Monday, December 29, 2008

Forgot One

© Matt Nager
I almost forgot this picture - maybe my favorite from all of Matt Nager's fog photos.  These remind me of trips across Kansas I took as a child to see my grandparents.  Great memories!  

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

All images © Matthew Nager
Matthew Nager has already been a Photographer of the Day on this blog.  But he absolutely killed it with some recent photos taken out in the Texas fog, so I wanted to give him some love.  Go check out his photographs at his blog.  His latest shots remind me of those that were on display at this exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

- Joel

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Though we don't have as many Christmas traditions as Thanksgiving traditions, we do have a number of fun things that happen every year at Christmas.  Here's a list.

1. Dinner on the Plaza (my treat) - we ate at the Classic Cup this year
2. Open stockings first then presents on Christmas morning
3. Christmas morning breakfast including egg casserole, cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza, and sparkling grape juice
4. Mid-afternoon meal with the relatives in KC, with Aunts Cindy & Charlotte bringing dessert
5. Laser tag with everyone
6. Bowling

We have others, but they are pretty much the same as most everyone in the country (for example: Christmas gift exchange with the extended family).  These are the most interesting.

- Joel


It's late.  After a full day of Christmas festivities, I fell asleep for a bit after dinner.  Now I'm up late, unable to get back to sleep, and looking through my music.  Here's a new band I'd never heard of until tonight: Fredrik.  You can find two of their tracks in this free music sampler.  You can also check out their website or their Myspace.  Or just click on one of the videos below.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Amelia Bauer

© Amelia Bauer
I saw the picture above on the Department of Eagles' website (Bauer also did their cover art).   I noticed the credit to Amelia Bauer which led me to her website.  She is part photographer, part illustrator, part graphic artist, all creative.  I really loved her stuff.  Check it out.

- Joel

Free Music

What better way to spend Christmas Eve afternoon than sitting on the couch next to the tree, watching Home Alone 2 and reading up on new music?  I came across this post on Stereogum.  You can download their "Top 50 Most Popular MP3's of 2008."  Since they primarily cover indie music, their 50 most popular mp3's consist of indie faves and under the radar hits.  It's worth a look.  Plus, 50 free (and legal songs)!  The list includes tracks from some of my faves like Fleet Foxes, Ratatat, Department of Eagles, and Peter Bjorn and John.

What a Christmas gift!

- Joel

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Year End List

I'm waiting until after Christmas to compile my year-end Best Music of 2008 List. I'm sure soooo many people are waiting in eager anticipation. Actually, I just don't have the money to buy tons and tons of music, so there are a few great albums I am hoping to receive as Christmas presents. After listening to those albums, I'll be able to give a more well-informed opinion. However, as I thought about my favorite music of 2008, I was reminded of what a great music year 2007 was. Here's my Top 10 Favorite Albums from last year:

1. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
2. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
3. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga GA
4. Radiohead - In Rainbows
5. Peter Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
6. Kanye West - Graduation (I would have rated this lower looking back)
7. Feist - The Reminder
8. Ben Rector - Twenty Tomorrow
9. Jay-Z - American Gangster (this wouldn't have been in my top 10 looking back)
10. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

Excluding Kanye and Jay-Z, I still listen to the entire list from 2007 on a regular basis. Though they were in my Top 10 last year, I have grown to appreciate and enjoy these albums even more one year later. Even though writers, bloggers, critics, me etc. love to put out year-end lists, maybe the most useful of evaluation of the year's best music comes one year later when we look at what we still listen to. Just a thought. I wonder what I'll still be listening to this time next year.

Stay tuned for my list after Christmas!

- Joel

Monday, December 22, 2008

Photographer of the Day

© Gary Bishop
Gary Bishop.  I met Gary two weeks ago in Dallas, TX at the opening of a show at Road Agent Gallery.  I was standing next to Allison, who everyone in the room knows or wants to know (she's kind of a big deal).  Gary really wanted to talk to Allison.  When her attention was diverted, he would talk to me by default.  This is not a knock on Gary but a compliment to Allison.  Also, Gary's photography is great.  Check it out.

- Joel

A Familyre Christmas

Sounds Familyre, the label that released Sufjan Stevens' album Seven Swans, has two holiday albums for free download on their blog. These collections, A Familyre Christmas Volumes 1 & 2, even include Mr. Stevens himself. Volume 1 was released previously, but Volume 2 is new this year. If you enjoy an alternative take on Christmas classics, you'll enjoy this. Plus, it's free to download, so why not?

