Friday, December 22, 2006


I was out in my front yard one evening this summer and noticed a car driving by real slow. It got my attention as I try to be observant and aware. As it got closer I noticed it was a couple of little old ladies staring at me. They drove around the block and came by again sizing me up as either a friend or foe.

The second time coming by they decided to pull over and get out. One of the women was on crutches (not the broken leg kind, but the aluminum ones with the arm cuffs). They came up to me and said that the woman with the crutches grew up in my house. She lived on the first floor with her parents. Her aunt and uncle lived on the second floor throughout the 40's and 50's. The other woman, who was behind the wheel, was a high school friend of hers who now lives in St. Louis Hills.

I invited her in to show her the work I had done on the place. Since I completely gutted the house before moving in I didn't think she'd recognize much. She loved the condition the place was in and pointed out things like which room was hers. She also recognized these 2 massively heavy armoires that came with the house. She said that her Dad bought them for $5 each. They are both beautiful cross cut oak and would be worth hundreds today. She had polio and told me about how her Dad would lift her in and out of the tub a couple times a day and that she got bumped out of her room and had to move her bed to the hall when her cousin moved in with them.

She mentioned she went to Roosevelt High School, which is where my mother-in-law went. She recognized the name and it turned out she graduated with my wife's Uncle. She said he was very handsome (a very difficult thing to imagine now), and that he was a little odd back then (he's a lot odd now and is rarely seen by the family since he lives in Germany).

She now lives in Washington, D.C. and her husband is a retired diplomat and they did a lot of world traveling. She doesn't get back to St. Louis very often, but was happy I happened to be in the yard because they wouldn't have had the guts to knock on the door.

I think she told me her name when she first pulled up, but I'm terrible with names and it felt rude to ask again before she drove off.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. There is a young woman pacing around on the corner near my house smoking a cigarette. I pull up with my son and am getting him out of his car seat when she walks up and asks me if I live here, pointing unfortunately to my house. I noticed right away she was missing a front tooth and had a black eye. I reluctantly said...yes, imagining her pulling a gun, forcing me into my house to rob me or steal my baby.

She said she lived in the house for 16 years in the 80's and 90's. She was embarrassed about the black eye and missing tooth but was trying to get a friend off drugs who wasn't cooperating. Unfortunately I had a tired and sick baby in my arms and had to cut it short. As she was walking away I asked her name and she said "Jennifer".

Yesterday I get a poinsettia delivered. The card said: "Thank you so much for letting my friend and I visit your home which was my home from grade 6 through college. What lovely changes you have made and how nice it is to know your lovely family lives there." And it was signed "Jenny Bergsten".

It seemed odd that 2 woman approached me about living in my house. One named Jenny and one named Jennifer. I had to remember to tell my wife, Jen, about that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm not bald I'm Bold!

It's funny that I seem to be forced into "clubs" that I never had any intention of joining. One of those clubs is the bald man club. If you're not bald you pay no attention to new products or positive and negative portrayals of bald men. Bald guys are almost exclusively bad guys in the media. You have your occasional Jean-Luc Piccard but it's certainly rare and that character was 10+ years ago. Watch Law and Order or CSI and the bald guy ends up being the serial killer. It's easy to spot him and guess the conclusion if you know.

Sports end up being the only place where bald men are portrayed positively. But let's face it Matt Hasselbeck and Brian Urlacher are just one DWI away from being a villian. Anyway, I noticed this new line of products labeled as "Ideal for head shaving" and just wanted to thank them. They are attempting to capitalize on a niche and I wish them luck.

Monday, December 11, 2006

If your life were a movie your soundtrack would be...

I love the strange coincidences that pop up with something like this. It gives new perspective to old material which is something art is supposed to do. Some songs work, some don't and some are just plain funny. Have fun and comment on what came up for you. I'm anxious to do it again, but these were my first attempt.

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your music library (iTunes, MusicMatch, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool.
OPENING CREDITS: Graveyard Shift by Uncle Tupelo
WAKING UP: September Song by Willie Nelson
FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL: They Never Got You by Spoon
FALLING IN LOVE: Waiting For the Sun by the Jayhawks
FIGHTING: Hotel by Broken Social Scene
BREAKING UP: Here Comes My Baby by Yo La Tengo
PROM: After it All by Cat Power
LIFE'S OK: Paper Aeroplane by Kasey Chambers
MENTAL BREAKDOWN: Bizarre Love triangle by Frente!
DRIVING: Hash Pipe by Weezer
FLASHBACK: Lizzy by Ben Kweller
GETTING BACK TOGETHER: Turn a Square by the Shins
WEDDING: Speaking of Happiness by Gloria Lynn
BIRTH OF CHILD: Kiss Off by Violent Femmes
FINAL BATTLE: U Mass by the Pixies
DEATH SCENE: Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (with Lovin' on your mind) byLoretta Lynn
FUNERAL SONG: Don't Get Around Much Anymore by Sam Cooke
END CREDITS: Halloween by Ryan Adams

Friday, December 01, 2006

the perfect storm

Craptastic! That's how I would describe this week. It started with Nate getting a stomach virus that leaves him puking and with the worst diarrhea ever. We thought it was a 24 hour bug, then a 48 hour bug, then 5 days in we realized it was much worse. That however is not why it was a bad week. That was just a small contributing factor. Nate is a trooper and for the most part has kept his spirits up.

My wife is travelling for work this week. She goes to NY/NJ a couple times a month. It's all become pretty standard. That is until the worst snow/ice/freezing rain storm to hit St. Louis in the last quarter century happens and she can't get home. This is but one more factor in the perfect storm that hit this week that nearly succeeded in breaking me.

