July was very, very long. And I wrote next to nothing about it. I still plan to post my album a day thing here. I might circle back to my horrific trip to New York via train and the wedding I went to. Other than that, I was working. It’s a little boring, but it’s not. And I don’t want to write about what’s going on in my newsroom beyond an official publication on what’s going on in my newsroom.
In other news, my job, which I’ve had for a full year now, has given me the chance kill a few residual bills from my life of being entirely too underpaid for what I do. If you’ve been around since 2004, you may recall that I used to chronicle how broke I was after being inspired by Angela Nissel’s The Broke Diaries.
I hit a milestone recently, and I was able to buy myself a new laptop. This is my 10th official computer in 20 years (I had a few duds mixed in with ones I had for more than five years). I’m keeping LSW-8 but using it more as a backup/cold storage machine. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but certain programs/websites didn’t make it happy. And I don’t want to go through the the struggles of the first few times when I waited until literally nothing worked anymore before I replaced one.
As for LSW-9? In May, I bought an extremely cheap laptop to take on trips and not worry about it if I lost it or something. It was entirely too underpowered for what I like to do, but will serve my mom well.
I’ve managed to average one album a day in that cardboard box since Mother’s Day. I even have make-up listening sessions. That hasn’t translated to posting it here. In fact, a lot of things haven’t translated to posting here. I didn’t note my fifth anniversary and my present being lunch at Michie Tavern and going to Jefferson Vineyards. I didn’t note my 36th birthday. I also did not mention going to Fairfax County last weekend and the joy I had in seeing some fraternity brothers I probably haven’t seen in a decade or more.
There also was major work-related news.
There reasons are many. I need to start crafting a newsletter for work. We’re going to take our show on the road soon and have people tell us what they’d like to see in a publication. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t know what role this blog will play in this. Or if it should.
And then there’s the whole work-life balance thing. I’ve rediscovered that. When I’m off, I’m off. And since I spend all my work hours in front of a computer, I’ve been spending less of my free time at my personal computer (never mind that my TV watching has gone up). Last weekend, I spent a good 24 hours with friends and I did not once open the laptop I took with me. Sure, I looked at Facebook and a few sites on my phone, but those were incidental moments. On Sunday, I almost forgot my phone because I sat it down for so long.
I think I’m still working out that balance. I mean, spending my free time with my family, friends and Netflix is great, but I’ve returned to the chapter in my novel that is a sticking point and I now realize I was overthinking it. I’ve been shaping the backstory of one of my characters for 20 years, and the problem with that chapter is what I was trying to unpack eight years of history in a few paragraphs. I’m excited about working on it, but I just don’t want to be in front of a computer on my day off for that much time. I had planned out some days with no distractions other than walking my dog, but that wound up not going the way I had hoped.
The order of albums isn’t exactly random. I took a cursory look at what was in the box which had a horizontal divider, and separated them into albums into two partially random layers. (I know that albums should be stored vertically, which is what I intend to do as I listen to them all.) The first are albums I wanted to hear or I judged by the cover. The second are compilation albums, albums I judged by the cover and albums I didn’t exactly want to hear. While I did this, I also decided to group multiple albums in chronological order. This is the first Allman Brothers Band album, or the first half of Beginnings, depending on your feelings on the original mix of its first two albums.
Because it was the first album, it had some other firsts, such as having the first version of Whipping Post. As mentioned in the caption and alluded to earlier, which I just realized is in the same typeface as the body text (it might be a function of this layout that I can’t fix), the band didn’t exactly like the mix of the first two albums, and it was remixed along with the second album and released as Beginnings.
The other thing of note was the gatefold of this single album. It has the most strategically placed head of 1969.
Anyone who say they’ve never heard this song before either is lying or has been living under a rock since Hot Chocolate’s debut album was released in 1975. It was this British band’s biggest hit, and it would have been No. 1 in the United Kingdom, but some band asked whether something was the real life or just fantasy because of a homicide.
