monday, november 15, 2010
Mississippi State vs Alabama Gameday
I returned to Tuscaloosa in the wake of the LSU game to an Alabama fanbase oddly distracted from the next SEC West matchup. The aspirations of an SEC Championship and possibly even more were dashed in Baton Rouge and, for the most part, the enthusiasm for football seems to have waned significantly in comparison to my visit in September.
Interestingly, this feels similar to the 1986 season when I was a student at Alabama. An undefeated run and aspirations of post-season success were dashed after a loss to Penn State. The Tide went into a tailspin that year, I was hoping history wouldn't repeat in that respect. read more
monday, november 08, 2010
Alabama vs LSU Gameday
Now my family is originally from Louisiana and I grew up in the state. So LSU fandom is something I like to think I know a bit about. I've got a healthy respect for the more colorful aspects of the experience but an ample amount of caution for it's less redeeming qualities. So I was pretty excited about going to this game.
I stayed with my cousins in Loreauville near New Iberia the week before the game. It is sugar cane harvesting season in Iberia Parish and the tractors hauling the cut cane to the mill are on the roads from first light. On gameday I got up really early to get out before they descended en masse and made my journey a little more perilous from the start than I would like. read more
sunday, october 31, 2010
Washington State vs Arizona State Gameday
This week was Alabama's bye week so I didn't have to hang around the house/bar waiting for the game and could head afield and see one live. Which worked out rather well since Arizona State is just down the road and they were hosting their conference rivals Washington State this week. Even better, it was ASU's homecoming.
I got to downtown Tempe well ahead of kickoff to wander around and see what was going on in anticipation of the matchup. There was a lot of the usual stuff -- the band performing for the fans, people wandering too and fro in tailgates and such. And a little bit of Halloween weirdness just to make it interesting.
There was also a school fair where various departments had set up tables and students were showing off stuff while telling folks about all the fun stuff they did. I looked around for the Philosophy department but I guess they were too busy defining a priori truths or something. read more
saturday, october 09, 2010
Mountain View vs Mesquite gameday
While high school football in Arizona doesn't reach the level of intensity as you find in places like Texas, it's still a pretty big deal. The vast suburbs of Phoenix abound with high schools of every size and Friday nights in the fall are a vast tapestry of gridiron action. The local paper lists more than 100 games for the football aficionado to choose from.
So I asked my friend Paul -- a fellow Crimson Tide fan who grew up out here -- what matchup might be worth checking out and he suggested we go to Mountain View High School in Mesa to watch the Toros take on the Wildcats from Mesquite High School in Gilbert. Sounded good to me. read more
sunday, september 26, 2010
Buffalo vs UConn Gameday
I was out on the East Coast visiting my brother in Connecticut this week and took the opportunity to pop in on a football game while in the neighborhood. Initially, I wanted to go see Yale play simply to check out the Yale Bowl which is the template for Pasadena's famed Rose Bowl Stadium. But the Bulldogs were playing an away game and so the next option was UConn.
The Huskies play at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The 40,000-capacity venue opened in 2003 on the former site of the company airfield for the airplane engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. Before that time UConn played at Memorial Stadium in Storrs, CT. The history of the place is immediately evident as the retired runway is the main access to the parking areas. read more
sunday, september 19, 2010
Arizona vs. Iowa Gameday
This game was an unexpected opportunity when I learned about it during the off-season. Iowa plays that kind of smash-mouth, defense-oriented cro-magnon-type football that Alabama fans love so much. Arizona is... um, close geographically.
So dad picked up a pair of tickets and after watching my beloved Crimson Tide under-perform against a cupcake opponent for a half of football we set out to Tucson (Alabama eventually bested Duke 62-13). As we left Phoenix the temperature was in the 110 degree-range and the humidity in the teens.
Tucson isn't that big but it can be a bit confusing given the weird alignment of some of the streets. We found a Vietnamese restaurant about a half-mile from the stadium that let us park in their lot for $10 (after seeing such spots go for $40 or more in T-town, I had no problem taking the offer).
monday, september 13, 2010
Alabama vs Penn State Gameday
I was out the door by 8 a.m., and it was clear that it was gonna be a hot one in T-town. The heat and humidity were already significant and the bright sun only promised more of the same as the day progressed.
My first stop was the Walk of Champions in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium where ESPN's College GameDay was set up. Sure enough, there was a decent crowd of people present and doing their best to get their signage and banners on the TeeVee.
