Thursday, December 31, 2009
I never understood why New Year's Eve is such a big deal. It's another day of a week of a month of a year of a decade of a century, etc. What's so special about it?
The sequin dresses, over-the-top partying, and ball drop never did much for me. I'm more of a "seeing the symbolism" behind the holiday rather than a "let's get wasted and forget the year" type of person.
It is with this thought that I urge you all to enjoy your New Year's Eve. Get wasted if you have to. Kiss someone had midnight if you feel so inclined. Get down witcho bad self. Do whatever it is you've gotta do to get through the night. But -- at the end of it -- remember what New Year's Eve means.
A dictionary definition won't provide any insight. You've got to do a little detective work of your own. Pick that brain apart. It might do you some good!
Cheers! I wish you a happy and healthy 2010.
Here's to hoping the next year is better than the last.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As a child, most of my lessons were learned from Disney movies, the (original) Power Rangers, the Disney Channel, or books read in literature class. While I'm not sure whether or not they were the cause for my mental preparedness in life, I must give these muses much credit for helping me get to where I am today.
My life's greatest struggle to date was the year of 2009. Never before had there been such a lengthy time span that's sole purpose was to beat me to the ground the second I got back up again.
The first punch was a sucker punch. Circa 12 a.m., I do believe I may have been drinking the night before. I had finished writing a speech I had wanted to give for over three years for one of my sorority's functions. Then I got a call telling me my dog was dead. Tears of sorrow ensued. Gasps for air followed. The life was being sucked out of me.
This isn't to say Coco was my "best friend" -- but she came pretty damn close. There were times when I was growing up that I would sit atop the staircase leading to the second floor in our house. There's a huge skylight there and it makes for quite the echo, so I would sit there with her while playing guitar and singing songs. I'll never forget doing that. She always seemed so happy to just be sitting with me. It's as if I never had to say anything, she just knew what I was thinking.
Then there was the shot straight to my gut followed by a quick rip to my heart. It was around 6 p.m. when my Bubbe (may she too rest in peace) called. I was babysitting. She told me I'd need to call her right back as soon as I was finished. But I couldn't. I knew something was wrong. So -- for the first time in my ENTIRE life -- she yelled at me, telling me I needed to sit down and to also get out of my babysitting engagement for the night. My dad had passed away.
This was on January 17th, not even 12 months ago.
Today, however, is another occasion all on its own. 10 years ago tonight, my dad got the call that changed my family's life forever.
If my memory is correct, I was rocking out to a VHS recorded version of 'N SYNC's visit to the Rosie show earlier that day. My cousin Hannah and sister Hilary were upstairs doing something. My parents were sitting around, watching TV I assume. And then the flood of frenzied hysterics. He got the call, he tried leaving, I was a bawling mess. All I can still remember is bawling my eyes out and then racing to our basement fax machine to use the phone line. I called three people: 1 - my ex-boyfriend/close friend at the time Luke, my best friend Lily, and my other close friend Keegan (may she too rest in peace). I'm no longer close with any of those people but there role in my life that night will never be forgotten.
The rest of that night feels like a blur. I was so convinced that Y2K was going to become a reality that the thought of my dad having a heart transplant on New Years Eve 1999 felt like a joke.
It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed. An entire decade is now history. I was standing by the bus stop on my way home from work last night when I realized, "I am 22. I am a woman. And -- between the years of 1999 and now, I grew up."
The past 10 years have been the some of the most memorable of my entire life. I will never forget them. They are the years in which I graduated 8th grade, record 2 CDs of original music, walked the warning track at Fenway Park, sat in the Cubs dugout at Wrigley Field, played lead trumpet in jazz band, studied at one of the most world-renowned music camps, studied songwriting with John Mayer's old professors at Berklee, saw every tour 'N SYNC ever did, met Good Charlotte three times, saw Christina Aguilera live, experienced what it was like to be at a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Concert, got into my first choice college (and 10 others), pledged a sorority, traveled to three countries, lettered in a varsity high school sport, boycotted watching the White Sox in the 2005 world series, went to all four parks at Disney World in one day, learned to drive/got into a car accident, saw the Cubs at Spring Training, became buddies with George Clooney's dad, graduated college ON TIME and -- finally -- survived the biggest amount of any pain/suffering I've ever had to endure.
So as this decade and year come to a close, I ask you to take a moment for yourself. Sit there. Pause whatever it is you're doing. And think: how have I changed in the past decade? Who was there for it? Who's still here? Then ... I beg you savor all of the bad and realize that without it, the good wouldn't have felt nearly as good.
I don't know much, but I know this -- If I can survive this year, then anyone can survive anything.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
This is my first Christmas not spent with my family. Sure -- we're Jewish -- but that doesn't mean this feels right.
I'm used to a "White Christmas" even though we don't have a tree. My mother grew up Irish Catholic (and later converted to Judaism before marrying my dad), so we always had stockings by the fire with a few gifts. There were even two years spent in Phoenix, Az. with my Christmas-celebrating Grandma Irene (may she RIP) where there WAS a tree AND presents AND cookies left out for Santa Claus.
I guess you could say my sister and I grew up with the best of both worlds -- Hannukah for eight days and some sort of celebration for Christmas.
