Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting the Boot

Well, it finally happened…

My car got the boot this morning.

And it's kind of a relief, I have to admit. I was at Gumbo Ya-Ya doing Laptop Lunch and so The Boot didn't really affect me that much, in terms of convenience. Except to my wallet, of course. The whole thing was handled on the phone. Once I went outside and there was a boot on my car; later I went outside and there wasn't a boot on my car. Voila.

The problem was that I owed about $150 in parking tickets. Why didn't I pay them? I guess paying parking tickets just doesn't really (will never, in fact) rank on my radar very much.

It's not a policy of mine, per se. It's just an unfortunate pattern of behavior.

You might wonder if getting The Boot will change that pattern: Probably not. I'm honestly just relieved that the tickets are paid now, and that I can go back to getting tickets like a normal person, without having to worry about whether or not I'm going to be booted or towed if I find the need to park somewhere w/o feeding the meter.

(For some of you who read my blog regularly, this may sound familiar. Tomorrow, I'll post the essay that I wrote about how I got my bike towed and enormous good came of it.)

Cardinal dining car

Silverware, table service, entrees, plates.. It ain't what it used to be, but it beats the dining on planes hands down.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

See my train a comin..

Amtrak trains at Union Station in DC

Train Pose

"there we were, dramatically gazing out the window upon rural Vrginia." (Amtrak is made for these sorts of idle vanities and silliness)

¡Con Gran Pajaro!

Mi gran amigo!

DC Train Station

If all major Amtrak stations had cool vaulted-ceiling malls, maybe that would lure shopping-obsessed Americans back to the rails.

We've got plenty of time

Those dudes say so.

Our train

I knew it: Amtrak trains ARE smaller than they used to be.

Nj amtrak morning

Nj amtrak morning
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey


Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Photo by TiltShift Generator

Photo by TiltShift Generator
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Mick Jeffries
phone: 859-539-1877
fax: 702-224-2133

Morning by rail

Morning by rail
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Glorious light kicks off our return train trip to kentucky. (iPhone
photo using tiltshiftgen)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get Us Home!

Lucy contemplates 130 blocks to go til we get to our Harlem home-away-from-home.

Leo the Lion

Adam at Mayahuel

Delicious times in the village! Lucy and I kind of struggled to pin down our 1st cocktail, but eventually landed in the capable tequila-drenched hands of Adam at Mayahuel. What you need to know: my Oaxaca Old-Fashioned was a-mazing, and that Adam is coincidentally "from Lexington." (kind of — until he was, like, six). Highly recommended.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dolores Parks Swizzle!

Dolores Parks Swizzle!
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Made by Alex at Death & Co!


Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Photo by TiltShift Generator

Photo by TiltShift Generator
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Slash Exhibit at the New Museum

Slash Exhibit at the New Museum
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Mick Jeffries
phone: 859-539-1877
fax: 702-224-2133

Lucy and Leo

Lucy and Leo
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Leo the lion

Leo the lion
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Made with tiltshift for iPhone. Super cool (I typed this because it's

All hail bestcamera

All hail bestcamera
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

My fist shot from a slew of new iPhone camera apps. This is from
bestcamera, which has builtin upload tools. Finally.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Horton hears … A Lu!

Horton hears … A Lu!
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I have to admit: I wasn't initially wild about the idea of going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The simple reason: I was kind of having flashbacks to the idea of going to New Year's Eve in Times Square in 2001, when I lived in NYC. Not that I went — I didn't — but the horror stories of being penned up for six hours in Times Square still resounded in me.

The Macy's parade wasn't like that at all. It was great! And I should have known — it's one of the most venerable parades in the world, right?

So we went this year, Lucy and I, and it was a hoot.

Sure, we were late — pretty late. But when we came up out of the 59th Street Columbus Circle subway stop to throngs of people under the spell of Sailor Mickey, delight — not anxiety — set it.

It's true that I did a bit of strategizing the night before, but they were thrown completely to the wind (even I'm not dumb enough to try to convince NYPD to let me squeeze through to somewhere they don't want me to be.)

After wading in the crowds some, we wound up on the west side of 56th, as the parade moved down 7th Avenue in front of us, the adjacent buildings acting kind of like the sides of a giant TV set. In time, we casually weaseled our way nearly to the front, a scant 20 feet or so from the passing parade.

There's no denying the delight of those giant balloons. In some ways, they're not as big as I thought they were, but rest assured: they are plenty big.

