Saturday, January 27, 2007

Happy Bithday Mrs. Alva!!!

While her actual birthday was December 26th (that's right, the crappiest day to have a birthday), we're celebrating her big second 20th birthday this evening at Dolce's down in Atlantic Station and Zambucca's for after hours cocktails and music. It's going to be a blast!

You are one gorgous looking babe Mrs. Alva. I am a lucky man indeed. Happy birthday!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm fucking tired of this...

I'm absolutely fucking done with this...

I've gotten involved, I've represented my community as our homeowner's association president when nobody else would, I've kept an open mind when discussing cause/effect and solutions, I've done all that any fair and civic minded individual can possibly do to help and now I just plain and simply give up. As soon as it is possible, the Alva's are leaving the neighborhood and home we built and have lived in for the past eleven years, one which we absolutely love.

As I was taking my wife and kid to breakfast yesterday morning, I discovered our subdivision and others along our main road have again been tagged for the umpteenth time. If that wasn't enough, the Sunday paper I read once I had cooled off and sat down at the Waffle House featured a long piece about the crisis our county's school system is facing because of the ever skyrocketing influx of non-English speaking students. Our county here in Georgia, Gwinnett, has undergone a HUGE demographic shift in the last six years, from a total of 10% Hispanic to 54% by the end of 2005 (it's probably more since the migration has only continued to increase in 2006). I have been talking to police investigators and conducting my own research for years now and the gang graffiti along with other gang related crime we are experiencing here in our area are exclusively the acts of rival Mexican and Central American gangs. If you don't believe me, look the shit up yourselves. OTC 23, MX3 and MS13 are among the most popular reoccuring scribbles. It looks like OTC 23 and MX3 has the beef this month, but give me another month and the others will be be back that's for certain.

It’s simple, we did NOT have this problem before the illegal immigration rush to this county began and now we do. This is a byproduct of a FAILED immigration policy on both the federal and local level. If we actually had CONTROL of our borders, we would certainly NOT let these criminal assholes through the door. If we had ANY solution to protecting our borders to the south (walls, manpower, drones, etc… ANYTHING), we’d sure as hell punt these bastards right back to where they came from. I’m fucking tired of hearing people talk about the benefits of an open door policy while the situation just gets worse. NONE of them has had to watch what has happened to our once tranquil neighborhood. None of them has to put their kid in a school completely OVERBURDENED with teaching it’s elementary grade students the primary language of our county, or deal with escalating violence at our high school. It’s simple: If there are no controls to illegal immigration, then the worst will (and have) come here along with the best.

I’m sure nobody will believe me when I say this, but this is not a slag of any sort to those who have entered this country legally. I welcome you and have loved having you as my neighbors. We will miss you. I say this with the utmost sincerity, but I no longer care what anyone refers to me as now when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration. If you think the experiences myself and the other law abiding citizens of this county here in Georgia are nothing but redneck rantings from a bunch of xenophobes, then you are nothing but full of shit and simply cannot deal with the math.

I’m done arguing about the cause, we here in Gwinnett County Georgia know what the cause is, we want SOLUTIONS and we want them now!

Friday, January 19, 2007


Check it out, Tom Watson invited me to post on a thing he's worked up outside of his most excellent blog My Dirty Life & Times. For those of the more conservative bent beware he's sometimes pie in the sky lost in space liberal and possesses a sharp tongue, but the kid can write. Here's my inaugural offering at Newcritics. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Greystone Mansion...

In 1969, my father finished his master’s at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY ahead of being assigned to the math department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. We were all very excited about the prospect of moving to West Point with promises of a "kid's paradise". A post my parents boasted of the zillions of other children we could play with. Much to our disappointment though, the housing area in which our family drew quarters was still under construction and way behind schedule. This meant having to live off post for the first of our three year assignment in rental property. So it was in the summer of love that the Phillips family moved into what we came to refer to as "Greystone Mansion". I don't know if we concocted that name, or whether that was it's official moniker, but that's what we called our new home.

Greystone was an old hotel nestled against the west side of the Hudson River. it's entrance was off of old route 9W in Highland Falls, NY, between the Veteran's Cemetary and a Church. It had stone piller markers which flanked the entrance to it's long switchback driveway. We shared this enormous place with an older retired couple (Mr. and Mrs. Pierson [sp?]). To the best of my fading recollection, the old hotel was essentially divided in half with the two occupants sharing the main winding staircase in the majestic foyer to access the upstairs bed rooms. The place had a huge yard with a patio area that butted up to the cliff that looked out over the river where I can imagine guests once dined al fresco in the warmer Hudson Valley seasons. There were so many rooms that all five of us could have had our own, but I remember us choosing to bunk together (me with my brother and my two oldest sisters together. Michele was only a baby having been born in January of that year).

