Sunday, August 30, 2009


Just unpacking and getting things back in order before I jump back into the fire tomorrow. The Root Down is back up and going after some time away...some much needed time away. A little fatigued and my back is sore from backpacking it the entire time, but I really can't complain. I figure you don't go to Boston and NYC to sit around and watch it all happen. You gotta get out there. And we did. I'm sitting here behind a mug of dark coffee listening to a copy of El Michels Affair's Sounding Out the City that I picked up at Fat Beats on Friday...remembering NYC fondly.

The view from the hotel in Boston

But the trip doesn't start there. It starts in an Alamo Rental lot at Boston's Logan Airport with me with my head stooped low in my own misery as the attendant explains to me that he can't rent me a car for our trip up the coast (that we've been planning for about seven months) because I don't have a credit card--only debit. You see, when I paid all of my credit cards off years ago, I shredded all of them. I have no use for them. Well, turns out, that my debit doesn't mean much to these folks because they're afraid that I'm gonna hop in one of their piece of crap Pontiacs and drive it off a cliff somewhere. I'd be doing them a favor if I did that. The dude stood his ground though. I fussed for a few minutes. I mean, I'm not going to leave with a simple, "I'm sorry, sir. I can't rent you a car." My lovely wife and I have been planning this trip for too long for me to just walk away and go sit on my thumb back at the hotel all day. I stand there like a complete moron until he offers some other advice. Eventually, dude caves. He leans to me over the counter and drops his voice, "I know that Budget has been known to take debit and I know for certain that Thrifty does." Thanks, homie. That's what I needed. I need the liberty to hop in a car that didn't belong to me, drive it into the ocean and walk away with no consequences. Not that I'd do that, but that's kinda what I'm looking for.

We walk next door to Budget and sure enough, they rent us a car. It would've been just as easy for me to find a credit card on the ground, take it in and drive off the lot with a car. We got a Pontiac. Didn't even know they still made Pontiacs, honestly. I thought they were extinct by now. They should be. It had XM though which was a pleasantry. I inspected it carefully. This tin can had about thirty different dents or scrapes. I noted every single one.

The next challenge was finding our way out of Boston which proved to not only be difficult, but expensive. Firstly, the scale of Boston is so tiny that, on the map, it would appears that you're driving miles, but really it's only feet. One thumb-width is about 500 feet and, before you know it, you're in Connecticut. You gotta have your eyes absolutely peeled because at 50 MPH, the map runs out quickly. We take one wrong turn out of the airport and end up paying a toll of $3.50 to drive about a quarter mile through a tunnel. Then, we end up on the Mass Turnpike heading due West (not North as intended) and square up at another toll booth and have to pay another $1.50. That's five bucks to end up West of Cambridge. We double back through the neighborhoods and downtown and finally get our bumpers facing North and South. When you see this bridge, you're heading in the right direction.

The premise of the trip was just point the car in one direction and step on the gas. Something I'm capable of doing and, armed with a keen sense of direction, distance and navigation, I figured there's not much that could really go wrong. The car was due back in 24 hours. No problem. We headed out on Highway 1 which maintains about a one to five mile distance from the ocean at all times. It would prove slow going because of morning beach-goers, but the view was much more rewarding then just hopping on the interstate and dashing up the way to Maine. We stopped in Newburyport, Mass so I could get me something to drink. I opted for some Dunkin Donuts coffee (which they call water in New England apparently) and we stopped for some photos just off of a dock in Salisbury just north of there. This is where I thought the steak was named, but had no evidence to support it. In fact, it didn't look to be a community of red meat eaters. Probably more seafood and vegetables.

It's was the perfect morning even despite a brush with Hurricane Bill that sent large waves rolling into the shores which made all beach-goers spectators not participants. Not that I really knew the difference between a rip tide and a regular Sunday morning because I don't usually see water puddling bigger than a playa lake, but the waves were pretty magnificent. My lovely wife tiptoed into the water. I stayed back and photographed.

Yeah, I suppose now looking at it, those waves are probably more of what I would expect from California. Not upstate Massachusetts. We continued up the coast to New Hampshire...Hampton to be exact. Not the Hamptons, but just Hampton. Nice beach community. However, I discovered that white trash migrates as far north as New Hampshire. I was surprised to find this cat riding alongside the main drag. The midriff is a dead giveaway. Either he's European or white trash. I diagnosed him as white trash. My lovely wife doubted my assessment saying that's he tan and looked to be in pretty good shape...suggesting that he might not be white trash because he looks to take pretty good care of himself. He's lean because he eats varmint and he's tan because he wears a midriff. That'd be the difference.

