking into Terrace 12 or using the laundry room at the off-campus apartment where I lived my senior year but decided being arrested for doing laundry would be funny but ultimately embarrassing. So I settled on the laundromat closest to the bus station. And after that was done, I consumed one of my favorite sandwiches in America, the turkey burger on a waffle bun from Waffle Frolic. The cafe didn't exist when I was at IC, and that's probably for the best. Not only would I have spent entirely too much money there, but it would've made weekend breakfasts at the Terrace Dining Hall, where you could make your own waffles, less exciting. And, really, there was nothing quite like the feeling of waking up on Saturday knowing that you were going to be able to make your own waffle.Amy LaVere and Dave Cousar, Angry Mom Records, Ithaca, NYI made a quick run (via bus) back to campus to grab a copy of the latest Buzzsaw (of which I am a founder and former executive publisher) before the in-store at Angry Mom. When I saw Amy, she noted that the cold was now gone but there was still recovering from Rochester going on. The in-store went well, though, with a decent crowd showing up to watch Amy from her spot in the Comedy section.Amy LaVere, Angry Mom Records, Ithaca, NYAs the band headed back for some rest, I wandered back into Angry Mom and bought a Steve Goodman LP and a CD by Auburn, NY's A Cast of Thousands (the most controlled purchasing I've ever done at Angry Mom) before drifting around Ithaca in search of a place to eat dinner. There are a bunch of new places, so I looked at some menus, hoping something would pique my interest. There were a few possibilities, but then I realized, "Hey, I've never actually eaten dinner at Moosewood," one of the more famous vegetarian restaurants in America. I think I had a piece of pumpkin pie there once when my sister (the vegetarian of the family) came up for a visit, but I never got past my skepticism of vegetarian restaurants enou[...]

The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: Part 2


EleanorMonday, March 12 No travel The lone day of rest for the NH?NP tour was spent in Tully, NY, at, it turns out, a House of Vast Illness. The man of the house was all congested; the baby of the house, Eleanor, had an ear infection; and, on the day of my departure, the lady of the house was having some stomach issues. But the boys of the house (Everett and Wesley) and the manchild taking up residence in the computer room were feeling just fine. And, of course, Hunter was his usual steady presence.HunterOn Monday, Everett was off to school before I was out of bed, but Wes and I took in some Scooby-Doo (they're kind of tramping up Velma if you ask me) before he departed for the morning and I tried to navigate my way through the photo-uploading process (unsuccessfully) on the family Mac. After Wes came back, we celebrated our health by playing Legos, during which I built a pretty awesome tree. Then before naptime, I read one of the weirder kids' books I've ever read, which seemed to celebrate the joys of violence, so long as you use that violence against bullies. Interesting. Old-school.Despite his congestion, Bryan nailed the audio-book version of his legendary foreword (rest assured, the children were nowhere near the recording area) in one take and gamely tried to read another essay before we bagged that and decided we'd try again later. We ran out of time, but we'll get it before November 19, 2012 (the official release date...mark your calendars, or whatever people mark these days).There was more Lego time after Everett and his friend returned from school, but having already achieved perfection with my tree, I thought it best to just sit back and watch.Monday was, in fact, mostly a day to sit back and watch. I can do that. For a day. Two would be a bit of a struggle.Tuesday, March 13Amtrak from Syracuse to Rochester: 12:48 pmI think I can speak for Wes when I say that we're both comfortable enough in our masculinity to admit that we watched My Little Pony Tuesday morning. It wasn't bad either. I'm not saying I'm going to the next Bronycon, but I enjoyed it more than I expected. What? Why do I know that there is a convention "for afficionados [sic] of the show 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic'"?Not important.Anyway, Tuesday was the day I almost concussed myself. Wes and I were engaged in a spy mission in which we couldn't be captured by Dad. I'm not clear what the ultimate goal of our mission was, but Wes drew a map and everything, so I assume it was something pretty important. I think at one point chocolate chips were mentioned. I didn't ask many questions, because that's the approach Chuck Barris took when he was a hitman for the CIA. It seemed to work for him.Unfortunately for my head, I was so into the mission that when it looked like we might be caught and Wes told me to hurry into his room before Dad got us, I neglected to factor in the sloped ceiling right by the door, and, well, that hurt. Wes even expressed concern, bless his heart. I checked for blood  oozing from my scalp and didn't find any, so that, combined with the fact that we weren't captured, means the mission was a success. It turns out there weren't any chocolate chips to get, so we settled for mini Clif Bars.Wes, upon my departureAfter determining I was feeling no dizzier than usual, I declared myself ready to get back on the road. So Bryan and Wes drove me (well, actually, just Bryan drove; Wes read a Harry Potter Lego book and then shut his eyes for a bit) to the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse and it was off to Rochester for a return visit almost 14 years in the making. The last (and only) time I [...]

