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Fallon Park

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We’ve never completed the Fourth-of-July Challenge at our house, but we do try to make it into June. So far this year, we’ve only been tempted to turn on the A/C a couple of times. Here’s how McLain has been coping with May heat.

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The lineup for Hopscotch 2013 was announced last week, and I’ve spent some time getting familiar with a few of the bigger-profile artists that I didn’t know. My initial reactions to the lineup were: 1) there aren’t as many big names this year,  2) few of the small names ring a bell, and 3) the collection of middle-sized names is STRONG. In the next four months, I’ll investigate the majority of the 175 bands who will play Hopscotch.

Hopscotch isn’t about who’s playing. It’s about who’s playing what, where, and why, in relation to other acts who are playing at the same time.

For example, Raleigh’s own The Rosebuds are covering Sade’s classic album, Love Deluxe live, in its entirety.

Q. Would I buy tickets to see The Rosebuds play live again?
A. Probably not.

Q. Would I download a free recording of The Rosebuds playing Love Deluxe?
A. Thanks, but no.

Q. Will I go to see The Rosebuds play Love Deluxe live?
A. Absolutely I will. I don’t know exactly why, but I feel like my attendance is mandatory.

Speaking of mandatory attendance, these are my can’t-miss acts (without knowing the when and where of the full schedule — like life, trade-offs are inherent to the format):

  • Kurt Vile and the Violators
    Ideally, they would set up in the middle of the Fallon Park field and play Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze at dusk…my wife and I would sit in camping chairs while my kids and dogs splashed around in Crabtree Creek.
  • Ryan Hemsworth
    In two short years, he’s become my favorite producer in the modern era. When someone tells me that you can’t make real music with samples and a computer, I dismiss him or her and bob my head to whichever Hemsworth mix is currently haunting me.
  • Earl Sweatshirt
    I don’t expect Doris to be better than the handful of excellent hip-hop albums released in the last year, but based on his wordplay and flow, he’s the most talented rapper alive.
  • Oblivians
  • Future Islands
    Truth be told, I kinda wish they weren’t playing outdoors in City Plaza.
  • Waxahatchee
    Cerulean Salt is one of my favorite albums so far this year.
  • Mikal Cronin
  • Angel Olsen
  • Adult.
    Not necessarily a fan yet, but you can’t deny their originality. I’m curious.
  • Local Natives
    Good album earlier this year, great band.
  • Big Black Delta
  • Lapalux 
    I like his album, and he’s on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label.
  • Alpoko Don
    Like a poor man’s Cee Lo, maybe.
  • Pissed Jeans
    Sonic aggression mixed with insecurity.
  • Ex Cops
  • Last Year’s Men
  • Shannon Whitworth
    I’ll check her out only if my old friend Barret Smith is playing with her.
  • xxyyxx
  • The Toddlers
    Local and noisy. I liked their set last year, but my festival companions wanted to keep moving.

I don’t yet know if I’ll do a spreadsheet like I did last year, but I do know I’ll need some kind of outlet for my excitement between now and September.

All this happens about two miles from my house. I bought my wristband the second they first went on sale, back in February. In September, 175+ diverse musical acts will play the friendly confines of downtown Raleigh. There’s no better bang for your musical buck, and as far as I’m concerned, the festival is one of the biggest feathers in Raleigh’s cap.

Someday in the near future, Baxter and Robah will die. I love my boys (and often refer to them as “boys” rather than “dogs”), but I don’t allow myself to ignore the difference between their mortality and my own. They’re middle-aged dogs who have fewer days left than this approaching-middle-aged human.

I don’t even want to speculate about life after Robah, but I have been thinking a lot about Baxter dying lately. He’s the older of the two, and goodness knows he’s injury-prone. After I have him cremated and fill a Penn #2 with his ashes (which will have a prominent mantel resting spot), I’ll think often of what I miss about him.

I’ll also think about Baxter memories that I don’t miss. For example, taking Baxter to the vet.

https://vine.co/v/bT5jzvIiqbK
https://vine.co/v/bT5tBbxwjEd

Notes:

  • Baxie especially hates the bordetella vaccination that gets applied to his nose. I meant to get some footage of the part where the vet put the hard plastic muzzle on Baxter during this part of his exam, but I figured that being the “master” of a crazy dog was bad enough; being the master of a crazy dog and recording video of the dog getting muzzled is shameful.
  • These are my first Vines, but I really see a lot of potential in this medium/tool. The six-second of video limit should be enforced on other parts of the web and other social networks.

It took only 10 minutes. When it was over, on that brisk Saturday morning in Five Points, McLain was transformed. A mother wept (or at least teared up a little), as Star Wars action figures and wall-mounted trophy bass witnessed a baby become a boy.

