Archive for October, 2010

A Closer Look at Downtown

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 by Divide By Zero

I have noticed whilst walking my dogs that there are a lot of buildings around downtown Bristol (literally and obviously within walking distance of my neighborhood) that are vacant.  It makes me wish I had the money to invest in one of the buildings and do something with it.  Everyone I talk to have a lot of good ideas that would bring more attention, capital, and growth to downtown.  I wish I had the opportunity to occupy any one of the following buildings for a yer, rent free.. what’s the worst that could happen?  I could turn a mean profit, have a dance club for younger people to go to, to keep them from getting into any trouble.  There would be more jobs, more money going back into the community, and therefore, more growth.  That would also lead to tourist attractions, which would make the growth explode out of control (read more ideas about that in this interview with Bethany Wilson).  Yes, this is mainly going to be a photo-blog entry, and just to kick it off, check out all the vacant buildings just on the Virginia side of State Street.

On Piedmont Ave. Across from the YMCA ballfield.

In all my research, I haven’t been able to find a definite date and history of this place.  But I know it’s been vacant since I moved here, about 7 years ago and who knows how long before then?  It has ample parking space, the upstairs could be turned into even more luxury loft apartments to supplement the ones available on State Street.  These could be more affordable, with a pretty good view, and a huge yard.  There are tons of ideas I have had for this place.  Night club, car showroom, yard sale center (more on that later, it’s different than a flea market), or even a fitness center.  Seriously, how big of a pool would you be able to fit in this monster?  Also, the tiny brown building to the right of the Holston Steel building is vacant.  Can we say administration buildings for our fitness center/bar/juice bar/showroom/rocket launching site?  All it would take is a few willing investors.

Pictured: Dilapidation. Hardcore dilapidation.

These buildings are directly across the street from the first picture.  I have no idea what was therebefore, but I’d put money down saying that these buildings have been vacant/abandoned for a lot longer than Holston Steel.  To the right of this picture, the road forks like a miniature on-ramp to Piedmont.  With the right idea, and a little bit of work, even one of these buildings could make Piedmont Avenue a destination, instead of a through-way from Euclid Ave. to State Street.  I don’t know, a coffee shop, or a little nick-nack store, off the beaten path?

Another vacancy.

This building is supposed to be the Home of the Bristol Fire House Museum.  It’s a project that has been underway for a long time.  I’m not going to harp on the people behind this project, because I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic when it is done, but can we get an ETA on the Grand Opening?

More Possibilities...

The Central Warehouse Corp. building is right across the street from the Police Department.  There has been some rumors about it being turned into a Federal building, and there are always (that I’ve seen) Government vehicles parked out front of here.  But still!  This is another example of wasted opportunities the City has to turn a profit to attract more businesses.  One investor.  Just one.  That’s all we need.

Where is everything?

When I took this picture, I assumed the building behind the Honey-Do building (the green one) was vacant.  I learned shortly thereafter though, that it is a church.  It’s easy to assume that some of these buildings are vacant, and I catch myself doing it a lot.  But the buildings to the far right of the picture are not occupied.  Seriously, if we were to invest and open up these buildings for different businesses, there would be almost as much to do in downtown Bristol as there is in Asheville NC.  I love that place.  This could be a dog bakery, or [something that I’ve always wanted to open up] a LAN party space.  Everyone loves video games, or maybe that’s just the nerd in me.  But, how epic would it be to cram a few hundred young people in here for a weekend and engage them in a Halo: Reach tournament with a $10 buy in that gave out cash & prizes to the top 5?

Smack on State St.

The yellow letters on this deteriorating building read “Alberts Pawnbrokers”.  I don’t think Albert is around anymore, and someone needs to snatch this location up.  Seeing all of these things makes me want to pay my bills off sooner so I can take a loan out to open up shop and start making my own money.  I don’t think Albert would mind if I turned this into a shop of distinct taste and made it uniquely nerdy.

Hello? Anyone home?

