Southern Boy in ChiTown

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

'Bone Straight Up

Stopped back by the Jazz Record Mart on the way back to the apartment today and let me tell you, when they say it is the world's largest jazz and blues record store, they ain't lying. In addition to the CDs, they have a huge selection of vinyl (some of it never opened) going back to the 40s and 50s and a number of 78s as well.

There is a bit of snobbery going on though, despite their protestations to the contrary. When I walked in and surrendered my backpack to the guy behind the counter, I asked him if they ever got in any Chase LPs or CDs, since I've been looking for the original Chase album off and on for years - Get It On was a staple of every stage band in the world back in the 70's. I got "the look" and was told that Chase was "just over the edge" into what they consider rock. Ahem. Don't ask me then what the fuck Tom Waits and non-Flecktone Bela Fleck was doing there. But I did walk around and fill my need for some trombone goodness with a late 90's Bill Watrous CD and a J.J. Johnson/Kai Winding set from '54.

Bill Watrous was my hero when I was in high school while my trumpet-playing friends were listening to Maynard Ferguson. The two Columbia recordings of Watrous' big band (the Manhattan Wildlife Refuge) are still some of my favorite pieces of vinyl. J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding were two of the hottest bebop bonists in the second half of the 50's (Watrous played with Winding's band at one point). I know you care absolutely nothing about any of this if you're not a trombone player, but hey, it matters to me! :-D

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sentimental Journey

I hate to admit what a sappy sentimental pile of mush I can be sometimes, but Friday night actually makes me laugh when I think about it. Flew back from Midway a little earlier than usual but later than scheduled, which gave me time to down about 5 pints of Heiney in the Concourse A lounge. I stayed dry on the two hour flight since I had to drive home, but I was pretty tired by the time I got out to the park-and-ride.

Started up the XTerra, hit the CD player and James Taylor's Greatest Hits comes up as I'm paying the attendant.

Something in the Way She Moves
I'm actually bawling by the time I merge onto I-40 West.
"Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning
and I find myself careening in places where I should not let me go.
She has the power to go where no one else can find me
yes, and to silently remind me
of the happiness and the good times that I know"
Carolina in My Mind
Usually this one gets to me too, but this night instead of some sort of nostalgia it's more of an anthem. I'm singing at the top of my lungs as I roll under the NC 54 overpass.
"With a holy host of others standing round me,
still I'm on the dark side of the moon.
And it seems like it goes on like this forever.
You must forgive me if I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind."
Fire and Rain
One of the best songs ever written - this one gets to me too, so I'm choked up again as I exit I-40 at NC 86. Almost home.
"Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around.
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come.
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground."
Hey, I know this is embarrassing, but what the hell. If I can't chuckle at myself then just go ahead and bury me. But I think I will make sure I'm listening to the Arctic Monkeys or something on the way home from now on...

On the Music Box - Working Late Edition

I've mentioned quite a few new CDs I've bought in the last few months in this blog. So why when I was working late last Thursday night was I listening to Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" and the Doobie Brothers' "The Captain and Me"?

Doing a little better tonight - cranking up Paul Westerberg's "Come Feel Me Tremble" so I can hear it over the dishwasher.

I'm trying to use up the food in the fridge so I don't have to throw out a lot of stuff Saturday, but that unfortunately means that I kinda got to eat at home pretty much every night tonight. Of course it's not like I'm not going to be coming back up here often and HAVE to eat out since I won't have a kitchen, but it still is a little disappointing.

I did go over to Melnick's last night and ate at the bar while watching the final of the CWS. I was home by the time it was over - disappointed, but not crushed. I figure we didn't lose because of the errant throw to first any more than the basketball team won because of Sleepy Floyd's bad pass or Chris Webber's timeout call. We had plenty of other chances to score and other chances to stop Oregon State and didn't, so I hope that kid gets over it quick.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Heels in Omaha

While my mother-in-law and her beau were freaking out over the Carolina Hurricane's Stanley Cup run and everybody else has been watching Pat Riley's Miami Heat finally win an NBA championship, I've been getting all excited about the Carolina baseball team. Watched most of the Clemson game Sunday night and then caught the last few innings of the Cal State-Fullerton game tonight, including Jay Cox's incredible catch running into the wall for the 2nd out in the ninth and Andrew Miller's 3-pitch stint as a reliever that put the game away.

Back in the day (before they put a gated fence around the park and outlawed the open consumption of alcohol on campus), we'd pack an Igloo full of beer and go sit on the bank along the first base line at Boshamer Stadium and watch the Heels play. I never made it to one of the yearly exhibitions with the Yankees but they certainly drew some crowds (Jenny Steinbrenner was at UNC the same time I was so Daddy George brought the team down every spring). They had some pretty decent teams (B.J. Surhoff and Walt Weiss were teammates at UNC a couple of years after me) but this is their first time to the final series. Should be a fun weekend!

The Dreaded Call

After spending every week in Chicago the last three months, I finally got the dreaded call yesterday at work. Not the call about a death or illness or fire or anything like that. It's the call you get when you just know you needed to be home and you weren't.

