Sunday, September 30, 2007


If you've ever been to my current place, or any place I've ever lived, you've probably noticed that it's overrun with media. It's the best fringe benefit of my job that a lot of books, CDs, and DVDs float my way for free. But the cumulative effect of doing this for a few years is that the room disappears fast. Factor in that I spent years prior to turning pro squandering my paycheck on media and a personality that gets sentimentally attached to objects and you're left with, well, a mess. And given that our place, while spacious, is still very much a big city condo something had to give. For the last couple of weeks, it's been giving. Stevie and I did a large book and DVD purge last weekend that left us with a little more pocket money and still way too many books and DVDs. For the past few days I've been packing up my CDs.

I know people, people who are wildly enthusiastic about music, who have taken advantage of the glorious age of digital music we're now living to sell their CDs. I can't do that. I just can't. I've been building my collection since I was 16 and can still tell you the first four CDs I bought and when I bought them. (First: Green by R.E.M., purchased during a marching band trip on the first week of its release in 1988 before I owned a CD player.)

I get attached. I can remember poring over liner notes for albums and staring at covers. I once saw an interview Bryan Ferry where he complained that CD listeners lacked the "tactile" relationship with their music that vinyl fans enjoyed. If he only knew what was coming. I'm pretty sure I'm from the last generation to grow up touching music. But I don't really touch it anymore. I rip, peruse the liner notes, and go. I still look at the covers, but it's usually when they appear in the corner of my screen.

I don't really miss playing CDs, to tell the truth. I love the digital age. I listen to music just as deeply and more broadly than ever. I take my iPod with me everywhere. My laptop (and an external hard drive) allow me to keep a considerable library at my fingertips and a large hard drive at home houses a collection in excess of 200GB. That said, I still love my CDs. And packing them up hasn't been easy. I kept hitting little sentimental trapdoors. I mean, I can remember a couple of weeks in December of 1998 when the Townes Van Zandt album High And Low And In Between felt like the closest friend I had.

Nonetheless, they have to make room. So, apart from a few we listen to in the car on a regular basis, down to the basement they go, secure in the finest plastic tubs Target stocks. I guess I could get rid of them, but I keep thinking about the dream house I'll maybe own down the line, one with a wall of shelves for all my CDs that my as-yet-still-imaginary kids, who will never rebel against their dad's great taste in music, will be able to look at, and listen to, and touch.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I've been flying more than usual lately (see previous post) and as anyone who's spent anytime at O'Hare already knows, nothing is free. To use the wireless you have to sign up for a service called Boingo. Which, whatever, as a captive audience who compulsively checks his e-mail, I'll pay for the privilege. But Boingo was apparently set up around 1994 and signing up for it requires finding a username that
a) Isn't taken and
b Is between 5 and 10 characters

That's not as easy as it sounds and around attempt 12 I came up with a username that I thought was perfect. Of course, it didn't work.


So, hi. It's been six weeks since I've posted here and for once I have a good excuse. On Monday, August 20th, my father was in a car accident near his home in Englewood, Ohio while taking some vegetables to his sister-in-law. His car collided with a dump truck. The driver of the dump truck going full speed and died at the scene. My father was able to make a call to my mother using his cell phone while others waited for him at the scene. Accounts vary as to whether or not he exited the car himself or was pulled because of a small fire. As to who was to blame, I'd rather not get into that issue apart from saying that my dad had a lifetime of frustratingly overly cautious driving. This seems to have been the day he made a split-second mistake at a backwoods intersection known for poor visibility, a history of accidents, and neighbors who have raised the issue with the town council more than once.

My father suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured knee, and fractured upper vertebrae, all serious injuries for a 29-year-old, much less a 79-year-old. He was taken first to one hospital then to another, the latter being known for its trauma center. He was declared to be in serious but stable condition.

He was still in much the same condition when I arrived the next day, there being no good, short-notice flights the day of the accident. We also decided that I simply couldn't do that much to help on the day of the accident, anyway. It was a feeling I'd come to know all too well.

When I first saw my father, he was in bad shape. When I left, two weeks later, he had improved only slightly. When I returned the weekend after that he was still not well enough to be released from the hospital and into a nursing home. This was deemed necessary as the next stage of his recovery since he would need almost constant care upon release.

Complicating matters: he's kind of a danger to himself at the moment. That's the thing I haven't touched on yet. The accident left my dad with a broken, slowly recovering body. It seems to have left his mind in similar shape. For the first ten days or so he was virtually incomprehensible, a trend that bottomed out during a terrifying trip to the ICU. He would hallucinate, grab at imaginary car keys in the air, and talk about things that the dog was doing. Since then he's been better, but it's a deeply qualified better. He can talk about the accident in horrifying detail but has to constantly be reminded where he is. Asked what year it is and dad will always respond, "Now wait a minute..." before replying with something that's not even close.

And that's more or less where we are now. I've yet to go back since my dad was moved to a nursing home last week. I get daily reports from mom. She's wildly encouraged by the slightest signs of improvement and crushed by any setback. I'm due to go back again next weekend. I don't expect any major improvement. The way I see it we're on a journey of many miles that my dad can only travel in inches.

I really appreciate everyone who's been asking about him. I'll start posting updates in this space. I'll try to be better about keeping in touch but it's kind of been hard to get back to everyone. If you'd like to send cards or anything, my dad can be reached at:

Friendship Village
5790 Denlinger Rd.
Trotwood, OH 45426

Stay safe and well.