- Joel

Download them here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the Way

© Joel Thomason
As I've said, last weekend I moved my stuff from Dallas to Kansas City. It was the second time making the 560 mile drive in the past two months. Maybe it's because my roots are in Kansas, or maybe it's because I genuinely appreciate the beauty of the vast expanse that is Kansas, but I love the plains. Here are two shots from the front seat as I trekked back in October.

- Joel

© Joel Thomason

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Alphabeat is a Danish pop band.  Their sound is straight out of the 80's.  Their song "Fascination" has made it onto a few "Best of" lists.  It is really fun.  They have been around since 2007 in Europe but are just now starting to gain a following here in the United States.  Enjoy.

- Joel

Welcome Wagon

Here's The Welcome Wagon playing the opening track, 'Up on a Mountain", of their new album. Enjoy.

- Joel

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dominican Republic

As some may know, I recently decided to leave my job.  Though voluntarily relinquishing a position in the face of the worst economic crisis in decades may not seem to be a wise decision, I have been blessed with an opportunity to join a medical mission team traveling to the Dominican Republic at the end of January.  This specific team includes a number of dentists, oral surgeons, and dental hygienists who will be offering their services in and around the capital city of Santo Domingo.  I will obviously assist in non-medical capacities, and will also work to serve the families before and after their treatment.  This will be my first time leaving the United States.  This will also be my first time serving in the midst of such pervasive poverty.  What excites me most, besides the opportunity to tangibly serve those in need, is the chance to remove the focus of my life from myself and direct it to other people.

Here is the dilemma - I need to raise $1300-1500.  Because I am joining the team so late, I must expedite the fund raising process.  I am unsure of who, or how many, actually reads this blog, but I made the decision to communicate my need for financial support from this platform.  I will also be sending out support letters.  This trip is part of the efforts of Vision Trust, a non-profit organization, thus all donations are tax deductible.  If you are interested in supporting this trip, please email me at - I will provide you with further information.  I'll even do this - if you support me, I'll send you a limited edition photograph made on my trip!  You can't beat that!!!

This will be the one and only time I make this ask from the platform of the blog.  I'll stick to music and literature and other fun things.  However, you can expect lots of cool pictures upon my return.  Thanks for reading!  

- Joel

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Next Purchase?

I'm kind of feeling these shoes.  They're called Chengs Plimsoll and they are only $18.  They might be worth a shot for that cheap.

- Joel

Song of the Year?

"Blind" by Hercules and Love Affair was awarded Song of the Year by Pitchfork Media today.  They listed their Top 100 Songs of the Year and this song topped the list.  I bought the album back over the summer but have yet to really get into it.  It's certainly different.  The guy singing in this particular song is Antony of Antony and The Johnsons.  You could call this style "Disco Revolution."  What the video for the song below?  What do you think?  Is it Song of the Year worthy?  My vote is still for Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis.  I'll be producing my top albums and top songs of 2008 after Christmas.

- Joel

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aaron Roche

I heard about Aaron Roche from my friend Ben today.  Ben is a talented musician himself.  Check his stuff out while you're at it.  

Anyway, Aaron Roche plays pretty low-key, warm melodies.  There are parts of his music that remind me of Sufjan Stevens.  Other parts remind me of Joseph Arthur or Iron & Wine.  I like his voice a lot.  You can download two songs off of his new record Travel here.  Also, watch a video for his song "My Love Is Grown" below.  Check out his Myspace page too.  As far as I know, you can only buy his stuff through Myspace.  I couldn't find him on iTunes.

- Joel


It was a great weekend in Dallas.  So much happened.  Here's a recap and shout outs....

Thanks to Matt Rees, Brady Smith, and Travis Patty for helping to load my stuff in Dallas and to Cindy, Brad, Dave, Mom, Dad, and Kyle for helping unload it in Kansas City.  It was an enormous help.

Shout out to Jeff & Nicole Whittington.  They picked me up from the airport, had dinner at Gloria's, and had Sunday breakfast at Bubba's - where we saw Justin Leonard.  Also, be on the lookout for Jeff's solo record.  I don't know when he'll start recording, but I'll be buying one as soon as it drops.

Shout out to Cassie Edmondson.  She gave me a great Christmas present - some of her very own hand made Christmas cards which are on sale at Grange Hall in Dallas.  She joined us for dinner at Gloria's and I bumped into her at The Public Trust opening on Saturday.

Shout out to Nan Coulter.  She has a website, but it's not really a website, more like a place holder.  I don't know if I've met anyone more full of life than Nan.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at The Road Agent opening.

