I promised myself I wouldn’t let another month go by between blog entries, but once again I’ve failed, due mainly to equal parts creativity drought and space/time acceleration. So, for no other reason than to mark time for future reference, here is some condensed bloggage:

SXSW – 2010 was a slow year for me at SXSW. No super-exciting shows, the bizarre cold snap kept me from hanging out with my sister and her kids, I missed the guitar convention and record show, and I missed Linus of Hollywood. Oh, and Alex Chilton died on my birthday. Still, it was nice to get some sunny days of biking around. And Tara is becoming quite the chef.

Meat Loaf – My friend Aly had a conflicting engagement last Wednesday so she sent me to a small album preview gathering at The Hit Factory for Meat Loaf’s new album. I got to meet Meat and listen to the bombastic new record (featuring Steve Vai, Jack Black, Brian May and more) in a nice studio with sandwiches and cookies. Score!

Colleen – My virtual friend Colleen became real a week ago when I met my longtime Flickr bud in realtime. She’s putting out her first children’s book, Hamster & Cheese, and was doing a women’s author panel at the NYPL (where I finally got my library card).

Easter brunch – I was invited to a fellow Arkansan’s gathering of other Arkansans, so it was nice to meet new people from old places. Even if they were all distressingly young and insanely pretty.

Greenberg – Director Noah Baumbach did a Q&A after the premiere of his new film Greenberg at BAM. Very cool to see him in person, as I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.

Lucas – Corey Haim’s early death prompted me to head over to J&R after work to find a copy of Lucas on DVD. It’s still a heartbreakingly great movie, and it makes me wonder if Haim might have had more in him than his hearthrob marketing allowed him to use.

The General Electric Building – Man, is this place a temple to electricity or what? It was the home to RCA then GE before Rockefeller Center was completed. Check out the sides, the deco carvings, the subway entrance.

Books – I tallied up my books today. The unread outnumber the read by about 5.

Moving – As mentioned earlier, I’m in search of my own place, but now my roommate is moving back to Tennessee. Whatever happens, this is the end of a chapter for both of us. Hopefully the new chapter for me begins with central heat and air and lots of natural light.


Last few weeks have been dizzyingly busy. So far I’ve enjoyed the winter wonderlands of Prospect Park, explored the wilds of Canarsie and Manhattan’s lower west sides, and picked up another bargain guitar.

Things I didn’t take pictures of: last week’s dining expeditions with Heather for Moroccan and Indonesian food, the Tim Burton MOMA exhibit, checking out “Venus in Fur” (starring Arkansan Wes Bentley) with Gabrielle.

Coming soon: SXSW next week, and I’m looking to move into my own apartment, so I’ll be starting The Search as soon as I get my tax refund in the next few weeks. EXCITEMENT!

“If You’d Have Told Me Ten Years Ago…” has the most comprehensive list of the 2000s in review, but maybe the best way to take stock of the last ten years is to think of the list of unlikely things that have happened. To get started, I Googled the phrase “if you’d have told me ten years ago” and came up with some seriously hilarious results. Try it for yourself (be sure to use variations like “10” or “you would“).

As a side note, this great segment of Robin Williams’s recent HBO special also makes for a nice collection of unlikely recent history.

Here are just a few off the top of my head.

If you’d have told me ten years ago that…

…suicide hijackers would destroy the World Trade Center…
…we’d elect a black guy for President…
…we’d start two land wars in Asia, and still be in them as of 2010…
…we’d be debating the intricacies of what “torture” means in sneakier ways than we did the word “is” back in the Clinton era.
…Americans would be obsessed with vampire romance novels…
…Americans would be obsessed with “voting” for “musical talent” on a TV show…
…I’d be able to watch on the web just about any music video ever made…
…I’d be able to see any part of the world from the sky…
…I’d be able to get directions to anywhere in the US at the push of a button…
…I’d be watching TV on a hard drive cable box…
…I’d be renting DVDs by mail…
…I’d be able to fit my entire CD collection in the palm of my hand…
…I’d be able to stay in touch with old friends every day, no matter how far away they lived…
…I’d purchase a brand new record player, with a USB port…
…Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” would top the UK charts during Christmastime…
…the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, and the tallest basketball player is Chinese…
…Jon Stewart would be the cable news man I trust most…

…I’d have said you were crazy.