You see the storm brought with it widespread power outages. We were hit by a big wind gust in July and never lost power. That may have played a part in me being totally unprepared for this outage. As I mentioned Nate has been sick. Frequent vomiting in his crib has become commonplace. I heard him on the baby monitor losing his dinner at approximately 11pm Thursday. I went up to change him and it was a sad state of affairs. He puked and then rolled in it. It was in his fuzzy hair and he wasn't happy. I picked him up out of his crib and he felt really wet. I took off his pajamas and he was covered from chest to knees in diarrhea.

That, dear loyal readers, is when the power shut down. I had a naked baby on the floor covered in excrement when things went black. I froze. Nate sensing this wasn't a normal occurrence froze as well. A moment later the power flickered. I took that opportunity to open the shades in his room. Then it went dark for good. Even with the street lights blacked out it was lighter outside than inside. By the pale light of the cloudy night sky I grabbed fist fulls of wet wipes and began to clean the baby. He stood up and clung to me as I searched for something fresh to put on him. He's been sick all week and we were running low on fresh outfits to sleep in. I found one and got him in a new diaper and some pajamas. I was feeling pretty good.

It was then that I realized I wasn't going to be able to clean up his crib, give him fresh sheets and put him back to bed. For one thing he wasn't letting go of me. I had to do everything with one hand. Also with the power out the temperature was going to start dropping. He couldn't sleep in the crib by himself even if I could clean it up. I decided to put him to bed in my bed. I placed some pillows down the side to keep him from rolling off and put a towel under him in case he got sick again and we snuggled in, a little daddy/son team, working together. Then he puked again.

I picked him up and set out to find some candles and matches. It wasn't as easy as I had hoped, but I got my hands on some and lit up the room. By that point I could feel the temperature dropping. It was probably in the 50's in the house, but I began to worry. I wanted to find someplace safe for my baby.

I have 2 cars. One is great in the snow and was purchased with snow emergencies in mind. The other is an old Ford pick up that has rear wheel drive and is atrocious in the snow and ice. I'm sure you can guess which one was at the airport while my wife was stranded in NY and which one was sitting out front with it's doors frozen shut.

I called Jen and she went to work. It was late but she started calling her family and organizing the troops. At about 1am my brother-in-law picked me up in his Landcruiser and drove me to my Mother and Father-in-laws in the county. We were total refugees. Nobody wanted a sick baby. They were understandably protecting their own families.

My in laws were also without power, but they have 3 woodburning fireplaces in their house. I set up the portable crib and put Nate down in the family room. After all this excitement he had no intention of sleeping. I tried rocking him, but it wasn't soothing. The fireplace needed to be stoked and logs needed to be added. Every time it would wake him. Every time an ember would make that popping and crackling sound he would wake up. If I let the fire get low it would get too cold. We finally both collapsed at about 3am and woke to a chilly room at 7am.

Little Nate was sick, tired and out of his element. He was understandably not himself. It was a difficult day and we were running low on diapers, juice, patience and all the other things a parent needs to have on hand. While I was out picking up supplies I received great news from my next door neighbor via my barely charged cell read...Let there be light.

The power was up. It was very good news. I can deal with all of these hardships much better if I am on my own turf. Packing a duffel bag in the middle of the night by candlelight wasn't exactly ideal and we weren't going to have enough clothes to get us through another night. Thank goodness we could go home.

Jen's Thursday evening flight was cancelled and she was hoping to get on a Friday afternoon flight. Unfortunately many people were trying to get to St. Louis from LaGuardia. Nobody was giving up their seat. She is booked for a Saturday morning flight back to STL. She did what she could for the family from afar. She proves herself to be a great parent and partner time and time again. If she were able to be here, if the power hadn't gone out, if the baby wasn't sick, if my 4 wheel drive vehicle were here, if any one of a number of things had been different it would have been a much better situation. As it was it was a perfect crap storm and although it's dying down I'm still here by myself taking care of a sick baby. But at least I'm doing it under my own roof!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

When life throws you a curve

Friday afternoon November 3, 2006 we had an appointment with a pediatric dermatological specialist. Our pediatrician had some concerns about Nate's progress at his one year appointment. The specialist instantly diagnosed Nate with a rare genetic disorder known as Ectodermal Dysplasia. She was able to so quickly diagnose him because the disorder carries with it some specific external characteristics. Ectodermal dysplasia refers to defects in the development of the ectoderm, which is the layer of cells in the embryo that develops into skin, hair, teeth, nails and secretory glands (tear glands, salivary glands, and mucous glands in the throat, larynx, respiratory system and intestinal tract).

Nate's fuzzy hair may never get any thicker than it is now. His toothless smile will most likely stay that way for awhile and when or if his teeth come in they will most likely be sparse and shaped differently. There is a great degree of variance in the disorder. We have reason to believe that Nate has a milder case. He does in fact have tear ducts as witnessed just about anytime we try and strap him into anything. (He hates to be contained.) He most likely has no sweat glands and that can be a serious problem resulting in fevers and overheating. We are learning what we can on our own and have appointments with specialists and geneticists to try and learn what we can about Nate's specific symptoms.

What isn't impacted by the disorder is Nate's personality and life expectancy. It is not a disease. It will not progressively get worse or become unpredictible. The disorder is part of his DNA and is what it is. We were devastated by the news and are thankful for caring family and friends and know that they will come through for us when we need them. We are slowly becoming accustomed to the changes that this news will mean for us. Nate is full of life and full of energy and we cannot predict at this early stage what kind of person he'll become, but we can guess that he'll be very special and loved by all.

Life threw us a curve. It was high and inside and brushed us back from the plate. It's time for us to get up off the ground and hit the next one out of the park.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Time flies?

I had a really fantastic weekend. Last year at this time I was celebrating my birthday in the hospital waiting for Nate to be born. This year Nate was eating cake and playing with his new toys. What a year it has been. Someone was saying to me that this must have been a quick year. That it probably flew by. I had to disagree. This was one of the longest years I can remember. I experienced so many things for the first time that I have twice as many memories from the last year than I have for the last 10 years.

