Monday, July 31, 2006

What Would Jesus' Lawyers Do?

Regarding the firing of Dr. Foster, a popular founding pastor at Bellevue Community Church.

Such a move was one of the things church elders wanted to prevent by including a one-year non-compete clause in the severance package they offered him, he said.

Is it just me, or is it a bit abrasive to read about a non-compete clause in connection with a church? WWJD, indeed.

And here's the link to NiT's summary of events.

That's The Ticket


Click here to make your own.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Am A Hot Date

What lucky girl wouldn't want to see a movie about global warming? My wife is the envy of all of her friends, I'm sure.

An Inconvenient Truth, here we come.

And thanks to Brittany at NiT for the heads up on tickets.

Sad Faces






From Deep Within The Hard Drive

(click to enlarge)


 Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 28, 2006

And The Sign Says...

Billy's Mini Market in Decatur, Alabama asks that you dress appropriately when stopping in for your convenient purchases. After seeing way too much underwear, they simply posted a sign:

STOP & READ

Males: Pull up your pants where we do not see your underwear. Must have on shoes and shirt. No stomach showing or bad language.

Females: Pull your shirts down and cover your stomach. Must have shoes on and cover for bathing suits. No bad language.

We appreciate your cooperation and business. Thank you, Joann McNutt, owner.


I don't see any mention about long-haired freaky people, though. So the good boys from Five Man Electrical Band should be welcome. Or make that Tesla for you younger folks.

Rock on.

Where In The World Is Happiness?


Q: Why is this fish smiling?

A: Because he's a lucky Finn.

According to the map in this link to The World Map of Happiness, the US ranks 23rd among the countries in the world. My Finnish friend at work moved here from a #6 ranking. And maybe nothing is rotten in Denmark afterall, as it resides at the top of the list.

With respect to the citizens who live near the bottom of this list, we need to remember that Hotel Rwanda was a great and important film, and while it was celebrated and awarded for its merits, people still suffer greatly in places like Rwanda and Burundi and most certainly Darfur. At the very least, we need to read about what is going on where people are mistreated. We need to keep ourselves informed, and that is the very least, indeed. We start by reading, and we then we write about what we read, and then we talk about what we learn. It is our responsibility to care about those who live a life seemingly without hope or help.

We can always start at home, too. Nashville Rescue Mission could always use volunteers or donations. Unlike in Las Vegas (Thanks, Sam), it's still legal to feed the homeless of Nashville. Before compassion is outlawed everywhere, let's do our part. The 23rd happiest nation may as well care.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Apartment Living Suits Us Just Fine

On my first day off in nine days, the kids and I walked to the apartment pool to play. At our apartments, there is a beautiful pond which is quite large. Much to the delight of the children, there are a lot of ducks around the pond. Much to the delight of the ducks, we have a lot of bread that we will be happy to share.





This, of course, would be our little samurai swimmer. We're still teaching her how to swim. She's got the kicking part down but she thinks that the rest of it is just about looking cool and fierce.





This young man is all over the place. As long as he has his big green vest, he's got all of the confidence in the world. And this father loves to see both confidence and big fun working together for his cherub.

At our old house, we had no pool, we had no pond, and we had no ducks. We had unpaved streets and a backyard where no grass would grow. The grass in the front yard grew just fine and I got to cut it from time to time. I hate yard work. I don't understand those guys who look forward to the weekends so that they can manicure their lawns.

Here, I mow nothing. On a day off, I take a leisurely stroll down to the pool and have fun with my kids. There is a health club with a sauna and a jacuzzi as well. The smile on my face indicates simply that life is good here.

Now if we could just get a freaking break on the sale of our house.

For Better Pics And Pixels

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal's Blog Watch column, I have three new favorite photo tip blogs:

Photojojo

Camera On The Road

Digital Photography School

Rockin' With Dokken


OK, the pic has nothing to do with Dokken, but it just seems to fit for the moment. I've come home from yet another night of working for a pittance and I have left all of my "indier than thou" musical tastes somewhere in the parking lot. I walked into my apartment, changed into lounge pants and an old ripped up Peter Himmelman t-shirt that I just bet my wife wants like anything to burn, and fired up the laptop to feed this late night surfing addiction of mine.

Plugging in my new headphones, I logged onto Rhapsody and wondered what I was in the mood to hear. Two Tom Waits tunes and a couple of Steve Martin bits down, I saw some product placement for some Dokken album I had never heard of. I immediately thought of "Mr. Scary" from 1987's Back For The Attack and away I went into the wayback machine.

An hour later, I am still listening to it and I can still see my old buds from high school, Brandon and Chris, headbanging with muscle shirts (no muscles required) in the back row of photography class to the amusement of the preppier students of the class. I hope those guys are doing well now. Listening to heavy metal with my friends back then was about as good as it got.