The 2012 No Hotel? No Problem Tour: Part 1


PreambleAs avid Tinsel & Rot readers (both of you) know, I occasionally get the urge to travel. And, for me, traveling does not involve heading to a peaceful locale where I can catch up on sleep and slow down for a bit. On the contrary, I frequently set an itinerary, usually built around seeing friends and/or going to shows, that I know will completely and utterly exhaust me and lead to at least a week of recovery from the supposedly relaxing break from cubicle life. So, when I saw that Amy LaVere would be opening for Rich Robinson for a string of dates in the Northeast, most of which were in or near cities where friends lived, the wheels started turning. I originally thought about just taking a few days off, but when she announced headlining shows in Rochester and Ithaca, a new plan started to take root. I had already thought about going to Ithaca the Sunday of the week she'd be in town, because Todd Snider was playing in Ithaca for the first time, roughly 16 years after I first wished that would happen (see here for details about that, although, really, you should have this whole blog committed to memory by now). And if I was going to go to that, well then why not just go for the whole week? And maybe I could get the ball rolling on the Critical, But Stable 10th Anniversary Audio Book while I was at it.Thus, a vacation was born.As I started figuring out bus and train schedules and how much all this would run me, I decided that I would try to keep it down to no more than two nights in a hotel. Sure, this would mean imposing upon friends and perhaps taking a few overnight bus rides, but I could do that. Heck, I've been doing it for years, and though the knees and back get a little stiffer on those long bus rides these days, maybe I could make it all happen one last time. Then, because my friends are such lovely, giving people, it began to look like I could do the whole trip without staying in even one hotel. And some might even be able to come out to the shows. Nice!So, what follows over the next few posts is the summary of the No Hotel? No Problem tour, as best as I can recall it.Saturday, March 10Bus from NYC to Oneonta: 8:30 amAfter a Thursday night at the Todd Snider show at Irving Plaza and a Friday night with Bobby Keys and the Suffering Bastards at the Highline Ballroom (during which I thought Mr. Keys might pass out), I rose and shone and made the bus to Oneonta with about 30 seconds left to spare. The driver informed me I was lucky when he took my ticket, but I prefer to think of myself as a professional bus rider who knows exactly when I need to be at the gate. In fact, I think I've taken enough buses in my life now that I deserve one of those bus driver jackets. It seems like the right thing to do. Please contact me at your earliest convenience, Greyhound and/or Coach USA.I actually didn't really need to get the 8:30 bus, but, because I am such a pro, I know that the 8:30 bus is my best shot at having enough of a layover in Kingston that I can get to Deising's Bakery in Kingston to get a bunch of the soft pretzels they make on the weekends. And I did (and also picked up some Irish soda bread rolls), thus providing much joy to two of the families who would be   providing shelter on the first leg of the trip.I got into Oneonta around 1 pm, and my friend Jessica (who, as a mother of two who had her parents up for the weekend, was more than willing to get out of the house to pick me up at the bus station) and I soon found ourselves in Silks and Treasures, the local consignment shop at which everything in the store was $5 that day only. Jessica scored some deals on clothes, and[...]

What I Liked About February



*Getting a photo with Busy Philipps
*Pete Weber's US Open victory and subsequent celebration
*Getting a photo with Jay Baruchel
*Roast beef with spinach, Tommy DiNic's, Philadelphia, PA

*Visiting Walt Whitman's grave
*The Levon Helm Band/Steep Canyon Rangers, Levon Helm Studios, Woodstock, NY
*Getting the Hanson Brothers to sign a box of aluminum foil
*Flogging Molly/Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears/The Devil Makes Three, Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

*Whole grain almond meal pancakes with lowfat raspberry yogurt and strawberries, Sweet Sue's, Phoenicia, NY
*The Giants' Super Bowl victory
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

All I Want...

