Category Archives: miscellany

John Stewart Destroys CNBC

Home is Where Your Stuff Is

They say it’s where your heart is, but they’re wrong, as they so often are.  

I learned this in college.  In college, you move 4 times a year, or at least I did.  You move in at the beginning of the semester, you move home for the month long winter break, you move back at the beginning of the 2nd semester, and then you move again at the end of the year.  When I was in college, I’d pack my entire music & computer rig wherever I was going.  This alone taught me this truth: home is where your stuff is.

Our stuff gets a bad rap.  The problem is that we Americans typically have too much stuff, and that tends to overshadow all the good stuff that we do have and use.    Your stuff is not just shallow material possessions.  You use your stuff to slice bread and cook meals.  Your sit on your stuff.  You have large pieces of stuff where you can organize smaller stuff.  Some people need their stuff to earn a living.  Your stuff is the very fabric of your everyday life.  

I could not help but ponder this as I helped Mike and Gretchen with the middle to ending stages of their move yesterday.  I say middle to ending, because it’s often tough to gauge exactly where you are in a move.  Just when you think you have all your stuff accounted for and put on the truck, you realize that there’s more stuff hiding behind it.  My contribution to the Lee family move was not going to be made in the fixer-upper department.  I’m more of a breaker-downer when it comes to tools, so I volunteered to be a grunt on truck day.  I still managed to put an edge-of-a-filing-cabinet-drawer sized ding in a freshly painted wall, because that’s how I roll.    

Now, I know Mike and Gretchen pretty well.  We have over a decade of history together, and we consider them good, close friends… good enough friends for me to schlep through L.A. traffic on a rainy Wednesday with work gloves, anyways.  And I tell ya, I put my work-gloved hands all over their stuff yesterday.  For example, I carried a dresser drawer full of Mike’s shirts up a flight of stairs.  I’ve seen him wear these shirts, but never given them much thought, and yet, because of a move, here I am staring at what is essentially one of the most private places in his life.   Not private in a titillating or scandalous way, just private.  There are but a few situations where a man need examine another man’s shirt drawer.   But yesterday several of us, friends and family, were manhandling the fabric of Mike and Gretchen’s everyday existence, meaning well, and sometimes dinging the freshly painted walls.  

Moving is messy, dirty business.  Hiding behind and underneath the appliances and dresser drawers is dirt and dust that we never see until we pack everything into a box and pull our stuff away from the walls.  Cherrios and toys and grime and unknown funk are wily things, sneaking off to the corners of your world, trying to evade your disinfectant wielding hands.  I remembered so clearly yesterday, from when we moved two years ago, thinking, “How can we live with all this filth in here just inches away from our sight and thoughts?”  Mike and Gretchen maintain a perfectly clean and sanitary household, so this is not any sort of reflection on them.  Life is just… messy.  Life with young children is especially messy.  

I hadn’t seen the new house yet.  For all the excellent decisions that Mike and Gretchen have made over the years, I must again level my protest at their choice to add twelve whole miles to the distance we must travel to visit them.  Twelve miles on an L.A. freeway is no small matter.  Anyways… I hadn’t seen the new house.  

It’s a great place.  You’ve seen pictures, but it’s really quite a special house once you’re actually there.  My first thought was, “They’re gonna spend a long time here.”  This is a family raising house, with character and possibility.  It’s in a great neighborhood, close to work and play, safe and quiet, with lots of street parking, unlike Burbank.  

There’s something so appealing about an empty house, all fresh paint, open space, and the smell of possibility.  In an instant, you leave behind the dust and junk from your old existence, and you get a new chance to organize your life, hopefully with a little bit more square footage.  Of course, all your worldly stuff is in a truck parked out front, and it wants in.  

But that’s ok.  Home is where your stuff is, after all.

Three Cheers for Sully

Forgive me for jumping on this bandwagon, but I want to post my praise for Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III.  

This dude landed a crippled jetliner in a near freezing river in the middle of the most populous city in America, and everyone walked away.  Everyone.  

I get all charged up watching people who are good at their job.  I know nothing about the man.  He may be a terrible father, husband, co-worker, or human being.  What I do know is that he’s damn good at his job, and that meant that 155 people get to go home with a hell of a story to tell, and a new lease on life.