It was that same year that my best friend and I saw Judas Priest at Starwood. How naive we were at the time. Rob Halford in leather chaps and biker hat? Who knew that there was a message behind those duds and studs? Kicking back on the grass, and with the grass, if you know what I mean, we rocked out to "Living After Midnight," while knowing full well that our curfew was not one minute later than midnight itself. At concert's end, Chris and I were back to his '64 1/2 Mustang and on our way back to our respective homes with our bedrooms, wallpapered with cut out pages from the rock stars of Hit Parader magazine.

But enough blogging for one night. This live Dio record that I am listening to now requires my full attention. And my sleeping family appreciates that I bought some cheap headphones tonight.

Long Live Rock 'N' Roll!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nice Guys Finish...Where, Exactly?

Loyal readers will know the stresses associated with the intended sale of the house of Chez Bez. It remains an issue.

Our bad. We committed the cardinal sin of moving out and committing ourselves to another residence before the official closing of said house. Turns out that even though a closing date was scheduled, we were not assured of a smooth closing. The buyer has stuff on her credit report that keep complicating matters. We have rescheduled the closing date a couple of times, hoping for better results but getting the same. Wednesday was the latest date that came and went without the sale of the house. And here we sit in our apartment looking at the obligation of both rent here and mortgage there once again.

We are paycheck-to-paycheck people. We cannot dip into savings for this. Dave Ramsey I am not, much as I know I should be. I work long, crazy hours for a pittance. My wife works long and hard hours as well, making more money than me, but still not a lot. It tells a lot when a public school teacher is the breadwinner of the family. This blogger is still looking for his niches to riches. But all the while, this family of kind, well-intentioned members struggle and sink, struggle and sink.

Usually, I do my best to keep perspective about these things. As hard as things are for us, they are the stuff of fantasy for many people in Darfur. The Sudanese would love to have my problems, too. I can think of a few other nations in the news lately whose citizens would gladly trade their problems for mine. But that said, this time I find it hard to get that perspective in full focus. All I see is a beautiful wife who does nothing wrong. I see three children whose mouths, bodies, and brains depend on me being a better wage earner than I am now.

I look around and I wonder what I have done wrong. I put in the hours and I take the crap, and my reward is...well, not much when it comes to money. I've got a teenage son whose best chance at higher education is to join the Army because I never saved very well at all. It's a good thing that he wants to join anyway. But what about his two younger siblings? How will things be for us when they hit his age? And I am not anti-Army. It just hurts me that my oldest has no real shot at higher education than that. It's options in life that make for a comfortable life. He only has the one path, and it's a dangerous one.

Enough wallowing. I put it out there and I move on. But not before listening to Sheryl Crow sing "No One Said It Would Be Easy" from her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club. She's not singing about real estate, but I am thinking about real estate as she sings. Shame on her for treating her cowriters and bandmates so poorly. And shame on me for continuing to listen to that album and love it so much. But that is for another post.

All my best.

Things To Say To Concert Goers When They Are Jerks

Note to self: Don't shout out requests for "Missing You" at the upcoming Tom Waits concert. "Missing You", of course, is a John Waite song. Way different artist there.

I say that because I just laughed out loud reading NashGirl's blog about a similar faux pas at a Ryan Adams concert. And I like Ryan Adams much more now as a result of how he handled an obnoxious attendee.

Here's the link, and here's the excerpt:
Probably artists get rude people all the time and return to the same venue or city over and over nevertheless. Good artists probably don't let that stuff get to them.
Lonnie was telling me about how he saw Ryan Adams at the Ryman last year and there was some jerk in the front row shouting "Summer of 69" over and over.
That, of course, is a Bryan Adams song.
So after he had enough of this incredibly rude person who thought he was being funny, Ryan Adams jumped down off the stage, walked up to him and handed him a wad of cash from his pocket and said, "There's your money back, now go home."
That's a good way to deal with rude audience members. And Ryan Adams is playing next week, so he clearly didn't let that one guy sour his impression of the whole city.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"...full of sound and fury, signifying family."

Apologies to Shakespeare, but that is what came to mind this morning as I was awakened by the immediate presence of my two youngest children bouncing around on the bed. A boy, 3, and a girl, 1 1/2, doing what they do. The sun is up and they are ready to play. Mommy has been up and is seeking a nap. Daddy went to bed late and would do anything for another hour or two of golden slumber. But these parents' desires are recognized not one bit by the children for whom play is everything.

And I guess that's as it should be.

Anne Frank 2006: War Diaries Online

Anne Frank 2006: War Diaries Online

My most interesting read of the day.

Good Shots From Row P?

The research begins now. With 11 days between now and Tom Waits 16 lettered rows from me, I need to learn the best tips on how to take good concert photos with a Kodak Z740. Of course, I am assuming (hoping) that it will be allowed to accompany me into the beautiful auditorium called Ryman.