I applaud, though, his shamelessness. Dude rocked it like mad. We stopped at another beach and fired up a few pictures. My lovely wife built a small structure from the rocks nearby.

The waves crashed against the rocks and tossed a mist into the air. I told my lovely wife, "This is the kinda ish they make candles out of!" We laughed.

Onward through New Hampshire. It was the kinda stuff we only saw in magazines. Not used to seeing such natural beauty because I'm from the badlands of West Texas where it's an oddity to find a tree taller than twenty feet that hasn't been windblown to half it's height, water is virtually non-existent and it's stunningly flat and abandoned.

After crossing through Portsmouth, we arrived in Maine...the final state we'd be visiting on our venture. It was now past mid-day and travel proved to be pretty challenging because of the density of coastal population and its resulting traffic. Seemed like everywhere we pulled through was a thirty minute traffic clog. Knowing the interstate was only a mere two miles away at all times, we continued on Highway 1. Maine was more my steez. Less populus. More scenic. Densely painted with perfect coastlines, evergreens and puffy clouds. I'd live there in a second.

First stop in Maine was what is called "the Yorks" which consists of York Harbor, York Cliffs and York Beach. Because of Hurricane Bill's winds off coast, it was pushing waves over the roadway rendering it unpassable so we stopped off and got ourselves some grub. My lovely wife opted for the lobster looked ready to crawl right off the plate. We had to bludgeon it a couple of times just to make sure that it was cooked thoroughly. I had the prime rib and a Sam Adams which was spectacular.

Hunting for a lighthouse of up the coast, we continued through back roads and neighborhood streets until we dumped out into York Beach--a small boardwalk community with an arcade, a candy store and some clothiers. The lighthouse we were looking for disappeared somewhere in between. Rather than spending more time in the car looking for it, we parked at York Beach and took in some of the sights and the fat pale people in swimsuits. There must not be a great deal of sunlight in Maine.

After walking down the boardwalk, we hit up an arcade where we played a round of miniature bowling. You tossed these hard wooden balls the size of bocci balls at pins that were about halfway the width between a standard bowling pin and a broomstick. Place was so ill. I've made plans to have one installed in my home on the coast of Maine.

Despite my incredible form, I got owned by my lovely wife 47-43. Shaddup. There was a serious learning curve for a guy who sucks at regular bowling. The tendency to absolutely chunk this ball was assumed because it weighed only about four pounds. The harder you threw it, the less accurate you were, but physics would suggest that given the weight of the ball and the pins, you were going to have to throw it hard to ensure maximum destruction. It didn't work. She schooled me.

Listened to a spotlight on De La Soul on XM on the way up to Portland as we finally hopped on the interstate as daylight was becoming sparse with the clouds moving in. Portland would likely be our final stop as we wanted to see the Portland Head Lite...a famous lighthouse in South Portland.

Portland reminded me strikingly of Pennywise country...especially on this day. I was looking for ol' boy crawling out of a gutter. They all float down here, homie.

Thought about opening up a penny arcade and calling it Pennywise Arcade. My lovely wife thought of a few ideas for how we could make a living in Maine. Somewhere between a cupcake store and veterinary practice. Yeah, I have high ambitions. I'm gonna open up an arcade and make my millions one penny at a time just so I can name it after a fictitious clown from a Stephen King novel.

After about thirty more minutes of travel and enduring biblical downpour, we located the lighthouse. This was it. We spent about thirty minutes on the grounds. It was first lit in 1791 by using whale oil lamps. That's it in the background.

It was almost haunting as the Head Lite blew it's fog whistle conversationally with a nearby lighthouse to the north with the waves filling in the gaps. Hypnotized, I stood there in complete awe as moments passed.
It has been called the "most photographed lighthouse in North America." I guess I have to believe it because I'm not an authority on lighthouse photography.

After a few more photos were taken, we hopped back on the interstate to travel south back to Boston. It poured on us the entire way back in. Thanks for nothing, Bill. Seems everytime we head out on a big trip, we heading into some sort of weather. One outing on our honeymoon was disrupted by a tropical storm. Now Bill in Boston and Danny was waiting in the wings.
Beckett got slaughtered by the Yanks as we made our way back into Boston making a good excuse to call it an evening and plan our Monday in Boston.
I'm being ordered off the computer by my lovely wife. We'll continue more later.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Back in Texas. Amazing to be able to look 500 feet away and not see anything that's at least four stories tall. This $1.35 beer never tasted better. I spent $7.99 for a sixer of St. Arnold's tonight. The other night, off of Times Square, I put down $15 for a sixer of Sierra Nevada. It was worth it. But this St. Arnold's that I picked up by hopping in my car and driving a mile down the road and parking in a 16-spot parking lot accessible by two different traffic lanes without seeing a taxi was quite refreshing. And here I sort through all of the notes I took and want to mention on the blog and am thinking, I'll just give you a taste of NYC and Boston (and Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut) and then throw up the rest later.
Best vacation ever, me thinks. Better than my honeymoon? Hard to say. I was with my lovely wife, so I would say that it'd be easy for me to say that I, yeah, better than the honeymoon.
If you told me I'd be scraping sea gull feces off of a boardwalk in Maine 50 hours a week, I'd start packing tonight and the car would have a full take of gas, my lovely wife and two beagles in it by 7:00 in the morning. I love the peacefulness, the serenity. How awesome, though, to experience a direct contrast by jumping into the fire of the New York City transit system only two days later. We went from Better Homes and Gardens to a solid and unforgiving punch to the groin in just 48 hours. I wouldn't have it any different.
I don't vacate, I just walk a hair slower and speak about half as much.
Ya'll be good to your neighbor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