Shout out to Allison Smith and Leila Grothe.  I got to hang with them at the Barry Whistler opening and tag along to a few other openings as well.  Leila and Jonathan came to Bubba's Saturday.  Allison had a good excuse for missing out because she was a part of The Polyphonic Spree the night before.  What a rock star!

It was a busy weekend full of hanging out with people way cooler than I am.  Thanks for everything.

- Joel

Saturday, December 13, 2008


© Ann Stautberg
I'm sitting in Panera in Dallas.  I walked here from my apartment.  I guess technically it's "my old apartment" because I moved all my stuff out today.  It's been a bittersweet day.  At 25, there are so many things I have yet to experience or am only experiencing for the first time.  One of them is major change.  In the last year I've made two major moves (to Dallas and then to Kansas City).   I've also had two "real" jobs - the second of which I just quit yesterday.  Yikes!  The year has taken it's toll on me.  What happens when you're 25 and you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up?  I guess you quit your job and join a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, because that's what I'm doing.  More on the trip to the Dominican later.  But it's exciting.  This sounds so cheesy (but it fits with what I'm doing tonight), but I'm beginning to see my life as a blank canvas and I'm only now realizing that I have the brush and the paint.

Anyway, back to what I'm doing tonight.  I'll be meeting up with a few friends - Leila & Allison - at the Barry Whistler Gallery for the opening of Ann Stautberg's new show.  You can read more on Ann Stautberg here and here and here.  It's going to be fun.

- Joel

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Welcome Wagon

Speaking of Asthmatic Kitty (see previous post), they have a new band on the label. The Welcome Wagon are Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. Rev. Vito planted Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY. No matter your religious affiliation (or non-affiliation), you should check out this catchy indie-folk band. They just released their new album, Welcome to the The Welcome Wagon, on Tuesday. You can download a free mp3 here - but it's not my favorite track on the album, so don't rush to judge. Thanks to Anthony for giving me the heads up about this band.

Check out the cool photos from their record release party on Flickr.

- Joel

Christmas Sufjan

A few years ago, one of my favorites, Sufjan Stevens, released a 5-disc Christmas celebration (what besides celebration can you call 5 discs of indie-folk Christmas music?).  Sufjan's friend Tom Eaton animated this music video for the song "Put the Lights On the Tree."  In addition to this fun video, you can find quite a few free Christmas goodies offered by Sufjan's record label Asthmatic Kitty.  Seriously, check out the goodies - they even have free ringtones and mp3s.


- Joel

P.S. - Ask me about the debacle I had trying to find this album at Best Buy a few years ago.  "What was that?  Snoop Dogg?  Surf God?...."  Another reason to boycott Best Buy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why Didn't I Know About This Sooner?

© Trey Kazee
I didn't know Trey had a website.  He's a great photographer. 

- Joel

No One's Better Sake

I think this is my favorite song on the Little Joy record.  I've posted about them a few too many times, but this song is going on the mixtape I'm making for Nicole & Jeff.  Here's the music video that was just released.

- Joel

Monday, December 8, 2008

Photographer of the Day/Christmas Present

Eudora's Library © Susanna Raab
I'm asking for one of these limited edition prints for Christmas.  You can too!  This picture is of Eudora Welty's library.  Welty was a Southern writer.

- Joel

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Uglysuit

The song "Chicago" by The Uglysuit made it into my Reception Dinner playlist this weekend. The Uglysuit hail from Oklahoma City, home of my good friend Matt Rees.  I find this melody to be relaxing.  Enjoy.

- Joel

Dallas Next Weekend

Photo: Nicole Whittington

Just got back from a good weekend in Waco.  Since they paid me for my DJ services, does that make me a professional DJ?

Now it's time to look forward to next weekend in Dallas.  You never know what kind of fun will be had with the Dallas crew.  The above photo is evidence of that.  Thanks Nicole for posting that on Flickr.  Can't wait to see you guys next weekend!

- Joel


I heard about Twitter over the summer from a consulting company I worked with during my days at the O'Donnell Foundation.  Initially, I thought it was ridiculous and narcissistic.  Tonight, I started my own Twitter account.  Maybe I'm ridiculous and narcissistic.  

Be my friend.  Get a Twitter.  Start following me (and I'll follow you).  Here's my account.  If you have an iPhone, Twitter has a great iPhone app.