After the parade, Lucy and I found ourselves somewhat hemmed in by meandering foot traffic by the thousands and made an unlikely exit: down the street elevator to the 57th st./7th ave. subway station. It was kind of like a movie: One minute lost in a sea of bodies, then pouring ourselves into a very full elevator; then doors closing and unlikely quiet; and finally doors opening onto a delightfully less-crowded underground world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Amtrak Cardinal - Last Stop: Penn Station

Amtrak Cardinal - Last Stop: Penn Station
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

About 17 hours from Maysville Ky, we're approaching NYC & Penn
Station. Cardinal train No. 50 is sparsely populated by the final
destination folks like lucy and I. Its been a great trip and we'll do
it again on Sunday... Thanks, Amtrak!

(last approach video: The Last Waltz -- in which Rick Danko says
"happy thanksgiving everybody!")

I <3 Amtrak

Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Lucy and I are riding Amtrak's no. 50 Cardinal to NYC for
thanksgiving. "It a different world on the train," says Lucy. I agree.
This conductor pictured has spent 15 minutes chatting with some recent
boarders, who coincidentally were childhood acquaintances of his.

There's so much special about riding the train; The riders are
friendly and relaxed. It's not flying. And it's not the bus. People
ride the train because they want to. Not because it's fast or cheap.
People on the train talk to each other. Which seems rare and cool in
today's travel climate. Lucy's right: it is a different world on the

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spend 6 Minutes with Neil deGrasse Tyson

This guy is amazing. Take a few minutes for some inspiration. Just by circumstance, I've spent the last half-hour just watching youtube after youtube by him — just by clicking whatever pops up on the side. It's always wonderful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How about Esquire's Winter Cocktails?

clipped from

The 27 Best Winter Cocktails to Get You Through the Holidays

Esquire's resident cocktail guru, Dave Wundrich, offers up a fabulous election of warm-you-up drinks featuring a little whiskey, brandy, and hot buttered rum. He's one of my heroes, and go-to guys when I'm looking for my next cocktail project. One of the great things is that he offers his personal analysis on these drinks, which helps communicate the charm of well-made cocktails. Check out the selection here. Cheers!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This Is It

When I first heard about Michael Jackson: This Is It, my initial reaction was well, they sure hustled that out. And I wasn't particularly interested.

It seemed incredibly calculated to play on the death phenomenon of The Gloved One, so it wasn't too hard to roll my eyes. Also, the hype was such that I sort of assumed that it would be impossible to get tickets.

A week ago, I realized that wasn't the case and that, in fact, it was easy to see once the initial frenzy wore off.

Lucy and I went to see it tonight, and let me just say: If you are a fan of concert/insider/performance-type movies, you should see it.

There are a number of reasons why:
  • Of course, the legendary weirdness of MJ is a draw, although this movie isn't about that. (If you want that, you should find the Bashir documentary). Nonetheless, MJ is a mesmerizing figure to watch, no matter what he's doing — singing, dancing, standing around, whatever.
  • What I really liked was getting a peek into the staging of a premier-level concert tour. Watching this kind of modern world thing get worked out, at a rehearsal level, is so engrossing to me. This is a little bit because I spent my younger years working college-grade concert tech crew, and learning that putting up a gig like that is like building a city.
And this is a "behind-the-scenes" movie, which I've always generally loved. In addition to the compelling character of MJ — and the bittersweet nature of its circumstances (which is never mentioned and I applaud the producers for this) — watching the consummate professional musicians, dancers and technicians do their stuff is compelling to me.

like any documentary, it's important to understand that it's all completely calculated. That's the art of the documentary; not that it's untrue, but that it is the art of editing. But even so, you get to see these people working at their craft. And it pretty endearing. Also, you can't leave without feeling the colossal bummer for these people who were about to go on tour performing with Michael Jackson, probably the most famous entertainer in the world.

These people aren't acolytes, either. They're clearly working professionals. They're eminently employable. But this was certainly a gig to be proud of. Or, would have been, anyway. And you can definitely see that they are in awe of MJ.

So, the magic of this movie — and I would say there is magic — is this: it's not really about Michael Jackson. It's more of the anatomy of staging a giant concert touring show. Put in the middle of that, this guy, this weird amazing unique dead guy.

And it makes for compelling viewing. (if a little too long, I must note).

Friday, November 20, 2009


Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Richie Wireman's moving and thought-provoking exhibit, a funeral in
effect for the demolished "busters/dame" block. The added benefit:
it's in a treasured old downtown location called The Ballroom-- across
the street from the ghosts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The proof is in the … proofing.

Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

Today happens to be the anniversary of the patenting of the "paper pencil" by Frederick E. Blaisdell in 1895; aka the china marker aka the non-repro marker… an elemental tool in traditional proofing. At least, back in the day…

Everything look good? Signing off!