Now -- that's not to say we celebrated the birth of Christ. We didn't. Not by a long shot. And no -- watching Midnight Mass with our mom on TV while we played with our laptops or dogs in the background does not count as celebrating the birth of our non-savior. Christmas to our family was a time to enjoy family.
My most recent Christmas memory includes the 45 minute drives to a near-by suburb to have a Lobster-pasta sauce dinner complete with cocktails, Apples to Apples, baked clams, and crazy antics.
Last year was our first Christmas without my dad. He was sitting alone, in Northwestern University hospital, waiting for a new heart and kidney. It had just snowed a pretty massive snow in Chicago and my mom wasn't exactly used to driving the mean streets after a vicious holiday storm, let alone the Edens Expressway.
I manned the iPod with my festive holiday my playlist including all the classics (Bing, Frank, Dean, The Andrews Sisters) and some recent newbies ('N SYNC, Christina Aguilera, Natalie Merchant, Mariah Carey). We even played Adam Sandler's "Channukah Song" -- that was always a Christmas Eve tradition in our Volvo on the way to the 'burbs.
But the ride didn't feel right. Dad wasn't there. And to think -- just a year before -- my sister and I were buzzed off champagne, embarrassed at how loud our dad's laugh was while playing Apples to Apples. We had no idea that he wouldn't be around for the next Christmas, let alone the next year.
This year, I have no idea what my family is doing. I'm in DC and they're in Chicago (or least, I'm assuming they are).
For the first time in my life, I don't have to call my Grandma Irene to wish her a Merry Christmas. It always felt like a chore back in the day, but now I wish I could call her ... if only to hear her festive chuckle.
I'll be spending my Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Alexandria, Va. But my heart will still always be in Chicago.
Monday, December 21, 2009
It was my best friend's birthday. So who cares if it was snowing? We braved the storm, had our fill of debaucherours fun a-la our undergrad Greek Life days, and were surrounded by maybe less than 500 others in the entire Adams Morgan area.
Friday, December 18, 2009
But fear not Chicago to DC readers! A change is coming!
What is there to look forward to? Well, 2010 for one! For those of you who have followed this blog and taken my year's journey with me, you know that 2009 has been a difficult one. Look for a "Year In Review" piece just before the New Year in addition to a personal wrap-up of this year's THUNDER SNOW!
Yes. You heard me. THUNDER SNOW! Not sure what I'm talking about? Visit fellow blogger Karl Johnson's post on We Love DC dot com for the details.
In short -- the winter wonderland I've wanted since moving to DC in the Fall of 2005 is coming ... and it's coming in one fowl swoop. We're expecting anywhere between 10-20 inches of snowfall (in form a of a "thunder snow storm") this weekend. Look for photos and a write-up regarding the storm after it hits.
My best to all of you this holiday season,
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
To endure four deaths in eight months is something I continue to struggle with everyday. I assure you, that's no exaggeration. I often times find myself holding back tears on the metro bus to work or on my lunch break walks to and from the Subway sandwich shop.
I can't remember a time when The Wizard of Oz wasn't a part of my life. In fact, I had no clue how big of a deal it really was until I was at my grandparents house in Michigan City, In. -- just hours after my Bubbe's funeral.
My three cousins and my younger sister huddled around the same television set we've huddled under for over 20 years now. This was a rare occasion seeing as three of us lived in outside of the Chicago area -- not to mention we hadn't done this since well before my youngest cousin (age 12) was born.
We watched our birthday parties on repeat, heckling each other over our poor taste in music and the matching outfits our mother's made us wear. But -- as the oldest of five granddaughters -- I assumed my role as team captain and chose to commandeer the television set.
At first I felt bad, but then I realized: This is the only way I'll be able to cope. Lucky for me, I was born first ... so the majority of home movies were, well ... of me.
That night, I watched my second birthday. I had never seen the video before. It was a pleasure to see my failed attempts at opening the gift wrap on my plethora of presents.
And then ... of course ... the kicker. My dad was sitting Indian-style on the white carpet floor, excited and with gift in hand. He called my name and waved me over, looked straight at the camera and said, "Rachel! Rachel! In 20 years, you're going to know I wrapped this gift for you! Do you know what it is?" I shook my head while smiling. I was excited! It was my birthday after all!
"Open it!," he shouted. I couldn't. My hands were too small and the box was too big. So he did it for me.
Low and behold, "It's The Wizard of Oz!" My dad was so happy. And in that moment, while watching television, I proceeded to cry the happiest cry I've ever cried in my entire life. I was 22.
Exactly 20 years later, I finally saw that video. It was as if my dad knew how important it was ahead of time.
You see, they sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as they lowered my dad into the ground. It's just ... one of those things.
So today -- on the 70th anniversary of the silver screen debut of an American classic (and on the 10 month anniversary of my father's death) -- I am going to see the Wizard of Oz.
It's like the Wizard told the Tin Man, "A heart is not judged by how much you loved, but by how much you are loved by others."
I love this movie. I love my dad. And I can't wait to take this evening for myself and remember those two things together.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"We Love DC" was featured this past September in Washingtonian Magazine. Here's an excerpt from that article listed in "The Blogger Beat":
We Love DC was born in 2008 after ten bloggers from Metroblogging DC decided to start a new site. They wanted independence from the city-blog network—declaring it on July 4, naturally—and have since nearly doubled their volunteer writing team and, in the past six months, tripled their monthly readers.Check out Levitin's first post listed in today's Daily Feed here and be on the look out for more Daily Feed items and Features in the coming days/weeks/months!
