JT’s Pizza And Pub

UJ and I have written before about JT’s Pizza, our nephew Joe Hartnett’s business up in the north Columbus area, on Route 161.  It serves great pizza and, in UJ’s view, the best Philly cheese steak sandwich you can get anywhere in the Midwest.

Now JT’s Pizza has acquired the former Bier Stube North bar located right next door and will become JT’s Pizza and Pub, offering both great food and drinks and, from time to time, live entertainment in the location at 2832 West Dublin-Granville Road.  Renovations of the interior and exterior of the building have begun, and the goal is to give the new business more of a neighborhood sports bar vibe and better integrate the backyard and patio into the operation.  A “rebranding and relaunch” of the new business is set for November 7.

Our Dad ran a business, and he would be proud of what Joe has done with JT’s Pizza.  It takes some courage to start a business — statistics tell us that a lot of new start-ups fail within the first year — but Joe has produced tasty products, focused on customer service, paid attention to the bottom line, and grown the business from a shop that prepared pizzas for the bar next door’s patrons to an operation that now offers an extensive menu and has lots of carry-out and delivery customers in addition to providing the food service at the Bier Stube North.  Buying the Bier Stube North and consolidating the operations is a big next step, but it’s also a logical one.  And it all starts with pretty darned good pizza.

So here’s a tip of the cap to JT’s Pizza and Pub and its owner Joe Hartnett, one of those small business owners who take risks, create jobs, and help our economy grow.  If you find yourself in north Columbus with a hankering for a pizza, a Philly cheese steak sub, or a cold adult beverage, stop by JT’s Pizza and Pub, won’t you?

Useful Framing

IMG_7116Over the years, we’ve accumulated a lot of Russell’s artwork, dating back to his first paintings from the dawn of his artistic endeavors in middle school.  They’ve been stored, and now Russell is home for a brief visit, to decide whether to keep those pieces — or to remove the heavy staples one by one, strip off the early efforts, and recycle the valuable wooden frames and, where appropriate, the yards of canvas, and set them aside for use in creating new pieces that are more befitting his current artistic vision.

it’s kind of wistful to see him disassemble the older pieces that have become part of the family repository of stored items . . . but it’s also nice to see that he is winnowing out the older stuff and looking forward to what he can create with the wood, and canvas.  For artists, and for the rest of us, too, the vision must always be forward looking.

Plant Alley

IMG_6543Kish has made a lot of really good decisions about decorating our house, but one of my favorites is what she has done with the brick walkway leading to our back yard.  It used to have a flimsy wire fence, but Kish decided to replace it with a wrought iron fence and then hang some planters along the fence line.  Because the walkway is between two houses it rarely gets sunlight, so the planters are filled with plants that thrive in the shade.

The result looks very cool in my view, and reminds me of of what you might see in the Garden District of New Orleans.

Millionaire Pie, And Other Goodies

Richard visited the Texas State Fair recently and made a herculean effort to eat some of the inventive food items being offered there — from Millionaire Pie to Kool-Aid Pickles to Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly.  The results are both hilarious and mouth-watering and are recounted in detail on Richard’s Twitter feed — just scroll down past the picture of the bug-eyed Lenin till you get to the food shots and follow along.

If you are a Twitter person, you could do worse than to follow Richard — his feed is both informative and entertaining.


The Air Guitar Time Machine

I probably first played air guitar when I was 13 or 14, after we moved from Akron to Columbus.  We were living in a bigger house and I had gotten my own room, which I equipped with a radio and with the family’s hand-me-down record player, a cheap and unsteady Panasonic unit with plastic speakers.  In that little enclave of my own, I really started to discover rock music beyond The Beatles and The Monkees.

Like many teenaged boys, I was drawn to the guitar gods of the day — Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, and others, the slouching, long-haired titans who delivered the intricate, crushing solos that kicked your spirits into another gear and managed to look uber-cool while doing so.  I saw clips of their performances on the late-night music shows and how they looked while playing.