When my lovely wife and I first married, we went to Cozumel and planned the most wonderful outing to the mainland where we would walk through ancient ruins and swim in the ocean. That day, a tropical storm blasted the coast of Mexico and we spent our entire day under cover drinking free beer and watching lightning.

In February, I bought tickets to the Sawx versus the Sox in Boston for Monday night. Well, turns out someone else has a ticket to Boston...a category 4 hurricane named Bill.

Possible that this cat might just skate by New England and dust it with a little wind and rain. Or he could just land right on top of Boston and rain out the entire game. Or, this path might completely bend back to a complete 180 and head back out to sea and never hit the states. As of right now, though, the projected path takes it directly toward New England hitting portions of the Boston area on Monday morning.

Stay tuned to The Root Down...your Hurricane Big Bad Bill vs. New England headquarters.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Woke up at 1:25 this morning to a rumble of thunder. Finding it odd that there was thunder because, being a well-aware meteorological-centric West Texan, I didn't really believe there was much of a chance of rain at the time I went to bed. Surprised, I did my typical get up and walk the house briefly. Making sure everything's cool.

I hop back in bed and turn over as the lightning became more rampant and the thunder louder. Not but about five minutes later, the sound that could really only be described as a "deafening boom of nuclear proportions" dropped on our house. I mean it shook the house. The power leaves the house immediately. The hum of the fan silenced. My lovely wife finally wakes up in an absolute panic. I tell her we lost power. Thinking that certainly our house got struck, I grab the flashlight near the bed and begin to inspect the ceilings. I walk into the kitchen where Tux and Jax have completely shat themselves. Tucker's eyes are the size of sand dollars and Jackson's tail is wagging furiously. It's like their lives passed before them.

I open the gate and let them roam the house. Tucker begins circling the house madly. He's not well. The lightning continues providing me brief glimpses of my surroundings. I hop back in bed and await the power to return. Dead air is sleep's enemy. I mean, when there's no air moving in a house, sleep cannot exist.

Tucker jumps up into my arms. He's shaking uncontrollably. I stroke his back in hopes to calm him down. It took about an hour for him to calm when he just fell asleep. I go outside to inspect the exterior of the house for any damage. Nothing. Close, but not a direct hit. I go in and call the energy company to report the outage. The man says that he's got a couple of calls of the outage and currently there are 160 homes without power. During the call, he explains that initially he thought it to be repaired by 5:45, but then states that power should be restored by 3:00. No problem. I can deal.

I go and lay back down and attempt to sleep. An hour passes. Then, two hours pass. I hop up and decide to go check on the status outside. It's a dead calm. Nothing's happening. I hop in my car and decide to drive around the block and see if I can find anything going from the energy company. Nothing. I call them back.

This time, I'm told that it's going to be 5:45. I explain that I was told that it was going to be 3:00 before after it was initially reported to be 5:45. Being that it was now 3:30, I was pretty sure that 3:00 wasn't going to happen. And, I figure that now that it's 5:45, I'm pretty much kissing a good night's sleep away. That's wake-up for me.

I stir until about 4:15 and, in a loss of sleep and moving air, I decide to take matter into my own hands and create my own moving air by simply moving through in going outside and squeezing in my scheduled four-mile outing. I was practically sleepjogging. I laced up my Nike Lunarlites which are perfect for running at night because, well, these shoes are so bright they're day.

I had some James Brown on the iPod. Good thing. Something incredibly eerie about running in a darkened neighborhood at a naturally dark hour. The shadows move around you. The JBs kept my pace up. Another thunderstorm was rolling in from the west. The lightning lit up the sky and the streets around me. It was beautiful.

I get back to the house which is dark and still. I fall down into the chair in the bedroom and kick off my Nikes. It was the most comfortable I had been all night. I started thinking about the milk in the fridge and before I could give it a second thought, I pass out.

