Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Random musings

I met Tennessee's lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, over the phone today. Nice guy. Also, wrote about local governments' billions in unfunded retirement benefits for thousands of employees. I'm glad I ended up in journalism. Still obsessed with the Washed Out album.

The Packers are going to the playoffs. That's a good thing. But through a scheduling quirk, they cold end up playing at Arizona on back-to-back weeks (and possibly even have a better record than the Cardinals). The NFL needs to fix this. Teams shouldn't be rewarded with playoff home games merely for winning a mediocre division.

I've been re-watching season 5 of Lost. The time travel thing does not confuse me, but I find it difficult to explain to others.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The story of a dress

On one of our first dates, my wife sketched a dress. It might seem like a strange thing to do on a date, but Ali loves fashion more than anybody I know. The dress is pictured above. The image above was taken on a camera phone and, although it doesn't come through in the rough photo, it is actually a very pretty sketch.

A shockingly short time after that, Ali and I were engaged and I was left searching for a wedding present. In an utterly random act of inspiration, the thought occurred to me that I should find a clothing designer and get them to turn Ali's design into an actual dress. As fate would have it, I worked with an amazing local designer named Helen Stevens. I told Helen about the idea, showed her the image and explained what little Ali had described about the dress.

A few weeks later, Helen and I developed a ruse to convince Ali to submit to a dress fitting. Our lies didn't mesh and to this day I really don't remember exactly what Helen told Ali to get her to go along with the fitting. When I was arranging the fitting, I was driving in my car with my Dad. It was weeks before I would propose to Ali and I was saying things like, 'We'll come up with some sort of lie," and, 'Don't worry I'll never tell her the truth.' My Dad thought I was some sort of sleazy stranger cheating on his soon-to-be-fiance.

Not long after Helen had the design and measurements, we realized it would take too long to make the dress to have it by our October wedding. So, eventually the dress became a Christmas gift. Helen let me choose the fabric colors and give what little input I could. Updates over the next several months taught me fashion lessons that Project Runway never could. I now know how impossible it is to drape chiffon and the advantages of Indian versus Chinese fabric.

Helen finished the dress a week before Christmas and I gave it to Ali as her present just a few days before we left for Indiana. I copied a photo of the dress above. The photo shows the dress and Ali shortly after it was given to her. I've repeated the story to some friends and been told this was a clever gift. Right now I am mostly just excited to see her in it at one of her shows or on one of our frequent hot dates.

I've noticed she shows me sketches of dresses more often, possibly because she now believes Helen will turn everyone of them into a real live dress. Christmas meant a great deal more to me this year because I had my wife to give gifts to. It was a Christmas gift I hope to always remember.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Survivor: A week later I'm still annoyed

It's been more than a week since we found out Natalie won season 19 of Survivor and I'm no less annoyed now than I was eight days ago. I'm a Survivor purist. I've only missed one episode of the show. I can recite my favorite contestants ever the way sports fans list their favorite athletes.

All of my favorite survivors have one thing in common -- they are excellent strategists. They knew how to read people, how to play the game in a way that they could make a compelling final argument to the jury and how to play the game as something other than a jock-style challenge. My favorites include Cirie, Rob Cesternino and Yao-man.

But in season 19, one survivor put them all to shame -- Russell. If the average person watched the show, they probably hated Russell, what with his blatant sexist comments and his constantly referring to his fellow players as idiots. But the reality is that Russell was the greatest strategist in the history of the show and typically his brilliant would have been rewarded with $1 million.

Instead, the money and even worse the title of ' Sole Survivor' went to Natalie, a half-wit whose ultimate argument to the final jury was that her strategy all along was to do nothing and let Russell make all the smart moves.

In reality, Russell won the game but lost the final popularity contest. The losing survivors who advanced to the jury took issue with, presumably, Russell's arrogance. I can see how that would be annoying. But having a chip on your shoulder and giving the cash to an undeserving player out of spite was annoying to fans of the show.

The perception of those who watch the show is that the people lucky enough to actually make it on the cast have seen Survivor before and know what they're doing. It was lame to find out that wasn't the case.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Top-5 Albums I don't Own

On three different occasions since I moved to Nashville I've had a sizable amount of CDs stolen from my car. It's my fault. I take a small amount solace from the notion that there's a street-savvy ruffian roaming the projects of Nashville who all of a sudden has gained a profound appreciation for indie music. Maybe he's bumping Animal Collective or the Decemberists as he robs some other poor idiot's unlocked car.

Between the thievery, coincidence and my own ignorance, there are some must-own albums which I still don't have in my collection.

5. The Shins 'Oh Inverted World'
This is one of my stolen albums and the only Shins album not in my collection.

4. Sigur Ros 'Aegits Byrjun'
I would probably include Takk with this as well since, unlike many Sigur Ros fans, I loved that album. AB is a classic album. The first time I heard it, I couldn't sit still. I played Sigur Ros as background music at a cookout one time. The party attendees revolted, put on Maroon 5, and I fell irreversibly in love with the band.

3. Radiohead 'Kid A'
I've always appreciated Radiohead, I just don't worship them. It's sort of an act of defiance at this point since I recognize many of my favorite bands have been heavily influenced by Radiohead. Anyhow, Kid A is making its way onto so many best-albums-ever lists lately.

2. TV on the Radio 'Return to Cookie Mountain'
Obviously Wolf Like Me is one of the best songs of the decade and TVOTR is one of the best bands. Despite the fact I've listened to this album many times, I do not own it. Blame the Napster effect. I look for it whenever I go to Grimey's, but never find it in the used section.

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Californication'
Probably the party album that addicted me to music during my formative senior year in high school. I saw the Chili Peppers play a music festival in Chicago that year. Their headlining set was delayed for 45 minutes because Offspring told the crowd of 15,000 people to throw trash on stage. It was crazy looking up and seeing trash literally raining down from the sky. The girl in front of us got hit with a huge piece of pizza in the face. She got embarrassed and ran away. Other items thrown in our vicinity that night were a bolt and an inhaler. It was weird, dangerous, and unforgettable.
Offspring had been brought on stage by Macho Man Randy Savage, weirdly. And when the stage was finally cleared of trash, an infuriated Anthony Kiedis told the crowd, 'We woulda been out sooner but there was a line to get on stage because Offspring were sucking Macho Man's cock.'
The Chili Peppers then blazed through an amazing set. They're probably one of the most under-rated rock bands, despite their immense popularity and longevity. I heard John Frusciante quit the group last week. That's too bad, and maybe this spells the end for the Chili Peppers. They'll always have a special place in my heart though.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Natey Awards

December is more than just the month of cold weather, ugly Christmas sweater parties and forced social interactions. It's also the time when prognosticators rear their hideously ugly heads, making year-end best-of lists on topics ranging from music, to films, to sports. This year is even worse because, since the Zeroes decade is ending, we have best-of lists for the last 10 years.

I stopped taking those lists seriously about the moment the AP had Nickelback on its top 10. Even still, I can't help but join in and so, this year I'm bringing back the Natey Awards for my favorite music of 2009. Let me be clear, I know nothing about music. As my one pitiful guitar lesson from my brother-in-law would indicate, I don't have a musical thought in my entire head. But, I am a fan. And I have this blog site, which I go back and read periodically, sort of like a public journal. So the line of thinking here is, it serves as a reminder for where I was in terms of musical taste in 2009.

Here goes not'n:

Best Live Performance: Dirty Projectors with Atlas Sound at The Earl in Atlanta

You know how the phrase, 'that's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me in my entire life' is just about the most over-used compliment there is? Some people throw it out there if someone so much as lets them merge into a lane on the highway.

I don't take the honor so lightly and I used it this year in July. That's when my fiance told me she was kidnapping me for the weekend, but wouldn't explain what we were doing. Turns out, she purchased tickets to see Dirty Projectors with special opening guest Atlas Sound at the Earl. Atlas Sound was very good. I even stood next to them while they ordered MGDs at the bar before their set.

