Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hurricane Fran: what I remember 10 years later / Elvis 29 years later

Glances From A Nervous Groom

september 6 marks ten years since hurricane fran arrived with its fury in north carolina. i was playing a gig at berkeley cafe in downtown raleigh. seems we weren't expecting the worst of it till the wee hours. so we continued to play. we were the opener and terry anderson's band was on stage. they were so loud we could not hear the wind or the trees and limbs falling on the street there at nash square. eventually, my roommate called the bar from home and asked if i was coming home! was sweet and mother hen-like of him (joe - who's nickname is "sloe" if you read this, thank you!)

normally, it would be a 5 minute drive from berkeley cafe to my home where mordecai and oakwood meet. but it took me 20 minutes to go that 2 or so miles. fallen trees and power lines on every street. i felt like a mouse in a maze.

the only business open was krispy kreme on peace st. i got two dozen doughnuts and that's what we ate pretty much for 24 hours. being bachelors, we didn't have much in the fridge.

i do recall we sat on the front porch for awhile, drinking beer (sloe had stocked up) watching the wind, rain and eerie green lights of the sky. i still remember the sound of distant transformers blowing up every few minutes.

we lost power for 2 or 3 days. we were lucky compared to some. many lost power for a week or more. and it was miserably hot. and i was really sick the next day from the beer and doughnuts!


while i'm on the subject of marking anniversaries, today is 29 years to the day that elvis left the building for the last time.

i was playing a version of baseball, called wiffleball, in my front yard in garner, nc when my sister's best friend lisa came to tell us. she was running and breathless. we ran straight into the house to see it on tv. we had just gotten cable, but there was no big cable news network then to my knowledge. i think the networks broke in with the news. it was a scorching hot and humid day in nc that afternoon and all the clips of memphis from that day seem like a boiler too. my main thought was "it's gonna be weird to live in a world without elvis." of course 29 years later, he's bigger than ever. just not among the living.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Looking back 18 Years On: The Hanks

Glances From A Nervous Groom

18 years ago this summer, my first real club band the hanks played our 2nd headliner ever at the brewery, then raleigh's best rock club. tony madejczyk of the spectator magazine captured on video the whimsy and dizzing energy that was a hanks show from that era. many whiskers and grey hairs later, i submit to you via youtube, the summer of love ... ok, that one's taken. the summer of hank, 1988.

more music and images on the hanks (now reunited and playing a couple of times a year or whenever we feel like it) at

also, see this youtube of the followup band to the hanks (the ragdads). this is our farewell show. ron bartholomew was in this band as well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

baseball has been very very good to me - memorial day 2006

just some random thoughts regarding baseball, both recently and forever.

i made my annual trip to the dc area to see the baltimore orioles play. this time it was a first for me ... vs. the new washington nationals at rfk stadium. though i was 40 years too late (his absolute peak was the '66 triple crown, mvp and world series champ season), i was still thrilled to be able to get a glimpse of former oriole and hall of famer frank robinson. even if it was as a 70 year old manager of the struggling nationals.

the o's lost both games i saw, but i still had a wonderful time at the park. i'm almost 45, but i still bring a glove with me to the games in hopes of snagging an errant foul ball. i caught two at camden yards over the years and a few in durham at the bulls games. in fact, i saw the bulls friday and saturday play the orioles' AAA team this weekend at their fabulous ballpark which is about a mile and a half from my home. my frequent traveling buddy and longtime friend brad magner usually find time to throw a few pitches back and forth on the lawn of the hotel each year. though i was primarily a second baseman in my prime (i played organized ball from age 9 to 18, and was part of the state championship team in high school in '78) i am now a 44 year old knuckleballer. wish i had come up with that pitch 25 years ago.

speaking of that high school championship team, i received word this morning that our catcher greg baker has died after a courageous battle with melanoma. he was a couple of years ahead of me so he was one of the "big guys" when i was growing up. i really looked up to him. i'd known him since jr. high school when he caught for that team and he was in the 9th grade and i was in the 7th. seems i was always one of the "little kids". but he was a giant. he was funny, had the prettiest girlfriend and was a damned fine ballplayer. some of those guys from that team were giants to me anyway. most of the older guys won the state championship when they were 13 or 14 when they were in the little tar heel league. so i knew by the time they made it to high school, they'd be an amazing team. and sure enough, when i was a sophomore and greg was a senior, we won it all on charlotte's home field. ironically, this was the same field the charlotte orioles played their double A ball. cal ripken had played there either that same year or the year before. as had hall of famer eddie murray when he was at that level. we all thought we'd make it to the big leagues. none of us did. but greg went on to be a policeman and detective and made his family proud.

