The year in cities, 2019

Now in its fifteenth year! Not a very exciting year, as it were, we had enough going on at home that there wasn’t much venturing going on. Next year is setting up to be more interesting.

As always, here are all the places I went in 2019 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk.

New York *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
Plymouth Meeting, PA
Lenox, MA
Edgartown, MA *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
New City, NY *

The year in cities, 2017

Now in its thirteenth year, with nods to persistence and/or not knowing when to quit, depending.

Herewith, all the places I went in 2017 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk. Lots of new and different visits to old places this year.

New York *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
London *
Palenville, NY
Saratoga Springs, NY *
Hanover, NH
Newton, MA
Edgartown, MA *
East Hampton, NY
Gloucester, MA *
Livingston, NJ *
Santa Monica, CA *
San Diego, CA *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
Longboat Key, FL *
Las Vegas, NV *

The year in cities, 2016

Now in its twelfth year, I’m listing in this space all the places I went in 2016 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk. (I’m already excited for next year.)

New York *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
Las Vegas, NV *
New City, NY *
Livingston, NJ *
Winter Haven, FL
Longboat Key, FL *
Denver, CO *
Saratoga Springs, NY
Bolton Landing, NY
Portland, ME
Gloucester, MA *
Edgartown, MA *

DJ memories

My post from yesterday on F&M has me thinking more about the radio station. I loved being at the studio, being on the air, hanging around with people on the air, finding new music and sharing it, toggling between records and CDs, trying to hit perfect transitions between songs, coming up with pithy things to say when the mic was live, looking out the huge picture window onto the quad while queueing up promo carts. I miss that environment terribly.

When I was a 24-year-old postgrad listening to Vin Scelsa late at night I considered volunteering at WFMU. But I had just moved into the city, and getting on the air would have meant committing to a 4 a.m. weeknight timeslot in New Jersey, and I didn’t have it in me to pay those dues. I’ve never really listened to podcasts, and as such I never got into making my own, so my dreams of being a radio personality are, for now, just a memory from my time in Lancaster. It was a blast.

Herewith, some anecdotes worth preserving in writing.

—I came to WFNM a highly skilled 18-year-old, having founded my high school radio station out of the TV studio senior year. The general manager of WFNM gave me a quick on-air test (only telling me after that we were live) and gave me a timeslot and an FCC broadcast license without having to go through training, which was apparently unprecedented, and that was fun. I made sure I had a lunchtime broadcast all four years of college, as WFNM was broadcast in the campus cafeteria, and I knew I’d be reaching my core audience each week. (Also, the news came on at noon, which I enjoyed, and on occasion I read the news, and once in awhile the AP news feed would break down—it was a dot-matrix printer directly connected to “the wire” back then—and I’d get to freestyle the news from my copy of the New York Times. I have a recording of one of those moments somewhere, it was great.)

—I was a first-semester freshman doing my radio show in the fall of 1991 when my friend Rich Schultz came into the room, said “listen to this” and played me “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I remember thinking it was good not great; Rich insisted it was going to be major. A few months later it revolutionized the music industry. College radio let me in on the secret ahead of the masses, which is exactly what it was meant to do.

The world doesn’t work quite like that anymore, which is a shame. But a liberal arts college is all about those shared moments. I cherish them and hope future generations have them, too.

—The radio station had a good old-fashioned music library, two closets filled floor to ceiling with records and CDs. I volunteered as a librarian and helped keep things organized and tracked. DJs could check out music as though it was a real library. Senior year, I watched a sophomore friend of mine, also on library duty, cavalierly pocket a few CDs for his permanent personal use despite my overtures and his own radio participation. It was a blunt introduction to how people like to behave when no one’s looking. Disappointingly, I believe he handed me a Rusted Root CD as he was taking for himself, and I took it. At least I still have it.

—In addition to the sheer joy of being on the air, I got a kick out of meeting a couple of bands in the studio, notably the guys from Live. They were from York, Pa., 20 minutes down the road, and WFNM helped break the band. When I met them it was before they released “Throwing Copper” and experienced a No. 1 record; they were your basic music dudes, cooler than us DJs, since they had a record deal, but pretty normal and nice, and roughly our age, too.

Still, I was a huge Live fan. I still have their autographs in my “Mental Jewelry” CD jewelbox (remember them?), along with ticket stubs (remember those?) from when I saw them at the Chameleon, their hometown club in Lancaster, as well as at CBGB (remember that?) before “Throwing Copper” came out, the night Ed Kowalczyk shushed me from the stage with a smile for calling out to them to play “Susquehanna” because it didn’t make it onto the album. This was all before their self-righteousness got the best of them and before Ed was offering to make you a video message for five hundred bucks, but oh well.

—For several semesters, I volunteered for the Saturday night, 1- to 3- a.m. timeslot. I did it with my friend Chris for a semester, then with our buddy Norm. We thought it would be an amazing chance to do whatever the heck we wanted on the air (and if we were too tired or having too much fun, the station would just shut down for the night, no biggie). I remember two things about this: one, that I only managed to make it into the booth two or three times, blowing off the rest of my weeks; and two, that Norm really, really loved it, and made the show his own. Which was awesome.