Dirty Projectors were unforgettable. Without any incessant banter between songs, the band knocked out a 90 minute set, complete with dead-on harmonies and minus any unnecessary banter between songs. Someone once said these guys could sing the birds down from the trees. It's true. The fact it's true even during live performances is quite amazing.

Best Album
: Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca
I'll stay on my Dirty Projectors theme here. There wasn't an album I listened to more this year. There's never been an album I listened to more carefully. There's more going on musically -- vocal harmonies, exotic guitar chords, uneven rhythm, amazing lyrics -- in one line of a DP song than there is in the entire Taylor Swift album. It's one of those albums that makes non-musicians wish they could write songs, sing and play guitar and it will be in my collection forever.
Honorable Mention: Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion; Phoenix's Lisztomania and The Antlers' Hospice

There will be a tendency for critics to put Animal Collective atop this list and I'll touch on the band in a minute. My second favorite album of this year was The Antlers' Hospice. Haunting. Dark. Climactic. Best background album ever. It's all of these things. And for it to be their debut? I can't imagine how they follow it up.

Best Nashville album
: The Non-Commissioned Officers' Makeout With Violence soundtrack
Here's an album that was woefully undervalued locally and probably won't even register on the national radar screen. It's a shame. The soundtrack and the film are high artistic achievements I won't ever forget. My hope is the film gets distributed. If it does, I'll buy a copy the day it comes out. The soundtrack runs longer than the movie itself I'm told. That tells you how immersed the band was in making this record, which has several of my favorite tracks of the year.

Best burgeoning music festival
: BonnaRau. Frankly BonnaRau collapsed under its own weight. Here was the set-up: I invited a handful of my musical friends to my house, cooked them dinner, gave them an audience of four non-musicians and asked them to play some songs. They obliged and the performances were acceptable enough that I am planning a Second Annual BonnaRau in some iteration for 2010. But, by the end my friends were stage-shy and the concert devolved into Ashley leading everybody in an acoustic rendition of Single Ladies. It was weird, but like I said, there's always next year.

Best song: Lisztomania by Phoenix
It's the catchiest song of the year and I'm told by my friends who watch commercials, that Phoenix is quite the advertising darling. I don't know how I feel about that. Mainly, I'm just upset at myself that I didn't make more of an effort to see Phoenix live this year.
Honorable mention: 'What Would I Want? Sky' by Animal Collective; 'Summertime Clothes' by Animal Collective; 'Frozen Tongue' by the Noncommissioned Officers; 'Daniel' by Bat For Lashes; 'Two Weeks' by Grizzly Bear; 'Two' by the Antlers; 'Norther Lights' by Bowerbirds; 'Jesus Was a Crossmaker' by Frida Hyvonen; 'Animal' by Miike Snow; 'Indiana' by Cymbals Eat Guitars.

Best old band that's new to Nate: the Velvet Underground
2009 was the year I finally invested in the Velvet Underground, acquired all their records, and really listened to the band. Wonderful for almost every musical occasion: driving in the car, at a party, background music, on a mixed-tape. I hear their influences in so many current bands. I love their album covers. I believe 'Sweet Jane' belongs in a museum somewhere.

Band of the Year
: Animal Collective
Best album? Merriweather Post Pavilion just misses that honor for me, although most critics worth a damn will disagree. I'm petrified of the weak rip-off bands that will follow. And I yearn to regain my Feels and Sung Tongs albums, which were lost in the Great Nate CD Theft of 2005. Animal Collective followed up their seminal album released in January with a December EP -- Fall Be Kind -- that had one of the most amazing songs of the year, 'What Would I Want? Sky' on it. Consider for a moment some of the excellent current bands compared to Animal Collective: Fleet Foxes, El Guincho, Washed Out, the Dodos. Animal Collective is the best band on the planet by any worthwhile metric and I will argue this with anyone who is silly enough to disagree, but only if they are aware of the fact Animal Collective existed before 2009. Just not like this. No band has ever sounded like this before.

Most Unforgettable Music moment of 2009
: Seeing my wife play at the historic Bluebird Cafe. I'd never been to the Bluebird before, which is a shame since I've lived in Nashville for seven years. Although I'd heard her sing before, I'd never seen Ali give a performance like that. One that left tears dripping down the faces of complete strangers and the frigid wait staff excited to hear her sing again. One of the songs, I'm told, was about the early stages of our relationship when we fell in love. Music means so much to me. It pulls me through my day, it marks stages in my life. No piece of music has ever meant more to me than 'Walk Away' by Ali. Just another reason to love her.

Rau, out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Props to my City Paper blood brother

My buddy Matthew Williams knocked it out of the park with unforgettable photos and video in an unbelievable story in today's New York Times. Matthew's single, by the way ladies. That's irrelevant to the story, but I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Legislators who get it

Some members of Congress are trying to pass a law which would make the BCS system illegal and institute a playoff series. On one hand, there are legislators who believe there are more important issues at hand than college football's postseason. On the other hand, there are legislators who say Congress can "walk and chew gum at the same time."

Obviously, I'm a fan of a playoff system and believe it would be enormous for college football. Smaller schools already use a playoff system, so from a programming perspective, there's already a formula to follow.

I agree there are more important issues at hand. From my perspective it's just lame that university presidents, BCS leaders and the main networks can't figure out a way to give fans what they obviously want.

The House legislation will never pass and is probably nothing more than a token ploy to get votes. At least somebody out there gets it though.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vampire Weekend

I never really understood the backlash against Vampire Weekend, except maybe the fact they exist in a climate prone to it. They're too accessible for indie music fans who slant toward the eccentric (full disclosure, I'm often one of those). Remember The Strokes? Their body of work is far greater and more important than judgey reaction of music lovers who abandoned them mid-career.

Something tells me "Cousins" won't do anything to stop the VW haters. I'm still on board though.

2009 College Football Playoff Scenarios

If College Football's leadership had any interest in satisfying the desires of the sport's fans, then they would create a playoff system to determine the national champion.

Here are the three possible scenarios as I see them.

8-team playoff; six BCS conference champions and two at-large teams
Alabama vs. Georgia Tech
TCU vs. Cincinnati

Texas vs. Ohio State
Florida vs. Oregon

16-team playoff; 11 conference champions, five at-large teams
Georgia Tech (ACC); Alabama (SEC); Cincinnati (Big East); Ohio State (Big Ten); Texas (Big 12); Oregon (Pac 10); Central Michigan (MAC); Troy (Sun Belt); East Carolina (Conference USA); TCU (Mountain West); Boise State (WAC); Florida, Iowa, LSU, Virginia Tech, BYU (at-large)

1. Alabama vs. 16. Troy
8. Ohio State vs. 9. Georgia Tech

4. Florida vs. 13. BYU
5. Cincinnati vs. 12. Virginia Tech

2. Texas vs. 15. Central Michigan
7. Oregon vs. 10. Iowa

3. TCU vs. 14. East Carolina
6. Boise State vs. 11. LSU

16-team playoff; six BCS conference champions and 10 at-large teams
Georgia Tech, Alabama, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Texas, Oregon (BCS teams); TCU, Florida, Boise State, Iowa, LSU, Virginia Tech, BYU, Penn State, Oregon State, West Virginia (10 at-large)

Alabama vs. West Virginia
Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech

Florida vs. Virginia Tech
Cincinnati vs. Penn State

Texas vs. BYU
Oregon vs. Iowa

TCU vs. Oregon State
Boise State vs. LSU

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Note to Gar and John: Sign Bosh

I hope Chris Bosh appreciates what a stunning city Chicago is when he leads the Raptors into the Windy City tonight to face the Bulls. A year from now, it may be his home. For two years media obsession has focused on where LeBron James will sign next year when he's a free agent. I presume James will gravitate toward the media spotlight (Knicks or Nets) or stay loyal to his home and stay with the Cavs.

It will be tempting for the Bulls, who have as much cap space as just about anybody to spend on free agency, to pursue Chicago native Dewayne Wade. But I believe the best free agent option for the Bulls as they are currently assembled is Bosh. He's gotten a bad rap for being injury prone. While he has missed about 10 games per season, he's been fairly durable, and only missed four contests last year.