This camera has yet to take a good shot in low lighting, but maybe that's just the fault of this photographer. I need bravery and education. I need to move away from the "auto" setting, and get confident in the more manual ways of photographic manipulation. I know better than to rely on the flash in a concert setting, so I'll need a steady hand and a long exposure. But the setting numbers are greek to me. Time to surf the net for tips - or just welcome the input of readers...readers like you. ;)

By the way, my Chicago bro has turned me onto a band called The Bad Plus. Dig them up and give them a click. For those who pay attention to genres, Rhapsody.com categorizes them as such: Jazz > Bop > Post Bop > The Bad Plus. Interesting, indeed. While very fantastic in performing their own written stuff, they get my attention by putting their own spin on these three songs:
"Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin)
"Human Behavior" (Björk)
"We Are the Champions" (Queen)
Have a nice night. And listen to WRVU as often as possible.

Monday, July 24, 2006

These Are Days For Swimming


The Name Above The Title Is In My Head

Tonight, it is February 1991. I sit quietly in my apartment, the family sleeping and me ruminating, and I am revisiting John Wesley Harding's brilliant 1991 release, The Name Above The Title. I worked at the record store when I first heard this. After about three listens, I called up one of my best customers and told him to come down and buy it. Ballsy salesman, I was. But I knew his tastes and I knew he'd love this disc. Sure enough, the man we called Boxset came into the store and I played it for him over the store's speaker system. He loved it and bought it. I was a man of influence back then. But then, it's easy to sell greatness like The Name Above The Title.

I've loved and listened to that album for so many years, but it's been a long time since I've even thought of John Wesley Harding. Then today, while driving to work in my car with no working car stereo, one of his songs found its way from the forgotten attic of my brain and within seconds I was singing it loudly with the windows rolled down.

Pick me up and take me to a movie
Give me an ending that I can understand
Sell me a rocking soundtrack, make it groovy
Give me backstage passes to the band
People always whine whine whine
Shut up and pay the fine fine fine
What's the difference anyway
Between being safe and being rad
When the big joke is we've all been had
You won't get to read the news in USA Today


That's from "The People's Drug" and it stayed with me for most of the day. Arriving home after the long night's work, I dug up the album on Rhapsody and pressed "play." It's in music like this that I always find my reward.

Another song I love is "Bridegroom Blues." A stanza:

And he don't believe in Angels
She's been seeing another man
Infidelity runs in the family
But that wasn't a part of the plan
And shepherds watch the flicks by night
At the King's Cross all night show
Something's trying to catch their eyes
But they're too grossed out to know
And the three kings travel like three ships a-sailing
They've got some gifts he'll need
Cocaine for sniffing, money for corruption, and a whole load of videos of I Love Lucy


I hear these songs and it's 1991 again. It's the year of the first Lollapalooza. It's the year I discovered Chris Whitley. My friend, Kirk, turned me onto the protest songs of Billy Bragg and the fun and passionate music of The Waterboys. And, of course, 1991 was the year that Nirvana broke and did their thing. If I recall correctly, it was also the year that my dad took me to NYC to stay at the Hotel Chelsea and find out what a big city was all about. More on that cool trip another time.

I haven't had the pleasure of seeing John Wesley Harding live, but I hope to someday. I've heard concerts of his broadcast on the radio and he's fantastically engaging. Accompanying The Name Above The Title was a beautiful chapbook. Foregoing the sometimes stilted structure necessary for his songs' lyrics to match up with the music, the chapbook told the same stories in a much more loose and free narrative.

Part of the charm of that album was the fact that there was no lyric sheet, only the loose narrative. I was twenty-one at the time and loved the obvious presentation of the marriage of literature and song. Many a night would find me lying on my floor, headphones on, John Wesley Harding CD in the player, and chapbook in hand. Often, a nice bottle of white zin was also at hand. He professed to being against lyric sheets for a reason that just sounds gimmicky now, but then seemed utterly profound.

My connection with The Name Above The Title was this: clever writing, good backbeat, and bravery. I've always wanted my life to exhibit two of those traits. I wouldn't know what to do with a backbeat, but clever writing and bravery in life evade me - but not by much. When I am close to those two things, I am young and strong. My otherwise dull senses awaken and strive for the challenge. "Write like that guy." "Don't take any shit from that person." I am alive and I feel everything, and good music keeps me charged.

Right this minute, the album is coming to a close. It's a studio album and the singer is introducing the band to the fade out of "Crystal Blue Persuasion." And what sounds like a Hammond B3 is doing what a Hammond B3 can do; it is reminding me of its place in music history. I listen to this album now and think of 1991; but that Hammond B3 that closed this album in 1991 made me think of the sixties back then. Great music always reminds us of the past.

But the album is over, it's 2006, and my beer is finished. And I'm off to bed.

Take care, Boxset. You were a great customer and you are a great friend.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Today, I Go Blonde

And this strip is both comical and topical.
(click to enlarge)

Familial Ponderings

Drunk at 1:25 a.m. and proud of who I am and who is with me in this life of mine.

Sleeping familial members closeby.

I chatted at length with my oldest son tonight about things political and things regarding social conscience. And I saw that I see him how my parents likely see me. They don't see the seemingly flawed outcomes of my decisions. They see no real failings at all. They only see a son who is going through life trying to keep his integrity intact. Intentions are everything as I see it. And my son is gold in my eyes.