For the rest of the article click here.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
(Original predictions are to the right of the winners in RED)
Entertainer of the Year: Taylor swift Taylor Swift
Female Vocalist of the Year: Taylor Swift Reba McEntire
Male Vocalist of the Year: Brad Paisley Brad Paisley
New Artist of the Year: Darius Rucker Darius Rucker
Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum Lady Antebellum
Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland Suglarland
Single of the Year: "I Run to You" - Lady Antebellum Lady Antebellum
Song of the Year: "In Color" - Jamey Johnson "Then" - Brad Paisley
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally Paul Franklin - Steel Guitar
And in honor of the CMA's youngest Entertainer of the Year in the award show's history, Miss Taylor Swift, here's an encore presentation of her live performance plus a brief interview with ABC:
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Nashville's biggest boot wearing stars wait all year for tonight. This evening, they receive the recognition they deserve by co-hosts/nominees Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.
Will Swift take home the majority or are other big names in the game bringing home the glory? You'll have to wait and see on today's big show airing at 8/7c on ABC.
Here are a few predictions to tide you over in the meantime:
(Winner predictions are in BOLD)
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, George Strait, Keith Urban
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Eagles, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland
SINGLE OF THE YEAR (Award goes to Artist and Producer)
"Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band, produced by Keith Stegall, Atlantic Records, "I Run To You" by Lady Antebellum, produced by Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley, Capitol Records Nashville, "In Color" by Jamey Johnson, produced by The Kent Hardly Playboys, Mercury Nashville, "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington, produced by Carson Chamberlain and Billy Currington, Mercury Nashville, "Then" by Brad Paisley, produced by Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois, Arista Nashville
ALBUM OF THE YEAR (Award goes to Artist and Producer)
"American Saturday Night" by Brad Paisley, produced by Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois, Arista Nashville, "Defying Gravity" by Keith Urban, produced by Dann Huff and Keith Urban, Capitol Records Nashville, "Fearless" by Taylor Swift, produced by Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift, Big Machine Records, "Love On The Inside" by Sugarland, produced by Byron Gallimore, Kristian Bush, and Jennifer Nettles, Mercury Nashville, "That Lonesome Song" by Jamey Johnson, produced by The Kent Hardly Playboys, Mercury Records
SONG OF THE YEAR (Award goes to Songwriter(s))
"Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown/Wyatt Durrette, "I Told You So" by Randy Travis, "In Color" by Jamey Johnson/Lee Thomas Miller/James Otto, "People Are Crazy" by Bobby Braddock/Troy Jones, "Then" by Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois/Ashley Gorley
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR (Award goes to each Artist)
"Cowgirls Don't Cry" by Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire, Arista Nashville, "Down The Road" by Kenny Chesney (with Mac McAnally), Blue Chair Records, LLC & BNA Records, "Everything But Quits" by Lee Ann Womack (duet with George Strait), MCA Nashville, "I Told You So" by Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis, 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville, "Old Enough" by The Raconteurs featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe, Third Man Records/Warner Bros. Records
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR (Award goes to Artist and Director)
"Boots On" by Randy Houser, directed by Eric Welch, "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, directed by Trey Fanjoy, "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington, directed by The Brads, "Start A Band" by Brad Paisley (duet with Keith Urban), directed by Jim Shea, "Troubadour" by George Strait, directed by Trey Fanjoy
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Eddie Bayers — Drums, Paul Franklin — Steel Guitar, Dann Huff — Guitar, Brent Mason — Guitar, Mac McAnally — Guitar
Also, while The Chicago to DC POV does realize that this song is at least 5 years old and is not nominated for an award tonight, there might as well be a song to listen to while reading over the list of nominees:
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The "One-Liner For The Road" quickly turned into "The One-Liner of the Month". This feature produced quotes "on people, about people" and were often times lines from songs written by R.H. Levitin or quotes pulled from articles written for Chicago to DC.
Due to a lack of a one-liner from October 2009, The Chicago to DC POV has decided to provide folks with the following:
... and just in case November doesn't get its own one-liner, here's a little something to tide you over:
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Taylor Swift, 19, hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time this weekend and tackled the role as joint-host and musical guest quite well. Her musical performances stand out the most, reminding fans what it is they fell in love with her in the first place.
Confident performances featuring the hit single "You Belong With Me" and guitar-ballad "Untouchable" provided viewers with a show a la Faith Hill circa "This Kiss"/"Breathe" and Shania Twain circa "Man I Feel Like A Woman".
And don't doubt for a second that the pre-teen crowd stayed awake way past their bedtimes at some sort of sleepover party just to to sneak a late-night peek of their idol on TV.
Forget the few Britney-esque dances moves. Swift played off her class and teenage energy all night. Hell -- she looked like any other girl singing top 40 songs heard over the loud speaker at a party while fist-pumping and hip-shaking with her girlfriends.
Parents couldn't ask for a better role model for their kids what with the crazy antics of Lady Gaga and the Lindsay Lohan's of the world. rest easy, parents. your kids have a wholesome teen from Pennsylvania who wears her heart on the neck of her guitar and sings what she feels. Who knew honesty could be so rewarding?
