Houston Calls Invade My Apartment

Houston Calls

It is an awesome feeling, seeing good friends achieving some serious success. I’ve seen it happen before, and I’ve been witnessing it lately with my pals in Houston Calls.

I met these dudes during my junior year at Ramapo College, when they were still a ska band by the name of Face First. When their saxophone player had to get his wisdom teeth removed, they dropped me a line, and asked if I’d come fill in for him for a couple of shows. We played some fun shows (and beer pong) with Hidden In Plain View around the area. It was a good time.

After an awesome full length and excellent EP, they decided to reform as Houston Calls, releasing two independent EPs before signing with the giant indie label Drive Thru Records.

Houston Calls

They toured like mad in support of their album, A Collection Of Short Stories. They’ve since visited Australia twice, once with Yellowcard and another time with MXPX. They toured the UK with the Plain White Ts. They’ve traveled through out the states with groups like HelloGoodbye, Paramore, and The Junior Varsity. Needless to say, I’m proud of these guys, and it’s always a thrill to work with them.

The guys needed some quick shots for their MySpace. Nothing serious, just something fast, since they have a new guitarist and their old press shots just weren’t doing it anymore. We took some silly ones in my apartment, and some really artsy ones backstage at The Troc. The artsy ones came out horrible, and no one will ever see them. Ever. Don’t ask! Afterwards, we drank some beers and played some serious Nintendo Wii.

Go give them a listen, and fall in love with some good old fashioned pop punk, a blend of Motion City Soundtrack and New Found Glory.

Houston Calls

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo

“The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.”
- Jack Handy

I took my three year old nephew to the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday, and it was an absolute joy. While walking up to the entrance, he laughed and pointed at the various murals painted over the walls, frequently exclaiming “I’m so excited! I’m SO EXCITED!” with a volume that made his voice echo within the concrete beneath the bridges. Couples with children would look over and smile at my nephew, who was talking up a storm, as their children slept softly in strollers and papooses.

Philadelphia Zoo

Jordan was happiest when we saw the elephants and monkeys, and was absolutely thrilled when the rhinoceros took a massive, steaming poop right in front of us. Parents spent their time trying to make their kids stop crying while handling their own disgust. While all these other children around us cried or screamed, Jordan laughed hysterically and clapped his hands, which definitely mirrored my own behavior.

He was also thrilled when he saw the penguins, which he frequently referred to as “happy feet”. There would be no correcting him, as another child quickly learned. When the kid, who was probably five or six, said “they’re call pen-gins”, Jordan promptly yelled at him. That’da boy.

Philadelphia Zoo - Red Panda Tongue

I was pretty proud of the little guy. He wasn’t scared of any of the large animals. He couldn’t wait to see the bears, especially the polar bear. A zoo employee and several parents gave me a disapproving look when I explained where polar bears came from. Whatever.

However, what did horrify him for some unknown reason, were the ducks. Maybe it was because there were seriously hundreds of them at the zoo that day, waddling up and down the paths, wading inside empty exhibits, and of course, floating merrily in the giant duck pond. They were free to walk around the zoo, and Jordan was not having it. He ran away from them every time one appeared, and promptly asked to go see the lions again.

He was also scared of the red panda, pictured above, in a rare capture of a licking-his-nose moment. Score!

Philadelphia Zoo

Sure, we took a lot of cliche silly photos, most of which you can catch on the Flickr stream, but it was fun. I felt very parent-like and touristy, even though I’m not a parent and I actually live in Philadelphia, thus negating any chance of tourist comparisons. But it was fun pretending. I didn’t rush to correct people when they told me what a cute kid I had, or when the zoo lecturers referred to me as his “handsome dad”.

Philadelphia Zoo

And come on, who am I to argue that one.

Can’t wait for the next visit, little guy.

All Signs Point To Dumb

Friendly Donuts

See, the great thing about this sign, located in the parking lot of the Greyhound station in Center City Philadelphia (11th & Arch), isn’t just the horrible, horrible grammatical mistake. The truly splendid thing about this sign… it’s enormous. HUGE. The sign is a banner, hanging above one of the parking garages. Yes, that’s a parking garage. So you can easily gauge from the fence above it and the large heat pipe below, that this banner is gigantic.

Another fun fact? Friendly Donuts… out of business. According to my roomies, who have been living in our building for well over a year, Friendly Donuts has not existed for nearly 8 months.

I wonder why?

Bunny in a Box

I’m turning 25 in 10 days. In bunny years, Ash turns 16. He really should have outgrown cardboard boxes by now. Hmph, kids.

Google Streets in Philadelphia

OMG My Apartment!

So Sara, my favorite craft maker, and Mark, the king of dating in Philadelphia, posted cool images from their respective apartments, and seriously, I couldn’t resist. It took me a while to find my place, since the addresses are a bit off, but I was pretty happy when I finally found my building. Maybe I’ll photoshop myself in the window later.

Now that Philadelphia is officially part of Google Streets, I’m excited to start finding some crazy images. Be it on a blog like Mashable’s Top 15 Google Street Sightings or on a full site like Google Street View Sightings, I’d love to see Philly representin’ with some truly wacky images.

For those of you who have Flickr, sign up for Bunny Lovers Unite. I’m in love with this group. I think I might adopt another bunny this weekend. Ash needs company, and nothing is more calming and heart warming then a new baby bun. Pictures of that adventure to follow.

You, Me, & Everyone We Know

You, Me, & Everyone We Know

You know, every once and a while I get to work with a really great band that is just on the verge of breaking out. I’ve considered myself really lucky with this. Many groups that have achieved some great things, all posed in front of me and my silly camera. Seriously, I have the best hobby ever.

You, Me, & Everyone We Know

Last week I got to work with current buzz band You, Me, & Everyone We Know. Currently managed by Rich & Stephanie Reines of Drive Thru Records, who helped launch the careers of New Found Glory, Something Corporate, HelloGoodbye, and more, these guys have been generating a buzz in the music scene like you wouldn’t believe.

And they are some seriously amazing guys. It’s rare that you find a group that is both talented and level headed. They sound like the love child of Say Anything and The Movielife, which is definitely a hella good thing.

You, Me, & Everyone We Know

They have a live show that rivals a lot of the signed bands I’ve seen performing lately, and these dudes have only been together for a year. A YEAR. One of the members, Mike, used to be in a group called The Alpha Couple that had a fantastic EP out on British Records. The members come from all over the country. Illinois, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia… and still manage to sound tight.

You Me & Everyone We Know

Catch them on tour right now with Fred Mascherino (of Taking Back Sunday), Paper Rival, and The Pink Spiders. They have some excellent tours in the works, which I won’t mention here til they are finished with their current one. It’s fun being on the inside. *wink*

You, Me, & Everyone We Know @ Myspace