21) ‘3 o’clock’ by blonde redhead

You wouldn’t know it from the songs that have been in this playlist, but Blonde Redhead is my favorite band. Its latest album, Barragán, is my favorite album of theirs after Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons.

Blonde Redhead’s latest EP, 3 O’Clock came just as I was thinking about moving beyond the copy desk in Richmond. As I have mentioned before, I’ve always wanted more, so reaching my 2006 goal wasn’t going to cut it. At the time, I was certain we weren’t’ going to leave Richmond, so reservations, I decided that I had to look elsewhere. There had been several transitions in that newsroom and there wouldn’t be another avenue for me to move up again unless someone quit or took an obscenely early retirement.

To me, this song, which is the title track, sounded like the beginning of an end.

I figured I would leave that newsroom before 2017 ended. I wasn’t expecting that when I arrived, but leaving Charlottesville when I did took my career in a direction I wasn’t planning. As every day marked the longest time I’d ever worked at one company, I wondered if those days also were counting down.

Next: It started as a joke.

we interrupt this string of youtube videos, …

I’m willing to undo a lot of things to get one thing I want.

(It’s time for the dreaded word from people who produce content online: Hiatus.

I’ll finish the journalism/playlist entries, though, because there are only four of them to go.)

I plan on making some moves in the coming days and weeks, so I need to reassess a lot of things. Unfortunately, that includes this 13-year-old blog. I am 99 percent certain the entire site won’t go away, especially since I own this domain.

Maybe it will mean I drastically revamp what I post here, like sticking to updates on working on my novel (which also has gone on a hiatus until I can get adjusted to my new work schedule). I don’t know.

What I do know is that things might be different soon, and I need to prepare.

20) ‘ms. garvey, ms. garvey’ by roy hargrove big band

It took me months to pick this song. I honestly considered ending the playlist completely with “Minor Soul” or, since I was in the same company, leaving it at “Git It Awn.”

I picked this song a little more than a year ago after I grew tired of being a reporter, didn’t get the editor job I wanted on the management side and wound up becoming a copy editor.

For those of you who have been here since the very start in 2004, you probably recall that my original goal in life was to be a copy editor at this newspaper. I wasn’t 100 percent happy there because, as I put it, “It was my goal in life 10 years ago. That means I expected to be somewhere else 10 years later.”

This was me trying to inject something lavish into it to deal with it.

I fully planned on dealing with it. As recently as August, the plan was to deal with it and continue the plan of renting a place with a yard for Missy until my mom’s house was sold and I threw that money into buying a house for myself.

I was getting back into the swing of things, but as I have said numerous times, things in Richmond just weren’t the same anymore. I’m not going to belabor it.

I kept telling myself I wouldn’t go back to Charlottesville and made a joke out of it.

Meanwhile, I still read the paper every day and never bothered to fully disentangle myself from some of the mailing lists.

In retrospect, my tone of “I’ll never go back there” was identical to how I swore I wouldn’t date Renée again … although I visited her in New York almost every time I went to Newark.

Next: August.

19) ‘minor soul’ by johnny lytle


I had a whole farewell speech planned but was at a loss for words when I was presented with my going away cake.


It took me months to read the card everyone signed.

Flagship paper!

Although I said I would visit, I could only bring myself to go twice.

My own column!

I often thought about how I got married in Charlottesville and filed my marriage license in Albemarle County.

There’s still a chance for advancement!

I learned of an alternate scenario in the company that would have involved leaving Charlottesville that would have been more up my alley.

But I had Johnny Lytle playing the ever-lovin’ crap out of a vibraphone to send me out. Everything was going to be fine. I’d get over missing those guys, and it was going to be a grand future in RVA. I mean, the last time I was torn about leaving a place, everything eventually turned out OK.

Next: I’m convinced?

18) ‘it’ll get you there’ by rilo kiley

I’ll always miss Rilo Kiley. My favorite singer in the band was Blake, though. I seriously have a playlist of nearly all of Ronnie Foster Pinsky’s oeuvre from Rilo Kiley to The Elected to Night Terrors of 1927.

But Jenny was spot-on here.

I was so desperate to stop commuting from Richmond and not deal with an issue of me not really liking someone but that person having absolutely no idea, I half-seriously offered to temporarily be a janitor at the Richmond paper.

I was offered a reporting position. I like to write, but I like to write this blog and also fiction. I wrote news for five years, and I swore I would only do it again if I could have a column again and/or could do whatever I wanted, like write features or churn out a 10,000 word opus I spent months on.

I got half of it.

