The critical criteria for selecting a new office space were two: Would it allow opportunities for fun? And would it be a good place to fend off the marauding zombie hordes?
Because you just never know.
So my office search loosely paralleled the plot from the uproarious 2004 zombie Brit flick, “Shaun of the Dead.”
See, I’m not at all like the fancy writers, and by fancy writers I mean ones who earn their livings getting paid to write.
No, all I need is a quiet place I can make loud.
I don’t want interruptions or chat mates. I just need a small, still room for me, my laptop and my Bose wave radio. Then I just sit down, plug in and crank up (right now it’s alt-country/blues/rocker/folkie/geriatric hellraiser Ray Wylie Hubbard).
Loud music for me seems to vacuum away all the mind clutter that gets in the way of necessary thoughtfulness. I don’t know why that is so and I just hope my daughters don’t inherit the trait or else I’ll soon know the lyrics to all the songs by the band One Direction.
Because of past happy experience, I confined my search to places that served hootch.
Who knows? Maybe I’d write better if my office were above (or below) a place of worship.
But I know if someone religious-minded wandered by and heard me playing Ray Wylie Hubbard’s blasphemous “Conversation with the Devil” it might lead to a long, philosophical discourse that would sidetrack me from writing about important blog topics like how sad I feel when my socks don’t match.
And who the hell needs that?
So after about two days of exhaustive research, one of which I did while hungover, I found two places that fill those needs.
The first is Little Rock, maybe the world’s greatest bar. It has great live music, eccentric clientele, chummy bartenders and is owned by my old college roommate Quinn Fallon, who’s endeared himself to me by never once having charged me for a single libation.
But Little Rock — so named because Quinn believes every bar needs a “little rock” — had two logistical drawbacks.
One, it has no second floor. I didn’t ask, but I’m sure Quinn would have let me put a card table and a lawn chair up on the roof. I might have become a local tourist attraction.
But without walls, I might one day blunder right off the roof and OSHA would have its first case of a writer being hurt while in the act of writing.
Second, Little Rock is in Columbus, Ohio.
If I could pull it off, I’d gladly make the 3 1/2-hour drive to Columbus, spend an hour blogging, an hour drinking with Quinn and then heading home — really, being gone 9 hours a day is a typical existence.
But I’d miss daily watching “The Price is Right” and let’s be honest: I haven’t been able to confine my convivial drinking to one-hour-a-day since the 4th grade.
That left one obvious choice.
Hello Tin Lizzy!
My commute has been cut in half. I’m now just 1.2 miles from home.
My wife said I could walk.
“Hell,” I said, “I’m gonna zip line!”
Won’t that be cool? The historic Tin Lizzy is Youngstown’s landmark building.
Youngstown, remember, is the one-stoplight town just outside of Latrobe. Before moving up the mountain, Val and I lived just 1/4 mile from the Tin Lizzy from 1992 through 2007. It’s a great town and, in fact, is the birthplace of both Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer.
Locals know Latrobe Country Club isn’t in Latrobe. Neither is Palmer. They’re both in Youngstown.
For seven wonderful years, my office was above a really great bar.
Now, it’s above three of them.
The basement is the Rathskeller (live music); the ground floor, a perfectly cool townie bar; the second floor is Flappers, a 1920s-themed martini bar.
I’m now the entire third floor.
To enter I need to pass through four locked doors. It's like Maxwell Smart from the iconic “Get Smart” opening sequence.
It’s 79 steps to the third floor and I have it all to myself.
There are 11 rooms, but not 11 doors. It’s perfectly maze-like. I can get my daily exercise without ever having to leave the building.
There’s no shower, but the restroom gives the discerning urinator the choice of either bowl or wall-mounted receptacle.
I’m weighing an even/odd calendar routine.
Most of the rooms are like being in a bar’s attic. There’s old chairs, tables, paint leftovers, work space. One room has all the Christmas decorations so I can commune with Claus anytime I need a jolt of holiday spirit.
The actual office is one slim room overlooking Main Street. It’s a great view.
The floors are badly warped so writing while seated on my wheeled chair is like writing on the pitching deck of a ship.
I was very pleased when my friend, Buck, offered me the space. He’s been running the building for, I think, 25 years. He’s gone way out of his way to make me feel welcome, as have his staff.
I got an unexpected call at 7:30 this morning. It was Sandy offering me coffee.
I screamed at her to not bother me again until she’d prepared a three egg-white, all-organic Western omelette with Bavarian goat cheese.
She hasn’t called back. She’s either insulted or is having a difficult time securing a Bavarian goat.
The most awkward aspect of moving has been answering so many questions about where I’m going to get drunk.
While I (mostly) exaggerate my drinking for blog purposes, people are concerned I’ll abandon The Pond.
It’s a tough call. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. All my buddies are at The Pond and I have loyalties there, but The Pond did evict me and I should convey some loyalty to the people who are welcoming me in.
I endure long stretches where my writing is roundly ignored, but I’m never lacking for interest in people who want me as a drinking buddy.
I feel like a highly touted college QB being fought over by competing NFL teams.
Not a draft pick.
A draft beer pick!
I guess there’s only one thing to do that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings among all the people who’ve been so nice to me.
Columbus, here I come!
It reeks of pretentiousness, but the reaction is convincing me what every bar really needs is a little Rodell.
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