For me it had to do with the neighbors behind us in CH. The ones that have decided that the strip along our property line (the back of our yard, the side of theirs) is their most prized possession and they've apparently spent the whole time I've been gone weeding, tilling, planting etc an area that had heretofore been given over to undergrowth, poison ivy and wisteria.

That doesn't sound like a bad thing at all! But yesterday J noticed that they were reaching under and through the split rail fence that I put up inside the property line and cutting and spraying stuff on our property. Now I was always taught that you didn't put a fence right on the property line, particularly since at the time I put it up the house behind us hadn't even been built yet. So I put it in about 8-12 inches inside the line. This has never been a problem with the last two occupants of the house behind us, but Lady J went out to have a little talk with them yesterday about property lines and property rights.

Did I mention that the elderly Asian gentleman has very little English? So J was out there trying to make him understand that the line was NOT at the fence and THEN tried to convince him that the 9' tall cedar that I've raised from a cedarpup that he was about to cut down was by God on OUR side of the line.

This apparently didn't go too far but she finally at least convinced him that either she was dangerous enough that he'd get his son to talk to her. I'm pretty sure his son has little more English than his pop does, so this should be interesting.

Now I'm the farthest thing from being a male chauvinist that you're going to find, but this is the kind of thing that the guy is supposed to handle. J's call to me made it quite clear that she shares that opinion. And I'm here, not there, and this isn't the kind of thing that a phonecall (given the language issue) is going to resolve.

So she's got the drapes in the back of the house closed and is refusing to look out the back because she doesn't want to know if the tree is gone or not. If the tree is gone, I'm going to be furious, but no more than I am now not being there to protect my shit.

This sucks.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bizarre Finish

Well, that was a weird and oddly anti-climactic US Open. Mickelson's lead despite not being able to hit a freaking fairway and Montie's little charge there through 17 was making for a classic ending and then 18 kills Montie and Leftie shoots himself in the foot. Both feet. Bummmer.

Hopefully game 5 of the NBA playoffs will be better, even without Stack. Think I'll head over to Melnick's and grab a spot at the bar for the game. But I still can't get excited about the Stanley Cup final tomorrow night - sure, I hope they win for the guys back home but it's still hockey. I just really don't care.

"In the Hole!"

Why is there some yayhoo on every single tee at every single golf championship (at least in the States) that yells "In the hole!" at every single fucking tee shot? You know, bud, when Vijay Singh tees off on a 575 yard dogleg right par 5, it AIN'T going in the hole...

Happy Father's Day!

Haven't updated you guys on Dad lately but I'm happy to say he's doing well. He's getting himself around a little better and healing (still slowly, but it's happening). I'm sure he and his physical therapist are ready to kill each other by now but it's paying off.

Dad might not have taught me a lot about golf like Tiger's dad did Tiger (not that he didn't try) and he didn't teach me a lot about basketball like Jordan's dad did Michael. Instead he taught me (and continues to teach me) how to enjoy life and how to be a better boss, a better friend, a better man and a better human being. Who could ask for better than that? Happy Father's Day, dude!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

88 Lines About 44(,000) Women

As I discovered today, it's the perfect song to run to down Chicago Avenue and up Lake Michigan to the North Ave. beaches on a hot June Saturday.

Yeah, I'm Still Here

I seem to have worried some folks the last couple of weeks by laying low without really meaning to. I've been back in Chicago this week without J for the first time in a while. Spent most of the week working my ass off then Thursday night, after a particularly tough meeting with a lot of bad news, stopped off at a going away party at the Grand Luxe for one of the project managers and got seriously wiped out. I managed to get some work done Friday but I did it from the apartment (the office building is a ghost town on Fridays in the summer anyway).

I guess I've been uncommunicative - J got worried about me, Dad's been worried about me. I'm okay, kids, just working hard and ready to get the hell out of here. Two more weeks and I give the apartment up and start working from home most of the time. That will be a good thing.

I'd intended to sleep in a little this morning since I was pretty wiped out after Thursday, but naturally I got a call from work around 7 and couldn't get back to sleep. I did make it out for a run (not a very good one I'm afraid) and then back out to finally take some pictures from the top of the Hancock Center (it was bright but hazy, so I'm not expecting much) and do a little shopping. I spent at least an hour and a half at Virgin Megastore and came away with a dB's tribute CD Stand-ins for Decibels which includes a cover of Nothing Is Wrong by Brown Mountain Lights (with my bud Greg Bower), the original Broadway cast recording of Spamalot! and (and I can't believe I'm typing this) the latest CD from Belle and Sebastian. Honestly I was never much of a fan of B&S but I really like what I heard on the listening wall, so what the hell.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Marriage Busters

And my final blog reference of the night goes to Driftglass for his definitive slapdown of the anti-gay marriage bullshit:

When the cultural Gladys Kravitzes on the Right stomp into the public square dragging Gay Marriage along behind them, this is what’s really on the menu: Their insatiable appetite to impose their witchbag of hate, squeamishness and childish idiocy on everyone else in the Universe for no reason other than they are hateful, squeamish, childish idiots.

