Upon my arrival back to Pittsburgh from SoCal for an 80th birthday celebration and a fam + friends party down in Mexico, my good friend Aaron Myers' parents house was to be a new home base for the intro to part II of my travels. Aaron is currently the sculpture TA at Bucknell, and with Pittsburgh being not insanely far away from Lewisburg, he made the very understandable decision to stay at school all summer to use the studio. This being the case, my second visit to Pittsburgh was not to see any of Aaron, but to see more hanging out with Claire, visiting another old friend Brian Swed, and random musings through Pittsburgh with Aaron's parents (and dogs).
The Myers' home was really perfect to be in. With all their kids now being out of the house, I got to utilize the whole third floor and be out of their way whenever necessary. Up in my room I got to put together ideas for what I wanted as my album artwork, so the isolation was good for my productivity. Otherwise, while everyone was working, I'd make my way towards the beautiful park nearby to get back into my running routine.
Brian Swed, another music enthusiast I know from Bucknell, was a new face for my Pittsburgh stay. Brian and I, more or less, had overlapping circles of friends but didn't actually get to hang out much in school. I do remember, however, seeing his iPod once and immediately befriending him based on his clearly awesome taste. Brian plays in a band and has a really great basement that they jam in, so for one of my nights I brought over my gear and we all got some jams in. The night ended just right -- and by that I mean with us watching Piranha.
A few different times, Mrs. Myers and I saw ourselves walking the dogs together -- using each other as incentive to get outside and active. Frick Park was a really beautiful location for one, and the other, the great commercial areas near their house in Squirrel Hill.
Once I got an invite to go to a party at Tara Hankinson's in Brooklyn while I was in Pittsburgh, I finally had a real push to get myself back on the road. On the way there, I would book it to Washington D.C. first to stay with one of my good friends, Alex Caughron.
Alex lives about a twenty minute walk away from Dupont Circle, where another one of my friends, Brittany Singer lives. The first couple of nights staying with Alex were great, as they always are, since Alex and I can debate anything longer than most folks I know. Some nights saw bedtime far later than Alex probably would have preferred if we hadn't gotten carried away...
More of my day activities in D.C. continued on the goal of getting my album prepped for release, so daytime activities were less spectacular. Also, after going out to eat lunch with my Dad's cousin Anne and her husband Larry, I realized I would be able to stay in D.C. for all of August(!) to housesit for them. What an amazing deal! This being the case, there was far less urgency to take care of all that D.C. has to offer right up front for my first visit. Regardless, I did make my way out to see Brittany and a couple of other Bucknell faces who happened to attend the bar with her as well. I didn't realize how many of them were in this city...
For various reasons, I have lagged on keeping the Drop and Roll blog going. Kyle leaving the trip in late May left me to find different kinds of excitement each day from what we'd had for the trip up to that point -- now activities mostly come in an isolated manner with me recording music, prepping album artwork, and such for my Yes Know project. I never got to really writing anything about Chicago when I was there, and since, I have been in Pittsburgh, California, Mexico, and now, DC. So, something's gotta be due.
In short, Chicago was outstanding. Gabriel's apartment is located right by the lake on Eerie St. in the area where the Northwestern Hospital is. He's just around the corner from the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, which Kyle and I visited on one of our first days there. There is an incredible view of the lake and the skyline from the rooftop of his apartment building of 60+ stories, and just a walk/run away are the numerous parks that line the shore.
When we got there, the weather was a bit cool and foggy, but for our first weekend, everything flipped and we got two days or so of intense heat and sun. Exercise along the lake was especially awesome these days as the Chicago summer weekend excitement was in full blast. Beaches and parks were filled to the brim with swimwear, volleyballs, frisbees, and beach towels and for a minute I thought I was back in Southern California...
