Just like that, my one and only brother Joey and his partner Olga, had a son. Turning my parents into grandparents, and me into an uncle. Technically and emotionally I already was an uncle, but this time around it’s by blood.
I’m excited to see our family growing. Excited for my mother and father’s dreams to come true. Excited to make this little person laugh and teach him anything I can along the way. Most of all though, I’m excited for my brother’s future.
Finding direction is a hard thing for any of us, and my brother is no exception to the rule. Over the years, it seemed like more often than not his compass pointed him adrift. But now, now he has his North Star. One that shines brighter and points truer than any compass needle ever could. This thought brings me a lot of peace, and I couldn’t possibly be happier for him.
Welcome to the world Preston James Smith. Looking forward to meeting you in just a few months time.
Family in Florida. Friends in LA. Lazy rivers in Palm Springs. A train ride along the Pacific. A hurricane warning in Los Angeles. Endless bands in Chicago. This was summer.
8 Planes. Countless bands. Easter in Palm Springs. Racing in Long Beach. Playgrounds in Seattle. Sunburn in Minneapolis. Toasts in West Hollywood. Nostalgia in Pasadena. A flipped kayak in Nashville. Near internet infamy in Boston. Too many drinks in Bel Air. Watching the kids get taller and friends go grayer. This was Spring and I’m tired.
Rain and Snow. Hikes and Sunsets. Friends and brothers. Sons and Dads. The Bulls in Chicago and The Boss in St. Paul. Stiff drinks and long division. This was Winter.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
Few months back, Alexis and I vacationed a week in Florida to spend some time with family. We originally meant to be in Ft. Myers, but Hurricane Ian had other plans. From what I understand, nearly the entire first floor of the condo our family has visited for decades, was under water, and a lot of Estero Island was erased. We came pretty close to canceling Florida all together, but we made some adjustments and saw it through, and I’m glad we did.
We started in St. Pete, specifically to take a boat ride out to visit Egmont Key, home to one of the oldest lighthouses on the Florida Gulf Coast. This is where Alexis and her siblings scattered their mother’s ashes earlier in the year. Although her mom spent her last years in Ohio, she missed Florida terribly. On top of that, she had such an affection for lighthouses, that you had to see her ceramic collection to believe it. Can’t think of a better place for her to rest. We spent the afternoon reflecting and exploring the key for a few hours before our boat had to take us back. A cover of Springsteen’s Atlantic City played no less than four times on our 40 minute ride across the water. It became a bit of an anthem for the trip, as well as a running joke to this day. Before leaving St. Pete, we discovered a strange species of seagull that had a striking resemblance to Danny DeVito, which we appropriately gave the scientific name of Danny DeSeagull.
For the rest of our trip, instead of Estero Island, we stayed at a beach house we rented on Anna Maria Island. We planned on having a good amount of friends and family come visit. Nine adults and four kids. There were a lot of us, but we made it a priority to get a place big enough to keep us all comfortably under the same roof. It turned out great. The kids declared they wanted to live there forever, so we must’ve done something right.
We walked the pier, drank pool side, marveled at lightning storms, caught sunsets, fired up the grill, built castles, dug holes, chased the kids, were chased by the kids, and astonishingly avoided getting sunburned. Not pictured is the half mile long trench I dug on the beach by pulling the kids in a wagon with wheels that absolutely refused to turn in sand. I’ll be damned if I let those kids think I’m not invincible though.
With as much fun was we had, it’s hard to believe we were ever considering canceling the trip. There’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in there. We know we’re supposed to spend time with our family, but sometimes you forget just how much fun it can be. Thankful we could make it happen, and thankful for the memory of us all sleeping under the same roof, together as family.
Alexis turns Thiry-Five and makes everyone wear ugly sweaters.
Failed to get a group picture, but there were 15 of us that flew into Vegas for some fun. Against the natural order of that place, I left with more money than I came with for a change. The trick was a few hot craps shooters, and faithfully playing a new set of roulette numbers. Caused a few laughs and raised a few eyebrows when I told the table I got the winning numbers from my therapist.
First crossing on the new 6th street bridge. It’s days like these that bring on that strange feeling of missing a city I already live in.
