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Chronically, inevitably …. another deadline, and…

Chronically, inevitably …. another deadline, and another night reading other people’s blogs or writing in my own. Maybe the Monday night thing will become a routine. At least I’m posting something.

Not an especially pleasant weekend, except for the very end. Worked all day Saturday without the benefits of a shower. The hot water nozzle in our apartment shower is on the fritz, and getting my landlord to do any kind of work on the apartment is difficult at best. His plumber came over Sunday, and took a look. No parts. Have to come back. The landlord came over Monday afternoon, saw how much paint had peeled from where he patched and painted NINE YEARS AGO right before I moved in. Suddenly, it’s a disaster. But we have hot showers again. That’s all we really cared about anyway.

Saturday was a drag because we had an enormous fight before I came to work. We need to change something. Jobs. Residence. Quickly.

Managed to have a little fun Sunday night. Saw Jazz Mandolin Project at a relatively new place in Millvale called Mr. Small’s Funhoue. Yet another creative use for de-consecrated (that can’t possibly be spelled right) churches. A theater/performance space that seats up 650 people. An apparently very nice, up-to-date recording studio. And a skate park. Mr. Small’s has done an admirable job of attracting bands from the hippie circuit, but I was a little dubious about attending a show there … Deadheads can be a little scattershot, organizationallywise. But this place is spectacular … amazing sound quality, very well run … we’ll be back on Friday to see Hookah for the first time … um … since Athens, probably.

OK. Finish this story. Only has to be 15 or 20 inches. Piece of cake.

Hm. Should have a smoke first…

Smokes: If I was allowed to do it at my desk, I wo…

Smokes: If I was allowed to do it at my desk, I would.

Tunes: Are you freakin’ kidding me?

I’m still sitting here trying to write something I have very little interest in. All I need to do is crank out about 30 inches and I can go home. Instead, I’ve been screwing around on the internet. What the hell is wrong with me?

Smokes: Still Camel Lights, but, as today is a dea…

Smokes: Still Camel Lights, but, as today is a deadline day, the question shouldn’t be what I’m smoking, but how much. And the answer is a lot.

Tunes: I was listening to Tony Kornheiser in the car, so there’s nothing to report there. But I did put on “Somethin’ Else” by Cannonball Adderley. A nifty combination of Adderley’s hard bop and Miles Davis’ West Coast cool. Miles had no problem with late 50s bop — his bands put together some of the best tracks of the genre — but he’s pretty clearly in “Birth of the Cool” mode on this CD.

Hm. I have to learn to loosen up what I’m doing on these pages. Writing for a newspaper involves a lot of self-editing — Is this a big enough deal to push for a story? Do I have enough information to file without getting it kicked back by an editor for more stuff? The big reason I don’t post here as much as I would like is that I struggle with the notion that what I do here has to meet the same standard that I would if I was writing for work.

Clearly, I need to chill.

river songs

Smokes: A couple Dunhills left over from New Year’s Eve, and a full compliment of Camel Lights.

Tunes: The soundtrack to “Lost in Translation.” Not the kind of thing I would typically be into, but I was so blown away by the movie and its music … Reading up a bit, I found a bunch of stuff about shoegazer, a great name for this kind of trippy electronica. I need to find out more about Death in Vegas.

Post-holiday exhaustion. I have two (umm, no … three!) projects due at work in the next few days and absolutely no motivation to work on them at all. And then there’s a college friend of mine who publishes a zine in the DC area, who wants me to work something up for her next edition — that’s something I would love to do but I don’t feel like I have the time with all this actual work that I’m not actually doing.

Spent a little time in the northern part of the county where I work this afternoon, watching fire and EMS guys help a family that was about to be flooded out of their home for a day or two. No real disasters, but standing on the bank of this creek (jesus, it’s just a creek…) and watching the water pump out over roads, lawns, back porches … is this the kind of work that makes me happy?

A couple years ago I spent several days in a little Allegheny River town north of Pittsburgh, waiting for rescue folks to find the body of a guy whose boat tipped over while he was fishing. The guy took his young daughter out in the boat, right after a rapid early spring thaw. After the boat tipped, he grabbed his daughter, put his life vest on over hers and pushed her towards the shore. She was found — soggy, cold but alive — about a mile down river. His body was found about three days later, hung up in some brush that had been submerged in the high water.

