What is it about flying through New York City’s LaGuardia Airport?  Over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to fly in and out of New York without suffering some catastrophic travel failure that involves flight cancellations and having to stay over in some crummy hotel room.

250px-laguardia_airportThe most recent incident happened this week, when I flew in to New York and was advised that my flight out was cancelled outright more than 24 hours before the flight was set to depart, due to anticipated winter storms.  The airline then booked me for new flight that required staying another night in NYC.  This latest travel snag follows up on my last use of LaGuardia, in which my flight back was cancelled, no flight out was available for days, and I had to rent a car and drive back to Columbus.  On yet another recent LaGuardia excursion I spent 7 hours waiting in the terminal for an outbound flight that was repeatedly, and annoyingly, delayed in half hour increments for no apparent reason.

By the baseline metric that defines a successful flight — do you actually leave reasonably close to your designated departure time? — LaGuardia has become a consistent, exasperating failure for me.  It’s worse than a coin flip.  You could just use the acronym SNALU — Situation Normal, All LaGuardia’d Up.  And it always seems to be the outbound flight that’s the problem.  Going to New York through LaGuardia is liking checking in to the Eagles’ Hotel California.

If you’ve been to LaGuardia any time during the last few years you know the airport is in the midst of a massive renovation project.  I’ve heard that there is a new Southwest terminal that is very nice.  But I really question whether pumping a bunch of money into LaGuardia makes much sense.  It’s a very old airport that’s penned in.  The runways are where they are, and it may not be situated in the best place, local weather-wise.  Given the problems I’ve had in using the airport recently, I wonder if fixing up LaGuardia is like putting lipstick on a pig.

The next few times I have to fly in and out of New York City, I’m trying Newark.

Hitting The Double-Nickel

Today I turn 55.  I’ve reached the mid-point of my sixth decade on the planet.  As Dad would have said, it beats the alternative.

55 is not a bad number.  It’s a speed limit, sure, but other than that it’s a number I’ve always liked.  It’s a good round number that looks good on a sign.  It has the benefit of alliteration and fricatives. It’s fun to say.

It’s the number Russell wore when he played high school football, and I enjoyed watching number 55 out on the gridiron for the Vikings, making his blocks and leading runners downfield.

It’s also the number that features prominently in Ol’ 55, a song written by Tom Waits that, as performed by the Eagles, is one of my favorites.  And, in fact, the lyrics to that tune are apt today:

Well, my time went so quickly
I went lickety-splitly out to my ol’ fifty-five
As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy
God knows I was feeling alive


The Best American Band: Poll Results

It’s time to declare winners in our “best American rock ‘n’ roll band” poll, and it ends in a three-way tie between Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, and the Doors.  Other bands receiving votes were the Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Eagles, Steely Dan, and Van Halen.

In terms of hits on the blog, the most popular best American band posts have been, in descending order, Steely Dan, Pearl Jam, the Eagles, the Beach Boys, the Allman Brothers, the Doors, Rage Against the Machine, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the White Stripes, and R.E.M.

Thanks to everyone for voting on this crucial cultural question!

The Best American Band: Time To Vote!

We’ve published a number of posts with our thoughts on the Best American Band, and we’ve given everyone time to think about that extraordinarily weighty issue. Now, it’s time for you to vote. We’ll check back in a week and declare a winner. Please, vote for just one of the candidates.

The Best American Band: The Eagles



A lot of music, I think, is really about time and place. I tend to associate certain bands or songs with particular points in time, when they seemed to capture and even help to define the moment. So it was with the Eagles and 1975-76. My high school friend J.D. was a huge Eagles fan who might croon “Take another shot of courage” at any point. In 1976, when I worked at Alpine Village in Lake George, New York, the first three Eagles albums — Eagles, Desperado, and On The Border — formed the soundtrack. (It’s funny how the memories associated with songs can change, however. Ol’ 55, one of my favorite songs from On The Border, took on a different set of memories when Russell was assigned 55 as his uniform number on the Columbus Academy football team.)

The Eagles were a great country rock band that also could play straight ahead rock, folk, and ballads. They wrote songs with great hooks and refrains, and penned one of the great opening lyrics of any American rock song with Take It Easy‘s “Well, I’m a-runnin’ down the road trying to loosen my load, I got seven women on my mind.” In addition to the excellent music, the Eagles also were embodiments of the great arc of many successful American bands. They recorded wonderful early albums, became increasingly popular, and soon started playing enormous venues and moving away from their roots. Some of their members left, new members joined, and they recorded huge-selling albums that seemed a bit more rote and a bit less interesting than their early work. Soon there were personality conflicts between band members, recording and touring became more difficult, and ultimately the band broke up in a cloud of acrimony, vowing never to play together again — only to break that vow years later.

While the Eagles were at their best, however, they recorded some tremendous songs. The trusty Ipod attests to that fact, with songs like Take It Easy, Witchy Woman, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Desperado, Tequila Sunrise, On The Border, Ol’55, James Dean, Good Day in Hell, and Already Gone. I’m not alone in my admiration for the early Eagles music, by the way. Their first greatest hits album, which was released during my early college years, is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Edited to add: Time to Vote for your choice for Best American Band!