At first it was cool living there. There were the cheap rooms in the basement that still had the old timey metal headboards in them. It was a perfect set for a scary movie. The big yard was cool too, but it didn’t take long for all of us to get sick of each other and realize we were isolated from the rest of the world. The highlight of our day was my father coming home for lunch dressed in his army green fatigues driving a jeep he’d filtch from the motor pool every now and then. After lunch, he’d drive us up to the top of the driveway in it, drop us off, and head back to work. We’d then walk down the long drive and back to our boredom. I’m not completely sure, but I think my folks loved living there. There was plenty of room for once in their young married lives after having just moved from some tiny quarters we occupied on Watervliet Arsenal back in Albany. They hosted many parties and we had my grandparents up for Christmas that year (the picture at the top is of my grandfather who was more than a little aggravated to discover that the white Christmas we had would prevent him and my grandma from beating a quick path home to NC after being driven nuts by the likes of five kids, a dog, and a cat for a couple of days). Greystone had a huge kitchen, cavernous marble dining room space that also double as our living room, crystal chandeliers, etc... all the accoutrements you’d expect to find in a 19th century upscale hotel. Given the vastness of the grounds, It seemed that Greystone was the default location for all multi-family events with my parents friends. The fact that it was off post more than likely gave the place added attraction since the young officers could relax a little out of the eye of senior staff.

In the spring of 1970, our new quarters were completed in the Stony Lonesome Housing Area on post and we left the loneliness of Greystone Mansion for the zillion kids we were originally promised the year prior. For us kids we couldn’t wait. In preparation for the move, my folks had reason to go up into the attic of the old hotel to retrive some stuff stored up there. The attic was unexplored territory, so we jumped at the chance to follow them up and stir up some dust. In the attic we discovered all kinds of relics from the days when this hotel was amongst the swankiest digs in all of the Highlands. I remember pictures, old registries, bills, menus, advertisements, etc… The coolest thing was a document that mentioned the location of a hidden wine cellar where illegal booze was stored during the prohibition era. We dug through the old coat check room and sure enough there it was, an old trap door to a very scary, dark, and cold wine cellar littered with broken bottles and cobwebs. Why my folks failed to grab one of the menus from the attic remains a complete mystery.

After moving on post to Stony Lonesome, none of us ever gave Greystone as much as another thought. Afterall, who'd want to remeber all that loneliness. Years later as an adult though, I decided to take the turn off old 9W and see what the place looked like. It had security cameras at the top of the drive and a chain across the road. I, of course, ignored these and let myself down the road. As I parked and got out my car, I was immediately met by two young women screaming at me, “get the hell of here!” before I could even make my nostalgic appeal. I think the year was 1985 when I made that trek down the hill and even though my inspection time was brief, Greystone looked exactly as I remembered it in my youth.

Years later, I again mustered some bravery and took the ride down the hill in the hopes that the buzzards that lived there would allow me a few moments on the grounds to perhaps photograph the place. Much to my dismay and sadness I discovered the place had been torn down. Not a brick or foundation remained. How could someone have torn down such a beautiful place? They better have had a damn good reason.

Which brings us current my readers. While up in the area during the holidays, my dear friend and frequent IDM reader, Hairdresser to the Stars, gave me a most awesome book as a Christmas gift titled “Images of America: Highlands” by Ronnie Clark Coffey. Within it's pages is a complete photo history of my beloved Highlands. There is an entire chapter dedicated to the hotels that catered to Highlands visitors over the centuries. I was very excited about the prospect of seeing the old Greystone Mansion in it’s heyday and perhaps glean some historical info about the place. I was most disappointed to find nary a mention.

What was this strange and beautifully lonely place that I remember as a six year old? How could it disappear and not even warrant a mention in any book I’ve read about the Highlands? Fortunately, there is hope in getting some answers. Hairdresser to the Stars knows the author of this book and could perhaps put me in touch with the Highland Falls Historical Society who might be able to tell us something about this once magnificent hotel. Please, help us out Hairdresser; can you put us on the path to unlocking the mysteries of Greystone Mansion?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

What a great holiday season we had. After a depressing start to the month, the remaining days fell together nicely. Mrs. Alva recovered quite rapidly from her surgery and was able to partake in holiday libations without restriction.

The Christmas festivities began in earnest upon the arrival of my little sister, brother in law, and nephew from Frederick MD. Katie loves her cousin to death, and despite Katie being a yucky girl, the two of them got along well enough for the rest of us adults to enjoy our grown up activities such as alcohol consumption and watching college/pro football. Christmas was a huge hit and I was the envy of all after receiving a most excellent pair of Rolling Stones tongue and lips pajamas from my two beautiful and thoughtful women. Mrs. Alva became the first iPod owner of the family thanks to yours truly. We began ripping CD’s the minute we got it home.

