Thursday


11
Aug 22

Settle in, there’s a lot of ground to cover here

My goal with my bike commute is to make the entire trip without having to put my foot on the ground. I had to unclip four times this morning, but only twice this evening. Had I been just a tad more daring I could have gotten that down to one, but that doesn’t really seem the point. Otherwise, the highlight was this little strip of road here.

They paved this in August/September of 2018 — I have photos — and again this week. The scrapped up the 2018 work on Monday, and it was a nice new ribbon today. How long does asphalt last around here?

Or, put another way, this little stretch of road fronts a Civil War era house. At this rate, it must have seen … carry the two … 36 coats of asphalt over the years.

I’m sure they had asphalt around here then. And I’m sure they treated it about the same way in those old winters as they do now: poorly.

I will not, I will not fall down the rabbit hole on this and read the entire history of asphalt, but just know I skimmed it to see how outlandish that joke was. Asphalt has been around since the Babylonians, and it was first used in the U.S. for roads in the 1870s, so not impossible, but not hardly likely for the tucked away place this was in the 19th century.

An interstate finally passed through here in 2015 or so.

But enough about construction, let’s see some destruction! I have for you, if you peer closely, an action shot of the grout removal going on at the Poplars Building. And by grout removal I mean the Poplars Building.

That’s some 60 years of stone and dust and carpet and dust and dreams falling out of that building just now. You’ll note they’ve got that screen held in place by the second crane. It comes and it goes, that screen. Seems to be protecting the parking deck. Protect the parking deck at all costs!

Sometimes they spray water on the rubble as it falls down. Some sort of safety measure, no doubt. I wonder what determines when they do and when they don’t spray.

I figure by Monday they’ll get to that protruding shaft — possibly the elevator system, I don’t know, I’ve never been in that building and it doesn’t seem safe to go exploring at this late date. If that’s what it is, I bet it comes down quickly.

The weather has been in the delightfully enjoyable 80s the last few days, which means the evenings have been a nice time to sit outside. We even had dinner outside this evening, because why not?

We were rewarded with a nice view.

We ordered Chinese. There were no fortunes in the fortune cookies.

They were just … cookies.

Let’s get back to the music! Last week I decided to start working my way through all of my old CDs when I’m in the car. Good way to mix it up. I did this a few years ago and enjoyed it, but figured, this time, that I could write about some of it. These aren’t reviews, except when they are. Mostly they’re just memories and good times.

I’m not doing this alphabetically, and not autobiographically — so I can’t tell you how I got from Deep Purple to Howling Wolf in 25 moves. And if I want to find the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac I have to remember that it’s in the I Never Bought It Pile. Because Fleetwood Mac was old when I was young, and people always seemed to have it on the radio, somehow. I’m doing this chronologically. Yes, I know the order in which I bought all of these things — which, apparently, impresses people. Now let’s see how many of them I’m willing to tell.

The collection crosses genres and periods in a haphazard way and there’s no large theme. It is, as I said the other day, whimsy.

Recently I finished Memory Dean’s second album, which was self-titled, but people called it the “In My Father’s House” record because of the cover art. If that sentence is a mystery, don’t worry. They’re a regional band from Georgia. A good live act. A good college band back in the day. Probably quite popular in bars. I only saw them at festivals.

A college buddy of mine basically grew up not far from them, and had followed them for some time. He gave me this record, which is a curious mix of studio and live tracks. And, if you’ll notice on the Discogs site, they refer to it as the track side and the live side. Because this was a cassette first.

In the live portion they even talk about how they’ll have tapes on sell in the back after the show! This was released in 1993 and let’s say it was produced that same year.

I found this great piece from Rick Koster, writing for the Dallas Observer, that references Memory Dean:

Rather, Memory Dean’s music is an intriguing collision of spring-break choruses, beer-fueled rhythm, and a lightly twisted lyrical sense–all of which bring to mind Flannery O’Connor and Brian Wilson harmonizing on a cypress-cloaked veranda over their morning grits.

Within that Deep South context, it’s hard to pigeonhole Memory Dean’s sound. More than just snappy choruses–there are millions of those floating around, seeking to light in listeners’ brains–the band’s songs are, on first listen, anchored in the instinctively unique vocal harmonies of co-founding guitarist-singer-songwriters Jay Memory and Bubba Dean. With naturally occurring parts that recall the low harmonies and counter-melodies of the Indigo Girls or, perhaps, Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon after a night of tequila, the fluent vocal blend lures you in just long enough for the words to hit you over the head.