With his wealth of experience and shear talent (see what I did there?), Mr. Jimmy tamed what was once wild; nay, Mr. Jimmy imposed order on golden locks of anarchy. Like so many footprints in the sands of time, McLain’s curls were scattered on the floor.

The people who loved McLain most watched those tiny tresses become memories…memories that would later be swept away.

Melodrama aside, Jimmy and his barber shop are awesome…so awesome, it makes me wish I had enough hair left to justify paying a barber to cut it. On top of that, Five Points Barber Shop used to belong to the father of a family friend.

I’ll start by admitting that living in Raleigh has tested me over the past year. I’m a Carolina alum and sports fan, so there hasn’t been a lot of good news since Butch was (rightfully) kicked out of Chapel Hill. The college-sports enthusiasts with west-Raleigh ties are not making it easier for me, but I don’t resent them for finding our closets, and mostly, I’m trying not to resent their resentful poking and prodding of a rival school’s academic and athletic skeletons.

Also, I don’t hold it against the local media that they have to dissect every tweet, interview, rumor, blog post, or newspaper story about the scandal as it unfolds. I am glad that I don’t work in local media; I wish that I could tune it out a little better, but I find that to be really hard.

So, I’ll talk about what’s good, and why I’m proud to live in Raleigh. The Hopscotch Music Festival is at the top of the civic-pride list. How many earthlings can boast 175 bands in three nights, all within a mile radius of their civic core, for less than the price of a Sonos Play 3?

I have proof that I’m into this — see my spreadsheet below for a glimpse of how I spend my free time. But first, here’s a little personal history.

The inaugural Hopscotch was in 2010. Katie was 8.5 months pregnant with McLain, I had a one-year-old daughter at home, and I skipped it.

Last year, I put a toe in the Hopscotch water. There was no choice about attending at least one City Plaza show — Guided by Voices was playing two miles from my house (with The Dodos and Drive-by Truckers opening).

This year, I’m all in. I got a three-day wristband, and I’ve been thrilled about it  ever since the etix transaction back in June.

Unlike last year, one of my favorite bands of all time will not be playing in 2012. But, I think the following shows are worth seeing, regardless of where they are playing:

  • The Roots
  • Built to Spill
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Liars
  • Sunn O)))
  • Thee Oh Sees
  • Danny Brown
  • Deerhoof
  • Baroness
  • Lambchop
  • Killer Mike
  • The Spits
  • Oneida
  • Holograms
  • Sister Crayon
  • Doldrums
  • Whatever Brains
  • Guardian Alien

It’s not necessarily about the music you or I know and already love; it’s about the potential for discovery. For the record, I believe that this year’s Hopscotch line up is bigger and better than the Moogfest line up in Asheville, which I would not have claimed last year.

Here’s my homework, or at least my personal effort to educate myself about the bands at the festival this year (google docs): Hopscotch 2012 Line Up Analysis

Here’s what the first tab looks like:

A look at my subjective analysis of the Hopscotch 2012 line up

Some notes about the spreadsheet:

Priorities worksheet

  • Shows are marked and organized by column according to how interested I am in seeing them — it’s an effort to prioritize and make tough decisions about shows to seek out, shows to happen upon, and a few shows I might want to disregard. If you don’t like my priorities, or even if you do, you should come up with your own.
  • I forced all of the bands/artists into 9 genres (one of which is “other”). This is certainly not an effort to label all of them precisely, but it helps to classify the types of acts at a given venue on a given night. It also yields a surprising snapshot; for example, there are 15 metal bands this year, and not nearly as much 80’s-influenced dance rock (considering how that sound seems so common these days).
  • There are links to live performances for most of the artists. This should at least give you a feel for the band’s stage show. Note that some of the smaller, local artists (generally found at the bottom of the list) don’t have much live performance video online.
  • Prioritization is a work in progress, and maybe it can be used for planning purposes.
The Venue, ThuFri, and Sat worksheets are self-explanatory.

If parents use one cliché more than any other, it must be this one:

They grow up so quickly!

Before I had children, I was tired of hearing this because it seemed so trite. It is trite, but now that I have children, I am tired of hearing the cliché because it’s redundant. My expectation of the things that my children can do is continually exceeded by them actually doing those things (before I expect them).

Some days, it seems that if I stare at my nearly three-year-old daughter, I can see her brain development in-process. The evidence is usually a slightly different action than the day before. For example, I’ll notice that she looks at her breakfast a little more critically than the morning before, or maybe she suddenly wants to know our family plans for the next two days instead of just tomorrow.