America needed a hero yesterday.  We really did.  I needed a hero.  It’s all crap and doom and gloom and who will save us and pooh pooh this and blame that.   Half the country is betting the farm that Obama can save them and the other half is terrified that he’s going to throw the throttle full speed ahead into that iceberg.  

Obama’s not the solution, kids.  Sully is.  Sully and every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Janie, and Nancy who are just out there doing their thing, and doing it well.  Sully makes me want to say, without a hint of irony, that I am ecstatic about being an American today.  Sully makes me want to be better at my job.  


(go on… say it… don’t be shy.  say it out loud.  dude landed in a river.)

HOOORAY!!!  Repeat 2x.  

Thanks, Sully.

Home Sweet Home

noun – a contract, deed, bond, or other written agreement deposited with a third person, by whom it is to be delivered to the grantee or promisee on the fulfillment of some condition.

Sara and I just bought a house. Well, maybe I’m being premature – we’re trying to buy a house. We found a nice little joint in Lake Balboa, put in an offer, and it was accepted. That was more than 30 days ago…

The Wild West heyday of California Real Estate in the early 2000′s is over, my friends. At it’s height, lenders were giving no-money-down loans on million-dollar properties to barely functioning crack-addicts.  Nowadays, you’d better have a credit score with 4 digits and one hell of a down payment. Escrow is a nightmare. I know a few of you Roadie’s are homeowners, so I’m sure you’re familiar with the process. Escrow is a daily nightmare of intrusion, delay, and disappointment. Sara and I are First Time Home Buyers, which means several things: a) We’re ignorant, and we make decisions based primarily on emotional response, and b) we’re ripe to be taken advantage of. Fortunately, we have a halfway decent agent, who’s got our best interests protected. For those of you who are about to buy your first house, here are some things I’ve learned:

The amount of paperwork to submit is astounding. I’m no tree-huggin’ hippie, but damn – even I was starting to feel a bit guilty about the amount of rainforest we decimated just completing the pre-approval process. Is there a digital alternative? Nope. 

As I mentioned, Escrow is a nightmare. No financial transaction is immune to military-esque scrutiny. Cash two paychecks at once? Prove it. Your folks give you a few thousand bucks for a honeymoon? Better have mom fill out seven pages in triplicate explaining the nature of the gift. Don’t even think about buying a $200 piece of gear for your studio. You’ll eat Taco Bell for every meal, and like it. 

Fees. Fees. Fees. Title Fees. Appraisal Fees. Loan Origination Fees. Loan Discount Fees (Yes, that’s VERY real. In order to lock-in a particular interest rate, you’ll pay for it) Credit Report Fees. Tax Service Fees. Lender Fees. Flood Certificate Fees. Good…..Sweet….Jesus……..  Honestly, there are more fees, but you get the point. 

Delays.  Want to get into that house quick, so you’re not paying rent and a mortgage at the same time? Tough shit. Expect EVERYTHING to be delayed. 

The upside?  Home is everything, and home is worth fighting for…


Home Sweet Home - before the renovations!

Home Sweet Home - before the renovations!

Instrument / Economy Trivia

From the newspaper’s Money Section: “Founded in 1623 by an Amernian in the Nar East, I’m the oldest continually family-owned business in America.  I moved to Massachusetts in the 1900s, and I make and market musical instruments.  My secret manufacturing process involves tin, copper and silver.  Jazz kept me going in the Depression, when I worked in “hi-hat”, “low-sock” and “hi-sock” versions of my flagship product.  Later came “Bop-Rides”, “Pings”, and “Sizzles”.  Satisfied customers have included Gene Krupa, Max Roach, Ringo Starr and Keith Moon.  I”m still the top name in my field and remin a privately held company.  Who am I?”

Phreaky Phriday: Happy 4th Of July!

We all know it’s fun to do bad things.  Just don’t blow your mannequin’s head off this Independence Day. Keep your mannequin’s safe! Think about the mannequins! THE MANNEQUIN’S!!!!

Video courtesy of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, who’s motto is obviously, “Keeping Mannequin’s Safe From Fireworks Since 1985″.

PS: “Baby Dolls with Sparklers” is a fantastic band name.  

