Am I a Man’s Man?

30/365
random letters via Compfight

I have a quiz for you. I would like you to tell me if I am a “man’s man”. I am uncertain what the phrase means, although it is my understanding that football is a “man’s-man game” and I do like football.

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The Failure of Greater Atlanta

Atlanta skyline Jackson St Bridge Om via Compfight

As a former resident of Atlanta, I was not surprised to hear the news about the terrible traffic problems during the snow storm on Tuesday. The reason I was not surprised is not because Atlanta is a southern city that is poorly prepared for snow, but because traffic in Atlanta is always bad. When I lived there, my commute was from Midtown near City Hall East to Dunwwoody, just behind Perimeter Mall. This was mostly before the MARTA station opened at Perimeter Mall so my only real option was to drive, which meant taking the Connector (I-75/85) to GA-400. On good days, it was a thirty minute drive. On bad days, like Halloween 1997, it could take more than three hours. I haven’t lived in Atlanta for over ten years but given that it was, and continues to be, unlikely that MARTA is ever going to expand until it becomes a realistic commuting option, the traffic situation has only gotten worse.

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It Never Occurred To Me

 

As many of you probably know by now, Grantland published a piece last Wednesday called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” that started out about a golf putter and then turned into something very different. By Friday there was a lot of negative feedback on the piece, especially with regard to the way it dealt with a transgendered person. On Monday, Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons posted a response and so did ESPN reporter Christina Kahrl, who is transgender. As you would expect, Alyssa Rosenberg had some interesting thoughts on the matter, as did others. The thing that stands out for me is Simmons’ repeated assertions that the problems with the process in deciding to publish the piece never occurred to him or his editors. To be clear, I believe Simmons. I believe Simmons because one of the by-products of being a heterosexual white male in this country (which also describes me) is the inability to know what you don’t know with regard other races or genders or sexual preferences or other characteristics that are not well-represented and discussed in popular culture.

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Bruce Springsteen High Hopes

Credit: Bruce Springsteen

Is it hacky if I start off my review of Bruce Springsteen’s latest album by saying that it’s been a while since I’ve had high hopes for a new Springsteen album? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Bruce Springsteen’s eighteenth studio album, High Hopes, is unusual Springsteen is that it features three covers, one song previously released on a live album plus an alternate version of the title song from 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad. It’s not unusual for Springsteen to comb through his backlog to find things to release, and that doesn’t mean the album can’t be great. So is High Hopes great?

Okay, maybe that was too much to hope for. A better question is where does High Hopes rank in the Springsteen canon? Keep in mind that this opinion will really only be firmed up in a few years when High Hopes either drops down in my listening rotation or stays relevant.

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This Lonely Plant Never Looked So Good

Credit: Bruce Springsteen

I was still in Atlanta in September 2001 and I felt (and still feel) oddly guilty about that even thought at that point I’d lived in Atlanta for over twice as long as I’d lived in New York. Even so, Atlanta always felt temporary to me; we were always going to end up back in New York. When Springsteen played “My City of Ruins” on America: A Tribute to Heroes we were in North Carolina buying furniture. I’d heard of the song, which I believe was first called “In Freehold” by the fans. It remains one of my favorite songs from the current Springsteen period.

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That Ragged, Jagged Melody She Still Clings To Me Like A Leach

 Credit: Bruce Springsteen

After I got hooked on Springsteen in 1984, I had the pleasure of diving into his back catalog. There were six albums, including the double-album The River and it was a heady time for being a new fan. Somewhere I read an article that mentioned four classic early Springsteen songs; “Rosalita”, “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run” and “Jungleland”. In looking on the back of the earlier albums I saw that three of the songs were on Born to Run. (It may seem ridiculous now, but I was disappointed that “Rosalita” was on another album.) Born to Run was the culmination of what Springsteen was building as a new artist and it was the end of that early era. There is an argument to be made that the new direction that Springsteen started with Darkness on the Edge of Town was not as good as what came before, but it’s not an argument I would make. (I’ll leave it to Mike Appel.) I will say that for a high school student, the wild romance of Springsteen’s first three albums was perfect.

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There’s Something Happening Somewhere Baby I Just Know There Is

Credit: Bruce Springsteen

This is the first in a five-part series this week which will finish with my review of Bruce Springsteen’s new album, High Hopes. The reason for this long series that Springsteen is by far my favorite musician and it’s difficult for me to review a new album without putting it into context. (I tried, and failed, to write a review when Wrecking Ball came out in 2012.)

From Monday through Thursday I will post thoughts on eras in Springsteen’s career, which I arbitrarily define, and Friday is the review. I’m pretty sure that no one will read the entire series and that’s fine as I’m doing this more as an exercise to get these thoughts down.

Today I talk about “discovering” Springsteen in 1984 and about the albums Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, Nebraska and, of course, Born in the USA.

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New Year 2014

 

The end of the year is a strange time for me. I look forward to the period that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Day more than any other time of year. As an adult, there are fewer and fewer things to look forward to. There is no more summer vacation (or winter vacation or spring break). My birthday became meaningless sometime in my twenties and only assumes minor meaning when I hit a factor of ten. I no longer care about my sports teams like I once did. I have already met and married the woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with.

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Nelson Mandela

 

I imagine that you already know that Nelson Mandela passed away last night at the age of 95. There is nothing that I can write about Mandela’s extraordinary life that will be as good or informative as the various obituaries that have already been posted, including this great one by Bill Keller at the New York Times. This post is not about Mandela, not really, but rather like all my posts is really about me.

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So This Happened

 

My colleagues and I received the news this morning that our office is shutting down. My own assignment will run into next year and then will be followed by severance and a small payment to reward me for sticking it out to the end. Once I leave the office for the final time I will put a job behind me that I haven’t enjoyed, other than the paycheck. Now the dream of having a job that I enjoy is again rising from the ashes.

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