Phantom Planet at the Regent in downtown Los Angeles. These guys were in heavy rotation for me through high school and college, and still get shuffled into the mix to this day. I must’ve run hundreds of miles listening to this song by now:
“The Happy Ending” by Phantom Planet
They played the entirety of their album The Guest, for it’s 20th anniversary, and very appropriately brought out a different guest to play each song with them. It was a great show. Alexis had a work event going on at the same time, so I went solo. Something I’ve never been uncomfortable with, but always hesitant to mention, since it seems to sound so sad to most people. Definitely a different experience, but never a sad one.
“The Guest” by Phantom Planet
We were already more than halfway across the country for my cousin’s wedding, so we figured we may us well just keep on going. We spent nearly a week in New York to catch up with Alexis’ brother Tony, Olivia and our Godson Gnarly. We stayed in an Airbnb they manage, in the same building they live in, in Green Point. It was a homerun and really let us get the most out of our time together.
In all my visits to New York, this trip was the closest I’ve ever come to grasping what it might actually be like to live there. From getting around, to spending time where I’d probably be hanging out, and of course speculating how far your money can go. Or more accurately how far it doesn’t. There was a lot of walking, lot of exploring. More so than any of my past long weekend or whirlwind work New York trips. I think my clearest takeaway was just how hard living there must be. Financially, physically, mentally. At least relative to my own day to day. Some abstract promise of New York City has always sat firmly in the back of my mind though. Always the thought that maybe someday I’d live there and truly experience it. I still feel it even now, but the door to that life has just about closed I think. I did it backwards. Los Angeles should’ve been the reward for putting in years of surviving in New York City. Luckily, we’ve got airplanes and some New Yorkers that’ll always be glad to see us.
It wasn’t a quick trip, but it felt that way. In other words, we had fun. Exploring the Whitney, strolling Central Park, treking through Green Point, conquering bridges and obviously eating and drinking to excess some of the best a neighborhood had to offer. I also quickly learned my new favorite mode of transportation in New York City is the Ferry. Most important of all though, we saw the ones we’d been missing, which is exactly what we set out to do. Thanks for having us.
Marco and Kelly tied the knot. We laughed, we drank, we photo-boothed, and we most certainly danced. It was a fun night and we were thankful to have been included. Although the majority of my extended family lives in Illinoise, I don’t get out that way too often. It was a great chance to make some fun memories with plenty of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I hardly see. From dropping in on my Uncle Vince and Aunt Enza’s restaurant for a quick cannoli, to gathering in full force at my Aunt Marie’s house for Italian beef sandwiches, where Uncle Santo uncorked a few bottles of his homemade wine.
I’m kicking myself for not getting any photos from the day we spent at my Aunt Susie and Uncle Perry’s house with the Smith branch of the family. I blame the lapse of judgement on those martinis Aunt Susie whipped up for us.
All around, a quick but potent long weekend. Congrats Marco and Kelly, and thanks for having us.
Celebrating five years of marriage. We had fun at dinner, comfortable in our typical way of joking and being weirdos together. Exactly how we like it. But a drink or two after this photo, we got to talking about how challenging our marriage has been. Now this isn’t news to either of us, not at all, but I wanted to write and preserve that truth here, and keep it as a reminder to myself that photographs aren’t undisputed evidence of everything being all sunshine and rainbows, all the time. My photos, or anyone else’s. It’s an easy thing to forget. Things inevitably get hard, and our response as partners to those hard times decide whether we sink, or whether we swim.
The good times, with the good people. A lot of bands on the roster for “This Ain’t No Picnic” in Pasadena, plenty of which my “age to coolness ratio” didn’t qualify me to have even heard of before. Even still, we caught plenty of music. LCD Soundsystem, Idles, Beach House, The Strokes, and I finally got to see Pheobe Bridgers for the first time. She’s been on heavy rotation through my speakers the past few years.
“Someday” by The Strokes
I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, over twenty years ago. Long back enough that younger generations are starting to cover it, and I’m falling in love with it all over again.
“Someday” by Julia Jacklin
Geographer at the Troubadour. I think she had fun.
Verona by Geographer
Our longtime friend Christina de Guzman, who we affectionately call “Goose” is moving to Portland. A big group of us saw her out in style by getting together to surprise her at a boozy brunch. Afterwards, we hopped on a party bus and shot over to some of our old haunts and neighborhoods. A final Tour-de-LA. From West Hollywood, to Venice, to Downtown to Mid City. We were a big group, but these 5 brave souls you see here were the last standing by nights end, and arguably the ones history, or at the very least the ones the photo-booth, remembers.