And last but not least, for myself, the realization that started this whole post:

If you’d have told me ten years ago that I’d be living in New York City, working on the 43rd floor of the American Express building in Lower Manhattan, I’d have said you were crazy.

Holiday Recap

I haven’t done a recap in a long time because I haven’t had an intensely active series of days to chronicle. But the last few weeks have kept me busy. Here are the details with photo links:

Did I mention my roommate got a cat? Her name is Lola and she’s an affectionate former streetwalker who is finally gaining some weight.

Before Christmas I went to Macy’s. That was a mistake. I also braved our first blizzard to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. The snow continued to pile up while I was at Aly’s birthday party. Walking home was easier on the street than on the sidewalk. Getting into my apartment was tricky.

The snow also delayed Tara’s visit by a day, but she arrived just in time to catch the latter half of my friend Matt’s cookie competition at Bell House. We did Central Park in the snow, including skating at Wollman Rink. We took tons of pictures of the window displays on 5th Avenue but there are so many that I’m going to upload them later as a batch. We saw a 20’s/30’s swing band featuring a brilliant 85-year old clarinetist. The guy at the table next to us told us to check out a speakeasy on St. Mark’s. You go into a phone booth at a hot dog joint and pick up the receiver. The wall opens and the hostess asks if you have a reservation. Best bourbon and tater tots ever.

We returned to Arkansas on Wednesday the 23rd. Katherine and I had the same idea to have breakfast at Waffle House, where she pointed out to me the presence of reclusive author Charles Portis. Mom wanted me to come up to Harrison a little early to lend a hand, so I had a nice rainy drive through the Ozarks.

Christmas was delightful. I convinced my parents and brother to go in with me on a Hello Kitty electric guitar for my niece. My brother got his daughter Band Hero, much to the consternation of my stepmom’s dog. My sister got me the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 collection, so that made me stupidly happy. I thought that I had ordered Firefly for my brother, but apparently I failed to do so, necessitating me driving all over Little Rock in the days after Christmas. Luckily I found a copy on sale at Barnes & Noble for much lower then their usual prices.

I knew I’d need more time to catch up with Little Rock friends, so I moved my flight back two days. I feverishly scheduled meetups with more than 13 people, and saw a few more down at The Big Cats show at Whitewater Tavern. And, sadly, for as many people as I saw, I didn’t think to take pictures of any of them except Heather. I did, however, take a picture of my friend Richard’s insane guitar collection. Just to show you that there’s always someone crazier than me.

My flight into NYC from Cincinnati was delayed a few hours, but I managed to make it to Aly’s New Year’s Eve party. Amy and I spent New Year’s Day in our pajamas watching the special Dharma Orientation edition of LOST season 5. I bought it at Best Buy, but if you buy it from that link to Amazon, it’s $20 cheaper. And I might get a nickel or two since I signed up as an Amazon associate.

That’s about it. This weekend I’m off to Austin to see a special screening of The Monster Squad. A rash, hasty decision, to be sure, and given this weekend’s forecast, one I’m sure I’ll regret.


Let me know if you find anything buggy on the site – I only just now noticed that Comments were turned off on the previous post. And we’ve had some server outages lately as well, so sorry about that.

In other news – I saw Big Star!