As Lyle once put it, "she wasn't good, but she had good intentions." Nothing wrong with that.

Slumber awaits.

Slumber arrives.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Heart Goes Out

This week, I have met several parents of children who suffer from always fatal Batten disease.

And tonight I saw a man who was annoyed by all of the wheelchairs in the lobby.

"I guess it's too much to ask for a clear path to the elevators," he muttered for me to hear.

And the world keeps doing its thing.

Sad News From The Elephant Sanctuary

Handler killed by elephant in Tennessee

HOHENWALD, Tenn. (AP) -- An elephant with a reputation for being dangerous killed a handler and injured a trainer Friday at The Elephant Sanctuary in southern Tennessee, authorities said.

Winkie, a female Asian elephant, stepped on or kicked a woman handler who was killed "on the spot," said Doug Markham, a spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. A male trainer was injured when he tried to intervene.The names of the victims were not released.

The trainer was taken to a hospital in Columbia, about 30 miles east of Hohenwald. The nature of his injuries was not available.

Winkie weighs 7,600 pounds and came from Burma more than 30 years ago, according to the sanctuary's Web site.

Winkie has not been euthanized, and it was not clear if there were any plans to do so, Markham said.

At her previous residence at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wis., Winkie hurt several staffers and visitors, earning a reputation as a "dangerous elephant," according to her biography on the site.

Opened in 1995, the nonprofit refuge on 2,700 acres about 60 miles southwest of Nashville specializes in Asian elephants. The sanctuary provides a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of pastures, forests, spring-fed ponds and a heated barn for cold winter nights, its Web site says. It also tries to educate the public about elephants.

Many of the sanctuary's elephants came from performance backgrounds. Once they arrive, they no longer are exhibited but can be seen via webcam on the sanctuary's Web site.

Thaumata Goes to Spain

Hopefully, my wife doesn't mind that I call this stranger my internet crush.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Record Store Memories, Part 1

Customer is looking at the cassettes in the country music section, somewhere around the E part of the alphabet. Customer flags me down, giving me attitude. "You're a record store, right? You don't have any Elvis?"

I can't do much more than walk the customer down to Rock 'n Roll and stop him in front of the Mr. Presley's alphabetized place on the wall of rockers. "Here ya go," I say. He can choose from so much from The King of Rock n' Roll. And I can go back to price checks or whatever.

But there's more. "I bet you guys lose a lot of sales by hiding him way over here."

Probably; but I'm at peace with that. And Kenny G plays on.

True Dat

Posted by Picasa
Actually, the sign reads:

WARNING

IT IS NOT

HOT AS HELL

But my first glance at the sign today was on that last line. And I agreed with what I read.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How Gray Is Your Record Store?

New Yorker music critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, links to a great New York Times piece called The Graying of the Record Store.

I worked for several years in one and my years there define who I am more than any other occupational experience I have had since. I wasn't the sullen one or the one who lived to judge you based on your musical preference. In fact, in all of my years there, I never had a co-worker whom I would describe as "sullen." Some would judge you, of course. But so what? You were buying music that moved you and we were selling it. Fair transaction.

Give me a few days and I will do my best to write a bit about the beauty of those years for me. I'll leave you now with a few questions: What was your favorite workplace from your past? Why is it in your past? What is your dream job?

A Military Wife And Me

Last week, before my family vacation, I was touched by the story of a military wife whose husband of 15 years returned home and shocked her by telling her that he wanted a divorce. I was touched by how she related the story. No big drama, no begging for someone to help her make it through. She just shared the facts with me. She told me of the counseling. She told me how he had always been her best friend as well as her husband. And now she wanted to run with her pain to her best friend, except that she couldn't. He was the one who caused it this time.

Statistics tell of the huge number of divorces within military families. Military personnel see the worst, day after day after day. They lose so many friends. They see the deaths of people they are responsible for. They are soldiers, first and foremost, and there is no clocking out at the end of the day. And then they come home to a nation seemingly obsessed with who gets voted off of American Idol. I can only imagine that coming home to such a contrast can either be the greatest satisfaction (at the end of every episode, everyone is a winner because no one dies) or it can seem so extremely petty ("I have gone through hell...and for this?") that it would fill a person with disgust.

I really admired her calm recollection of the events that she chose to share with me. I tried not to give her that stupid look of sympathy. It was obvious that she wasn't looking for that. She just talked about it like it had happened a generation ago. But it had happened less than a month prior. On with life. That seemed to be her M.O. Her husband had come home with a hardened heart (there's the sacrifice), and I could feel hers hardening more with each word. "From now on, I am focusing entirely on my work," she said.

Whatever her name is, I wish her well. And I thank her for sharing with me.

Drunken Pictures Of Me...

...will not be seen here.

But after 1 pint and 8 fl oz of lovely Heineken, this would be a good time to know me at my least guarded.

