Monday, August 27, 2007

Why they hate us...

As much as this chick is worthy of mockage, the question that begs to be answered is; WHO ARE THESE PARENTS WHO LET THEIR DAUGHTER GET THIS STUPID?!!!

Home Sweet Home...

My youngest sister has just returned from her high school reunion and sent some pictures in an e-mail titled "ahhhh HOME!"

Having grown up an Army brat to my career military father, the answer to the familiar question "So, where are you from?" was one that for a long time I would have to think about before I answered. I was born in Munich, Germany, but could hardly call that home since we left Germany 2 years later. Before moving back to New York in 1977, Newport News, Virginia was the place I had lived the longest, but would hardly call it my home. It wasn't until I graduated from college that I felt comfortable offering an answer that I could consider sincere and truthful.

The first time I realized "where I was from" was my first trip back from college for Thanksgiving. It was then that I realized that the fondest and most indelible memories I had up to that point were from the period of my life spent there, at West Point, NY. West Point is a military reservation, so you don't own your home while you're there. In fact, many have lived in the house you occupy before you arrived, and many have still since we left in 1988, but no matter the reality of this I KNOW where my home is. This is it...
48c Wilson Road, West Point, NY 10996. Where I grew up. The place has held up well. Thanks for the pics sis.

Going Underground...

Posts may be light this week due to the big move on Wednesday. I'll be taking some time off to make it all happen. So far it's been exhausting. We came home from our closing Friday night after a celebratory dinner with the folks to discover that lightning from the thunderstorm we'd been so longing for after two weeks of 100 plus temps took out are AC unit. That blew. A sleepless night in a sweltering house and $500 to fix something in a home I'm going to live in for two more days. My next day off from everything will be Sunday for the Decatur Book Festival where Peter Case will be doing an in store performance and book signing. We'll hang around and catch Pete later that evening at Eddie's Attic too. Can't wait.

Until then I'll leave you with a couple of photos. This first photo my dad snapped as he passed Peachtree City Macintosh High School last week. As a sophomore you are permitted to drive a golfcart to school and many do as you can see.

This was the July 4th fireworks. The golf course let's the citizens set up on the fairways to watch.

A month ago or so during one of my many rounds of golf I played with my dad, and as he's prone to do on hole #2 Graveyard course, he sliced his ball into the overhanging tree about 50 yards ahead of the tee box. It ricocheted off the branch and landed right below it still in play much to his great relief. If it had gone right, he'd have lost it in the woods and cost himself a penalty stroke. As he was exhaling in relief a family of foxes came out of the woods to the left and trotted across the fairway as I was teeing up my ball. I grabbed my phone to snap a photo since foxes were a rare sight on this course. They disappeared into the woods on the right side of the fairway and as luck would have it, I capured this photo of one of them coming back out of the woods, sniffing my dad's ball, picking it up in his mouth, and hauling ass with it. We had to call back to the clubhouse for a ruling on that one.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sleepy John awakes...

“Mixed up kid is here to join the crowd
The ones who only fit where they’re not allowed
You’re out on the streets and feelin’ blue
Travellin’ light…
With a hole in your soul that the wind blows through”

Peter Case. What can be said of this man? A thinking man’s song writer who’s spent his life in awe of Bob Dylan who is actually on equal footing IMHO, but with a much better sense of melody. Never heard of him? Google his name and you’ll come up with quite a bit: singer/guitar player (The Nerves & Plimsouls), song writer (LONG list of band and solo work), producer (another long list including a brilliant tribute to Mississippi John Hurt that if you don’t owna copy your dumb), author (he’s penned an autobiography that he’s releasing in stages), poet (pretty much everything the guy says, plays, writes, thinks, etc… has poetic purpose), and the list goes on and on.

I first heard the guy during my period of blues music discovery in the mid/late 80's. A pal of mine worked in NYC and would blow into one of the scads of record stores that existed back then and purchase ANYTHING that even smelled like the blues. Pete’s self titled solo album debut has a picture of him as a young lad seated, wearing a suit far too big for him, playing his guitar sporting a Fedora with various harmonicas and notebooks spilled on a table in front of him. My buddy picked it up without ever listening to it and brought it straight to my place for its inaugural spin on the turntable. What we heard wasn’t the trad blues we were expected based on the cover art, but something equaling important. The two of us listened to the whole record in virtual silence like the inmates of Shawshank Prison when Andy Dufrane played that aria over the loudspeakers of the recreation yard. I’ve bought every single thing he’s ever touched since including his recent Yep Roc Records release “Let’s Us Now Praise Sleepy John”.