We embarked on our previously postponed trip to the NYC area on the 28th and arrived at Newark Airport to sunny skies and balmy temps. It felt great to finally be “home” after such a long hiatus. After kicking around for a day, spending sometime with my wonderful in-laws, we had dinner with the Wilson clan of Fort Montgomery where we were joined by Jackson and the Legal Diva. Katie got to hang with her future husband Tyler and he got a taste of what his life will be like once they both graduate from West Point and are enjoying life as newlyweds on their first military assignment together. It was a great time and we can’t wait to come back.

I headed into the city early New Year’s Eve to assist my good friend Jackson with the task of finally get his bedroom furniture through the upstairs window (suburbanites note: moving is 100 times more complicated when it’s in NYC). This single act became what Jackson referred to as the linchpin for getting his and his beautiful gal’s apartment set up after many months (since June) of living amongst boxes and piles of brand new furniture all still in original packaging. While we didn’t get the entire place sorted out completely, I will say that with a little focused effort, they should be fully moved in by the late spring just in time to renew their lease, or move.

Somehow we were able to jump over to the “NEW” Smoke and Mirrors recording studio for my first peek at the new digs. There are no words to describe how cool a place S&M now is. If you ever visited the Hope Street location, forget about it and come see them at the new place. Large, well treated rooms, and a ton of great gear including some deadly new stuff in the rack. It was good to finally get to see Chrispy again. He exudes a new found enthusiasm for the recording arts since moving into the new space and is getting the best sounds I’ve ever heard him capture. We actually got a good bit of work done on two songs I brought with me: a re-recording of the Darrell Scott dirge “Harlan” and the Bob Ezrin/Alice Cooper hit “I Never Cry”. Chrispy, Jackson, and I seem to share a common thoughts about the “Harlan” tune and with a some work yet to be done on it, I feel I left them the best vocal performance I had in me for them to work with. I’m anxious to see what the guys do with it.

Mrs. Alva took a train in later and met up with all of us for that evening’s New Year’s celebration. We hooked up with Paul from Figo and his lovely gal and we dined at a wonderful French restaurant in Manhattan. The food was superior and drinks flowed liberally. There is a picture of me dancing with some very drunk French women on the way back from the bathroom and being French, they actually yelled to me that they thought I danced well. Go figure. Following ringing in the new year there, we retired to a rock-n-roll bar somewhere in the city (by that time I became complete unaware of my surroundings) and finished the evening with drinks and conversation arriving back at Jackson’s place in the pouring rain at 5:00 am.

I spent the next couple of days at S&M finishing more recording work before re-joining my kinfolk in Paramus NJ. We managed to find our way up to Highland Falls again to have dinner with Katie’s fairy godmother IDM reader Hairdresser to the Stars joined by one of her lovely daughters who regaled us with stories of her new job as a pharmaceutical sales rep for Eli-Lilly selling Cialis and some far less important medication (okay, it’s insulin, but most would agree that Cialis is far more interesting to talk about). Did I mention she sold Cialis? Good. We dined at The Hotel Thayer and our cheeks hurt from laughing during the drive back down to NJ for a nights rest before returning home to Georgia the next day.

So much happened while I was out of town and away from football it took a while to catch up. Georgia Tech actually put up a solid effort against West Virginia before finally running out of gas. I was IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY while Rutgers was playing in the Texas Bowl and was heart broken to discover that the game WASN”T TELEVISED in the NYC/northern NJ area! Rutgers won, but it would have been nice to see it. The Terps won their bowl game, Penn State was victorious, my other Cinderella story fav The Demon Decon's of Wake Forest failed to close the deal, and the one I really wish I hadn’t missed was the Boise State vs. Oklahoma game that was so exciting that my Dad called to tell me about it before I could even read about it in the paper. Came home to find that the Atlanta Falcons had fired head coach Jim Mora (not sure the team’s performance can be blamed on him). Was giggling my ass off when Tony Romo bobbled the snap and blew a chip shot field goal that would have won their wild card game, and then got dumped by American Idol Carrie Underwood. Hmmm... American Idol dumps America's Team's QB. I was of course also sad to watch both NY teams get eliminated yesterday as well.

And so it goes, back to our regular routine here at home. We’ve got Mrs. Alva’s forty… I mean, milestone birthday party coming up on the 27th and I’ve got to get my shit together for that and get my work search effort fired back up post haste.

Thanks for sticking in there during a month of light posts, but rest assured you can bet on a 2007 filled with political rantings, sports jaw jacking, music chat, and other crap that fills my ever degrading brain matter here at Intravenus De Milo.

Happy New Year!!!