Best of 2009: A Mix Disc via YouTube

I’ve been making mix CDs of my favorite songs from 2009 for some people lately, and I’ve come to realize that nearly all of the songs are available on YouTube in some shape or form. I should note that while most of these are songs that debuted in 2009, some of them are simply songs I discovered for myself in 2009. So here is my personal chart of Top 15 tunes from 2009:

1. All I Know is Tonight – Jaga Jazzist

2. This Is for the Better Days – (Band of) Bees

3. Marrow – St. Vincent

4. Cannibal Resource – Dirty Projectors

5. Shake Me Like a Monkey – Dave Matthews Band

6. Love Letter to Japan – The Bird and the Bee

7. Microburst Alert – OSI

8. Carry Me Ohio – Sun Kil Moon

9. Ooh You Hurt Me So – Clare and the Reasons

10. Down the Drain – Chickenfoot

11. The St. Valentines Day Massacre – Starling Electric

12. Stadsvandringar – Dungen

13. Hallmark – Mike Keneally

14. A Crimson Grail – Rhys Chatham (featuring me and 199 other guitarists at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival)

15. What to Do – OK Go (on handbells)

And as a bonus, an awesome video of Robert Plant jamming with friends on “Calling to You” featuring my friend Tom on keys.

Noticing Things

I know I’m not a New Yorker yet because I still notice things that no one else seems to.

  • I’ve found USB flash drives on two separate occasions. The first one was a few months ago. I found an email address inside one of the documents, and sent a message, but never got a reply. The second one I found yesterday. I Googled the owner’s name and connected with her on Facebook[1]. I got it back to her last night.
  • Leaving the office a few weeks ago, I saw a large Post-It note attached to the bottom of a lady’s purse. I walked along with the hastily moving crowd of folks, figuring someone would mention it to her. No one did, so I had to. She was relieved; the note contained important info she would likely have lost had I not intervened.
  • Also a few weeks ago I found a debit card at the E train turnstile. I thought about announcing to the riders that Mr. Lopez had left behind a personal item at the turnstile, but wasn’t sure if that was the best course of action, so I just called the number on the back to tell them it had been found. It had already been reported lost.

1.) Something that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

Recent Videos

Here are a few brief videos of things I’ve done and seen in the last few weeks.


All year I’ve been saying that by October I’d have some clearer idea about whether or not I would stay in New York. Here we are halfway through October and I’m still at an impasse. For me, Little Rock and New York are essentially the same in terms of net appeal. There are things each has that the other does not. I guess my only option is to give it more time and see if something comes up to pull me strongly in one direction or the other.

That said, I had a great time being back in Arkansas. I caught up with a few friends, had a small family reunion at my uncle’s birthday gathering, and attended a wedding (Jessie and Tiffany’s pictures are better than mine).

One side effect of being stuck on where I belong is that I haven’t been motivated to write or play guitar much. Limbo does not lend itself to creativity. Most days when I get home from work I just watch a DVD and goof off on the web[1]. I haven’t even gotten much reading done.

As of tomorrow I will have been working at American Express for one year. I don’t want to procrastinate on a decision, because time is moving ever faster these days. One thing I can say is that I should stick with the job until I’ve paid off the heating/cooling unit that Trey had installed earlier this year. I’ve got a few more thousand to go on my Amex card to do that. Then I’d like to have something saved up for travel if/when I move back, so really, I’m going to put off a decision until early next year.

1.) I actually spent an hour or so last night looking at photos of streetlights, traffic lights and power lines. I find this level of esoterica endlessly fascinating. I think I’m becoming addicted to information.

For Everything We Gain, We Lose Something

So my division has moved up to the 43rd floor, and the views are amazing. But my new cubicle is half the size of my old one. Contractors are assigned smaller cubes because the assumption is they work part-time, but I’m a full-time contractor, so we’ve put in a request to move me to a larger space. There’s an empty one right across from me. I’m thinking of moving in and seeing if anybody cares.

I’m also excited to have a new computer whose processing speed doesn’t make we want to drill rusty nails through my eyelids, even if it is a smaller laptop. I can now run Photoshop, Excel, Firefox and Lotus Notes at the same time without generating memory leaks or “virtual memory is too low” messages. I’m glad I saw the slow demise coming; it took almost two months to get the new computer delivered.