2012-02-26T22:53:32.996-05:00 a Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad t-shirt. I don't think this is really that much to ask. Surely, someone on the Internet can make me one of these. I've found shirts for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Uncle Buck (the former a bit too obscure for me to pull the trigger just yet and the latter, sadly, with an important misspelling that prevents me from buying it), so I know this can be done.

What is Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad you ask? Only the show in my favorite Saturday Night Live skit of all time (the video quality's not great, but there is a bonus Bruce Willis wine cooler ad at the end!).

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Everyone is just about perfect in the skit (even Jim Belushi!). And the day I stop laughing at "Chocolate Babies" will be a very sad day.

So, c'mon, a t-shirt. That's all I want.

Bradley Earle Sigman, 15, Good Dog


Bradley Earle Sigman of Staten Island, NY, a basset hound, faithful companion to the Sigman family, and good dog, was put to sleep earlier today. He was believed to be 15 at the time. The cause of death is, well, look, if you make it 15 years with legs that out of proportion with the rest of your body, things are just gonna break down at some point.While on earth, Bradley Earle enjoyed taking long walks, climbing on the laps of men despite being a few dozen pounds too heavy to make that comfortable, and licking your cereal bowl clean if you were stupid enough to leave it unattended for five seconds. He also ate about a half-dozen bagels once and seemed quite pleased with himself. Bradley Earle's early years are shrouded in mystery, but his life in the lap of luxury began in the spring of 2000, after his human brother James suggested to his human mother Helen that maybe going to the 2nd Annual Boardwaddle in Ocean City, NJ, would help soothe some of the sting of the then-recent death of Oscar Sigman, the family's first basset hound. Helen was a little reluctant and not anxious to get another dog, but after a few minutes of being around dozens of basset hounds dressed up for a parade, she quickly changed her mind and inquired at the table for Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue. Though Bradley Earle was not at the event, he was one of the dogs available for adoption. Not long after the Boardwaddle, Bradley Earle arrived at his new home in Staten Island, where he remained until his death, except for frequent excursions to his summer residence in Windham, NY.Bradley Earle arrived at the Sigman house with only his first name, but his human brother, thinking the name Bradley was not quite manly enough, quickly gave him the middle name of Earle after country music legend Steve Earle.Much like Mr. Earle, Bradley Earle's life was not without controversy. Early on in his time in Staten Island, he attempted to bite Helen's face off when she had the nerve to get a little too close to him while he attempted to sleep next to her on the bed. There was a brief discussion about having to give him back, but, well, the rescue folks weren't too keen on that and it was eventually decided that he would stay provided that he didn't attempt to maul anyone else. This streak lasted until March 2011, when his human sister Laura again got a little too close when trying to take his leash off and received a stitch-worthy chomp on her neck for her indiscretion. But by that point, the probation period was long over, so he stayed. It is even rumored that Helen was more concerned about his well-being than the medical state of her daughter at the time of this event.It should be noted that he never did such a thing to his human brother or human father. He liked dudes. Not a big fan of other dogs or ladyfolk getting all up in his business, though.Bradley Earle is survived by the aforementioned Sigmans and was preceded in death by his human father Richard on whose lap it is presumed he is now resting peacefully.In lieu of flowers, hug your pet or consider adopting one.[...]

What I Liked About January



*Maybe Pete, Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, NJ
*The birth of Fiona Grace Heindl
*Alejandro Escovedo, City Winery, NYC
*DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies, Trenton, NJ

*Pat Flatley Night, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
*The Slide Brothers, City Winery, NYC
*Hudson Falcons, Snapper Magee's, Kingston, NY; Fitzgerald's Harp & Bard, Clifton, NJ
*The New York Giants doughnuts, Dunkin' Donuts, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ


*Winter Pancake Sundae, Sweet Sue's, Phoenicia, NY
*NRBQ, Iridium, NYC
*Cody's Bar and Grill, NYC
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