Our bi-weekly painting sessions are one of my absolute favorite ways to spend an hour. They also provide many glimpses of Jackie’s development, and early signs of what I like to think are her artistic talents. For one thing, the child has laser focus when she commits to an activity. Instead of scribbling with her brush, she uses long strokes with directional purpose. Jackie also likes to cover the entire surface of the paper that we use. Here are a few of my favorites from our sessions.

I’m really excited that Jackie is learning to paint before she learns to draw. I think sometimes that the transition from drawing to painting is like the transition from a baseball swing to a golf swing. The ingrained practice of drawing (or hitting a baseball) is really hard to suppress when you start painting (or hitting a golf ball) because the learned activity is similar enough to the new activity to contaminate or hinder it.

I don’t force painting on Jackie, and she can quit at any time she wants after we get started. I took Jackie to the Rembrandt in America exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art last weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that the greatest of the Dutch Masters wasn’t the greatest for a toddler, but we still enjoyed ourselves. As we skimmed a Rembrandt book the week before our visit, I explained to Jackie what a portrait was. After 15 minutes walking through the exhibit, Jackie gave me a serious look and said, “Daddy, all of these pictures are portraits.”

Other museum-goers gave us you’re-being-noisy-in-a-library-type looks as we talked loudly about the paintings on the walls, which reminded me why people perceive art exhibits as stuffy (because they are). I even got scolded by a museum proctor when I pointed to Rembrandt’s signature on a painting from his Leiden period and my finger got within a few inches of the canvas. However, the exhibit was fantastic, Jackie was a good sport, and I think she enjoyed it (although not quite as much as she likes the modern area of the permanent collection).

And one day soon, when she or McLain creates something amazing that makes me proud, I’ll probably be surprised. After all, I was ready to cut up an apple for Jackie’s snack this past Monday, and she told me, “you don’t need to cut it Daddy…I’ll hold it and eat it.”

I won’t even begin to list my reasons for not updating this blog sooner — there are more important things to talk about. In fact, I’m considering holding this blog hostage until my demands for a new home computer are met by my wife. Maybe it will take a Lion to convince her.

Before I get to the visuals, the past month brought us two major developments:

My grandmother died at age 97, early on Saturday, May 29. Her funeral was Wednesday. I want to write about that in a different post.

Holly and Scott Freeling gave birth to Robert Joseph Freeling (R.J. for short) about a month ago. They will be excellent parents, and I can’t wait to meet R.J.

Now, about this post. I was flipping through the photos I’ve taken with my phone over the past six months, and a few weird ones jumped out at me. I’ve also included some not-so-weird images, just so you don’t start worrying about me unnecessarily.

Katie got an interesting awesome Mother’s Day present, and Jackie and I have since been hunting down winged intruders in our house. Our hunting is done humanely — we’re all about catch and release around here. Here’s a picture of a fly, post-catch and pre-release.

Photo of a trapped fly, taken from the mouth of a discharged Fly-Goodbye vacuum canister.

Here are a couple choice images from our 20 minutes inside the Amococo exhibit at Artsplosure a few weeks ago.

Katie and Jackie breaking on through to the other side.

Jackie taking a break from all the psychedelia.

This is one of many ways Jackie likes to help out with McLain.

Jackie strolling McLain, somewhere downtown.

Jackie and I met and chatted with a real falconer for awhile.

Here’s an unintentionally spooky picture of Baxter quivering with fear in the bath tub. Let me explain. We had some heavy weather in Raleigh this past spring. As in other parts of the country, a lot of people in Raleigh and the rest of NC were victims of tornadoes. You would think by looking at him that he’s waiting out a storm. He’s not. Whenever Baxter hears a lawnmower outside, he gets completely terrified and goes to his safe place.

Here’s McLain and me. If you haven’t met him, trust me when I say he’s extremely cool.

I took this one right after Christmas. It’s the kind of picture you could hand to students in a creative writing class and say, “Write the short story. You have one hour to complete this final exam.” My father and I were attempting to show Jackie a real (and dead but frozen) bird up close. She wasn’t sure what to make of the brief experience. I love the picture though. Note the portrait of Rich, Maggie, and me hanging on the wall. Also note the small rubber chicken under Jackie’s hand.

Learning about birds

Katie entertains us before lunch at Busy Bee Cafe.

Prosthetic Play Doh nose

Here’s a pic of the two drooliest and downright sweetest members of the Jones family.

