Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

414 S. Mitchell

I know I just talked about the folly of nostalgia, but the other night I found myself googling my old address on Mitchell Street in Bloomington. Long-time readers (both of you) know that 414 S. Mitchell was my home base from 1991-1993, and also the backdrop of my first book, Summer Rain. Anyway, I found out three interesting things. The first is that the house is on google maps street views, so you can see what it looks like.

I also found a picture of a woman in front of the 414 side of the duplex, and it looked pretty much the same as when I lived there – same grey paint, crappy trim, etc. But it turns out the picture was from 1979. I emailed the person and it turns out he and his wife lived there from 1976-1979, and the house was in pretty much the same shambles as when I lived there. The big difference was that then it was a true duplex, basically two apartments with many bedrooms each, and living rooms. When I lived there, the house had been de-duplexed and cobbled together walls re-divided it into maximum room space with no living space, so it could be run as a boarding house with maximum profits. I always wondered what the house configuration was like in the past.

Further googling showed me that the new owners (“new” – I think they bought it in 1992) have re-duplexed the place and tried to fix it up a bit. (Listing here) It’s now painted this hunter green color that looks like a travesty to me. There is a blueprint of the 414 side (I technically lived in 416) and it looks like they turned one room into a living room. I also found someone on craigslist trying to sublet for the summer. That room is directly above my old one; the kitchen is the one by my room, and it looks like it has new appliances (in 1992, ours were from like 1947) and cabinets. It’s odd that they are asking $450/mo. I paid $177/mo back in the day. Also, I totally forgot about this – I tried to sublet for the summer of 1992, and I plastered fliers everywhere saying I’d rent it out for the entire summer for $100, or five cases of beer. Everyone that looked at the place thought that price was highway robbery.

Speaking of robbery, I got Grand Theft Auto 4 last night. It’s interesting – a little different than I thought. The other GTA games have this cartoony, unrealistic feel to them in some ways, which makes the whole thing seem like much more of a parody. But in 4, they really tried to get the audio and small details to be more realistic. If you pop your car onto the sidewalk at full speed and hit a fire hydrant, it knocks over and sprays water everywhere. Hit something too fast, and you will fly through the windshield. Look at someone the wrong way on the street, and they will give you shit, with plenty of profanity in their tirade. The cops are pricks. The subways are slow and delayed. There’s too much traffic. People are trying to hit you up for money. In other words, a complete New York experience, minus the smell. It is weird, because they have really mapped out a good chunk of the city. It is not 100%, more like a Reader’s Digest version, but all of the landmarks are there. Of course, they’re all renamed. Queens is Dukes. Brooklyn is Broker. Astoria is Steinway. Manhattan is Algonquin. Long Island City is East Island City. Tribeca is The Triangle. The Lower East Side is Lower Easton. Chinatown is Chinatown. I am still stuck in Queens/Dukes (history repeats itself) until I do more missions, but it’s funny when I’m driving and I think “holy shit, this is the way I used to walk to Best Buy…” I got lost once, and then realized I was at Fulton Street in Brooklyn, where I bought my last pair of Nike high-tops. The stores there are run-down and gaudy in the same exact way as the real thing. My old apartment is not there. The beer gardens are. I wonder if my place at Seward Park is there. Anyway, looks like I won’t be writing the great American novel for a few more months.

I have been looking for free MP3s – not the kind you get from Russia because of a loophole in the international copyright treaty, but the kind that unknown bands hand out so you will get into their stuff. I am sick of every one of the 6885 songs I have in iTunes, and I want to look for new stuff, but I realize I don’t know how to do that anymore. And I don’t want to keep buying crap from the past that has been re-re-re-remastered. I have no idea how this could be done, but I would LOVE to write a script or program that scraped the names of all of the bands in my current library, and then gave me a huge list of stuff of theirs I don’t have, stuff by related artists (like those big flowchart books) and stuff that I might like based on that. Does Amazon have a web service that does part of this? I don’t know. But it would be cooler than shit to have that script, so I could run it and it would produce a big giant web page with links where I could either buy (or preview) the CDs on Amazon or iTunes. It would also be nifty to put this in some giant Web 2.0 bullshit that makes charts and graphs, but I just want the info.

In a fit of stupidity (I have many of these), I got on iTunes and bought every song I could find that a Rockies player uses for their walkup music. Three things surprised me about this. One: the Rob Thomas song “Streetcar Symphony” is something that they played before games, and twenty years from now, I will be listening to that and thinking “man, remember 2007” because it is such a strong association. Second, I really hated Brad Hawpe’s walkup song, Nickelback’s “Rockstar”. But now that I have listened to the entire song, I like it. Third, I had no idea what the fuck reggaeton was prior to going to baseball games. Since every other player is Dominican, a ton of them use Don Omar or Daddy Yankee songs for their walkup. And now that I’ve heard “Salio El Sol” a thousand times when Yorvit Torrealba bats, I find that I actually like reggaeton. I mean, I feel like an idiot if I’m listening to “Gasolina” in my car while I’m driving around El Segundo, because I think someone’s going to pull up to me at a light and think “what the fuck is that esse’s problem?” And I have no idea what other reggaeton I would buy, because it’s one of those genres where there are endless numbers of greatest hits compilations, and all of them sound like some dude just pressed ten buttons on a Korg and spit out the song.

That’s all. Go to http://twitter.com/jkonrath if you haven’t already, to see how that experiment is going.