Trenton Makes (Pizza) and I Take


I'd put off going to De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies in Trenton, NJ, for a few years now. I'll get there, I thought. What's the rush? Then it turned out the rush was on, as I read in the Star-Ledger last month that De Lorenzo's, open in its current bathroom-less location since 1947, was going to close its doors on January 15, 2012. OK, no problem. Still no need to rush. Then came the holidays and shopping and I had other things on my mind. Then it was Christmas. Then it was 2012. And then it was January 12 and I thought, hmmm, maybe I should get on this. And after reading an excellent tribute in the Star-Ledger on Friday, I started to put the wheels in motion. Prior research indicated it was walkable from the train station (underrated thing to see in NJ:  the art running from the Hamilton station to the Trenton station on the Northeast Corridor line, which starts with a giant sculpture of people sitting in conversation and concludes with an impressive Amy Winehouse graffiti memorial mural), so I mulled it over, with the final stumbling block being a potentially demoralizing trip to the Nassau Coliseum for Pat Flatley Night. Mr. Flatley is my all-time favorite Islander, and his name is on the back of my first circa-1990 Islanders jersey (signed a few years ago), so though I knew it would be cool to see him inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame, I feared that the current Islanders would muck it all up and come out flat after the ceremony. And that, and the long, sad ride home from Long Island, might make me less likely to get up early on Sunday.But, hooray, Islanders win! (it helped that the Sabres looked flat, but a win's a win, and, on a side note, I hereby publicly apologize to any children in my section who heard my vulgarities when the Sabres were awarded a penalty shot with less than two minutes to go and a call that I'm gonna say here was questionable and that I said was something else from my seat at the Coliseum). So, I left Long Island happy and woke up early Sunday morning to print out directions and layer up (six!) for the likely two-hour wait in the cold to get into DeLorenzo's (they open at 4 and close at either 8 or 9, and only seat around 50, so it was going to require some early arriving).   When I arrived, after a brief walking detour through lovely downtown Trenton, at around 2:30, there weren't too many people in line (and those that were brought their own camping chairs). But that was a bit deceptive, because there were also a few people huddling up in cars while their spots in line were held (the first group was about 20 people strong). Still, I wound up being about 25th in line when the "Pizza" light came on at 4 p.m. and the door opened for the last time to the public. I got some ordering tips from Danny, one of the leaders of the big group in line, who asked where I'd come from and seemed impressed that I'd made the trip down from Jersey City, I decided to keep it pretty basic, ordering a large, half-garlic and then, on Danny's recommendation, getting a "half-baked" to take home. There isn't a ton of space in the De Lorenzo's oven, and I was a few tables behind in line (several of whom were bringing it home with style, ordering four or more pies for a four-person table), so I soaked in the sights. The cash register is the most famous non-edible feature of De Lorenzo's, and rightfully so. And the rotary phone (whose receiver was taken off the hook, was a nice feature, too. The owners, Gary and Ei[...]

A Picture's Worth, Chapter 1


(The first in, I hope, a series, of posts about a picture that are exactly 1,000 words long [according to MS Word]. Get it? And, oh yeah, these words don't count. The rest of them do.)@font-face { font-family: "Times"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }p { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } September 8, 1995. That's not when this picture was taken. I'm guessing I snapped it in 2000 (at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey) with one of those old-fashioned contraptions that you loaded film into, took pictures with, and then hoped for the best when you got the roll developed. I got a winner here (full disclosure: I used newfangled technology to crop out the side of a woman's head).But back to that Friday night in September, in Ithaca, New York.I was only a few days into my sophomore year, after a freshman year that felt a lot like failure. I'm being a little dramatic, but I think this proves my point: having acquired so few friends that I knew no one who wanted to live with me, I squatted my spot in the triple I lived in in the least convenient building on campus. That is, I decided to stay where I was and again live with two strangers in a fairly tiny room. This is not the action of a guy setting the college world on fire.In any case, my new roommates had just settled in when I headed downtown and saw a poster that said NRBQ was playing at the State Theater. I had started venturing downtown to see shows midway through my freshman year and had discovered the blues at a club called The Haunt when I went to see Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson on a weekend night. I came back to the dorm so revved up that, as I was breathlessly recapping the show, I realized that I had walked into the middle of one of my roommates making out with his girlfriend. Sorry, Bob.But, you see, I'd found live music. I'd been to a few concerts, but they were all in big theaters or under festival tents. I'd never been in a small club and seen it all right there in front of me. Something big had opened up in my world, and nothing--particularly my sense of hearing--was going to be the same.So, anyway, the NRBQ show.I had a little awareness of NRBQ, mainly through their connection with pro wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano and their recording of "Captain Lou.”I can't quite recall if I had bought my cassette of Lou and the Q prior to the show, but I'm guessing I might have because I knew the guy on the left in the show poster wasn't Big Al Anderson and in those early Internet days, I can't imagine how I would've known about Big Al (who left the band in 1994 and was replaced by Johnny Spampinato, brother of NRBQ bass player Joey). So, it's quite possible that I bought my ticket for the show on the basis of one album featuring a pro wrestling manager rather than just one song about a pro wrestling manager. What else would an 18-year-old do on the first Friday night of the school year?I'm not saying I made a ton of great decisions in college (the final tally is between 4 and 7), but buying that ticket to see NRBQ was definitely one of them. The 1,600-seat theater was probably 1,500 shy of a sellout, but you wouldn't have k[...]