Swift did what every girl dreams of doing -- calling out her ex-boyfriends for being giant douche bags on national TV while laughing it off in the process. It's like paying for therapy only the nation is paying to listen to her problems -- not too shabby.
Her acting was no better than any of the cast members themselves but she fit right in with the gang. Shakira and Kate Gosselin never looked funnier though, I'll give her that.
It's hard to remember she's 19-years-old for the mature demeanor she portrays to the public eye, but Swift's smile at the end of her performance of "Untouchable" said it all. It screamed,"I'm just a kid ... having the time of my life, living out my wildest dreams."
Good for you Taylor, good for you. Keep it up... and try not to date anymore Jonas Brothers. You've sold more records than them (and everyone else in the music industry) this year anyway.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Midnight Spin's Favorite D.C. Moment:
A Message to fans/fans-to-be from Midnight Spin:
Click here for the complete set of photos taken by R.H. Levitin of Midnight Spin's show at The Velvet Lounge.
[Photo Credit: Midnight Spin Drummer Dan Scull, Lead Singer/Guitar Player Mike Corbett, and Basist Ben Waters. By Rachel Levitin, 2009.]
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Yogi Berra was no Einstein but the man coined more one-liner's in his day as a ball player for the Yankees than any other bag-runner to-date.
"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."
His agility, cat-like reflexes behind the plate, and strength with a bat made up for his lack of book smarts. The only logic hidden behind his now infamous coined phrases was that he meant every word said. Baseball is a physical game that takes a quick mind to win games. So forget that Yogi may have said it's ninety percent mental and fifty percent physical -- he got it right in theory.
Berra appeared in 14 World Series, won 10, and played for a Yankees squad during the team's most consistent winning period in major league history.
Does History Seal a Team's Fate?
I wonder what mental games consumer ball players during their time on a given team. If you're drafted to the Kansas City Royals or Washington Nationals are you going to come into work everyday with a chip on your shoulder? If you work for the Yankees or Red Sox will you don your team's logo wherever you go with immense pride? Before 2004, how did it feel to be a Red Sox player? And how about those Cubs, what's it feel like to go into work knowing your team hasn't won for over 100 years? You know that your fans, as die-hard as they are, want nothing more than a World Series win. But what those fans also know is they should expect the best while assuming the worst is going to happen.
Milton Bradley's: The Cub's Newest (Scape)Goat
Milton Bradley is an example of the mental game of baseball taking it's toll on a player's psyche.
It's important to remember -- these ball players aren't playing the game for the sole purpose of making the fans happy. They have lives too.
Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley has had a season-long struggle with his teammates, coaching staff, and Cubbie faithful. Bradley was suspended by General Manager Jim Hendry for the rest of the season following Sunday night's extra-inning 6-3 win over N.L. Central rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, for detrimental conduct toward the Cubs organization.
To a fan or reporter, it may be easy to call Bradley's behavior over the past season a result of a mental-game he enforced upon himself while playing a team notorious for losing. Remember Steve Bartman from Game 5 of 2003 NLCS? Every Cubs fan pointed fingers, called him the scapegoat, and blamed him for the Cubs collapse that season. Bradley has turned into the 2009 goat.
"Milton Bradley is not being subjected to racism. He's experiencing fanism," Tim Terchek of
A team that remains notorious for losing can't be easy to play for, no matter how much potential for post-season glory they might have. Look at this years Mets squad. The Nationals are bad but the Mets are the paupers to the Yankees prince-like prestige in the Empire state.
Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen ... To the Disabled List
"The Nationals have a brighter future than the Mets," New York Post Reporter, Kevin Kernan reported Sunday after a 3-2 Nationals win over the Mets. "It doesn't get any worse than that."
What happens to a player when their teammates drop like flies? The once optimistic future cultivated during day dreams while spring train turn into a harsh reality -- there will be no ring on my finger for the foreseeable future.
A Match-Up for the Ages
The teams that do stand a chance for October glory are the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the 2009 American League Champion New York Yankees.
There hasn’t been a World Series this exciting since the Red Sox ended their drought during the 2004 season.
Think about it: This is the first season of baseball being played in the New Yankee Stadium. The Yankees haven’t won a World Series in yet this century and now must battle to the end against the defending world champions with the hope of doing their city proud while honoring Babe Ruth’s memory in the new house that Jeter appears to be building.
Both teams have the pitching (the best example is Game 1 – Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia we’re wonderful). Both have a superstar line-up of hitters. It just doesn’t get any better.
The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth
This season, the
The record may have been broken but the memory of Gerhig lives on in the depths of baseball fan’s hearts ranging from all walks of the MLB division spectrum.
Gehrig knew he was lucky. He played along side some of the best sluggers, aces, and managers the game has ever known. Hell – his number “4” was the first to be retired in MLB history.
But on July 4, 1939, Gerhig opened up his heart to every person standing on the field, sitting in the dugout, or staring in awe from their seats:
If every player looked at the game the way Gerhig did, the game would be better for all involved. Individual players would play with an inspired mindset. Entire teams would have the confidence of the 1929 World Champion Yankees. The game would be -- dare I say it -- fun again! Fans could tip their hats at the men who sport their uniforms with pride for the sake of the game and not for personal monetary gain. All it takes is one player. I dare someone to step-up to the plate, assume a strong and steady stance, and take baseball into its future by citing its past.
