hell atlantic

Freddie Hubbard and George Benson are on this. The album cover could be Goatse, for all I care.

I, uh, don’t know if you know this about me, but I really, really love driving. Although having friends or other loved ones in the cabin with me is enjoyable, my favorite driving is when I’m by myself on an open road. It’s when I think things through and relax. I either put on a playlist of truly background music or the sounds of the engine that the automakers of this decade have allowed the driver to hear.

On Sunday, I headed down to Hampton. My mother and mother-in-law neither will confirm nor deny that they coordinated me coming back down to pick up Christmas presents after we just were there for Thanksgiving. Additionally, I used my last vacation day to take my mom to the record room of the circuit court clerk’s office. I totally forgot the main thing I went in there for, but she at least got to find what she was looking for.

But that was Monday. Sunday night was The Drive.

The second time I ever went to Virginia Beach was in 2001. The first time was in 1992 when I was about to have my first unsuccessful surgery to stop snoring. Never mind that my house is only about 30 miles from the Oceanfront. Never mind that I had extensive trips throughout my life in the other six cities. It just always had this feeling of being aaaalllll the way over there and not offering anything I could get from the other six cities, like a beach or stores.

Lately ― I think because I’ve been away from the Atlantic Coastal Plain ― I’ve also been taking walks alone on the beach. So I set out to the one beach in Hampton Roads that I knew for certain did not close at night.

Moonrise over the Atlantic.

I took the “long way” to the beach. After I crossed the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, I immediately got off and took Ocean View Avenue/Shore Drive to Atlantic Avenue.

I passed Sarah Constant Beach in Norfolk. It was the first stop on the last trip my father and I had together on my last day of eighth grade in 1997. I remembered that someone was getting baptized in the Chesapeake Bay that day. In 2003, I met someone who mentioned getting baptized at Sarah Constant Beach in June 1997. There was a point in my life when I had a lot of coincidences like that.

I stopped at 33rd Street, because symbolism, and headed to the Atlantic Ocean. I was near the Neptune statue, but that wasn’t on purpose.

I wasn’t going for framing these photos correctly.

I love our beaches in the off season because they’re so quiet. Growing up, I grew to hate the summer tourism season because the roads became more clogged and the beaches full to the point that most request to go were turned down or turned into regret upon arrival.

Then Labor Day comes and goes. The tourists go away but it’s still warm enough to enjoy things. I have countless memories of the beach in those waning warm days. In high school and into college, there also was overnight camping near Grandview Beach at a spot we called The Land Behind the Tree.

Seeing the beach this late in the year was new for me. I encountered only nine people. Atlantic Avenue was dormant.

Six months from now, standing here at about 8 p.m. will be impossible.
Some businesses still were open and their party-setting music echoed in the empty streets. In the hotels, very few lights were on.

I took a slightly circuitous route home. I don’t like going back the way I came whenever I take “quick” trips, so my goal was to reach Interstate 664. That meant I had the opportunity to hit all seven cities, and I really wanted to go to Chesapeake. The family of maternal grandmother’s father goes back to at least 1819 in Norfolk County, which largely became the city of Chesapeake. Additionally, I’ve always been fascinated with the South Norfolk neighborhood in Chesapeake. It once was a separate city and then merged with the county to become the current city. It’s the only truly urban-looking part of the municipality.

I cruised down Virginia Beach Boulevard back into Norfolk, across the Campostella Bridge, down Wilson Road into Chesapeake and across the new Jordan Bridge into Portsmouth. As I headed up Elm Avenue and Effingham Street, I thought about how many people would have conniptions over me riding around P-Town at night. I quickly headed to the Western Freeway and into Suffolk, reaching my seventh city of the day.

Sunday night in the 757. A rare occasion of traveling for miles and miles without rage-inducing traffic. It was the first time in a very long time that I took a substantial ride across so much of my home. I missed being on well-lit surface streets with speed limits of 45 and 55. I missed being able to go 15 miles in a straight line and still be in an urban area.

There was a point when I pulled over on Virginia Beach Boulevard and got out of the car again. I took it in: the straight, flat roads, the air rich with the scent of land exposed by low tide. As I grow older, my irrational fear of Hampton Roads slipping into the sea sooner rather than later increases. I thought about where in Chesapeake or even Suffolk would be high enough for my liking.

I looked back at the eight lanes of U.S. 58, the road I once was stranded on in 2004. Once the longest U.S. route wholly in Virginia. The great line on the bottom of the commonwealth I’ve driven all but 98 miles of. In a few hours of me standing there, those eight lanes would be filled to the brim. And I would hate it.

I almost missed living here. Almost.

I disliked being there growing up for myriad reasons. The time and physical distance have softened the memories. I like this feeling of nostalgia I’m starting to have for the place. It was a beautiful 78 miles.