The next three hours were much a blur. All I remember was never getting the power back and somehow crawling into work late just in time for my 9:30 meeting.

Long day to say the least where, somehow I managed to squeeze a visit to the dude who is going to perform a root canal (not to be confused with a Root Down which is much iller) on my pathetic ass. He said it's not as bad as people make it out to be. In fact, he tells me that he's had three (as he chomps his teeth to prove that they still work). Worst part, though was their sensitivity test where they tapped on my teeth and then pressed a cold piece of metal into the tops of my teeth and then had me bite down on some sort of gauze. It was hell. Hopefully it only goes up from there because that absolutely sucked.

Another storm is rolling in as I type this behind a half empty (half full) pale ale. Yummy. Here's the radar. Tell me our chances of avoiding this puppy.

Got the marathon design finalized. It's important business. It'll be our flag that, on race day, we'll wave for everyone to see. Unified in the insanity that is a 26.2 mile run. I'm going to probably hit up a limited run which will include 20 tees and probably a couple of hoodies with the design huge on the back. Also, I'm looking into printing tech shirts in hopes that we can wear them on race day. Remember to lube up those nipples. You don't want blood on your new Root Down shirt. So, here it is. We abandoned the RUN TRD look for RUN ROC with "roc" obviously meaning "White Rock" which is the lake that eats up a clean nine miles of the marathon with the super ill "TEAM ROOT DOWN" banner at the bottom. Likely, I'll inverse the black so that we can print up on dark shirts. We'll start with mediums and print up to a couple of double XLs for the bigboys.

Koolz wanted the Metallica logo because I think he's afraid that no one will get the logo. He just grew up that way. He probably wouldn't know Run DMC from Liberace. No offense, homie. You just kinda missed out on the '84 hip hop fun. Here's a photo for you to reference. Don't worry. People will recognize it.
Heading to Boston and NYC in a couple of days. Can't wait. I need a vacation so bad. Saturday we'll chill around Boston. Probably hit up some stores. Maybe pick up some sneakers to feed my habit. Yankees are in town so I imagine finding a bar to watch the game at is assumed. Sunday we'll travel up the coastline to Portland, Maine. Check out some lighthouses and property where we'll build our summer home (or just home). Monday we go see the Sox play the other Sox. Damn good tickets. Tuesday, we take a train to Manhattan. Spend some time in the Village. Wednesday we head downtown and Lady Liberty. Thursday is Broadway. Friday is Brooklyn. Saturday is back to reality. We don't vacate. We sport. Give me a week and see what I'll fit into it. Gonna be a great time. You won't hear from me because I don't love you that much. We'll have pictures o'plenty when we return. I might hit up Facebook with a couple of updates but really just to let you know how cool my vacation is and how much yours sucks.
I'm getting grumpy and mad tired. I'll finish Side D of this record and then retire. Eyes are getting heavy. Daniel, shave your head, son. Your bald spot is not quite as obvious.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, the training is in full swing. Ran tonight after a good rain with my new Camelbak in tow. Went well except my eager moronic ass bit a hole right through the Camelbak's nifty hydration system. I bite my nails too. Probably has something to do with it.

Things have been rough lately. Work's killing me, but some days I get to kill it back. Those are good days. Can't get any footing this time of year, though. We're all preparing for the fourth quarter where, idiotically enough, the music industry bails in close to 40% of their annual business and releases. Yeah, like no one's shopping for anything else in December but music. To call their wisdom infinite is a gross understatement. It's incomprehendable. So I get to spend the tail end of my summer planning for their fourth quarter which, ultimately, will fall far short of the one prior meanwhile we sit on our hands from January through June waiting for some sort of action. Geez, if it weren't for the Grammys or Michael Jackson dying, how in the world would we get anyone in through the door. Oh yeah, cheap CDs. That's right. And, boy, do we got 'em.

It's a fantastic business that can watch their profits slim at the rate of 15-20% per year and still not hold themselves accountable in any one way. It's kids downloading. It's Steve Jobs. Yeah, we still have a customer that'll pay $17 for Led Zeppelin and Beatles. Sure. They're just, uh, they're just out...uh...just trying to keep their head above water before the electric company shuts 'em off. But they'll recover and we can expect them to pay $17 once again. Yeah. We're down 15% ever year for the last five years, but we're going in the right direction. We know that it'll turn around.

