RJ White

*goddamn crumby phonies*

Oh, there is a new Wasted Words podcast, hooray, hooray.

Craig Gaines stopped by to discuss a bar that may not have been serving what they said they were here in Phila. Also, a woman who drunk drove a horse. It's all there, in an episode we like to call-

Hey- want to know a great way to get yourself pumped on the way to work in the morning? Ride a bus in the rain, listen to Ornette Coleman and read Catcher In the Rye. ENERGY CITY, MAN.

*a matter of trust*

This weekend, I read about some oddly specific funds and trusts administered by Philadelphia, up until (at least) 1963 and thought- hey, there's a good thing to borrow that will be dry and weird and probably not at all funny. In other words, perfect for...

An example-
:: Up until 1961, members of the police department’s vice squad would receive a $1 bonus for every piece of “lascivious material printed of an immoral and/or titilating nature seized and destroyed,” thanks to the wealthy morals of one James L. Roosevelt. The $900,000 trust was endowed in 1956. Due to the extra pay involved, the squad was very zealous in its enforcement activities (in one memorable raid, city newsstands were even stripped of copies of National Geographic), exhausting the fund in only five years. In the last 48 years, such material has been easy to find around town.

There you go. Monday.

There was also a new photo piece about private cops on Friday.
RJ White

Half Days In High School Are Not Good

My elementary and secondary education was a little jumbled. K-First, public school. Second-fifth, a Catholic (not in the "universal" sense) school the next town over, back to public for sixth-eighth, then over to another Catholic (FOUR towns over) joint for high school.

With the high school being a half-hour away, there was not a lot of dispute with my parents about my driving at sixteen. When I was legal to drive, I was commuting, no question. For a brief time, I carpooled (gave rides to) this girl from the next town over, who had also attended the parochial elementary school. One day, our high school had some sort of half day in-service deal and I was going to drop her off at home, when she had the idea to visit the public school in her town, who had a full day. I figured, sure, why not, seeing as I knew a bunch of folks there too, having attended the small catholic school in the same city and hadn't seen some of them in quite some time.

So- we stop by her house- she wanted to change before going over there. Now- this is the point where, in some sort of movie, this would become something. Instead, it was more the something where I remembered that, at the time A&E was running episodes of early 80s Late Night With David Letterman in the afternoons and she had cable and I was instead annoyed that she didn't take long to get ready, so I couldn't see the entire show that they did from their offices because the studio was too warm. Oh well.

We drive over to the high school- it's around lunch time. It is awkward. She is wearing normal clothes. I am in dress code (no jeans, no t-shirts, no sneakers) and feeling out of place and also realizing that, well, sometimes high schools do not like random visitors (even before Columbine and 9/11, when we all changed and as a nation. Together. Remember that? Yes.). We went to the cafeteria, she found her friends. I found a few of the people I'd not seen in years. One of them- the first thing he said was- "Dude. Your hair is messed up." He was right, of course- it was this strange early 90s mushroom/afro deal, but still, this guy had been one of my best friends a few years before and this was a bit off-putting, you can't go home again and all that. The bell rings, everyone goes off, including the person I'd come there with, who'd just gone off to someone's class and I was just kind of standing there. No idea what to do. Wandered the halls for a bit, until some teacher or assistant something or other asked who I was and what I was doing. I got flustered and nervous and apologized and just left and drove home.

I never saw that entire Late Night episode, which was the most annoying thing about the whole deal. I think Terri Garr ended up taking a shower in Letterman's office, but I'm not sure. I heard she has MS now, or something.
Politics (Nixon)

*now, if I had made the thruster nozzles...*

Recently, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Boston.com's wonderful Big Picture weblog posted a collection of forty lovely photographs from the event.

In the comments, number 56-
[In photo number] 17, That's some shoddy looking workmanship around the thruster nozzles. I hope the next generation Moon gear has a better fit and finish....

Seriously, internet- STOP. PLEASE.
RJ White

(no subject)


1) Awhile back, I took the bus to work and stopped in the Au Bon Pain between the stop and my office to pick up a coffee and bagel with swiss/tomato. It cost $3.50. This will be relevant soon.

Down the block, I stopped into a FedEx/Kinko's to pick up a couple of photo mailing envelopes. Found them, took them to the counter and this kind of middle-aged salesman guy was there, seemed disappointed that I wasn't also ordering a huge print run of something. He rang me up, then saw the cup of coffee and bag of bagel. He said, "Au Bon Pain? You must be pulling down a good salary to go there!"

I sort of mumbled something about the breakfast prices not being too bad, got my envelopes and left.

2) Yesterday, I had to go to a store to film something for work before going to the office. It was this place right off of Rittenhouse Square, I had time to stop into a cafe a couple of storefronts down. I went up to the counter, stood behind this guy who was standing at the register. Then, this woman, who I can only describe as "Ann Arbor-esque" comes up to the counter and leans against it the other way. Just as I'm wondering whether or not that's where the line goes and she looks at me awkwardly, the coffee-making dude smiles and greets her, and I realize she's probably a regular. Of course, he takes her order first, so I go over behind her instead.

Lady: Oh- sorry, I didn't know-
Me: Well, I didn't know there was a different way to line up. (knowing that she totally used her regular-ness for cuts)
Lady: Well, I didn't know what you were doing, you were just standing there-
Me: I thought I was in line, but oh well. Of course- he decided to go with you first, anyway.
Lady: (smirks, and in this really shitty way, looks me up and down) What are you, an attorney?
Me: (a little thrown) What... uh... no?