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”
In what is sure to be the lowest scoring game in the series due to a power-pitching match-up between the phenomenal Cliff Lee and dominant C.C. Sabathia, the biggest losers of Game 1 were the Cleveland Indians.
No other pitcher in baseball history has posted a lower ERA than Cliff Lee. The Phillies Ace has a 0.54 ERA in 33 1/3 innings during the post season, beating the previous all-time record-holder/World Series opponent, Mariano Rivera, who posted as low as a 0.77 ERA.
The Tribe can only shake their heads and stare at their feet while baring the grunt of the heart wrenching mental defeat that goes along with trading two previous team members to the teams representing all of baseball in the 2009 World Series.
It must not be forgotten that despite Chase Utley's record-setting homeruns, Sabathia pitched a good game. His Yanks on the other hand did not produce any runs until the bottom of the 9th, leaving the big man to fend for himself on the mound.
Game 1 will be remembered for years to come not because of who the Indians let get away, but for how effortless Lee made World Series pitching look in what ESPN.com Senior Reporter Jayson Stark calls "the city where October legends are born."
The guy didn't even break a sweat. He just went out there and played baseball -- that's what the post-season is all about.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Midnight Spin makes playing straight-ahead rock with an individual twist look easy and fun -- not to mention it's pleasing to the ear.
If energy were the name of the club playing game, Midnight Spin's got the Olympic Gold more than once over. Their Velvet Lounge show was packed. Sure -- most D.C. natives know that The Velvet Lounge tends to pack the place to capacity on weekends due to location and reputation, but the Friday Midnight Spin was in the house the line to get into the place was near a 15- to 20-minute wait at its longest.
Who wants to stand in a line that long at a small neighborhood bar known for live local music? Midnight Spin's fans.
The band might hail from New York but their roots run deep with D.C.-metro area blood.
Lead singer Mike Corbett and drummer Dan Scull have known each other since they were kids. The two Maryland natives have been rockin' away since their younger years when they were just a couple of wide-eyed lil' guys looking to play the same instruments as the timeless musicians who came before them on the American Billboard charts.
Once they obtained their college degrees, a change was in order. The pair decided to drop everything and head to New York to start a new band. One fresh and raring to go in the great fight for rockstardom.
Along the way, they picked up bassist Ben Waters (Dan's friend from college) and pianist Jeremy Cohen, who started standing in on a few shows (quickly becoming integral to the band's sound).
Instrument-wise, the band was complete. The standard rock band instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard to round out any background noise is all any band needs to create a sound all their own. Midnight Spin wanted more than the standard. They wanted to create a line-up and sound that will grab the attention American ears as far as the eye can see. So they turned to Craig's List.
"Jim's the wild card," Corbett said. Guitar player Jim Terranova responded to an ad taken out by Midnight Spin on Craig's List.
"It was one of those weird things," Terranova said. "It just ended up working out. It was as if we had all been friends for years once we started playing together."
Here's a secret (shh ... don't tell the band ...): You can't tell that you haven't known each other for years. Your show is that seamless.
From covers to originals, Midnight Spin can play it all and make any song sound like they wrote it in a garage 10 years ago with the hopes of making it big.
Midnight Spin's return to D.C. for their first club show is due to what Corbett calls an "unofficial demand" to come home and play for family and close friends from over the years.
I'd have to say that their homecoming was well received for a few reasons:
- The place was packed when they started
- The line (at its longest) was 20-minutes deep
- The floor, holding up hundreds of dancing fans, shook all-night long
- Fans shouted "ENCORE!" long enough to get the sound guys to agree
- The room cleared out when their set was over, leaving very few folks to watch the two bands going on after them
[Photo Credit: Top of page Guitar Play Jim Terranova, Drummer Dan Scull, and Lead Singer/Guitar Player Mike Corbett. Mid-Page: Keyboard Player Jeremy Cohen and Guitar Player Jim Terranova. Bottom left: Guitar Player Jim Terranova and Lead Singer/Guitar Player Mike Corbett. By Rachel Levitin, 2009.]
[Video Credit: Lead Singer/Guitar Player Mike Corbett, Guitar Player Jim Terranova, Bass Player Ben Waters, Keyboard Player Jeremy Cohen, Drummer Dan Scull. By Rachel Levitin, 2009.]
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Check out this LIVE video from their D.C. show at The Velvet Lounge and stay tuned for LIVE interviews with the band, pictures from their set, and much more!
[Video Credit: Lead Singer/Guitar Player Mike Corbett, Guitar Player Jim Terranova, Bass Player Ben Waters, Keyboard Player Jeremy Cohen, Drummer Dan Scull. By Rachel Levitin, 2009.]
LIVE original songs!
LIVE interviews with the band!
LIVE messages to fans!
And a reel of photos worth a once-over ... or five.
Get ready, it's gonna be good.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I'm short, not vertically challenged. Don't you forget it.
To say that someone is "vertically challenged" implies that the individual in question has a physical trait that inhibits day-to-day life. While I must applaud whoever it is that coined the politically correct terminology, I find myself pleading for people to stop using it at once.
Short people are not disadvantaged due to height. Now you know.
I don't mind being closer to the ground most folks. My day is full of aerodynamic stunts in between strangers on the subway and pleasant strolls under foliage danging from trees above head. The one instance my height does bother me is when it rains and I have to use an umbrella.
