Opening Day

I decided on a whim to purchase a ticket to the Cubs home opener today. Fifteen bucks for standing room only wasn’t a bad deal. Due to the rain, I left pretty early on, which was ridiculous considering that Fukudome hit a 3 run homer to tie it in the ninth. We still lost in the tenth, unfortunately.

An introduction

web.jpgSo, I guess an introduction would be the proper way to start things off.

My name is Greg. Brendan and I go way back to the times where Ninja Turtles were the shit, and fluorescent fanny packs were the badass thing to carry them in.

Yes, we’re talking the early 90’s. Fast forward to a day and age where our country just seems to be falling apart. I find myself writing this entry from my Powerbook here in Ahwatukee, Arizona – a far different place from that where Brendan and I first met. Yet, eight years after I moved away from my childhood home of Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, he and I still manage to keep up.

Tonight we were chatting about random stuff – specifically pictures and how much I hate McCain. One thing led to the next and then he asked if I would like to start writing here.

I’ve decided I will be showing everyone my viewpoint of things through my photography. This world is a beautiful place that is disappearing before our eyes. We must learn to see things for what they truly are. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.

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See more of Greg’s photos at
http://gallery.mac.com/optionalclothing.

What I’ve been spinning…3/30/08

The Hold Steady – Live in Austin 3/27/08 – So? I’m in a rut! This is a live show from earlier this week. Kind of a mini departure for the group – short on talk, more on rock. Set opens with the new cut (and sure to be summer anthem) ‘Constructive Summer’. Well worth checking out. If you haven’t seen these guys yet, I implore you to do so. It will be the best concert experience of your year.

Low – Things We Lost In The Fire – Super quiet, deeply meditative record. Absolutely stunning. Just don’t listen to it in the middle of night like I did. A bit creepy.

Mike Watt – Contemplating The Engine Room – Mike Watt’s become my hero recently. Touted as his ‘punk rock opera’, this album is autobiographical and spans his entire career. It’s certainly quirky – Watt’s ‘old man’ vocals and basslines make for an interesting combo. Also, Wilco’s Nels Cline plays guitar throughout.

The Hold Steady – Hot Soft Light (Live in Austin 3/27/08)

Low – Sunflower

Mike Watt – The Boilerman

Rory Cleveland is Just a Man

Rory Cleveland has started posting his wisdom (of sorts) in a Blogger account. Take the time to check it out, starting at the beginning. Slowly but surely, more posts will pop up. Here, Rory shares the first entry from his blog.

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3.01.2008

La Cucaracha

When I lived in the Hispanic part of town I was content—more content than I had ever been. Musicians call it harmony. (So do regular people.) Buddhists call it self-awareness. Hippies called it peace. The rest of us don’t have a name for it, but know it feels good. For me, it had a sound. It went like this:

Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Dah Duh Dah Da-Da Duh!

Sing it. The song is “La Cucaracha”. It’s more than likely you’ve heard it coming from a car horn. That’s where I heard it. Every night between the minutes of 9:45 and 9:50, the faint squawking of that song echoed through the streets and up to my bedroom window.

Around that time I usually found myself lateral on my bed, either sleeping or thinking about sleep. (It’s a little known fact that the best method of falling asleep is to actually think about sleep itself.) Sometimes it would roust my resting, while other times it would simply prohibit it from happening in the first place. The noise was distracting, to say the least. It took some nerve for that honking man or woman to do such a thing at such a relatively late hour of the night!

I got in the habit of waiting until ten o’clock before I started to think about sleep. On one evening, my thoughts consumed by the waking threat of the automobile opus, I was able to trace back to my first memory of the song.

The television was on and I sat in front it, seven years of age and plump. My mother allowed me to watch cartoon shows on Saturday mornings, so long as I promised to do my chores as soon as they were over. It was a reasonable compromise in my estimation, so I always followed through with my end of the bargain.

Tom and Jerry were a cat and mouse I loved. Eventually I fell out of love (as tends to happen with hobbies, spouses, and things not connected directly to one’s self), but at the time there was nothing better in the universe to me. The episode featured a Latin American setting. Jerry had made a friend, a fellow mouse of Hispanic heritage whose name was not revealed to the audience. Jerry and Mexican Mouse ran and ran and ran. Tom chased them. With capture eminent, the mice leapt into an arc-shaped hole, narrowly escaping Jerry’s not-so-threatening paws. Unfortunately for Jerry, his focus on the passion for the kill, he slid into the hole himself, though only his head could fit. He stuck. In a mocking and fantastically entertaining gesture, Jerry and Mexican Mouse took his whiskers in hand and played them like guitar strings. Jerry sang lead vocals. Mexican Mouse sang back up. Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Dah Duh Dah Da-Da Duh! It sounded more like a sped up forty-five than a car horn, but there was still a distinct similarity.

Another night. 9.31 PM. Surely it was coming again soon. Particularly restless that night, I decided to go out and find the source of the perpetual disturbance. Out the flat, down the stairs, through the front door, and into the streets. Directionally, it was clear that the honking resonated due east of my apartment, so I walked to where the sun would eventually rise.

A few late-nighters meandered about the sidewalks, gently caressing their lovers or carrying bags of groceries that they were unable to collect during the work day. In the same way I felt, they all seemed at ease with the general state of things. Not to say they were polite or even smiling, for that matter, but I could tell. It was good to know that everything was alright. Everything was fine.

