Some Responses to the Project

Everywhere I go, people ask me “so what are you doing exactly?” I keep getting better at explaining the project, but I invariably leave something out. I could probably talk about the project and the philosophies/reasons behind it indefinitely.*

Despite my continually incomplete descriptions, I have gotten nothing but positive response to this idea everywhere I’ve gone. Musicians love the idea and are often even openly envious. Nonmusicians love the idea just as much if not more. Some examples:

  • Shereé Johnson (a musician, location not specified) wrote me to say:

    I just saw your website today and all I can say is . . . you so lifted my spirit. It’s nice to see that there are still some individuals who ‘get it’ and are not afraid to ‘do their thang’ and go outside of the proverbial box. It is very refreshing seeing expressions of creativity and freedom.

  • Wayne Mitzen, a producer and musician from the DC area, called me to ask a bunch of questions about the project. He eventually concluded it was awesome and donated me some funds for gas. Thanks Wayne!
  • David Santistevan (who you may remember from such posts as: Pittsburgh, PA) wrote a bit about me in his blog.
  • Micah Williams, a friend from college who you will hear about later, called my project “the most creative recording project I’ve heard of.”
  • And — this one really made my day — a musician in Baltimore named Shane Gardner wrote “a song of my take about what you may be thinking on your travels from town to town.” He will eventually record that song for his upcoming project. You can hear the demo version on his myspace page — the song is called “So Long My Friends.” I was amazed that someone would write a song about me. Says Shane: “Your quest is a great inspiration.”

I continue to be pleased by the warm reception this project is getting everywhere I go. I only wish I had more ways of getting the word out, but I’m far too busy actually doing the project to advertise it.

You can help!
1) Leave your own response to the project below.
2) Tell the musicians in your life about this project. (If you don’t have musicians in your life, you owe it to yourself to get some ASAP.)

* If you still don’t exactly know what I’m doing, I’d encourage you to read my brief description of the project (click “The Road?” at the top of the page).

Burlington, VT

Burlington! Small town or bustling indie music city? Answer: both.

But first, as promised, some beautiful mountainous territory of Vermont.

This is what a fulfilled promise looks like.

Now that’s out of the way.

We had a crazy adventure getting there. It took a bit longer than expected to get to Burlington from Buffalo. Then the carputer malfunctioned (cf. the previous post) and the GPS no longer worked. I followed my nose, trusting my instincts. Which were wrong (both the nose and the instincts). We ended up having to drive all the way around Lake Champlain (which is big), and on the way, we were apprehended by the border patrol (yes, we almost went to Canada again). By this point we were already quite late to our host (ETA originally 1:00am; ETA post-“detour”: 2:00am), and the officer had to do a bunch of paperwork and phone calls because of JH’s non-US-citizen-ness.

Finally we were rid of the border guard and we met our hosts, a fun girl named Ali and her happening bf Will Metivier.

“I wish you would stop using ‘happening’ to describe people,” sighs Attractive Girl.

Um… why?

“Events happen; people don’t.”

Dude — people definitely happen. Will was unquestionably happening. I sometimes happen too.


The following day Will showed me around Burlington. That weekend happened to be the Festival of Fools, an outdoor city festival for street performers. We spent some time wandering around, eating, and watching various performances. Unfortunately I forgot my camera but I did snag a few phone pictures.

picture to be inserted here

I saw jugglers, crazy variety sideshow men, plenty of musicians, and even a guy playing The Majestic Bellowphone, which was evidently some amazing handmade musicial machine, with tubes and horns and whistles and bellowses. One of those one-man-band machines. It was awesome and I was sad my recording equipment was not more portable.

picture to be inserted here

Unfortunately I forgot to get an official picture of our hosts, so all you have are the above bad shots of Will.

Speaking of Will, he is also a guitarist, and recorded some guitar for me.

“What about all the contacts I gave you in Chicago?” asks Taylor Brennan.

Sadly all of those people either didn’t respond, or they were ocupado. Which is Spanish for occupied. They were occupied in Spanish!

NEXT: Interest!

P.S. All who think “People Happen” would make a good bumper sticker, please say “Aye.”

Trivial Update (Optional)

Some non-critical updates for you.

A Technical Update

At the suggestion of my good friend Matthew Campagna, I have begun integrating Shadowbox, an excellent standards-compliant media viewing solution, into this blag.

Presently it seems to be working on the home page, but not individual post pages, although the page code is identical. ????

Check it out on this scenic scene we got driving to Vermont:

Some awesome nimbulus clouds.

Hopefully I’ll get it working completely (or someone will) before I die.

A Descriptive Update

This update exists to provide more opportunities for you to see Shadowbox in action. It’s just some “on the road” type shots.

Let’s start with a dynamic action shot.

Action shot! (All blurry pictures are action shots.)

The carputer has mostly been working well. There were a few issues (one with the battery terminal bumping the frame of the car, shorting things and causing the carputer to reboot. I couldn’t figure out what was happening until we were driving at night and every time we hit a bump, sparks came from the engine compartment!) The GPS software also decided it wouldn’t load anymore, so I thought I was stuck until I discovered I still had the install files on my recording data hard drive. A fresh reinstall fixed the problem. Then the music stopped playing. Some weird setting with Roadrunner’s interface with Winamp was glitching. A manual run of Winamp to readjust the volume solved that problem.

Here’s a shot of the carputer actually working.

Look closely at the number of songs in the playlist.  That has since tripled.