Think about it. You're of an average height and weight and on your way to work when all of a sudden ...
You feel a pain on your side by your rib cage.
Where did that pesky punch come from? Low and behold, a short person holding up an umbrella.
I'd like to take this time to apologize to any average sized and tall people I've unintentionally pissed off due to my umbrella roughing up their respective sides. It was never my intent to whack you in the ribs with a silver prodding device. In fact, the situation is quite the contrary.
Here's a message for the sidewalk commuter: I do not want to poke you. I do not want to prod you. I do not want to hurt you. I just want to walk. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you in the past, I'll try not to get in your way during future days.
With that said, D.C. folks do not know how to handle the rain (or any inclement weather for that matter). I could blame it on my Midwestern roots but I'd rather blame the incompetent citizens that occupy this city and the surrounding metropolitan area for calling in the National Guard for a few measly inches of precipitation(Point of Clarification: This is a metaphor of course, D.C. doesn't actually send in the National Guard for rain or light snow.)
One friend of mine believes that on days like this, you should get a prize just for showing up at work on what she's deemed to be "crappy weather days". I agree. A door prize would be nice -- especially if you have to walk around all day hanging your head in defeat due to the overwhelming guilt leftover from side-checking a tall person with your umbrella all morning.
My height was never an issue. To be honest, I forget that I'm not as tall as the rest of my friends or the world at-large. I might not know what it feels like to look over people's heads on a consistent basis, but I do know that showing up at concerts early due to height-related vision obstructions can result in not only a front row view but autographs after the show (thank you Linkin Park via 2000 for that one).
Short people get a bad rap. Stereotypes have us labeled as somewhat self-deprecating or a punchline to a dirty joke. Let me clarify: short people are in no way like the fine folks featured in MGM's silver screen classic "The Wizard of Oz". We're not cutesy, ballet-dancing, lollipop guild workers singing to a ruby shoe wearing, pig-tailed donning girl from Kansas. We're your average, everyday person with likes, dislikes, and troubles. We're simply looking to make our way in this world the best we know how.
Rainy days might make me angry but nothing turns that cloud from gray to sunny blue like Huey Lewis & The News singing "Power of Love". I'll tell ya -- when that came on my iPod shuffle this morning at the bus stop, the sun behind the clouds never looked brighter and Michael J. Fox never looked better skate boarding to school holding on for dear life behind a pick-up truck.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm particularly proud of the last :58 seconds of this video. It's all from playing trumpet.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
The IOC crushed the spirits of millions of Chicagoians eager and excited for the global games to stake it's claim in the Windy City.
It also makes the Obama's trip to Copenhagen look like a complete waste of time (which -- since Chicago lost -- was). Time to focus on the important stuff, Mr. President. How about that economy we've heard so much about? Or, you know, those wars we've been fighting for years that have no end in sight? Yeah, it might be a good idea to tend to those items listed on your agenda.
Granted, this here Chicago native would have loved nothing more than to boost my city's ego to epic proportions but President Obama is not the President of the United City of Chicago -- he's the President of the United States.
It's not like we didn't see the loss of the bid coming though. Anytime the words "Chicago" and "sports" unite, it's almost inevitable that it will result in a no-win situation (some might say the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series is an excuse but this blogger begs to differ). The Cubs never win big. The Bulls haven't been TRULY good since the Jordan era. If anyone happens to keep track of the Chicago Fire -- or Major League Soccer for that matter -- then good for them, but they haven't done much of anything either. And those Blackhawks? Don't even get me started.
Chicago's gotta face it: You're a great city full of mouth-watering, artery-clogging food with a good view of the water and a winter that even the thickest skinned find hard to muster -- but those are the reasons we love you. The sports thing is just something to keep your residents entertained. Sorry to say, you just don't have what it takes.
As for the Olympic bid, all this blogger can say is what all Cubs fans know all to well, "'Til next year" or rather -- next time.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Let the expected mumbling and grumbling of the entire North Side commence. Good thing I'm not there, I wouldn't be able to handle the whining.
Look at this way: at least the Cubs are dependable. You know what they're going to do. It's been boiled down to a science.
- Pick up a semi-big name of a free agent during the off-season and propose that this is the exact change needed to make it all the way this year.
- Report to spring training refreshed because this means a new season is under way. That means you know reassure your fans and your players that the clean slate is upon us.
- After a spring training full of mixed results, Opening Day comes and goes -- sometimes it's a win, sometimes it's a loss, either way it's not that bad because there are still 161 games left to play.
- April's slow. It always is.
- May has a decent slew of wins but also injuries.
- June/July = More injuries, some wins, the All-Star Break ... at this point, if wins to losses isn't above .500 then the rest of the season ain't gonna be pretty.
- August is the last chance to prove the Cubs can hack it. September is always a weak month, no matter what. If the Cubs can't get anything done in August, it's time to pack up the bags and call it quits.
- Play-offs or no play-offs ... the choke comes. And that's that. The cycle starts again.
There is no other story in baseball history like the Cubs. The Redsox claim they "understand our woes". They're lying. They don't. They could never understand what it's like to wear a Cubs uniform or be a Cubs fan. Not a chance. Let me tell you why.
It's not all about the World Series drought or the Curse. It's not about wins and loses. It's not about holding grudges against our biggest enemies on the field. It's about the love of all things Cubs baseball.
