October 29, 2007


This morning's walk took me up 2nd Avenue to the courhouse. The recently completed renovation of Public Square is quite nice, with the fountains and greenspace.

Downtown Nashville has some beautiful old buildings amidst everything else.

Here's another one (from my afternoon walk, 3rd Avenue):

Late afternoon light:

More tomorrow perhaps.


October 26, 2007

Circus Devils: Sgt. Disco LP

What has the mailperson left for me on the front porch?

Yippee! After a two-month delay, the new Circus Devils record has finally arrived in a super-limited, super-deluxe, 2-LP, heavy-duty gatefold edition. It is a thing of beauty.

First, a quick once-over on the Nitty-Gritty record cleaning machine.

Yes, I vacuum-clean even brand new records. Why? Because even a brand new LP has all kinds of dust, bits of paper, and mold-release compounds all over it which will be permanently ground into the delicate surface by the stylus if they are not immediately removed. In addition, the Nitty-Gritty will eliminate any static-electricity that has built up in the manufacturing and shrink-wrapping processes (which is substantial). Of course, I will not return the freshly cleaned LP into its original, contaminated inner-sleeve. No, it will live from now on in a Mobile Fidelity anti-static, quasi-rice paper sleeve. Yes, I am obsessed.

Now, let's have a listen:

I've been really digging the CD edition (available on Ipecac) for a while now and have come to the conclusion that this is perhaps one of the best records Robert Pollard has ever made (certainly since the demise of Guided By Voices, anyway). I also believe that Pollard's albums are best experienced on vinyl. This is especially true with a sprawling, 32-track epic like Sgt. Disco. Pollard is especially gifted at sequencing an album; each side has a real beginning, middle, and end and this effect is utterly obliterated by the CD's relentless continuity. I also think the LP sounds better - even though I know it was mastered from the same digital source as the CD. Chalk it up to euphonic distortion, I don't care. This record rocks.

Only 470 of these things are available. Get yours before they're gone forever only from Rockathon.


October 25, 2007

Down By The River

Since I quit smoking, I have to make myself take a break from work. When I smoked cigarettes, it was so convenient to just "step out for a smoke" and get little breaks throughout the day (not to mention a little lift from the nicotine infusion). Now, I take 5-15 minute walks around downtown (weather permitting).

Lately, I've decided to take the little Nikon along and maybe document what I see.

Today, I decided to take a walk down by the Cumberland River.

Just across the river is LP Field (formerly Adelphia Stadium), home of the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers). Not caring too much about football, I've never been inside. The funny thing is that I spent my first seven years in Houston, and did go see the Oilers play at the Astrodome at least once. Anyway, "Nashville Stadium" (as I like to call it) might have been a cool venue for a Grateful Dead Concert, but I guess we'll never know.

Looking East...what is that over there?

Alice Aycock's "Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks" has generated some heated controversy here in Nashville. This was my first view of it up close. I'm not sure I love it, but I don't hate it. I applaud any and all efforts towards public funding of artistic and cultural expression, even if I don't personally love each and every such work of art. In the present case, I am willing to reserve judgment and continue to encourage the further development of the riverfront park concept.

Of course, I still miss Red Grooms's "Tennessee Foxtrot Carousel" which used to be right over there...

OK, back to work.


October 20, 2007

Art In The Alley

Who is A.R. Remis? Is that his/her name? This painting/collage appeared in the alley between 2nd and 3rd Avenues recently. Or did I just notice it? In any event, I have grown quite fond of it.

Nearby, arachnids build homes in every crevice.

Looking towards 3rd Avenue.