Yeah, there are over 12K songs in the playlist now and things seem to be working. Except for that one time when it wouldn’t recognize the keyboard. Turns out it had come unplugged, and plugging it back in was not working. I’m not going to point any fingers, but I’m not the one sitting on the passenger seat… haha. Anyway, JH was a trooper and helped me fix it while we were driving.

Doing some on-the-road carputer maintenance.

When the carputer is working normally (which thankfully, is most of the time) we are free to enjoy nice scenes, such as the beautiful mountainous territory of Vermont.

Scenic.  TOO scenic.

NEXT: The beautiful mountainous territory of Vermont.

Niagara Falls (on its face! haha!)

I’m pretty awesome at keeping my word. Every time I say “NEXT: blah blah blah” at the end of a post, I always deliver in the next post. If anyone cares to make me a trophy, perhaps saying “Internets Teaser Satisfying Champion” or “2008 Promised Topic Delivery Leader” or something, I’m pretty sure it would rival Stephanie’s leg wrestling trophy. (And if it’s better, then I get to make myself a “Best Trophy” trophy. Sweet.)

Anyway, as promised, here is a post about Niagara Falls (and can’t get up! haha!).

We looked all around both the American side (great!) and the Canadian side (better!), and even managed to get JH back into the US. Yay paperwork!

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

I would like to make this an awesome collection of bad Niagara Falls (head over heels! haha!) puns similar to the ones in this post. If you can think of one, please post it below. Thanks.

NEXT: another awesome post where I deliver on this promise.

Buffalo, NY

I promised you something exciting, and I’m about to deliver.

Buffalo! Amazingly, the origin of the name of this city is unclear — there are a number of contesting theories, with no clear winner. Also interesting is that the fictional Gotham City was modeled after Buffalo, with its abundance of Gothic architecture.

The drive to Buffalo from Pittsburgh was beautiful. It was a wonderful day and the scenery did not disappoint.

Someone please make a tasteless joke about the objects! Panoramarific! Waterboats! Even better than that stock image I used at the top of the blog!

I even passed some Amish dudes driving their carriages but didn’t get a picture. Instead we waved to each other. I did manage to get a picture of one of the signs warning drivers to watch out for them though (a bad picture at that).

Watch for Amish dudes!

Next thing we knew, we were coming up on Buffalo (we didn’t know anything for several hours evidently).

Coming up on Gotham City, I mean Buffalo.

The first thing we did is hang out with a Couchsurfer I’d met for lunch in Omaha on one of his stops, a flight attendant by the name of John Crandall. John is a cool dude and gave us the grand tour of his area; we walked all around, ate some nice burritos from a great place called ETS in the park, and had generally great times.

How long is the timer on this cam-- oh.

John was also helpful in finding a host and people to record. Unfortunately the dude who I’d planned on recording in the evening lost his keys while biking somewhere and had to spend the remainder of his evening hunting for his keys in the dark. Not fun.

So instead I met a girl who likes donuts!!

Esther and the Peanut Donuts is a pretty good band name.

This picture was taken the morning after hanging out with her and our host Justin and several other awesome peeps (including another Couchsurfer who was also staying there that night) late into the night around an outdoor fire.

We stayed up late chatting and somehow she got on the subject of donuts, and we realized that it was important that we wake up early in order to eat some donuts. So we did.

As an aside, I’m suddenly curious if the “bon” in “bonfire” means “good.”

“I was curious about that too!” interjects Attractive Girl. “So I looked it up on the Online Eymological Dictionary! It says:”

1556, from M.E. banefire (1483), originally a fire in which bones were burned. Johnson mistakenly derived it from Fr. bon “good.”

Thanks, Attractive. So the answer to my question is no. But at least I can put the blame for my erroneous guess on Johnson. Darn that Johnson.

And, that was that. No one got recorded in Buffalo, sadly, but we did have a great time, eat some good donuts, and… see Niagara Falls.

NEXT: Niagara Falls. Don’t stay on the edge of your seat though, it’s not good for your posture. Also don’t bate your breath, just breathe normally. You’ll feel better that way.

Pittsburgh, PA

The next stop was Pittsburgh. I promise not to make a single joke in this post about anything being “the pits.”

Coming all up on into Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh has terrible traffic/roads, a great feel, beautiful countryside, and a handful of these cool yellow bridges:

The bridges of Pittsburgh. If someone offered you a yellow bridge like this, I'm pretty sure you would take it.

We drove around downtown a little bit looking at stuff.

More tall things made by mankind.

We saw a huge amout of people hanging around, using public transport, smoking, etc. Pretty cool that a non-huge city would have such a high proportion of foot traffic.

Pittsburgh: A City

Wow, mankind!  Nice job!

By this point I was becoming accustomed to the hilliness of the terrain, narrowness of the roads, and speed of the traffic on this side of the US. To get to our host I had to experience a considerable bit of all of the above.

Speaking of our host, his name is Andy Lehmann and he’s pretty awesome. He put us up on short notice and let us commandeer his basement for a night. Thanks Andy!

Next morning bright and early (8:15!!!) I was off to record with another old college bud of mine, a multitalented bloke who goes by the name of David Santistevan (because that is really his name). He is working as a music director at a church, so we headed over there to record.

Multitalented bloke David Santistevan.

David plays all kinds of instruments with aplomb. I had him lay down some piano for me, then we set up for recording his guitar rig

Tuning: always important.

and recorded Dave’s awesome textural electric guitar playing on several tracks. Dave was pretty easy — I just kind of set him loose and he did his thing and it was good.

If you look up rock star in the dictionary, there would be a concise description of this picture.


It was even more awesome than this bridge!

NEXT: Something else awesome!