- Joel

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Other Music News

I'm on a music kick with the latest blog posts.  I need to develop some film or go to an art show (next week in Dallas!) to get something else to blog about.  But here are some other things to check out in the music world:

New Mixtape (Download Free): "Road to Til the Casket Drops" Clipse
Worth Checking Out (Download Free): Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit Are The Very Best

- Joel

She & Him

Tomorrow I fly to Waco, TX to help DJ/emcee another wedding.  One of my personal travel assignments, besides hopefully taking good pictures with my Holga, is to listen to She & Him.  This band consists of actress Zooey Deschanel and indie/folk hero M. Ward.  I've had their album, Volume One, for awhile but never gave it a good listen.  Now it's popping up on some year end "Best of" lists, so I need to find out what all the fuss is about.  Listen for yourself.  Zooey has such an "old-timey" sounding voice.  It's cool.

- Joel

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Live Indie Rock

Pitchfork posted their "Best of".   There are lots of great live videos recorded by and for  Check it out.  Below is one of the highlights...Vampire Weekend.

- Joel

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Little Joy

Yep, I LOVE Little Joy. Their debut album is one of my top 3 of 2008. Here's another track.

- Joel

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Little Joy

I'm sitting at home, casually watching Oklahoma and Oklahoma State trade touchdowns, still waiting for my feet to warm up from a snowy/rainy seat at the Kansas/Missouri game, happily thinking back on the past three days of Thanksgiving with my family, and looking for new music. I've found a lot of fun stuff, and this band may be the best of what I've found tonight.

They are Little Joy. This quote from Pitchfork's review of their self-title debut album says it best, "Little Joy is not going to stop the world or change your life, but it's one of the sweetest, most listenable, consistently enjoyable records of the season."

Watch the fan video of the song "Brand New Start" below.

- Joel

One of My Faves

Vampire Weekend put out my second favorite album of this year. They deserve all the hype.

- Joel

Little Drummer Boy

This version is by the band Low. I'm usually a skeptical of modern versions of classic Christmas tunes, but I really like this one. The video is a little strange, but the song is great.

Download it here.

- Joel

Fun Winter Song

Check out this song by the band Boy Least Likely To. It's a chill acoustic song called "The First Snowflake." This will be released on December 15 as the first single to their album which won't drop until March. Enjoy.

- Joel
the first snowflake - the boy least likely to

Friday, November 28, 2008

More Traditions

#12 - Basketball at the Sheridan Center - since we no longer celebrate in Dodge City, we've moved it to the North Kansas City Community Center
#13 - Playing Knock-Out (the basketball version)
#14 - Half court shot contest and Dave pays the winner
#15 - Go to a movie as a family
#16 - Hang and knock down a pinata - we almost missed this one this year
#17 - Friday night Mexican dinner - used to always go to El Charo's in Dodge City
#18 - Dave reads the tradition list at the Mexican dinner
#19 - We all eat Atomic Fireballs - almost missed this one this year
#20 - Clogged Toilets - happens every year, I won't name names
#21 - Guys play poker
#22 - Girls play Nerts (a fast-paced card game)
#23 - Celebrate Aunt Mary's birthday
#24 - Do puzzles
#25 - Go to the park - it used to be the park down the street from Grandma's house in Dodge City

More to come...

- Joel

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Traditions Accomplished Today

Tradition #5 - Thanksgiving Day 5K - my cousin Eric ran a 15:41 and placed 5th (this just officially became a tradition this year because it's the 3rd year in a row to run the 5K)
Tradition #6 - Cinnamon rolls & Coffee Cake for breakfast
Tradition #7 - Thanksgiving meal
Tradition #8 - Name Cards at every place setting - it's always a surprise where you sit
Tradition #9 - "Nut Cups" - little baskets with nuts and candy at each place setting
Tradition #10 - Men of the family do the dishes after the Thanksgiving meal
Tradition #11 - Frisbee golf (this also officially became a tradition this year)

More traditions to come!

- Joel

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

More traditions have been upheld tonight. These are in no particular order or importance.

Tradition #2: The men of the family play the card game Hearts.
Tradition #3: Electronic games. This years it's Madden and Rock Band on XBox360. Back in the day it involved bringing Nintendo or other systems to play on my Grandma's old TV in Dodge City, KS.
Tradition #4: Chex Mix. We always have homemade Chex mix. My aunt brings her spicy homemade mix from Odessa, TX. That arrives tomorrow.

- Joel

PS - Here are the two ovens.

Thanksgiving Night 1

Above is a picture of my new scarf. I bought it last weekend at Standard (Daniel's store). I plan to wear it every day of Thanksgiving break.

