About Damian

Writer. Humorist (in my own mind at least). Smart aleck. Old enough to know better, but still young enough not to care.

All’s well that ends… and starts anew… well.

I wrote a post about my friend Dale last summer.

So artsy…

It talked about how he was unceremoniously dumped from Landor (the design firm where we were co-workers) after 23 years of faithful service and brilliant designs.

I had lunch with Dale earlier this week… at the same outdoor park where a year earlier, Landor’s Cincinnati boss had broken the news to him that they were letting him go.

Many moons ago, Dale took some great photos of our now-teenage sons in this same park.

What a difference a year makes. Dale has teamed up with a couple other Landor refugees [a suit (OK, “strategist”) and a writer who was let go during the same purge that took out Dale… after a mere 17 years on the job]. They’ve formed a small (some would say “boutique”) strategy and design/branding studio called Holotype. And they’re crushing it! They’re so busy that they’re turning away business, and working on cooler stuff that means more to them because they’re more closely connected to their clients.

Dale’s “commute” now consists of walking 20 feet from his house to the 100-plus-year-old industrial garage out back that he’s converted into his studio.

And a few weeks ago, he married his girlfriend of a decade. Personally and professionally, all is well in Dale’s world. He couldn’t be happier… and I couldn’t be happier for him.

They got hitched in Taos, New Mexico.

The old adage is “leap and the net will appear”…

In this case, it was less like a leap and more like a shove, but it certainly let Dale spread his wings and soar.

There’s no business like show business

I had no business going to see Hiss Golden Messenger in concert on Monday night. After all, it was a “school night”… and a Monday no less.

The opener, Anna St. Louis (who, it should be noted, is from Kansas City) didn’t come onstage until 8 p.m.

Hiss Golden Messenger didn’t start until close to 9 p.m. That should be pajama time for this old man.

Mind you, this concert was hot on the heels of the David Gray concert on Sunday evening.

I also had no business going to that gig, because it too was on a “school night”… and it was in Louisville, KY, no less – a 90-minute drive away. But my friend Dave had an extra ticket, and we rode down with Dave’s brother Phil and Phil’s family, who are also good friends of mine.

Mind you, that concert was hot on the heels of the Mad Anthony free concert on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday night.

And I had to pick up my wife and daughter at the airport after that gig – they didn’t arrive until one in the morning.

I probably had no business going to any of those shows. I’m a middle-aged dude who lives in the ‘burbs. Silly old man, Hiss Golden Messenger is for kids!

Yes, I had no business going… but it wasn’t business, it was pleasure. Music is my happy place. Concerts give me energy. Especially when they’re as great as the Mad Anthony, David Gray and Hiss Golden Messenger shows. Most notably that final gig, on a school night, past my bedtime. Hiss Golden Messenger sounded great; the band is super-tight. And M.C. Taylor, the lead singer/bandleader, wrapped up the encore with a solo acoustic version of “Heart Like a Levee”…. with the entire crowd singing the backing vocals. I still have goose bumps over that one.

Sing me a summer
Oh, that Cincinnati moon – like a wheel in the sky – shows two roads, honey
Tell me which one leads to mine?

Live music – there’s nothing quite like it. So, as Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Another winner from Nadal

Yesterday, Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem in the French Open final, becoming the first player to win the same Grand Slam 12 times. He’s clearly the “King of Clay” but he has 18 Grand Slam titles overall, so he’s not a one-trick pony.

As great as he is, “Rafa” has spent most of his career living in the shadow of Roger Federer. It would be easy to be a tad bit jealous. But now, at age 33, Nadal could conceivably catch or even surpass the 20 Grand Slam titles of the 37-year-old Federer. When he was asked about that possibility, his response was beautiful:

“I am not very worried about this stuff, no?
You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden. That’s not the way that I see life.”

On the court or off, that’s a winner!

Good news: new is good

Here’s a nice “glass half full” editorial from Michael Long in USA Today. Actually, it’s less like a glass and more like a well. And it isn’t just half full, it’s overflowing with goodness. We don’t truly appreciate how good we’ve got it very often. Here’s an excerpt:

Since the founding of this country, life expectancy has more than doubled, with nearly all of the increase coming since the outset of the 20th century. We can traverse the continent in less than the duration of a workday, a workday considerably shorter than it was a century ago. We can speak with and see anyone, anywhere and in real time, on the black mirror in our pocket. We have temperature-controlled homes, private and protected and our very own, with reliable indoor plumbing, light to extend productivity into the dark, and entertainment at our command to amuse us with worlds we would otherwise never see, or that exist solely in imagination. We work only five of seven days, eight of 24 hours, 50 of 52 weeks. Sometimes not even that.

It’s easy to focus on the negative. Looking on the bright side takes a bit more work. But if you pause for a moment and look around, you’ll realize how good we’ve got it.

And speaking of good news, two of my favorite singer-songwriters have teamed up for a new album! Lucinda Williams is producing the upcoming release from Jesse Malin.