My birthday is the day before Nate's. My request this year was for a night out with Jen and some of our friends. A Detroit band that I am fond of was in town at the Duck Room and we went to see them Thursday night. The Hard Lessons put on a great show. They stuck around town for a couple of days to do an instore performance too. Saturday night they came over to our house to enjoy some of Nate's birthday cake and sit around a backyard fire pit and shoot the breeze. They are good folks who know how to put on an entertaining show. Go see them if you get the chance.

Nate's party Saturday was well organized by my wife to make it enjoyable for kids and grown ups alike. Things moved along and nobody got bored. Nate got great presents and was exhausted by the end of it all. Most of Nate's fans were there to witness it. We have great friends.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

random photos

I am not a photographer. I do, however, like to keep a camera with me to document things I find interesting as I explore the city. Here are some current photos of things I 've found intresting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

100 Songs, 1,000,000 Memories

100 songs that I love in no particular order. I didn't use any artist twice to get as much representation as possible. What are your favorite songs?
1. Joe Henry - Short Man's Room
2. The Stooges - No Fun
3. Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares for Me
4. Charlie Rich - No Headstone on My Grave
5. Brendan Benson - Tiny Spark
6. The Shins - Caring is Creepy
7. John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
8. Tapes n' Tapes - The Illiad
9. Big Maybelle - That's a Pretty Good Love
10. The Kinks - Milk Cow Blues
11. Neva Dinova - Yellow Datsun
12. Son Volt - Tear Stained Eye
13. Andrew Bird - Satisfied
14. The Long Winters - Blue Diamonds
15. Sly & the Family Stone - If You Want Me to Stay
16. Kevin Russell's Junker - Somebody Bring Me a Flower (I'm a Robot)
17. Superchunk - Detroit Has a Skyline
18. Blonde Redhead - Equus
19. Willie Nelson - I'm Not Trying to Forget You Anymore
20. Cat Power - Free
21. Smoosh - Massive Cure
22. Jackson Browne - Late For the Sky
23. Ben Kweller - Lizzy
24. Gladys Knight & the Pips - I Heard it Through the Grapevine
25. Weezer - El Scorcho (goddamn you half Japanese Girls!)
26. Clem Snide - Messiah Complex Blues
27. Pixies - Mr. Grieves
28. Stevie Wonder - Superstition
29. Nirvana - Sliver
30. Urge Overkill - Emmaline
31. Hazel Dickens - West Virginia, My Home
32. M. Ward - Helicopter
33. Tom Waits - Gun Street Girl
34. Old 97's - Wish the Worst
35. The Hard Lessons - That Other Girl
36. Neil Young - Southern Man
37. Lightnin' Hopkins - Jake Head Boogie
38. Uncle Tupelo - Graveyard Shift
39. The Monkees - Stepping Stone
40. Fugazi - Waiting Room
41. Iron & Wine/Calexico - A History of Lovers
42. Bruce Springsteen - Used Cars
43. Yo La Tengo/Daniel Johnston - Speeding Motorcycle
44. The Jackson 5 - Who's Loving You
45. Ryan Adams - Halloween
46. Afghan Whigs - Debonair
47. Public Enemy - Fight the Power
48. The Replacements - I'll be You
49. Metallica - Fade to Black
50. Cowboy Junkies - Murder, Tonight, in the Trailer Park
51. Dangermouse - Encore
52. The Gourds - Gin & Juice
53. Richard Buckner - Rainsquall
54. Dave Dudley - Six Days on the Road
55. Beck - Where It's At
56. Tom Petty - American Girl
57. James Brown - Papa's Got a Brand New Bag pt.1
58. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Scar Tissue
59. Dave Alvin - King of California
60. Athlete - Vehicles and Animals
61. Otis Redding - These Arms of Mine
62. Michelle Shocked/Uncle Tupelo - Shaking Hands
63. Bettie Serveert - Palomine
64. K's Choice - Not an Addict
65. Elton John - Where to Now St. Peter?
66. Aqualung - Brighter than Sunshine
67. Rolling Stones - Ventilator Blues
68. Elliott Smith - Somebody that I Used to Know
69. Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain
70. Low - When I Go Deaf
71. Sam Cooke - Please Don't Drive Me Away
72. Sloan - Underwhelmed
73. Violent Femmes - Kiss Off
74. Al Green - Love & Happiness
75. the White Stripes - Red Death at 6:14
76. Ike & Tina Turner - A Fool in Love
77. the Jayhawks - Waiting for the Sun
78. Pavement - Trigger Cut
79. Beastie Boys - Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun
80. Crowded House - Four Season's in One Day
81. Gillian Welch - Paper Wings
82. Jay Farrar & Kelly Willis - Rex's Blues
83. Cat Stevens - Wild World
84. Etta James - Something's Got a Hold on Me
85. Kasey Chambers - The Captain
86. Olabelle Reed - You Led Me to the Wrong
87. Vic Chesnutt - Isadora Duncan
88. Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
89. Louis Armstrong - A Kiss to Build a Dream on
90. XTC - Dear God
91. Evan Dando - Why Do You Do This to Yourself?
92. The Black Keys - Hurt Like Mine
93. Steve Earle - Feel Alright
94. Nick Drake - Saturday Sun
95. Neal Casal - These Days With You
96. Ray Charles - What'd I Say pts 1&2
97. Tilly & the Wall - Bessa
98. Louis Prima - Wanna Be Like You
99. Robert Earl Keen Jr. - Then Came Lo Mein
100. Aretha Franklin - Baby I Love You

Monday, August 21, 2006

Magic House

Nate took a trip to a children's hands-on museum in Kirkwood called The Magic House. He loved the place as you can see. I especially like how he's so comfortable driving the boat that he chooses to do it one handed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Project Runway?

I watch a lot of tv. I watch a lot of reality tv. I'm bored with reality tv. My wife recently set our dvr to record Project Runway on Bravo. The next day Bravo ran a 6 hour marathon of Project Runway. There are a couple of reasons why I am enjoying this show even though I have no interest in fashion.

