Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Rocket Fever Vol. 1: This Is How We Drive (to L.A.)
mixed by Sister Gaines
1. The Blanks: "Hey Little Blues"
2. The Decembrists: "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
3. Velvet Underground: "Sweet Jane"
4. Curtis Mayfield: "Move On Up"
5. Dinosaur Jr.: "I Ain't Sayin'"
6. Ron Sexsmith (Kinks Tribute Album): "This Is Where I Belong"
7. David Byrne: "Glass, Concrete & Stone"
8. Charlie Don't Shake: "Julie Money"
9. Elivs Costello: "Radio, Radio"
10. Grandaddy: "A.M. 180"
11. The Fruitbats: "Rainbow Sign"
12. U2: "In God's Country"
13. The Flaming Lips: "Fight Test"
14. Sufjan Stevens: "Detroit, Life Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild!)"
15. Stephen Malkmus & the Jiks: "Vanessa From Queens"
16. Neutral Milk Hotel: "Naomi"
17. Blur: "Tracy Jacks"
18. Talking Heads: "Road to Nowhere"
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
So then is the answer to just let the kids bypass college and take education out of the equation? No. That ends up putting kids in a nihilistic system where only a small percentage of players will reap millions of dollars. The thousands of talented basketball players that don't have chances of going pro are left in the cold.
There has to be another way.
Anyway, good luck to Alan Anderson. I wouldn't mind if he became a Piston, but my dream is that Julius Hodge will fall to No. 26. We'll see.
By the way, Rocket Fever prediction: Andrew Bogut will be a bust. That guy couldn't handle Geoff Kimmerly in the post.
Monday, June 27, 2005
But I can't dwell on that, can I? Instead, I can be thankful I spent a great weekend Up North with my family. I can be thankful that my sister and I weren't hurt in the accident. I can be thankful that I have a few extra days to prepare.
And so I approach what, for me, passes for peace. As Buckaroo Banzai said, "No matter where you go, there you are."
Here I am. And here are two abbreviated Weekend Wraps!
I had a wonderful time at the cabin with the family regulars in addition to Aunt Sarah and the California Mellingers. I talked Golden State with Uncle Joel and Aunt Mary and jumped off Steve the Boat (Mom and I finally christened the pontoon) approximately a million times with Ray, Gina, and Sister. The Mellinger kids dubbed that spot of the lake George's Grave, and a fine name it is. Gina, a future world-famous dancer, taught me how to do a cartwheel. And Raymond caught a 27-inch bass -- after an 18-minute battle -- but threw it back out of compassion.
Last Last Weekend
The Rustbelt Farewell tour first took me to Detroit, where I spent quality time with Nana and Poppy. We watched "The Importance of Being Ernest," which I really liked, and drove around Grosse Pointe looking at the big painted frogs they have on the sidewalks. I then headed to Amy and Shane's for a night of Italian food, drinking, and conversation with the usual suspects. It was good seeing Aaron Beachnau, who's now in San Francisco. I'm sure to be seeing him on his turf at some point. After that I wheeled to Cleveland, where I first spent the day in the incomparable hospitality of Mike and Kelly Zawacki. They put on a mean barbecue. We then went out for ice cream and watched a Pistons heartbreaker. The next day it was dinner with Meghan and drinks at Garage Bar with the old GLP crew. The finest of weekends, indeed ...
All congratulations are in order for one Becky Amos, who is to be wed within a year. A Rocket Fever HUZZAH to Amos!
Friday, June 24, 2005
Still no word on the car. I'm thinking this is going to end up having a major impact on the move. Stay tuned.
I refuse to write a Weekend Wrap when my continuing bad and whiny mood will darken my report. I had a phenomenal weekend with the best kids in the world, and the funk I'm in won't allow me to do the weekend justice.
What's going on in Grosse Pointe? Wolves, murders, now church embezzlement? You mean to tell me bad things happen among the upper crust, too?
The folks in Howell sure have a good sense of humor about themselves.
This is what happens when a newspaper's Web department lets newsroom staffers run wild with dumb ideas. I know Neil Harvey. OK guy. I couldn't care less about his 30-day cola purge.
RAGING CHIMP SEX BATTLE LEAVES LOSER SCARRED, SCORNED
GR Press reporter seriously reconsiders profession after receiving dumb-ass story assignment
Cook, is my blog better when I'm miserable, too?
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Either way, it happened. And the only laughing I can bring myself to do about it is of the bitter "Of course this would happen to me, days before I'm supposed to leave, days after I pay off this car" variety. First, the facts:
Sister was practicing how to drive the stick in the neighborhood this afternoon. We were approaching an intersection where the other street had a stop sign. This guy in a truck didn't see us and pulled out into the intersection, giving my car a hard tap on the rear driver's-side panel. Everything happened in both very slow and very fast motion. It wasn't Hayley's fault in the least. The guy was at a dead stop and then just barreled into us.