What I Liked About December



*Amy LaVere, Joe's Pub, NYC; Concerts in the Studio, Freehold, NJ
*My Mojo Nixon bobblehead
*The premiere of Impractical Jokers
*Jenny Scheinman, Bill Frisell, and Brian Blade, Village Vanguard, NYC

*Pumpple cake, Flying Monkey Bakery, Philadelphia, PA
*Christmas with the fam
*Post-Christmas with the extended fam
*David Wax Museum/Spirit Family Reunion, Le Poisson Rouge, NYC


*Slo-Mo/Steph Hayes and the Good Problems/John Train/Ella Dars, Milkboy, Philadelphia, PA
*Dawes, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
*Seeing John Striffler and family at Denino's
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

The 50-A-Day Project: Books 71-78 and the Final Roundup


Success! I didn't quite read enough for another 10 to end the year, but I'm OK with that. I suppose I could've read some kids' books before I gave them away as holiday gifts and padded the book total, but I'm better than that. Not much better, but better. And the fact that I read a full book (albeit a very short one) on the last day of the year when I didn't technically have (and averaged roughly 100 pages a day over the last five days of the year) makes me feel like I ended on a strong note. Here's the breakdown of the final eight books:Best Fiction Book: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris (Beloved  and A Good Man Is Hard to Find are better-written books, but the Sedaris one brought me the most enjoyment.) Best Nonfiction Book: Belushi: A Biography by Judith Belushi Pisano (I don't think I've ever read an oral history that I haven't enjoyed, but this one was particularly good. And who knew Suze Orman was once Mrs. Belushi Pisano's roommate and knew John pretty well?)@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }  Toughest Read: Beloved by Toni Morrison (nothing was all that tough in this batch, so this gets it by default)Easiest Read: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section; } Number of Books on Loan: 0Number of Books Given as Gifts: 1 (Beloved by Toni Morrison. Thanks, Frank!)Number of Books Signed by the Author: 4 (Beloved by Toni Morrison, Palo Alto by James Franco, Belushi: A Biography by Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby, and Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris) Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest: Beloved by Toni MorrisonBest Passage (you must be 18 years of age or older to read this passage):"...[M]y father found a number of other ways to use my car to his advantage.One day, he asked me to pick him up at Benny Glickstein's bar, the 9M. He had some stops to make. We had only gone a block or two when we saw a fat woman waiting for a trolley, and my father recognized her. She was about forty years old.'Stop the car,' he said.After I pulled over to the curb, he got out of the car, walked over to the woman, and started talking to her. The next thing I knew, she was sitting in the back seat.'Drive down to where they're building the Walt Whitman Bridge,' my father said. I looked at the woman in the rearview mirror and her face was expressionless, as though it was just another day in her life.'Okay, park over here,' he said, when we reached a secluded area of the construction site.'Take a walk,' he said. 'Come back in ten minutes.'When I came back, my father was in the passenger seat. 'Now I'm gonna take a walk.' As soon as he disappeared, the woman said, 'Come here.' I got in the back seat with her, and she blew me.When my father returned to the car, the fat woman was still in the back seat and I was behind the wheel.'Come on,' my father said. 'Drop her off.'We ended up dropping her off at the same trolley stop that she had been waiting at in the first place, and we drove away.Even though some of these things were shocking to me at first, that was life with my father; the older I got, the more [...]