wilco loves you

My friend Sarah just posted one of these on Facebook, and I decided to not wait until I was invited to jump in (sticking with my usual practice of posting FB memes here, because I try to never pass up a decent blog post these days). If you want to join in, feel free to post your list in my comments, on your own blog, on Facebook, wherever — just let me know, because I want to see your list.

Sarah specified just a few rules: 1) Be sure to note your first concert. 2) Bands you’ve seen as openers or as part of festivals count, but try to come up with 50 headliners first. 3) Don’t worry about what order these are in — a stream-of-consciousness list is fine. And I’ll add one more: 4) Any additional notes you want to add are encouraged.

EDIT: I’m having way too much fun with this, and I’ll probably continue to add notes for a while.

1. Grateful Dead (the band I’ve seen the most, at 40-something shows)

2. Phish (First time should have been at The Dugout in Athens in 1991. First time instead turned out to be a year later at the Newport in Columbus.)

3. moe.

4. Blues Traveler

5. Spin Doctors (They were the biggest of the three likely Grateful Dead replacements [Phish and Blues Traveler were the others] in the early 1990s, and they were easily the worst band of the bunch. Saw them again years later during some festival on Walnut Street and they looked like they absolutely hated being there.)

6. Yonder Mountain String Band

7. Railroad Earth

8. Infamous Stringdusters

9. Sting

10. Steve Winwood

11. The Rolling Stones (In Richfield Coliseum [Tattoo You tour], at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville [Steel Wheels tour] and in Ohio Stadium in Columbus [Bridges to Babylon tour].)

12. Bob Dylan

13. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

14. Kiss (Headliner of my first show, in Cincy’s Riverfront Arena, just a few weeks before The Who’s disaster there.)

15. Judas Priest (Opened for Kiss in Cincinnati. Still the loudest thing I’ve ever heard.)

16. Eric Burdon Band (At what is now the Newport in Columbus. He didn’t start until about two hours late, testing my patience of my father, who took junior high-aged Juan and me to the show on a school night; the back of his tour shirts read “Fuck me, I thought he was dead,” testing the patience of pretty much all the adults in my life.)

17. Little Feat

18. B.B. King

19. The Fabulous Thunderbirds

20. Stevie Ray Vaughan (A co-headlining tour with No. 21 Jeff Beck, at Louisville Gardens while I was in the Army. I’d be hard pressed to recall a show with better guitarists. And I was lucky to see Stevie Ray when I did; he was killed in a helicopter crash not long after.)

21. Jeff Beck

22. The Allman Brothers Band

23. Greg Allman Band

24. Gov’t Mule

25. Widespread Panic

26. Jimmy Buffett (A fun thing — sneaking oranges loaded with vodka in to Blossom Music Center.)

27. Pink Floyd

28. Living Colour

29. Wilco (Should be higher on the list, as I continue to maintain they’re the best live band out there today.)

30. Tweedy

31. Black Crowes

32. Tedeschi Trucks Band

33. Georgia Satellites

34. REO Speedwagon (My buddy TJ and I drove from Athens to Cincinnati to see Georgia Satellites, the night’s opening act at Cincinnati Gardens; we didn’t stay for much of the headliner, REO Speedwagon, opting for a late dinner at White Castle instead.)

35. Molly Hatchet

36. .38 Special

38. Blue Oyster Cult

39. Hot Tuna

40. The Pretenders

41. Cheap Trick (My one and only concert at Ohio State’s St. John Arena. There were no tickets sold in the upper deck because it bounced too much.)

42. Foghat

43. Sinead O’Connor

44. Avett Brothers

45. Black Moth Super Rainbow

46. Sonic Youth

47. Bruce Hornsby

48. Keller Williams

49. Disco Biscuits

50. Etta James

Note: I could keep going for a while…

on repeat.

In 2010, Mrs. Crappy and I ventured to Ohio for a terrific Groundhog weekend.

When we returned, our street looked like this:


This weekend, I am venturing to Ohio — Mrs. Crappy has to work — for what I hope will be a terrific Groundhog weekend.

Check out what could be happening when I return on Sunday:


So. OK then.


pho down.


It’s winter. And we all need help finding some warmth, some color and some spice.

Me? I need some pho. Beef broth, simmered all day. A mound of rice noodles. Onions and scallions. Thin slices of beef that cook in the broth when that big bowl of deliciousness is carried out to your table. And sprouts, jalapenos, basil leaves, lime and chili paste on the side, so you can make that pho your own.

It’s so simple really, just beef noodle soup. Except that it isn’t simple at all — it’s a huge palette, ranging from a little sweet to wipe-the-sweat-off-your-forehead spicy, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s deeply satisfying, especially this time of year

Thanks to a Facebook conversation sparked by Spoon and this video, we’re having a Pho Down* at 6:30 Wednesday night, at Vietnam’s Pho on Penn Avenue in the Strip. A couple things to keep in mind: I recall that Vietnam’s Pho is cash only and that BYOB is OK with them. If I’m wrong about either one, someone correct me, OK?