After I got done screaming words to make Chris Rock blush, I got out and did the information dance with the guy. The poor schmuck just made a dumb mistake. He was very forthright about giving me his info and admitted guilt right away.
The damage is really just a pretty bad dent, but it has to be fixed before we leave. Which likely means the trip will be delayed a few days. Which means some of our planned stops may have to be canceled. Which means I'm hatin' life right about now.
I'll keep everyone posted on the details. I'd write more, but I'm in such a foul mood it will come across saltier than lunch at the China Sea.
I promise I'll still do a Weekend Wrap, but in the meantime let me just thank everyone in Detroit and Cleveland -- especially Amy-Shane, Mike-Kelly, and Frey -- for their hospitality and grace. I have great friends.
NOTE: This post originally said I was in Chicago, rather than Cleveland, last weekend. Thanks to MZ for the catch.
Monday, June 20, 2005
The Farewell Tour is going great; I'll spill all the beans in a Weekend Wrap tomorrow.
Friday, June 17, 2005
I leave for Los Angeles in one week everyone. Holy @$%!
I've always been on the Robert-Horry-is-clutch bandwagon. Maybe this piece will knock me off.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I don't know if I can describe what it's like talking to someone who I've known for more than 20 years. Ryan and I go back longer than our memories can take us. He brought this photo from a bowling birthday party when Ryan was turning probably 8 or 9. He's wearing this blue jacket and I'm wearing what appears to be a multicolored velour shirt. Ryan knew me when I had to wear velour shirts.
Maybe the closest description is that it's like talking to a family member you haven't seen in a long time. There's tons to catch up on, but no awkwardness. You're so familiar with the person that you just start in on the Big Issues with no hesitation.
This has the makings of a ramble. I'll cut it short by thanking Steve for picking up lunch and thanking both of those guys for catching up with me -- if only for an hour or so.
I then got a treat when Beth's dad, Bill, showed up for a round. He was sacrificing precious sleep on a weeknight to come out and say hello. It was a typically wonderful gesture from one of the classiest guys I know. We discussed the possibility of Bill doing a Charles Kuralt thing in an RV across the country. I told him I'd talk to my people in L.A. and get back to him. The man would be a natural -- he can start a conversation with anyone and his combination of intelligence and Midwestern grace would make for some great TV. I'm thinking PBS.
While there are some folks who I didn't get to see during my stay in Lansing, I'm thrilled that I got to spend time with Beth. We have one of those friendships where we won't speak for weeks and then just pick up where we left off with ease. While that's nice, actually seeing the person with some regularity is better. And seeing Beth anytime is the best.
Today I'm having lunch with one of the luminaries of my childhood, Ryan Ahrens, who's in town from San Diego this week. I've known the guy since I was 4, and we've gotten off track from each other over the past few years. We obviously won't have enough time to completely catch up, which is why we'll have to spend more time together when I move out to L.A.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Monday, June 13, 2005
My only regret from the evening: As we were saying our goodbyes I gave Chris -- a solid, upstanding fellow product of the Lansing School District and Michigan State University -- the dreaded half handshake. This occurs when a handshakee fails to commit to a full hand grasp and ends up clutching his partner's knuckles, resulting in a weak, slippery gesture that's more insult than salutation. Chris, you deserved better.
Now you know what it's like to look to the right. And now it's time for the Weekend Wrap!
1. Friday night: Boring. I was out by 10:30.
2. Saturday: Saturday saw me in different stages of moistness all day. It was M-U-G-G-Y out there, and lugging stuff around for the garage sale didn't help. The sale unfortunately was a flop, as we were at a bad location and most sane people stayed in air conditioning. But the family had some important bonding time while absorbing unhealthy amounts of UV rays.
3. Saturday evening: I supped with the incomparable -- hobbled but unbowed -- Joy Sarnacke. This was the first in many last-time-before-I-leave meetings with friends. I met Joy, who recently broke her toe, at the Peanut Barrel. After a drink, we walked down to Woody's Oasis on Grand River. Sister and I have been having a disagreement over who in Lansing has better Middle Eastern food: She says Woody's, I say Aladdin's. Aladdin's wins in the service department, at least. For the second straight dinner with Joy, we got weird service. Our appetizer never came, and then the entrees were served when we were only half done with our soup and salad. Annoying! I do have to say that the food was good, and just about any annoyance is made tolerable by the high-quality conversation to be had with Ms. Sarnacke. After finishing our smoothie desserts, we parted ways with promises to keep in touch and never eat out together again.
I then went to the Barrel, where I cracked wise with Sister's friends for a couple hours. Always good times with those kids.