The house still hasn't closed, but we have been told by our realtor that it should happen sometime next week. I ain't buyin' it. But I will be pleased to be proven wrong. Either it will close next week or I will need ten more days like today's workday to pay both rent AND mortgage at the end of the month.

Alligator Cove will open at the local zoo
on July 22. They will be where the otters used to be. I, personally, will miss the otters. But if you were an otter and an alligator wanted to live where you do, wouldn't you relocate, too?

Is it just the accent? I was adamant that I would not like the new Rocketboom girl. I was going to be loyal only to Amanda. Nevermind. I like the new girl. I haven't yet put her name to memory, but Rocketboom with the new girl rocks, dare I say, slightly better than Rocketboom with Amanda.

I'm sure whatever Amanda does next will be cool, too. Assuming the world doesn't end first.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quick Hits In The News

Wedding webcasts: So that those who have reason that a couple should not be wed should send IM now or forever hold their peace.

Yo, Blair!: World leaders assume a mic is not on and speak off-the-cuff.

Shrinkage at the New York Times: "We were in the pool!"

Soldiers turn to Yoga for fitness
: Downward facing Bulldogs!

And lastly, a woman who I may or may not have listened to music with in a van in my record store parking lot a long time ago is separating from hubby, Dave Navarro.

Now go read one of my fave bloggers and have a good day: This Just In

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Home

I flew to Florida to catch up with the rest of the family for a little vacation. After a few days of rest and relaxation, we are home and back to reality.

Here are a few of the hundred or so pictures I took over the weekend.


View from high above the clouds.


The girl I came to see.


Happy together.

Friday, July 14, 2006

profile photo

We Interrupt This Vacation To Say...

Ticket purchase confirmed, I will be attending the Tom Waits concert at the Ryman Auditorium on August 5.

Row P, baby!

Now back to the sand.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lucky Shirt? Check.

In less than 12 hours, I will be on a flight to Jacksonville, Florida to see my baby. She will meet me at the airport and we will enjoy the beauty of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. There will be no blogging from me for a week's time. There will only be relaxation and reflection. I will take it easy and I will take pictures. The only thing that is very important to me is that I wear my lucky shirt on the flight. It's been good to me.

I recall a beautiful May day in 2002, I put on my favorite blue button down shirt. A few hours later, I asked Paige if she would marry me. I must look good in blue because she said yes. On that day, it became officially known as my lucky shirt. In this shirt, all things are possible. In this shirt, I look good.

What's your lucky something?

Also, despite tough financial times, I am still committed to buying Tom Waits tickets. Well, I may just buy one. I don't mind going alone. I just want to watch him play. My concern is that I won't be able to find a computer Friday morning so that I can attempt a purchase. I may bring the laptop on vacation. If so, I still need to find an internet connection. My wife has been there a week and has not been able to get online anywhere. Searching online, I see that the Hampton Suites has free wifi. Wonder if I could just sit in their lobby and get on. This is important. Even more important than my lucky shirt.

More on Tom: So, news is that Keith Richards, Johnny Depp's inspiration for his Jack Sparrow, will play his father in the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. Wouldn't it be cool to see fellow musician and actor, Tom Waits, in a role as an aging pirate? I already know that the answer is yes. They are already friends and collaborators. It would be perfect.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Listen To Moby And Think Of The Beach Lady

On a recent vacation to Amelia Island to visit the in-laws, I took a solitary drive to American Beach. Amidst the wealth and luxury of this small island is a place with character and humility.

What I know of American Beach:
American Beach was founded in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida's first black millionaire. Mr. Lewis owned an insurance company and bought a section of the island so that his black employees would have a nice place to vacation without having to deal with the nightmare that was segregation.

The bad news is that it looks now to be quite rundown and no longer a popular destination. The good news is that it is because it is no longer necessary, thanks to desegregation. Mr. Lewis' great-granddaughter, Marvyne Betsch, i.e. the Beach Lady, has lived there since 1977, doing what she can to give the area respect and recognition. I first read about her in a National Geographic article many years ago.

While taking that solitary drive to American Beach a year or so ago, I had Moby's Play in my CD player, and it just seemed to fit. I drove slowly through the tired streets in a quiet beach town and felt the despair in the air as I listened to "Natural Blues." I parked my car and walked around the neighborhood, taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere. I walked between a couple of run-down houses and saw the same Atlantic Ocean that washes up and down the entire East Coast. Rich toes and poor toes all feel the same sand and water, and whatever toes are mine depends on who's reading. But I stand there and try to feel what I am supposed to feel, and I respect the elements and I watch the seagulls live their lives above me.

Turning from the ocean and back to the neighborhood, I see her - the Beach Lady, walking down the long, sloping asphault road. I have read about her and I have googled her. And now I see her. Feeling very Caucasion, I can't find the guts to go and talk to her. I have no idea what to say to her. My life is tough, but I don't know her pain; I don't know her struggles. I just feel like another stupid tourist. So I stand still and I take her picture from afar. It turns out well enough and I'm happy that I saw her.

