Prius in a Ditch

I was actually going to write about hipsters, Portland’s food fixation, with a doughnut comparison (the holy kind vs. the German variety) thrown in for good measure—along with a few other things I’ve observed in my travels in and out of Forest City the past two weeks.

The post, which I cobbled together last night felt half-baked. Then, I got called out at 5:15 this morning at my part-time gig and didn’t get home in time to really do the necessary work to reinforce my narrative infrastructure.

Of course, the roads were a bit slippery this morning, as they were when I set out south @ 5:30. I had no trouble navigating them in my Ford Taurus, V-6 engine and all. I attribute this to my studded Nokian Hakkapellitta’s and my experience navigating snow and ice-covered roadways.

Just north of Bradbury Mountain on my return, I saw fire trucks and the boys from Pownal’s FD directing traffic on Route 9. There was a Prius in the ditch. How appropriate.

I managed to make my way through and couldn’t snap a photo without appearing to be a loon. I don’t believe it had a “Feel the Bern” bumper sticker, but I’m not certain.

Prius unable to navigate slippery Route 9.

Prius unable to navigate slippery Route 9.

You’ll have to be okay with my stock photo from the intewebs instead.

Oh, and I’ll be doing some additional work on my hipster post for the future.

Panda Problem

We have a Panda sighting! I guess all is well in Red Sox Nation-—or maybe not.

Oh, and I guess that paying someone $95 million to play third base isn’t enough motivation for some players to show up for camp in shape. Because we all know that $95 million doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Just like last spring, when everyone had high expectations with the signing of Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, and then, he showed up grossly overweight, Sandoval again rolled into the Red Sox complex at least 50 pounds over what he ought to be playing at. So, instead of talking about free agent pitcher David Price, Sox fans are being treated by local media to pictures of a fat, out-of-shape player who doesn’t give a damn. Continue reading

Most People Don’t Follow Through

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You’ve heard that one before, haven’t you? While clichéd for sure, it speaks to a universal truth—people like to talk, but they’re even more enamored with procrastination. But intentions by themselves don’t result in success.

Even though my blogging has been consistent over the years, I don’t always feel like putting up a post. Since I’ve selected Tuesday and Friday as days for fresh content, I have a commitment to making that happen. I’ve self-imposed these deadlines to ensure that my blog doesn’t end up like so many other vacant storefronts out there by bloggers who thought it would be cool to blog and then got waylaid by boredom, or difficulty, or the myriad of excuses that people use to not do what they need to do.

James Altucher mentions the importance of being consistent and persistent. He’s speaking about podcasts in his case, but I think those traits are applicable to just about any task-oriented endeavor. You’ve got to commit to making it happen, and then you need to follow it through—not once, or twice, or for a week—but time after time, for a year, five years, and even longer.

Practice makes perfect.

Practice makes perfect.

Continue reading

Grammy Who?

While I’ve never been a “dedicated follower of fashion,” as The Kinks sang, especially when it involved Top 40, mainstream pop, I somehow managed to cling to some sense of who the kinds of people were that garnered Grammys. Until this year.

The unbearable whiteness that is Taylor Swift. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro/USA Today)

The unbearable whiteness that’s Taylor Swift. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro/USA Today)

I guess that officially pushes me up and over the threshold of relevance, right? Actually, I do know who Taylor Swift is, so maybe I get a reprieve from getting shoved into the trash bin. Possibly that admission probably means that I need to check my white privilege.

My penchant has been for music that went against the grain, or wasn’t trying too hard to be fashionable. In high school it was The Dead Kennedys. I coped with my post-fundamentalist years stranded in Indiana, surrounded with a soundtrack that was weighted towards punk and industrial music; Black Flag and Ministry come to mind.  Hit singles never really captured my fancy. Continue reading

Fame is Overrated

Because I follow a few people via Medium, I now get a daily email and digest of content published on the platform. Most of it’s crap, but a handful of stories stand out and I’ll read them. Like this one, about a musician, Mike Posner.