0629 ―> 434

This is my new theme song.
Mariupol meets Charlottesville

Last week was an adventure. For three days we hosted an online news outlet from Mariupol, Ukraine, through a program with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). The name of the outlet, 0629, is the city’s area code. If all goes well, we’ll send a delegation there next year (there’s a chance that we’ll go to the country of Georgia instead or both).

Part of their visit included a tour of one of our TV stations.

Along with having tours of some cultural sites in the area, the had a tour at CBS19 in the are and we swapped stories about how our newsrooms operate. Their story is a fascinating one because Mariupol was close to the battles of the (ongoing) Russian military intervention in Ukraine. They had some major challenges as they tried to operate as an independent newsroom in an area where that often doesn’t happen and another country actively waged a misinformation campaign.

I saw to it that they learned a lot about the area’s Black history.

A lot of things were oddly familiar, and we also learned a lot from them. It also gave me a new perspective on what we did. In trying to avoid having the interpreter translate figures of speech, it made me think really hard about what we do and why.

Their newsroom signed a Ukrainian Flag and gave it to us

That brings us to today. We have year-end reviews and we’re looking toward 2020. We’ve done a lot in the past year, especially in the past six months, and we’re looking forward to building on the momentum that we’re starting to build. I’m excited about what we’re setting out to do next year. We’re learning a new journalism model as we go, and I plan on charting the next few months during our Christmas break. It’s been a while since a newsroom truly has been mine, and it’s time to put the pedal down.

I’m glad I sat down and watched The Irishman on Saturday so I have the perfect music for it.

he did not play inside out

The answer to “What is Elliott’s favorite Phil Collins song (but somehow isn’t among the ones he knows all the words)?”

We’re finally caught up. Yes, this post is about what I did nearly a month ago, but we’re caught up. You see, A lot of my life now is work, and I made the decision to not really write about work. But a lot has happened at work and it’s exciting but that’s not what this blog is about. It once was when I didn’t have a proper work-life balance. Since June, when we ended our partnership with my old newspaper, I’ve begun to embrace more or less going off the clock at 6 p.m. and having weekends to do things like enjoy time with my spouse and dog.

The other thing I get to do is actually enjoy my weekends.

Now that I truly have weekends off, I’ve decided to make an effort to see at least one friend once a month. That didn’t happen this month in part because I went to a family member’s funeral.

This post, in a way, came to be because of funerals.

It starts in March 2018.

Yes, 2018. One must look back before going forward.

When Pete’s father died, we decided that we couldn’t start hanging out when weddings and funerals happened. That led to a group outing when Pete came to Fairfax in June to help his mom move. A lot of the people in that outing who vowed to keep in touch were at the July wedding of one of my fraternity brothers. (In April, I “crashed” his bachelor party in West Virginia; I didn’t write about it until May because I was really bad at posting things this year.) The hangout and the wedding led to a formal invite to a birthday party.

There was one little snag: It was near Opal, in damn-near Northern Virginia, the night before I needed to drive to Charlotte to see Phil Collins with one of the far too many people I know named Dan.

Of course I did both. You know me.

It was fun. Butler made a rare exception and DJ’d a friend’s party.

He is my favorite DJ.

And, per the adage that when there are more than three TauDelts, there is fire, there was fire. We sat back for a while while the other people at the part tried to set a bush on fire (it was to be removed, and burning it was decided as a good start for that landscaping project). Then we hard to show them how it’s done.

After the burnination, I headed home, since it was on the way, and then headed down to the Tarheel State.

I forgot how much I hate driving in North Carolina.

I mean, it wasn’t terrible and I wasn’t truly stuck in traffic, but it’s not a fun place to drive through. And Charlotte is a lot farther than it seems.

I’m not going back to find the original post, but my love of Phil Collins started off as a joke. It turned into me not hesitating to spend a little more than $150, plus gas, to shout, “Take, take me home,” with a crowd more diverse than any given event in Charlottesville.

We almost got floor seats. I’m glad we didn’t because I tiered seating is where it’s at.

That weekend was a fantastic time. I hope the momentum keeps going despite the impending cold weather. Although we’re 30-somethings ( I recently found out that’s AP style, and I’m still shocked), we mostly live close enough together to see each other more often. And I now have the free time to see people again.

Hopefully, I can line something up for November.

the longest vacation, part four

This was supposed to be our last full day. Instead, I extended our stay until Friday. I regret nothing.

I’m not ashamed of how much I’ve played this song.

Aug. 28

Oops. I do regret something. On Aug. 28, 2019, I had the worst steak I’ve ever had in my entire life. It wasn’t rancid or anything. It was just cooked in a impressively bad fashion. I nearly spit it out. I ever send food back, but I nearly sent back that garbage. It was not medium rare like I ordered. It tasted like it was steamed. It was tough. It was woefully underseasoned. And don’t get me started on the abomination that was supposed to be pancetta macaroni and cheese. I usually name the places we go in my travel posts, but screw this place. Screw this place so hard. Never mind that all of the seafood was cooked well.