So, was it really so surprising that, when you put a song like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven or Cream’s Crossroads or the Rolling Stones’ Monkey Man on that flimsy Panasonic turntable and felt the surge of energy that those songs inevitably produced, a little air guitar solo would surface?  When you were in the grip of those songs, you had to do something to participate, and the choices boiled down to playing air drums with the John Bonhams and Ginger Bakers and Keith Moons of the world — or playing air guitar.  I chose air guitar, even though I had no idea what I was doing and whether my chord-fingering on the air fretboard and picking and strumming on the air strings bore any relation to guitar-playing reality, and even though I knew I looked silly doing it.  It just felt like the right thing to do, and it was fun, besides.

It still does, and still is.  Even now, more than 40 years later, if you put me alone in a room and start playing Derek and the Dominos’ Key To The Highway or Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Call Me The Breeze, the impulse to play a little air guitar (and in the latter case, a little air keyboards, too) and feel like a kid again while doing so will be irresistible.  Those songs are like a kind of time machine that transports me back to that poster-filled room with the scratchy Panasonic unit playing at the loudest decibel level I dared, and my guess is that the same is true for many of us fifty-something guys.

It’s nice to know that, lurking under the extra pounds and the grey hair and the aching back, there’s a little bit of that teenager energy and silliness still to be found.

Lessons From A Rowing Mom

IMG_6707_2The people of Maine are different:  hardier, more outdoorsy, and seemingly closer to the land.  Kish has noticed that the women wear less make-up and tend toward a no-frills look, while the men have the kind of ruddy complexion that makes it look like they’ve just stepped off a sailboat.

There’s something about living in a rustic area, near water, that seems to encourage that laissez-faire personal attitude.  If you’ve got water and a boat nearby, there would be a lot of incentive to use it — and if make-up tended to run down your face when the fog rolled in, and fancy haircuts frizzed out and became unmanageable in the salt air, then make-up and the high-end ‘dos would likely hit the cutting room floor.

I thought about all of this on our recent mailboat run out to Isle au Haut.  At one of our stops we saw a mother rowing her very cute little girl across the harbor to a dock.  The Mom was an accomplished rower, and I’d be willing to bet that her daughter ends up as one, too.  That’s not a bad skill to pass down from generation to generation.


At what point do you suppose that you first grasped the idea of “home”?  I imagine it was one of the first concepts I ever understood, and probably one of the first words, too.  It was a specific, physical place, to be sure, but it was a lot more than that.  It was where the most important people in your life lived, and you developed happy feelings that you associated with the special combination of that place and those people and your things — the sense of where your life was centered, and of being where you belonged.

And as you grew up, and your family moved from one house to another, and went on vacations together, the concept of “home” became even stronger, because you realized that your home was not just one place, but could change from one city to another even as you left your friends and favorite places behind, and was more than just the temporary location of your Mom and Dad and brother and sisters.  And after such a move to new place, when the settling-in process finally ended, at some point you thought to yourself that your new house had become less strange and “finally felt like home.”

IMG_6833The home-shifting process continues, for many of us, as our lives proceed and we move through college and venture out on our own.  At some distinct point the concept of “home” morphs from the place where your parents are to the place where you and your spouse and your family have established their own lives.  The legal concept is called domicile — the location where you have established a permanent residence to which you intend to return, whatever your temporary movements might be.  Courts trying to determine domicile evaluate evidence like where you are registered to vote, where you pay your taxes, and where your kids go to school, that seek to capture, to the maximum extent that bloodless legal “factors” can, the emotional element of having found a welcome place where you have sunk down roots.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have grown up with a solid sense of “home,” with the warm, deep feelings of belonging and physical security and personal value and countless other attributes that come with it, can’t fully appreciate how having a home has shaped our lives and personalities.  And we can’t really imagine what it must be like to grow up without that essential emotional and physical center, or to someday lose it entirely and become “homeless” — a powerful and terrible word, when you think about it.

Yesterday, as Kish and I drove back from a vacation on the coastline of Maine, the pull of “home” became irresistible, and what was supposed to be a two-day drive became by mutual agreement a 17-hour, roll-in-and-unload-after-midnight rush to get back to our little center of the world.  And when we finally made it, and were greeted by a small, happily barking dog whose tail was sweeping the floor like a metronome set at maximum speed, we once again were reminded of what “home” is really all about.