Think you might join us? If you haven’t already, let me know, so we can give them a heads up Wednesday afternoon.

Sure, late January can look pretty bleak. Meeting a group of friends and slurping down some pho is guaranteed to help.

*Yes, I know I have to pronounce “pho” incorrectly for this pun to work. Get your own blog, smartypants.



A lot can change in the course of a year.

That was something our instructor talked about a bit at the outset of Tuesday night’s yoga class.

What’s changed for me in 2014? Let’s start here: I was in a yoga class — in a beautiful, candlelit studio — on Dec. 30, about six months after my first tentative attempts at practicing at the Point in May. And that’s not something I ever would have predicted.

But. Yes. I’m still practicing. And it’s made a huge difference.

A remarkable set of unrelated things converged in May to set me on the path I’ve followed since then. On Pittsburgh Marathon day, there was a discussion about music and running and trance — and the suggestion from a friend that I was of the right frame of mind to give yoga a try. A couple weeks later, there was a job offer that came with one terrifying catch — I had to give up tobacco, completely and cold turkey, immediately.

And there was Venture Outdoors Festival, which, among other things, hosted free demo yoga classes at the Point all day long. The same friend who said she thought I would like yoga on marathon day offered to meet me for a 30-minute class or two.

I wasn’t immediately hooked. But I was interested.

While at the Venture Outdoors event, I grabbed a pamphlet from a South Side studio; it offered outdoors classes every Saturday and Sunday during the summer for five bucks a session. To me, that sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to figure out whether or not yoga could be a thing.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the first few classes, but it felt great taking in the stunning view of the city from Mount Washington or spreading out on the grass in the South Side Works. But after a couple weekends, I started coming away from the classes feeling … lighter. Steadier. Things that would normally bug me — especially without the nicotine drip I’d relied on for years to smooth out the rough spots — didn’t have the same kind of grip on my mind and my mood. I found myself feeling disappointed when one of the outdoor classes was rained out. And I found that I was showing up enough that the instructors knew me by name.

And they — Ashley and Paul — were both there once I walked through the door at the studio for my first classes there, along with a group of now-familiar faces — other instructors, the other students who show up regularly for our session first thing every Saturday morning and the couple that runs the studio. The space was immediately comfortable, pretty much what I had hoped a yoga studio would be. And the best part? Before I knew it, I was part of the community that revolves around that space.

Having that kind of support — in that kind of space — makes this process easier. And I need the help: Remembering to breathe. Stretching out my creaky old body as I look for new strength and new length. And — eventually — finding that spot where I’m balanced in crow pose and can hold it for more than a few seconds.

There are other, more important things than trying to avoid (literally) falling on my face. Learning to slow down. Being present. Expressing love and gratitude when I have the opportunity. And shedding at least a portion of the mountain of crap we all seem to collect as we move through our days. Kristi mentioned that last notion during Tuesday’s class and I’ve often felt that way, an addition by subtraction. I’m still figuring out the hows and whys, but it works. I feel it every time I leave the studio and head home.

I’m grateful for the last six months. That it was — and is — BYS Yoga. That it was — and is — Ashley and Paul, and Lynn and Jody and Kristi. That I had that first conversation with Jenny. And that Mrs. Crappy has been so supportive.

Yoga has already changed me, but there is so much more to explore. In 2015, I intend to keep looking.

just like the good old days.


Forgive me if I behave like a normal, rational human being for a moment, while discussing college football. I promise you — it’ll last just a minute or two.

That’s all the time I’ll need to explain why I’m excited that Michigan landed Jim Harbaugh.

(I know, I know. Stick with me for a second, OK?)

* The best thing about The Coaching Change Up North is that Harbaugh should bring that program back to its traditional place in college football — and that is nothing but positive for the Big Ten. The shine has come off our conference recently, and it’s for one simple fact: we don’t compete. This isn’t all the fault of the team up north — look no further than a horrible loss at home to Virginia Tech as an example, ahem — but having one of the conference’s marquee teams struggle to earn bowl eligibility goes a long way towards hurting the perception of the B1G. Ohio State must be consistently good for the Big Ten to be respected, and the conference’s other big name programs — Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan — must match that consistency as well.

* If you believe what Harbaugh said in his news conference today, it’s good to hear that Michigan is getting a guy who believes in — who understands — what’s different about college football. We’re not watching the same level of football as we do on Sundays. But we care more, and that passion is what makes Saturday football better. NFL reporters and execs won’t understand why Harbaugh left. I do.

* Finally — here’s a Michigan coach I can really hate again.