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Ramsayings

A Blog About Nothing in Particular

Brock Winthrop – Pastoral Scene

I heard this song at the end of an episode of Chapo Trap House earlier this year and found a link over on the Chapo subreddit. This hits all the right notes for me, blending memories of my favorite 90’s pop acts, notably Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet.

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.

Visit Cincinnati

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

A photo posted by J T. Ramsay (@jtramsay) on

 

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.

A photo posted by J T. Ramsay (@jtramsay) on

 

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

Walked to Kentucky!

A photo posted by J T. Ramsay (@jtramsay) on

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.

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.