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We recently got our scooter back from the shop, where two recalled parts (a fuel pump seal and the connecting rod) were replaced at Yamaha’s expense. For both Katie (before she was pregnant) and me, scooting with the wind in your face causes a perma-grin, or “scooter smile” as we call it. Not a full smile, mind you…that would put you at risk of swallowing a bug. The scooter smile is more subdued, but impossible to prevent.

Nice whip eh?

Nice whip eh?

There are several good reasons not to take yourself too seriously when you’re scooting about. For one thing, I think most people look a tad dorky (in the best possible way). I am no exception; my helmet is so big that I imagine myself looking like Lord Dark Helmet (of Spaceballs) as I drive around town.

Lord Dark Helmet, scooter aficionado"?

Lord Dark Helmet, scooter aficionado?

Another reason that scooter riders need a sense of humor is our slow speed relative to the rest of traffic. It’s hard to exude coolness when a Hybrid Kia can smoke you without up-shifting from third gear. Finally, people in North Carolina sometimes assume that you’re riding a scooter because you lost your driver’s license (that’s when a “Not a Liquorcycle” bumper sticker really comes in handy…thanks Steve). So, scootin’ and grinnin’ go hand-in-hand.

Best Albums of 2008

The scootin’ conditions have been pretty cold here recently, but I have managed to scoot around Five Points on the warmer days during the past two weeks. Aside from running different errands, time on the scooter has given me a chance to think back on the year in music. 2008 has really been a good one for tunes, so just like everyone else, I have my own personal “best of” list. Here’s how I rank some of the best of what I’ve heard since this time last year. Also, I reserve the right to make changes to these lists as songs/albums/artists pop into my head. I initially planned to add links to these artists or even mp3s, but I probably won’t have time before my daughter is born.

Tier One

Dr. Dog – Fate
TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Deerhunter – Microcastles
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

Tier Two

Flying Lotus – Los Angeles
Nomo – Ghost Rock
Sun Kil Moon – April
Santogold – Santogold
Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

Tier Three

The Walkmen – You & Me
Ratatat – LP3
Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

2008 Mixtape (or my favorite 2008 singles)

MGMT – Electric Feel
Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
The Field – A Paw in my Face
The Walkmen – In the New Year
Bon Iver – Creature Fear
Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach You
Lykke Li – Little Bit
Big Boi, featuring Three Stacks & Raekwon – Royal Flush
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
Department of Eagles – No One Does It Like You
Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
No Age – Teen Creeps
Lil Wayne – A Milli
Islands – In the Rushes
Atlas Sound – River Card
White Denim – Sitting

Most Disappointing Albums

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
Portishead – Third
Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
Booka Shade – The Sun & The Neon Light

I’m always interested to hear some different takes on the music year in review. Leave a comment and let me know if you noticed any mischaracterizations or glaring omissions in the lists above.


Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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