Friday, March 12, 2010

Screw Madonna, please stop the music!

When did wearing headphones become so socially acceptable?

I started noticing this trend when I started working out of college at a consulting firm. My co-workers were rarely without their headphones when sitting at their computer. I quickly realized they are used, partially to break the monotony of IT Audit, but also to display a look telling others “I’m far to busy to be interrupted with what you have to say, please leave me alone.” After trying it out, and then forgetting my headphones one day, I understood its need in a workplace that doesn't require much interaction with others. It is a solid way to avoid distractions and focus on what you have to get done. I listen to Pandora most days while working (currently listening to a Talib Kweli 'station') and have found the practice very beneficial.

However, in NYC it is more rare to see someone not wearing headphones than those that do - in all phases of the day. A few examples that bother me, frankly more than they should:

1. When at a place of business trying to purchase something without expending the minimal energy to take out your headphones in order to hear the salesperson speak with them. Instead you would rather yell to compensate for your hearing defficiency and annoy those around you.

2. When on the subway, you feel the need because you must think those around must care enough to turn your music up to a volume that MUST be painful. This is the equivalent to those that roll the windows down in their car and play their music so loud while cruisin'. I must admit, I engaged in this practice when I was 16 and still occasionally when I am really feeling a song; however I don't make a practice of it to be noticed. There is a big difference.

3. People walking down the street, or anywhere for that matter, in a group talking to each other while listening to music (which I can sometimes also hear). Is the other person that boring? Are you playing the music so low it doesn’t matter anyway? Are your ears that developed to comprehend both stimulants that well? For those that will say it is easier to press pause or turn the volume down than take their earplugs out - it isn't! Also, your extreme lack of tact in the situation should overcome anything that may be perceived as too much effort.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Hi Andrew, I'm Garth"

After a missed opportunity many years ago, Paige and her mother formed a pact to see Garth Brooks the next opportunity they had. Unfortunately, before that could happen he announced a hiatus from touring so that he could be at home with his kids while they were in school.  He has only made two exemptions, once for charity, and now.  Steve Wynn, of the Wynn Hotel in Vegas, convinced him to play 5 weekends a year for the next 5 years until he could begin touring again.  This marks the first year of shows and we were able to get tickets for January 23rd. We went with Paige's mom, her boyfriend Todd, Paige's close friend from college Tina, and her boyfriend Andrew.

Now I'll try to set the stage for the concert – the show is in the Encore Theater at the Wynn Hotel which holds a little under 1500 people . It consists of Garth and his guitar on stage in blue jeans, sweat shirt, work boots, and a baseball cap. While this show lacks the theatrical elements he is well known for, it is a rare experience to witness his charisma and talent. The setting is very much a Storytellers (as David would say, TRUE STORY) of Garth Brooks.  The first hour and a half or so is Garth telling stories about his upbringing and how music has shaped his life.  He performed covers of James Taylor, Merle Haggard, George Jones, The Beatles, and so on. This was a treat for me because I am a fan of established artists performing covers so I can hear their take on music and what inspires them.

About an hour into the show he began playing his biggest hits and then, to our surprise, started taking recommendations from the audience!  Andrew told us earlier of these rumors, but it was still quite a shock.  The first person he selected was a young lady in the first balcony and she very wisely suggested Standing Outside the Fire. He then turned the lights up for another request ... As everyone was jumping up and down in their seats (including us with some restraint), he selected a gentleman on the left side of the house and took his request.  I don't remember their conversation because at this point I began trying to devise my plan to be picked.  I thought it would be awesome and quite memorable for Garth to speak with Paige and Bobbi since without them, I may not have made the journey.  

We had 12th row center aisle seats so the next time the lights came up I enacted my plan of standing up, moving into the aisle, and waving my hand while walking forward.  The next thing I hear is “the gentleman in the white shirt walking down the aisle.”  I definitely did not expect the nerves to kick in the way they did ... After asking my name, he replied “Hi Andrew, I'm Garth” (making the nerves worse) to which I nervously fumbled back “how are you doing tonight?” He humored me and took my request, The Red Stroke.  Requesting this song was part of my master plan in having Garth talk with Paige and Bobbi, as The Red Stoke is Paige's favorite.  My nerves caused me to question the title of the song: The Red Stroke or The Red Strike??  So, as I began speaking to him, I was also trying to quietly ask Paige the proper name of the song.  In the end, I did manage to say the right name, but due to my paranoia of requesting the wrong title, I sat down and realized I completely forgot to introduce Paige and Bobbi to Garth.  I tried standing back up, but he had already begun his story behind the song, thus the chance to redeem myself was gone.  After many apologies and feeling like an idiot, I hope I am forgiven. At least I didn't butcher the name of one of his songs in front of 1500 people.  That would have sucked!

Whether you like country music or not, I'm sure you can appreciate the experience.



Monday, February 15, 2010

The bluebonnets are worth the drive...

For the '09 holidays Paige and I decided we would celebrate the new job by taking a break from the extremely busy tourist season in NYC and head to her home state of Texas.  Since we were both able to get a couple weeks off spanning Christmas and New Years we planned to visit her family for a week and take a week road trip ending in Austin for NYE.  The night before our flight out we received the first snow storm of the season here blessing us with ~16 inches of snow.  Luckily for us we were flying out of JFK as LGA was completely closed for 3 days surrounding the snow storm.  Regardless we were delayed most of the day and got into Houston much later than expected.

