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Bon Iver September 26, 2008

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Terrific concert by Bon Iver at the Queens Hall the other night. Sold out house, and what a beautiful space. It’s an old church (what else is new in this town) converted into an intimate concert venue. The pews remain on a horseshoe-shaped series of stalls which wraps the orchestra, which surely once also held pews but now is a full-on dancefloor. I’m told for jazz gigs they also put out tables and chairs for a cabaret feel in the center section.

We didn’t know what to expect from this Wisconsin wanderlust whose retreat to a secluded log cabin has been endlessly promoted. We know he wrote his entire album in said cabin, alone but for a guitar, and later added drums and other bits, but how would he perform this dark romantic song cycle?

We were in for a treat. The band contained not one but TWO drummers, keyboards, bass, and various other bits and bobs, and Justin Vernon (aforementioned wanderlust) chose from a buffet of five unique guitars presented at his disposal. The resulting textures, ranging from hushed to screaming, delighted the enthusiastic audience.

The hermit schtick was maintained by Justin Vernon with sincerity and humility, and the crowd ate it up, until some of his other bandmates aped the Elliot Smith look with perhaps less credibility. I speak of the charming Mikey (as he was introduced), the backup guitarist who looked like he was 12 but who seemed to be channeling a heroin-chic with his pouty face and puppy dog eyes. We can forgive this, because it was kind of cute.

Geaux Tigers January 20, 2008

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The National Marathon March 24, 2007

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runnerroar.jpgphoto-29.jpgI did it! The National Marathon was a complete blast this morning (I ran the half marathon). Really well organized for a marathon only in its second year. Good group of people organizing it. Only thing was that it was difficult (nigh near impossible) to find the pace group in the beginning, but I sense that that is often the case. It was pretty expensive to run this one, around $70, so you would like to think that the pace group should be there. But I didn’t mind. One guy ran the entire half marathon while juggling. Apparantly he runs every DC marathon like that. Other than that no crazy stuff or people dressed up that I noticed. Mayor Fenty was going to run the half but he switched to the full! It’s pretty cool, but I wonder how much time he spends preparing and how that works with his rather high profile job… oh well. He’s certainly defined himself as different than Mayor Williams, who doesn’t really seem the marathon type.

Weather was perfect. Misty, but not raining except for sprinkles. Really refreshing. Good water stations. I ran all over my own neighborhoods! I ran down the street I live on, the street I work on, and several streets that I not only frequent but also run through on a routine basis (the national mall, for instance), I ran past Fragers, SW Waterfront Safeway, East Capitol, Folger Library, SE Sunoco by my house and other familiar locales. Although on the last 5 miles I was definitely in the zone and focused on the finish line, I was more jocular in the early miles, and said things like, “WASHINGTOOOON!” “CONGRESSSS!” (at the Capitol Building) “CANADAAAAAA!” (at the canadian embassy) and my favorite, “DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE IN THE HOOOUSE!” (at the National Archives) but other than that I was quiet. Finish line was well manned and well stocked with the three B’s: Bagels, Banana, and Beer! Happy ending for everyone!

Not sure which I like better, the full or the half marathon. In the half I was able to enjoy it a little more because it wasn’t all about enduring it, I had free will to move faster if I felt like it. I suppose every race is different though. I didn’t have many expectations for this one, just wanted to do it for fun, and I think that made it great. Friend of mine told me last night that he ran his fastest marathon the night after he drank 10 beers! So it’s all in your mind, isn’t it?

Speaking of this friend, we were chatting over thai food at Old Siam in Eastern Market, and he invited me to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with him on Sunday! I was planning on taking a break from leg activity after today and focus on upper body for the Dragon Boat Race on May 19, but I think I can handle 10 miles in a week. it’s basically cool off, the same way I thought of this one after the Austin Marathon last month. I won’t be building my miles back up for a while, but we’ll see what the year holds… Scot is suggesting a bike trip either in Canada, Baja California or the North Sea. Okay…

Updated, 3/29/07

Check out the photos here.

My New Shoes March 9, 2007

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6627-350014-p.jpgA friend of mine tipped me off to the Mizuno company which makes, in addition to other sports items, the finest running shoes in the kingdom. Why do I trust Mizunos? They carried me through the Austin Marathon, for one. I’ve had my old pair nearly a year and they are in great shape. But more importantly, the Japanese are simply superior when it comes to consumer technology. They are meticulous and disciplined in their attention to detail. I trust them. I love my mizunos. Here are a few japanese haikus in ode to my new shoes.

fire engine red
hyenas all around me
speedy little feet

what’s black and white and
red all over? the blur that
just passed you, dude.

33 March 9, 2007

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43qa82q9.jpgMaureece Rice, baby. Number 33 on the GW Colonials Mens Basketball. I recently made a silly purchase along with my good friend: we bought matching #33 jerseys. Hers has rhinestones. So. Now we have to learn a little something about Rice. We know he’s good. He lead us last year in the tournament, and he was only a sophomore. Now he’s a junior and still going strong. Thank goodness we will have some leadership next year.

I will direct your attention over here to learn more about Rice. But what do these stats really tell us? I’m a newcomer to sports and find that most sports stats don’t come equipped with explanation or comparison. That is to say, statistics are traditionally presented with some kind of context, because a number on its own is meaningless. Most sports stats expect you to know what it means.

My impression of Rice is that he’s the guy who can make the 3 pointers. Also, Jesus was 33 when he died and Rice is #33. That’s got to mean something.

UPDATED: just found out that Rice attended his grandmother’s funeral today. And he lead the team to victory tonight, scoring 16 points. Good man.

