TigerBlog took four flights in the last week (Philly to Atlanta, Atlanta to New Orleans, Lafayette to Atlanta, Atlanta to Philly), and he did what he does every time he flies.
He listened to music on his phone.
Actually, before he gets to that, he still hasn't been able to answer this question to himself: Would he have rather had a two-plus hour bus ride to New Orleans and a non-stop flight to Philadelphia or a one-minute ride to the Lafayette airport and then a flight to Atlanta and then Philadelphia?
Oh, and Atlanta?
MotherBlog lived in Atlanta until she died more than 20 years ago. TB spent a lot of time there while his mother lived there, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To put a time stamp on it, TB went to see the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium, saw Die Hard and Jurassic Park in the big mall across from where his mother lived and went with his mother to the Carter Center near Emory University when it was still relatively new.
TB will get back to Atlanta shortly.
As for the music, he has about 1,500 songs on his iTunes and about 100 on his phone. Sometimes he plays them in alphabetical order or random order, and sometimes he picks songs he feels like hearing. That's what he was doing on the flights on the way to Louisiana.
He listened to a few songs more than once, and he listened to one a whole bunch of times, at one point playing it to the end and then repeating it several times in a row.
The song was "Thunder Road," by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. If you asked TigerBlog what the best single song he's ever heard in his life is, he'll tell you "Thunder Road."
Maybe it's because unlike basically every other song, it isn't a series of verses with a chorus but instead one continuous story. Maybe it's the harmonica in the beginning, which freezes everything and announces the coming of the song. Maybe it's the melody, which builds slowly and rises throughout, all the way past the end of the song, to the final saxophone solo, which is almost like the final credits.
Or maybe it's just that as someone who grew up less than 10 miles from where Springsteen did, it's just so easy to picture it all.
It's a song about restlessness and coming of age.
TigerBlog, like most any other kid who grew up within shouting distance of the Jersey Shore in the 1970s, can remember a day when he was driving along with his own version of the song's fictional Mary, imploring her to "roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair."
TigerBlog first heard the Boss do the song in concert in was in 1981, at the Meadowlands.
The second time was 22 years later, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. That's the one that really stands out for TB. He can remember now, even 13 more years down the road, thinking about how in awe he was that someone - or a group of people - could do something as well as Springsteen and his band could play that song.
As for the other day, TB felt like he was getting reacquainted with his favorite song after not having listened to it as much. It seemed like the perfect time, and so he listened to it, remembering what he loved about the song in first place. And so he listened to it again. And again. And again. Until he was in Atlanta.
And speaking of Atlanta, the last time before his two stops there this week that he was in the city was for a memorial service for his mother in late December of 1994. TigerBlog had been in New Orleans with the men's basketball team for a tournament. The events of that entire month, actually, were framed by Princeton basketball, as TB had been in Atlanta before heading to the University of Illinois and back to Atlanta the day after the tournament, the day his mother passed away. And his first day back to work was when Princeton played at Syracuse in men's basketball.
As he thinks back to that month, he's grateful that he had the Tigers to help him through that time, to give him an outlet.
Princeton played at the University of New Orleans Christmas Tournament between Christmas and New Year's in 1994. The Tigers beat Texas A&M in three overtime, as James Mastaglio and Chris Doyal both went all 55 minutes. Current head coach Mitch Henderson "only" went 40 minutes.
TigerBlog's favorite memory of that trip was after the championship game, when Princeton lost to UNO. Pete Carril was asked about the game and mentioned the home team's big guys. When a reporter followed up that Princeton had big guys too, Carril, without flinching, said "yeah, but I didn't go down to the docks to get them."
TigerBlog has seen many of the members of the Princeton men's basketball teams of those years since they've left Princeton.
Two of the ones he hasn't seen often are Doyal and Ben Hart, two Texans who made up the entire Princeton basketball Class of 1996.
TigerBlog saw them both at the Gary Walters '67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet. They were there for their 20th reunion.
Doyal might be the only math major TigerBlog knows about from Princeton. These days he works in London, and he brought with him an English/Texas accent that was, well, unusual.
TigerBlog saw basically every game Doyal played at Princeton. He's a very underrated player, in TB's opinion. He worked hard every game. He could bring a little of everything to every game, even if he didn't have great size or speed.
The win over UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament was typical of Doyal. He played all 40 minutes, and his line was three points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Make no mistake, without him, there would have been no win in that game.
It was good to see him at the banquet. And Hart, who didn't play as much but who did have some nice moments in his Princeton career and who like Doyal, has always been a TB favorite.
As for Atlanta, when the plane took off for New Orleans, it made a huge left turn over the city. TigerBlog could see all of the places that his mother used to love, and off to the right, he could see Buckhead, the area in which she lived. She loved the Buckhead Diner, which wasn't really a diner but instead a popular, slightly upscale restaurant.
That, and the sounds of "Thunder Road" coming through his ear buds, made TB smile as the plane climbed.