[…]

Originally rivals in street-corner minstrelsy, they hooked up and began writing the sort of songs borne of two things: 1) the innate tradition of a town that gave birth to REM, the B-52s, and several other seminal ’80s “modern rock” bands, and 2) the sure knowledge that through music came liquor and sorority girls.

Koster, who wrote that in 1998 and is still working, these days at The Day, in Connecticut, overdid it — by a lot — with the Flannery O’Connor reference. And I think you sense that in the second album, even more so than Koster found it in the third album. And I think people try to sound like they overthink Flannery O’Connor because they think it makes them sound smart.

It doesn’t.

Otherwise, that piece feels spot on. Re-listening to their eponymous record, trying to figure out what it means all these decades later, I had two thoughts. First, there’s an obvious mix of bawdy lyrics that feel too clever to the authors, mixed with some surprisingly deeper material. And when Koster quotes them, they’re pointing out “Yeah, we started writing in college. We’re 30 now.”

At any rate, these days Jay Memory and Bubba Dean are a lot older than 30, and they’re still doing it a bit. There don’t seem to be an album cuts from this record online (you can’t even buy this on Amazon!) but there are a few live performances from recent years with some of these tracks.

Which brings to mind the second thing I thought. Memory Dean is the musical college companion of the entitled annoying guy with the annoying boat on Lake Lanier. Not the one that loved college, but the one that still loves it too much. He’s a little too loud. A little too tipsy. A little too much. He rents that boat. And I’d bet this crowd, with its dedicated fanbase, had examples of that guy, and his “WOOOOOOOOO” wife.

This is misnamed on YouTube. The actual song title is “Beowulf, Captain Hook & The Albatross.” See? College kids wrote that.

And while the lyrics are a little muddled in that recording, the chorus pops pretty well, and this is important. The band is at their best when they’re doing harmony. My friend said that around Georgia people called them the Indigo Boys, which naturally intrigued me.

This is “Peach State of Mind” which is a song about Georgia. This is recorded in Athens, Georgia. There will be barking from the crowd.

For some reason they sped up the tempo of the song there, compared to the record. It probably fits the bar scene better, or maybe they’re just sick of it, but that one change takes away the lament and soul of the song, which is important when you’re talking about being homesick.

I know of which I’m talking here.

This is the funniest song on the record, the crowd participation song, and one of my least favorite. I’ve sometimes wondered, when this came to mind, if they would freshen up the lyrics if they had the chance. Now I know. Yes they do. And they always pick the best low hanging fruit. They say “Rap Music Sucks,” but you don’t get here without an appreciation of the genre. And they reference “Rapper’s Delight” in an important way. It doesn’t get twisted. They don’t point out, as they do when they send up Sir Mix-A-Lot, that this is actually a good song. They just do a variation on “Rapper’s Delight.” As if, even in 1993 they were already saying that the pop version of rap is not all that it could be.

Which, for some white guys from Georgia in 1993, probably seemed prescient.

In our next installment of musical nonsense, we’re going to hear from post-peak Def Leppard. It’ll be a treat.


4
Aug 22

A post about tearing things down, and building things up

I’d like to tell you about a building I’ve never been in. It is a building you’ve never heard of, most probably. You won’t care at all, until you do, but that’s my job here.

This building was erected in the 1960s as an off-campus dormitory. It had an indoor pool. It wasn’t considered very attractive, even in the 1960s. (I KNOW!) Derisively, it has been called a project of Bland & Boring Architecture Inc., which is a firm that probably doesn’t exist by that name. And if someone is using that, they should change it, posthaste.

Anyway, this place failed as a residence hall, all 150,000 sq. ft. of it. And then it failed as a sorority house. All of this is odd because the only thing more under pressure in a college town than parking spaces are living arrangements. You can be sure that truism goes back generations. And yet, here’s the Poplars Building. Failing as a place to live, it became a research and conference center, and this town’s first premium hotel. We’re in the 1970s now, and the promotional material promises a bufeteria. And I know what you’re thinking.

Bufeteria? Did Elvis stay there?

Yes he did, in 1974.

Fans stood in the alley behind the hotel, after one of his two shows here, but they were once again disappointed by the Poplars, and by the rock star. He skipped out after one night, when he was apparently scheduled for two. We can’t say, here, that this is why the hotel concept fizzled, but there’s certainly a correlation.

When the hotel was on it’s last legs the university took on Poplars and turned it briefly into an academic unit, and then used it as administrative offices. The pool was filled in and became Human Resources. Some 400 people could work in Poplars.

