Friday, June 19, 2009

j/fML

Hey. What's goin' on? Good. Good to hear. Yeah, me, too. Been good. Guess it has been awhile, huh? Jeez, didn't realize how long it's been. Yeah, I've been busy, too. Oh, I know, hard to find the time. The Sox? Yeah, I've been paying attention. Hardly seen 'em on tv, though. Yeah, not on down here much. Going to see 'em at Nats Park next Wednesday. Yeah, great seats, too. First row behind the Sox bullpen. Should be cool. Yup, going to Baltimore, too. Takin' the kids for the July 1st matinee. Yeah, they're pretty excited about it. Ok, cool. Well, take it easy. Talk to you soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In Case You Were Curious...

Here's an audio slideshow featuring Jamie Leeds, the owner and executive chef of my new restaurant, CommonWealth, discussing lotsa CommonWealth related yadayada...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rearviewmirror

As of July 1, Sarah, the kids and I will officially be residents of Virginia once again. The South'll rise again! (As my old dentist used to say...) It is with a dry eye, an un-choked-up throat and much glee that I make this announcement. The Pittsburgh Experiment turned out to be a much less successful one than its cinematic cousin from across the state...ok, maybe it was more successful than that, but not to us...

Here, now, is an unabridged list of the things I will miss about Pittsburgh:

1. Twenty taps and an internet jukebox in every crappy bar.
2. Most of, but not all of, the people at my restaurant, Mio Kitchen and Wine Bar.
3. Double bulls counting on the electronic dart machines, even when they fall out.

Here, now, is an unabridged list of the things I will not miss about Pittsburgh:

1. Everything else.

As of the first week of July, I will become the general manager of yet-to-be-opened CommonWealth (website not fully up yet.) It's a collaboration between Chef Jamie Leeds and my friend, Sandy Lewis, the owners of the very popular Hank's Oyster Bar. We're set to open in mid-August at 14th and Irving NW, in the quickly hip-ifying Columbia Heights neighborhood in DC. I am wicked excited about this place...should be very, very cool. (And to certain of my readers who concern themselves with such things, no, you will not need a tie, and yes, you can probably wear a hat.)

Sarah has landed another one of her wonky government contracting gigs, so she'll be geeking out near Union Station, working with the Department of Justice on some such whatsit-ology. We found a nice three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse style condo off of N. Van Dorn St in Alexandria, about a mile or so from our old place in Virginia. Finally, after nine long, long months, things are falling back into place.

"I hardly believe, finally the shades...are raised...hey..."

Monday, May 05, 2008

R.I.F.

If you're like me, and God help you if you are, you have all the trappings of an adult's life, but you feel like an immature kid most days, albeit one carrying a few extra pounds, a few gray hairs and an air of constant exhaustion. You also have the occasional internal difficulty reconciling the, (as Mike McColgan so eloquently put it) "hooligan, castaway, hardcore youth" you used to be with the diaper-changing, no-sleep-getting authority figure you've become. And most of the time when you are at Target or the grocery store or the playground, you look around and see all the dads in pressed khaki shorts and Oakley's perched just so on the brim of their TaylorMade caps, then realize you're wearing a wrinkled Unseen t-shirt and dirty Vans again and that you look more like the teenage kids of those Dockers dads than the dads themselves. Or, as Jim Lindberg, lead singer of Pennywise, puts it, "Just when we realized exactly why we were rebelling against our parents, we became them."

If any of that sounds familiar, then you need to pick up the book "Punk Rock Dad," by the aforementioned Jim Lindberg. This frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious book can serve as both a cautionary tale/new dad primer as well as a trip down memory lane for those of us who already have kids. Countless times while reading this book I found myself nodding and saying, "Oh God, I remember those days..." It's the tale of a forty-something, graying punk rock icon trying to balance the demands of three hyper-active girls with those of three hyper-active, childless bandmates, while trying to prove to us, and himself, that he's not the old fart we, and he, know he's become. It's a poignant ode to the wife and kids he obviously loves, and he tosses in pointers that can help anybody's marriage thrive amidst the chaos created by children. It's brutally honest at times about the stresses, strains and shit stains that come along with raising kids, and unlike so many other "parenting" books, it doesn't sugarcoat many things. The birthing process may be a miracle, but when it comes down to brass tacks, it's a pretty disgusting thing for most guys to witness.