The Cubs are ours. We've been through everything together. It's just like having the same best friend since you were 4-years-old. You grew up together. You know each others faults but understand that you're working on fixing them, because at the end of the day -- you're still just human. We've studied our "family" history as if it were a religion. The in's and out's of every step our people have ever taken have been documented, analyzed, and reviewed to attempt and prevent history repeating itself. But like the rest of the people surrounding us, history does continue to repeat itself and we live with that.
And ... why do we live with that? Because we love the Cubs.
I mean, hell. It could be worse. We could be the Nationals.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Those chewy, candy-like, white orbs packed with an explosion of mint revealed themselves to me in the 1995 Alicia Silverstone sleeper hit “Clueless”.
My 10- and 11-year-old cousins, who were clearly much cooler than I – seeing as they were older and therefore wiser – utilized their cunning skills to convince their parents to not only buy Clueless but to let my younger sister and I watch it with them. I am forever indebted to them for giving me my first look at what High School was going to be like (according to early/mid 90’s social stereotypes).
Despite its unrealistic plot, the film does resonate with a generation of young people who have embraced Clueless for what it is – an adaptation of what it’s like to be a clueless teenager living in a high-class part of
But there’s more to the movie than greasy hair, flannel shirts, feathered bangs, and Valley Girl-Talk.
A co-worker of mine went to Costco over the weekend. While there, she bought a giant case of every flavor of Mentos known-to-man. The only fair thing to do was to share the wealth. So she offered each of us a pack of the “Freshmaker”.
They were in a word: Delish.
The next day, I was asked by the same co-worker, “So … have you enjoyed any Mentos yet?”
I replied with a “yes, of course” and an “I loved them”, followed up with a re-telling of my favorite Mentos-Clueless story.
It was then I realized, “This is why I’m a writer!”
I'll take this opportunity to thank the following individuals who have contributed to my writing this story. First, thanks to the fine folks at Mentos for creating such a delectable and easy-to-tote, minty-fresh treat. Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd for their semi-realistic roles as young adults struggling with their teenage lives on the silver screen. And mostly, Brittany Murphy for "taking a chance on an unknown kid" by singing the Mentos gingle during the movie – forever etching the tune into my memory.
We've seen the Cubs botch another post-season, a Presidential Election that was down to the wire, the inauguration of our nation's first black president, Randy Johnson's 300th career win, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the third season of VH1's Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, the re-building of the Yankee Stadium, the Jonas Brothers nomination for Best New Artist at the 2009 Grammy Awards, Wrigley Field's first Ice Hockey game and commemorated 9/11.
We've learned that South Park is still funny after 12 seasons.
We've reminisced about the days when MTV still played music videos.
And we've also cried a pretty decent amount about the harsh realities of familial tragedy. On a personal note, this blog has taken a positive turn since my father's passing on January 17. My writing is full of far more passion than I could ever hope for -- and for this, I'm thankful.
To all of my loyal readers: thank you for your unconditional support with this project. It means a lot to me and I assure you that this is just the beginning of things to come.
To all of my soon-to-be-loyal-readers: you've got some good things to look forward to, so stick with it.
Today's post and every post from here on out is therefore dedicated to the following family members who passed away in 2009:
The Chicago to DC POV
Monday, September 28, 2009
Update (9/30/09): It has just been made known to this blogger that The Pour House does proclaim that they ARE, in fact, the OFFICIAL Steelers bar in Washington, D.C. Good for them.
The St. Louis Cardinals have clinched the N.L. Central 2009 title and the Cubs remain one game away from elimination in the Wild Card race. The back-to-back stint in the playoffs will be remembered for years to come as another sad attempt toward achieving baseball's ultimate goal.
'Til next year, I suppose.
On the other hand, football season is three weeks in and it appears as if this one-team kinda gal must shift her alliances to the next best thing -- the Chicago Bears.
In D.C., it's hard to root for any native teams teams whether you're a transplanted resident or a local. Hell, there haven't even been any championship teams that have D.C. as their mailing address. With that said, I find myself required to root for my Bears in an attempt to silence my friend's hoot n' hollering about their respective teams.
After an afternoon matinee of the new Tucker Max movie "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell", a college buddy of mine went down to the Pour House on Capitol Hill for an afternoon of cheap pitchers, Kolbasa, fries, Skee Ball, and Steelers football.
There I was, a Cubs fan turned 15-minute-Bears fan at a bar jam packed with Steelers fans in D.C., when I thought to myself -- whose city is this anyway?
This was truly another "Only in D.C..." moment for me. Only in D.C. would it be socially acceptable to head to the local watering hole with the sole purpose of rooting for your home team only to be surrounded by hundreds of others just like you.
On Sunday, I was surrounded by Black and Gold. I couldn't take one step without seeing a Terrible Towel hanging out of Joe Shmoe's back jean pocket.
I vaguely recall making friends with a Red Sox fan during half-time, but no amount of cheap beer could keep me from remembering the lesson of the evening: the Pour House is the un-official Steelers bar of D.C. (according to my hill staffer friend joining me on this Sunday night adventure).
That got me thinking: where are all the Redskins fans? Mourning a loss to the Lions? Oh yeah ... that's right.