An hour or so later, I get back into my foreign car and drive back to my family. They are kind and loving and the food is fantastic...and they are five miles and worlds away from American Beach. Call me a photographer and call me a man who met the Beach Lady, in my own shy way. I just learned tonight that she died in September 2005. I now wish I had spoken to her when I had the chance.

I'll be back there Thursday. I'll be enjoying my vacation and I will try to forget about my current financial struggles for a few days. I'll try to forget that I struggle to find my place in this world. I'll try to forget that I am sad much more often than I am happy. But I will absolutely remember that segregation never kept me from feeling the sand between my toes.

I listen to Moby and wonder what it felt like for the employees of Abraham Lincoln Lewis to feel this same sand underneath their feet. Humans on Earth, happy that someone allowed them this experience, certainly smiling and withholding tears at the same time. I struggle, but not with humility. I am filled with it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Brevity And Levity

Recent posts have found me in a very troubled and worried state of mind. Today I want to talk about something different, just a brief story.

On my moving day, it was only toward the end of it that I realized that I had a rather large hole in the back of my shorts. Upon asking my wife and son how long it had been there, they replied with a smile, "Pretty much all day."

I usually don't go commando, but I had forsaken underwear that day. Everyone had seen my bare ass and no one had told me. The worst of it? My wife and I had been filling out paperwork with the very cute and very female apartment complex agent and at one point, I got up and walked away from her desk to get a Coke.

And you just know that she looked.

The Grapes Are Probably Sour Anyway

Due to recent financial setbacks, I don't believe it's likely that I will be attending the Tom Waits concert in August. This lottery ticket in front of me could change that though. We'll see.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Closing Time? Please?

The stress continues. After the long, somewhat documented process of selling our house while trying to find a house to buy closer to our workplaces and settling on an apartment because the timing just wasn't working, things finally seemed to be coming together. We would close on our house on June 30 and move into our new apartment on the same day.

And then, with all of our stuff in the truck and ready for the haul, we got a call from our agent. They buyer's lender had dropped the ball and the closing wouldn't be ready when previously stated. Struggling financially already, this call was not well received by us. Were we now responsible for a mortgage payment AND a rent check at the same time? We were assured that all would be settled by the 10th, and before our mortgage payment could officially be considered late. We were told to go about our plans and not to worry about it. We would close on or before the 10th and it wouldn't be any big deal.

Well, here we are looking at July 10 and I have to be at work in an hour and we have heard nothing from anyone so far today. We have called and gotten people's voicemails. I am stressing. Broke as we are, our credit is actually very good. I don't want to look at having a late mortgage payment hanging over our heads when we try to buy again once our lease is up. And I really don't want to borrow money from someone, even though she is happy to lend if needed. I guess I can fall back on her generosity and pay it back as soon as the closing happens. But still.

I am not trusting this.

[Update: The call came in. The closing is not happening. We're screwed. And hearing the love of my life fight back tears on the phone as we just try to make it is my new least favorite sound. She doesn't deserve this.]

Goodness Gracious, Indeed

You can have your Jack, and you can have your Lightning. You can go to Venus for all I care. I find my musical heaven on WRVU 91.1. Any given hour will find any genre you like. I had never even heard of jump blues (more horn based than guitar based and popular in the 1940s) until I stumbled upon Pete's Nashville Jumps show a few years ago. It's one thing to discover something cool that is a brand new sound; it's quite another to discover something cool that precedes your own earthly existence by thirty or more years.

Whether old music or new music, I find the best on WRVU. I awake on Thursday mornings to the mellifluous voice of Ashley on Alphabet. Her love for bands and artists from Bowie to The White Stripes is obvious and I thank her for making me aware of music I would not likely hear elsewhere. Silver Jews? Fantastic! Jeffrey Lewis? I had heard "The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" before, but she turned me on to his deeper and richer catalog.

I listen to WRVU (and college radio in general), not to hear songs that I like, but to hear songs that I don't know I like yet. To paraphrase The Kids In The Hall, request lines are for housewives and little girls. (Obscure enough reference for ya, Charly?) I don't call in and ask the DJs to play songs I like; I sit back and trust that they will play something that makes me call in and ask who that was.

Well, that happened again last night. While driving my shift, I heard a show called Goodness Gracious for the first time. It's on Sunday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 and focuses on traditional music from before WWII. (Here's the most recent playlist, and here's the latest show's audio stream.) After enjoying a version of "Black Betty" that I never knew about, I was struck by a song called "Old Rattler" that resonated with my pale white privileged skin. Sung by
Moses Platt and James Baker in 1939, it's about a black man who has escaped a Texas state prison and is being pursued by the guards and a dog named Rattler. The N-word is all over the place.

Up until last night, the only thing I would think of when hearing of the year 1939 was The Wizard Of Oz. Now, I have a little reminder that life was going on then just as tough and cruelly as it goes on today. It was the year that The Grapes Of Wrath was first published. It was also the year that we refused 950 Jewish refugees entry to the United States. Left no choice but to return to Europe, many of the ship's passengers were killed in Nazi concentration camps. The more I read about history, the more I understand and appreciate the words to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."