I ran into a former employee tonight. Well, not really into, but rather walked by. Reminded me of the dinosaurs that, in some corners, still operate today. There's some folks in the industry that still believe that profits are expected, business will happen and good music is always worth buying. They buried themselves. They couldn't think themselves out of bed in the morning so you certainly can't expect them to drive an entire industry. I remember some cat reppin' Def Jux at NARM a few years back spoke of a world where music was all digital and the digital distribuion of music was the new reality. People would have virtual in-stores, all music would fit on the tip of toothpick and music in a physical form would become largely extinct. They boo'd and hissed. I remember hearing people afterwards saying, "He was a total dumbass" and "He didn't know who he was talking to." Who? People that rely on the physical good for profit? Maybe he knew exactly who he was talking to. I mean, no one really makes money except for the artist when it comes to digital. Record labels make nothing. Distribution is non-existent. It's run by two nincompoops in a room in Omaha. They needed the physical good, but since then, they've done nothing to innovate or perpetuate it. They've only done what they could to perpetuate their profits. Yeah, the foretelling at that keynote was not some Orwellian future where we all had flying cars and all had TV screens on the inside of our foreheads. Nah. The future is now. That being said, you can still sell $7.99 CDs to some cat. Still cheaper than downloading. And, when you hit $3.99, people don't even think. The wallets just open with gratuity. But $15.99? $24.99 for the White Album? C'mon now. You can't even fill up your car for twenty five bucks.

But I digress.

Trying to fix myself before I step into this training biz. We hit a three miler (tonight), four miler on Wednesday, three miler on Friday and then five on Saturday. It's like everyday, I hit a new personal record. My calves are strengthening, but must not have stretched well tonight. Still crampy. Taking up bananas. Still not totally with it, but man, I used to eat absolutely no fruit. Now it's an orange, apple and banana a day at the very least. Definite improvement.

As a commitment to my lovely wife, I told her I'd get my balky ankle checked out before going into this. Well, have yet to do that, but will do my best before the end of the week. I would think that "devestation" would be the best way to summarize my feelings if that was the end of it. But the training is intensive. Over the next 18 weeks, I'll do 72 runs equalling over 450 miles at the end of it. Someone asked me if I've lost any weight yet? Are you kidding me? Hell, I hope so, but you don't run 450 miles to lose weight. You do it because you're sick in the head.

So, the ankle will get checked out. Cracked a tooth down to the gum because I don't take out my frustrations by beating people in the face. Instead, I grind my teeth at night. We've talked about this before. Yes, I'm a bruxer. Grinding your teeth at night is so gangsta. So I'll need to cap it off or something. I kid you not...I haven't been to a dentist in well over ten years. No telling what that cat's gonna see when he raises the hood tomorrow. "So, does your therapist recommend eating cinder?" I used to be so healthy. Never had a cavity. Never broke a tooth. Never wore braces. I'll probably leave with a grill like Weezy.

Giving up on Red Sox baseball until I go to Boston in two weeks. Hell, that's about 12 days in counting. Geez!

Need to shave my neck hair. That has nothing to do with running, but everything to do with everything else. Playing softball two nights a week, jogging four. Sabbath stays holy. Growing the beard out during the training. Sure I won't be able to endure it too long, but as beards have almost a spiritual quality in my journeys, I'll likely own one until the day. Biblically, I believe to voluntarily remove one's beard is a display of mourning. In my case, it'll certainly be a display of arrival and then I'm gonna put a hurting on 26 miles of Dallas roadway.

Team Root Down needs two designs to move forward with for our shirts. I gotta contact (thanks, Wil) and will soon order shirts. Yes, Sarah, mediums included. Gonna try to sell them for a profit at $5 as opposed to a loss at $5. That profit will go towards the journey. Junk like a replacement for my Camelbak hydrator which I broke tonight. These Asics that I'm eyeing for the big day. Jogging shirts, shorts (yeah, the short kind), socks, Vaseline, magic jelly beans, etc. For such an elemental sport, this ish really adds up. Also looking at one of those 1GB Shuffles that just clip on with some nice wrap-over buds. Some of that money might also go to cover the registration costs. Likely one of the designs will also include a quote from my grandmother: "There are surely other things you can do that would bring that much satisfaction. I wondered why not golf? Any other sport."

I love her dearly. So, firstly, we have the OG, original gangsta design. I put this one up a long time back. I still stands as is. It'll likely be the entire front of the shirt as big as I can print it. We'll call this one "rootprints."

Then, one of my personal favorites for obvious reasons. We'll call this one the "Run, turd!" Fashioned after or appropriating for my own use, the old Run DMC logo's never looked better. Obviously, TRD stands for Team Root Down. We're still looking for members. Capable members. "I'm the king of rock, there is none higher!" This can be printed on white or you could go illy still and print it on black with the letters in white, but still with the red bars.
And then, lastly, you have the old Ride the Lightning look. Most likely would be white on black instead of what you see here. I was just too lazy. I think this one's pretty tight and, plus, it comes with the snazzy slogan. I usually avoid slogans, but was thinking something really needed to accessorize one of the designs. This one's for all my mullets and metalheads. All my Dream Theater heads. All my Megadeth peeps.