During the week, Gabriel was often busy taking care of his final first-year med school course, so for much of the time Kyle and I were left to scour the city ourselves. Early in the visit, we made our way out toward Wicker Park to see Tortoise guitarist, Jeff Parker, play his free weekly club show at Rodan. We also made our way out to The Empty Bottle to see Crystal Stilts play their show, which was great, as Gabe decided to join us for this one and Kyle and I were finally getting to see the grimier, more underground of the Chicago club scene. The DIY ethic comes in fuller force at places like these which offers a unique excitement we both really respond to.
Other amazing ventures included the Art Institute of Chicago (definitely as exciting as people hype it up to be), Millenium Park with its awesome bean, the Zoo, Navy Pier, and more parks.... Chicago really is one of the cooler big cities I've been in, but I'm still somewhat skeptical of its overall awesomeness as it's got a pretty treacherous and long winter...
After Kyle left, I got into my music zone to complete a new electronic track and do some photo editing. Nearing the end of my trip, however, I got more socializing in with an old friend, Tommy O'Brien from Bucknell Water Polo.
Tommy's originally from the area and lives in Wrigleyville, where Wrigley Field is. I stayed a night at his place to keep out of Gabe's hair while he needed rest for his test the next morning, but also because Tommy said he'd probably not have any work to do the next day. My last full day in Chicago was a Friday and consisted of some awesome times meeting loads of Tommy's friends, BBQing, guitar-playing, bar-hopping (with some batting cage time at Sluggers Bar), and making lots of authentic margaritas.
Downtown and the shoreline from Gabe's apartment building rooftop.
Finally, Memorial Day weekend meant I needed to be back on the road for my first extended trek without Kyle in the car. This time, to Pittsburgh to stay with Claire O'Hanlon (check the guest post!), an old friend from California via Harvey Mudd College. Kyle and I had made an extremely quick stop by Claire's before going to Bucknell earlier, so this time I was excited to really give Pittsburgh its due.
Claire and her boyfriend, Mike, also extremely chill, both had me in for some really solid plans that Saturday night. As soon as I finished off my ten hour drive and got a shower in, we all went out to a monthly funk night at Shadow Lounge. Amazing old R&B/Soul/Funk records filled the speakers all night while everyone fought for space near the fan to dry the sweat. Dancing is easily one of Claire's and my favorite pastimes, so it was good to get some moves in.
Next door to the club is the Waffle Shop, which is only open during strange hours and houses the talk-show stage for their online TV show. Apparently the show is a Carnegie Mellon Art professor's project...
The Waffle Shop is a neighborhood restaurant that produces and broadcasts a live-streaming talk show with its customers, operates a changeable storytelling billboard on its roof, and runs a take-out window that sells food from countries engaged in conflict with the U.S. The shop is a public lab that brings together people from all walks of life to engage in dialogue, experimentation and the co-production of culture. The project functions as a classroom for students from Carnegie Mellon University, an eatery, a TV production studio, a social catalyst, and a business. Our customers are our funders, audience, and participants as we film during open hours, inviting interested patrons to express their unique opinions and personalities. The Waffle Shop is supported by the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, The Center for the Arts In Society, East Liberty Development Inc, We Do Property, Sota Construction Services, the Sprout Fund, Whole Foods, and the sale of waffles.
And onwards... Other Pittsburgh entertainment included the Dormont pool and park where I bit the dust and came up with a couple of bloody cuts to my leg, Brillobox bar for drinks and trivia, and a couple of different houses for meeting Claire's friends.
Finally, the first section of the trip was to come to an end as June 2nd was time for my flight to SoCal to attend my Grandma's 80th birthday extravaganza and enjoy an awesome trip to Mexico with family and friends. A vacation from my vacation... Time to recoup and get the worst sunburn ever..
Time in California and Mexico saw the pampering that life at home with the Gilfillans can often be. Rancho Santa Fe for my Grandma's birthday and amazing meals, awesome relatives, margaritas, pool time, etc. provided for an awesome reintroduction to the Southwest after my 2+ months away from it. The next weekend in Mexico was no less.