What do we know? Well, he quit his band, dropped out of High School in a small town in upstate New York near Buffalo in the early seventies, and wandered out to San Francisco where on every corner he’d heard their was promise of salvation, an attentive audience, and enough spare change being thrown around that some of it was bound to end up in a guitar case positioned at his feet. He lived on the streets and in junk yards, took drug addled trips to foreign lands and far off cities, met a million people, while dragging an old acoustic six string in the event he needed a cup of coffee. He was in San Francisco when an edgier style of music began to emerge and ended up thrashing around with The Nerves banging out primordial California punk rock. That didn’t take long to end, and shortly there after he beat it down to L.A. where he ended up fronting the Plimsoul’s. Not much time passed before his first recording contract was put in front of him. That didn’t last long either and right as he was heading back out into the dark night, Geffen signed him as a solo act.

“All those nights they hit rock bottom
The songs they sang well we forgot’em
They played guitar with shaky hands
Guitar strung up with rubberbands

Do you want a man of steal?
Or do you want a man that’s real?
Tried their hands at a thousand things
Now they’re only made of steel when they’re on steel strings…”

His first two solo records (produced by T Bone Burnett) are pieces of sheer genius. He claims to have little recollection of the sessions himself having been so overwhelmed by the whole big label thing and working with someone like T Bone, but the friggin’ songs man!!! As a dedicated reader of his blog, he tells a very funny, if not depressing, story of a meeting with none other than David Geffen himself that pretty much solidifies and confirms everything that is wrong with the record business today. He made one more album with Geffen “Six Pack of Love” and they cut him loose. Pete dropped out of sight.

“Far from the fields, the bright lights, and the boulevards
In this empty room a guitar makes a band
Our last conversation still echoes on bare walls
Like a child’s painting of everything we planned

We keep the secrets hidden deep inside
Hidden love, forbidden love and all the tears we cried
Though I loved you for a long time it can’t be denied
Someone sees the dreams we hide
Someone sees the dreams we hide”

A couple of years later, I was flipping through CD’s at a Five Points record store when I was delighted to come across Pete’s first Vanguard release “Peter Case Sings Like Hell”. WHY HADN’T ANYBODY TOLD ME?! Whew! It had only been out for a couple of months, I hadn’t missed anything. Gone was the slick production and all-star cast of session guys of the Geffen records days, replaced by nothing more than the man himself, his guitar, and harmonica for the most part. A watershed moment for his career. He never needed anything more after that and most everything he’s recorded since is as sparse a production as “Sings Like Hell”.

“Tennessee boy joined the US Navy in nineteen-fifty he was seventeen
Quiet kid who’d never seen the ocean his momma died his first trip at sea
Typhoons and calms on the great Pacific, proud to be serving the USA
He worked hard on board and he got promoted, he got VD but it went away

Poor old Tom he ain’t right he went out in San Francisco on a Saturday night
Sunday morning his ship set sail, Tom was arrested in the Oakland jail”

Throughout the years, Pete has been a student of the long gone art of street blues and his eagle like eye for signs of art and life have only grown sharper and when the guy just wants to have fun and rock out, he just puts the Plimsoul’s back together and hits the road for a month or two (by far one of the most under rated bands ever). He’s a bit crankier now, war and the passage of time will do that, but he can still turn out melody better than he ever has.

I guess I could have told you more about the specific tracks on specific albums, and then instructed you to go out and get Pete’s new album. Instead I’ll leave with this: Living this life without knowing Peter Case’s art is like going to the Louvre and passing up the paintings to go to the gift shop.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New team added to Tony's list...

As this year's college football season begins (the greatest sport ever!) to loom large in our front windshields, I am officially adding a team to my list of those I will show unbridled love for this season. In honor of my wife and in-laws who hail from the great state of New Jersey, and based on their historical underdog position, I give you the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

While living at West Point, the Army vs. Rutgers game was a sure fire "W" on Army’s win/loss card. "At least we'll beat Rutgers..." was the popular preseason quip while discussing Army's football schedule. Whether home or away, Army ran it up against the redder of the two Knights.

