Month: June 2016

Outside Looking In?

Tempe

Tempe

I was looking through CD’s this morning to find something to add to my iPhone. I wanted something mellow to listen to while walking or running. I came across Outside Looking In – The Best Of The Gin Blossoms. Sync completed and the music takes me back home to Arizona.

Outside looking in is how I feel sometimes as writer. Or how I felt as a musician. I suppose some of this feeling comes from feeling stuck along the fringe. The perpetual wallflower.

But how do we define being in or how do we define success? Success to me now means nothing more than enjoying myself along the way as I do the things I love. I would write for no one much the same as I would play guitar for no one. Anything beyond that is a plus.

Back to Arizona and the Gin Blossoms. I spent the majority of my life in the east valley area of Phoenix (Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale). There was a bar/grill in downtown Tempe called Long Wong’s where we used to walk or ride our bikes to at least once a week for cheap beer and chicken wings. Long Wong’s had a small area set up for live music in the bar section. For the better part of a year, it seemed the Gin Blossoms were playing there more than any other band.  I spent many Fridays and Saturdays enjoying their music at Long Wong’s and other local venues.

7th & Mill

7th & Mill

On New Year’s Eve, the Gin Blossoms were playing at a club around the corner from Long Wong’s (much larger venue and with two floors).  It was one of those New Year’s Eve specials where one buys a ticket in advance and the evening includes a concert, some sort of food, and cheap champagne to toast at midnight. There was a second band called August Red who should have been the headliner but oddly opened that evening, the reason unfolding later.

When it was time for the Gin Blossoms to go on stage, a local radio DJ came out to introduce the band. During that introduction, he announced the band had just been signed to a record label. Headliner explained and a few months later in the early 90s, the rest of the world got to enjoy a band from my neighborhood. Success.

I got to see them a few more times over the years. Surprisingly, one of those times was at a music festival in Racine Wisconsin. I wore an ASU sweatshirt but never got close enough for the band to notice. Or anyone else to make the connection for that matter. It’s alright. I knew the connection. I’d have worn a Long Wong’s shirt if I had one.

7th & Mill Today

7th & Mill Today

Maybe I’ll see them again. I just read they’ll be on my new side of the country in July and August. Twenty five years later and they are still making music. Yes, they’ve had their own tragedies over the years. Who hasn’t? No, they are not selling out venues they might have easily sold out in the early 90’s. Long Wong’s is long gone – a casualty of corporate greed. The Gin Blossoms are still around.

So am I.

Outside looking in? More like the inside looking out. I can relate to that.

Some bar on Broadway in Tempe

Some bar on Broadway in Tempe

Photos courtesy of me, NewTimes, & Google images

Walk This Way

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“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

Like many families, we try and incorporate exercise and fitness into our daily lives. Daily might be a lofty goal, bi-daily might be a bit more realistic. We’ve been going to the gym twice a week for a nice balance of cardio and strength training and we also enjoy taking a walk in the evenings. Usually that walk includes three dogs and at least two of us leading them up the road behind our house then back down the road. I say up the road because it is literally up. As in uphill. The dogs love it and we get in about thirty minutes of exercise. We take in beautiful scenery and keep a running count of deer we see each evening.

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Road behind my house

We have a river that runs through town. Although known for great fishing, the river also has a hiking trail along one side of it that starts near a park and extends for miles toward the Pennsylvania border. I’ve found that I use this river quite often in my writing.

The Park

The Park

For walking and/or running, I have an app on my phone that tracks both distance and route in addition to letting me know how many calories I’ve burned. This is important and is the decision maker on whether or not I have a beer with dinner. Last weekend, we drove in to town and did a short walk along the trail and ended up with a little over 2 miles of walking.  Having the day off on Monday, we returned and ended up walking down to a bridge and back and found we had walked 3.44 miles. Although I’ve both ran and walked this distance before, it was a first for my wife. Her first 5K.

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I’ve always enjoyed walking and/or hiking. There are times when I have done this on my own, enjoying the solitude while allowing my mind to both relax or wander off in thought. There are other times where I have enjoyed the company and conversation of being accompanied on a walk.

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to drive into town. Out intent was to walk another 5K along the trail. We were also celebrating my not having had a cigarette in six months. We ended up walking 7.4 miles. Technically her first 10K and then some. Mine too. I earned enough calories to drink two beers last night.

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The simplicity of walking. Something I’ve done for my entire life yet feel like I’m doing it again for the first time each time we take a walk.

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Photo’s are all courtesy of me… my attempt at cell phone photography

 

 

 

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