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Water Tower in the Flatiron District/Tesla

6th Ave and 27th Street.

This is a picture I took of a water tower on 26th Street, viewed from 27th (Here’s a good article on the ubiquitous NYC water towers, which look like relics of the past but are still very much in use). The church I used to work for had its office on 26th. Directly behind me is the “Radio Wave building,” So named because Nikola Tesla lived and experimented there. There’s a great park nearby, Madison Square Park. Once Kanye West held a free concert there and it was a *mess*. Harried police shut down several blocks and there were tons of people. Apparently Kanye came on super late. Kanye and Jay-Z own a club nearby, called the 40/40 club. I stuck my head in there once, but didn’t sit down.

Speaking of Tesla: There are two Tesla Plaques in NYC (that I know of). One on the aforementioned Radio Wave Building (which used to be called Hotel Gerlach), and one on the Hotel New Yorker Hotel at 34th and 8th, where Tesla died, destitute. This leads me to a question: how come a long time ago living in hotels used to be a thing?

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AAA Avacodos

In Chinatown, on Grand Street, there is a store called AAA Avacados that sells only avacados, at one dollar apiece. It sounds like the brainchild of a Seinfeld character (Jerry: “Really? nothing else? only the avacados?” George: “That’s right! Only avacados baby!”), or the punchline of a Mitch Hedberg Joke. A few doors down there’s a rather stinky store (Durian New York) that sells only Durian. I didn’t get a photo of that one though.

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2017.

2017. It’s here.  “I can’t believe it’s 2017,” I’ve said to .. pretty much everyone, and almost everyone has concurred. No one has said, “It seems right and good that it’s 2017. Here it is, right on time.” 2017 seems pretty close to being a year in a Sci-Fi film in which something momentous and possibly devastating occurs. The older I get, the busier I get, and the faster the years fly by.  I guess that’s something an old person would say. I should watch that, ’cause I’m not old yet, though sometimes I feel like it.

Anyway, Happy New Year.  For last New Year’s Eve — that is, one year ago,  I went to the Hamptons with a group of people, most of whom I did not know. They were friends of my friend Sean’s new girlfriend Rachel (new at the time; they’re married now), and Sean invited me along so that he’d know somebody besides his girlfriend. It was a fun time. We ate a lot, played games, journalled (we were all Christians; Christians like to journal) and did the polar plunge — that is, we jumped into the freezing cold Atlantic with a couple of hundred locals. After we got home and warmed up we had a dance party and then watched the ball drop on Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. That was the weekend I developed an appreciation for Taylor Swift.

Usually I do want to see friends on New Years, and I want to stay up past midnight to make noise and celebrate. But this year, for the first time in a long time, I felt no inclination to be with people on New Year’s Eve, or to stay awake until midnight. I felt like spending a quiet evening alone and that’s what I did.   I was in the mood for some good old cheesy-but-not-terrible Sci-Fi  and searched this list of top 100 Sci-Fi films until I found  the 1956 classic “Forbidden Planet,” which fit the bill perfectly. It features a deadly serious Leslie Nielsen before he realized his true calling as the straight man in a dozen or so 80’s spy and cop spoofs. (I’ve also seen a more earnest Nielsen in a Columbo or two).

I haven’t posted here in the past two years, and I’m hoping to post more this year. I’ve written before about and marveled at how Seth Godin blogs every day.  How does he have the time?  How does he resist the urge to edit everything to death?  Well, I recently read an interview where he said something like, “If you have time to watch TV every day, then you have time to blog every day.”  And while I don’t watch TV every day, I take his point.  I certainly can take the time to post *something* each day, even if it’s not perfect or even that coherent.

So I’m going to try to post one thing each day in January, even if it’s just a photo (I take a picture of something almost every day).

(not sure why these photos are so small.  I’ll try to fix that tomorrow).

Here’s a picture I took yesterday just about dusk, of a lamp post emerging from a nest of London Plane tree roots.

According to this article, 15% of all NYC street trees are London Planes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage is higher in Brooklyn. My neighborhood (Ditmas Park, sometimes called West Flatbush or Midwood) is full of them.

There are London Planes in this pic of my street from the first big snow we had in January of last year.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation logo features a London Plane tree leaf. Here’s a good example from sign at Coney Island. I think they were repairing the boardwalk.

Well, that’s all for tonight. If you’re reading this, thanks, and See you soon, I hope.

 

Back

I’m back. After 35 days, 22 shows, 14 states, and 7200 miles, we drove into New York City, exhausted and cheering. I dropped off my stuff, smoked 2 cigarettes even though I don’t smoke (and I mean that), said goodbye to my bandmates/friends, gave the ancient rented brown minivan a good washing, returned it to its owner, took the train back to Jersey City, hurried my sub-letter out the door, and slept. Oh goodness how I slept. I slept my face off as the rain poured on the black asphalt outside. Now the future is a glowing sun on the horizon, and I’m trying to figure out how to grab it and stuff it in my shirt pocket before it sinks.

Thanks to my amazing band/tourmates, Gerko, Rachelle, Paul, Toby, and Joan Marie! Thanks to everyone who hosted, housed, fed, put up with, and came out to hear us.

see you out there.