One reason is that the "contestants" are actually skilled. They have worked in the industry and proven themselves capable. Unlike contestants on a program such as Big Brother. The only skills those people have are either hotness or annoyingness.

Also the competitions to this point have been legitimate. They are real world tasks. Creating the ballgown for Miss America to wear at the Miss Universe pageant. As a fashion designer that has got to be huge. They are not tasks such as eating pig testicles while treading in a pool of cockroach infested cow's blood surrounded by rabid raccoons. Anyone can do that.

The reward is also worthwhile. Getting startup funds for your own fashion line. That is like teaching a man to fish. Giving a redneck a million bucks is the equivalent of giving a man a fish. A fish that he then uses to buy cocaine and Jet Ski's. Which is not a good combination no matter your location.

I'd like to see more reality shows using this same formula. There are other industries in which I'd like to get an insider's view. Even industries where I have no interest can be made interesting and offer me something other than a waste of time. Show me some artists trying to get a one man show at a big NYC gallery. Show me some dirt track racer's trying to get a shot at NASCAR. Show me some minor league players trying to get a shot at the major's. Show me some people who have worked hard and just need a little luck to get that big break before they give up their dream. That's good television.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tilly and the Wall at the Creepy Crawl July 17, 2006

I've never been filled with the spirit of comraderie and rock n roll happiness like I was last night. Thank you Tilly and the Wall for renewing my faith in live music. I needed it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

These Pretzels are making me Thirsty

I spent a day this week working as an extra on a film being shot here in St. Louis. It was fun for awhile but got old after 8 or 9 hours. The movie actually takes place in Minneapolis in the Fall so I had to wear a denim shirt and a sweater. The scene we did was shot in an empty building downtown that didn't have air conditioning. They had big tubes pumping cool air into the building but it didn't help all that much.

The set was right across the street from Jen's office. She said everyone at her office was freaking out and calling her in NY because they knew I was in there and wanted to know what was going on.

I also ended up doing a bunch of stand in work. I stood in for 2 different actors while they set up the camera shots and lights. That was not easy. Standing under hot lights for long periods of time in a sweater. We worked from 6:30am until 7:30pm and only got 3 shots with different angles of each shot.

Aaron Eckhart plays the lead character and was there for all of the shots that day. His character is troubled by his deteriorating personal and professional life and I think he tried to stay in character all day. He seemed annoyed and angry, but I am going to reserve judgement on whether he is a jerk or not. He did yell at one of the extras during a scene for making too much noise and distracting him, but the extra was a pompous ass so I was cool with it.

There are a couple of kids in the movie that are on tv shows I've never seen like Jack and Bobby. The guy I did the stand in work for was in High Fidelity. He played one of the record store clerks, Barry, along with John Cusack and Jack Black. Jessica Alba is in the movie but had completed her scenes by the time I was working on it. Jason Sudeikis and Kristin Wiig from Saturday Night Live are also attached to the film but, again, weren't in any of the scenes I worked on. Timothy Olyphant from Go and Deadwood is in the film. He plays a news anchor named Chip Johnson and they actually erected a billboard of him on highway 270. Wish I would have gotten a picture of that.

I spent most of the day standing in line at a bank. The wardrobe lady said I'd be the "cool guy" so the prop guys gave me a video ipod to wear while standing in line. Unfortunately it didn't actually have anything on it. We came up with a funny back story about how I was the assistant manager at a night club and my boss was a drug addict so I have to do all of the work and that's why I kept going to the bank to make deposits. I stood in the same line for scenes that were supposed to take place at different times of day. You come up with anything to pass the time.

While on set you have a lot of time to think about what you are doing since there are so many takes. On the first take you shift from foot to foot like you are impatient with how slow the line is going. The second take you shift from foot to foot and look at your watch. The third take you shift from foot to foot, look at your watch and sigh real hard. If there are 5 takes then by the last one you look like a neurotic freak with a bunch of tics.

Not surprisingly Ricky Gervais hit the nail on the head with his HBO show Extra's. It's totally like that. You keep trying to find ways to get in the shot. Just so you can prove that you were on the set. Then the rest of the time you spend sitting around talking about stupid things. It was a fun change of pace and a good experience. I made $100. Woohoo. I don't think I'd be doing it again real soon though. Maybe if Jessica Alba were in any of my scenes I would have had a more enjoyable time?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

33 Things I Love*

This list is not in any particular order. It's just a list of weird things that make me happy.

1. Getting my son out of his crib in the morning. That smile lasts me the whole day.
2. My Wife. She totally rules.
3. Ted Drewe's Big Apple concrete
4. Random coincidences
5. Television. This heading includes all of my favorite shows, tv shows on dvd (Freaks & Geeks) and my DVR which records everything I want to watch.
6. Otis Redding. Most soulful male voice ever.

7. Being from Detroit.
8. Euro Pez

9. My iPod on shuffle. It's like a really great mix cd every time. I love the new juxtupositions of old faves.
10. Target
11. Dwell Magazine
12. The idea of guitar shaped pools. In reality they probably aren't as great though.
13. The Hard Lessons.
14. Jay Ryan gigposters

15. Myspace
16. Willie Nelson's "Spirit". Great "post breakup" album. (ie. I'm Not Trying to Forget You Anymore)
17. Joe Versus the Volcano. "I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?"
18. Abbrevs.
19. Completion
20. Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly)
21. "The" bands (The White Stripes, The Hard Lessons, The Who, The Kinks, The Band, The New York Dolls, The Shins...)
22. Milky Way midnight minis
23. John C. Reilly

24. Rushmore

25. Tilly & the Wall

26. Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf
27. Tim Russert
28. Seeing a great movie in the theater.
29. Ikea
30. for debunking urban legends
31. Pepsi Vanilla
32. Marlo Thomas

33. Supporting friends in their artistic endeavors

*This is an ongoing list and will have to be completed with future installments.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The most important survey of your life

Feel free to fill it out and post it in the comments. Make up your own questions and add them or replace other questions you don't want to answer. There are no rules.