With Rose's drive and dish/pick-and-roll game, Bosh is uniquely skilled to see his career flourish in Chicago. Joakim Noah will keep the glass clean and absorb the physical beating opposing teams will want to throw at Bosh.

The sexy choices are Wade or James, but the best pick for the Bulls is Bosh.

[Look for another Bulls post from me soon. Next week my lovely wife and I will be attending the Bulls-Celts game at the United Center -- my amazing 30th birthday present]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Musings on Baseball Winter Meetings

Baseball's winter meetings start next week and that brings back some fond memories for me. Two years I covered the winter meetings for the City Paper. The highlight of the experience was a feature on ESPN writer Buster Olney, who got his start in Nashville. During the interview -- which I can't track down online because the City Paper's archives won't allow it -- Mr. Olney got emotional recalling a story in which a friendly Nashville Banner editor paid his entire tuition for his senior year at Vanderbilt. It was pretty much an unforgettable experience.

This year's winter meetings come on the heels of a wildly disappointing season for the Cubs, my favorite team. I thought the Cubs were the World Series favorites last year, but their starting pitching and the entire team didn't live up to its potential.

It gets more difficult to be an out-of-town Cubs fan by the year. Because have a reputation as a good-time lovable-losers team, they attract fans from across the country. I have met literally dozens of Cubs fans here in Nashville, most of whom know nothing about the team. Recent trips to Wrigley haven't been much better, because most of the fans are merely there to treat the sacred stadium like it's a shabby frat house.

But there's hope. The Ricketts family seem to be true fans and plenty of talent returns. I hope the Cubs can add Curtis Granderson, usher Starlin Castro to the majors and make efforts to bolster the starting rotation, which took a step back in 2009. I have faith next year could be the year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


They told me turning 30 would be painless, but I spent my birthday weekend nearly puking myself to death. Some said it was food poisoning. Others suggested it was a vicious stomach virus. I think it was my body telling me I'm really, truly, unarguably and irreversibly old.

When I told people how I spent my birthday weekend, they said they were sorry, a natural thing to say to someone who had green stuff coming out of his body for 48 hours. The reality is that my 30th birthday was actually really memorable. My wife took care of me, missing work to rub my back while I threw up and then forcing liquids down my throat to stave off the dehydration that made my joints hurt and my muscles burn.

When my actual birthday came a week ago today, roles reversed in the middle of the night. Suddenly I was the one mixing Gatorade and water for her to drink after violent vomiting session that sounded like someone dumping a bag of ice into the toilet. We holed up in our apartment and watched virtually the entire first season of True Blood. Sure we both had upset stomachs (my first attempt at eating after four days was chicken noodle soup and it felt like someone put a concrete block in my intestines), but it was that fun sort of sick like when you're a kid and get to miss school. Being sick is awful, but having someone to take care of you is amazing.

I don't care who you are, turning 30 makes you introspective. My thoughts turned to the future and the comfort that comes from knowing I have someone to take care of, and someone to take care of me as I "grow old."

That's not to say it isn't shocking to be 30-years old. On Thanksgiving I had a stranger ask my age and for the first time I had to offer that sad, disappointing number. I remember as a kid establishing 30 as the age when people are old. Old school journalists once ended their stories with the number 30. No one is quite sure why, but my best guess is that whoever established the tradition associated the number with the end, with death. I get it to some degree, it's just not the painful experience I was afraid it would be.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A pitiful video, a gorgeous song

We are planning on seeing Bowerbirds this week at Exit/In. A foretaste:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2009 Packers

I've seen or listened to every Packers game so far this season. That's no small accomplishment for a Packers fan living in Nashville, where local broadcasts tilt toward the AFC and the pitiful Titans. Catching the Packers on television has meant spending some Sunday afternoons in smokey sports bars with my dear wife. I'm gradually turning her into a Cheesehead, I think.

At just about the midway point in the season, I'm equally frustrated and optimistic about the Packers' chances this season. There are reasons to be concerned. In both of their tell-tale games this season, against the Vikings, they lost and didn't really have a good chance to win either time. In fact, the Packers have only beaten one team with a winning record this season -- the Bears in Week One -- while all three losses have come against teams above .500.

Even in victory, the Packers have looked sloppy, dropped too many passes, given up too many sacks and committed too many penalties. All of that should add up to being pessimistic about the rest of the season but I'm not.

Here's why... the Packers still have a ton of firepower on offense and it hasn't clicked on all cylinders yet. Granted, the offense will never execute up to its capability of the pathetic pass blocking doesn't improve. Even still this seems like a team that could score 30 points per game with its eyes closed, and that hasn't happened just yet.

The defense is better than last season with the switch to the new 3-4 scheme under Dom Capers. While Capers doesn't have all the right personnel to run his scheme yet, I can only assume the unit will improve as the season progresses.

Plus, the schedule is manageable. Tough games against the Bears, Steelers, Cowboys and Ravens remain, but cupcakes like the Buccaneers, Lions are still there as well. And, I'm reminded of last year's NFC champs, the Cardinals, who flew below the radar and then peaked at the right time and ended up in the Super Bowl.

I'm not predicting similar results this season, but the playoffs seem possible, and something tells me the Packers will still be playing when Brett Favre and his Vikings are finished. Just a few wild guesses from a diehard Pack fan.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Avett Brothers

For the second year in a row, I found myself sitting in the uncomfortable wooden pews at the Ryman Auditorium for a Halloween night concert. Last year I saw the Hold Steady open up for Drive By Truckers. The Hold Steady took the stage dressed either as pilgrims or as the founding fathers, I don't really know the difference, and then regaled the historic venue with bar-rock songs about girls, and drugs and depression. It was awesome.

This time around, the main dish was the Avett Brothers, a band I'd seen play twice this year and had paid a total of $0 in entrance fees. I mention this as a precursor to my review of the concert, because this time around I spent an average of $40 to see the Avetts. It's a fact I can't help but assume influences my view of the concert.

More than ten minutes before the band took the stage, a trio of douchey frat guys in front of us asked why we weren't already on our feet cheering. Probably because the concert doesn't start for another ten minutes you secret handshaking white bread piece of crap.

Ten minutes later the band took the stage dressed as the Three Amigos, which meant they coldly refused to incorporate their Asian cellist into their costume ensemble. The cellist was dressed as some sort of Chinese/Mexican Cowboy. It was confusing, and costume-wise, the show was already off to a slow start.

As for the show itself, the Avett Brothers had the crowd wrapped around their pinky fingers, and they knew it. Not many bands in the world can say, "Next we're gonna play..." and no matter what the song is, have the crowd go wild. The Ryman Auditorium was shaking, I'll give them that. And far be it from me to wax poetic about what I'm about to wax poetic about, but there were some interesting moments during the concert when the Avetts would have the entire audience singing along. I say interesting because, from where I saw, those were the only moments when anyone was singing in key.

The charm of the Avett Brothers has always been their gimmicky punk-meets-old country hook, but do these guys really sound like a punk band anymore? On their early stuff, sure, but now they've been major labeled, I'm sure they've had songs on Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill, and they just sound kinda happy (at best) and vanilla (at worst).

Look, I can't question their popularity. I had friends at the concert with much better musical taste than me, and they had the time of their lives. One sat in the first row of the balcony and danced like a blissful crazy lady right in the band's line-of-sight, prompting the bassist to acknowledge her with an awkward head nod at one point. Another came dressed as a "tin girl" which was apparently inspired by one of their songs. There were moments during the set where the wooden floor was literally vibrating, and if you listened closely enough you could hear the pews croak and squeak from all the dancing and jumping. The Hold Steady didn't pull that off, but then the Hold Steady probably didn't appeal as much to the fraternity/sorority crowd, which is a considerable boost to any band's attendance record in a college town like Nashville.