Yep, still angry about that more than a month later.

Anyway, before I was insulted by a dead cow, I got the sunrise over the Atlantic I’ve been looking for. Despite spending more than half of my life within two miles of an east-facing major body of water, I’ve never seen a sunrise over one. I tried once in high school, but we had been up the whole night and were facing the wrong direction.

So, within weeks of seeing the sun sink into the waves as I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel after celebrating my aunt-in-law’s birthday in New York, I got my sunrise.

The forecast called for rain that day, and I rained to the point that we bought an umbrella while we were at the outlets. I essentially overhauled half of my wardrobe and retired my Pulp Fiction wallet.

Don’t worry. I’m still a BMF.

The rainy day was short-lived. We walked around downtown for a while and also headed out to the Second Avenue Pier as the sun set.

Additionally, we finally went out for drinks beyond the hotel bar, and I also decided that I wanted a lot of drinks. Because vacation. Since everything is Tropical Sugar flavored, I couldn’t fall asleep. I wandered around the beach near our hotel deep into the night and then slept for a part of the night on the balcony for the ambiance. I managed to take one picture that was somewhat close to decent while I walked.

A creek enters the Atlantic here, and I forded its sandy delta. For the second time during this time off, I had hoped that any accident would be fatal because I would otherwise be killed.

I did a good job of hydrating, so our new last full day wasn’t miserable.

the longest vacation, part three

I didn’t have my phone with me for the first half of this day because we were at the beach.

To be honest, I spent a lot of late August/early September listening to a lot of Pretty Lights.

Aug. 27

Clouds thwarted my attempt to see sunrise on our first morning. I woke up a few minutes before sunrise and decided to stay up for it. I had hoped the clouds would burn off or something, but all I got was dark clouds gradually becoming brighter clouds. After that, I set an alarm for the next morning, headed off the balcony and went back to sleep.

Boohiss.

Despite the clouds in the morning, it turned out to be a pretty nice day.

A very, very nice day.

And you could tell how relaxed I was.

Remind me again of why I used to hate going on vacation?

We finally ventured away from the Ocean Reef Resort at about 5:30 p.m. The night before, we also grabbed some takeout from Sol y Luna and the décor compelled my wife to suggest that we start our evening there.

Afterward, it was my pick. I wanted to go on a Ferris wheel. I don’t know why. We researched one of the multiple ones we saw while riding around and went with SkyWheel. The sun set while we were on it.

We then walked around the boardwalk for a bit before going into an old-timey arcade.

We very briefly thought about going to a bar. Briefly.

the longest vacation, part two

Welcome to Post No. 2,300! Remember when I used to mark every 100 posts? That was 300 posts/nearly exactly four years ago. (Do you remember when I used to average about 180 posts a year?) When I hit 2,000, I decided to switch to marking every thousand. So, at this rate, expect that when I’m in my early 40s.

But I digress.

I played this song multiple times a day for like a week in early September and haven’t listened to it since.

Aug. 26

North Carolina is large. I keep forgetting that. It’s less than 1,000 square miles smaller than New York and nearly 10,000 square miles larger than Virginia. I’m reminded of its enormity when I decide to go somewhere there because it’s just the next state over. And then the ride is slightly shorter than a trip to New York because the far southeast part of the Tarheel State is as far from Charlottesville as Brooklyn.

Our voyage through North Carolina on our way to South Carolina took about an extra hour because because we had to go to Hampton first to drop off Missy. It was our belated fifth anniversary trip, and getting Missy into/out of (semi) public spaces always is a thing because she does not like other dogs.

We went to Myrtle Beach because my wife used to vacation there with her family and liked it. I was just ready to go on vacation overall because of a large project that ate up my life for a good chunk of the year. While I was at the racetrack, I felt relaxed in a way I hadn’t felt in years. I knew the newsroom was capable of running for a few days without me, so I seldom thought of work. I purposely did not bring my computer. It was fantastic.

The sunlight was perfect when we arrived.

We had a room with an ocean view.

I resolved to see the sun rise one day before we left.

Due east is slightly to the left of our balcony.

We almost immediately went to the beach.

My mom’s comment upon seeing my getup (not seen: my second pair of customized Chucks): “Well, that’s your husband.”

I’d didn’t know how much I missed the Atlantic. Growing up in Hampton Roads made me take it for granted. Although it was great to be back, I was missing the Blue Ridge the whole time.

I’ve always wished the Chesapeake Bay was clearer. This photo does no justice to the water because the sun was setting and I never got more than my ankles wet this entire trip.

And then I discovered the resort bar.