Now, it is coming down. This is from a story from last October.

“We might be out by the end of the month or the end of November,” says Tom Morrison, vice president of capital planning and facilities. “We do intend to demolish it, probably starting before the end of the calendar year. We haven’t bid that yet but that’s coming up soon.

“Rest assured we’re not going to implode it.”

That piece goes on to discuss the aging building, how, because it was a hotel, offices became mini-suites with private restrooms. That seems like a really great perk, but it also discusses how that became a detriment, and some other details. But, now, 10 months removed from that copy I can tell you two things. They are out of the building, and Morrison was correct: Poplars isn’t being imploded.

It is, starting today, being scraped to death.

This was at 9 a.m. this morning.

And at 10 a.m., they were making a bit of progress.

This is just a block away, so I can take these pictures, like this one, at the end of the day, with ease.

Who knows how long it will take. And no one knows, yet, what will go in it’s place. The current plan seems to be a green space, which would be nice, but that might also be a placeholder until a specific need presents itself. The biggest need is the parking deck next door. That’s been closed since early summer for much-needed maintenance work, and that parking deck is much needed, because parking is always in short supply in a college town.

Residential buildings are too, here, but that’s an entirely different and less interesting town-and-gown conversation full of predictable quotes.

Rather than fill your time with that sort of thing, I’ll try to provide some daily updates on the progress of the de-Poplarization going on nearby.

And this evening, we hit the road. Maybe you know where we’re going. Probably you don’t. It really comes down to how closely you’ve been paying attention to all of the platforms. Allllll of the platforms and, probably, whether, you’ve used Google with that in mind to try to determine the answer to this mystery which you didn’t know I was springing on you until just this moment.

I really should work on building the suspense a bit more, I know. There’s only so much time in the day, though, and all of these platforms need very subtle, sly, programmatically specific content.

So here’s your hint … we passed these along the way.

If you’re good you at least have a direction now.

If you don’t have this particularly geographical frame of reference (and I didn’t until earlier this year, so no fault will be found) just keep up with a few of these other places over the next few days. Content there will help flesh out the particulars. There’s always more on Twitter and big clues will also be found on Instagram, too. Of course, this will also be resolved tomorrow, so you could just wait here and refresh this page …

I really should work on building the suspense more.


28
Jul 22

2×𝑚×𝑣2 + 𝑚×𝑔×ℎ = What, exactly?

I had four meetings today. The first was scheduled for me in advance. The second was scheduled for me while I was in the first meeting. Everyone knew about it, it seems, except for me. (Everyone knows more about me than me.) The third and fourth were spontaneous meetings of opportunity.

I was in no condition for any of these meetings, I think. So if my charm or humor or good answers or input were off by six percent, I apologize. I apologize and I blame the big tour I gave yesterday, an event from which I am still recovering.

Not sure how I became the tour guy, but I’m the tour guy.

I saw this bunny this morning. He is perfectly evolved to blend in with the cement. That’s an amazing summer coat, if you ask me.

The bunnies have the most curious sense of personal space. You’re fine in their eyes until you get about 18 inches away, and only then do they do the rabbit thing. Makes you wonder about how that comes to be learned. I bet each one has an experience, learning when to hop away. It’s a valuable lesson. One learned, I hope, in a not-too-painful way.2×𝑚×𝑣2

I looked through some old books today. There’s often a table of books someone is willing to donate. You can pick your way through them and, if for nothing else, it is a nice momentary diversion to read the spines. I picked up one for my lovely bride, and grabbed one or two for me, as well. Not this one. There are only so many writing handbooks I can process.

But this one fits in your pocket!

Does it? Which pocket?

Or maybe your hand!

Well, sure. Most books these days do come with the ability to be manually manipulated.

And we sprung for the spiral binding!

That’s not the selling point you think it is.

Sure it is! You can distinguish it in your bookcase!

I can’t read the non-existent spine, to see if it is the book I need to pull.

But it has this wire spiral! Easy to find!

What if someone already has that in a book.

Who would have another book like that?

I have nine of them in my office bookcase alone.

Oh? Wow. Well, this one is a writing style guide!

Seven of the nine I have in my bookcase have to do with writing or style.

And you still write like this?

Look, fictional book seller —

Fictional book giver-awayer.

Fine, whatever. You’re not really making a strong case here.

I was able to make a 2010 joke this evening, which meant I needed a 2010 photo.