Keep it Weird! February 25, 2007

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PREFACE
Scot
In November I was working on a production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Catalyst Theater as Assistant Stage Manager. One day towards the end of the run actor Scot McKenzie (playing Hitler) asked me if I wanted to run the Austin Marathon, to which I replied firmly no. The next day I replied firmly yes and stood firmly by that commitment. We trained for three months according to a strict schedule and lifestyle change. On Sunday, February 18 Scot and I ran the Austin Marathon.

THE RACE

Check out my results here. Also check me out here and Scot here.

infobook.jpgI beat my goal of 4:26 by running 4:05. I had zero blisters, zero cramps, zero injuries and I felt pretty euphoric coming down the finish line.

The good people at the ATT Austin Marathon have my everlasting love. They took care of me. They were there for me like an older brother or a sexy cheerleader when I needed them and even when I didn’t. The staff provided Water and Powerade stations every 1.2 miles. At one of the stations everyone was dressed like pirates. And to the good people of Austin who came out on their front lawn and cheered every single one of the 11,000 something runners on: God bless you.

Our names were printed on our race bibs so people actually screamed, “Go, Sam, Go!” and, “Looking good Sam!” This attention was so addictive that I would actually hold back a little when there were no crowds and then zoom through the areas with spectators, passing people and creating a roar from the crowd. Talk about a major high. And to those good folks handing out beer at mile 26: I couldn’t indulge because I was too focused, but thank you! Next time!

People had great signs: “Toenails are for sissies!” “Go Jessica Go!” “10 Down and Hell to Pay” “Go Runners!”

So there were 30 live bands performing along the course. Talk about incredible. There was a mariachi band, a high-school jazz band, tons of garage rockers, solo guys and girls with guitars, Metal groups, Blues groups, Funk groups, a new-wave techno group called Drop Dead Steady and many, many more.

The race was an incredible journey. It was euphoric. It was thrilling. It was daunting. It was beautiful. I would do it again in a heartbeat and have already resolved to run another marathon this year.

And thank you to Mom, Papa and Mike and Shirley Lobell, who were there for me and who were an endless source of support.

THE DIGS

san joseAfter the race Scot and I set up camp at the Hotel San Jose in South Austin for a couple of days to get our grooves back. And, oh, did we. Thanks to an excellent poolside bar and the fabulous waitress Ketsia who miraculously always had a Negra Modelo when we wanted one we were sitting pretty. This hotel is the finest I have ever stayed in. Every room comes with an ipod dock so we jammed out to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. The layout is like a zen garden with bungalos and vines and fountains and gravel paths and lots of loungey areas. To step through the wooden gates is to be happy. Dogs are welcome and roam freely. While sleeping by the pool I was awoken by a Jack Russel who had hopped on my belly and started licking my face. Silly puppy–go get mommy and bring her here!

Did I mention it was sunny and 60 degrees?

THE SHOPS

blackmailSouth Austin is a mecca of boutique clothing, antique and craft stores. Blackmail is completely black and white, has an awesome postcard collection and rather sexy clothes and accessories–and it’s ALL black and white! I bought some awesome Blackstone shoes at Creatures Boutique, which sells kimonos for children, among other awesome gear. We took a break to do margaritas at Doc’s, a gas-station turned outdoor diner on South Congress. Then on to Hovercraft, which again has amazing clothes for not too much money.

Tons of great thrift stores on South Congress if that is your thing. It’s not really mine. I always feel like I’m going to get sick when I walk in a thrift store. Super cool crafts and gizmos everywhere. We bought a demented, mutilated doll at Secret October.

The New Bohemia and Parts and Labor both have excellent stuff.

THE EATS

The South Congress Cafe is incredibly good and shockingly cheap. Best Bloody Mary I have ever had. Every waitress is beautiful and friendly. The Migas are to die for. Migas are like scrambled eggs with cheese and tortillas. Venison sausage. Carrot Cake French Toast.

Polvo’s (translation: Dust’s) sells delicious mexican food. Check out the Goliath Burrito, which was the burrito I had been dreaming about for the past three months. When training got boring or difficult or dismal I would think about the burrito I was going to eat in Austin after the marathon. This was that burrito. Steak. With special salsa. It was the length of an entire saucer plate.

Jo’s Coffeeshop is an awesome meeting place that looks kind of like a beach bar, with a deck and chairs on the sidewalk. I could hang out there all day. It’s like an outdoor living room. Great coffee. Great people.

THE TUNES

toni priceThe Continental Club was directly across the street from us. It’s an Austin legend and features live country, blues, rockabilly or other traditional American music every night. Monday night we saw HeyBale!, a tasty country band with a singer who looked and sang like Burl Ives but who played the guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughn. Tuesday night we went early for “Hippie Hour,” which has been going on for 20 years. All these old hippies come out to spread some love before Toni Price goes on (every Tuesday at 7 p.m. for the past 20 years) to sing her eclectic brand of acoustic folk/country. With a glass of whiskey permanently in hand she sings as soulfully as Janis Joplin and is just as pleasant a peformer to watch.

We also went to Ego’s, Room 710 and numerous other venues that, in my drunken haze I cannot recall. The Continental Club was the standout. It is an absolute must if you’re visiting Austin (and you are. you are!)

Yeah, basically Austin fucking rocks. You can borrow a Remington Manual Typewriter from the front desk of the San Jose (!) but they were out of ribbon so we used a pad for this next number: Scot and I wrote this song while peacing out over a day’s work of MarGars and Negra Modelos by the pool in the San Jose. Ketsia-ready for another whenever you are, soul sister! Keep it weird!

CHORUS

Keepin’ it weird
Keepin’ it
Keepin’ it weird
Kept

Blackmail and the New Bohemia
Willie Nelson in the San Jose
Old Black Johnny singin’ ’bout Delia
10 Down and Hell to Pay