So hit me up with your two picks on the designs via email or comments below. I'm looking to have them available for purchase near the end of September.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Had a hard night last night. Progress is slow going at this point. I got to three miles steadily (but still not what I would consider the "steady three") and last night I had a punishing run at about 9:00PM. The sun was down, the roads still barely lit, 88 degrees. Warm breeze. By the second mile, my back had completely locked up on me and my calves were on fire. By the end of the second mile, my jog had been reduced to almost a crawl. But still, I remained. I kept the legs moving. Not sure if this is a "wall" that joggers refer to. Pretty sure that doesn't happen between mile two and mile three. This would be more of a speed bump.

But it'd be enough last night to trip up my jog. My schedule's pretty brutal right now. Jog on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Softball (usually a doubleheader) on Tuesday and Thursday. That leaves the Sabbath for resting. Pretty sure my calves are a softball related ache since, well, I never really stretch before playing ball. No more doing anything without stretching.

My lovely wife drew me a epsom salt bath last night. I've only put my fat ass in a tub about three times since we've been married. Last night it was well deserved. She takes good care of me. The back pains are frustrating. Barely slept last night. Feels like I took five Nolan Ryan fastballs to the lower back. Every time I move, it tightens up and leaves me almost with little breath to even grunt. Friday will be better. Even if it won't, I have to tell myself that.

Must get the Team Root Down shirts pressed up for distribution. Wil, any word on that contact?

Thinking of a new mix that revolves around the concept of "rappers having bad days." Let's face it, for every good day a rapper has, he has two to three bad ones. You can see right through all that gold and Maximas. Rappers got problems. Some they bring on themselves and others are brought on them. Del has to ride the bus which he absolutely hates in "The Wacky World of Rapid Tranit" and Kwest gets busted at home with his girlfriend when her father comes home in "Daddiez Home." And rappers have a beautiful way of articulating their bad days. Probably won't be 100% hip hop, but certainly focused on it. And Halloween is right around the corner too. Gotta get that mix going.

Thursday. Hmm. I hate Thursdays. Probably more than Monday. Mondays have so much promise. Thursdays are like Friday Eve. Friday, I go in front of the board and tell 'em what I've done right. It's like a firing squad. At 8AM.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


(puts on Ill Communication on vinyl which has been tastefully remastered)

Friday at just before noon, I hopped in my car solo and put on the blitz toward Dallas which was the promised land as far as I was concerned on Friday because, that night, De La Soul was going on at House of Blues. I get there with a little time to have a few drinks and some dinner before heading downtown for the show. We're grubbing at Taco Cabana and I get a text from Wil asking my location. Last I heard, he wasn't going to be there so I was delightfully surprised that he was gonna be there. Ten years ago, we caught De La in Denver. Ten years later in Dallas.

Saw some cat lose his cash to a bum underneath Central posing as a parking attendant. Most gangsta thing I've seen in a bit. That's probably because I live in the Yellow and nothing hood happens here except for meth trafficking and vandalism. I mean, I'm from the panhandle and I wouldn't fall for that garbage. Whatta sucka.

We're out front where the line was non-existent and this cat walks up to me, notices my stylish Root Down lowrider tee (still got some, homeslice, if you're interested) and asks, "What y'know about the Root Down, man?" I stand there for a second thinking of a pretty obvious answer, but not wanting to assume we're talking about the same thing. To buy me some thought, I ask him to repeat it. "Huh?"

"I said whatta y'know about the Root Down? That's a sick shirt."

"Uh, I write for it."

"Dope. That's my fam." (fam would be short for family, but is really to represent someone that you have a close affiliation with, normally not a blood relative).

"Yeah." I stand there like a dumbass for a second thinking do I know this cat? I ask, "Oh yeah, how so?" He said "I'm DeLoach from Strange Fruit Project (Texas hip hop). Yeah, I'm down with them."

Them? Bro, it's just me. Now, I recalled doing a review on one of my year-end lists a few years back of the Strange Fruit Project. I imagine that's the only way he would know of The Root Down. I nod awkwardly and shoot him a half-grin and walk away.

We walk into the concert hall and it's perfect. The floor has a small assembly of hip hop heads. Most of them in huddles talking about real hip hop and reminiscing. It was like a gathering of likeminded and jaded hip hop heads. Most of them slightly between a scowl and a smile. Like they're somewhere between a rant on Lil' Wayne and a beautiful memory of the first time they heard Stakes is High. And, unlike most concerts I've gone to, this one was like walking into a living room filled with friends, except I knew no one. The fact that you were there and paid the price of admission, elevated your coolness to a level that could not be matched. You were instantly fam. Jacko, who was an awesome date who provided fine conversation and a safe ride home, and I meandered around the crowd. I was looking for Wil.

