02 January, 2007

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike

There is really nothing so surreal as driving through downtown Manhattan at 5am; I watched the traffic lights cascade green all the way from 127 to 85th, with no other cars in sight. Nobody on the street, nobody anywhere. "Half of the time we're gone but we don't know where...And here I am. The Only Living Boy in New York."

The drive southbound on the turnpike was swift. I caught the morning rush at a Starbucks just before sunrise. The commuter crowd had ties and overcoats, lattes and a biscotti. I had torn jeans and a shirt smelling of cigars and wood-smoke, and my coffee black. No danish.

I hope everyones holiday season was as fantastic as mine, which was filled with much driving, coffee and a notable lack of sleep. It was really nice to spend a few days at home, sitting around at my moms house and watching football with my dad. I haven't been as able to spend time with my family as I would like recently, so it was good to just be in Maryland without obligation.

With a new thermos of coffee (it holds 2 quarts!) I left for the camp reunion in the morning darkness of Philadelphia, and spent two days in Rhode Island. I caught The Slip again on the 29th at Lupo's with Jim. While there I met Nancy Barr, mother of Brad and Andrew Barr of the band. Apparently she also write a cook book, according to the drunk guy in the sweatsuit outside. Headed back to Philly by way of Manhattan later that night. Spent New Years at my apartment mostly, and went to Bistro St. Tropez to be with Gwen when the 'ball dropped.' The ball drop as I experienced it consisted of an unannounced 6-second countdown in the middle of some pop song the DJ was playing. Can't argue with free champagne, though.

Among other things, Gwen got me a subscription to ESPN: The Magazine for Christmas. The perk of this is that not only do I get the magazine every two weeks, but I also get access to the insider articles and other material on espn.com. I can already envision to what new heights of sports nerdery I will climb.

The Tom Waits Orphan's album is absolutely brilliant, and I don't say that purely because I like Waits to begin with. His version of Chuck E. Weiss' "Rains On Me" is sad and beautiful at the same time. Simply amazing. I've read some critics that say the album gets to be overbearing, but I disagree. It shifts gears so much that it's hard to let one song blend in to another.

Looking through the Flickr page of Bob Jagendorf, I gained a new found appreciation for the unique kitsch of New Jersey. Doesn't mean I like the state now, but all the same, he presents it as something of a grimy beauty queen trying to age gracefully, but failing.

The office bush on my desk is much heartier than I expected. It hasn't dropped but a few needles in the few weeks it's been here. I still don't like it.


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