1. You have 10 bucks and need to buy snacks at a gas station, what do you get?
Mountain Dew, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Good & Plenty
2. If you had to be reincarnated as some sort of sea dwelling creature, what would it be?
3. Who's your favorite redhead?
Adler Caroline Bowman
4. What's on your fridge?
A poster of me and baby Nate that I got for Father's Day and lots of pictures of Nate and my nephews and nieces and a calendar.
5. How many miles are on your car?
122,000 & 71,000
6. Do you own a bike?
A mountain bike that hasn't been ridden in 5 years and a motorcycle that's inoperable
7. When was the last time you were on a plane?
3 weeks ago
8. Describe the last time you were injured:
I got 5 stitches during a demolition mishap.
9. Are there any weird things that turn you on?
Are glasses weird? I like girls with glasses.
10. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?
Picture of Nate.
11. Favorite Soda?
IBC Cream Soda
12. Flavor of pudding?
13. What type of shirt are you wearing?
wife beater (but only in private, never in public)
14. Prescription medication?
15. If you could use only one form of transportation for the rest of your life?
16. What are you listening to right now?
David Letterman in the other room, the refrigerator running and these keys as I'm typing.
17. Most recent movie you've watched?
Underworld: Evolution
18. Name 3 things you have with you at all times:
wallet, glasses, cell phone
19. What is a saying that you use a lot?
Thanks Babe!
20. What is your favorite part of the chicken?
The nuggets
21. What's your favorite town/city?
Toronto is cool but too far away.
22. Favorite kind of cake?
23. What's the first word that comes to mind right now?
24. What's your dream car?
The Hummer H3 is nice. I mean that new little hybrid that is good for the environment.
25. What did you have for dinner LAST NIGHT?
26. How long have you been at your current job?
self employed for 2 years
27. What's the last thing you said out loud?
Good night.
28. Look to your left, what do you see?
1,000 cd's
29. Who is the last person who spent $100 on you?
My wife I would guess.
30. Who's your favorite villain(s)?
Jesus in Big Lebowski
31. Whats the last piece of clothing you borrowed from anyone?
not a clue
32. What's the last piece of clothing you bought?
PJ shorts from Target
33. What was your first concert?
1984 Huey Lewis and the News and the Neville Brothers
34. What was the first recording (record, tape, cd, etc.) you bought?
ELO Discovery (not a sign of future taste)

Friday, May 26, 2006

backlash backlash

I'm getting sick of the politically correct backlash. More and more I'm hearing people on tv and radio say things like "It was so much easier when you didn't have to watch what you say so carefully." Or "Watch out for the PC police." Inevitably the people saying this are white men. Of course it was easier when you didn't have to worry about offending women or minorities. Keep up with the times gentlemen or get run over by them and become irrelevent.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Downtown St. Louis the second time around

I've experienced the revitalization of St. Louis first hand. Neighborhoods making a comeback isn't much of a story though. Downtown is where the headlines are made. Articles like this one in USA Today, for better or worse can have an impact. They affect public perception. Public perception affects convention booking, event scheduling, etc. Hopefully this article is a sign that public perception is changing for the better.

One thing about St. Louis that is encouraging is that all of this revitalization has been done without reinvention. St. Louis isn't known for any one thing. It hasn't become the next "silicon valley" or resort destination. There hasn't been a huge influx of out-of-towners. It was done with hard work and slow growth. Real estate prices have remained reasonable. This is a good sign for the future. We won't have to deal with any one industry taking a dive and taking the city down with it. We won't have to deal with real estate bubbles bursting or another city becoming the next hot thing and everyone moving out.

Good luck St. Louis! Hopefully you've learned from your mistakes and this will make you stronger the second time around.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What I'm Up To

What I'm wearing: It's starting to warm up now, but I wore the shit out of my jean jacket this Spring. My Chuck Taylors that were new last Spring are falling apart this year. Got to look for something to fill that void. I've been wearing a lot of workout stuff (previous 2 posts). I got a pair of cheap jeans from H&M that are fantastic. Much better than the more expensive pairs I've purchased recently. Buying jeans seems like a crap shoot to me. And of course T-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts.

What I'm listening to: The Hard Lessons. There are a lot of things I don't miss about Michigan (roads, weather, driving distance), but I do miss the music. Detroit has a vibrant music scene and always has. The Hard Lessons are just my latest favorite band from Detroit. They play music that has a soul. Most music today, in my own personal opinion, is soulless, or has "fake soul". The Hard Lessons are the real deal. I also learned that the organist/vocalist went to my high school and college. A full decade and a half after I went, but still.

What I'm working on: Still finishing up a few things at my house but spending time looking for my next rehab project. I'm hoping to find something smaller that I can turn around quicker than previous projects. Some little piece of crap in a great neighborhood. That's what I need. Along with every other rehabber in this city!

What I'm eating: Lots of grilled chicken breasts and whole wheat pita with some Paul Newman Lite Honey Mustard salad dressing. Makes for a quick and healthy lunch.

What I'm watching: American Idol (Chris Daughtry seems to be the favorite), the Office, My Name is Earl, Survivor, Lost and a lot more children's programming than I thought I'd be watching with a 6 month old. Nate's favorites include Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go and Wonder Pets.

What I'm not watching: Another David Cronenberg film. Ever!

What I'm reading: Lots of magazines. Dwell, Metropolitan Home, Modernism, Paste, Giant, Inspired House, Domino, Readymade

What I'm hoping for:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Workout Guy II

I am enjoying the gym. It's rather difficult for me to believe, but it's true. I always thought that joining a gym was a waste of money. I've got 2 feet, a pair of shoes and the street. Why not just go running to get in shape? It's free for crying out loud. At the gym though they have these sophisticated machines that tell you how many calories you're burning and your heart rate among other things. It really motivates you. Running on a treadmill on a nice day seemed like a thing for idiots to do, but it's different than walking in the park.

