January '7


As of yesterday, I've been with M*tro Tr*nsit for six years.


The 2 line Saturday was a circus. I had to navigate Stadium Village at the U before and after a basketball game. Then there was an antiwar rally at the seemingly random corner of 26th and Franklin. One eastbound trip, it was there; the following westbound trip, it was gone. The handset on my radio didn't work. I noticed that as I tried to track down some keys for a passenger. A super-drunk guy almost passed out in the seat next to me and a fairly drunk hearing-impaired regular rode for a while, but behaved himself. A trans-something who got kicked out of wherever she was living almost had enough money for her fare. She had more than enough drama to make up for it, though. I was cut off so many times I lost count, including once by a coach bus who went straight from the inside lane on a double-left turn. Two vehicles stopped in the middle of the street with open road and a green light in front of them. I had to deal with two young women at two different times who passed transfers to their friends.

And on my last trip, a guy got on with a bunch of hanging clothes and a cool, refreshing Colt 45. He hung the clothes immediately behind me and sat down behind them. It's the only place in the bus that I can't easily see. As soon as I pulled away from the stop, I thought I heard the crack of a can being opened. I pulled over immediately and got on the PA. "I know I didn't just hear a can get opened!" The response, from immediately behind me, "No, you sure didn't!" So we kept going. But I sat up tall and looked in my interior mirror and saw Mr. Colt 45 peeking out at me from behind his clothes. Several times. He rode with me about a half a mile, then got out with an open can of Colt 45 in his hand.


What kind of lunatic would go to Dublin to help the main opposition attempt to defeat the scandal-plagued ruling party which nonetheless remains very popular and happens to be presiding over a booming economy?

This kind:


Yeah, I think it sounds like fun, too.


Kassie gave Jeff a bath the other day.



Kassie's dad came over Monday and we hung quite a bit of drywall in the living room. Turns out this is an old house with crooked everything. We're kind of hoping to find a taper who is also some kind of wizard. That might be what it takes to make it all look really good.



Panama Red rode with me again last week. He was surprised that I remembered him. ha. Fortunately, the trip was rather uneventful.


I waited as a woman ran across Xerxes to catch my bus last Friday. She dumped out the coffee she was carrying and tossed the cup on the ground, right under the sign that says PRIVATE PROPERTY PLEASE DO NOT LITTER. I'm not sure she understood the ramifications of taking Minneapolis trash and throwing it on the ground in Edina. I asked her to pick it up and she did.

Then, the next day, I waited for a guy to run across 19th Avenue. He dumped out the Diet Pepsi he was drinking and threw the can on the ground. I asked him to pick it up and he did. Then he apologized.

Seriously. It's like no one has seen the commercial with the crying Indian.


I took Jeff to the dog park today. The score: Dog park 1, CJ 0. There was a black lab there with a huge glob of thick, foamy slobber frozen to its face. I lasted about five minutes before I walked to the edge of the park and heaved steve over the fence.


We've been working on the living room. The drywall goes up Monday. I'll be glad when we have that finished. Everything is dusty and the whole main floor is a big mess.



A strange little man jumped in front of my bus on the Nicollet Mall last week. There was another bus in front of me at 8th Street. When we are the first or second bus at a stop, we're allowed to go when the light turns green. Any buses beyond the first two are supposed to stop again. The man was standing in the crosswalk at 8th, which is about ten feet north of the stop. So by the time I saw him, I had been accelerating for about forty or fifty feet. As I approached the intersection, I saw him sort of run in place, almost like a cartoon. Then he abruptly ran into the street right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes. Fortunately, there weren't many people on my bus and they seemed to be paying attention. The guy pounded on my door and yelled, "What's going on?!?" In retrospect, I probably could have stopped and let him on and explained to him how to catch a bus. But at the time, I was pretty fired up about having to brake so hard and I was also pretty unsure about the guy's mental state. Who knows...


The next day I was riding to uptown Station to make relief on the 17. There was a seemingly-normal guy sitting across from me. But as two people exited the bus, he looked at them and sneered, "Yuck.. ish... don't forget the robot!"


The next day a guy hopped on the bus and said, "Hello, junior! Are you old enough to drive this thing? You look like you're about 14!" Yes! Thanks, dude! I forgot to tell Kassie about that one.


Did you see the headline on the StarTribune?

Coleman shows trademark political agility

Suddenly, Bush's lap dog is against the war in Iraq! huh. Must be an election coming up.


A lady got on the 2 eating sunflower seeds. Even though food is technically not allowed on the buses, I don't usually make a big fuss about it. But I hate it when people leave a mess on the floor of the bus, especially sunflower seed shells. I guess I don't have much tolerance for the disrespect for the other passengers and for the cleaners at the garage. I watched her and saw her hand move from her mouth to her side. I said, "Ma'am? Those seeds aren't going on my floor are they?"

"No! They're going in my bag!" Ever so indignant.

"Oh. OK, thanks!"

I thought it was unusual that she left out the back door. She had grocery bags and it's much easier to exit the front door.