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(Lion Song, recorded at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, Friday, August 9th, 2013)

(top photo by Emanuel Brunson)

aaaaaand exhale.

That’s what they say at the yoga studio where I go sometimes. They have free yoga on certain days. It’s the same studio where Alec Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria Thomas, teaches. Hilaria started saying “inhale….. aaaaaaand exhale,” and all her fellow yoga instructors thought it sounded pretty good so now they say it too. Except the one teacher I like pronounces it “axhale,” Which isn’t extremely relaxing (but she’s still a great teacher). I can never do the poses. Once I thought the teacher said “awkward facing dog,” and I thought “finally, a pose I can do.” Sometimes I fall asleep and once I even started snoring, until I was awoken by the tittering of my fellow yoga students. anyway…

After about 2000 miles of careening around the country going from concert to concert in a rented minivan full of tightly packed gear, vinyl records, and an assortment of bandmates and one bandmate’s lovely wife, I’ve hit a lull, wherein I’m hanging out all by my lonesome in a lovely green leafy backyard full of little yellow birds and flowers-whose-names-I-don’t-know-the-names-of exploding in color. My only companions for the next few days will be two big slobbery dogs and whoever accepts my invitation to get together for dinner. There are no miles to drive, no tolls to scrape change together for, no starbucks runs, no gear to set up or tear down, no charts to correct, and no gigs to play, (until this Saturday). So I’m breathing a bit.

(But only a bit. I’m also tryin’ to get some publications to review the record, and trying to get folks to come see us in Boston and Carrboro. That’s the thing about this line of work. There’s *always* too much to do.)

Ok, and since I haven’t officially said it, *THANK YOU!!!!* to all the lovely people who hosted my bandmates and me over the last 2.5 weeks, for feeding us, housing us, and being so generous. Thanks to everyone who came to see us play, hung out, donated generously in the tip bucket, and bought records. Thanks to Toby, Paul, Gerko and Rachelle, for playing and traveling with me, doing sound, lugging gear, making schedules, making profit-and-loss spreadsheets, handling merch like a boss (Rachelle), and putting up with me when I misplaced the car keys. Thanks to Blake Gingerich and Tonieh Ellis for filming me a bunch (curious to see how that turns out) and making me feel like L.L. Cool J. Thanks to the Hazletts for awesome digs and hang time in Amish OH. Thanks to Joans Sr and Jr for awesome digs on Lake MI, the Yawgers for lovely digs in PA, and the Dill/Marsters for lovely digs in MA. Thanks to the fans for wanting to take pics with me and, again, making me feel like L.L. Cool J. I don’t have time or space to thank everyone who made me feel like L.L. Cool J, cause it was a lot of people. Thanks to each of the 7 people in Camp Hill who told me, throughout the morning, not to forget my guitar. I remembered it. xoxoxo Jason

(there are more tour dates to come, in NH, Boston, Carrboro, NC, DC, VA, and Atlanta. please come see us! And, if you like, preorder the new record, officially being released in August).

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Brooklyn

So I’ve been living in New York. Brooklyn, specifically, where life is lived on the street, as opposed to Manhattan, where life is lived in tall buildings. People hang out on stoops and talk and whistle and holler and jump rope and drink beer wrapped in brown paper bags and listen to music with thumping bass. Now that it’s February most folks have retreated inside, but there are still a few die-hards who stand or sit outside and blast their music into the cold, and who can blame them? When you’re really digging something sometimes you don’t wanna keep it to yourself.

Every few minutes you can hear and feel a train from the JMZ line rumble by on its way to the Marcy stop. The JMZ line was formerly known as the JZ and was supposedly the namesake of rapper Jay-Z (although Wikipedia puts the kibosh on this theory and says nope, his name is a permutation of the word “Jazzy,” which is decidedly less cool, partly because, well, DJ Jazzy Jeff kinda already used that). The city was briefly talking about eliminating the “Z” line as part of its terrifyingly-named “doomsday cuts,” but reconsidered and the Z remains. En route to Manhattan, the JMZ goes over the Williamsburg bridge and offers a stunning view of the skyline.

My neighborhood is comprised mostly of Dominican and Puerto Rican families, with a few Hasidim and “Hipsters” sprinkled in. I fall into this much-maligned latter category even though I am not hip. I mean, just look at my shoes.

My housemate/landlord, Bearden, says I walk too slow and look around too much. “You gotta keep moving, man” he says, and whenever we walk anywhere together I have to trot to keep up even though my legs are twice as long as his. He’s a hell-raising, Barry Hannah-reading, Rolling Stones-and-Bob Dylan-listening, Razorbacks-football-loving Arkansan with the loudest voice I’ve ever heard. Bearden is a writer and the front man for a band called “Sheriff,” of which I’m an adjunct member (I play lead guitar and sing harmonies). I don’t like Bob Dylan nearly as much as he thinks I should, but we connect on a mutual love for Bob’s one-time disciple Neil Young and the great pulp writer Elmore Leonard. Bearden and his wife, Laura, are two of the most passionate, creative, and generous people I’ve ever met.

Here’s a picture Laura took in front of their apartment.