Photo credit: John Sciulli/WireImage

Here’s the first track from the LP.

Have a great day… and remember, chances are pretty good that it’s already great even if something “great” doesn’t happen. That’s the modern world for you.

The crew

Most families from my generation have photo albums where their most precious pictures are stored. I have a photograph of a photograph, sent via text.

That’s me and my squad, my crew… my mom and siblings. Looks like we were checking out a parade, perhaps? I’m the one striking a cool yet casual pose on the railing, resplendent in my turtleneck and double-breasted overcoat. (Eat your heart out, Zoolander!)

There may be other photographs of my mom with all four of her kids, but not many. She died not long after this photo was taken.

Yesterday was the birthday of my dad. He passed away in 2010… would’ve been 88. I cannot fathom what life must’ve been like for the 41 years when he was still around, but my mom was out of the picture.

I feel like we kids cut him some slack when he was raising us, at least subconsciously, because we knew he was working double duty. But still, it was no easy task.

Here’s to you Herb… rest in peace, after a job well done.

Bad is good.

Inspiration is 99% perspiration.

Thanks for reading my bad sentences!

The Graduate Part II

Our son Peter graduated from high school Thursday. Not just any high school, either, but one of the best public high schools in the country. Walnut Hills High School recently made the news when 17 of their students got a perfect score on the ACT. Of course, on the heels of the college admissions scandal, folks like Jimmy Fallon made light of it:

Peter wasn’t one of the kids who aced the test (where’s Felicity Huffman when you need her?), but he did just fine. Better than fine, actually. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, perhaps in plastics.

In just a few short months, he’ll be attending Ohio University, the oldest university in Ohio (and 8th oldest public university in the U.S.). It’s about two and a half hours east of Cincinnati. Which means he’ll be our first kid to leave town to go to college. That’s not surprising… Peter is quite independent. Some kids march to the beat of a different drummer… Peter has a complete band playing in his head.

He’s a fitness fanatic with a super-healthy diet, has a sly sense of humor and never got in trouble during his high school years. Well, other than that silly senior prank involving Silly String.

He got busted and had to stay after school on his 18th birthday… adulting is hard!

I know Peter’s ready to leave the nest, but I don’t think we’re ready for it.

By August, we’ll have two kids out of the house and two left. It’s hard to believe… and even harder to let them go.

Binge reading

Yesterday, I got an email from my good friend Tom Kuhl. (That’s “Mister Cool” to you.) He’s one of the few, the proud… the handful of folks who actually subscribe to my blog. (Poor fella.) And his note let me know there was something amiss:

While I hadn’t made any changes to my WordPress site, something definitely was screwy, and the email notifications weren’t going out each time I published a new post. Ghosts in the machine, I suppose. Tom’s email sent me down a rabbit hole as I tried to figure out what was wrong. The solution involved copious amounts of Googling, multiple emails to WordPress/Jetpack tech support, and getting into the belly of the blog beast via an FTP transfer site… don’t try this at home (unless you have to). But all appears to be well now.

However, if you are one of the lucky few (using the term “lucky” very loosely) who subscribe to this blog, you’ve got some catching up to do. Because what I lack in quality, I make up for in quantity. Brew another pot of coffee and dive straight into my latest posts:

  • Remembering Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit (5/10)
  • Paul Westerberg’s sister retires (5/13)
  • My son Peter sleeping (5/14)
  • Life imitating comic strip art (5/17)
  • George “Goober” Lindsey is my nemesis (5/18)
  • Singer Caroline Spence (5/20)

I won’t kid you – these gems are some of my greatest posts ever. Nah, just kidding, it’s the same old random b.s., as usual.

If, perchance, you’ve somehow stumbled upon this blog by unhappy accident (or maybe it was assigned to you as penance or community service) and you’ve yet to subscribe, you can do so via a form on the righthand side of the home page:

You’ll get an email each time I publish a new post. It’ll be like Christmas 2-3 times a week… the Christmas when you got mittens instead of Hot Wheels cars.

Don’t thank me, thank Tom.

Sweeter Caroline

Lucinda Williams. Emmylou Harris. Patty Griffin. It’s time to add another woman’s name to the alt-country pantheon: Caroline Spence.

Image result for caroline spence mint condition

I saw Caroline and her ace band live a few days ago. There were four folks on stage, and only about 24 folks in the audience.

But that audience count is going to keep going up, because Caroline is going places. Her new album Mint Condition is a stellar collection of tunes. It’s her third full-length release, and the first one on a legit label (kudos to Rounder Records for signing her).

Here are a few tunes from the album that showcase her range… first is an uptempo, rockin’ tune:

And here’s a live, acoustic version of the title track, a sweet song she wrote for her grandparents:

Finally, another beautiful ballad, with great lyrics, that reminds me so much of Lucinda and Emmylou and Patty:

Caroline and her band are on tour now, on an East Coast swing. Get off the couch and go check them out… and bring 25 of your closest friends.