Since this post is already going to be lengthy, here are just a few highlights of the trip:

1. It is always a pleasure hanging out with Paige's family and meeting the new additions along the way. There was a sibling rivalry competition between Paige and her brother building gingerbread houses which I somehow got roped into judging.  We obviously know who one there, sorry Zach.

2. First stop out of Houston was San Antonio where we were able to hang out with a few of Paige’s college buddies, check out the River Walk (think a nicer/cleaner Savannah), and tour the Alamo.  I'm sad to say that middle school history classes didn't pay off on this visit as I had forgotten most of the Alamo other than “Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier.” And I'm not positive that song is directly rated.

3. The next day we drove into Fredericksburg which is home to wineries, antique shops, and a heavily German influenced Main Street.  Being big fans of live music we were stoked to find out Cory Morrow would be playing The Auslander the night we were there.  Unfortunately for Paige, I am OCD when it comes to being late for events, especially when there is not assigned seating. When I called The Auslander to ask what time we should get there to assure a seat the lady kindly said “Sweetheart, for Cory Morrow you better get here EARLY.” Being one to follow instructions we arrived when they said we could, 6pm.  Paige won't let me live down that the next people didn't get there until roughly 7:15.  However, there are worse places to kill time than a Biergarten.  Our front row seats proved worth the wait, and we had a great time.  A small video we took -

4. Our next stops were in Luckenbach and Gruene Texas.  Prior to visiting Luckenbach all I knew of it was what Waylon Jennings had told me, that "out in Luckenbach, TX ain't nobody feelin' no pain".  It took us a few moments to realize that the "Pop 3" sign was literal and the town in fact is made up of only three people.  The next stop was in Gruene which is home to Gruene Hall. This is the largest dance hall I have ever stepped foot in and has hosted equal sized shows. This evening there was a gentleman performing mostly covers with a few originals to a packed house so we enjoyed a few Shiners and took it in.  For dinner we went to a place that Paige has frequented many times with friends on rafting trips.  It was a lot of fun being able to see the places she so fondly speaks of.

5. The next morning we toured New Braunfels, visited her Aunt’s almost ready for business Bed and Breakfast, and drove into Austin.  After a brief rest in the hotel we picked up our friends, and travel partners Jonathan and Lindsey, from the airport and met a few of Paige's friends out for drinks. When visiting Austin you have to consent to the notion of eating a lot of good, dirty food. We had our share of Tex-Mex and BBQ, and then more. We were in Austin for 4 days, including NYE, so a great mix of debauchery and outdoor exploring ensued.
Here I am with Jonathan and Lindsey on a Wine tour before experiencing the wonders of Salt Lick BBQ -

Paige said along the way that she was hoping this trip would show me the different sides of Texas and influence me to want to move there someday.  I can say she was successful.  It was a pleasant surprise to see areas of such history, towns very culturally influenced, and become part of something she represents so well.  It also could not have come at a better time than during the holidays in the city.  While on the trip, I was ready to pack up and make the move.  I began to remember what doing laundry was like in your own home, paying 2 dollars for a beer instead of 6, what good Mexican food tasted like, and hearing people say please and thank you. However, getting off the plane in New York we both feel back at home and don't plan to rush anywhere anytime soon. It is amazing how quickly you feel at home in a new place while at the same time finding new things to explore there every week.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Looking forward to my next 30 years...

In 2007 my brother, sister in law, Paige, and myself came to New York to celebrate my 28th birthday.  I didn't know this, but at the time Kristi thought it was my 30th Birthday, otherwise this trip may not have happened. She was shocked to find out we went to New York for a birthday as insignificant as 28, ha. This was my first trip to the city and it definitely sold me.  We did the standard touristy things, had a great meal at WD-50 (complete with birthday cupcake, thank you), saw Fuerzabruta, and witnessed the late hours of something we had never heard of, Santacon.  One evening as we exited the train in Astor Place we saw ~100 people dressed in Santa Suits, clearly inebriated, running around spraying silly string on anything they could and singing carols.  I looked at everyone and said something to the effect of we should have done that.  Here is a picture of my brother and I in 2007 spinning the Astor Place Cube after it had been ‘tagged'.

Cut to 2009 and since we are now living here, I realized it was the perfect way to celebrate my 30th birthday. Partly to show that 30 year olds can still hang and also because why the heck not? Our day started with bagels and drinks at 10:30 while following Santacon on twitter to see where they were.  By the time we met up with everyone (11:30 am) people had already taken it too far, others were getting started, and Harmon Killebrew didn't realize he was about to be in for a long day.

A few pictures from the day…

the starting group waiting on the train to debauchery 
first bar stop well into Harmon Killebrew 
Santacon brought the worst out in Jesus 
for some reason there were 'spandex santas' climbing outside one stop

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you...

wow, i didn't realize it had been THIS long since I last blogged.  I have kept up with things in the meantime, I just haven't posted them to the blog.  Therefore, look for a bunch of posts to come over the next week or so.  There are also new events on the horizon you can get excited about such as the Beer, Bourbon, and Burgers festival on Saturday.

i'll be back...