I was wearing khakis, a blue and white striped shirt and carrying a video-camera bag, with my usual messenger deal. I wasn't carrying any law books or set of scales.

I thought for a split second of answering her that, no, I'm actually in public relations, kind of, but realized that would probably have been worse.
RJ White

*the ever-glorious now the ever-present now*

Mark Sandman, 1952-1999

I had meant to make note of it when it came around, but completely missed it. One week ago today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Mark Sandman, frontman for Morphine. I remember exactly where I was when I heard, in my bedroom in an odd apartment in Ann Arbor, listening to WCBN. I cried a bit when I heard the news and of course, spent the evening listening to Morphine albums over and over.

It wasn't just the music- the music was amazing, that whole mixture of drums, sax (2 at once?!?) and that weird bass, with those lyrics- the beat poerty-esque riffs thrown in, amongst words that just put you in some dark bar at 3am or someone's apartment hanging out after that same bar had closed, with that weird light on the pavement outside after it's been raining since eight- that kind of thing. It was also that the band had sort of been the anchor of one of the best weekends of my life.

I wasn't- and still am not, to a certain extent- what you'd call a well-traveled person by the time I got to college. In 1996, I was working on a sitcom for a student tele-vision group at Michigan State. The group had a couple of shows nominated for awards at this national conference, in Providence, RI, so a bunch of us loaded up a couple of rented vans and headed out there. It was the first time I'd even been out of the tri-state area around Michigan, so definitely my first visit to the east coast. We hit Boston first and I loved it- actual urban denisty, buildings and parks that had been around for ages- an actual, honest-to-god city. My having to drive a van out of the city at rush hour didn't even dim my enthusiasm about it. We got to Providence late-ish and most of us were just going to just hang out in our rooms, watching tv or whatever, but Shaun McNally asked the front desk folks who was playing nearby. Turns out, there was this band called Morphine, playing at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (in a different location now), a club downtown. I was kind of not feeling like it, he insisted we all go and so we did.

We were a few blocks away- walking at night through Providence's downtown, I loved it- walking the streets of an old, dark city, going to some club- very hayseed-in-the-big (Providence?)-city, but hey, it was my first time. It's always exciting your first time. Then, once we got there, I one of the best live shows I've ever seen, largely because I'd never heard of these guys before and was completely blown away by them. Every song, every note, just amazing. We walked around some more afterward, hit a bar, then back to the hotel. The following night, after the banquet and award show (hosted by Jeffrey Ross, oddly enough), everyone was hanging out in one of our hotel rooms and I just decided to head out for a walk on my own. It was about ten or eleven and I kind of had no idea where I was going, exactly, just wandering over near where we'd been the night before, a few areas I'd seen during the day with bars and junk, just loving it- loving walking around this old city. There was a line at this pizza place, I grabbed a slice and that's kind of when I decided that I really, really loved this- a city. An old, east coast, dense city, with the buildings and alleys and litter and the river and the crime and the mob and everything else.

That's what kind of led to today, to a certain extent- to starting The City Desk, to falling in love with someone who wanted to live in the same type of place, to living in Philadelphia... it was a pretty damn important weekend (ended by cutting my wrist badly on a big rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near Newport), thirteen years ago and Morphine looms large in the middle of it all. Oddly enough, though, I haven't been back up to Providence since going there again in 1997.

Back in 2000, they released Bootleg Detroit, from a stop on the tour for the same album. I should check to see if the exact November 8, 1996 show is on any of the torrent sites.

I saw them one more time- 1998, at a Horde Festival stop in some Pine-Knob-type place in Northern Indiana.

On July 3, 1999, he died onstage while playing- a heart attack at age 46. It's a horrible, horrible shame that we'll never get to hear more of his amazing music, but he leaves a nice legacy- a music education fund continues in honor of him and an intersection in Cambridge, MA was named after him. If you have some of their stuff- give a listen today. If not, here's a video of a great live version of "Cure for Pain."

So, thank you, Mark Sandman, for having existed.
RJ White

*for the maritimes*

Today is Canada Day.

In celebration, over on the Twitter (rj_white, if you are inclined to add), I have been posting True Canada Facts.

A sampling:
:: Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is the estranged father of popular American actors Dermot Mulroney and Jenna Maroney.

:: There is a lounge in the CN Tower in which the speaking of English is prohibited, the Les Français Lèvent le Haut Salon

:: In addition to founding Manitoba, Louis Riel also invented the modern claw hammer.

:: The early CBC broadcast network originally included stations in MI and WIS until a series of bloody skirmishes in 1952.

:: Canadian TV comedy team Wayne & Shuster were the originators of the old "give 'em 20" school of comedy.

:: Admission to the Lesser Houses of Parliament is half-price on Thursdays. The regular Houses of Parliament are full-price.

:: National Post cartoonist chipzdarsky is actually an alias for American humor artist Jim Davis.

:: Hockey legend Don Cherry's collars are constructed in a facility in an industrial park outside of Winnipeg.

:: All Tim Hortons are connected by a network of pneumatic tubes. Through these, coffee flows from a massive central silo.

:: All Canadian schoolchildren can recite the capitals of all 50 US states, plus their Governors and Lt. Governors.

Happy Canada.
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