Clouds. What Do They Mean?
Taxicab confessions, plus: 9/11, a comedian, a concert, and some outlaw country.
This week’s ‘Daly Grind’ newsletter is going to be a short one, because — frankly — I’m on vacation. I wrote the lower sections before I left, but I wanted to at least check in from the road. So, here we go…
Some may recall a piece I wrote almost a year ago in which I described the “brothers trip” to Vegas I had planned for my big bro’s 50th birthday. The pandemic delayed it by a year, but we finally managed to make it happen (just a couple short months before he turns 51).
Some may recognize that contraption pictured above. It’s The High Roller observation wheel at the LINQ Forum. I took the photo shortly after we arrived at our hotel (which is right down the street), but not because of how impressive I find that particular attraction. I took it to capture part of an experience my brother and I had just a few minutes earlier.
I offhandedly tweeted about it at the time, and the tweet — to my great surprise — went kind of viral. (Seriously, I’m still getting notifications every few seconds, and the thing’s a few days old).
Yes, our cab driver, whose thick European accent I couldn’t quite place, kept glaring out his side window (instead of at the road), and insisting — quite angrily in fact — that the clouds to the west were not real, and that he knew which two global masterminds were behind the underhanded deed.
A lot of people who replied to that tweet told me we should have bailed out of the cab at the next traffic light. Being that we were almost to the hotel by that point, and that our luggage was in the trunk, that wasn’t really a consideration. I just felt bad that this guy and his rambling were my brother’s first Vegas experience (not that there isn’t always a lot of craziness in this town).
As a political columnist (in addition to being a thriller novelist), I’m confronted with zany conspiracy theories all the time. I don’t have much patience for them. Online, they’re easy to mock. But in up-close-and-personal situations like this one (especially when your life is sort in the theorist’s hands), I’ve found that it’s best not to engage at all.
My brother, however, took a different approach.
“One percenters,” he said, nodding his head in solidarity.
“Exactly!” the cab driver shouted back. “Exactly!”
Anyway, we made it to the hotel in one piece, we’re having a great time here in Sin City (coincidentally the location of the next Sean Coleman Thriller), and next week I’ll be writing about one of my very favorite Vegas attractions (which I doubt many of you have heard of).
Do you have a favorite “crazy cabbie” experience? Tell me about it in an email or in the comment section below.
Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I wrote a piece with my thoughts on it for Bernie Goldberg’s website. You can check it out here.
As I mentioned in the column, my wife and I visited New York City just a few weeks before that terrible day. It was actually there, at the top of Rockefeller Plaza, where I asked her to marry me. The shot below was taken earlier that very day on Liberty Island. I've looked at the photo and the skyline behind us many times over the years, and it's still surreal.
Behind the Laughter
I mentioned a few newsletters back that I’m a fan of stand-up comedian, Nate Bargatze. In fact, my son and I have tickets to see him in November (it will be my first time live), which I’m pretty excited about.
Anyway, there’s an interesting new piece on Bargatze in The Atlantic. It was written by Tim Alberta (who’s a great writer), and it’s gets in to what makes the comic unique… especially in his success. You can read it here.
And if you’re not familiar with Bargatze’s comedy, you can get a little taste of it here.
“The Evening Speaks, I Feel it Say”
Last Tuesday night, my wife and I got to see Toad the Wet Sprocket perform in Boulder, CO. Toad’s one of those few bands that we’re both huge fans of, and this was the third time we’d seen them together. And though the first two shows were great, this one was my favorite.
One reason was our seats and also the venue: front row at The Chautauqua Auditorium, which is a historical site up in the hills (we had to hike a bit to get to it). Another reason has to do with something I touched on a few weeks ago in my piece about comedian, Sebastian Maniscalco: gratitude for being back on the road and performing.
Performers have deeply missed getting out in front of crowds over the past year and a half — not just because of the revenue they lost (which was a huge blow), but also because they couldn’t connect with their fans (at least not in the way they wanted to). It was clear in the way frontman Glenn Phillips spoke in between songs, and even while singing, just how thankful he was to be there. And the fans in attendance felt every bit as grateful. I know I was. I think lots of people there had needed such a night
Here are some highlights from the show if any of you are interested.
A Quick Favor to Ask
One easy thing that readers can do to help out the authors they enjoy is to leave a positive review of their book(s). It’s especially beneficial to do so on Amazon, because the more good reviews a book (or any product) gets, the more often it is recommended to customers.
So, this is my annual appeal to those of you who've liked my books to please take a minute to leave a review of one or more of them on Amazon (two or three sentences is plenty). I’ve even provided the direct links below for your convenience. 😉 Thank you!
(reviews can’t be left for Restitution since it hasn’t been released yet)
Obligatory Dog Shot
“Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.”
Let me start off by answering a few obvious questions:
No, I didn’t draw this album cover myself.
No, that’s not me in the drawing.
No, I don’t expect you to have ever heard of “Diamondbuck.”
But yes, I’m going to tell you about it.
Diamondbuck is a side project of Vinnie Dombroski, lead singer of the Detroit rock band Sponge, whose new album I featured a couple weeks ago in my newsletter. The music has been described as “outlaw country,” a clear departure from the hard-hitting sound fans are used to from Dombroski. It actually kind of reminds me of Johnny Cash, though not as structured or deliberate. It strikes me as a pure artistic escape — a very personal project, and that’s something I can certainly appreciate.
The sound’s definitely not for everyone, and it even took some time to grow on me. Now, I dig it.
“House of Weird Smells” is Diamondbuck’s second album, and it’s far from a commercial effort. In fact, I ordered it on vinyl by Paypaling Vinnie $30, and I’m pretty sure that’s the only way you can get it. Hopefully it will show up on the streaming services like the debut album, but honestly, this record and its old-school sound were made for vinyl.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.
Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!