That was until last year. Oh what a season it was for Rutgers. If it wasn't for the bullshit Imus fiasco, we'd still be talking about Rutger's football. Rutgers was one overtime field goal away (against UWV) from screwing the BCS system big. They were no fluke. They played great football last year and this year they're poised to prove it again. It would be great if Rutgers could find their way to contention again and would hopefully fire up the NY/NJ area to the magic that is NCAA Div 1A football by giving them a stake in the game.

I was actually in NJ during the Rutgers Texas Bowl game and was aghast to discover that the game WASN'T EVEN TELEVISED in the NJ/NY area! I went down to my mother in laws TV room with my beer and bowl of Cheetoes, clicked on the big screen and found nothing. That is criminal my friends. Let's hope that they change broadcast programmers minds this year by putting up another great season.

Go Scarlett Knights!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blogging makes the world go 'round Part II...

I have to apologize for being remiss in my original post of the same name last week on the topic of new/old blogging friends and associates. The most excellent blog I've recently come across is Beth's Cup of Coffey. I think she found mine or Jackson's blog by Google search or some such thing.

What I can gather from playing catch up on her blog is that she may be native to the Atlanta area, may have gone to UGA since she seems so well versed in Athens heyday music, and she currently lives in Atlanta's coolest art district. Her musical tastes run the gamut and differ from mine a bit, but one of the things that I've come to really embrace through the years is that a passion for music of any kind is a great uniting agent. She features a reoccurring post titled "Mix Tape Friday" which is a brilliant. I'm sure she's read Rob Sheffield's book, although I'm not sure what she thought of it. I'm certain she can identify the origin of the title Intravenus De Milo. A sure sign of Beth's cred: Her appreciation for the superiority of the vinyl record format.

Nonetheless, please welcome Beth to the IDM blogroll and if you get a chance click over and check her stylings.

Free Advice...

As I past the famed Center Stage venue on my way in this morning I noticed the American Idol audition line snaking it's way around the corner. As it so happens, I had to wait at the light at the Spring St. intersection so I took the opportunity to roll down the window, snap this photo, and offer the gathering potential target's of Simon Cowell's scorn this sage advice: "If you want a career in music join a band!" A few in the crowd flipped me off as the light turned green.

It's going to be a long hot day for those folks...

Head Scratcher Part IXXXIVC...

You gotta wonder what the SCLC is thinking even getting in on the Micheal Vick fiasco, let alone considering him for some award with all the far more critical (and relevant) issues facing African-Americans today. Even Cynthia Tucker the Atlanta Journal's op/ed page Sr. Editor is charging that the SCLC is out of touch with black America. After all these years something I can finally agree with her on. I'd say the NAACP is losing sight the same way. What issues should top the list of focus? IMHO, education, education, education, especially in the case of female African-Americans. The statistical data paints an ominous picture for our nations young black women. Fortunately, there are a growing list of role models. They need these organizations best efforts to avoid the list of pratfalls that create HUGE obstacles to self reliance and success, particularly teen pregnancy and staying in school.

So for the NAACP and the SCLC I say, do your supporters a favor and keep your eye on the ball. Forget Micheal Vick, and focus your efforts where they're needed most.
UPDATE: Apologies to out of town readers. I mistakenly forgot that this story is probably not front and center in all city papers. Here's one of many stories related to the issue at hand.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Football Circus...

I love sports mascots. The best thing in the world is to see two rival mascots duking it out on sports highlights reels in all their regalia. You gotta love the Capitol One College Bowl too. The greatest mascot moment I’ve ever seen was the old Atlanta Knight (my home town’s farm league hockey team before the Thrashers) getting pummeled by a visiting teams coach after taunting him from behind his bench glass. I wish YouTube was around for that.

However, the impetus for this post came from John Cole’s blog Balloon Juice. John’s a young centric conservative who has grown disgusted with GOP foolery much like myself and uses his sharp wit to call them out for their positions of utter silliness (creationism, gay rights, flag burning amendments, theocratic driven legislation, etc…). But what has got his blood boiling at the moment is this…

obviously John's a life long Steeler's fan. An example of John’s dedication to his team: he has a cat he named Tunch for offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin. While I kinda like Steely McBeam's look, He bares way too much similarity in the face to this jerkoff...

...and we definitely can NOT have that.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blogging makes the world go 'round...