When I was growing up, I spent a ton of time water skiing on the Scioto River north of Columbus. I’m a good swimmer, and I have no real fear of the water. But that was on a reservoir, and both of these situations are different. I still get creeped out driving next to the Ohio River, whether it’s here in the Pittsburgh area, near Marietta or Parkersburg (near Athens, where I went to school) or even in Louisville, when I was in the army. I skiied once on the Ohio just down river from Louisville, and though it was in the middle of a hot summer — the water was down and very calm — I got the same creepy feeling … you think about how deep the water is, how much water there is, the power that could carry you from Pittsburgh to New Orleans like you were a leaf. Heebie jeebies…

Here’s the best illustration I can offer. Several times after I finished school, I drove from Pgh to Athens to see The Wife at OU. I drive interstates to Marietta and then a state highway along the river to the point where I cut over to Athens. It’s night, so it’s dark. There is a series of chemical plants/power stations along the highway — very Blade Runner, with lots of ominous red, orange and yellow lights. And somewhere, over there on the left side of the road, is that big, dark river. I’d catch glances of water once in a while, sometimes past a hill or some homes, and sometimes, startlingly, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ROAD. I could never get past the feeling that my car was being pulled toward the water, and I occasionally found myself gripping the steering wheel so hard that my hands hurt.

That’s how it feels.

Smokes: Camel Light Wides. Tunes: "Billy Breath…

Smokes: Camel Light Wides.

Tunes: “Billy Breathes,” Phish. A couple of my favorite songs from this turned up on the setlist at Saturday’s show in the Spectrum, and I’m still in full post-show glow mode.

After the conclusion of Saturday’s Phish show in Philly, The Wife and I made a point of doing one of those touristy things that cities of certain size all seem to offer. In Philadelphia’s case, it was driving to Passyunk and Ninth to get some sloppy cheesesteaks from Geno’s or Pat’s. I’ve read that natives generally write off both places in favor of lesser known steaks, but going to the cheesesteak corner is something that everyone has to do once.

What we learned:

– Geno’s looks prettier. Lots of neon.

– The lines move fairly quickly.

– We apparently move more quickly than most of the other folks who attended the show. By the time we got our steaks, the line, which wound around the block, was full of hungry hippies.

– The folks at Geno’s are pretty impressed with the fact that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake have eaten there. Among the endless rows of celebrity photos that hang around the place are at least three with the formerly happy couple, and at least one more from a separate visit Timberlake made at some point.

– A lot of the celebrities were people we had never heard of. There also were a ton of professional wrestlers.

– The hot sauce on the counter by the sidewalk is HOT. It nearly brought The Wife to tears, and she’s a hot sauce freak.

– Knowing how to order is important. The locals standing in front of us asked us if we knew of the Seinfeld soup nazi episode. “It’s a lot like that,” one guy said. “They’ll yell.” If you’re having a cheesesteak, you order by cheese type (whiz, provolone, American) and whether you want grilled onions. We both ordered “provolone with.” If you’re local, you say “wit” instead of “with.”

– The sandwiches are VERY good.

– The best part, surprisingly, is the bread, a fresh-baked crusty Italian roll.

Next time we spend a weekend in Philly, we’ll take the time to find one of the places the locals say is best. But the trip to Geno’s after the show was the perfect way to cap a great night.

Sitting in Pittsburgh, waiting for the snow. It’s …

Sitting in Pittsburgh, waiting for the snow. It’s difficult to write a weather story when there’s no weather yet.

This is going to be one of the things I do when I’m not doing something else. You’ll find out a wide variety of things about me, but I’m going to make a couple regular contributions: What I’m smoking, and What’s in my car CD player.

By way of introduction:

I’m 37, and I really should quit smoking. I’m married and we have a cat. I’m a card-carrying member of the liberal media. Musically, I’m a hippie. I love cooking but hate doing the dishes. My sense of outrage isn’t what it used to be. All other sports are things to watch when there’s no football. I like my coffee with cream and sugar. I’m enjoying my subscription to Sports Illustrated. But I’m way behind on my Dick’s Picks and Vault purchases.

And the regular stuff? I’m smoking Camel Lights, mostly because the last gas station I stopped at doesn’t carry Camel Wide Lights. The car CD player has a disc from the live Phish series, the show from Vets in Columbus. I didn’t attend, and I wish I had. I am driving to Philly from my home in Pittsburgh tomorrow to see the Phish show at the Spectrum, and it’s likely that my wife and I will be driving through a pretty serious snowstorm as we go through the mountains on the turnpike tomorrow morning. Welcome to winter.

I’m at work at the moment, and as you might imagine, there ain’t a whole lot going on in the newsroom on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. About three more hours to go…