By the time the three-song encore was finished and the Avetts' had completed their two-hour set, I was ready to head home and listen to the Carter Family and the Stooges, and a little old REM. At various points during their set the Avetts tried unsuccessfully to be all three. It didn't matter to the adoring crowd that they came up short, and watching the ga-ga girls reach longingly toward the stage was worth half the price of admission. Don't get me wrong, it was still a fun show, and the Avetts are true pros. I clapped along after every song, partly because I would have been dragged out and stoned by their most rabid fans if I hadn't, but partly because sometimes you have to laugh along, even when you don't get the joke.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I've done very few things in my life of which I am truly proud. One of them was choosing Alison Carmona to be my wife. I don't know if it is necessarily the most awe-inspiring love story ever told. It started, after all, outside of an East Nashville bathroom. But to me, our love story is miraculous.

It culminated on Oct. 3 under the stone columns on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ali and I had a simple criteria for our list of wedding guests. We wanted to be able to look each person in the eyes, say the words, 'I love you,' and absolutely mean it. After my brother-in-law Justin married us, looking out at the semi-circle of loved ones around us was probably the most amazing moment of my life.

I mentioned earlier that our love story is miraculous. To me, it really is. When people hear the word miracle, they want to see water turned into wine, or crippled children start to walk again. The miracle of our story comes from the meandering paths we both took before meeting each other. If we met at any other point in our lives, then we wouldn't have been able to fall in love.

The last few weeks of my life have been life-changing in many ways. I measure where my life is in this moment and I am proud. I'm proud of what lies ahead, and of my partner who I know will be there no matter what.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Random thoughts

There are few things in life better than the first Packers regular season game. And to have it be a big win over the Bears. Awesome. I feel bad for Jay Cutler. He played poorly, with four interceptions, and I'm sure he wanted his first game to be a success. I know Chicago talk radio pretty well. The Bears have had so many horrible QBs over the last 22 years I'm sure he'll get cut a little slack. He pressed too much and looked kind of Favre-ish out there (throwing across the field to a well-guarded receiver Favre).

I'm happy for Aaron Rodgers though. He took a lot of criticism for those seven close losses last year and little of it was justified. Hopefully having Dom Capers coach the defense combined with the return of Cullen Jenkins, and the addition of BJ Raji and Clay Matthews, means the Packers contend again. I think it could happen.

In non-football-related thoughts, the album I listened to most this week was, once again, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. Pitchfork had a few stories about the band earning the respect of people like Jay-Z and Michael McDonald, which is both weird and cool. It made me listen to the album again. I think those guys are just good singers with cool harmonies and memorable songs. Nothing too profound.

I've gotten into the show Mad Men in the last several weeks. I'm still watching season one, but I like the vibe. Very existential... "What is the meaning of life?" feel to it. I like the way people dressed in the 60s.

And, onto a heavy thought, it's fun as a political reporter to watch the health care reform debate. I think President Obama's big speech last week gave momentum back to the Democrats. Nobody likes to think about government growing by leaps and bounds, but sometimes the simple reality that the system is broken makes average Joes like me favor a new approach. The status quo is unacceptable. People knew Democrats would pursue health care reform when they voted them in less than a year ago. Now they're following through on their promises and everyone is surprised. The bottom line is 46.3 million people don't have health insurance and the HMO-run system is equally greedy and sinful. Time for a change.

OK, that is all for now, trying to get back on track with this blog site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My fiance and I found a stray dog outside of my apartment the other day. "Was that Jackson," she asked, questioning whether the shadowy figure we saw crossing the four-lane road in front of my house was my pet dog Jackson. Even though my front door is secured with an electronic deadbolt lock, I ran toward the dog to see if it was indeed Jackson. It was not Jackson, of course. That meant we were immediately faced with the awkward choice of whether to pretend like we didn't see him and continue on our way, or to stop and try to help.

For reasons that remain unclear, we chose the second option. I approached and instantly saw he had a dog collar, which told me his name was Woody and he lived in Antioch on Shihmen Drive. There was a phone number on the collar, too, but dozens of phone calls only yielded a busy signal. And it wasn't an old school busy signal indicating someone was on the other line, but one of those weird busy signals which said the person hadn't kept up with their pay-as-you-go cell phone plan with Cricket.

Certain observations about Woody led me to be hopeful there was an owner missing him somewhere. He was well behaved. Although he was thin, he didn't eat the food we tried to give him, or even drink much of the water we set out. He wore a second collar, with a device which seemed to link up to an electric fence system. After laboring over what to do, we decided to load Woody into the car and drive to his house.

Although I've seen stray dogs in much worse condition than Woody was in, he still like a potent combination of a dusty old mattress and animal feces. "He really stinks," my fiance said, which was followed a few minutes later by, "Your back seat is clear, why don't we take your car?"

Even though Woody's address was only about three miles away from where I live, we had only made two turns before we were on a creepy road that seemed to leading us to the middle of nowhere. Just a few days earlier we had watched the film Last House on the Left, which left us both a little unnerved. "This road feels really rapey," I said. She didn't laugh.

Woody, meanwhile, was ridiculously well-behaved for being a street dog on a car ride with people he didn't know. Eventually we pulled up to Shihmen Drive and, driving slowly down the street like a couple of prowlers, found the address that was adorned to Woody's collar. Even though all the lights were off and there were no cars out front, I hopped out and walked around in a manly fashion as if I would find a solution of some sort. When I inevitably didn't, I returned to the car, stumped about what to do next. Across the street, a handful of South American gentlemen were working by flashlight on a pickup truck. "Why don't you ask the neighbors if they know where the people who live here are?" she suggested.

This left me with two options: approach the men who likely didn't speak English for what would surely be an awkward conversation (it was 11 p.m. by the way) or chicken out and refuse, making me look like a coward. "I found a dog," I said awkwardly as I approached the one around the truck whose body language suggested he was the leader. "Do you know what happened to the people who lived in that house?"

He shook his head no, and then smiled and said, "No, no, sorry." I walked back to the car and then found another set of neighbors working on a pickup truck across the street. I approached and asked the pair if they knew what happened to the people who lived two doors down, as I had appeared to find their lost dog.

"People lived down there left two or three weeks ago's my recollection," he said, meaning that Woody's family had left him behind more than likely. "Looks like you got yourself a free dog."

Unfortunately I didn't want a free dog, which left me with the unfortunate dilemma of calling animal control and putting Woody on death row, or letting him loose and hoping he could find some kind of ending like Tramp in Lady and the Tramp. Back at my apartment, we roped my roommate into the group to help decide what to do. "Bring him in," he suggested, which seemed like a weird idea since we had two dogs already. Jackson, an angry pitbull mix, who stressed out in the presence of other dogs. And Rutherford, a clumsy muppet-looking labradoodle, who played with other animals like the over-sized fat kid at recess who doesn't know his own strength and secretly scares his classmates. We put Jackson in a locked room and let Woody into the house.

It was instantly clear that Woody was a better-behaved dog than Jackson and Rutherford. He didn't have Jackson's inexplicable hostility or Rutherford's clompiness. Someone remarked that we should keep Woody, whose odor was overwhelming and who was also flea-ridden, and get rid of one of our dogs.

I'll spare you from knowing how it ended exactly for Woody. He was a good dog. I like to think that not long after he left our presence, a progressive farm family rescued him and took him to Williamson County, where he became their special inside pet. He really was a sweet dog and I took some comfort in knowing we tried to help at least.

It was actually my roommate who summed the situation up best, "He's gonna die in three weeks anyway. No one is gonna adopt this saggy, filthy old dog. So we might as well hope he finds somebody."

I hope he did.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I quit Dexter

I heard a lot of buzz about Dexter before I ever watched an episode last year, when Netflix put Season 1 of the show online for free viewing. Even though most of my friends who hyped up the show early on were more inclined to watch One Tree Hill than Lost, I was still encouraged at the positive buzz. And, even now, I think the premise for the show is interesting. A serial killer who kills bad guys. Not bad.