October 14, 2007

California (Pt.9): San Francisco to Nashville

On Thursday, our room at the Golden Gate Hotel was on the front of the building, on the fourth floor - one of those bay windows was ours. Tonight, however, we would stay in Room 107, on the first floor behind the kitchen. Were the kitchen furnishings also charmingly antique? Yes, they were. There was also a surprisingly lush courtyard/garden out the window that gave the room a sense of calm and quiet compared to the bustle of Bush Street. (?!?)
After a splendid lunch at Duca, we went back to savor Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination at SFMOMA. I do not have the time right now to say very much about this exhibit except to say how much I appreciated its lighting and display. Each object was dramatically well lit (and boxes that had independent lighting allowed one to press a button to illuminate the inside of the box). Cornell's work borders surrealism and abstraction, romanticism and modernism, profundity and sentimentality, the banal and capital-A Art. A richly illustrated catalog of this exhibit has been published by Essex Peabody Museum and the Yale University Press.
There was nothing left to do after all this but take a nice nap back at the Golden Gate Hotel.
After a peaceful repast, we headed down towards the financial district for an authentically delicious French dinner at Cafe de la Presse.
Flying east, time plays cruel tricks. Even though we spent much less time actually travelling, it was relatively late at night when we arrived back home. Fortunately, we had wisely planned to take the next day off to recover our equilibrium.
What a delightful trip.

California (Pt.9): Route 1 South

Driving south was, in many ways, scarier than the drive north, what with being in the outside lane and its even more precipitous perspective. That, and having along for the ride the bride's family, whom I am to deliver to the San Francisco International Airport for an afternoon flight to Japan. What an honor - and responsibility!
Yet, this time, I knew what to expect, so it wasn't quite as shocking as that first time. And I do believe I am a good driver and had faith that we would safely reach our destination. Even so, I was relieved to drop the minvan off at the rental place and be back on foot for a while.
Next: Back to the Golden Gate and Back Home.

California (Pt.8): More Party Pics

Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures. I'm still getting used to this new-fangled digital camera doohickey.

It was a beautiful wedding and a very fun night. It was so nice to see so many people I rarely get to see, since we all live in different parts of the country. At least we have the Internet...

Next: Back to San Francisco

California (Pt.7): Party Pics

California (Pt.6): Toasts

Inspiring words.

The father of the bride, who speaks very little English, composed a toast "with the help of the dictionary" that was as eloquent and moving as any native speaker's. Truly astounding!

Welcome to the family, Michiko!

Next: A Lovely Reception

California (Pt.5): Wedding Ceremonies


The first was a Native-American ceremony took place in a round house on the nearby reservation. The guests were driven by schoolbus up an impossibly narrow and windy road, through the primordial redwood forest, to the top of the mountain. It was was a deeply moving ritual, but no photographs were allowed.

Then, everyone loaded onto the schoolbus and headed back down the mountain to the Annapolis Winery for a civil ceremony presided over by David's aunt, our own Judge Judy. The ceremony included a traditional Japanese saki ritual and vows written and composed by the parties.

It was beautiful, happy day.

Congratulations David and Michiko!

Next: Let's Party!


October 13, 2007

California (Pt. 4): The Sea Ranch


The Sea Ranch is a unique place, a planned community that seeks to minimize humanity's impact upon the ruggedly beautiful coastal environment.

(photos by Lizzy)

Next: Nuptials & Other Rituals

California (Pt.3): Route 1 North


These pictures don't really capture what it's like. The water is actually hundreds of feet below us and there is no guard rail and it's the windiest, hilliest road I've ever driven - way more extreme than Route 1 around Big Sur. There were definitely times when I couldn't even look - my focus was on the road right in front of me. Breathtakingly (scarily) beautiful scenery, but I constantly felt like I was about to drive off the edge of the earth. Let's put it this way, it took about three hours to drive eighty-five miles. Intense!

(Photos by Lizzy)

Next: The Sea Ranch

California (Pt.2): Golden Gate Bridge


San Francisco is a beautiful city and the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most magnificent of man's creations. It was another gorgeous day and we were on the road.

It was also difficult not to reminisce about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead what with every street sign a legend: Mill Valley, Mt. Tamalpais, Stinson Beach, Novato, San Rafael. . .

Winterland 12/31/78 is on the stereo, so here we go! Wahoo!

(Photos by Lizzy)

Next: The Long and Winding Road