Monday, August 15, 2016

A Writer's Journey Trade

One of the first blogs I ever read when I was starting in the baseball card blog world was The Writer's Journey. I know a lot of folks in the blog world started by reading and following Night Owl, but for me TWJ was the one that got me thinking about blogging. I started reading even before I got my baseball cards shipped to me from my mom's house. His posts on baseball cards made me want to get back into collecting.

And yet, after reading, I was thoroughly intimidated. He was writing about everything that I wanted to write about -- books, music, baseball cards, and television -- but he was doing much better at writing about all of them than I could dream of doing. And he was covering things like toys and movies and photos in a way that I never would. 

JT is a real writer. I mean, he's actually a published author for a short story he wrote. 

And yet, this post is the first time that I've mentioned him or traded with him at all. It's sort of funny -- intimidation, that is. It can lead us to avoid talking to or corresponding with someone for years because we feel inadequate, or know we'll be inadequate. Then, when we finally talk to that person, we are disarmed by how wonderfully pleasant and friendly they are.

This is a long way to say that JT and I talked back and forth on Twitter a bit, and he agreed to send me some cards. I need to package up my response package yet -- with various things here, it will probably be this weekend -- but it was good to realize that JT is just another good person in the blogosphere.

Since he likes music a lot, I thought I'd post some music that I've heard here live in Atlanta (or even in Athens) in my life in small bars, clubs, lounges, or little theaters to thank him for the cards he sent.

This is Ultrababyfat live from the Star Bar in February 1999. I wish I had seen this show, but I had literally just moved to Atlanta on February 15 of 1999. I caught them at Star Bar about a year later. Star Bar is in the Little Five Points area in Atlanta, and it's a damn cool bar. In 2001, I went to "Bubbapalooza" there -- a three-day rockabilly festival on that little stage (and one outside). It's just an awesome dive bar with a great lineup of bands that may never ever make it anywhere and that's not what drives them. 

Seriously, though, this place is worth a visit if you like music and you make it to Atlanta. Just expect a very diverse crowd.

Eclectic and diverse is a good way to describe the package that JT sent my way. It definitely had focus in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it also had a bunch of other things thrown in that were full of surprises. 

Not unlike local music, to be fair. You never know what a band is going to be this next band:

The Unsatisfied was another band that a buddy and I saw at Star Bar. Now that I think about it, I think they were one of the bands who opened for Ultrababyfat. The band is from Chattanooga, and I think the lead singer of this band is sort of a cross between Jim Morrison, Steven Tyler, Adam Ant, and Iggy Pop. The guy is strangely magnetic to watch, even if the sound quality here isn't all that great.

Paul Molitor doesn't really have anything to do with any of that, other than the Adam Ant part. Maybe.

This next band, The Stimulants, I think was the first band I saw literally on the same night as Ultrababyfat and the Unsatisfied. Either I was hammered and thought everyone was great, or else that night just left an impression on me. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was at least somewhat drunk because I bought CDs from all three bands. I really liked UBF. The Stimulants were next best to me. The Unsatisfied? Eh...

"Eh" pretty much describes my reaction to the deluge of "Classic" cards that started in 1987 and ended in the early 1990s. I remember the early 1990s very well, and these pastel-ish purple cards stylewise were about 5 years out of date at least at that point. Add in the "91" written in what looks to be a McDonald's font (that red and yellow together screams fast food!), and you have a really ugly baseball card.

Still, the photography is still better than the over-treated Panini stuff that shows up on those Prizm cards.

Royal Fingerbowl was a band that came out of New Orleans in the early 2000s led by the now-legendary Alex McMurray. As a live band, it featured a singer, a stand-up bass, and a sousaphone. Seriously. A couple of us saw Royal Fingerbowl play at a long-gone dive called Echo Lounge in East Atlanta. It was our group of three people joined by approximately 8 to 10 other people. 

I totally had no idea why the crowd was so small after listening to them play. Despite the music being a bit dour at times -- or, as McMurray's bio says, "most of the time" -- it's actually excellent music in my opinion.

Speaking of "a bit dour," Prince Fielder's retirement is still a bit too close in time. The one bright spot here is that the "superstar celebration" actually ended up in my Ryan Braun collection since it already appears in my Fielder collection.

Kevn Kinney is the lead singer of southern rock band Drivin' N Cryin'. I happened across a show earlier this year on PBS where DNC was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and it was an incredible show to watch. I've loved Drivin' N Cryin' since my freshman year of college 26 years ago. 

I've seen Kinney play shows by himself in Athens, and I even happened to run into him hanging out in Athens in a nearly empty bar during spring break in 1996. I stayed in town during that break my first year of law school, and I went out for beers with a girl from my class to watch her beloved BU Terriers hockey team on TV. Kinney was just hanging by the door acting like the doorman, but he could hardly see my ID because of poor eyesight. It was funny and sad all at once.

But the guy is a legend.

Two of those guys are legends. Mark Loretta was a good player, and maybe someday Taylor Jungmann will be a Brewer legend. Maybe. 

I do love that Rollie Fingers card, though. It's like Night Owl said yesterday about Archives in that it's kind of cool to see a card with the same design as a year the guy was on the team but with a very different card. It's like a cool variation.

One more song from Kevn Kinney: "Baseball Cards and Bicycles"

JT, thank you very much for the cards and, a couple of years ago, the inspiration to blog.


  1. Count me as one of the people who found Night Owl's blog first...completely by accident. I had no idea there even was the community of bloggers. Very cool that you were inspired by JT. I follow him as well.

  2. I appreciate the kind words. Keep up the good work here at Off Hiatus.

    JT, The Writer's Journey