(full disclosure: I'm not holding one)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stupid Pet Tricks? This one's a winner

"Stupid Pet Tricks" used to be a feature on the Letterman show and may still be. I don't think "stupid" is really the right word, but sometimes, there are things that our pets do that are so unexpected, so delightful… and maybe slightly disturbing — that the SPT moniker seems to be the only appropriate blanket term.

This is not a music video. But it is a very clever promo video by the band Dead Man's Bones, who have gotten fascinatingly mixed reviews. In my opinion, they are a more-than-decent band, with a particular and odd sensibility. I'm not sure that I love them, but I definitely like them.

This video is so simultaneously savvy and uncomplicated, completely devoid of production values. And as I said, it's not a music video.

Their music aside, this video shows that Dead Man's Bones have plenty of mirth and ingenuity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

habit or circumstance?

I've just wrapped up one of the busiest work times I've had in years. So, yay!

And sure, this is a good thing (the busy-ness, it's so American to be intensely overextended!), but I'm soo glad that things are wrapping up. I've been crazy for months now. And totally stressed out.

What I'm curious about is my part in all of this. Because in keeping with a friend's Pet Peeves list, I have to assume that I choose this kind of frantic pace, and even thrive within it.

I've also assumed that — once things were "wrapped up" (as if they ever are), I could return to "normal," to a more sane pace.

But I'm not so sure. I've done this before. It's kinda like a pattern. I look around me and can see pretty plainly that I've shunted off just about everything to get the job done: exercise, decent nutrition, relationships, leisure — really just about everything. So I feel like, now, I'm getting to go back and pick up the wreckage, and try to put things back together. Exhume my cool office, spend more time with loved ones, get some exercise, — not to mention pay bills and go through unopened mail, which is just a ridiculous pile.

So I'm not sure what the payoff is. I mean — of course there's money involved, but it's not like I'm getting rich here. Doing fine, thanks, but… the payoff, were I to be honest, has more to do with feeling important based on impressing people through work. Which is just such a slippery slope.

Is this my life? The answer would pretty much have to be "yes." And I would be a fool to complain about it because, by any measure, I get to do some pretty cool stuff. But I could do with some chaos management skills; not because I should or I need to, but because I get really stressed out over stuff when I overcommit to the jagged edge of unmanageable.

And that was pretty much the last four months.

And more importantly, I'd like to get a little better at separating Me from My Work. They're very easy to confuse, especially as a self-employed person. In fact, it's very easy to define Me by My Work. A lot easier than separating them. And I think that's what leads me into these occasional frenzies that I come out of feeling exhausted and relieved that I didn't fuck anything up too completely, that I can pick up the pieces.

Which, oddly, makes me a gambler, I've observed in clearer moments. I say "odd," because I've never liked conventional gambling — casinos, cards, any of that stuff. Even horse racing, I'm just as happy just watching the pretty horsies run around than visiting that betting window. Which may be because I hate to lose. Hate it.

But I gamble all the time in my life, betting my intuition and collected quote-unquote wisdom against worldly situations, big and small. It's a fools game, even I can see that. But I love being right and I'm right often enough that humility isn't one of my stronger suits.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Clothes Line

We finally got around to buying a clothes line for Campsie, and it has been one of the great joys of the outside months of 2009.

It's a simple joy, the best kind.

I had a clothes line in the back yard at my old house, too — it only took me years to think of actually using it. I wouldn't consider myself to be of a clothes line-type lineage or even generation. Isn't that what the electric tumble drier is designed to supercede?

clotheslineMaybe, so.

But the joys of a clothesline are many:
  • The very unique and authentic smell. This is the "fresh" that fabric softeners are trying to mimick, I now realize.
  • The methodical chore of putting things on — and then taking them off — of a clothesline. If you think you don't need this added task, check on the size of the pile of clean drier-dried laundry that you haven't yet folded — and get back to me.
  • I even like the act of checking to see what's dry and what's not. It's like magic to me that things get dry just hangin' outside. Checking on them, under the sun and sky, also seems more affirmative than leaning over into the dark cave of drier.
  • And, controversially, I like the crispiness of some things like jeans. Besides, it goes away quickly after putting them on. That crispiness is a confirmation of clean, I think.
There are some things that I don't put on the line: socks, underwear and towels, mostly. It's not worth the trouble in the case of the first two, and I must confess to prefer the drier fluff when it comes to towels.

And while I like that I'm using less energy — being "greener" or whatever — what I ultra-dig that I'm saving my favorite clothes from shrinking and the pounding that everything takes in a drier — especially considering the utter cheapness of today's hip rags.