Much like Jamiroquai, the band was a one-hit wonder in the states, but constantly charted high at home. Personally, I did not find the remaining nine tracks on this album to be bangers. I kept it in the party pile, though. You Sexy Thing is the last track on Side One, so it would be the sneak attack in the background.
The Bar-Kays were going through some things when this album was released. Cultivated in part by Otis Redding and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, members of the band perished on the day soul music died in 1967. This reconstituted band, which in 1969 backed Isaac Hayes on the epic Hot Buttered Soul album, had its turning point with 1971’s Black Rock. They went on to be one of the quintessential funk bands.
Despite making 8:37-18:42 of Hayes’ version of By the Time I Get to Phoenix is the greatest song of all time, I think this album marked a transition and nothing more. It’s not in the party pile.
This entry is coming soon after the previous one because I’ve been too lazy to post these in advance. I totally could because I’m 21 albums in. I have a backup needle, and they both are good for about 50 hours of music, so I have about 20 records to go before I need to figure out how to change the needle and 70 before I need to figure out where to buy more.
Upon the Wings of Music is Ponty’s first album for Atlantic. Although it’s not his first, it is his first major label debut. He plays electric violin and other electric and acoustic strings on this 1975 release. Also of note is that it mostly retains its plastic shrink wrap, which had a sticker noting that it was “Factory sealed for your protection. I want to say that came from somewhere else, but it’s clearly behind what was the price tag.
I did a cursory search of the albums before I took the box home and divided them into two stacks. The first were albums by bands I’ve heard of and ones with cool album art. The second were compilations, bands that didn’t pique my interest from the covers, bands that I know don’t pique my interest and ones that looked damaged. I made Brass Construction the second album of this adventure because I’m a sucker for anything with brass.
The lead track, Movin’, was playing in the background when we found out that James Evans Sr. died in Good Times. The back cover of this 1975 debut album features head shots of the band members with various expressions. It makes a perfect mood chart. Today, I’m a Morris.
Overall, this album is very much a product of its time and is fun to listen to. Much like the Evans family, I would play it in the background of a party. I just hope no one gets bad news as soon as I put it on.
This blog nearly is old enough to drive. Checking off this milestone is making me realize how far away senior year in college is now and how long some of the friends I made there have been my friends. Friday morning, I wished that formerly tiny palm I bought a few hours before I wrote my first LiveJournal entry a happy anniversary. I tell stories at work about things in my career and I sometimes panic about not being able to remember all the details. And then I remember that what happened was more than a decade ago. My fifth wedding anniversary is in a few weeks. A day after, I’ll be on the wrong side of 35. I’ve been on the wrong side of 25 for about 10 years now. I wrote about it here, and I’d have to go back in to the CMS to figure out what I said.
N.B.: I just saw how I turned 26, and I wish I hadn’t revisited that.
Anyway, I’m going to kick of this 15th year by going deeper into the past, like before I was born deep.
I went home on Mother’s Day, and I mentioned to my mom that I had purchased a record player. That reminded her that there was a large box of albums in the coat closet that was a mixer of hers and her brother’s. She gave me the entire thing, and I’ve been listening to one a day since what would have been Theresa’s 50th birthday on May 13.
Since I like music, and already have a queue, here’s a the kickoff of Diggin’ in the Cardboard Box.
Yeah, they were dancin' and singin' and movin' to the groovin'; And just when it hit, me somebody turned around and shouted ...
I started off with Wild Cherry’s eponymous album from 1976. (If you don’t know the most famous song off this album, we aren’t friends anymore.) Other than that, the band’s cover of Nowhere to Run isn’t that terrible, but the band was a one-hit wonder with four albums.
I have two stacks for now (I’ll get milk crates soon). They did not lay down the boogie enough to make it into the “I’d listen again for pleasure/I’d put these on if I’m being pretentious at a party at my place” pile.