In the book, Jim explores and details the difficulties that come along with being the singer of, as he calls it, "a patently offensive band hell-bent on pissing off 95% of society," while trying to be just another dad at the PTA meeting or weekend youth soccer match. At its core, his message is one of acceptance: accept him despite his profession, just as he accepts other dads' proclivities for pleated pants and boring golf stories. He makes the assertion that kids are the great equalizers, that they can unite people with nothing more in common than parenthood. And he's right; I've seen this happen on many occasions at the park, at parties, at bars, whatever. Guys with little in common can bond over what it's like to still be up at 3am, walking a cranky infant around in a vain attempt to get him back to sleep so dad can collapse into a bed shared by his tired, cranky, not-horny wife for a couple hours before it all starts up again at 6:30am. I may not understand why someone is Republican, or what's so interesting about walking a golf course for five hours or how a man can drink white zinfandel in public, but I understand the elations, let-downs, frustrations and blessings of raising kids.

The other central theme of the book is how to raise independent-thinking children who understand that conformity is not mandatory and that questioning authority is something everyone should do, while at the same time instilling in their kids a sense of discipline and respect for the parents as authority figures. This paradox is something that obviously consumes Jim, as it does many of us raised on the attitudes, platitudes and tenets of punk music. Again, Jim puts it better than I can: "How can the singer of 'Fuck Authority' make his kids pick up their toys and eat their vegetables?" Can it be done without feeling like the world's biggest hypocrite? The answer, of course, is no. But the key, as he puts it, is to pick your battles and just accept that your responsibility to your child trumps your responsibility to your ethos.

This book is not a "my life in Pennywise" story, so childless fans of the band would probably be disappointed. But for punk rock dads, or just your average dad or dad-to-be who can appreciate a funny, touching, honest look at marriage and parenthood, this book is highly recommended. Most of the chapter and subsection titles are taken from punk rock songs, like the chapter entitled "Anarchy in the Pre-K." Also interspersed throughout the book are little quotes or stories from other punk rock dads like Fat Mike, Tony Cadena and Greg Hetson. You don't have to be punk to appreciate this book; you just have to have an open-mind that despite musical, political or fashion differences, all parents have the same responsibilities and struggles. If you can accept that premise, then it's easy to understand how the guy in the dirty, old Vans can swap diaper stories with the guy in the Izod polo, even if he'd rather be slamming him in the pit.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Somethin's Changed Inside of Me...

As far as I can tell, the last concert Sarah and I went to together was the Bouncing Souls/Street Dogs show at the Black Cat in October, 2006. She was seven months pregnant and, as some of you may remember, this was not a great evening...

So it was a neat little bit of symmetry that our next show together was last night when we saw the Bouncing Souls again, this time at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, PA. As you can see if you click the link, the venue is inside of an old church, the main room of the club being the sanctuary, a good sign if music truly is a religion...it was kind of a strange spot, with weird traffic flow through the room and bar areas. Plus, it was hot as balls. One of the hottest venues I've been in since the glory days of the old 9:30 club in DC. And poorly ventilated. And for a church, the accoustics weren't all that great, although my perception of that may be compromised by the fact that we were about six feet from the speakers on the right of the stage, not exactly the sound's focus point, probably. But, we had a great vantage point, and Sarah was out of harm's way.

This was, I think, the 10th time I've seen the Souls, and as I get older, so do they. Last night's set started out very promisingly with "Hopeless Romantic" being a surprise opener followed up quickly with "Say Anything," prompting me to give up the glasses and camera and spend my obligatory two minutes in the pit banging around. That's about all I can do anymore...From there, they said "Hi!" and then hit the chords to "That Song" but that was quickly abbreviated when an over-zealous crowd surfer tried to take the stage, much to security's dismay. The guy got on stage, tried to circle around the Souls' guitar player, The Pete, but was brought down by the bouncer, crashing into Pete and taking him, his guitar and his mic stand into the barricade with him in one big pile. A mess...the band stopped playing as roadies rushed out to rescue Pete and security hustled the offending fan out the side door of the club. After five minutes or so, Pete was back up, tuned up and ready to go. They skipped the rest of "That Song" and launched right into "Cracked," one of Sarah's favorites...she managed to get a little video of it...



We took a bunch of pictures, but none turned out that great...here's a few though...

Here's a half decent shot of Greg and Brian...


Here's the aforementioned, The Pete, sweatin' on guitar...


One of the funnier moments of the show was a ukelele and "spoons-on-the-knee" cover of Sick of It All's "Scratch the Surface," as seen here...

Other songs on the set-list, as far as I can remember in no particular order included, "No Security," "Kate is Great," "Private Radio," "Kids and Heroes," "Kid," "Manthem," "Lean on Sheena," "Midnight Mile," "The Something Special," "The Ballad of Johnny X," "Gone," "East Coast Fuck You," "Sing Along Forever," "The Guest," and a closing accoustic version of "Night on Earth." Of course, amidst all that, they played crowd favorite, "True Believer," by which point, the bouncers had basically given up the barricade. Sarah got a great little video of me on stage, rushing to sing along with Greg, before people in the front row tried to pull me, Greg and the mic into the crowd...I'm the guy with jeans and black t-shirt putting my arm around Greg before disappearing into the crowd...