I've also been hitting the weights more than I thought I would. I have to be careful because I was born with bulky genes. The last thing I want is a thick neck. But I've been able to build muscle in the last 2 weeks. I always thought my legs were one of my best features and couldn't improve much. I've actually toned them up quite a bit.

It's an interesting place too. It's a gym in the city on Hampton and has a more city-looking crowd. Varied races, level of tattoos, age and lifestyle. I swear that if I ever start wearing tank tops to the gym though they should take away my membership. Guys that wear wife beaters are just trying to impress with their muscles and tattoos and those are things that should be left for your home. There are a couple of guys that pose a lot in the gym. Do they know that everyone is laughing at them? I'm glad you work hard and feel confident but maybe you should join Gold's Gym if you want to get in a pose off with a bunch of wankers.

One of the funny things that I've noticed is the large number of bald men. Being a bald man myself I notice these things. Out of 9 guys in the gym the other morning 5 were bald. And that doesn't include the old guy with the Friar Tuck look. That was just the 5 guys that are clean shaven like myself. I guess I'm not the only one trying to compensate for the things out of my control. And, to be clear, by compensate I'm referring to my hairline.

I'm sure before long I'll plateau and then burn out, but in the meantime I'm taking advatage of the motivation. This feels good. Surprisingly good.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Workout Guy

I saw this thing on TV (20/20 maybe?) about game theory and losing weight. They had people on there who agreed to either lose a pre-determined amount of weight or have their picture shown on national television in a speedo/bikini. I'm not about to post a picture of me in a speedo, but I have decided to join a gym and thought that posting my results here may encourage me to work harder.

My reasons for trying to get in better shape vary. Being a dad and husband I want to stay healthy and live a long time for my wife and son. I am also an older new dad (I'll be 38 this year) and want to be able to throw a football around with my son when he's a teenager (whether he wants to throw a football around with me when he's a teenager is an entirely different animal). I generally feel pretty lousy too. I'm sore often. Feel really thick in the middle. My doctor said I should weigh about 170 and I'm closer to 185 on a good day and 188 on a bad one.

2006 would also be the year of my 20th high school reunion. I don't know if we'll actually have one. I haven't heard anything and my class was never really tight the way others were. But if I do get an announcement I want to look my best. I have often said that I don't want to be "fat and bald". Since I can't help being bald I had better take care of the one thing I have more control over.

Tommorow, April 4th, is day 1. Let's see if I can go 30 days and get my money's worth at this gym.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You mean I'm not just a plain ol' loser?
Just when you think you've grown out of labels they invent a new one. The Grup. This was actually a pretty interesting article to me. Having been a retail buyer/marketer (my corporate gig) I learned all about predicting behavior. You had to have the right mix of product at the right time for the right person. It was amazing how predictable people really were. It was my first introduction to trendspotting on a macro level. And as it turns out leaving the corporate job was part of a trend as well.

Here's a small sample of how it works. You hear a song on the radio and say to yourself, "That sounds different and unique and like someone I'd like to hear more of. That Norah Jones really appeals to me. I'm going to go to the store and see if they've heard of her." You get to the store and there is an endcap featuring her that month. The radio station (one of hundreds owned by the same company) is playing her cd all over the country at the same moment. To you it is a very personal connection with an artist. To a record store employee you are a drone coming in just like dozens of others that day asking if you've heard of this jazzy female singer named Norah Jones or something like that.

We all think we are special in our world that we have created and we make decisions on our own that shape who we are. Then we wake up one day and find that we are one of millions just like us. Enough so that they create a name that describes us. I guess it's kind of comforting knowing that so many of us are heading in the same direction and are not alone. What the hell is 40 going to look like? 50? Impossible to imagine! But we're going to get there as a group like good little drones wearing our uniform of Echo and the Bunnymen t-shirts and Chuck Taylor All Stars. Just don't expect us too early in the morning. We like to sleep in a little.

photographic updates

It's still very much a work in progress but here are a couple of shots of where we stand with the house/project.

We built some shelves into the living room to add character and seperate it from the dining room.

Here's a shot from the family room through the dining room and into the flex room which is off of the kitchen.

One thing we did was open this doorway up wider and add French doors. It gives us the choice of closing off the back of the house or opening it up. We like choices. That's probably why we have so many lights on dimmers.

A Revolution by the People

Urban areas of the country have been experiencing a boom over the last decade. My guess is it's cyclical. People like myself had parents that grew up in the city and moved to the suburbs for all the usual reasons that I don't intend to go into. Their offspring grew up in safe environments with good schools and not much to do. We couldn't walk anywhere worthwhile. It was too far to ride our bikes to anything enjoyable. Now that we are old enough and able to live where we want we've decided to move back to the cities.

Suburban areas are feeling the new vibe of urban living as well. Many older suburbs are reviving their Main Street and building urban style housing. Subdivisions are being built with sidewalks, streetlamps, center courtyards and thankfully garages in the rear off of alleys.

The great thing about St. Louis' rebirth in particular is that it has been instituted by individuals. People, couples, families moved back into the city for reasonably priced housing stock. They renovated houses and brought back streets and neighborhoods that had been written off for dead.

Big time developers followed the little guys. They came in and took on high profile projects. Turning old warehouses into lofts, and former offices into high end dining. These guys get the press. These guys get a pat on the back from the mayor and their day in the sun for being so forward thinking and "saving" our city.

I wish I could post a picture of who actually is saving this city. The picture would be a group shot of thousands of regular people. They'd be wearing their weekend work clothes and holding their power tools and smiling. Smiling because they are proud of the work they've done.