I thank the hosts of Goodness Gracious for playing some music that inspired me to think, research, and write.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Remembering Bobby Thompson

The good people at Steel Guitar Forum got to talking about my step-dad, Bobby Thompson. Here's what they said.

An excerpt: "I remember, back in the day, when I started out as a rhythm player here, I got to work as Bobby's "second" from time to time. The first time I saw him slide a capo to modulate without stopping, I was amazed. He showed me how he did it. The next time we worked together, I slid mine right with him... and he just grinned. He is missed much..."
Michael Douchette

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Behold These Tremulous Dreams

Three beers down and half a bag of Doritos consumed, and it's apparent that this parent is home alone. Tom Waits plays on the laptop and I doubt he'll play these songs when he plays the Ryman next month. This is the early stuff.

This stuff has piano and I can just close my eyes and see him at his piano in a small and very smoky bar. The tip jar is half empty and I'm reaching into my pocket to see how much I can add to it. Maybe a buck or two and I'll save the rest for another round or two for me and the sweet-looking redhaired girl from Georgia sitting by my side.

She's really something to look at, but she sure likes her drinks expensive. I'm an innocent victim to her every nuance. She told me her name, but it got lost in the noise. I'll ask her again in a minute. But for now, I'll just listen to her talk and imagine what it's like to share a future with her. Just off work, she's still in her uniform. A smart, black pantsuit, she's tougher than any Reservoir Dog and prettier than light itself. Her own touch of flair is a silver pin on her jacket in the shape of a horse's head. I will remember this woman forever no matter what happens between us tonight. And if she only gives half a damn about this barfly who is finding uncharacteristic bravery by talking to her, then I'm better off than you tonight.

I can tell that she really doesn't care much for the guy at the piano, but she's too polite to say. Country music is her thing. She likes the stories in country songs. For the most part, the songs she likes have happy endings. The piano player is singing "Blue Valentines" and she takes another drink and gives me a smile. Brother, that smile will change my life. A smile from a pretty redhead will leave me either domesticated or incarcerated. I'm thinking this one will not lead me to the wrong kind of bars. I imagine that a stubborn part of me will fight it, but I'll probably end up buying a house with her.

I tell her that I heard some cool stories about this guy at the piano. Tom Waits. One time, his wife went away for a bit and came home and found that Tom had replaced all of the doors in their home with actual hotel doors from places where he had stayed from the road. Perpetual vagabond that he is, he just likes opening hotel doors. And now, they are all hotel doors in his house. True story. I like that there is no way that she cares about the story at all, but she sure likes that I like it. I get a bit giddy when I talk about music and she thinks it's cute.

I can see that even if things go the way I am imagining, she's going to like me - not despite my eclectic tastes - but, in part, because of them. And I can also imagine that there will be a peaceful night, way off in the future, when she will be my wife and we'll have this wonderful family together. There will be a night much like this, and she will be out of town on vacation with the kids, and I'll be all alone in our home. I'll be able to do whatever I want, go to any bar, let loose, whatever. But it'll be enough for me to sit quietly alone, play old Tom Waits records, and think of how lucky I am that I get to be her husband. I miss her and look forward to joining her next week when I get some time off work.

Sometimes these things just work out perfectly.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bloggers Downtown, While I Work

So, as is typical, I missed another blogger meetup last night b/c of work. Am I becoming mysterious yet? Do people wonder if Chez Bez isn't really some fantastically wealthy and strikingly handsome fellow living on his own private island somewhere but just pretending to be a modest, struggling Nashville local? Maybe WKRN didn't supply the snacks after all. Maybe it was all paid for by some anonymous donor. Some anonymous donor who wants Nashville bloggers like you to be happy and sated.

Whatever. I really just had to work. I shared some M&Ms with three friends last night, but that was the extent of my generosity. While you good people were mingling and drinking downtown, I was doing exciting things like driving hotel guests to the airport. (My fave line of the night as I dropped off two Canadian women at their terminal: "Tell the people at your hotel that we appreciate the ride." Um, how about you just thank the guy who drove you?)

Now, I do wonder if I would have gone even if I had the night off. It is well known that I am a bit shy when it comes to social situations. Going to a bar, no problem. Going to a bar with the intent to meet people, not so cool. But from reading so many posts from so many who attended, it appears that I am not the only person who is more nervous than necessary at times. It's kind of nice to learn this. Maybe next time, with better advance notice, I will attend and get to know some of these writers whose blogs I always enjoy reading.

As I reach out though, I must make one warning. If I invite you all to a bloggers meetup at my apartment on or around June 30 of next year, be aware that it is then that my lease is up and I might be tricking you guys into helping me move. I'm not above that. This last move was a bitch.

One last thing. I saw some great pictures from last night's event and I am a bit disillusioned. Rex from Rex L. Camino just looks like himself. I really wanted him to look like that rascal in his profile pic. Oh well. Gotta go walk around my island, I mean, drive to work.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Is This What They Mean By Animal Husbandry?