All in all, it wasn't the best setlist I've heard them do, it wasn't the best venue I've seen them in and it certainly wasn't the best crowd I've been in, either. That said, it was a night out with my wife, without kids and with some really loud music. When I left the show last night I said it was a bit disappointing. But sitting here today, with my ears ringing, my shin bruised and "Say Anything" bouncing around in my head, "I can say, I have no regrets today..."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cleveland

I am still cold. But here's some lame pictures that I managed to take before the hypothermia set in...

This picture is so misleading...it looks so nice and warm...the sun was shining, but it was a pretty weak effort; temperature at gametime was like 38 degrees or something. Got down to about 33 I think by the end.

This was my first time at the Ol' Jake, now corporately known as Progressive Field. Nice scoreboard...


Alex Cora near the batting cage; only a couple of Sox took BP. Most of them huddled in small groups in the outfield sun, trying to look ready to shag some flies, but really just trying not to freeze to death.


Here's Tito, walking back to the dugout, telling someone the president is on the move...


You're looking awfully Orsillish today...


Jacoby secretly laughing about Dice's faux hawk...


Jere would call this "The classic Papi batting with Manny on deck shot..."


Top of the 9th, Lugo gets ready to start a rally rather than strangle one with his own two batting glove-clad hands...


Manny touches home after pissing off the Indians' fans yet again...the replay of Manny's dong doesn't do it justice- that was an absolute rocket...


Bottom of the 9th, and Paps says, "Bring it on..." Game over.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

All is Not Forgiven

If I'm Bill Buckner, I pretty much tell all of New England to go fuck itself. That's just me. And if I read one more article or listen to one more talking head mention "forgiveness" and "Buckner" in the same sentence I'm going to set myself on fire. Again, that's just me. But seriously, if you were Billy B, why in the hell would you bother with any of this?

He was mercilessly booed on Opening Day in '87. He received a mixed, but mostly positive, ovation when he came back in '90. By '97 as the hitting coach of Pale Sox, he was an afterthought in Fenway. So why bring him back? Why come back? He didn't owe anybody anything. Did he just need to hear, finally, the ovation that slid under his glove, lo those many Octobers ago? Did 40,000 people just need to clap to make themselves feel better? I don't know. All I know is that the Red Sox front office is shameless in their constant pandering to the lowest common denominator fan. You just know, know it better than you've ever known anything, that when Buckner was invited, the thought process went just like this:

"Let's invite this guy who was a pretty terrific player for a team that almost won the Series, who the media and a small number of completely clueless fans turned into a pariah, let's bring that guy back for "closure" so that all the old wounds, the ones that never really existed except inside the orange, curly-hair covered craniums of the lowest of Boston sports scribes, can be put to rest in a fake outpouring of fake forgiveness for a man who had to move his family cross-country to the wilds of Montana so that his kids could escape the abuse heaped upon them because their father made a physical error in a tied game that had already been squandered by one in-over-his-head rookie, one over the hill career loser, one moronic manager, one overrated catcher, one lead footed, surly left fielder and one blister-prone blowhard. I'll bet that will get us the lead on Sportscenter, huh, Werner?"

Eric Wilbur said it right, in his column yesterday: Buckner wasn't the goat, he was the scapegoat.

Does anyone honestly believe that without the Octobers of '04 and '07 that Mr. Buckner would have ever, in a million-kajillion years, been invited to throw out a first pitch? Never. Yet so many blind sheep believe that on October 27, 2004, he was granted absolution from a sin that wasn't his because a team he said he didn't care about beat another team he didn't care about 18 years after a team he did care about collectively lost at the end of a game he shouldn't still have been in. Do I have that right?

After Tuesday, the media started backtracking from their mission to ruin Steve Bartman's life by suggesting that the Cubs should invite him to Wrigley for a big "cleansing" first pitch. Which, as any one who isn't a complete retard should know, won't happen until the Cubs finally win the Series. And when that happens, I sincerely hope that Steve Bartman tells the Cubs and all of Chicago, really, to go fuck themselves. Because a man, who tried to do what any other fan in the entire world would do, happened to get in the way of a ball that an overrated, cowardly left fielder finally said was uncatchable, he has been scapegoated for the mistakes of the Cubs' middle infield's inability to turn two, Mark Prior's inability to calm down and throw strikes, Dusty Baker's inability to manage a pitching staff, and Kerry Wood's inability to win game 7.

It's just easier to forget all that though, easier to sweep it under the rug to become Chicago's Gedmans, Schiraldis, Stanleys and McNamaras. Someday, when the Cubs are handing out rings and everyone in the stands is saying they never blamed poor Steve and all is forgiven, somebody will climb the steps of the dugout and stroll to the mound to throw out the first pitch. I just hope to hell that for the sake of Steve Bartman's dignity, it isn't him.