As usual, read the whole thing.


Gnumoon proves that she's hotter than Heather Locklear. But then we knew that.


I haven't been reading Fafblog in a long time and was feeling really bad about that until I checked out Fafblog tonight and realized that Fafblog has been on hiatus for two months so I really haven't been missing Faflog at all.

Go read Fafblog right this very instance - the latest post is weevily delicious!

Monday, June 05, 2006


We were fortunate enough to catch Spamalot at the beautiful Cadillac Palace theater in the last weekend of its Chicago run. We had absolutely awesome seats, in the next to last row of the balcony (!) - actually, the seats were fine except that I couldn't get any closeups of the dancers.

If you have a chance to see it, do it. Do it now and do it often. I expected something pretty good but it was better than that. The first act is in large part a retelling of the movie but with a great dance number in the "Bring Out Your Dead" scene (! again) and another one as Lancelot is 'made a man' by the Lady of the Lake and the Laker girls. The second act is as much as anything a spoof of Broadway (and a fine one it is). I ain't saying anything else as I hope as many of you as possible will get a chance to see it.

I haven't picked up the original cast recording yet (with Eric Idle, Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce) but I absolutely will (I may hold off on the karaoke version for now).

Oh, we grabbed an extra Playbill that will be going to PC and Kel in the near future.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hugh Morton, 1921-2006

Michael Jordan, Charles Kuralt, Andy Griffith and Thomas Wolfe are certainly more famous native North Carolinians, but I'm with Governor Easley that if we were going to name a Mr. North Carolina, Hugh Morton was probably the best candidate. I never had a chance to meet him, but I've been aware of his presence since first moving to the state. Some of the most enduring photographs of UNC athletics, from Charlie "Choo-Choo" Justice to Michael Jordan and his dad talking to reporters in the locker room after the '82 championship to a vicious Vince Carter tomahawk jam, were taken by Hugh Morton. He was instrumental in the preservation of many North Carolina icons, from Grandfather Mountain to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse to the USS North Carolina. According to the Durham Morning Herald article, he was even instrumental in launching Andy Griffith's career by hiring him to entertain at the NC Press Photographers banquet.

Hugh Morton died in Linville Thursday at the age of 85. He's one of those guys of whom you can pretty confidently say "there'll never be another one of him". I thought the article in the Durham paper linked above had the nicest article on him. The Charlotte paper has a beautiful slideshow complete with bagpipes but I wouldn't recommend it for low bandwidth connections. Might try the slideshow in the Raleigh paper instead. In both of them, there's a stunning picture of the Charlotte skyline from the top of Grandfather Mountain almost a hundred miles away.

Lady J jokingly said that it's a bit of a cheat to be a photographer and freaking own Grandfather Mountain, but it is actually possible to take bad photos up there. Hugh Morton did not. Some of his photos are among my favorites of anything or anywhere and some are the most famous images of my adopted state (UNC over the years has been gifted with over 100,000 Morton photos).

Correction: Thanks to Russell for his email and for pointing out that I said "Hugh Durham" once above rather than Hugh Morton. No, the ex-coach of the University of Georgia basketball team was not, to my knowledge, a photographer. :-D

Russell also pointed out a rebroadcast archived on of an interview with Morton on The State of Things from a couple of years ago. Worth a listen.

Love and Marriage

Saturday has been the kind of day that everyone promised me but that we haven't had many of. Perfect day for a wedding and there were apparently many fortunate couples that made the right choice when setting their dates months before. We stuck our heads into both the Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals in our neighborhood while weddings were in progress and then while we walked down into Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain, there were two different wedding parties pulling up in their stretches for their photo sessions. Given that the fountain is the focal point of the intro to "Married... With Children", I'm not sure it's where I'd really want my wedding photos taken, but it is quite beautiful.

The fountain at least makes some sense but someone is going to have to explain to me the wedding party having their photos done in the middle of LaSalle in front of the Rookery and the Chicago Board of Trade. Given the location and the fact that the bridal party was all in formal black cocktail dresses, I'm guessing we're not likely to be invited over anytime soon...

The Cabbie and the Twenty

We flew back up to Chicago on Tuesday this week due to the Memorial Day weekend and as usual took a cab from Midway to the apartment. I handed the cabbie my corporate credit card and got out to get our bags out of the trunk and as I did, I spotted a folded-over twenty lying in the street soaked from the thunderstorm that was finally dying down. I palmed it while taking the bags to the sidewalk but it was too wet to put in my pocket. As I slid back into the back seat to sign the credit card slip, I heard the cabbie mumbling something about needing cash for gas. Now, sometimes I get cabbies that are really nasty about taking a credit card, but this didn't seem directed at me - more a self-beratement for not having a little more forethought. I looked at the $20 dripping in my hand and decided that while that was twice the tip that I had planned on, he could probably use it more than me.

He was one happy cabbie.