Then, right there before me, the great Wil Hall with his 11 year-old son, Bijan, in tow--both sporting the Daunda garb (need the hook up, Wil). It was Bijan's first show and, Wil, doing the right thing, raised his kid on De La from an early age. To Bijan, this was like finally seeing the Beatles. Shy kid, but I would be to if I was the only cat younger than 25 walking around at a De La Soul show.

I've determined that I'm simply too impatient anymore to watch anyone perform that's not on the face of the ticket. Now, when I got my ticket in the mail, it said "DE LA SOUL" and no one else. Reality is that cling-ons and opening acts are just life at any show and especially at a hip hop show. Tonight's little dingleberry was a guy named Kenan Bell. Hmm, that's a little rough. But let's roll with it. Some hipster with this big ol' bright Nikes with the tongue flipped out and Kanye sunglasses, hat cocked off to the side. Lots of attitude. He pulled with him a three-piece band which played over a dat which I thought to be a little weird.

Let's make something perfectly clear here, when you're opening for cats that have put twenty years into the game. You'd be better off just telling a few jokes, buying everyone a round of drinks and then just put on Black Sheep's A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Dude was eager and wanted to speak his clout, but I'll go on record to say that I've never been impressed by an opening act that I wasn't expecting to see meaning: if you ain't on the poster outside, you might as well just find a stool at the bar. Wil said that I've become pretty jaded. It's one of the wonderful biproducts from working in the industry. You become pretty cynical of the whole rap game. It's all fake. It's not real. Nothing's real and rappers' attempts to keep it real are laughable at the very best. The rapper's plight is a futile and bizarrely comical irony. Kenan Bell is more a cartoon character up there than a rapper. While he passionately strives for the audience's respect by desperately reaching for reminiscent moments about De La Soul between his songs, no one in the audience believes him and they kinda roll their eyes like, "Next." By about the third song and very little applaud, Kenan and his band are reduced to the "De La is just about to come out, ya'll, we promise" act. Then please see yourself to the side.

But no.

The kid playing the keys goes and pulls some old lady who is, by his proclamation, down with De La. I'm not sure who she was and he could've been truthful, but to everyone in the audience, she was just an old lady. And then there was a blonde girl who was, uh, I don't know, about seven months pregnant. They bring them out from sidestage. He sits the old lady down at the keys and the pregnant girl stands center stage and he tells her just to dance along.


The blonde pregnant girl starts doing these weird gyrations like she's dancing for money and I keep thinking, "Someone tell her that she doesn't need to do this and it's totally not worth it for the audience." She danced through the whole song and, meanwhile, every iPhone in the house was snapping shots of this chick dancing. No one, at this point, is watching Kenan and friends. In fact, to prove it, I searched "pregnant blonde De La Soul Dallas" and found this tweet. Wil and I were halfway between a gutbusting laugh and tearful breakdown. What the hell?

Kenan ends his set without anymore acts of rookie dumbassery and it's met with a collective sigh from the audience. Bring on De La. Next was some guy who simply was in too deep and panted as he moved from one side of the stage to the other. He kept yelling into mic and had us doing crowdcalls to make sure we were aware and awake. Here's a tip, if you wanna hear us rock it, bring out De La. His "set" (which was more a Fat Man Scoop impersonation) lasted about fifteen minutes and then, again, another sigh from the crowd. The Dallas crowd is a funny one in this respect because, while I like the Denver crowd and the Austin crowd because they just like to have fun, sometimes you respect the other side of the experience--the crowd that just has too many road miles to act like you're into something. For me, it's what I would liken to an Apollo-like experience. In Austin, the stinky little white kids will dance to anything. In Denver, the don't know any difference sometimes between the opening act and the headliner so it could take an opening act halfhours to wrap up because they're getting too much love. Dallas, though, like the many times before, meet anyone outside of the headliner with this "get lost" coldness. I used to think it was played, but tonight, I'm in the same boat and I'm thankful they're as discerning as they are.

I head to the bar in the down time and am walking back to my spot and I hear some dude holler out, "The Root Down!" as I walk by. I kinda shoot off a half-look at it's DeLoach from earlier. I talk to him again and kinda work to straighten out how he knows my work and how, apparently, I'm fam to him. Turns out, he was referring to The Root Down which is a production company out in LA that puts on these hype parties out in Cali. I knew of them, but assumed that, certainly, he was talking about the dope-ass blog that you're now reading. We spoke for a second and he mentioned his album. Checked it out earlier this evening and it's pretty ill. Only available digitally, though. Rappers don't even shop a physical good anymore. Game's changing, folks. Here's a picture of the cover art. Try not finding it in the racks of your favorite record store.