And finally, let us not forget: The sheets. The glory of the sheets! Crispy sheets. Amazing-smelling sheets. Again: Downy was created to mimick this, I realize, only after having finally hung those sheets outside, where they dance a languid jig in the breeze.

It's going to be time to pack in the clothes line soon (I bought the kind that comes down); but not yet! I'll keep hanging clothes just as long as the increasingly-chill late autumn air will permit.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the Madness of Marching

click, click, click, click

is the sound of a March Madness Marching Band rehearsal.

It's the sound of the percussion section keeping time, as Tripp Bratton our conductor, arranger, and musical director works through assorted arrangements with the different sections. I think it's one of the unsung (and unlisted) jobs of drummers to keep time for these exercises, and it's actually one that I get great satisfaction from. Not only do I get to make noise (and I get to make alot of noise in the band, as the bass drum player), but I'm also providing — in my mind — a valuable service that requires very little effort.

I'm reminded of Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists, an ensemble of guitar players who have the uncommon honor of playing with one of the giants of progrock. In particular, I'm thinking of the fact that the LOCG ensemble includes a player who doesn't play, who's job is to "keep silence" — which is as important to the music as the, um, non-silence.

I feel this way when I keep time for rehearsals.

It reminds me that the band is a collaborative effort, through and through. When we perform, I'll get to make huge noise, guaranteed. That's a fact. In the meantime, there are other responsibilities. Like keeping time.

Our rehearsals have become increasingly a thing of wonder. Tripp has upped the ante with every new selection that he adds to our repertoire. At first, he catered to the unavoidable fact that many of us were rank amateurs or at least — years out-of-practice former high school band geeks. Over the last year, Tripp has gently begun denying us that luxurious excuse and come to expect us to learn to play more complicated music.

It's a challenge that the band seems entirely up for, and I've watched and listened with delight as the horns and winds, in particular, have answered the call — learning and practicing with Tripp's patient supervision.

I just play bass drum. But I've taken a personal delight in relegating myself to his instruction. It would be easy enough for me just to bang out a beat — improvised — and the temptation is certainly there. But there's a difficult-to-describe feeling of satisfaction that I get from asking Tripp "what I should play, what would you like me to play" — and then playing it.

I find that all too often, by doing so, I'm made privvy to an aspect of the music that I might never have heard had I just banged out a beat.

Thanks to Tripp and to the members of March Madness Marching Band for a rare and unique opportunity for fun, learning, and camraderie. It's just magical.

Photo credit: Thanks to Meagan Jordan for the wonderful image!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vampire Santa

What's that sound? Is it the sound of Vampire Santa dragging his sorry sackful of eggnog around once again for the holiday season?

You betcha!

And as the sole purveyer of Vampire Santa's Eggnog, I have only one wish for you: That you get a bottle. But we'll see how good and/or bad you are in the next few weeks.

Big ups to Cricket Press for the art collab!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Las Musicas de los Rock

Today's title was inspired by an album by Pussy Galore, diligently based on a well-teased series of Spanish compilation albums. I'm pretending I knew all that, by the way, when in fact, I had a vague recollection, and sussed out details on La Internet, just now.

It's great to be an information junkie. How could there be a better time to be alive? Though it's probably better when it's your job or when you don't have anything else to do.

And you know who's job it is? Librarians. I discovered an interesting thing in the course of working on my WRFL oral history project: Punk rockers are quietly taking over the library. Did anybody notice?

There's a lot more tattoos in LIS than I imagine there were 20 years ago. It seems perfect really; despite some misunderstood trouble-making ne'er-do-well stereotype, many of the punky people I've known over the years we in fact quite introverted — when not located in or near the slam pit in front of some high-octane live band like Active Ingredients.

And as the world of zines and other underground literature gave way to the much much bigger world of the Web, it's probably no surprise that these folks got pulled in, finally finding more kindred spirits than the couple of dozen (maybe) that they'd found in their hometowns.

Which brings us to the New Wave of LIS people. Just as punk gave way to new wave in music (because the musicians couldn't help but get better on their instruments, despite not really wanting to), maybe that idle fascination turned into a career for some.

This is a good thing. The library is one of the last great institutions in this country, somehow not yet sponsored by Microsoft or General Mills. It makes good sense and is comforting that the people running the show be enormous iconoclasts, because maybe we stand a better chance of not losing the library concept, in their hands.

So be extra nice to librarians. Who knows what tattoos are lurking underneath those practical, mildly conservative workclothes?

By the way, you know who is a terrible example of a good librarian? This lady.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Problem-solving through tequila!

Originally uploaded by mrtoastey

I've got no problem that can't be alleviated by sitting outside and drinking high-grade tequila!

With the possible exception of ensuing poverty due to an increased dependence on high-grade tequila.