PSS: Mannequins…


sing, sing a song

I’ve had this notion for awhile now and this summer’s road trips and music weeks have me deciding to finally put feet on it. The idea: an ongoing conversation made up solely of song lyrics. Road trips and the silly car games one plays in order to pass the time (specifically, through California’s central valley! Ergh.) have me inspired to finally post my lil’ idea. (Not that me and mine actually play many car trip games yet, but it’s the thought that counts.) Music weeks are a little somethin’ I’m doing with my boys this summer to grow their musicality…we focus on a different genre each week (meaning, I burn a cd of songs and they listen to it for a week) and I’m sure that the fact that this is folk week is part of what has me dwelling ‘pon lyrics right now. So I’ll start us off and please, please someone play with me! Feel free to link your lyric source or not… but remember, whatever you say has to be a lyric!

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple, Near the relief office – I see my people. And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’

You Knew Me When I Was Young

Why is this so important?  What is so fundamentally important about reconnecting with people who knew you when you were young, (younger)?  

This past weekend was a gift.  

Old wounds seemed insignificant.  Old friendships seemed vibrant.  The rhythms and pace of our collective experience re-clicked into place like dismantled yet interlocking parts cut to precise tolerances.  I have often said that the friendships that mean the most to me are the ones that can simply be resumed after years and months of separation, without any passive/aggressive subtext.  I had that experience over and over this past weekend.  

Most of my friends have sharpened their musical chops in ten years.  I have never heard a University Choir with the vocal horsepower present in that room.  Ever.  Not in Bonner’s heyday, not when we were there.  Rod Cathey’s comment was, “You guys came ready to peel the paint off of these walls.”  

When Steven Reineke came into the Friday rehearsal and hit the first downbeat of the first tune, there was a moment of unmistakable, unfakable delight that crossed his face.  Surely, hearing that he was getting a pick-up choir of alums wasn’t the best news of his year.  He didn’t know we were coming to play.  He didn’t know he was getting the all-star team.    

We actually ran into him, hours after the concert, late on Saturday night (Sunday morning) in the hotel lobby.  He said we were one of the most delightful choral experiences of his career.  I don’t think he was blowing sunshine.  He gave some very specific thoughts about the ethic that we displayed.  People blowing sunshine lack specificity.  

But still, I keep coming back to this:  Why is it so important to know, and be known by those who knew you when you were young?  Does is somehow validate your adult life?  Is there something in our minds that wants to reaffirm that friendships forged as young men and women are still valid 10 years (or more) up the road?  This is not me in ironic, detached mode, in case the intertubes aren’t helping me translate my tone.  I was genuinely struck by the sincerity of the experience.  

Nearly everyone I spoke with said the same thing…  I wasn’t sure how this was going to be, but the second I got here, I just started having so much fun.  Perhaps it was because we got to actually do the thing we used to do together, rather than just sitting around and talking about the thing we used to do together.  Perhaps that’s the secret to a good reunion.  

I’d sing with these people anytime, even you babies that call yourselves college students.  I will refrain from attempting to give too much advice to you all, but I will say this:  Forget the drama.  Forget the sniping.  Forget the politics.  Ten years from now, you won’t care, Lord willing.  Embrace your friends.  Love on them.  Try not to wound them, for it does take time for those wounds to heal, and you’ll profoundly regret inflicting them when you see your friends again.  

Finally, young bucks, I will say one more thing.  You aren’t as good as you think you are, and this is a good thing.  I can tell you with complete and utter clarity that there are few things in life more satisfying than knowing that you have been allowed to become more competent at your craft as the years pass, rather then settling into a “Glory Days” mentality.  Keep getting better.  There are rewards coming that you cannot yet understand.  

This was a gift.  Thanks, Rod.  Thanks APU.

new nickname

You call him Stick. I call him Brian. But one of his new clients wrote today and called him a “telented mofo.” Yes, telented.

My husband, my beloved, my telented mofo.

(To all you single gals, my telented mofo is from the midwest. Apparently, the midwest has all the best mofos. So yeah, you might want to get your Michigan on.)

So ya know how…

…you go to this blog for the first time in a bit and you end up commenting on a few posts and then you suddenly realize your name is appearing first on the whole list of “latest comments” and you’re dying for someone else to quick-get-on-and-comment so you don’t look like such a no-life dork and you swear you’ll shut up and just lurk but in six days you find yourself doing the same thing? Yeah, me too.

What’s your major?

In academic terms, I am majoring in dishes, minoring in laundry and I have a concentration in repeating myself. I also take special interest in childhood illnesses…the kind that happen every 8 days from Dec-May. I think I have a C average so far.