I was to be the reporter for one of Virginia’s largest jurisdictions and also write a traffic column. It was a step downward, but it paid more and there was a chance I could get back into an editing role sooner rather than later. I banked on the sooner rather than later because, despite the setback in 2012, I considered myself an overachiever and wasn’t going to settle for long with just being a reporter. Not to disparage reporting. I mean, I had planned to just be a copy editor until I got a taste of being in charge. Additionally, I have problems with authority, so I need to be in some sort of managerial role with little oversight. Unless why I need to do something is spelled out and it makes sense, telling me what to do does not go well, especially when I’m fed up. I didn’t sit in the designated press row in Hopewell Council Chambers, for example, because nobody tells Elliott Robinson where to sit.

But, anyway, I was going to the big paper. After reporting at a small daily; somehow holding together a smaller non-daily and its weekly sister paper and improving its online presence; pulling myself out of a bad place after all that work seemed for naught; coming back and making my mark again; and learning what else I could do while helping to run the show in Charlottesville, I finally was going to live and work in Richmond. All the blanks that I blanked, they got me there.

It trumped my feelings for Charlottesville. I figured I’d write a couple of amazing stories, get promoted soon and would be trading in my sweet loft apartment with exposed beams and brick and hardwood floors for a house in Malvern Gardens in no time. And, since it was an internal transfer, it wasn’t like I was truly saying goodbye. Also, I knew people in that newsroom.  It felt like the next step in a bright, shiny future.

Next: Bright, shiny future

17) ‘three faces’ by menahan street band

Around 2014, I started getting into the whole soul revival thing. Actually, it was a bit earlier with Sharon Jones. But I really wanted to hear instrumentals. This band is one of the permutations of the musicians at Daptone Records. I loved this song enough to make it my ringtone back in 2015, and it still is my ringtone.

That’s says a lot, because my previous one was a Danish song I legitimately downloaded that I can no longer find online. I had been my jam for nearly a decade.

I was getting tugged in two directions at this point. The commute and another temporary issue got to me, but I didn’t want to leave Charlottesville. To this day, I cannot explain why I love working there. I just do. This past August did nothing to change that. If anything, I made me want to be there even more.

But living and working in Richmond sounded appealing. As I mentioned before, with the perfect well-paying job, I’d never leave Richmond. Hell, just a few months ago, I was thinking about where in this city to live next while I waited for the money I would get from either selling or renting our my childhood home. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In Richmond, a lot of my favorite places were gone by the time we returned in fall 2015. And a lot of my favorite people had either moved away or our friendships had moved on. It was great to be back, but it didn’t feel great to be back. I figured that would change when I lived and worked there.

Still, it was bittersweet, like this song.

But it was for the best.


Next: It’ll get you there.

16) ‘git it awn’ by no bs! brass

I had to go with the official video here. I just had to.

By the time RVA All Day was released in summer 2013, we were settled in and engaged. I enjoyed my job. I had a lot to learn, but I was learning every day. In the newsroom, we were learning overall, as there was a new push for social media, newsletters, alerts and keeping the website fresh.

Outside the newsroom, the area was beautiful — I loved that I could go read a book atop a mountain when I was bored. I loved the dining scene. I didn’t mind being away from friends because Richmond took only about an hour and I could take the back way to Northern Virginia.

After the turmoil of 2012 and six years overall of trial-and-error adulthood in the Tri-Cities and Richmond, it was refreshing to once again head to work with a blast of brass.

Sure, I missed being in Richmond sometimes. Sure, I didn’t like being 145 miles away from my mom. Sure, there were days when I did feel a bit isolated from the continuum of the social circle that had roots as far back as elementary school. But it was time for a new, real change.

The ending of this song, starting at the final yell of IT’S TIME TO GET IT ON! summed up how I was feeling.

The next thing I knew, it was 2014 and I was married.

But everything wasn’t perfect.

The job market wasn’t that great for Renée, and I hated how miserable not being able to get a job in her field was making her.

I told her to seriously look for jobs in Richmond and beyond. I figured I’d commute until I could transfer to a property in the company or set out on a new career path. I didn’t want to leave journalism, but for the first time in my life, I had to factor in someone else’s life into my decisions. I couldn’t have this explosion of brass at her expense.

I had to leave. I was up front about it, mostly in the hopes that someone could pull some strings and get me a transfer somewhere. I didn’t want to leave the industry, and I really didn’t want to leave the company.

Renée got a job in Richmond. We moved in October 2015. I began commuting an hour and trying to finesse a spot in Richmond. After a few months with no prospects at that paper, I was beginning to think it was time to finally hang up my press badge and do something that paid more.

Next: Meanwhile, I found my permanent ringtone.

15) ‘night moods’ by bob james

I figured this song wouldn’t be on YouTube by itself. In theory, the “video” above starts where the song starts.

