Listening

Brian Eno — Reflection

David Bowie was, to me, my Dylan. He was one of the few artists I always felt I could spend more time with and nev­er spent enough. When he died last year, I wres­tled with how to mourn him.

Short­ly there­after, I must’ve been watch­ing the doc­u­men­tary 5 Years that I learned how Bowie adored Eno’s Dis­creet Music, a record that I’d enjoyed but hadn’t devot­ed myself to in any mean­ing­ful way. I must’ve lis­tened to it night­ly for weeks, if not months, while putting the boys to bed, let­ting the open­ing track 1/1 envel­op me in the dark­ness.

Imag­ine my sur­prise when I opened my music app to dis­cov­er Bri­an Eno has released Reflec­tion, an hour of ambi­ent music, informed by his ear­li­er work and equal­ly sat­is­fy­ing.

More inter­est­ing is how Eno refers to it as gen­er­a­tive music. Bob Boilen men­tioned on All Songs Con­sid­ered that for $40, you can pur­chase an app that iter­ates the sounds from Reflec­tion in unique new ways and, thanks to an algo­rithm, with­out repeat­ing. I plan to spend as much time or more with this music in 2017 as I did mourn­ing Bowie last year.

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Listening

Spoon — Hot Thoughts

I haven’t been this excit­ed for new music from Spoon in some time. Maybe since Gimme Fic­tion? I loved Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, liked a few tracks on Trans­fer­ence and then I’m embar­rassed to admit that I slept through They Want My Soul alto­geth­er.

The lead sin­gle, “Hot Thoughts,” strikes a famil­iar chord: it is unmis­tak­ably a Spoon record, find­ing a groove and lock­ing it in. I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing more in March.

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Thinking

Finding the Good in 2016

2016 was a tough year. I broke my leg. My base­ment flood­ed. Rather than dwell on the bad, I took the start of 2017 to think about the things I enjoyed and be thank­ful for those expe­ri­ences.

  • The Felske Files: when the Phillies were good, there was lit­er­al­ly a brack­et-full of Phillies blogs com­pet­ing for atten­tion. Then 2012 hap­pened. It’s been a slog ever since, but last year a light switched on. The first full year of the Felske Files, a Phillies pod­cast host­ed by John Stol­nis, was one of my favorite things in 2016. As the Phillies rebuild, he’s brought in smart guests and great insights to the con­ver­sa­tion about the future of my favorite fran­chise. The Felske Files is the sports pod­cast the world’s been wait­ing for.
  • Iggy Pop at the Fox The­atre: I’m not some­one who ghoul­ish­ly tries to check box­es on leg­endary artists. I’ve nev­er seen Neil Young or Bob Dylan or Dol­ly Par­ton or Diana Ross or Aretha Franklin. But after Bowie’s death last Jan­u­ary, I felt com­pelled to see Iggy Pop when he came to his home­town. I wasn’t dis­ap­point­ed. The band, led by QOTSA’s Josh Homme, was impos­si­bly tight and they stuck to a setlist that not only high­light­ed Iggy’s clas­sic work, but com­ple­ment­ed the new mate­r­i­al per­fect­ly. The crowd was amaz­ing, too.
  • Bruce Spring­steen at the Palace at Auburn Hills: con­sid­er­ing I once wrote a piece called, It’s Time to Fire the Boss, I found myself enjoy­ing every minute of his tour behind The Riv­er. Every­thing every­one loves about Bruce is true and, see above, I’m glad I got to see him live. A few weeks lat­er at a Par­quet Courts show, I found myself tap­ping my foot wait­ing for the band to come on stage at 11 pm. I men­tioned to my neigh­bor that Bruce had been on stage for 3 hours at that point.
  • Char­treuse: is it pos­si­ble that one of Detroit’s best restau­rants is under­rat­ed? If you’re vis­it­ing Detroit in 2017 — and you seri­ous­ly should; the New York Times says so — Char­treuse is can’t miss.
  • LVL UP — Hid­den Dri­ver: it was an anthem for me all year.
  • Pitch­fork Fes­ti­val: I hadn’t been to a music fes­ti­val in 20 years until last sum­mer. Pitch­fork Fes­ti­val was worth the wait. Not only did the line­up keep me engaged and enter­tained — Blood Orange was a per­son­al favorite — the weath­er was com­plete­ly beau­ti­ful and the peo­ple were friend­ly and fun to be around. Bonus: meet­ing mem­bers of Super Fur­ry Ani­mals made my day.
  • My neigh­bors: when Grosse Pointe Park was hit by sew­er back­up on Sep­tem­ber 29th, we weren’t the only fam­i­ly affect­ed. 200–300 homes were hit! We were over­whelmed by the out­pour­ing of sup­port from our friends and neigh­bors, who helped us clean up and get back to nor­mal.
  • My fam­i­ly: when our base­ment flood­ed this sum­mer, we lost every­thing in a del­uge. 3+ feet of water wipes out a lot of mem­o­ries in the blink of an eye. It was a chal­leng­ing time, but we all pulled togeth­er and looked for­ward to the future, rather than dwelling on what we lost. We were safe and had only lost things, pre­cious though some of them may have been. My sev­en year old remains the most resilient, lov­ing kid I know and his spir­it real­ly car­ried us through.