Oh, and I saw The Man hassling this guy the other day. It's hard to believe he'd done something that would warrant a ticket. ha.







Here it is. My favorite music of 2006. You've been calling and emailing, writing post cards and sending telegrams, wondering when I'd put it up. The begging can stop.

I'm getting old. I don't think there was a single thing I heard all year that I got really, truly excited about. There wasn't a single album that I couldn't stop playing. Nothing I listened to three or four times in a row. I'm bored with new music right now. Mostly.

Since I'm some kind of ethical dinosaur, I actually buy the music I listen to. It's kind of a nice way to limit what I hear, but I always suspect that I'm missing something great. 2006 was a busy year and I didn't get to spend as much time listening to music as I'd like. So even the music I did get to didn't get many listens.

Anyway, here's what I feel like mentioning. Mostly alphabetical within tiers.

Top tier:

The Alarmists - A Detail of Soldiers. Local band. I really like this EP. I’d call it pretty pop with a bit of the rock, just how I like it.
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit. If a band I really like take a new direction, I often dislike the way they go. Not so with B&S. After it looked like they might write the same (excellent) album over and over, they moved on to new ideas a record or two ago. I like the way they’ve gone- still unmistakably B&S, but not stagnant.
Golden Smog - Another Fine Day.
The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau - What if it Works? Scott Miller should be rich and famous. Or maybe not, I don’t know. I do know that everyone should own at least four or five of his records, both as Game Theory and as the Loud Family. His stuff tends to come out as either noisy and difficult or kind of poppy and sort of difficult. This is more the latter, something I assume can be attributed to his collaboration with Anton Barbeau (who is also worth buying- 125 Records). This is my second- or third-favorite of 2006.
Eric Matthews - Foundation Sounds. Excellent orchestral pop.
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. I don’t care what some other bus drivers might think; this is a really good record.
Tim O’Reagan - Tim O’Reagan. This might be my favorite record of the year. Jayhawks drummer makes brit-poppy alt-country. Or something like that.
Pernice Brothers - Live a Little. Also in the top three.

Next tier:

Jellyfish remains one of my favorite bands of all time. I wish they would have put out a few more records before disbanding. One of the biggest criticisms of Jellyfish was that they were quite derivative. I never cared. I thought they were good enough that it didn’t matter. I’ve been trying to follow the ex-members’ careers, hoping to find a bit of the old magic where I can. I picked up three CDs featuring ex-Jellyfishers last year. You like derivative? I got it here.
L.E.O. - Alpacas Orgling. Some guy who goes by Bleu, plus a bunch of power-poppers, many of whom are scattered around my collection, made a record of songs that they wrote, but may as well have been written by Jeff Lynne. Does that sound appealing? If so, you’ll probably like this one. I do. Features Andy Sturmer.
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - Solid State Warrior. I really like this record, but I think this guy makes better music when he works with a collaborator...
TV Eyes - TV Eyes. The sound of the ‘80s. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Jason Falkner with a bunch of pop tunes that sound like they came straight off the radio between 1982 and 1987, heavy on the early end. But these songs are good.

Camera Obscura - Let’s Get Out of This Country.
Destroyer - Destroyer’s Rubies.
Hem - Funnel Cloud.
The Honeydogs - Amygdala.
Jim Noir - Tower of Love.
Now It’s Overhead - Dark Light Daybreak.

Third tier:

Drive-by Truckers - A Blessing and a Curse. I bought this one because Demko raved about it. I learned shortly afterward that he's not very rational about this band. I think it’s OK- basic southern rock n’ roll. If a song comes up while I have iTunes on shuffle, I won’t skip it. I suspect I’d like this a lot better if I spent more time with it, but I don’t really want to. See also:
Brookville - Life in the Shade.
The Brother Kite - Waiting for the Time to be Right.
The Concretes - In Colour.
Tim Easton - Ammunition.
Elf Power - Back to the Web.
Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire.
Rhett Miller - The Believer.
The Village Green - Feeling the Fall.

Tapes ‘n Tapes - The Loon. Local band, big hype. Ever heard about every other band that the kids are listening to these days? This is what they sound like.

The rest:

As usual, I bought several tribute, remix and cover CDs. My favorite one is Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs - Under the Covers Vol. 1. I really like To: Elliott From: Portland, a tribute to Elliott Smith by various Portland artists and Down by the Riverside, collection of children’s songs by Twin Cities artists, too. Whipped Cream & Other Delights Re-Whipped, remixes of Herb Alpert’s big record, is pretty fun.