It is an odd thing becoming slowly but surely estranged to a city I’ve lived so long in, one lost familiar face at time. Ultimately though, there’s few things more inspiring than watching a friend leap into the unknown in order to better their life. We’ll miss you Goose, upwards and onwards!
I understand I’m not the most sophisticated man, and that I’ve got a lot of life still yet to walk, but I was in utter disbelief at this shower setup at our Airbnb. Particularly that it seemed to require some sort of advanced degree to operate it. Not pictured here, are even more knobs nearby.
We always have a fun time on our annual Boggs Family Adventure, and this year was no exception. From poolside and the mountain tram in Palm Springs, to discovering the hidden inner workings at Disneyland. Steph’s brother works at Disney and was able to walk us to the front of the line for a bunch of rides. That’s about as good a deal as it gets, but even still I’d have to say the highlight was Indiana Jones breaking down while we were on it, and having to get out of our cart and walk through the ride on foot. Most of that walk was in darkness, with all ambient sounds and music shutoff, but with the animatronic Indiana Jones’ still moving. With no other sounds, the grinding of Indie’s internal gears was all you could hear. Really the stuff of nightmares, but I wouldn’t trade it for the normally functioning ride any day.
The great meeting of the (developing) minds.
The Cohen’s invited us to crash their family vacation in Gearhart, a small town on the Oregon Coast. They’ve stayed at this particular beach house a few times over, but it was a first for Alexis and I. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there. I’m no stranger to a beach and lived most of my years within a few miles of one, but it really feels unique out there. Simultaneously lush and harsh.
We spent our days eating, drinking, exploring, playing games, sort of flying a kite, losing sandals, and doing our best to entertain Della while simultaneously falling under the spell of her charm. She’s a little maniac, in the best of ways, that is growing up much too fast for the frequency we get to see her.
Of course, as sure as the sun rises, I spent an unreasonable amount of time in the hot tub. It wouldn’t be vacation otherwise. Possibly a collective 8 hours in one day. I have sources that could verify, but my sunburn was probably evidence enough. Think I also broke a record for the fastest I’ve ever exited of a hot tub. All it took was Jason pretending to throw the live crab he just caught into the water with me. Speaking of, the ordeal he went through to catch that crab could be worthy of multi-part docuseries.
We made sure to explore Cannon Beach nearby, mainly to hunt for obligatory photo opportunities featuring scenes from The Goonies. The clouds hung low and the fog was heavy, but it somehow felt ideal. Walking around the town for an hour or two had the predictable effect of me opening Zillow to wonder if a life here could be possible. Most importantly, Alexis finally got to be a Goonie.
After a couple days on the coast, we packed up and headed to Portland, but not before a pitstop in Astoria. Always liked how Astoria sounded. Astoria. Anyhow, we were there hardly two or three hours, but it was just long enough to be charmed by it. The weather was nice, and I wouldn’t guess that to be true a good part of the year. This meant the streets were lively and the people were in good spirits since they got to wear t-shirts and shorts. We had lunch and a drink at a brewery and spent the rest of our time hunting for more Goonies shots. Mikey and Brand’s house, the Astoria Historical Museum where their dad worked, and the jail where the Fratellis busted out of. They even had the iconic Jeep 4×4 parked outside it, bullet holes and all. You better believe Alexis was fired up.
Eventually, we arrived in Portland. We’ve been there before, but haven’t really seen much of it. This trip wasn’t much different in that sense, we were only there two nights, but we stayed in an area new to Alexis and I, the same goes for what and where we ate. Demystifying the city just a little bit more for us. In that spirit of making it count, when the girls decided to get their nails done one day, and everyone else opted for a nap, seemed like a chance to take in what I could on foot. Ended up being a lot of walking on a hot day, but I had no trouble finding a shaded patio and a cold beer to counter the sun. You absorb so much more when the world isn’t rushing past a car window. Always worth the price of adding a few miles to your shoes. While I do wonder how the people who actually live there feel about that saying “Keep Portland Weird,” I know that I love the spirit of it, and walking around, I felt it.
