First of all, in case anyone in the north has forgotten, the sun is actually hot. This means even relatively short periods of exposure after one’s body has been covered in sunblock can still lead to roasting. Both Carrie and I are a mix of lily white and totally burnt. There is not a “tan” patch anywhere on either of our bodies. But there are plenty of days left on the vacation.
My new favorite bird is the sandpiper. Mostly, they just run around, which is cool. They look like they’re running really hard. And I like their beaks.
After spending the first night on St. Pete beach, which is a crowded high rise family resort sort of place, we went down to Ana Maria Island, which is considerably quieter. We’ve got a place with a kitchenette and a separate bedroom which means we can stay in when we like and operate on our own schedule. The only hitch is that the smoke detector is too close to the kitchenette and is awfully sensitive. In fact, after ours went off, we would occasionally hear others going off in other people’s units. So it’s not just us.
The beach is amazing. The island is about 3 blocks wide, and we do have to cross the street to get to the beach, but this stretch really has almost nothing on it except furniture for us to lay down on, sand and sand sculptures, and beautiful crystalline waters that make that lovely swooshing sound they make. The Gulf of Mexico has that same calming effect as the ocean, and it tastes just as salty.
The towns nearby are all super conservative: tons of churches and tons of real estate offices, in case you wonder what the locals’ two big preoccupations are. There’s also the “mobile prayer station” and the stretch of highway that is being sponsored by the John Birch Society.
Mostly, though, we ignore all that like good consumers and go about our vacationing business.
We also picked up some Cds to listen to as we drive around. My capsule reviews (keep in mind we were not going to find the hip indie record store down here):
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (latest one): track 2 absolutely 100% kills. It’s an amazing rock song. Bordering on prog rock in its high concept-ness, though they don’t overplay. That said, the rest of the album is the album that they were supposed to make. You know, the one where the band “matures” and takes a “giant leap forward.” Unfortunately, that may have been their EP “Secrets of Elena’s Tomb.” This one is just plain old uneven.
Arcade Fire: I know I am under tremendous pressure to like this one as a good Montreal wannabe hipster. There are a couple tasty tunes but the jury’s out because of the shaky singing. Will I get used to it or will I forever see it as an affectation that makes a virtue of a necessity? Also, I’m starting to get a feeling that there’s this whole Canadian indierock thing about having a lot of people and a lot of instruments in your band.
Queen Latifah: the jazz album where she sings. It sounds exactly like a very, very standard album of female jazz vocals accompanied by a competent backing band. Inoffensive, which is unfortunate in this case.
Zero7: Exactly like their first album “Simple Things,” except different songs. Which is to say that they didn’t try to mature. Extremely pleasing 1970s mellow, but perhaps not the ideal choice for driving around.
UNKLE: the new one. Very good, but whoever wrote the blurb from Rolling Stone that said it was a “dance” album is crazy. It’s very mellow.
DJ Shadow, Preemptive Strike: early singles. Lots of tasty beats. I asked Carrie at one point if, in the future, I were to do a DJ album, whether I could record her saying “Jon, I want you to play me some tasty beats!” She assented, but I think she is counting on this never actually happening.