It would be probably another thirty minutes before the house lights would go down and De La would take stage. Trust me this, it'd be worth every second of the wait and every mile down the road. I had every intention to make note of the setlist, but unfortunately, I was shaking my ass so much, it made it a little difficult. With them on stage were about ten instrumentalists who provided the backdrop to Maseo's turntables. Everyone had so much energy. Pos was on fire. Maseo was getting down. Trugoy, well, he just stood there, but dude's big. What can he do?

With controlled exuberance, they blew through their standard set which included a hype version of "Jenifa" and a super-nice version of "Pass the Plugs" while the band played the break to "Pass the Peas" by the JBs. The first portion of the set focused around Three Feet material as this marks the 20th anniversary. But they hit everything from Three Feet to Grind Date.

As much as I hate to say things like "my personal highlight" because I know you really don't care, my personal highlight was the performance of "I Am I Be" where Pos came out to a dark stage illuminated only by the crowd's cellphones and spit that golden verse that I've recited a thousand times. At one point, Pos hops into the crowd from the side stage and makes his way toward the middle of the crowd as he spits verse and, as he's meandering through the crowd, you see people moving toward him, throwing an arm around him and posing for a picture. As he approaches the stage, there's Bijan wide-eyed and jaw at the floor. Pos throws his arm around Bijan and keeps rocking his verse. Lucky kid.

The harmony was temporarily broken up by two dudes shoving each other behind us. F'real, who fights at a De La show? Dallas is a little uptight sometime.

All in all, the show probably lasted about an hour forty-five and I bought the obligatory tour shirt on the way out. I would've bought one of everything at the merch table, but it was shockingly absent. Their merch table was a long table with a box of shirts on it. "Twenty bucks," said some cat from Kenan Bell. Easy.

Wil mentioned in a post later on Facebook that he believes "hip hop will be the only genre saved by its elders." I thought of that notion for a while afterwards and how true it possibly is. Hip hop has always put their future in the trusted hands of the next generation. They've always passed the torch, but can they save the genre from its ruin? It would seem unlikely. Delay it, maybe. But not likely to save it. Rock and roll has always been pushed forward by the sounds of its youth. Blues and jazz, even have reinvented themselves by the progressive advancement of its youthful core. But hip hop's youthful core, so to speak, only regurgitates what has already been done. The problem is, for the older cats, hip hop is a youthful game. It's a sport. And there's a point when you're just not relative because your hair's turning grey and you got kids (Beastie Boys), know one rhymes like that anymore (Rakim), you're just not as good looking as you used to be (LL). Rappers will get old and what's more useless in a young man's game than the old vet? I can talk about the first four De La records until I'm blue in the face, but it doesn't make them any more relavant. I said it before and I'll say it again, it's gonna take a lot more than a dude in Texas with a blog to bring it back. But God knows I'm trying.

Before the De La set, some cat walked up behind us and struck up conversation when he saw Wil with his son. His sentiments were much in the same vein to say that the garbage on the radio is such a far cry from what we fought for growing up and how he doesn't let his son listen to any radio. Like Wil, he's been raising his kids on De La. It got me thinking that, not only will its elder acts save the genre, but it's elder fans. Over the years, I can name virtually hundreds of cats that I've shared a hip hop memory with either over the first Pharcyde record, an Atmosphere show, a debate about which Public Enemy is the best, but those cats don't listen to it anymore. It was, eh, an outfit they wore for a year or so or a book they read over a summer. I'm reading a book that likens the hip hop experience (specifically to a white listener) as a tourist attraction. Something that we like the convenience of going to and exiting without truly connecting to the experience. In many ways, I think that applies far beyond the white listener even though, yes, I'm white and, yes, I listen and so were many of the folks I'm speaking of. Not that necessarily you have to commit to the fight to preserve the genre as a listener, but I would contend that it'll come down to the audience that is currently, say, thirty years or older that will ultimately help preserve this hip hop game. I mean, we're raising kids now. Not that I think it's as important to instilling values, setting the foundation for a purposeful life, but I've always found that a steady diet of hip hop has given me perspective. It's in the hands of all of us older cats. Know your role. Each generation has its music and it's only worth something if you pass it on. Our parents gave us Beatles, they gave us the Stones, they gave us James Brown. What's our musical legacy and are we committed to passing the torch to our kids?

It's Tuesday and, for me, it's hell week. Let's go.