Anyway, it was an interlude of sorts. Since everything happened so fast, I didn’t even have a “theme song” for my job until 2013. It was a lot like when I got to Petersburg in 2006: I had to hit the ground running, and by the time I had a second to assess it all, a year had passed.

This song was chosen because it was playing when I reached the point on U.S. 250 in Albemarle County where Charlottesville comes into view.

I saw that view four days a week for about a month as I commuted from Richmond after giving 30 day’s notice of vacating the house atop Chimborazo for good.

By the time Track 16 finally came along, I had assessed what happened.

After thinking I was smart enough to be the managing editor of a non-daily newspaper, I realized I was at the limits of what I was qualified to do and sought to leave to gain more experience. I faltered in what should have been a defining moment of leadership in the wake of two tropical systems, got my ego knocked down a few pegs, handled that poorly, got a chance to sort of reset things almost precisely a year later and now would go on to get more experience by being in a lower management role at a daily paper. On top of that, after a nine-year “break,” I was dating my very first girlfriend again and was going to propose to her at some point before the year was over.

That all deserved some Fender Rhodes-heavy incidental music from the sitcom “Taxi.”

Next: Time to git it awn

14) ‘amputations’ by death cab for cutie

In this modern day and age, we have instant coffee, instant tea, instant disbelief. That’s the reason we will never become anything — it is because we never believe in ourselves. We always listen to the mass majority. If everybody’s making fun of you and criticizing you, you know you’re on the right track, ’cause most people ain’t got it.

— Glenn W. Turner

We’ve reached what very well might be the final Death Cab song on this playlist. And what I though was the end of my life in Richmond.

There were parties. My girlfriend moved in as we geared up to head to Charlottesville. I got to sign a resignation letter with the A.T. Cross Co. classic black with 23 carat gold-plated appointments Classic Century ballpoint pen I’ve had since I was a child. I left behind a typography and design template that is still used in part to this day. I left satisfied with what I had done over the years at that paper.

It was time to enter the next phase of my life with a new, positive outlook. I compressed a lot of experience in those six years in journalism in Richmond’s southern suburbs. It was time to apply that elsewhere.

I made a lot of mistakes as I gained that real-world experience. It felt like I was on the path of getting it right.

And I wasn’t giving up on journalism. I believe in it, and I believe in me. Although Turner, who is quoted twice in this song, was a fraudster, I think of that last sentence when I hear “fake news” one time too many or think this part of my life that I find so important to me and the entire world just isn’t for me. When I once came close to quitting this industry that I love enough to create a soundtrack, a friend said she was certain I would literally be the person who turns out the lights when the First Amendment also fades to black. I don’t want that to happen because I was that light of truth to continue to shine. And I want to be a part of it.

It was just time to no longer do it in the Tri-Cities, where I first landed after college.

Next: Interlude

F.I. to Harley

I’m stuck at the new section I need to write because I need time to sit down and write it. I have a new old job that isn’t’ exactly near where I currently live, so the earliest I’ll get to it is this weekend.

I also need to make a minor change.

Over the years, I’ve renamed a few characters because I either met someone with the same name (and, once, someone with the same name and occupation) thought of a better on for them.

My biggest problem is that I conjured up a character and then met a person an awful lot like here and so many people are going to think I was writing about her and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. If it gets to that point, I expect someone who knows anything about my life to say “___ ostensibly isn’t an analogue of ___” at some point. It doesn’t help that I sprinkled traits about myself across two characters, including one who interacts a lot with the coincidental character. I’m failing to mention her as to not lead people on before reading it.

But I digress.

Here are some of the changes that have been made:

W. Webster became W. Waycross because I completely forgot my mom’s church had a William Webster as a pastor.

Gene became Gus because I know a Eugene, and forgot Gene was short for it, because this particular Eugene goes by a wholly different nickname.

Mitch became Osbourne because I met a copy editor named Mitch and Oz is a copy editor.

Fiona became Francine because I forgot a friend’s middle name is Fiona. Additionally, this character has unflattering nickname (unbeknownst to her) that is abbreviated F.I. She thinks the group of people calling her Fi are going so because of her initials.

Fi, no longer will be known as Fi.

Over the years, I’ve passed an exit on Interstate 64 for two communities that, from how they’re positioned, sound like the first and last name of a southern belle who has a euphemism-filled sex scene with the “turgid maleness” of Jean-Paul Beauregard Gaudreau.

I decided to create this woman, sans Mr. Gaudreau’s pulsing tumescence, but never got around to it, so we’re getting Harley.


On her first day at work, a boorish character is going to respond to her introduction with “Harley or Quinn?” for obvious reasons.

Now I wish she were more prominent, but I’m not doing another massive overhaul of this thing.