November 24, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Music | Leave a comment

I am 30 years old, sitting in my one-windowed office and listening to a new Pearl Jam album (Backspacer) that I stumbled upon last night. I have a condo, a puppy, a Mazda. They come with a mortgage, a schedule, and a car payment. I manage a team of people and a fairly large-sized business. I travel a lot, always with my iPod, always loaded with every piece of music I have ever owned, available via a simple button press at any given moment. I cannot imagine a better music technology ever existing.

I am 17 years old, driving my Mother’s minivan to the used CD store with my next-door neighbor to pick up a copy of Vitalogy so that I would now own all of Pearl Jam’s albums on this awesome new media format. I have a Sony Discman that I can play in the car through a very fancy tape-deck adaptor. When I drive over a bump or a pothole, the song skips and takes a second to find its way again, but I am utterly convinced of the merits and staying power of this new device.

I am 19 years old, in college now, sitting at the dining room table of my fraternity with a tape deck hooked up to the same Discman, making what I have titled the “Ultimate Pearl Jam Mix.” I am disappointed to have to be using a tape for this endeavor, but everybody knows that you can’t just record a CD with whatever you want on it. My mix tape leans more towards their newer stuff, Merkin Ball, No Code, and I think that this is really clever and deep. Everyone knows Ten, but Merkin Ball is small and unknown and special.

All of which is a long way of saying that though I know they say that scent is the strongest memory trigger, I do think that music has it beat on most days. And while I love the discovery of an unheard band or song or album, something new by one of these bands, one of these musical touchstones in my life, a band whose career I can literally chart through the calendar of my youth and into adulthood, it just means more. And you start to understand why people are still buying new Rolling Stones albums forty years after they released their first single.

These bands, they bring you back.

I am 30 years old, sitting in my office, writing a blog about Pearl Jam.

In America?

October 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Posted in I can't think of a clever category | 1 Comment
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I haven’t posted here in a while, and for that I apologize, but I hope to make up for it with this absolutely fascinating tidbit.

There is, right now, in the state of Pennsylvania, a town that has been essentially erased from existence due to the fact that it has been on fire for the past 50 years. Go ahead and read that again. This is not a bad movie, or a joke, or a gag.

You see, there was a town, once, Centralia, that numbered roughly 2,000 Pennsylvanians. In 1962, the local fire department lit the town dump on fire (a standard practice apparently) and accidentally ignited the coal mine running beneath the entire town.

It started burning. And it is still burning because it’s, you know, coal. And you cannot, I gather, live and work atop a continuously burning coal mine fire without experiencing some rather serious side effects. The ground there actually smokes and belches flame, and the temperature several feet below the surface is over 170 degrees.

We have managed to create, in the middle of Pennsylvania, an actual, physical, manifestation of Hell.

So, in 1984, Congress allocated $84 million to relocate all of the residents of the town. In 1992, the state claimed the entire town via eminent domain, and in 2002, the Federal Government cancelled the town’s zip code. There is essentially a several square mile dead-zone, a non-existent place, that is literally on fire, in the middle of our country.

It is estimated that the mines beneath the town will continue burning for another 250 years.

I am absolutely speechless upon learning this. Did you know about this? Did you know that this was even possible? Why has nobody ever told me about this? Why does the national news not report on this story every single night?

And who is joining me for a road trip?

Bartender please

August 11, 2009 at 8:20 am | Posted in Food, Travel | Leave a comment
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I have, through the course of my career, been blessed with the opportunity to visit the most amazing places and partake in some truly unique experiences too numerous to recount. Sporting events, far-off points in distant countries, race car races, race car rides, secret hidden restaurants, giant malls, and yes, once, duck hunting. In a pond.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting most major cities in the US. I’ve seen their airports, their downtowns, their stadiums. I’ve eaten their blue crab, their ribs, their copper river salmon, their double-double’s, their gumbo, and their cheeseburger cheeseburgers.

I have, to sum up, been around a bit.

So it was with some skepticism that I visited, last week, rural Minnesota. Once there I had the opportunity to dine at the Westwood, situated on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 (seriously?) lakes. It was at this fine establishment that I was greeted with this lovely sign, which forever elevated Mankato, Minnesota to one of my favorite places in these great United States.

Bartender for Bait

Eating their own

July 11, 2009 at 7:51 am | Posted in Politics | 1 Comment
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Peggy Noonan is usually a bit of a wingnut right-wing columnist. But not today. Today, writing about Palin’s resignation, she is the voice of truth:

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough.

You can read the full article here, and it’s well worth it. Please, please let this be the last, final word on this illiterate, ignorant twit.

By any other name

July 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Business, Movies | 2 Comments
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Perhaps it’s the inner geek in me, the eternally-nine-years-old Star Wars fan, but when I hear that you’ve decided to rebrand your restaurant as “The Hut,” my mind does not immediately think of this:



It thinks of this:

jabba the hut

Mmmmmm. Appetizing.

Now I will eat at your establishment.

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