I’ve had enough coconut-flavored drinks to last a lifetime.

Because we’re wild and crazy thirtysomethings, we capped off the night with a trip to Target. I now own about three pairs of shorts. The taste of the weather I had before the sun set made me reconsider my exposing my calves moratorium.

the longest vacation, part one

This is my favorite song of the moment. It does not go with the theme of this post.

Since the beginning, I used Roman numerals for all of my trips. I jammed two, technically three vacations into the nearly two weeks I had off in August, so I initially didn’t know whether to label this xxii; xxii and xxiii; or xxii through xxiv. I’m going to count it as one, as it was contiguous time off, but I’m going to break this into parts.

Aug. 23 & 24

TAUDELT ROAD TRIP.

It’s Year Two of being Lamborghini VIPs. This time, instead of heading back 15 miles to Danville this time around, we decided to camp out with the other fans at the track. We’re thinking about making this a largely yearly tradition and getting an increasing number of fraternity brothers joining us, regardless of whether we get to go to the fanciest of the hospitality areas. This year, we did get a third brother to come and almost had a fourth.

The first order of business was setting up the tent, and I’m glad we did because it unexpectedly rained a lot the first afternoon.

Not pictured: The rain.

That night, Beanie showed up, joining Butler and me. Then, since it had dried out enough, we went exploring the campground. Our first stop was a Tiki bar we noticed the year before. After that, the night devolved into going to several party sites, riding precariously on the backs of souped-up off-road vehicles and entirely too much alcohol.

“If we crash this thing, I hope I die because, otherwise, my wife will kill me.”

The next morning, we definitely dragged a bit. We caught some of the practice runs and early races. We also caught up with some of the people we met the night before. Their night wound up being a lot wilder than ours, including a dude who work up in a strange person’s camper and had to retrace where some of his valuables were.

Prototype cars.

Along with needing to be around for the big race on Sunday, a constant, overwhelming urge to go back to sleep and the chilly temperatures after the Friday rains, we took it easy. We didn’t make it to 1 a.m.

Aug. 25

Gradually, the sun came out, but the previous damp conditions mad the track slick in spots. We saw a lot of vehicles slide off the track during the races. The races were pretty good overall, though. And, as usual, the hospitality area had amazing food. I’ve been trying to eat a lot less lately, but I ate a lot during that trip. I also walked a lot, so there’s that.

After learning that once can rent a Lambo for less than a golf cart at the track (RENTING A GOLF CART IS FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-ONE AMERICAN DOLLARS), we headed for home. I was happy that it was early because It would be time to hit the road again in a few hours.

I apologize for this posts being a bit short on words. By the time I catch back up, I’m going to be talking about the first full week in July. And then I need to reference June when I finally get back to last weekend.

family weekend

It’s weird how something that looks so unfamiliar feels so much like home.

There only are three buildings in this photo. Technically, two of them were there before I graduated, but they did not look like this.
This view and what’s directly behind me, Santoro and James River halls, are the only things that look they way it did in the 2004-2005 academic year.
At least Rita’s still is there.

Last month (which seems like a century ago), I went to CNU Family Weekend at Michael’s request. His sister was supposed to come with us, but she decided to hang out with friends after I bought tickets to the football game. Michael’s in the and he wanted us to see him perform.

He’s down there somewhere, Part One.
He’s down there somewhere, Part Two.

There were a few musical performances, so I only got to see him in person for about two whole minutes, but he knew we were there. We spent most of the day on campus, including visiting where we first met. The doors were locked, since it’s no longer an academic building, so we couldn’t go in. Additionally, exactly where we first met is now a server room. This was good enough.

Ratcliffe Hall.

Oh, since I haven’t posted any photos and such in a while, I haven’t cut my beard in more than a year, and I got a backup pair of glasses for when I don’t want to put in contacts/it isn’t advantageous to have contacts in. Of course the frames are orange. They’re also an Easter egg.

(Also behold how blind I am.)

Anyway, it felt so great and comfortable to walk around the campus. There was a brief moment when I forgot I wasn’t a student. (I had a work assignment due over the weekend and I tried to remember what class it was for.) As I said before, it makes me very happy that Michael is there. CNU wasn’t my first choice, but so many things in my life would not have happened if I didn’t not wind up in Santoro 202 in August 2001.

Despite the changes, the New Great Lawn does look pretty at night, though.

Go Captains.

‘wasn’t EVERYONE just kinda nekkid during this time period?’

We’ll get to the title of this post in a moment.

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.

This album was not mixed to their satisfaction.

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.

When I shared this on Facebook, one of the comments was the title of this post.

i believe in miracles …

Where did you come from, baby?

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.

I always expected Errol Brown to be extremely ugly just from how emphatic he was in You Sexy Thing. And, as you should know by now, I’m not going out of my way to properly crop/frame the photos for this.

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.