I've mentioned many times before how enriching the blogging experience has been for me. It has provided me the opportunity to reconnect with MANY old friends and, in some cases, actually converse with them on a daily basis even though we may live hundreds of miles away from each other. The other rewarding aspect is that (and this may sound geeky) I've also met some very cool people in the couple of years I've been trolling blogs, some you may recognize as regular commenters here and at Jackson's blog. It was awesome to actually meet some of my blogging aquiantances in person at Jackson's TEDSTOCK show two years ago for example. One of them actually pinned an anti-Bush pin on me as we were being introduced. I still have the pin and keep it as a momento of the great party that was TEDSTOCK. It's cool that we're all not anywhere nearly as serious and egomanical in person as we are on the blogs. If we were, Clarkie would have probably thrown pigs blood on me or something instead of charming myself and my wife and donning that pin on me. Blogging creates viral friendships and I think that's a very cool thing.

With that, and as Jackson has done over at Savage Distortion a couple of times, I'd like to throw some love to three new/old bloggers that have decided they have something of their own to say. They are all extremely smart and witty folks who's posts are worth a read if you can keep up. They are as follows:

Dangerous Spork - He's had a low key blog for awhile, but I think he's ready for some outside the inner circle traffic. Good friend from our misspent West Point youth who I lost touch with many years ago and now enjoy his POV's on music, life, family, work, love, etc...

Billions - Great guy, great guitar player, great dad, and ditto to everything above.

Mother Goldstein - The re-birth of Hue B. Mooksuki. Founding member of hUe F O. Hue was partially responsible for me firing up my own blog in the first place. He went underground for a while, but is now back in full swing. Father of three living with his wife and family in Minneapolis MN and a PhD. of note in all things rock. While I’ve never met Hue in person, I hope to one day make that happen.

Go check out their blogs and add them to your roll if you get a chance. The more the merrier I say…

Disclaimer: If you hate rock, DON’T visit these blogs.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Clampets are moving...

Well, After three months in a very soft real estate market it finally happened. We sold our Lawrenceville, GA house this weekend and got into a contract on another in Peachtree City. It has been a whirlwind and most bazaar weekend to say the least. We had one lady pull her house off the market on us quite unexpectedly leaving us temporarily homeless, but due to the efforts of our dedicated buyers agent who was gracious enough to put up with us all day Saturday, we were able to secure a suitable substitute for the now TWO houses we lost in Peachtree City, GA. So without further ado, here she is...

It's somewhat of a fixer upper, but it's priced WAY under market (due to divorce) and it's in a great little neighborhood. We had to get creative with our search since we could find no other that had a basement for the studio and we were working on a Saturday afternoon deadline. This one has a huge room on top of the garage with a back staircase to it that will serve as the new Grey Cat Sound.

It also happens to have a swimming pool (slightly visible in the above picture). We almost put a pool in at our Lawrenceville home several years back and I'm glad we didn't. We would have never got the return on investment and it turns out that they're a lot of work to own. Much better that my folks put one in at their place. Didn't want one, now I've got one. Don't know how to feel about it. Dad checked it all out for me Sunday and said everything at the new house's pool is new and in excellent working order.

It's kind of obvious that the previous owners were in turmoil. While it's not overly neglected, it looks like only the minimum love was given to the place in the last couple of years. We're about to change all that. We're about the pimp this house. Mrs. Alva will be on point to project manage all the upgrades that we want to do PRIOR to moving in such as scheduling painting, flooring, and kitchen contractors in during the Labor Day weekend to do ALL the work prior to all of our crap showing up.

I'm sure in the coming weeks I'll begin to mourn the loss of our Lawrenceville home which we've lived in for the last 12 years and will soon be leaving. It's been a great place for us. It has been the catalyst for making another large group of life long friends through the graciousness of our most excellent next door neighbors Yoda Jacket and Crazy Neighbor Lady. We were lucky enough to build our first home, something that neither Mrs. Alva and I ever thought was possible. I constructed the first studio that I would solely own. This house is where I brought my daughter home for the first time. The friendships will of course endure. The studio will take on a new face at the new place. Memories you take with you no matter where you go, but I wish there was some way I could take this with me...

Hangin' out on Georgia Tech non-home game weekends watching college football with our neighbors into late hours with a fire burning and beers flowing is something that I will sincerely miss.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Who gives a crap about the stupid Harry Potter book...

...when this is on it's way. OH HELLS YEAH!!!

It hasn't even been drafted and it's already the greatest biography ever written.