I ticked along with the clock as it neared the time of the chime. Approximating the location of the noise, I stopped between a mailbox and a palm tree about three blocks from home. With nothing to do but wait at this point, it gave me time to make specific note of my surroundings.

An alley cat. Cracked sidewalk. A homeless man. The mailbox, as mentioned before. A gentle breeze. Stomped out cigarette butts. Parked cars. Chalk drawings for hopscotch. A newspaper tumbleweed. Crab grass. It was all very regular, very comfortable.

There was a calm. For a moment, it was as if all things ceased to move or breath. Even those things not known for moving or breathing—the mailbox, for example—ceased to do so. It happened the same way an animal reacts to the presence of seismic waves. Stillness. Then. . .

Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Dah Duh Dah Da-Da Duh!

Life resumed.

It was louder than I was used to hearing it, but not loud enough. I was off by a block or so. Considering the mission a positive step in my search, I returned home and thought about sleep, then dreamt about dreaming.

There I was again. 9:39 PM. I didn’t have to leave quite as early this time, for I had already picked my next vantage point earlier that day. It was a residential street two blocks further east than my previous location. Something about this place felt right. My ear was most upset about this whole debacle, so I trusted it when it told me to test 3rd and Manhattan. At last, I could confront the honker and get to rest without disturbance!

9:47 PM hit. I started to worry. Of all the nights for the racket to end, why tonight? Was it because I came searching? Obviously this was an undue reaction. Moments after I asked myself these two questions and before I could ask a third, I spotted a man walking to his car with keys dangling from his index finger. I knew it was him.

He was of a stout build, reaching his mid-life, and had hands thick as the leather on a football. His white undershirt was tucked into a pair of plaid boxers. He was shoeless and Mexican. I found out through a later conversation that his name was Saul.

As he reached his car, Saul took slight notice of me, almost as if he was expecting me to be there, or like he’d had this encounter before. He unlocked the door of his four door pick-up truck, a modest American model with scraped paint—a laborers automobile. Casually, he hopped in the driver’s seat and closed the door behind him. His leathery left hand pushed the lock back down.

A moment passed and right on schedule, the calm came. My heart raced, then stopped.

Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Dah Duh Dah Da-Da Duh!

Thank heavens my bedroom wasn’t situated on that street! The cry of “La Cucaracha” was nearly deafening and seemed to last longer than it ever had before. I stepped to the flat bed of the car and rested on its dented bumper, back to the cab, waiting patiently. The door opened and a great weight was lifted as he returned to the pavement. My feet no longer touched the ground with him. They dangled as they do when one sits on an examination table at the doctor’s office.

Auditory senses were in charge at this point. Had he been wearing cowboy boots, my ears would have been in tune with the crackle of the hard soles scraping along the rocky surface beneath them. Instead, they heard the almost silent pats of his bare feet.

Saul faced me as I sat on his bumper. I attempted to formulate my inquisition as succinctly as possible:

“Why?” I asked.

He left. Not far, though. I craned my neck to watch him go back to the driver’s side door and once again insert the key. He had forgotten to lock it back up. Click.

Saul returned to me with the knowing saunter of a monk and put his arm snugly around my shoulder. Strangely, it didn’t seem strange. Had I not needed my own arms to balance myself on the bumper, I would have reciprocated in the embrace.

“Why?” I asked again.

“What would you think if you didn’t hear the horn tomorrow night?”

It was a calculated and unexpected response. I was looking for answers, not questions. Despite this, I answered his query honestly, surprising myself with the answer.

“That something was wrong, I suppose.”

It was true.

“And you heard the horn tonight, no?”

“I did.”

“Well then I guess everything’s alright, isn’t it?”

Saul gave my shoulder a firm pat, knocking me off the bumper and onto the pavement. He meant no harm. Tucking his shirt back into his plaid boxers, that horn-blaring Mexican walked back to his front door and disappeared inside. He didn’t need a key for that one.

Harmony, peace, self-awareness, contentment. Since I moved, it’s never been quite as easy to obtain. However, I’ve never had to think about sleep to reach it since then, either. I just have to hear that sound.

Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Da-Da Duh DAH! Bah Dah Duh Dah Da-Da Duh!

And everything’s alright.

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Read more Rory at http://rorycleveland.blogspot.com

We’re tiny white specks on a bright blue planet

For a guy that was pretty early to the game with this whole internet thing – (if you call 1997 early), I’m still sort of slow to hop on this 2.0 trend. Sure, this site’s got a couple of modern conveniences (RSS, ahem..ADD US IN YOUR AGGREGATORS), but I’m still trying to grasp all this new technology.

Not too long ago, I registered us over here at obviate for a Flickr account. For anyone that knows me, I’m a bit weary of posting my photos in an open environment after reviewing Facebook’s creeptacular privacy policy.

Flickr’s actually pretty cool. You can make sets of different pictures and share them with groups of your peers, and they can grab the pictures in full resolution (not the watered down Facebook versions, natch.) Site has a nice clean look too.

Anyways, I’m trying to understand all this stuff still.. but if you want to check out our page, go ahead and click here. There’s not a ton of interesting stuff yet, just a lot of personal photos right now, but it should give you an idea about how all this works.