As I wrap up this list, I find myself reflect­ing on oth­er moments and expe­ri­ences I omit­ted. It’s reas­sur­ing to know that 2017 is a new year and a fresh oppor­tu­ni­ty to make new mem­o­ries.

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Doing

Visit Cincinnati

Got shirts for the boys at @homage #pay­homage #leg­end­sn­everdie

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What a spec­tac­u­lar town! Since we moved to Detroit, I’ve been look­ing for­ward to explor­ing more of the Mid­west. We got a bit of a pre­view of what to expect this sum­mer when we fol­lowed the Erie canal on our trip to Cape Cod, stop­ping in Buf­fa­lo and Rochester, NY. These once proud cities still have a lot to crow about: because they were built around ship­ping, they’re all on the water and what’s left of the orig­i­nal hous­ing stock and down­town archi­tec­ture is typ­i­cal­ly stun­ning.

Cincin­nati is no excep­tion. While I was in town for the USTA Mid­west Semi-Annu­al meet­ing, I got a chance to explore a bit. There’s a beau­ti­ful water­front park beneath the icon­ic Roe­bling Bridge. The down­town is bustling and walk­a­ble. I took the advice of a friend who grew up here and walked over to the Over-the-Rhine neigh­bor­hood, which feels quite a bit like Old City in Philadel­phia, with lots of cute shops and restau­rants. It’s where I picked up the shirts for the boys and tried this deli­cious ice cream cone from Graeter’s.

Peanut but­ter choco­late chip.

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I even walked to Ken­tucky! Check the box on anoth­er state I nev­er thought I’d vis­it!

Walked to Ken­tucky!

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Listening

LVL UP — Hidden Driver

Heard Sub Pop’s LVL UP on All Songs Con­sid­ered as I drove to Cincin­nati last night. Not only are the per­fect for the per­son who’s still obsessed with Neu­tral Milk Hotel, but this song, “Hid­den Dri­ver,” is about a web­site co-found­ed by one of my very tal­ent­ed grad school class­mates, Astra Tay­lor! I’m excit­ed to hear LVL UP’s Return to Love at the end of next month.

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Listening

In Praise of Dinosaur Jr.

Have I real­ly not writ­ten any­thing about Dinosaur Jr. since this post? Seems so, apart from a pass­ing ref­er­ence in 2011 to J Mas­cis’ excel­lent Sev­er­al Shades of Why back in 2011. It’s crazy, because when I real­ly think about it, Dinosaur Jr. may be that band that some­how sur­vives every crit­i­cal hangup I ought to have about them.

I mean, I found things wrong with my favorites that makes it hard to under­stand how I ever loved them so much in the first place. R.E.M., neat­ly summed up in a 2-part pod­cast over at Shal­low Rewards, is one exam­ple. Pave­ment, Spoon and Son­ic Youth? Love them bare­ly ever lis­ten to them these days. Even bands I fell in love with as an adult, like Fiery Fur­naces, Liars and TV on the Radio feel dat­ed.

Some­how, I don’t feel the same way about Dinosaur Jr. Maybe it’s the unmis­tak­able crunchy riff­ing or the time­less­ness of J Mas­cis’ voice, but there’s some­thing deeply sat­is­fy­ing about them. I find myself return­ing to these records and Mas­cis’ recent solo work more often than I real­ize.

As sum­mer fades and fall draws near, I know I’ll be spend­ing more time with their lat­est record, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, like a favorite sweater.

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