I tore through the first season because, although the acting deserved a grade of about a C, the scenes where Dexter had his victims restrained and ready to be slaughtered were chilling and genuinely memorable. Michael C. Hall is a good actor, and he seems tailor made to play Dexter, so the fact he narrates the show and keeps 80 percent of the speaking lines is OK by me. But the side cast, especially the actress from The Exorcism of Emily Rose who plays Dexter's sister Deb, leaves something to be desired. And really, saying they leave something to be desired is akin to saying Michael Jackson made a poor choice in his primary care physician. If I have to hear Deb say the word "Dex" one more time, me and my TV are coming to blows.

Even still, I dutifully watched Season 2, so-so acting and weird storyline and all (the Ice Truck killer?!?!). Why? Not only because it was free to watch on Netflix, but also because I really want the show's execution to live up to its great idea. But, the problem is, just like the Cubs, New Year's Eve parties and Davidson County Republicans, Dexter never lives up to its potential.

By the time Season 3 rolls around and the B-storyline is Deb considering whether to rat out a fellow cop so she can become a detective, well it becomes easy to tune Dexter out. And then you have the show's weird soft-core porn turn. Anyhow, Season 3, unlike its predecessors, is not free to watch on Netflix. I had to add the DVDs to my queueueueue one at a time and, after two and a half episodes, it was time for me to quit Dex once and for all.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I want socialized medicine. I want the government to decide what my profession will be when I'm 7-years old based on a national aptitude test. I want to collect Factory Worker trading cards and wear red uniforms to grade school. I want socialized public schools like the one I went to in Chesterton, Ind., where everyone had equal access to the same mediocre teachers and where the adjectives "rich" and "poor" are dirty four-letter words on scale with "shit" or "damn" or "vote."

I want doctors to be paid the same as me, the same as bus drivers, the same as community organizers. I want Congress to abolish the law that says presidents have to be born on U.S. soil. I want all my presidents to be born in Latvia, or Cuba, or Senegal.

I don't want to get rid of religion, but I do want pastors to pass federal background checks to ensure they won't spread political lies from the pulpit. I want Mt. Rushmore torn down to accommodate new busts of Obama and Stalin and maybe Oprah.

I want to work for a conspiratorial government-run media outlet, but only with state-mandated 40-hour work weeks, so I have plenty of time to volunteer for health care death squads. I want killing old people to be a celebrated and joyous occasion, on scale with a ride on a tilt-a-whirl or a visit to a billy goat petting zoo. I want socialized carnies running fair rides.

I want doctors to be just as well educated and customer-friendly as DMV workers nowadays. I want musicians to sing with just as much passion and fervor as they do now, but I want their songs to be about the evil machine that WAS capitalism being fueled by the blood of the Workers.

I want socialized ice cream trucks roaming the streets during the day and then, at night, spying on my conservative neighbor with the "Thank You President Bush" sign in front of her apartment. I want socialized everything, much like we had in 2009, when obscure services like schools, fire departments, police departments, highway departments, military services and sanitation departments were socialized. That was pretty socialistic, but it wasn't social enough for me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

SEC prediction

This midwesterner has learned to love SEC football. Here are my 2009 predictions:

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Ole Miss
4. Arkansas
5. Mississippi State
6. Auburn (thanks to Tracy for pointing out I forgot them in the original rankings. That was cold what AU did to Tubberville).

I think the national publications over-rating Ole Miss is probably the most annoying thing this offseason. Houston Nutt is a good coach, but there's a reason he left Arkansas on such awful terms. LSU has the most talent in the league, and it only got better with the incoming freshman class, which is the best in the country.

1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. Tennessee
4. South Carolina
5. Vanderbilt
6. Kentucky

These predictions aren't all that profound. It was hard for me to pick 2-4. South Carolina is intriguing to me and I think Lane Kiffin is the man. Florida is my pick to lose to Oklahoma in the championship game.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 NFL predictions

1. New England Patriots
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Miami Dolphins
4. New York Jets

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Cincinnati Bengals

1. Tennessee Titans
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Houston Texans
4. Indianapolis Colts

1. San Diego Chargers
2. Denver Broncos
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Oakland Raiders

Wild Cards: Jaguars, Broncos
Champs: Patriots

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New York Giants
3. Washington Redskins
4. Dallas Cowboys

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Carolina Panthers
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. St. Louis Rams
4. San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards: Giants, Vikings
Champs: Eagles

Super Bowl Champs: Patriots

Friday, August 7, 2009

Antony and the Johnsons

I read a feature the other day about musician Antony Hegarty. It struck me for two reasons. The first is that it was a really well-written article about a pretty complex guy. The second was a quote from Hegarty -- a transgender indie artist with a vibrato in his voice that elicits either love, or hate, and nothing in between. Hegarty was talking about being authentic and about expressing his unique world view. He came to the conclusion that being hopeful in this day and age is the new radical outlook on the world. As it says in the article, "Here's a new frontier: hopeful thought."

That struck me. You can read the article here.

And here's a video of the Johnsons in action with Antony.

Friday, July 31, 2009

147 Brentwood Square

I officially moved out of my apartment today. I lived there for five years. By the end, the apartment itself was in less than peak condition after years of eventful living and a pretty basic focus on mere survival most the time.

Roommates came and went in general, but one stayed the same. The last five years have changed my life, but my bond with my best friend and roommie remains the same. Within the first few days of moving in, we had our first memorable 147 experience and it's stuck with me to this day. After a stressful week of moving, we found ourselves playing a weird game of drink-or-dare, which consisted of various acts like licking a conversion van in the parking lot.

The back porch became our favorite drinking spot and I couldn't count the number of people who shared a beer or a cigarette there. I'll never forget the smiling faces or the glow provided by the Christmas lights we strung up, or the Angel on the end, who we called the Sacred Saint of Porch Parties.

Inside the apartment, it wasn't always about partying. Life-altering news was broken there pertaining to deaths, pregnancies, new relationships, break-ups, new friends and new careers. I exited my adolescence while I lived there.

The apartment was home to dogs, frogs and dozens of guests. We cried there, fought there, danced there, laughed there, played many board games there, watched hundreds of football games, episodes of Lost and Survivor, and listened to some amazing music. Oftentimes the music came from Brandon's guitar.

Now I'm at a new place and I have no clue how long I'll be here. I suspect the new apartment will provide more suitable living conditions. I doubt it will be the same sort of shelter that 147 was forced to be.

It's an end of an era, but I'm ready for whatever the next chapter holds. I believe I have the same love and hope in my heart I had five years ago, with more knowledge, understanding and perspective added as well.

OK, that's all for now, I've got some unpacking to do.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A reminder

I'm on the down side of a dream weekend full of happy memories I'll never forget. I just moved into a great new place in a wonderful neighborhood, I am excited to sit at my desk and start reporting again tomorrow and I can honestly say without hesitation I am truly in love.

Maybe it's the sense of calm and contentment that has turned my mind to something more somber. A young man I knew passed away last week. He was 25 years-old when his motorcycle crashed into a deer in the early morning hours of July 19.

He served two tours of duty in Iraq in a war he didn't fully understand. Many will remember him for the demons he confronted on a daily basis. I remember him tonight as a smiling teenager watching Simpsons episodes in our living room -- a young man who loved my sister with all his heart and whose future looked promising.

His death could serve as a lesson about the ravages of war, or the marginalization of the modern day soldier. It could serve, too, as a lesson about lost potential. For me it plays a different role. His death serves as a reminder of the value of contentment, of peace of mind, of modest, but undeniable happiness. Save a select few occasions, I wonder if he ever had any of those things. I weep for the possibility he did not. I curse the military that cast him aside, and I use his tragic passing tonight to say a grateful prayer to God for all my blessings.

[RIP B-Sheel]

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Recent stories from

'Wooded Rapist' gets 32 years

Alleged cop shooters have court appearance delayed

Guns in bars law officially receives legal challenge

Governor allows health boards to require menu labeling

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Whippoorwill

One of the coolest birds out there, no doubt, what with their name sounding like their song and whatnot. I was reminded of the whippoorwill after a camping trip this weekend. I remember walking to our car as a family following trips to Lake Michigan, and my Dad would tell us to all shut up so we could listen to the whippoorwill. And those are the sort of random memories that stay with us into adulthood for some reason. Weird.