—I still have numerous cassette tapes of my shows, one of which I believe is in my car (which is old enough to still have a tape deck, but never mind that). They’re still fun to listen to. I should convert them to digital audio at some point before the tape degrades.

Ideapad’s new photos

Curious about the images atop this blog? The Twenty Eleven WordPress theme includes a randomizer, which I’ve populated with my own photos. As of summer 2013, this is the batch on display:

  • On the Li River, China, November 2004
  • Looking out my old bedroom window, New York, sometime in 2007
  • Sunset in the U.S. Virgin Islands (I believe the picture is of St. Thomas, although our fun was had on St. John and at Jost Van Dyke), February 2008
  • The last day game at the old Yankee Stadium, New York, September 2008
  • The deli on the corner of 21st and Broadway, New York, sometime in 2010
  • Inside a cafe in Buenos Aires, January 2012
  • Motif No. 1, Rockport, Mass., August 2012
  • Outside a boulangerie in Roussillon en Provence, France, April 2013


Assessing the importance of North American cities by their major league sports presence

I have contemplated on and off for years the way certain cities have a more of a major-league sports concentration than others. The factors that lead to each specific case are numerous and complicated. On a more base level, though, a quick glance at a city’s sports footprint says much about that city: its size, its presence in multiple markets, its interests.

Herewith, a tally by city of the major sports markets in America (covering MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL), in descending order of size, organized by my own arbitrary but numerically derived categories.

The majors
New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington, DC. These 11 cities are the hosts with the most: a team from every sports league. Of them, New York is the most major of all, as it has two teams in every league except basketball–that is, if you include Long Island and exclude New Jersey, although come 2012 the NBA Nets move to Brooklyn, making the Big Apple that much bigger, and of course ignoring the fact that the NFL Giants and Jets don’t actually play in New York, but we’ll get to that. Chicago gets bragging rights for its two baseball teams, while Dallas gets a partial bye, since its baseball and football teams technically play over the border in Arlington.

The anomaly that the National Football League would rather you ignore
Los Angeles. Not only is this the only major broadcast market without a football team, but LA boasts six pro teams across the other three majors (if you include Anaheim in the tally, which MLB does, so we’ll let them claim the Angels and the NHL Ducks too). From this angle it’s crazy that there’s still no football team here.

The mid-majors
Cleveland, Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Toronto. These cities have 3/4 coverage, not a bad haul, especially for cities you wouldn’t otherwise think are major or important on other scales, like Tampa. Surprising, actually, that there are only seven cities with this kind of sports presence. I almost demoted San Francisco because the NBA Warriors still refer to their location as “Golden State,” which makes no sense to me, even with the Golden Gate Bridge in their logo. Also, bonus points to Toronto for being so American that it boasts several of our pro sports teams.

The players
Charlotte, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Nashville. Each of these cities has two pro teams. Interestingly, all of them count a pro football team as one of the two (with the exception of Milwaukee, which has Green Bay up the road). Indianapolis and Nashville get less credit here than the others, because they have teams that cite a hometown state rather than the city.

States that matter, because their cities don’t
Minnesota and New Jersey each have two teams that don’t bother to name-check any town in particular. New Jersey’s sports footprint is so schizophrenic that the two football teams who play in the state actually have “NY” in their logos and pretend their port of call is across the Hudson River. And Utah has a lone sports team, which migrated there from New Orleans but retained its name, so we get to enjoy the dissonance of a team in straightlaced Salt Lake City called the Jazz.

I love cities that have a sports team much larger than they would otherwise deserve. Green Bay, for one, with its legendary football club. And San Antonio with a leftover from the NBA-ABA merger in the 1970s–which, by the way, also explains the New Jersey Nets.

Canadian cities that make the list thanks to the NHL
Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver. I bet the CFL has a team in each of these cities. (Montreal had an MLB team until a few years ago, and Vancouver briefly sported an NBA franchise.)

One-sport oddities
Columbus has a hockey team. I don’t know why. Jacksonville has a football team, and not even the NFL is sure why. They play basketball in Memphis and Oklahoma City, mainly because wealthy men chose to buy teams and plunk them across town from their estates. Orlando, on the other hand, has a fairly strong basketball presence but no other teams.
Portland has a lone and legendarily popular basketball team; Sacramento also has an NBA presence. A few miles south, San Jose has a hockey team, which I’ve also never understood, although they always had a pretty terrific logo.

And speaking of hockey, the NHL has a team in Raleigh, N.C., which is probably why they call themselves the Carolina Hurricanes. Got all that?

The year in cities 2010

For the sixth consecutive year, I’m chronicling in this space the places I visited over the past 12 months. To quote 2009, per Jason Kottke’s rules only overnights are listed; repeat visits are denoted with an asterisk, and places visited prior to this year get a dagger. (N.B. It seems I beat Jason to it this year.)

New York, NY *† (home base)
Orlando, FL †
Austin, TX
Livingston, NJ *†
New City, NY *†
Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla, British West Indies
Madison, WI †
Mooresville, NC *
Chicago, IL †
Sydney, Australia
Gloucester, MA †
West Tisbury (Martha’s Vineyard), MA †
West Warwick, RI
Dallas, TX
Palm Beach Gardens, FL †
I expect to get around somewhat less in 2011, although I already have trips planned or pending to Orlando, Boston, Charlotte and San Diego, so who knows.