Slobber buddies

McLain is now two weeks old and doing just great. Two weeks might not be quite enough time to really get to know someone who doesn’t talk or even open his eyes very often, but I will attempt to describe what I know about him so far in the form of a bulleted list:

  • I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “Tar Heel born,” but McLain definitely shares one characteristic with Rameses. He bleats. What I mean is that he makes a staccato sound similar to that of a baby sheep. You know, something like baa-aa-aa-aa-aa-ha-aa. So, his first nickname is hereby McLamb.
  • His newborn temperament is relaxed, and he’s fairly quiet when he isn’t bleating or crying for a nursing session.
  • His eyes are bluish and greenish, although that is subject to change in the next several months.
  • The little guy has George Gershwin/Jelly Roll Morton-type fingers. His phalanges seem to be more mature than the rest of him. I remember Jackie having similar fingers.
  • Just as Jackie seemed to favor a particular electronic album, The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime, McLain is fond of Black Noise by Pantha du Prince. I only have two data points, but my theory is that infants enjoy contemporary minimalist European techno.

Overall, Katie and I feel like the addition of McLain to the family has gone very well. Katie continues to manage McLain’s nursing schedule, and he continues to gain weight. Jackie has been completely accepting of her new brother; I haven’t yet seen her show any sign of jealousy toward him. She amazes me with her ability to accept dramatic changes and put her best Ked forward (she gets this from her mother).

The only really rough patch was when I contracted a stomach bug on an outing with Jackie to the Museum of Natural Sciences downtown. I was incapacitated and quarantined in the guest bedroom for about 30 hours. Katie could have handled everything on her own, but we were lucky to get a visit from Steve Saville the second night of my illness. He was finishing a project in Fayetteville and made the drive to Raleigh last Thursday evening. Steve bought dinner, helped with the kids, and made us all feel better about things when we needed it most — just the kind of thing a good friend does when you really need the assistance.

Last and also least, Robah and Baxter are looking to each to each other for entertainment now more than ever before. But, with all the time they’ve spent hanging around with a newborn and a toddler, there hasn’t been the slightest problem. I expect this kind of cooperation from Robah. With Baxter, you just can’t know what to expect, but he’s been really good as well.

Here’s a video with footage from the first hour after McLain’s birth, his first real meeting with his mother, and the introduction of his big sister.

We had a photo session with Jessica Lobdell the Sunday before last. She and Simon are good people, and they were really patient with us. If you live in the Triangle, and need a professional with an excellent eye, call Jessica. She posted several pics of our family on her blog: http://jmbentonphoto.blogspot.com/2010/09/new-baby-boy.html. The next-to-last image on her blog speaks volumes (from Baxter’s perspective, at least). More on that later.

Finally, here are a slew of pictures that Katie and I took, mostly from McLain’s first several days.

Thanks again to my parents and Katie’s parents. My mom and dad held down the fort during those first couple of hectic days. Katie’s mom has made a couple of trips from Georgia to help for extended periods, and her dad entertained Jackie during her second trip to Kenan Stadium the weekend before last.

McLain has almost a full week of worldly experience, and he couldn’t be doing better. His mother, when she isn’t cuddling with him or taking care of the rest of us, has his nursing schedule completely under control. His sister adores him, asks to hold him at least 10 times a day, and hasn’t poked him in the eye (yet). His canine brothers have only licked him (Baxter) and drooled on him (Robah) once.

Things are going really well for the expanded family unit. We truly appreciate the ongoing help and love from his grandparents, as well as the calls, visits, and food from friends and family. Two special shout-outs are warranted: to Nana for quarantining herself Saturday when she had a stomach bug, and Sarah for joining Katie and me the early morning of his arrival.

I plan to make a couple of more polished posts after I go through the many pictures and videos waiting for me on our hard drive. In the meantime, here’s a link to a Picasa album, and the first picture of our expanded family: http://picasaweb.google.com/katiebjones/McLainIsBorn?authkey=Gv1sRgCLmdkYDDzPuZowE#

Family, September 2010

McLain Moore Jones was born early this morning at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. He’s quite lovable.

Birth stats:

  • 7 lbs., 10 oz.
  • 20.5 in. long
  • born at 7:45 a.m.

Katie’s initial assessment of his appearance is that he, like Jackie when she was an infant, looks like my father. He’s been sleeping pretty hard during his first few hours. Of course, I think he’s amazing in every way. I also think the same of my wife. By the way, Katie is already scheming about how to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.

Dr. Littleton was wearing a Tar Heel-themed surgical hat when he delivered McLain, which Katie allowed. The planned aspect of Katie’s admittance and McLain’s birth made it seem like a very controlled and predictable process. Jackie’s two-week-late arrival surprised us, but McLain arrived according to the schedule laid out for us yesterday.

My only disappointment this morning was the Steve Miller Band playing in the operating room during the McLain extraction. When will hospitals defer to parents for a child’s first ex-utero music? Seriously though, I couldn’t have been happier with the treatment we received this time and last time from Rex Hospital. Everyone has gone out of their way to welcome us and make us comfortable.

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

I took this post-apocalyptic picture outside Jones Barber Shop in Raleigh last year.

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