Amy Sutherland wrote about what she learned while writing a book on animal trainers and how she improved her marriage by treating her husband like a dolphin.

"I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband."

The story is here.

My Blogger Star Of The Day Goes To...

...Janet at Out The Other! I woke up, stumbled from bed to laptop, and peered into the internet with groggy, half-closed eyes. Navigating my way through the news and fave blogs, I lazily gained knowledge on the following:

NATO Urges Firm Response To North Korea

Former CEO Kenneth Lay Dies


Keith Richards To Play Pirate's Pop


And then, upon perusing the site for one of my favorite radio shows, Out The Other, I found some news I could really use.

Tom Waits is coming to Nashville!

Those who know me know that there is no artist I would rather see. He's the rare showman who gets grittier and braver with age. From his beautiful piano ballads and gentle tales of heartbreak and love in the city that he crafted in the late '70s to his ever more experimental music in the '80s and '90s to his all out assault on all things sonic and percussive that he is creating today. Aren't artists supposed to get softer and safer as they get older and richer? Aren't they supposed to go the Phil Collins route and just do Disney soundtracks?

Tom Waits makes music that keeps my "indier than thou" taste always interested and excited. He's always exploring and investigating, willfully diving deep into the possibilities and rewards of creative immersion. Listening to his aural achievements, I feel like a young assistant to a famous archeologist. My eyes wide open, I follow him without question, trusting that all that he uncovers will either be brilliant and fantastic or, at the very least, interesting and worth studying.

The one thing that I was sure of was that I would never see Tom Waits live in concert. He just doesn't tour much. He lives on the west coast and it would be unlikely that he would play any concerts in my region, let alone my fair city of Nashville. But here he is, playing a concert at the famous and revered Ryman Auditorium on August 5th. I hesitate to even talk about it. The fewer people who know about this, the better my chances of getting the best seats possible. But some news just must be shared. Because Janet at Out The Other shared, I woke up to great news. I may as well share the same.

Here's the press release via Pitchfork Media along with the tour dates:

Tom Waits

Tom Waits will leave his lair for a rare tour this August, hitting Southern and Midwestern cities he hasn't played in decades (if at all).

"We need to go to Tennessee to pick up some fireworks, and someone owes me money in Kentucky," Waits said in a press release.

Yeah, Tom Waits is pretty much the coolest man alive.

Come on up to the house:

08-01 Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
08-02 Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

08-04 Memphis, TN - Orpheum Theatre

**08-05 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium**

08-07 Louisville, KY - Palace Theatre

08-09 Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre

08-11 Detroit, MI - Opera House

08-13 Akron, OH - Akron Civic

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

New Lease On Life, Less Time On The Road

My daily commute to work is approximately 35 minutes long.

Wait. That is no longer a true statement.

My daily commute to work is approximately 12 minutes long. If I can hit the lights right, it'll be even shorter. The best part of it is that I drive over a dam about three minutes into my drive and have the most fantastic view of the lake. And the drive home at night is pretty sharp as well.



I'm looking forward to more time for family, more time for writing, and just more time not driving. Apartment living as a whole isn't the greatest, but I do like the fact that I have two pools and two health clubs available to me in my apartment complex. I like the fact that I have a jacuzzi and a dry sauna at my disposal. And most importantly, I like that I don't have to maintain a lawn. I never took to that part of home ownership pride. Although I have to admit that I shouldn't complain about that one too much. My lawn was very small and I usually just had my teenage son do it.

Anyway, here at Apartment Living, I look forward to meeting some new friends and enjoying a richer social life than I found in the suburbs where no one ever seemed to do anything but either cut their grass or stay inside and watch TV. Three days down, 362 to go on our one year lease here in our new home. So far, so good.

One more thing on the big move. Today, the day after we officially finish moving all of our stuff, the move in which none of my "friends" showed up to help, my local paper had a feature story on tips for moving. (Beautiful and comic timing, indeed!) The story is here, but the part that really soaked in was this:

AVERAGE WEIGHT
The average weight of interstate shipments is 8,000 pounds, which is what the contents of a typically furnished three-bedroom home would weigh.


8,000 pounds? Elder Son and I moved 8,000 pounds? We loaded and then we unloaded 8,000 pounds. Ladies, the line to feel my muscles starts here. No pushing please.

(Edit to add: I just hit spellcheck to check for spelling errors and none were found. But Blogger did take exception to the word "jacuzzi." It suggested that maybe I meant "jackass." Um, nope.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Note To Self: Get Some Friends

Kudos to Elder Son for his huge efforts. He and I have moved the bulk of our family's possessions with no outside help at all.

My beautiful wife has had the unenviable job of organizing, cleaning, brainstorming, watching the kids while Elder Son and I moved boxes, couches, beds, etc.

I speak for all of us here at Chez Bez when I say that we are completely beat down by this move.

No time for more updates. Boxes still await.

Have a nice day.