Short Cuts

“I picked a lane and I started running”

I spent most of the day today catching up with everyone else in the free world that knew ‘Hamilton’ is amazing. That also means I’m realizing how incredible its creator is as well:

Lin-Manuel Miranda: You know, I went to a school where everyone was smarter than me. And I’m not blowin’ smoke, I, my, I was surrounded by genius, genius kids. What’s interesting about growing up in a culture like that is you go, “All right, I gotta figure out what my thing is. Because I’m not smarter than these kids. I’m not funnier than half of them, so I better figure out what it is I wanna do and work really hard at that.” And because intellectually I’m treading water to, to be here.

Charlie Rose: So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not sitting here talking to one of your classmates?

Lin-Manuel Miranda: ‘Cause I picked a lane and I started running ahead of everybody else. So I, that’s the honest answer. It was like, I was like, “All right THIS.”

Short Cuts

Autoblog: The last Land Rover Defender has rolled off the line

I’m not as ardent a fan of the Defender series as some of my fellow O&F contributors, but this caught my attention nonetheless:

It’s worth remembering that while the original Series I was in many ways ingenious, it was also to some decree dictated by its post-war circumstances. A massive shortage of steel led to the adoption of an aluminum body, not any sort of worry about corrosion or concern for lightweighting. And it wasn’t yet the status symbol seen at luxury hotel valet lots, but rather an agricultural vehicle halfway between a tractor and an old farm truck, useful for innumerable tasks around the farm but also capable of a (slow) jaunt to town.

It will be interesting to see what Land Rover has in store for us next.

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Steven Hyden Interviews Ryan Adams for Grantland, Talks ‘1989’

If it isn’t obvious, I’m just a bit excited about the Ryan Adams cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. I’ll try to make this the last post about it (for now), but Steven Hyden’s interview with Adams for Grantland is just too good to not post about it. The entire interview is great, seriously, just go read it. But here are my favorite bits.

Hyden doesn’t waste any time jumping right in, quickly asking Adams how the album came to be. I love the response:

The quick and easy way to describe how it came to be is, I basically was on the road for a year and three months, and when you get off the road, your body isn’t ready to let go of the time of night when you’re going to get ready to start playing. So at 8 p.m. every night, for three weeks to a month, your adrenaline will start firing and your body is going, Oh shit, I’m going to play in an hour. Then nine to eleven, you’re in the weird space-time continuum of where you’re not onstage, but you feel like you are.

Over the Christmas holiday I had a three-week break, and that’s when I originally started to track 1989. But I was tracking on a four-track cassette recorder. It was like, “Yeah, cool, I’m going to cover it like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska.” Then the cassette tape was eaten by the machine, which was unbelievable — after a week of setup, too. I didn’t get discouraged, but in my mind, I went, Well, this is not meant to be in the style; I’ll do it later. I’ll make it an after-tour, fun project.

Next, Hyden deftly weaves a question by contrasting Adams’ prolific songwriting career with his growing notoriety (as he appears to some) as a cover artist:

There’s an interesting paradox to your career, which is that you’re known as a really prolific songwriter, and yet some of your most popular songs are covers. Your version of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” is easily your most streamed track on Spotify, and 1989 is poised to become one of your most successful albums. How do you feel about that?

Well, I’m not surprised that they’re more popular because they’re already more popular, so that makes sense. But I usually don’t think to cover a song unless it’s something that really moves me or there’s something for me to offer the song. I also cover Greg Sage, who was in the Wipers. My favorite band from New Zealand, the Verlaines, I’ve covered them. Or I’ll cover Natalie Prass. Or Black Sabbath.

“Wonderwall” always belonged on Love Is Hell, and it always belonged in that style, because it said something in the middle of that record that needed to be said, and it actually needed to be said in that context because that record was about a time that I spent between New York and London, and it was about losing someone that I loved very much and then falling in love with someone else while I was on a lot of drugs. [I was] taking pills and drinking and stuff, and sort of staying in this daydream to nullify a huge amount of psychological pain associated with losing someone that passed away.

The interview also offers more insight into how Adams approaches his craft, his appreciation for Taylor Swift’s music, and the level of Swift’s involvement and prior knowledge of the project (beyond her fangirl tweets).

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15 Years Ago: Ryan Adams Releases ‘Heartbreaker’

Adams’ ambivalent relationship with his home state is captured beautifully in “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” featuring guest turns from Emmylou Harris and Pat Sansone from Wilco, but it’s more than that. The song captures the restless nature of young adulthood, when the desire to roam and the pull of deep roots battle for supremacy. “I was trying to find me something / But I wasn’t sure just what / Man I ended up with pockets full of dust,” he sings. We’ve all been there, and even if we haven’t Miss Emmylou’s harmonies are enough to make us feel like we have been.

Ambivalent, indeed.

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I spent a night on ‘Mars’

What will it be like to live and work on the red planet?

To find out, I visited a Mars colony — OK, so it was a small camp near the top of a giant Hawaiian volcano.

I had no idea such a place existed. Way cool.

via Audacious Fox

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Go Write a Classic

Although he’s certainly not alone in questioning the provenance of Harper Lee’s sequel written before the prequel, Go Set a Watchman, I like Adam Gopnik’s take the most out of all I’ve read so far. It’s tough, but if I had to pick a favorite passage from his piece in The New Yorker, it’s this (emphasis mine):

It is, I suppose, possible that Lee wrote it as we have it, and that her ingenious editor, setting an all-time record for editorial ingenuity, saw in a few paragraphs referring to the trial of a young black man the material for a masterpiece. But it would not be surprising if this novel turns out to be a revised version of an early draft, returned to later, with an eye to writing the “race novel” that elsewhere Harper Lee has mentioned as an ambition.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books (I know, very original), so the paint on the pre-order button barely had time to dry before I was one-clicking Go Set a Watchman into my future life. That future is now here and I don’t care how it might change my opinion of Atticus, I’m excited about checking in on the characters that Harper Lee so masterfully crafted.

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N&O: Ashley Christensen to open pizza joint in downtown Raleigh

No target opening date yet, but it has a name: PooleSide Pie, apropos to its location next to Christensen’s flagship restaurant, Poole’s Diner.

“I’m super excited about it,” Christensen wrote in an email. “Much like coffee, I think there’s lots of room for great pizza of varying styles in downtown. I predict that you’ll see a number of unique spots to pop up in the next couple of years. The idea of that makes me very happy.”

I can’t wait.

Short Cuts

The Book of Fail

From WRAL’s Out and About section:

The [flip-flop run] was organized by the nOg Run Club, which hosted an after-party at Tir na nOg while they awaited certification from the Guinness Book of World Records.

At this point I’m wondering if a book of failed Guinness World Record attempts would be shorter than a book of successes.