The Decemberists - The Crane Wife. If a band I really like takes a new direction, I often dislike the way they go. I don’t necessarily think this is a new direction for the Decemberists, as they did put out The Tain a couple records ago. I like The Tain, but not nearly as much as their three-minute-dictionary-rock song records. And I like The Crane Wife pretty well, but I hope their next one doesn’t sound like it.
Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror. I usually like Alejandro’s records, so I was disappointed at how thoroughly bored I got listening to this one.
God Damn Doo Wop Band - Broken Hearts, Grizzly Bear - Yellow House. I read reviews of these that made me think I’d love them. I pretty much don’t.
Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA. I guess I don’t like everything Tweedy does.
The Minus 5 - The Minus 5 (The Gun Album).
Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors.
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldier. I have one White Stripes CD. It’s a single with a cover of a Brendan Benson song on the b-side. I have heard quite a bit of the White Stripes oeuvre, but I have been unable to appreciate any of it. Yeah, I know that’s heresy in some parts. On the other hand, I really like pretty much everything Brendan Benson has done. I was looking forward to Broken Boy Soldier. I just don’t like it very well. I’m glad Benson is (presumably) making a little money. Hopefully he makes enough that he can spend some time making another solo record and getting back together with other collaborators, like Jason Falkner.



I'm still planning to completely overhaul this mess. It's possible that a new computer is on the horizon. If that pans out, then I'll start fresh. In the meantime, this'll have to do.

So happy new year and all that. I had a pretty sweet 2006. Got married, bought a house, got a dog, etc.

I'm still driving bus. And it looks like I have a few items to pass along.


Condolences to Driver 2165, who will not be driving a bus for a while. His leg was broken when a car ran into him while he was riding his bicycle. Ouch.


The MDX Kid rode my bus again. I'd guess he's about five or six. His mother kept asking, "Are you going to give me grandbabies? You're going to give me grandbabies, right?" Over and over and over. Good luck, kid.


I talked to a guy who lived on Kingman Boulevard in Des Moines during the Depression. I had a tiny apartment on Kingman for a couple years when I lived there.


There is a SKIIER who drives a white Volvo wagon who ended up in front of me in the left turn lane at a painfully long traffic light as I waited to take a left onto France Avenue on the 6 line. We got the green arrow, but apparently the SKIIER did not want to turn left. The SKIIER wanted to go straight. Unfortunately for us, but probably especially for me, there was no one in the lane to our right to trigger the green light. As the green arrow burned, the SKIIER and I found out that I had a very loud horn which seemed to sound sweeter the longer I held it down. The left turn arrow went away and we had to sit through another painfully long red light.

We got the green arrow again. The SKIIER did not move. The SKIIER had not learned a lesson. I reminded the SKIIER what my horn sounded like, but the SKIIER did not budge. Fortunately, a Bobby and Steve's Auto World tow truck had pulled up next to us and we got the green light. I still had to wait for the oncoming traffic to clear before I could attempt to get back on time. I do not like the SKIIER.


We got a text message one day: Anyone attempts to board bus with handcuffs behind their back please call TCC. A description followed. No word on whether or not he was ever apprehended.


Two ladies on the 2 line spent about fifteen minutes discussing a situation in which a man they know was bent out of shape because he felt he received the blunt last. Their discussion entailed a replay of who passed the blunt where and how there was no way he got it last. Or something like that...


So if you wanted to employ a racial epithet to express your negative feelings about a Latino individual whom you also suspect might be attracted to members of their own sex, would you necessarily go straight for "honkey" [sic]?

Um, nice.


People ask me how to get all kinds of places. I really enjoy the part of the job where I help people figure out the best way to get where they're going.

My back is pretty tight right now. I am long overdue for a massage. The first time I got a massage I saw stars for two hours. It was the blood getting back into my head. My speech, which had been sluggish, got more clear. I thought much more clearly, too. My memory got noticeably better. (I was waiting tables at the time.) I have experienced similar sensations and results from subsequent massages, but nothing to the extent of the first.

Oh yeah, this story has everything to do with everything I just said.

I was driving north on an 18 the other day. About two blocks from the terminal, which is at Washington and Hennepin downtown, a kid came up and asked me how far we were from Shakopee.

answer: 26.3 miles

He said it was his first day on the city bus, that he'd just moved here and didn't know his address and that his brother told him to take the 235.

Hmm... The 235 is an express bus number, which is definitely the kind of bus he'd need, but the 200s don't go to Shakopee.

I called TIC (transit information) on my cell phone and spoke with Josh, a guy with whom I walked the picket line while we were on strike. He lives in my 'hood. Anyway, the kid said he lived near Heritage Hills and a street name he remembered was Oxborough. Josh said he found a Heritage Hills in Bloomington, but didn't see anything listed in Shakopee.

Anyway, we got the kid hooked up with a 460 to Burnsville Station, then a 50-minute wait, then the 495 to Seagate Park and Ride, or out to the Town Square Mall in Shakopee if he wanted to go further.

Cool. He thanked me and I felt great. As I said, I love helping people out like that.

About fifteen minutes later it hit me. And I felt sick. Heritage Hills... Oxborough... Bloomington. The kid didn't want to go to Shakopee. He wanted to get to Old Shakopee Road. In Bloomington. Argh. I hope he figured it out before things got ugly. Although he really ought to learn his address, I still feel bad about it.

15.9 miles, much easier by bus...



December '6