In the Thomason house, Thanksgiving has started off with a bang. My mom went to cook dinner tonight and found our oven to be broken! Not a good thing. So we are replacing the oven the night before we need to cook the turkey (and we'll have almost 30 people at the celebration). But all great holidays involve some sort of adversity. This is ours.

In the meantime, we are missing Tradition #1 - Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Chili Supper.

- Joel

One More

© Joel Thomason
Greg Gillis is in the mask. Hipster girls love him. After second thought, a few other shots from that night turned out ok. You can see them on my Flickr page.

- Joel

Girl Talk Photo

© Joel Thomason
Unfortunately the title of this post is not "Girl Talk Photos." For a multitude of reasons - I'm not a great photographer, I was distracted by dancing, it was dark, I'm not a great photographer and didn't pay close attention to apperture/shutter speed - only one photo really turned out from my trip to see Girl Talk over a month ago. Yep, it took me forever to get the photos developed.

But stay tuned for lots of Thanksgiving pictures, as well as a running tally of my family's numerous Thanksgiving traditions. It starts tonight!

- Joel

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reading List

I just finished Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green by Johnny Rico. It's a soldier's memoir of his time spent deployed in Afghanistan. I finished the book tonight and still need some time to digest it before I decide what I thought about it. As of now, I'm neutral.

Here's what is next on my reading list:
Animal Farm by George Orwell - an allegory on the dangers of communism
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (photographs by Walker Evans) - a journalist's narrative on lives of three sharecropping families in the Depression-era Deep South

- Joel

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stream Kanye

You can now stream Kanye West's new album, 808's & Heartbreak, on his blog. Like him or love him, you cannot deny that Kanye is a creative force in popular culture these days. I've only listened to a few tracks, and I'd give it a so-so rating - too much auto-tune (which I could say about most hip hop these days). The underdog, College Dropout Kanye fresh off the car accident was a lot more likeable than the modern day Kanye. I'll probably still buy this album (sigh)....

- Joel

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Creative Writing

Check out this website called Da Font. You can download really cool fonts for free. Another shout out to Cassie who told me about the website. I think it's going to be addicting. They have over a thousand to choose from.

- Joel

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shout Out

Shout out to my sister. She's got a new blog. Love you, Abby.

- Joel

New Music

Beach House - "Used to Be"
Good stuff. I love this song.
- Joel

New Music

Horse Feathers - "Curs in the Weeds"
Nice strings-heavy indie folk.
- Joel


My friend Cassie made a great addition to the new slang. Yesterday it was trillion (someone who is trill) and trillionaire (someone who is the most trill).

Today it is trillionette - a female who is the most trill. Cassie is definitely a trillionette.

And to respond to my sister, I'm not making up a word, I'm making up a slang definition of a word.

- Joel

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Slang

No, I'm not talking about the song by The Shins that changed Natalie Portman's life in Garden State. I'm talking about taking the word "trill" to the next level. It's catching on in Dallas. I first heard it used in the Clipse song of the same name. But now we are kicking it up a notch....

Trillion = a person who embodies trill characteristics

Where "trill" was an adjective, "trillion" is a noun. For example, "Keep holding it down, trillion." Or, "What's up, trillion?" I think you get the idea.

So go forth and use trillion. Maybe a trillionaire is someone who is the trillest.

- Joel

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photographer of the Day

Trey Kazee. A friend of my friends in Dallas. I met Trey this year on my trip to the State Fair with the crew. Check out his Flickr.

- Joel

Songs That Ben Wrote

My friend, Ben Rector, is in the midst of releasing his new album, Songs That Duke Wrote. Since he is not yet signed to a record label, this album release is semi-gradual; albums can be bought at his shows and eventually on iTunes. Check out his myspace here. Also, you can read about the adventures of recording an album on Ben's blog. He stayed at my apartment while recording in Dallas, so I had a chance to share in some of the adventures - one of them being a trip to Fuel City for tacos and the Texas State Fair. Though I think that adventure came a few days after he had finished recording.

- Joel

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let It Snow


It snowed in Kansas City today - first snow of the season. It wasn't a real snow, just a dusting. But as I waited in the cold for the Pilgrim Pacer 5K run to start this morning, and the wind swept across Shawnee Mission Park, it was fun to see the tiny little snowflakes. By the way, apparently I placed 7th in my age group (20-29 year old men) and 16th overall. Who knew? It's probably because most of the serious runners were running the 10K or Half-Marathon options.