Per my Fitbit, I woke up at 7:02 a.m. on May 18. I did not go to bed until 7:17 a.m. on May 19. I drove many fives of miles. I walked about eight miles. I hurt my foot. It was pretty awesome. After this post, I’m technically caught up from my backlog of posts from late March. This is good because tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of this blog.
I was awake for 24 hours and 15 minutes because of an obligation to my dead sister. I could not say no to Shonda when she asked if I could drive her to Giants Stadium so she could see BTS, which you (should) know is a very popular Korean band. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. I assumed either it would start and end early or because I was driving and she had a job and lives in my mom’s house without having to pay rent, she’d at least share the cost for two hotel rooms that night and we’d head home Sunday morning.
Shonda switched jobs between the time that she bought the tickets and showtime. She also had a doctor’s appointment on Monday. Oh, and she told me at nearly the last minute that she wanted to arrive at the Meadowlands early so she could get “merch.”
You now know how much your uncle loves you, Shonda.
I had a few options for activities while I wanted for the concert to end. I was going to hang out at the New Jersey Institute of Technology chapter of my fraternity or head into the city and by fraternity big brother or my grand-little, who live in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively. At some point, the number of close friends I have in New York fell sharply. Also, I decided against visiting my wife’s family because I did not want to drive into New York and they also live beyond the reaches of every service the MTA offers. Seriously.
We headed out at about 7:45 a.m., and I dropped her off and then got to Newark at about 2 p.m. I didn’t need to get back the stadium until about 9:30.
The academic year had just ended at NJIT, and they had their formal the night before. Everyone was pretty much half dead, so I hitched a ride over to the train station and took New Jersey Transit into Penn Station. I wandered around Manhattan for a while.
When I updated Renée on where she was, she noted that I was near a location of my favorite restaurant, Spice. (If you don’t know that this is my favorite restaurant, you don’t know me very well.) I got one of my favorite dishes, hot sweet basil with chicken.
After that, I talked to my mom, talked to another fraternity brother on the phone, got mistaken for Reginald Chapman and manage to wander past the very first bar I patronized in New York. It also probably was the very first bar I ever bought a drink in. I was 19 or 20.
I didn’t have a lot of time left, so I did what I swore I wouldn’t do: I went to Hudson Yards. I did not go into the Shawarma Vessel, because screw that. But it was the golden hour, so I walked around there and onto the high line until it was time to get back on the train to Newark.
I have no idea how I got to the right train. I always feel confused when I’m in Penn Station but I’ve managed to figure out where I need to go in enough time. Now I’m afraid I’ve jinxed it.
I got back in time to ride with the NJIT chapter’s president to pick up his girlfriend, her friend and Shonda from the concert. It was a nice coincidence, and it was a lot more fun talking to him than I initially thought. I was afraid that the 16-year difference would kill conversation, but our brotherhood transcends the years.
We were in that parking lot from about precisely 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The entire day, I strategically drank Red Bull and a latte, so I wasn’t tired. My right foot was in excruciating pain, though. I injured that foot on New Year’s Day when Missy slept on it. I was walking funny part of the day because I was wearing socks with worn elastic and decided against stopping to fix it. (I need to replace a lot of my clothes. I no longer wear things from high school, but I have more than a few things that are 10 years old.)
The pain contributed to keeping me awake on the ride home. We drove until the sun rose and I powered through thick fog. When I switched my car off, it was time for a nap until I dropped Shonda off for her bus at about 2 p.m.
Overall, I had fun. I didn’t have the cherished memory of the weekend Shonda has, but it was a great day in New York. I love being there and I think I’d do fine there, but I have no desire to live in the actual city. I’m going back in a few weeks, and I can’t wait. Thankfully, that trip will have some built-in time for rest.
As for this trip, I had Monday off. I slept. I continued to drag all of last week, and I’m surprised I made it through an internet show on the 22nd that was broadcast on Facebook Live. I’m looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, and I’m glad plans to go to Richmond tomorrow fell through. I’m getting too old for this, apparently.