To all those Skins fans out there, I think we're going to be great friends. Now that I've started watching football, I think you'll find that we have a lot in common. You may or may not have heard about my Cubs. They're not too good. And from the looks of the Lion's ending their losing streak, I'd say you'd agree with the fact that the Skins aren't the best team either. I say we share a pitcher stool side at a bar sometime. It'd be better than pretending to be a Steelers fan as to not attract attention to oneself.
I suggest Cubs and Redskins fans unite. Together we can insure that we're no longer outsiders while cheering for our football teams on Sunday.
Ever wonder what it would feel like to travel the country on a good old fashioned road trip only to end up living in the place you've traveled cross-country to see? Most American's have. It's a standard social fantasy a-la the 1960's sub-culture. It's very Jack Keroac in "On The Road".
Now what would happen if you combined an established American tradition, turned it topsy-turvy, and decided -- I'm going to live exclusively off of Craigslist.
22-year-old Jason Paul did just that. Paul, a recent college graduate and fellow American University Eagle, made the decision based on a the fact that this economic climate is not too hot for a young, degree-holding, wanna-be-professional job applicant.
And voisla! LivingCraigslist.com was born.
Paul took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions via E-mail for The Chicago to DC POV:
R.H. Levitin: Why Craigslist?
Jason Paul: There is a real answer and a fake answer to this question. When people ask me what I am doing, I tell them about my journalism job search and how that was a mega failure. 180 jobs in over 35 states without any success. So, I tell I am doing the one thing I feel college actually schooled me enough to do--Craigslist! That of course is my fake answer. The real answer is that Craigslist is this amazing tool that has many different users, with many different stories. Craigslist has something like 20 billion page views per month putting it at #7 in the English speaking world. At the same time, Craigslist is blamed, with good reasons, for the collapse of the news industry. I am sad "conventional" journalism is moving out the door, but why cry about this. I think we, as an industry need to regroup and do what we do best. Tell people's stories. For me, right now, that is hearing peoples stories on Craigslist.
R: How did you come up with the idea to start living off of Craigslist?
J: I don't really know. This is really just one of the many ideas I've had. I just went through with this one because I think it can be the funniest. I think the stories almost tell themselves.
R:What do you hope to gain from this experience? What are your long-term and short-term goals with this project?
R: What's the craziest encounter you've had so far?
R: What has been the general response toward livingcraigslist.com and your plans to write a book on the same topic?
R:What do your parents have to say? Are they supportive?
R: How about your friends? Do they think you're nuts or are they just jealous that you're out living life and they're sitting behind a desk or making copies and coffee?
J: I don't know if they are jealous. I think they are proud of me too. People that know me well know that I am not usually on the map with my ideas. For me to take something so out there and run with it seems to be something people like rallying behind. As my friend Phil wrote, "[Livingcraigslist.com is] a great instrument to live vicariously through while you have the 9-5 drag." Having him say that really means a lot. I am honored to be anyone's release from the real world. I hope I can always find a niche in society that allows me to avoid this "real world."
R: Any words for your fans and followers out there?
J: I can't really thank those who read enough. I would consider this year a success even if my manuscript never sees a printing press. Having people tune in is more than I can ever expect. At times I feel like my only friend is a silly Web site so hearing how much my words mean, makes my day and means the world to me. My most sincere thanks.
Learn more about Jason Paul's Living Craiglist adventures at http://livingcraigslist.com!
Photos courtesy of Jason Paul.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
More to come on this story later ...
I've never seen Massachusetts Avenue completely empty in the four years I've lived in D.C. -- until today.
My N4 WMATA bus approached the U.S. Naval Observatory when it came to a sudden stop. Just beyond the panoramic windows from my seat on the bus, cars were directed by Secret Service and Metropolitan Police to a detour while buses were instructed to stay put until further notification.
There we were, hundreds of morning commuters, stranded in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue on our way to Dupont Circle, Farragut Square, and Metro Center, waiting for a decision to be reached -- will we walk or will we wait?
So I walked.
As I approached the British Embassy, I saw a sight I've never seen before: a traffic-free Mass Ave.
It was as peaceful as I've ever seen the capital. Not a sound rang through the streets except for the occasional lawn mower. I felt like I was on an abandoned movie set -- or even worse -- one of those reality shows where the cameras jump out at you say "I'm Ashton Kutcher and you've been Punk'd!"
I continued along my journey for a total of ten minutes until I came into the next batch of troubles keeping me from getting to my job on time -- police tape roping off the Glover Bridge.
Wide-eyed 20 and 30-something's stared at the blocked off bridge as if it were the light at the end of a never ending tunnel. To make matters worse, the Police weren't any help. They knew nothing. They told us nothing. All anyone knew was that there was a "suspicious package" holding up traffic. Fantastic.
Onlookers were confused -- more specifically the foreigners let off the bus. If only they spoke English, perhaps the situation would have made more sense to them.
The only options for commuters hoping to make it to work within a respectable time span were: take the Rock Creek path to Georgetown, take a scenic route behind the left side of Glover Bridge (but there's no telling when you'll actually hit a street heading toward Farragut Square or Dupont), or wait for the situation to end before hitting the road once more by foot.
So I waited.
But I wasn't alone. Many folks like myself were all going to be late for their respective jobs.
They say you learn something new everyday. Well I'll tell you what I learned today: D.C. is the sole place where being late to work because of a "suspicious package" is viewed as not only normal but a valid excuse.