For those who think Kansas City is sooo cold and sooo far North, it's not. This is pretty early to get snow flurries. The real stuff doesn't come until January or February. Then, as Pusha would say, "While I'm shovelin' the snow man, call me Frosty." But I don't think he was talking about the same kind of snow.

- Joel


I wound up at RecordBar in Westport last night. It happened to be the CD release party for this guy Max Justus (Justus isn't his real name). He was alright. It's electronic music that hipsters would love. And they did love it, as evidenced by the most unhip, akimbo dance party that ensued.

Check out Max Justus here.

- Joel

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I bought a pair of Nudie Jeans today. Daniel sold them to me (at a discount, because he's my hook up). They're great. Plan on me wearing them everyday for many many months. I have a feeling they're going to be addictive. I'll want to buy more. I already do. Good thing they don't come in liquid form or I would consume them intravenously. Not really.

- Joel

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Upcoming Music

Grizzly Bear has a new album dropping this spring. They were on Letterman a few months ago and played a new song called "Two Weeks." I happened to be watching Letterman when this came on and absolutely loved it.

- Joel

Christmas Cards!

Those who know me know how much I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Christmas is Karen Carpenter's voice, Plaza lights, snow, Home Alone....Christmas is the best. I love Kansas City at Christmastime because it's cold and it's festive (more festive than most cities, if you ask me).

Christmas is also Christmas cards. And you can find some really cool hand-crafted Christmas cards made by my good friend Cassie. Just go here. They'll be on sale soon. I'm definitely getting a set or two. She has just started posting the sets to her blog, so keep checking back for more designs. From what I hear, there are more sets coming that are much more festive. I LOVE the set pictured above.

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

Hale County, Alabama, 1936 © Walker Evans
Walker Evans. LaSalle Bank's Collection contains works by Walker Evans. I only saw them in passing and can't remember which pieces they actually own. Regardless, in a hallway full of photographs, his immediately jumped out at me.

- Joel

LaSalle Bank Photography Collection

Trolley, 1955 © Robert Frank
Today I took a quick day trip to Chicago to meet with LaSalle Bank (actually they've been recently bought out by Bank of America). Don't worry, it was not as glamorous as it may sound. I spent all of the time either sitting on a plane, sitting in a taxi, or sitting in a small conference room with windows opening to the side of a building. However, in my walk from the elevator to the bank's restaurant on the 43rd floor, I walked through a hallway full of photography from the bank's private collection. They have an incredible collection. I was excited to recognize a piece from Robert Frank's The Americans hanging in the hallway. The picture, seen above, happened to be my favorite from that collection of Frank's photography. Personally, I was excited to recognize a piece of artwork and not only know the artist but the piece's cultural implications as well. One year ago, this would not have been the case.

- Joel

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ronald Jenkees

Thanks to Ben for showing me this.

- Joel

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Current Jam

Brandy - "Right Here (Departed)"

Girl Talk Recap

Last night, Daniel and I (accompanied by my brother Cory and Daniel's wife Hattie) made the trek to Lawrence, KS to see Girl Talk in living color. It seems Mr. Gillis decided to make an October/November trip to the Kansas City area an annual event. Daniel, Hattie, and I had the opportunity to experience the madness that is a Girl Talk show for the first time last year. For some reason, this year's show was remarkably different. Though this year's set wasn't as power packed or heavy hitting as last year, the contrast between this year and last year hinged on the crowd. Let me explain what I mean.

Over the past year, Gregg Gillis' popularity has grown immensely. He is no longer the secret of pop culture savvy hipsters seeking a retreat from an indie music scene increasingly invaded by frat guys and high school kids. Now, everyone, at least most everyone 18 or older, knows Girl Talk. During last night's show, I commented that the crowd was the perfect "worlds collide" experience. There were frat guys ill-prepared to dance, "too cool" sorority girls actively ridiculing hipsters for PDA, aging hipsters, pretentious hipsters making a point to say MGMT was the "most boring band" they've ever seen live, completely inebriated college guys threatening to pour beer on Daniel's head, and the average college crowd hoping to go-out and get drunk. And then there was us. I don't know what we are.