I’d never heard of Posner, actually—at least not until I read his post.

Like a lot of young performers that ascend fame’s ladder, the ride to the top changed who he was, or at least magnified things about him that he found he didn’t like. Of course, the ride back down celebrity’s hill can be equally as dramatic (as well as ego-deflating). To his credit, Posner possessed some measure of self-awareness and took time to reflect and reconsider. Not every young man facing the crash-and-burn of his career would have had his presence of mind, and taken steps to right himself.

After he had a worldwide hit in 2010, with a song called “Cooler Than Me,” he ended up being dropped by his label. Five years later, he had to redefine and yes, reinvent.

Continue reading

When Maine Was Country

New England is the oldest region in the U.S. The six states that make up the amalgamated group known as the Northeast are foundational in the American story. Outside of Boston, the region’s largest city, and New Hampshire—which garners national political interest once every four years—our patch of geography is pretty much ignored by the elites in New York and Washington.

Maine’s closest thing to a city, Portland, gets written up incessantly about its amazing food scene, i.e. overpriced and pretentious dining for hipsters—but I’ll save that one for another day.

The New England region is one of the richest in the U.S. in terms of heritage and culture. This history dates back to our founding, and before. Yet history’s value is set pretty low these days. The category is just not sexy enough and doesn’t play well when considering Twitter’s truncation and Facebook’s emoting. Some, like Santayana and others, recognized history’s value.

I’ve been known to mine some of the history of the region, like baseball played in small towns, or distinctly-different soft drinks. There’s still plenty of it to discover and develop stories about.

Take country music.

Now I’m not talking the Nashville brand, or whatever’s being programmed on so-called country radio right now. Blake Shelton isn’t the kind of country music I’m talking about. Not to pick on Blake in this matter either, as the debate about “what’s country, and what’s not” has been bandied about for decades. Continue reading


Success is often attributed to developing certain habits. I think there is something to be said for developing traits that are replicable. That’s what we know as discipline.

There are a host of books that serve as guidelines for developing these routines designed to lead to successful outcomes. Here’s a recent one that comes to mind. Then there are the standards that have stood the test of time.

In my own life, certain rituals have evolved and have become ingrained. I rarely vary from them.

Getting up early is one of them. If I’m not up by 5:30 every morning, something’s certainly amiss. Many mornings, like Mondays and Fridays (my swim mornings), I’m up at 4:30, if not earlier. 5:00 a.m. is my preferred alarm clock setting.

Here's someone who was an advocate for routines.

Here’s someone who was an advocate for routines.

Continue reading

Politics Won’t Fix Us

[Yet another blog post hammered-out the night before and set-up to auto-publish the next day—jpb]

We’re waking up this morning to the political punditry reading the tea leaves and parsing the results of the anachronistic Iowa caucuses. Pre-caucus polling had Trump and Sanders holding substantial leads, with a snowstorm bearing down on the Hawkeye State Monday night, which may or may not have kept Iowan caucus-goers home and skewering the prognostications. It’s now high political season in America.

Once again, the half of America that pays any attention to the process is getting all huffy about why Bernie’s 1930s labor communism shtick is superior to Trump’s bluster about re-establishing American greatness. Whether you’re “feeling the Bern,” or Trump’s your man for turning America back to some perceived golden age, you’ll be just as disappointed as Obama supporters were back in 2008, falling for his hope and change rhetoric. But that’s exactly what politics has been reduced to in the 21st century.

I read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 over the weekend. It’s a book I’d heard about back in 2012 when it came out. As happens a lot with me, I went to Curtis Memorial Library on Saturday looking for another book, came home with Murray’s, and plowed through it Saturday afternoon.

Not that one man has all the answers, but Murray’s explanation about what’s happened to America over my lifetime made some sense. The book resonated with me in much the same way George Packer’s book did, which I also made a big to do about here at the JBE. Continue reading