A lot of the folks were clearly from the nearby fraternity and sororities but there were a number of tents about the grassy areas where the die-hards had waited overnight.
As entertaining as the people-watching promised to be, I knew it would be wise to take the sweltering weather in increments throughout the day. So I headed up the strip to Egan's to enjoy the air conditioning and hold down the corner of the bar in case anyone wanted to meet a quasi-famous blogging celebrity. This plan went awry the second I walked in the door since it was scarcely cooler inside than on the street.
wednesday, september 08, 2010
Returning to TuscaloosaTuscaloosa holds a really strange place in my memory. The map in my mind isn't simply a quarter-century out of date, its landmarks tend to be tied more strongly to emotion and image than anything having to do with reality. And juxtaposing that mental map with the existing reality of streets and structures can be disorienting to say the least.
Wandering around last night with some friends they pointed out the former location of a number of haunts I remember vividly. But my memory is of the interiors and events (and those tend to be alcohol-enhanced more often than not), assembling them in a geographic manner that has any relation with this city's current arrangement is impossible.
Still, as odd as the sense of place may be geographically, it certainly isn't socially. The same types of folks I remember from my days haunting the nooks and crannies of this little town seem to still be here -- for better and for worse. read more
sunday, may 23, 2010
El CalifaThere is a Platonic ideal for the local lunch joint. It's a place you'll find anywhere in the world, jam packed every day of the week by folks who know what the regional cuisine should taste like because they grew up with their grandmother cooking it.
If you ever happen to wind up in Puerto Maldonado, Peru that restaurant is El Califa. For almost three decades the Portocarrero family has cranked out the best lunch in town featuring the jungle cuisine done in the best blue collar tradition. This place is so working class they also sell tractors on the side, just ask 'em.
At first glance, it ain't much; just a plain wooden structure at the end of one of the town's many dirt streets that only stands out because the paintjob is relatively fresh. The decor inside is similar ; a wide open room with about two dozen tables, each with a glass top and the menu underneath. But the clues are there. Among the usual tourism promo posters that adorn the walls is an aging portrait of the restaurant's founders - the hallmark of the great lunch joint. read more
friday, january 22, 2010
NightwatchingThe particular epiphany that opened the doors of understanding about cinema to me seems almost prosaic to the point of insignificance when articulated directly: everything in a film is there for a reason.
Well, isn't it obvious? Yes, of course it is. Which might be why I overlooked it for so very long. The import of this simple idea is transformed into something breathtakingly profound when it is unshackled from the stultifying inertia of plot and allowed to blossom in the vast fields of possibility the medium can lay claim to.
Peter Greenaway's 2007 film Nightwatching takes this conceit and runs with it. On one level it is a retelling of the story of behind the creation of Rembrandt van Rijn's masterpiece, The Night Watch. On another it's a dissertation on how a work of art must be understood within the context it was created in. read more
thursday, december 31, 2009
Five Years in PeruFor the first two months of 2010, a collection of my photographs will be on display at The Bunna Coffee Tea & Market in Chandler, Arizona. The exhibition, Five Years in Peru, will feature a dozen or so of my photographs taken between 2003 and 2008 at locations across the Andean nation.
In 2003, I arrived in Peru with the intention of spending a few months digging up a freelance story or two to try and sell when I got back to the states. Instead, I ended up staying semi-permanently and creating a freelance journalism career pretty much from scratch. In conjunction with that, I became a photojournalist somewhat by accident.
Five Years in Peru is an opportunity to show my work for the first time but it is also a deliberate attempt to educate people about the mysterious and often misunderstood Andean country. read more
monday, july 27, 2009
Paris, TexasThe German director Wim Wenders and American playwright Sam Sheppard began the collaboration that would become the 1984 film Paris, Texas, with nothing but "this one character and the landscape he would show up in."
The character was a travel-worn and weather-beaten man in a dusty suit and distinctive red baseball hat. The landscape was the harsh South Texas wasteland of Big Bend National Park. And from that the pair proceeded to weave one of the most compelling cinematic tales of the era.
Although the start of Paris, Texas seems somewhat arbitrary, it's vastly important that the tale begins with this unusual protagonist, Travis Henderson (a superb Harry Dean Stanton) crossing a threshold - the US/Mexico border at Terlingua, Texas. He's moved out of nowhere into somewhere. Although the dingy South-Texas border town where "the dust has come to stay" certainly doesn't seem like much to speak of. read more