Hattie described the crowd as aggressive. It was apparent that the majority of the crowd was unfamiliar with the standard concert-going patience and protocol. As we waited for Gregg to emerge, the crowd grew restless and rambunctious. They also grew more intoxicated, which multiplied the issues. When the show finally did start, the best term to describe the experience was inorganic. To me, it seemed as if the majority of the crowd was trying to manufacture an experience, like they wanted to recreate the YouTube videos of Girl Talk shows they had seen online. Everyone immediately rushed the stage, not so much for more room to dance but so that they could say they were on stage during the show. With so many people on stage, there wasn't any room to dance anyway. I left feeling like most people there just wanted proof that they were there: photos on stage, sweat from rubbing up against Gregg Gillis, the ability to say, "I just loved it when he played that one Notorious B.I.G. song with that Tiny Dancer song"...

The difference between this year's show and last year's show is simple; last year people went to actually experience the show, while this year the majority went to say they experienced the show. And this is why I believe Girl Talk will be a victim of his own success. The very fans that made him who he is today no longer have the room, or the patience, to dance on the dance floor. They'd move to the stage, but it's crowded with people too drunk and too preoccupied to appreciate the genius flowing through the speakers.

- Joel

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shoal Creek Wilderness Run

This morning, in the midst of the thickest fog Kansas City has seen in awhile, I participated in the 7th annual Shoal Creek Wilderness Run, held each year to raise awareness for the Shoal Creek Living History Museum. The 5-mile course took runners through village of 19th century buildings, built between 1807 and 1885, back and forth across Shoal Creek four times, and through the woods of Hodge Park. It was a great course and enjoyable run, and the fog added a Hollywood-esque feel. I felt like a Civil War soldier running through the woods, ducking enemy fire (I'd be fighting for the Union of course). Though I didn't stick around for the Awards Ceremony, my time would have placed me 4th in my age group according to the 2007 results.

Also, I have a pretty funny and embarrassing story from the race. Ask me if you're interested.

- Joel

Blast From the Not So Distant Past

With my new job, my commute has become substantially longer. Fortunately, in Kansas City, gas can be purchased at QuikTrip (best gas station in the country) for $1.95 a gallon. The blessing in disguise is this - it gives me some time in the morning and evening to go through all my music. The last two days I've been enjoying the rediscovery of Peter Bjorn and John. Back in 2007, I listed their album Writer's Block as my fifth favorite album of the year. If you're super hip, you'd correct me and say, "Didn't that album drop in 2006?" I would answer, "Yes and no. It was released in Europe in 2006 but wasn't available in the U.S. until 2007." Anyway, I'm loving me some PB&J right now. Below you can see/hear two of the better tracks on the album.

- Joel

Young Folks

Object of My Affection

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photographer of the Day

The Trinity, Andalusia, Milledgeville, Georgia, 2006 © Susanna Raab
Susanna Raab. She did a series on the homes of famous Southern writers. Here you can buy a zine or limited edition prints of her photographs from this series, called A Sense of Place. Both are incredibly inexpensive, especially considering many were purchased by the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

- Joel

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Waldo Pizza

It's probably cliché to make a claim about "the greatest pizza ever" or even the greatest pizza in Kansas City. I'm sure people who are way more hip than I am know of some obscure pizza place in Kansas City, or some other city, and would tell me, "If you really knew Kansas City (or the world), you would know the best pizza can be found at..." But maybe good pizza is like pop music. The cool kids will tell you how terrible Top 40 tunes are, but there's something to be said about writing a melody that millions of people enjoy singing. The same can be said for Waldo Pizza (75th & Wornall). It just keeps growing and more and more people keeping pouring through the doors. It may no longer be the hole in the wall secret of those living in and around Brookside, but they still make great pizza. I just went for the first time on Thursday with 16 of my family members, and I loved it. I'll say this: I don't remember eating better pizza in Kansas City.

- Joel

Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs

I just finished re-reading Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs, one of my favorite nonfiction books. There are two reasons why I love Chuck Klosterman. First, he makes me think. Sometimes I agree with Klosterman and other times I wholeheartedly disagree. Regardless, this book forces me to reevaluate my perspective on the world. Second, Klosterman makes you believe that everything matters. There are no insignificant artifacts in pop culture. Even cereal commercials can speak volumes about the definition of "cool."
- Joel

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More From Marfa

I got a few more pictures from Marfa developed. I was a little disappointed that my black and white shots didn't turn out. But here are a few from my Holga. They are similar to the earlier pictures I posted. There are a few more Holga shots from Marfa here. Shout out to Jeff Whittington. He just got back from Marfa yesterday after assisting the Marfa public radio station with their pledge drive.
- Joel

Mini Organ

During an event for work at SMU a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this mini organ while walking around the Meadows School of the Arts. I thought it looked cool, especially with the light, so I took some pictures. You can see a few more here.
- Joel

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm officially a state champion. Here is a picture my aunt took from the stands. It only took 7 years for the state to recognize our greatness. If you can't tell, I am second from the far right. You can see the first place trophy sitting right at the 50 yard line to the right of the yard marker.