Turns out the specific photo was from 2011, but it fit the point perfectly. My confusion of the date of the particular photo gave me an excuse to spend a few minutes clicking through old photos of happy times, so that was a nice part of the evening.

Also tonight, we discovered the joys of grilled wings, with nothing more than a simple salt and pepper seasoning. We bought a lot of wings, recently, and we’ll probably be returning to this style. I mention it because they were good, and you should know, and we can all want some more wings together.


21
Jul 22

Pogačar and Vingegaard on Spandelles

We’re 18 stages into the Tour de France now. It’ll wrap up in Paris on Sunday, but it was decided today.

Let me set a tiny bit of the stage. Tadej Pogačar, the two-time defending Tour champion, rides for UAE. He won his first Tour championship on the final time trial in a shocking fashion over his countrymen and rival, Primoz Roglic, who rides for Jumbo-Visma.

Primoz left this year’s Tour a few days ago after he suffered, and struggled through, a shoulder dislocation. Which is to say that, on Stage 5, Roglic crashed, put his own shoulder back into place and continued riding for nine more days. One of those days where he suffered and struggled was critical. Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team laid out a plan to break Pogačar on the Col du Granon in Stage 11. It was powerful, beautiful and the first time in his three Tours de France (or anywhere else, of which I am aware) that Pogačar has been overwhelmed.

On that 11th stage Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard stormed his way up the Granon climb and claimed the yellow leader’s jersey. For the last week, then, Vingegaard has had a two-minute lead on Pogačar. (Pogačar is now wearing the best young rider’s white jersey. Despite his immense success, he’s only 23 years old.)

Which brings us to today. The Alps are behind them. They’re leaving the Pyrenees. It was Pogačar’s last real chance to reclaim the yellow jersey, and, thus, Vingegaard’s last challenge. Both of their teams have been reduced because of Covid and the attrition brought on by a difficult Tour. And with about 40 kilometers to go, Pogačar began his attacks.

Vingegaard was there for every desperate turn of the pedals. By the penultimate climb, the two of them were alone. On the descent Vingegaard almost crashed in a turn, but he somehow saved a stoppie. Almost immediately after Pogačar overcooked a turn and found himself in a shallow ditch.

He was back on his bike before he came to a halt in the crash, but Vingegaard and his yellow jersey were down the road. Now Pogačar had to storm back. He had to take even more risks on this risky descent. His Tour was slipping away from him.

And then Vingegaard sat up and waited on his rival, allowing Pogačar caught up to the race leader. Here’s the capture.

They played it safe the rest of the way down, their race would wait until the final climb, the legendary hors catégorie Hautacam. There Vingegaard, using the wings provided by the yellow jersey, dropped Pogačar once more, extended his lead to an inevitability.

The Tour has shown us great racing for three weeks, but the image above is the one to remember. It’s a wonderful moment in a Tour that longtime viewers and experts are coming to agree just might be the best ever.


14
Jul 22

Tour update: Hors catégorie means beyond cat-egorization

Poseidon is now very interested in this year’s Tour de France.

It seems Poseidon needs Tadej Pogačar, seen here in the white jersey, to be chasing the overall lead. Pogačar is the two-time defending champion, but yesterday he lost control of this year’s tour in some incredible bike racing. It’s difficult to encapsulate exactly what transpired across the French countryside in a four-minute clip, but here are a few highlights from the now legendary Col du Granon, a hors catégorie, seven-mile climb that goes up 3,474 feet, topping out at almost 8,000 feet above sea level.

The can-do-no-wrong wunderkind was finally hurt yesterday. All those attacks by the Jumbo-Visma super team paid off. It wasn’t quite tectonic, but close enough in road cycling. It took two-and-a-half years for the best riders in the world to exploit a weakness in Pogačar, meaning this was something really special.

That further means that, today, the final day in the Alps, the defending champion had to start chasing. In the photo above Pogačar was attacking his main foe, and current yellow-jersey wearer, Jonas Vingegaard, on Alpe d’Huez.

He could not pull any time back on the Danish Macaulay Culkin lookalike. It is a two-minute and 26-second race at the moment. This has our cat’s attention.

But this is not a new thing for Poseidon. Here he is last year, taking in the first stage of the 2021 Tour.

Maybe he hears the word peloton and thinks he’s going to get pets. Maybe the word bidon is too similar to Poseidon. Perhaps, because of his aggressive nature, he misunderstands the use of the word attack. Or it could be that the best joke is the one from the headline. Maybe he’s hors catégorie.