Below is the best video I could find of the whippoorwill's song.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 24

Two people I love a great deal celebrated birthdays, again, on June 24. Here are their pseudo eulogies, even though they are alive and well. Thank god.

Janis was the biological daughter of an aspiring astronaut and a southern-fried Texas blonde, with a penchant for prescription painkillers.

She could have drifted off into the ethos liker her father, or spent her adulthood running side scams on local pharmacies like her mother, but she chose a different path. She decided to put family at the center of her life and to clench them tightly with hands that balled up into fists and never let go.

A natural mother, she never had to ask how to nurture those close to her or how to deliver the perfect piece of unsolicited advice. She carried a hearty laugh that proved contagious and made those around her join in, even when we didn't know what the joke was about. She was blessed with a scarily accurate memory and could recall, in some detail, both the timelessly hilarious and shockingly dysfunctional memories from our childhood.

She was the glue that kept us all together and the meticulous planner of family functions. In times of crisis or on the heels of great news, hers was the first number I ever dialed.

Even as an adult, she still oftentimes fixes my plate when I eat at her house, and still chides me for displays of poor manners, like hanging up the phone without saying goodbye. She never backed away from a fight and never let those close to her forget she loved them. She didn't always answer the phone on the first ring, but you always knew where she'd be when the time came to face the music: there for you. No mater what.


Jeremy was a case study in dichotomy. A natural stage performer, he came to prefer quiet game nights with close friends to overcrowded social settings, or parties with mostly strangers.

He learned to sing in a church, but had his favorite concert memories come inside places that served $3 whiskey (and with friends who partook, even though he never did). He could incorporate obscure Bible passages into intimate songs about love and loss.

He could fly through any life experience -- a trip to the grocery store, a run around the block, a drive down the interstate, a meatball sub. His feet were equipped with invisible rockets and his transmission always started in fifth gear.

He wore his emotions on his vintage t-shirt sleeves and rarely left those close to him wondering where he stood. When his friends needed help, he was there for anything -- moving day, birthday parties, even a figurative back-alley fight with an ex.

He would always be best described as a musician at heart, and gladly allowed that description to define him in every possible way. It was in this role that his two sides could be easily observed. Here was a singer who a vast majority of the audience appreciated for his sweet voice singing his perfect pieces of poetry. But only his family and friends sitting together in the first few rows knew what the songs were really about, and how much they truly meant.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Unsolicited advice

Because it's about eight minutes until 2 a.m. and because I feel compelled to fill an imaginary blog post quota, here are five films I've enjoyed in the last year or so and would recommend:

1. The Visitor -- Lonely guy has his life reinvigorated by a savant drummer, who suffers a major life setback, the fallout of which will have you questioning the term "illegal immigration."

2. Let the Right One In -- Creepy, but very edgy Swedish vampire movie. Missed a killer soundtrack, but child vampires should scare any normal minded person.

3. 2 Days in Paris -- Hilarious movie about an itchy American who must come to grips with his Parisian girlfriend's many sexual conquests and relationships.

4. King of Kong -- Probably the best storyline to a film I've seen in recent memory. A likable guy whose life has been a series of near-breakthroughs tries passionately to get the Donkey Kong arcade record. The reigning champ is an intensely unlikable guy with a well-groomed mullet and a personality for which the word "douche bag" falls way, way short. Oh, and it's a documentary, so there's the element of reality, although I got into the film the way I would a Packers playoff game. It's that intense.

5. Tell No One -- A relentlessly intense French film about a guy who was wrongly accused of killing his wife several years earlier. Or did he do it? That's kind of the point of the movie. Tell No One proves that a great plot still means more than special effects.

Finally, I would just like to point out that Will Ferrell's cold streak at the box office is very real and very disconcerting. Not only has he gone several films without a hit, the last few Ferrell movies that were successes he was pretty much a side character. Stranger than Fiction is one of my favorite movies, but the last time Ferrell's career came up my friend said the words "Chevy" and "Chase" and very little argument followed. Scary.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Goodbye MySpace

I canceled my account tonight. Basically it was time to move on from that long forgotten phase. And I found the act of canceling the account strangely liberating. I did save a few photos though, including one of me singing karaoke for all those who might doubt my capacity to humiliate myself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I want on Judge Judy

These guys had the chance and it slipped through their fingers. It's been almost a year since Matthew Williams and I covered this story. It was [choosing my adjective carefully] interesting. The best part was meeting famous local artists Sheppard Jones and Myles Maillie. I would have liked the same opportunity to meet Ms. Pinson, but alas, it was not to be.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Song of the Summer?

That's what pitchfork called it. Not sure about that, but pretty cool.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coming to a Nashville park near you?

Council trying to outlaw guns in parks after the state legislature legalized them.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Michael Moore's letter on the day after GM's death

I know Michael Moore is gimmicky. I know he ignores contradictory facts and comes across oftentimes like an ideologue. Despite all this, I've always been a fan of his work. He takes on issues without sugarcoating the truth and speaks in an Everyman way born out of his Flint, Michigan upbringing. His most meaningful work, along with Bowling for Columbine, is still Roger & Me.

Below I posted Moore's letter he sent out the day after General Motors went into federal takeover and filed for bankruptcy. There's one idea I'd like to highlight.

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama consistently talked about a national call to service on scale with traveling to the moon. He said creating green jobs and improving Detroit would be at the center of this call. I hope Obama follows through on that idea. I believe Americans can invent new automobile technology and new green fuel systems that will employ millions and save Detroit/GM.


Goodbye, GM
by Michael Moore

June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM's birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented "planned obsolescence" -- the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one -- has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh -- and that wouldn't start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the "inferior" Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to "improve" the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company's body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with -- dare I say it -- joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know -- who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

Thus, as GM is "reorganized" by the federal government and the bankruptcy court, here is the plan I am asking President Obama to implement for the good of the workers, the GM communities, and the nation as a whole. Twenty years ago when I made "Roger & Me," I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors. Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions:

1. Just as President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the President must tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices. Within months in Flint in 1942, GM halted all car production and immediately used the assembly lines to build planes, tanks and machine guns. The conversion took no time at all. Everyone pitched in. The fascists were defeated.

We are now in a different kind of war -- a war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call "cars" may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.

The other front in this war is being waged by the oil companies against you and me. They are committed to fleecing us whenever they can, and they have been reckless stewards of the finite amount of oil that is located under the surface of the earth. They know they are sucking it bone dry. And like the lumber tycoons of the early 20th century who didn't give a damn about future generations as they tore down every forest they could get their hands on, these oil barons are not telling the public what they know to be true -- that there are only a few more decades of useable oil on this planet. And as the end days of oil approach us, get ready for some very desperate people willing to kill and be killed just to get their hands on a gallon can of gasoline.

President Obama, now that he has taken control of GM, needs to convert the factories to new and needed uses immediately.

2. Don't put another $30 billion into the coffers of GM to build cars. Instead, use that money to keep the current workforce -- and most of those who have been laid off -- employed so that they can build the new modes of 21st century transportation. Let them start the conversion work now.

3. Announce that we will have bullet trains criss-crossing this country in the next five years. Japan is celebrating the 45th anniversary of its first bullet train this year. Now they have dozens of them. Average speed: 165 mph. Average time a train is late: under 30 seconds. They have had these high speed trains for nearly five decades -- and we don't even have one! The fact that the technology already exists for us to go from New York to L.A. in 17 hours by train, and that we haven't used it, is criminal. Let's hire the unemployed to build the new high speed lines all over the country. Chicago to Detroit in less than two hours. Miami to DC in under 7 hours. Denver to Dallas in five and a half. This can be done and done now.

4. Initiate a program to put light rail mass transit lines in all our large and medium-sized cities. Build those trains in the GM factories. And hire local people everywhere to install and run this system.