- Joel

New Friend

© Kristen Cochran
I made a new friend yesterday, Kristen Cochran. She's new to Dallas, having recently moved from Seattle. An accomplished painter, you can check out her work here. If you live in Dallas, you definitely want to be her friend. Trust me.
- Joel

Friday, October 17, 2008

State Champs

Tonight it becomes official.  The 2001 Liberty High School Boys Basketball Team gets crowned state champions.  As a result of some nefarious activity (read more here or here) on the part of Floyd Irons and the Vashon High School team, the team I co-captained as a Senior is now #1 in the 2001 record books.  It only took 7 years, but better late than never.  That same year, Daniel (the mysteriously absent co-writer of this blog) played for Oak Park High School.  Fortunately, Liberty's multiple victories over Oak Park that year did little to hinder our friendship.  In fact, in college, Daniel and I went back to view old basketball footage from our high school days.  It just so happens that as a sophomore while playing against each other, Daniel kindly reached out a hand to help me up after I had been knocked to the floor.  Though we didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Anyway, tonight at halftime of the Liberty football game, we will be honored for our new/old state championship.  I can now say I won a high school state championship at the age of 25.

- Joel

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Girl Talk Video Blog

Interested in what Mr. Gregg Gillis does with his friends/tourmates/family while he's on the road. Check out his tour video blog here. Also, if you're in Dallas, you can see Girl Talk next Tuesday, October 21, at the Palladium Ballroom. You Kansas Citians have to wait until November 1. Daniel and I will be at the November 1 show in Lawrence at The Granada.

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

208 High Street, Boonville, Missouri, 2007 © Timothy Briner
Timothy Briner. Timothy spent a year living in 6 cities across the nation all named Boonville (MO, NC, NY, IN, TX, CA). The photographs he took to document his journey became a project known as (you guessed it) Boonville. Read more about his project here. Boonville, MO just happens to be twenty minutes from where Daniel and I went to college.
- Joel

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On the Road

I also finished On the Road by Jack Kerouac just before reading Downtown Owl. The two books are similar in that they are both fictionalized non-fiction. This was my second time through On the Road, and I found it much darker the second time through. I would sum up the book in this way: a celebration of the American continent and lamentation of the American life.

- Joel

Good Book

I finished Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman on Monday. It's an enjoyable read, written from three perspectives, about people trying to be normal in small town North Dakota. It is a very fast read, relatively funny, with a surprise ending. I would recommend it. I have read quite a few classic novels over the past few years, and I'm beginning to come to this realization. Classic novels seem to celebrate the concept of perfection. They idolize the ideal. Modern novels, in many ways, do the opposite. They celebrate imperfection and undermine the ideal. Or maybe it's just the books I read....

- Joel

Monday, October 13, 2008

I found this quote interesting. I'm not saying I agree with it, but it is certainly a unique take on life. According to his website, it is Banksy's manifesto. The quote is from a guy named Emo Philips.
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.
- Joel

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Walkmen - Oct. 11

Last night I had the opportunity to catch The Walkmen at Dallas' House of Blues. The show was actually in HOB's Pontiac Garage. Best guess, there were probably no more than 200 to 300 people in attendance. Here are my thoughts about the show:

* Before the show, Holly mentioned that she had heard Matt Barrick (drummer) looked like a "string puppet" on stage. After witnessing him in person, there is no better way to characterize Barrick's style of drumming than that of a marionette. He bounced back and forth as if someone controlled his limbs with a string from above. It was incredibly entertaining to watch, and Barrick is, in my opinion, the second most talented drummer I have seen in person (second to Darren King of Mute Math).
* I thought The Walkmen sound, which I would classify as "cavernous," translated well live. Paul Maroon's vintage Guild guitar (it looked like a Guild from where I was standing) had a super cool fuzzy, hollow sound. I also loved the sound of the piano within the confines of the Pontiac Garage; it carried but maintained it's antique sound.
* Hamilton Leithauser may be my favorite frontman since the turn of the century. I thought a lot about his delivery and performance after I left. Most frontmen seem to enjoy the opportunity to be watched. Hamilton Leithauser is different. He appears so comfortable and so confident on stage that you get the impression he is doing the watching. It's as if he is watches each member of the audience individually, contemplating what each is thinking at the moment. Serious swagger. I loved it.

- Joel