Another reason we wanted to spend some time in Portland was because our friend Jon lives there now. He moved from Seattle with his girlfriend Margret and they bought a house. We finally got to see it, and it’s lovely. He’s really carved out a nice life there. He showed us around some of his usual stomping grounds too. We dined, we drank, we gamed, and we watched Jon eat the scariest hot-dog any of us have ever seen.
Just a few hours before we were set to leave, we stopped off at a park and met up with some old friends, Erin and Jamie, who I knew from when I was in college and who Drew knew when he was in high school. That’s a strange sentence that honestly kinda touches on the confusion of how we’re all connected. It could probably warrant a scientific study, but that’s for another time. Anyhow, none of us had seen each other in a longtime, and it was nice it happened. They introduced us to their kids, Ruby who was so young and tiny that sleep seemed to be her biggest priority, and Elliot who might’ve held the coveted spot as the coolest kid on the playground that day. Sporting shades, a hat and jean-jacket speckled with cool kid patches all over it. He demanded a high-five from me before we left, which if I’m being honest, made me feel like a million bucks.
It’s with that, that our Oregon adventure came to a close. We got our photos, made our memories, and became honorary members of the Cohen clan. The last of which, I determined by Della being able to individually pick us out and point to us from a lineup when she heard our names. I was tempted to shave my beard to really put her to the test, but I also don’t want to be the uncle that inadvertently traumatizes her. Anyhow, thankful for these trips, thankful for these friends, and after nearly a week, thankful to sleep in our own bed.
Looking through some things I realized that besides a tiny cropping from this post, this photo didn’t exist here. A moment from the greatest trip I’d ever been on. Wouldn’t even call it a trip. It was truly an adventure. The kind only possible when you’re young, and when your financial life isn’t quite settled. Anyways, I wanted to make sure it lived here, safe and sound.
Makes me wonder, will all these old digital photos, ripe with compression and digital artifacts, one day look as charming and nostalgic as a tangible photograph does because it’s speckled with film grain and scratches? Can’t imagine so, but I guess that’s up to a younger generation to decide.
One second of video, every day, for 30 days. That was my monthly challenge for June. Inspired by my friend Duncan, who’s been capturing one second of video everyday, for over 8 years now. 8 years! Can’t say doing it for only a month was much of a challenge for me, or that I learned much, but I did have fun doing it, and that was the whole idea.
I did have some more exciting days that were harder to pick one second over another, but for the most part I didn’t have too much going on outside my normal routine. Turned out to be a pretty accurate representation of what I’m doing and seeing, day to day. Not wildly exciting right now, but the years do have a way of compounding the importance of things like this.
If I had to say something I learned from it, guess it’d be that you really don’t need to lug a big camera around to capture some good looking video, like I normally would when we travel. Of course I’ll still do exactly that, but it’s nice to know, ya know? Anyways, “Those are rats.”
A quick trip to Philly with a few of the boys. Top Gun, gambling, a beer festival, Thrice, Alkaline Trio, Lumineers, and collectively more Philly cheesestakes than I can count on two hands. I’m run ragged by the end of these trips, but I’ll choose the memories over a good nights rest any day.
It’s no secret our friend Drew has reached the status of Grandmaster in regards to surprises, but he really outdid himself here. I went into this trip thinking Drew and I were going to surprise Tyler. In reality, I didn’t know Duncan would be there, Duncan didn’t know I would be there, neither of us knew Jason would be there, and Tyler had no idea any of us whatsoever would be in Philadelphia. Quite the tangled web he weaves, but one that without fail, makes for a lot of fun.
Got some friends together to help me take out my frustrations about growing another year older. It involved hurling axes at a wall as hard as we could, and I have say, it did help some. We brought the aggression down a few ticks afterwards for Back to the Future at Hollywood Forever. One of my favorite movies, paired with one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles. I never like making a big thing about my birthday, but my wife loves to. After 10 birthdays out of 10 years together, I can easily say I’m always thankful for it.
Taken at the Just like Heaven festival in Pasadena. The lineup was targeted with surgical grade precision accuracy towards my late teenage, early Twenties self. The front man of The Hives at one point even joked, “Hello, welcome to 2005!” I don’t really listen to most of those bands today, but it was still just as fun anyhow. Hard not to be when you’re outside with a cold one in hand, singing and dancing along with people you love. Was really thrilled the festival was only one day. The organizers must realize we’re all in our Thirties now, and that hangovers are a whole new animal past a certain age.