5. For people in rural areas not served by the train lines, have the GM plants produce energy efficient clean buses.

6. For the time being, have some factories build hybrid or all-electric cars (and batteries). It will take a few years for people to get used to the new ways to transport ourselves, so if we're going to have automobiles, let's have kinder, gentler ones. We can be building these next month (do not believe anyone who tells you it will take years to retool the factories -- that simply isn't true).

7. Transform some of the empty GM factories to facilities that build windmills, solar panels and other means of alternate forms of energy. We need tens of millions of solar panels right now. And there is an eager and skilled workforce who can build them.

8. Provide tax incentives for those who travel by hybrid car or bus or train. Also, credits for those who convert their home to alternative energy.

9. To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.

Well, that's a start. Please, please, please don't save GM so that a smaller version of it will simply do nothing more than build Chevys or Cadillacs. This is not a long-term solution. Don't throw bad money into a company whose tailpipe is malfunctioning, causing a strange odor to fill the car.

100 years ago this year, the founders of General Motors convinced the world to give up their horses and saddles and buggy whips to try a new form of transportation. Now it is time for us to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine. It seemed to serve us well for so long. We enjoyed the car hops at the A&W. We made out in the front -- and the back -- seat. We watched movies on large outdoor screens, went to the races at NASCAR tracks across the country, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time through the window down Hwy. 1. And now it's over. It's a new day and a new century. The President -- and the UAW -- must seize this moment and create a big batch of lemonade from this very sour and sad lemon.

Yesterday, the last surviving person from the Titanic disaster passed away. She escaped certain death that night and went on to live another 97 years.

So can we survive our own Titanic in all the Flint Michigans of this country. 60% of GM is ours. I think we can do a better job.

Michael Moore

Monday, June 1, 2009

A song, a book, a beer, a baller

a song

a book

a beer

a baller

I recommend all these things, especially the book, which is my favorite read in a long time. The Ricky Rubio YouTube video is worth watching for basketball fans, but find your mute button because there's a weird Spanish song playing in the background.

Nashville News

Charter Schools: what the death rattle sounded like

Music City Center: putting the cart before the horse, creating a massive thing called a TDZ that the general public has no idea about, and then debating the project awkwardly along the way

May Town Center: developer paid study says development is awesome and won't hurt downtown in any way. Not found anywhere in the study? The word 'sprawl.'

A few days work... It's a living.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I can't remember the last time I listened to an album and could tell instantly it was a labor of love. Sometimes I'd be listening to music with my musician friends and one of them would remark, 'You can tell that singer really loves that song.'

I never knew what they meant until I heard Veckatimest. Every word, every choral arrangement, every instrument seems like it was meticulously labored over before it was recorded.

Last year my favorite album was Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight because it seemed so raw and emotional. Grizzly Bear's masterpiece is nothing like that, but it still captured my imagination all the same. I couldn't possibly recommend an album with more certainty than this one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Z is still my favorite baseball player

He loses his cool too easily, but he hasn't let his millions erode his passion for the game. I wish the Cubbies had more guys like him on the roster.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Danica Patrick

Four years ago I had the unforgettable experience of attending the Indianapolis 500. For a native Hoosier, it was the thrill of a lifetime, even if open-wheel racing never stuck with me the way basketball, football and baseball did.

The race itself was memorable, too, because it was the 500 where Danica Patrick contended. She didn't end up winning because she had to conserve fuel in the end, but the crowd's support made it as memorable as any sporting event I've ever attended.

I mention this today because when I flipped the race on, I found myself rooting for her to win. There's still a sector of racing fans who root against Danica because she's a woman. Hopefully one of these years she takes the 500 and silences her critics.

UPDATE: DP finished third and had a great race. It won't silent her most stubborn critics, but it appeared to me she certainly outraced drivers more highly regarded than her.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day weekend

Who knows what's in store for this weekend? Rock and Roll trivia Sunday night? A labradoodle revolt? Three-day weekends are the best and I've left mine unplanned and wide open.

In other news, the City Paper won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its coverage of English Only last year. My friend and photographer Matthew Williams was recognized but he's living the City of God life in Brazil these days, so I'm not sure if he's gotten the good news or not yet. So, Matthew, if you're reading this, congrats.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scapegoat Wax

An awful song, impossibly catchy. Cheesy video. This reminds me of 1999 in every way possible.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oh happy day

Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective on Letterman.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cinco de Mayo and Thee Oh Sees

A number of my gringo friends have remarked how strange it is that we Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo so passionately at a time when anti-immigration advocates have crossed the threshold from fanatical to openly hateful.

I like to think of Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of diversity. In a city where the outlandish English Only proposal was soundly defeated, that actually means something. For most people, Cinco de Mayo is nothing more than a reason to get drunk during the work week and, to be sure, even Metro Police are on guard.

I don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo for my Mexican heritage, because I'm not Mexican. Instead, I celebrate living in a country where we inexplicably celebrate the heritage of other nations.

In other news, the new Thee Oh Sees album is out and, along with having awesome cover art (above), the band provided listeners with music to match.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The more that I do

the more I look forward to the weekend. Here's an entrancing new song by The Field called The More That I do.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Hits all too close to home

Parks and Recreation hasn't been a runaway hit with television critics, but it is with me. The show stars Amy Poehler has a parks department employee for a small Indiana city. As a city government reporter who is originally from a small Indiana city, it hits incredibly close to home. The third episode, about a reporter who does a story on a proposed new park, was especially personal.

Today in journalism

Some journalistic articles that caught my attention today.

Nashville Council members skip out on their work as legislators.

Before there was Nickelback, there was Creed. And now Creed is back together.

Weird Monday Morning Quarterback column by Peter King where he vaguely makes a serious steroids accusation against Packers draftee Clay Matthews. Of course we all know how reliable Sports Illustrated is with its reports of illegal drug use.

Swine flu has to be the worst name for an international plague. I would have gone with the New Plague or Pig Death.

OK, I'm more bored now than when I started this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I won $50,000

but I can't cash it in until the next time I visit California Pizza Kitchen, for reasons that are unclear to me. And even once I do, I have to split half with my friend, and then the guvment is going to take its cut. At the end of the day, it isn't even worth it to win $50,000 anymore, but I'll still take it.

And in other news, I am heading to Indiana for a wedding, which should be a blast. I guess for the next four days this blog should be entitled Nate Not In Nashville.

OK, until I see you again, remember: peace, love, recycle.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The pitfalls and oh so many joys of Record Store Day

Record Store day is such a great concept. When iTunes became the No. 1 album retailer last year, so many people believed it was finally the beginning of the end for the local record store. Romanticized in films and loved to an almost ridiculous degree by indie music fans, the local record store is the backbone of the passionate music fan.

So to create a sort of holiday to honor each town's local hub of music, it was an ingenious idea. That's why in just two years, Record Store Day is truly already a national phenomenon with free shows and exclusive releases galore.

In Nashville, the mecca for local music fans is world-renowned Grimey's with its ridiculous selection, outstanding local releases and plethora of good old-fashioned vinyl, Grimey's is everything High Fidelity ever called a record store to be. What's more, it has one of the coolest and most intimate music venues, the Basement, downstairs.

With a lineup of bands ranging from the Avett Brothers to Mute Math, my friends and I made two separate trips to Grimey's on Record Store Day, which is kinda the point of this post. In the honor of the amateur critics who sometimes come across as music snobs (aka the base of Grimey's customers), I would offer the following pieces of constructive criticism...

The point of the event is to bring record buyers to the store. The bands, and the food, and the beer, and the festival atmosphere, they all serve as the magnets to pull people to the cash register. But when the line is wrapped up and down the aisles, it makes shopping for your favorite record difficult and waiting to purchase it painfully long. Grimey's can't change the layout of its store for Record Store Day, I know, but I might suggest multiple cashout areas at different locations?