i miss those guys and i'll miss greg. i hadn't seen him since our 20th reunion of the championship team in '98.

this weekend as i was playing soft toss, shagging flies and taking grounders with my buddy tom meltzer, greg was dying in a hospital. and i had no idea. but the night before i'd heard of his death, i'd thought of that team for some reason. maybe i was thinking of how graceful donald sanderford or larry newsome were in the outfield as i was huffing and puffing in the hot memorial day sun at jaycee park.
and i was trying to remember the lineup of that team. i finally typed the lineup into my computer for safekeeping. and of course, then the sad news arrived. my thoughts are with the baker family today and all of the people who had the pleasure to know him, grow up with him and love him.

i remember at that reunion, one of my summer league coaches by the name of c.a. tanner came to remember that wonderful summer with us. i learned this past weekend that he too passed away. another fine man. a national guardsman and a great singer. he used to sing the national anthem at several of our summer league games. while i pause to remember all of these fallen friends and heroes, i want to mention coach ward miller who died about ten years ago, far too young in his early 40's. surely one of the best coaches i'd ever had. maybe the best. he coached greg and i in junior high. he was a classy gentleman and always taught fundamental baseball to us and how to win and lose with class.

here's that 1978 garner high school trojan baseball team. if i've left anyone out, it's due to a faulty memory 28 years ago and i'll make corrections.

coach - brinkley wagstaff (who only coached this one year and left as champion)

C - greg baker
1B - david boyette
2B - david daughtry
SS - moe barbour
3B / LF - eric williams
LF - larry newsome
CF - donald sanderford
3B / 2B - ronnie parker
RF - wayne dail

P - walter stephens
P - roger jenkins
P - roger jernigan
P - steve wiggins

3B / P - freddie elliot
2B - jeff hart
OF - ruff bailey
C - todd smitherman
1B - kerry cross

greg baker 1960 - 2006

Sunday, February 12, 2006

when you're lost in the rain in juarez and it's easter time too ...

actually atlanta. i just remembered this long forgotten little story from 1993.

back around '93 when i was playing in chris stamey's trio, we had two gigs booked in georgia. the first one was in atlanta and the second night was in athens. due to work, i had to drive down separately from chris. as i was coming into atlanta, i became lost and found myself somewhere near the carter center. and we were seeing the first sleet and ice which would almost cancel the next night's gig in athens. i just drove around and around. i was off the interstate, but i just was going in circles somehow. the only thing that cheered me was that i turned on the radio and i heard one of my songs! chris had gotten to town a good bit earlier and was in the studio talking to a dj. i'm sure this must have been a college station. he had kindly brought one of my discs to give to the station. afte the song, i heard chris' voice and my stress was lessened. very nice of him. he later covered one of my songs in a later band he had called alaska. was an obscure song called "love in return" on an EP i had out that year.

not sure why i thought of this, but made me remember how nice he was to me to help me out like that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stand for Nothing and You'll Fall for Anything

some thoughts on the alito's appointment to the supreme court and the failed filibuster attempt by the democrats:

so only 32 of the senate's democrats were in favor of a filibuster.
as of this writing, i haven't reviewed the list of those who didn't vote for a filibuster, but i imagine most of them were the ones who were part of the gang of 14 who agreed to never filibuster except under extreme circumstances. well, the time for that exception has come and gone. a little foresight on their part would have been nice.

it's one thing to regret one's vote due to how it may affect one's seat politically. i argue it's a bigger regret to have a missed opportunity to save the country from an erosion of freedom. the freedoms that we are seeing fritter away are the very ones that are invoked when our government authorizes war or waxes patriotic on independence day. how anyone in washington or across the country can miss that sad irony is a tragic blindspot.

in a related note:
bush and the current crop of conservatives are allowing the terrorists to win by allowing this country to melt our freedoms from the inside out. it is so shortsighted to think by allowing spying and certain tenets of the partiot act, we are saving this country. we have a military to fight those fights. let them do their job when it's authorized. but don't give our freedoms away.

i think it can be argued that it's as bad as "negotiating with terrorists" (as in "we will not negotiate with terrorists" they are so fond of saying) in that the u.s. is in a way unilaterally allowing terrorists to dictate how we live. i do not advocate negotiating with terrorists, i want to make that clear. but his solution is on par with that as far as eroding what we have stood for all these years.

what's that famous saying?

"stand for nothing and you will fall for anything?"

well, don't look now, but we have lost our footing under the watch of bush and cheney and it will have dire long term consequences for our twilight years and the best years of our childrens' lives if the other branches of government and the people themselves do not put a check on this naked grab for power. the separation of powers was set up for just this kind of scenario.