4. Sunday: This was my early Father's Day with Pop. I'll be in Detroit and Cleveland next weekend, so I took him to a Lugnuts game on Sunday. We hadn't been in years. It was fun, despite the air feeling like a warm, soggy towel. Dad, Sister, and I had great seats to a resounding Lugs victory over the Dayton Dragons. We then headed to P.F. Chang's for some fancy chain food. I was quite impressed. The service was great, and my Dan-Dan Noodles were both delicious and humorously named.
I later met Rexrode for the second half of the Pistons game; I was already in a horrible mood because they were playing so badly. I think maybe the only explanation for their performance is that the Spurs are REALLY GOOD. Like, the best team Detroit has faced all postseason. At this point, I just don't want them to get swept. What an embarrassment that'd be.
Tomorrow is Flag Day, kids. Remember to take down the Flag during inclement weather and never to let it drape on the ground. Plus, the field always goes in the upper left-hand corner. Now salute!
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Friday, June 10, 2005
We're selling some pretty good stuff at the garage sale, including an Indian head dress that I was wearing this morning.
It's a steamer out there!
Congrats to Amy and Shane, new owners of a beautiful home in Ferndale. It can't be long before they buy a minivan.
You know what bugs me? You're on a crowded elevator, and when the door opens on the way down this claustrophobic person goes "Ha ha ha ha ... I'll wait for the next one."
What about that is funny? Listen. lady (it's usually a dame), a crowded elevator isn't funny. It's a serious and potentially life-threatening situation. What sort of sick jerk laughs at a bunch of people trapped in a five-by-five room that's hurtling down a building at a moderately high rate of speed? Huh?
"We lost our cable," she said. "The TV went off right at tip."
I called Rexrode, downed my Miller Lite, and headed to the Rexrodes'. By the time I got there they were down 6 and descending fast.
The Pistons have lost every playoff game that Joe has watched at home. Conclusion? Had the Barrel's cable not gone on the fritz, we'd be up, 1-0.
Ah, well. I did predict a seven-game series.
Yard sale at 2828 Fernwood today and tomorrow! Come on over and buy our junk!
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Ready for Launch: Mick, the hair stylist at the Harrison Hairhouse in East Lansing (517-337-1541). I just got a hair cut from him -- it's the best I've had in months. He's also a good conversationalist and ran across the street to break a $20 bill for me. Thanks to Kate for the recommendation.
GROUNDED: Maxell recordable CDs. I have been burned too many times by these things. I just burned a bunch of CDs from the library, and U2's "Achtung Baby" goes crappy after the first song.
Monday, June 06, 2005
1. Friday afternoon: Mom, Joanne, and I hit the road at around noon. The drive was a breeze, helped along by pleasant conversation with my passengers. I dropped the women off at the Essex Inn, next to Grant Park, and headed off. I had a few hours to kill before Craig Schmidt got out of work, so I drove around to find a street parking spot. ...
... More than an hour later, I had my parking spot and immediately bought a hot dog.
Schmidt showed up before too long, and we headed to New Comiskey to watch the White Sox take on the Tribe. The weather was comfortable, the crowd exciting, the seats superb. The two Polish dogs and five beers gave me the nourishment I needed to drown any conflicts about who to cheer for. Sox won, 6-4.
We then took the El to this bar I've been to with Schmidt and Co. before. All I remember was that it had board games and a very clean bathroom. Very clean. After this, things get hazy, but what's important is that we end up at Ann Schmidt's apartment in Evanston for a good night's sleep.
2. Saturday morning/afternoon: After eating the best banana pancakes known to man, Schmidt and I headed out in search of Mom and Joanne. This was difficult, because they were a moving target and we were walking in mid-80s, high-humidity heat, in blue jeans, with thick black hair on my head. It was hot.
After a miss and a pitstop to look at vintage "Star Wars" figures, we caught a cab to Skokie, sat in a bar for an hour or two, and finally saw the heroic walkers near the end of their day. They were in pain and hot as hell. We said a quick hello and then let them get on their way.
3. Saturday evening: After the first of two servings of tacos, we got a drink at the best gay sports bar I've ever been to. It's called Crew. The bouncers wore T-shirts that read "I love tight ends." We watched a Sox game while Madonna played on the speakers. I am making none of this up.
After a stop at a bar once owned by Al Capone, we hoofed it to a bar called the Ravenswood to watch the Pistons game. It was a nice joint, but very uncrowded, leaving the back room -- leather couch, big TV, American flag -- to Craig, me, and two of his friends. The Pistons, just as 'Sheed said, won, setting up a likely loss in Game 7 (Schmidt, remember my metaprediction).
During the game, Katie Rexrode did a very cool thing and called me from Jenny Currie's wedding. I knew Jenny in high school, and Katie has become good friends with her. A bunch of my old Eastern peeps were there, and I got to talk to Emily Potter, Holly McClintock, Stacia Ellis, and Steve Borough. It was a really nice moment talking to all those folks. Everyone sounds like they're doing well, which makes me all the happier.