The performances themselves I considered as gravy, since it was free, and the atmosphere truly was memorable. But the biggest issue my group had was we couldn't see the stage for either the Avetts or Mute Math. Except for the moments when Darren or Paul from MM stood on their amps to act a fool (per usual, and awesome) I was left staring at backs of heads and not the acts. I wouldn't know the lead singer from the Ettes from the countless other cool indie girls who got overly drunk off their two PBRs on Saturday either. I heard the Ettes (not bad), I just didn't see them, so maybe a stage next year would benefit the concert goers? There were other minor irritations, like the sound system was awful for Mute Math and beer ran out, a true faux pas. But, I guess when that happens it means the crowd was bigger than expected and that's a testament to Nashville's love of Grimey's.

I'm older than I used to be and by the time MM had finished its brief set, I didn't have the leg power to stand in line for the Bat for Lashes album I intend to buy.
Like I said, I had a good time and if I had to do it again I would -- sunburnt neck and all -- but if Grimey's wants to turn the day from a marketing tool into a true event everyone looks forward to, a few minor upgrades would do the trick.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Record Store Day

at Grimey's looks pretty damn sweet with plenty of exclusive releases and a great lineup of music featuring the Avett Brothers and headlined by Mute Math. I have several new albums I haven't picked up, yet, which I have intended to. Chief among them is the soundtrack to the film Makeout with Violence. I've heard a electronic version of the album, and love it, but still intend to give my dollars to show appreciation.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A tradition unlike any other

There are two days a year I watch golf -- the final round of the Masters and the final round of the U.S. Open. Today being one of those days, it was pretty exciting to see Lefty and Tiger, paired together, put in their ridiculous rounds and charge up the leaderboard. Heading into No. 17, both guys seemed like they had a shot at winning.

Fast-forward a few hours to the green jacket ceremony, and I wonder if there has ever been a more anti-climactic finish to a sporting event than today? From the roar of the gallery as the best two players in the game strolled to 17, to watching Trevor Immelman throw the green jacket on Angel Cabrera. This was followed by an awkward interview with Jim Nantz aided by a translator who was clearly just making stuff up to get it over with. Even a win by tubby Kenny Perry would have been satisfactory, since he was shooting to become the oldest champion ever.

I think it would be akin to a Denver Nuggets-Orlando Magic NBA Finals this year, when most people are rooting for Lakers-Celtics or Kobe-LeBron.

Oh well, onto the Cubs tonight and then the work week.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Directions to my place

Take the first five lefts out of your apartment. The road comes to a T. Choose correctly and you will be on your way. Choose incorrectly and you will journey down an endless abyss of madness, paranoia and fury. Left will be up, down will be right. The sky will turn a blood-shot red and orcs will march to Castle Grayskull. The end of times. Flying fish will be everywhere. Bob Dylan will debate St. Peter on national television. Both will win; only the Portuguese will watch. You'll bite your tongue and say more in a milisecond than Sartre ever said in his entire life. You'll grow a third, fourth, fifth and sixth eye like the spider you'll become. There will be no such thing as islands, no such thing as peninsulas. Maritime law will be obliterated, apes never existed. Duck-billed platypuses will wield their poisonous spurs and bring pain, nay, death to many a child. Every other Tuesday, you will become a thieving pirate off the coast of Kenya. Every other Thursday, you will become a bureaucrat in a shadow government run by real-life monarchists. On Fridays, you'll return to that great ABC TGIFriday lineup of yesteryear. The boy of your dreams will rise out of the gunk, and crud and muck and you'll love him, love him, love him in the morning, love him in the noontime, love him, love him, love him when the sun goes down. Noontime. You will be overwhelmed with the compulsion to smash every model train set like you're a two-story monster in a 1940s Japanese horror film. Toy stores will have a bounty on your head. Punctuation will fight Grammar in a 10-round knockdown, drag-out affair!!! Hospitals will revert to car garages as oil-and-lube mechanics take out your spleen. In the end, you will learn to equally love, hate and lust for the dragon to emerge from her cave to bring every living soul judgment with fire-breathing fairness.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

"They call holidays an option for a reason" - Manchester Orchestra

Happy Easter, and special prayers to those in Middle TN affected by the tornadoes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Here is a great road trip song about my home state by interesting band Cymbals Eat Guitars. Indiana.

Jackson turns seven

My dog's seventh birthday was Monday. It's strange to think Jackson is 7-years old. I remember when he was eating the place mats off the dining room table or destroying my roommate's engraved Bible, which was a gift from his grandma.

Jackson hasn't always been the best dog. Because he's antisocial, he's not really allowed around small children or other dogs. He's very particular about when he goes outside and won't even consider it if it's raining or snowing.

I have to say, however, Jackson has been a great friend. He's always excited to see me, rarely judges and he's sorta been by my side through an eventful seven years.

And he has some great qualities. He barks ferociously if someone approaches the front door, which is great because burglars are my No. 1 fear. He likes to cuddle some, but isn't clingy and he does this hilarious thing where he can howl on command. When I take him outside, he doesn't need to be on a leash because he's great with voice commands.

Anyhow, this is a few days late. I bought him a bone and some canine carry-outs for his birthday presents, but I just wanted to take a moment and give a shoutout to a great, loyal friend.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Baseball predictions

American League
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. New York Yankees
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles
*It's a three team race with Toronto and Baltimore having no chance. I think the Orioles are getting better, however. Too many people are slobbering over the Yankees because of their active off-season, but I still feel like Tampa Bay has more talent and depth in its pitching staff. The Red Sox are still great.

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals
* Any of the top four teams could win this division and I wouldn't be surprised. The Indians have quietly built a great offense and Lee probably won't go 22-4, but he's good enough to lead the staff.

1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Texas Rangers
3. Oakland A's
4. Seattle Mariners
*The Angels are the clear favorite, but they always seem injury prone and Lackey is already hurt. The Rangers have a great offense and have gradually been getting more talent. The A's can never be counted out because Bean consistently adds good players below the radar.

Wild Card: Rays
Champion: Red Sox

National League
1. New York Mets
2. Florida Marlins
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Washington Nationals
*The Marlins are my "surprise" team and I wouldn't be surprised to see them sneak into the playoffs. The Phillies are your typical boom then bust team and I see this season as the swan song to Bobby Cox's great carer.

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Houston Astros
5. Cincinnati Reds
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
*The Cubs are the class of the division with more pitching than anybody, but I can't figure out the next four teams to save my life, so shuffle the Cardinals, Astros, Brewers and Reds in any order you'd like. The Pirates are not horrible.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
*The DBacks have great pitching and I think some of their offensive players (Upton, Drew) will become stars this year. The Dodgers over-achieved last year but do have OK pitching and Manny. Lincecum is a star, but the Giants roll him out too much. The Padres are a team to watch with their new ownership, but all they have pitching-wise is Peavy and he'll be traded in no time

Wild Card: Marlins
Champion: Cubs

World Series Champs: Chicago Cubs. The curse is over.

Friday, April 3, 2009


So, I am drinking a Stella right now and prepping for what I hope is a relaxing weekend. In honor of that end-goal, here is the video Stella by crazy-ass Ida Maria. This is a pretty cool video, although still disconcerting at various moments, per usual for IM.

Peace, love, recycle:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Year 2000 where have you gone?

I will try to regain some of the magic this weekend in Indianapolis with a plethora of great people.

And I will give to my loyal reader(s) a video of the song that takes me back to nine years ago.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All the single ladies

Thanks to Brandon for pointing this out to me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The greatest shot ever

My all-time favorite sports moment is Bryce Drew's buzzer beater to upset Ole Miss. I'll always remember where I was (at home because my Dad always called me out sick for the NCAA tournament if I had a B average), my reaction (somewhere between ecstatic and ridiculous. I could not duplicate the voice if I tried) and who I called afterwards (about 10 people).

I grew up going to Valpo basketball games with my Dad and those 90s teams under Homer Drew were some of the best-coached I've ever seen.

OK, here is the clip, the quality isn't great, but I actually like this one better than others on YouTube because it sets the stage.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

'He was called, he served, he is counted.'

Classic scene from the greatest television series of all time.