All things being cyclical (including this blog) I just hope that the flight to the suburbs will be a little less harsh the next time around. If we can put into practice some of the truths we've learned about urban living in the last few decades maybe people will have a more difficult time deciding where to live because they have so many great options.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I went to St. Patrick's school for 8 years as a child. The girls had to wear green polyester pants or skirts and a green vest with a white shirt. The boys were more fortunate in that we had a choice of wearing blue, brown or green slacks in solid colors and a solid color shirt. I went to a University whose colors were green and white also. I sort of burned out on the color scheme. It's taken me some time to get over my fear of "the wearin' o' the green". I'm over it now and my Irish Grandmother would be proud. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Barack Obama for President

I realize that people think he's too young and that he is just in his first term as a Senator, but then again people voted for George W. Bush proving that "people" can't be trusted. It's time for Obama Americans. It's time!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Collecting is the new Betamax

I came to the realization today (millions came to it eons ago I'm sure, but I'm a little slow) that collecting hasn't been fun since the internet took off. There used to be great fun in hunting. Maybe it filled a primal need. The hunt is dead. eBay was the killer.

The most obscure item can be Googled in seconds and is for sale by someone somewhere. It's not fun because everyone can be so easily educated on collectibles that you can't find that secret treasure. Oh you like to collect funiture from mid century designers. Well that little junk store has some but they know the value because they saw them on eBay. A few years ago you could pick up that chair for $25. Today you have to pay $500. You want to pick up some Blue Note jazz records at that dusty old record shop. Well the owner sold them all on eBay for a fortune to a collector in Hong Kong. Little old me is now competing with industry moguls in Tokyo for that cowboy Pez and I can't afford what they can pay. It's not fun I tell you.

Other than that the goddamn interweb rules. Where else can I download 15 live versions of Barrel of a Gun by Guster?

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I have a few quirks. I don't think I'm in need of medication, but there are a couple of things that seem fairly unique about me. One of those things is that I notice Michigan license plates. I moved from Michigan to STL in October of 2001, but I still spot Michigan plates on cars from a mile away. I saw 4 today. 1 this afternoon and 3 within 10 minutes this evening. Somebody tell me the connection. It's not like it's a State that Borders Missouri. In the summer I see many Michigan plates on I-44 going east and west. Usually older people with an RV going to Branson. But who are the others? What are you doing in my neighborhood? Students? At SLU or Wash U? Is there a big recruiting element that travels north and brings us Michiganders down here? I want to chat with each one and find out their story. Now that behavior would require medication.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

We're in!

We are now living in our new house. It isn't finished. I hope to have it finished soon and not drag it out too long, but we love it anyway. We still need kitchen counters, and until we have counters we can't install our sink and until we install our sink we can't install our dishwasher and until we install our dishwasher we have to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Not that great.

I also need to tile the master shower (about 300 sq feet of tile). So until that is completed we are using the guest bath which has a clawfoot tub/shower and a small sink. Again, not exactly ideal, but in a month or so all of these things will be completed and we'll forget the hardships we first endured.

Other than that those couple of things we are thrilled to be in. The plan put together and modified oh so many times over the last year came together nicely in the end. I struggled with the monochromatic color pallette, but love the sense of calm it gives. I had a hard time choosing to paint the doors black (we loved our stripped and refinished doors in the old place), but the black (kind of ebony really) gives weight to the doors in a lovely way making them seem heavier and thicker than they even are. The removal of walls, widening of doorways and addition of double french doors gives balance between the modern desire to have open floor plans and ability to comparmentalize and hide my stuff.

We are very happy with our new neighbors/buyers of our former home. We couldn't have handpicked people any better. It was such a concern for us but just proves that you shouldn't worry about things out of your control. It will work out.

As rooms are decorated and arranged I'll be sure to post photos.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

2005 Favorites

I like to make compilation cd's each year for my friends of my favorite songs of the previous year. Unfortunately the whole burning, creating artwork, buying envelopes, mailing the mix thing slows me down and I rarely get many mailed off. Especially this year since I'm reahabbing our new house, selling our old house (we close on 2/28/06!), takingcare of a baby and moving. It just didn't seem like it was going to happen.So this year I have done something different. I've uploaded all of the songs that I would have put on a cd so that you can download them to your computers if you like.

All you have to do is go to this link: In about 45 seconds it'll ask you where you want to download the file. You'll want to download it to wherever you keep your other MP3's (MyMusic folder perhaps?). It takes a little while to download depending on the speed of your connection. It takes far less time than going to your local music store though. I believe the file will be actively stored on that website for 30 days.

The drawback to doing it this way is that I can't control the order in which you hear the songs or give you the full experience with the liner notes and cover art so, I'm making a list of the order in which I would have burned the mix.

2005 Favorites: Year of the Baby
1. Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
2. Calexico/Iron & Wine - A History of Lovers
3. Beck - Black Tambourine
4. the White Stripes - Denial Twist
5. Tilly & the Wall - Bessa
6. the Sights - Scratch My Name in Sin
7. the Mountain Goats - Pale Green Things
8. Love as Laughter - Every Midnight Song
9. Fruit Bats - Born in the 70's
10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl
11. Bright Eyes - Old Soul Song
12. Low - When I Go Deaf
13. Andrew Bird - Skin Is, My
14. Brendan Benson - Cold Hands (Warm Heart)
15. Weezer - Perfect Situation
16. Calexico/Iron & Wine - Red Dust
17. Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
18. Danny Barnes - Rat's Ass

Monday, January 16, 2006

As a Wannabe

I can't quite call myself a Modernist. It's just too expensive to be a full fledged Modernist today. However, I am a fan of the Modernist aesthetic and strive to achieve it in whatever I do. The reason I may seem apologetic for my leanings is because I live in a city that has not embraced the future in a long time. St. Louis has a glorious past and rests on its laurels far too often. It tries to replicate its golden age rather than update its look for today. St. Louis boomed at the turn of the 20th century. The clay deposits found in St. Louis allowed it to build itself out of brick. Given these 2 elements St. Louis is a brick city with a Victorian look.

