This must be the place

art theplaceI had never heard anything like that before.

Sitting on the porch of my grandfather’s camp on Lake Champlain, a voice echoed from the small portable tape player covered with paint specks and years of winter storage dust.

This must be the place

art placeThe floor below me began to shake.

For a moment, the idea of the structure collapsing seemed plausible. All around me, thousands of people were screaming, thrashing their arms wildly with manic looks on their faces. It was Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., and I was partaking in my first Southeastern Conference (SEC) football game.

This must be the place

art placeThis might get loud.

I tend to say that to anyone who finds themselves in the passenger’s seat of my rusty pickup truck. I live and die for rock-n-roll.

This must be the place

art placeI was afraid of getting caught.

As a teenager, I found myself sneaking into the back door of my grandfather’s garage. Amid the darkness, I stepped over firewood, fishing gear and forgotten storage boxes layered in dust. Sliding past his couch-on-wheels Ford Crown Victoria, I located the refrigerator and reached for the handle. Opening the door, the bright light illuminated the interior of the garage. Squinting my eyes, I found what I was in search of – a cold can of Coors Light.

This must be the place

art placeI wanted to be close to the source.

When I was 20 years old, I decided to become a writer. Standing in the mud at Bonnaroo 2005, I realized all I wanted to do what talk to strangers and write about them. It’s a fascination that will never subside, a thirst that will never be quenched.

This must be the place

art thisplaceDon’t go in there.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been told this. From my parents, teachers, friends or just strangers in general. It’s a phrase that can refer to a dangerous spot in the woods, front yards with vicious canines, disgusting restaurants or mismanaged places of business. But, mostly, it’s been applied to certain bars.

This must be the place: Bringing the world to your doorstep

art frIt all started with an email. 

Last July, I was at a crossroads. Being a freelance writer for a few years, my usual summer work dried up before the warm weather even arrived. The publications I was contributing to in Upstate New York were losing money, rapidly, with their freelance budgets being the first casualty of a haphazard newspaper industry.

This must be the place

art theplaceIt’s the question I get asked the most.

“Is there any music around tonight?”

This must be the place

It had been 10 years.

I kept thinking those words while boarding a plane in Charlotte this past weekend, bound for my hometown. Tucked far away in the northeast, awaiting my arrival was a 10-year high school reunion. 

This must be the place

art garretGetting poison ivy is my official sign summer is here.

Like old men whose knees ache when there’s an impending storm, the symbolic rash and blisters are Mother Nature’s way of telling me spring is over. Ever since I was kid, I always seemed to catch poison ivy at least once during the summer months.

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