The night continued at a housewarming party for someone named Schoolie/ey/y. Nice person, nice party, but someone took the "warming" part too seriously because the apartment was roasting. We spent the night on the front porch, where Craig's friend Ian told me the best R. Kelly stories I've ever heard.
As most cycles within the larger life cycle do, the night neared its end as it began: with tacos. Highlights included Steve Schmidt's order of two tacos turning into two Diet Pepsis and C. Schmidt giving me his third taco.
After making a courtesy stop at The Oasis, the Brothers Schmidt and I headed to Evanston for a few hours' sleep.
4. Sunday: After breakfast -- oatmeal with bananas -- I went to Soldier Field to watch Mom and Joanne cross the finish line. It was a much cooler moment than I anticipated. There were tons of people there with signs ("We're proud of you mom! We love boobs!"), cheering everyone who finished the 40-mile trek. The comedic highlight of the day was all the people wearing "I Love Boobies" T-shirts and other various boob jokes. I appreciate it whenever folks can inject a bit of humor into a serious enterprise like this.
After about a half hour, Mom and Joanne came walking triumphantly through the crowd -- a very nice moment indeed. I must say, I'm quite proud of Ma for slogging through the heat and humidity for a very worthy cause. This is something she'll be able to look back on and boast about for the rest of her life. Huzzah, Ma!
Friday, June 03, 2005
Send good vibes Ma's way. A full report will follow upon my return.
New additions include Kate Cosgrove, a review of the Peanut Barrel by Joe Rexrode, artist Gabe Lanza, and the remarkable Finnish band Lodger (which includes some really cool Flash videos).
Rasheed Wallace, who scored 20 points in just 22 minutes in Game 4, was in early foul trouble again. He scored just one basket in 27 minutes. Three of his five fouls were offensive fouls.
"You had to see that. It was just so blatant," Wallace said of the officiating. "I am going to find out who knows about basketball by reading your stories and seeing your reports tomorrow.
"We are going to win Game 6 because there will be good people out there reffing. They (the NBA) want a Game 7 'cause there's no other series. Y'all can't see that, then you're crazy."
I wish he hadn't laid on the floor so much after the calls, but those refs have a vendetta against the man. The Pistons would have lost even if 'Sheed hadn't been in so much BS foul trouble, but it did affect the game.
ROCKET FEVER PREDICTION: Pistons will win a close one Saturday, then will be blown out in Game 7.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
At about Day Two of my two-week stay in L.A. last month, I'd determined that I had to get out there for a while. The combination of friends, weather, food, great place to stay, location on a major fault line, and countless other factors helped me to make this decision. Plus, I promised Mike and Becky three times I'd do it during dinner at Timberlake's restaurant. I think the last promise was in exchange for a bite of Mike's lamb.
I'm heading out on June 23 or 24 with Sister as my navigator. I'm hoping she can get bumped up to co-pilot in the next few weeks by actually learning how to drive my car. It should be a memorable, coming-of-age journey in which we reveal our darkest fears, save orphans from a burning building, outrun the fuzz, and withstand a HILARIOUS cameo by Vince Vaughn.
Once I get out there, I'm going to continue most of the free-lance stuff I'm doing now. I hope to also pick up a few more jobs once I get out there. I'm not too pessimistic about my prospects, seeing as I know a few peeps in the media field. I'll also be traveling North (Molly Mellinger, Aaron Beachnau, Sarah Walker, Uncle Joel, Brunt and Adrian, Pat Muir) and South (one Ryan W. Ahrens). It's a move I'm very excited about, one made possible by the Hudsons' unbelievable giving spirit.
So here we go, heading toward the next chapter in the Gaines Hustle. Hold onto your butts!
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Other than Meghan, I don't think any of you ever met Aunt Kathryn. But you would have loved her. She stood barely 5 feet tall but carried herself as if she were twice that. "Miss Daisy," as Grandpa would call her, spoke with the most beautiful Carolina drawl you ever heard. She was the only person I knew who could break my name into two syllables.
I'm grateful that I got to see her not two years ago. It was during March Madness, which was perfect because she was such a Tar Heel fan. Meghan and I had a truly enjoyable visit with her, charmed by the grace and Ginsberg sense of humor she always displayed.
Kathryn's funeral is sure to produce many tears and more than a few laughs as people remember her. After that, a momentary hush will fall over North Carolina, a bit bluer than the day before.
NOTE: Some of you may have noticed that I've edited this post a couple times. After reading her obit in the News & Observer, it seems Kathryn made her maiden name her middle name when she married Uncle Arnold. Selma was her middle name on her birth certificate.