To call yourself a Modernist in St. Louis is to move beyond this red brick past. It is a term misunderstood by most everyone in this Midwestern city. People assume that you are one of those people in favor of tearing down the
Century building to put in a parking garage. That you would rip the "character" out of a historic home and replace it with suburban blandness.

On the contrary, I want to respect the past by not trying to duplicate it. I don't want to see a single brick building torn down. It's just that if there is an empty lot why should you build something that tries to replicate a days-gone-by look? Build something from this century to tell a tale to future generations of who we were and what we were capable of doing. Putting a modern home, and I don't mean post-modern nothingness of vinyl siding and fake columns, but a real modern home next to a historic home shows one how valuable the historic home is and that we should preserve it.

Vibrant cities that have either stayed current (London) or revived themselves (Toronto) know how important it is to stay contemporary. They build modern adjacent to historic and know that this is part of the urban landscape that is interesting to people.

Maybe one day I will be able to proudly call myself a Modernist in a Victorian city and not be hurled insults?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I've learned a new term that describes everything that I tried to convey in my post about the new Busch Stadium and other new structures in St. Louis and around the country. The term is "retrogressive". I read it in an article in Modernism magazine about the demolition of the Morton May House in Ladue. The May house was a beautiful modern home in the International style built in 1942 and designed by architect Samuel Marx. Unfortunately consequent owners didn't maintain it properly and it was on 9 beautiful acres in the most prestigeous metro St. Louis area. Ripe for the picking by redevelopers and politicians. The May house was torn down last summer. The lots will be parcelled off and sold. Something bland will be put in it's place and the world will go on more boring than it was.
The former Morton May house at 2222 S Warson Rd.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Top Albums of 2005

I need to say that many of my favorite cds that came out in 2005 I have yet to discover. Some of the joy in being a music fan is finding out about the things you missed and going back to pick up some back catalog. This list is simply a list of things that I did discover and liked.

The Sights - The Sights
This Detroit group has a funky rock sound driven by a Hammond organ. Not very common today. Individually I like many of the songs, but the album itself may just be too intense to enjoy as a comprehensive unit. Favorite tracks include Scratch My Name in Sin and I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About.

Low - The Great Destroyer
One of the most brilliant albums I've heard in a very long time. It was a huge departure for them and I hope they don't go back. In the past they've had such a muted sound that the brilliance seems to have been tuned down as well. This album includes beautiful harmonic crescendos and lyrically scary depths (the lead singer has suffered with depression his whole life). I'm curious to see what they do as a follow up. Favorite tracks include When I Go Deaf and anything on the cd really.

the White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
While I don't think that this is the best the White Stripes have to offer I have enjoyed it quite a bit. I am honestly shocked that Jack and Meg are as widely accepted as they are. I guess that's because I love stripped down music but rarely find that others do too. I am curious to see what kind of music Jack makes 10, 20 and 30 years from now and how many marriages he has over the years. Favorite tracks include Denial Twist and Instinct Blues.

Calexico/Iron and Wine - In the Reins
Match made in heaven! Sam Beam is a lovely songwriter, but is probably the quietest "pop" musician ever. Calexico punches up his music a little and adds some interesting instrumentation. The resulting tracks are perfection. Favorite Tracks are A History of Lovers, Red Dust, oh and Sixteen, Maybe Less and...

Spoon - Gimme Fiction
Spoon has a really great sound on this recording. It's a mature indie rock sound. It appeals to me as a guy in my 30's without trying to appeal to me. Favorite tracks include My Mathematical Mind and I Turn My Camera On

Love as Laughter - Laughter's Fifth
I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with Love as Laughter before this album. I saw it on a listening post in Vintage Vinyl and was certain I would hate it based on the cover art. The first track, In Amber, reminded me of the best the Jayhawks had to offer. Favorite tracks include Every Midnight Song and Makeshift Heart.

Beck - Guero
Can this guy be a more unlikely musical genius? Seriously? He's probably making music closer to Soul than anyone else. I love the fact that it has a completely contemporary and classic sound all at once. You would be very hard pressed to find anyone who would have predicted his career in the music industry would have been this long and fruitful. Favorite tracks include Black Tambourine and Earthquake Weather

Other favorite recordings released in 2005 include:
Fruit Bats, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tilly and the Wall (thanks Lisa), the Mountain Goats, Bright Eyes, Andrew Bird, Brendan Benson, Lucero and Weezer

In 2006 I'm looking forward to listening to Sun Kil Moon (out), Broken Social Scene (out), Athlete (out), Smoosh (recording), Brendan Benson/Jack White (yet to be released), Kings of Leon (hopefully).

The most exciting thing is that my favorite recording of 2006 may be by someone I've never heard of or something that hasn't yet been recorded. I can't wait.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

3 months

Nate is 3 months old. He is now going to daycare 4 days a week. I miss him everyday and nearly cry everytime I drop him off. The good news is that he's starting to become the baby that we always hoped he would be. He's had some difficult times in his short life. He was diagnosed with acid reflux. The acid burned his esophogus and eating became a chore for him and stressful for us. He'd spit up and cry while trying to eat. It affected his ability to sleep which caused him to be overtired and crabby. He had many moments of being the cutest baby in the world, but even those few scattered moments were stressful for us as parents waiting for them to turn bad.

We've got him on some liquid medicine that took awhile to help, but seems to have done the trick. His formula intake has increased to where it should be. He hasn't spit up in weeks. He's taking long naps during the day and sleeping longer stretches at night.

Part of this turn around is due to the medication, but we've spoken to other parents who are just now telling us that the first 12 weeks are the most difficult. NOW you are telling me this??? You don't think that this would have been useful information before we decided that we were failures as parents? They say they didn't want to worry us. Knowing that this was normal would have been a big help and eliminated a lot of worry. Thanks for the heads up folks and thank you baby Nate for being the sweetest baby in the world even when you weren't.