Is there anything you notice about these pictures?  Aside from the vacant buildings, there’s no foot traffic here.  Why is that?  There’s not a whole lot to do for younger people downtown.  Honestly, I love going down there, but I have a lot of different hobbies and the shops down on State Street fulfill a lot of them, but nowhere near all of them.  There are buildings big enough to put skate parks in, which would not only be awesome for the youth of Bristol and the entire Tri-Cities, but would help out the local businesses!  Everywhere downtown has a “no skateboarding” sign, so why not give the kids a place to do it, away from businesses, away from people, and in a place designed for it?  I remember when I was growing up in Northern Virginia, VANS opened up a skate park in our local mall.  You have no idea the widespread acceptance that place got from parents of kids who skateboarded, roller-bladed, or rode a bike.  They didn’t have to worry about their kids going out all over town and hurting themselves, other people, or getting in trouble.  Who says that can’t or wouldn’t happen here?

I don't want it to turn into a ghost town down here.

This place, the Hayes Furniture building is open to the public every once in a while.  Rhythm and Roots, for example opened this building to sell CDs, and band memorabilia.  Otherwise it’s used for storage.  I particularly love this building.  This is the one I would pick for a skate park, or a LAN party building.  It would be awesome.  The big windows in the front would give passers-by an opportunity to see what’s going on inside and try to be a part of it.  I might even put some fancy velvet ropes out front and coax my huge baby brother to stand at the door with a clipboard and an earpiece.  But that’s just me.

There's nothing right about this picture.

I don’t even want to comment on this place.  I don’t know who would get their dental needs filled at a drive up place like this.  I have no idea.  Next picture please!

These places are all on or near the corner of State and Commonwealth.  Even the gas station is vacant.  It was a BP that closed its doors shortly after the whole spill ordeal.  I don’t know if it was related, and there are rumors going around that the building has been bought by another company.  I don’t know what they plan on doing with it, or if it will remain a gas station, but I still see out-of-towners pulling up to the pump, sticking their card in and waiting for something to happen.  It makes me chuckle.

Another building Near Andy’s market on Commonwealth, a block away from State Street that isn’t occupied, and from the looks of it, hasn’t been for a while.  What are the possibilities of this place?  This is why everyone goes to Johnson City to find things to do.  I’m not trying to belittle JC or anything, but why should we have to drive 45 minutes to go to a decent mall, or find other stores and activities to do?  We have all the necessary utensils and ingredients here.  Is there a cook in the house?  Can we get a Chef to mix everything we need together to have a more successful downtown area?

...so to sum up...

All of this on the route I walk my dogs.  And when I sat them down and told them what I thought about all of this, and how much could be done, this is what I got…

…My sentiments exactly.

It’s better down where it’s wetter! My Red Lobster review.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 by Divide By Zero

The Good, The Ugly, and Everything Between.

It is better, down where it’s wetter!

Red Lobster

22 October 2010

Written by: Del Dotson

Since I joined the work force, most of my jobs have been in the restaurant industry.  I’ve worked at buffets, cafeterias, steakhouses, seafood places, and even a Hooter’s once.  The last restaurant I had the “pleasure” of working at was Red Lobster, on exit 7.

The Good

Let me just start off by saying, this restaurant had the cleanest kitchen I have ever seen in a restaurant.  I loved it.  Well, I hated it sometimes, because just about every hour on the hour the kitchen staff had to drop what they were doing, and clean.  That’s right, we did it more or less every hour, or if it got really dirty, whichever came first.  I hated having to drop what I was doing on the prep line to sweep/squeegee the floor, organize the walk-in refrigerator, or pick up everything and sanitize the work stations.  But in the long run, when my shift was over, I had less side work to do, and I didn’t have to clean anything.  I liked that part of it very much.

The people I worked with were great, I enjoyed going to that job.  They could make an 8 hour shift seem like it was nothing, and some days, I even slowed down my work so that I could stay longer because everyone was getting along so well (those days were few and far between, though).

I prepped the fish.  Specifically, I breaded the fish/shrimp/etc. every day to get it ready for the fry cooks.  It wasn’t a hard job, and I learned a lot about how to cook some mighty fine seafood while I was employed there.

The Ugly

This is where I draw a blank for this article!  Usually when people are doing things they’re not supposed to be doing in a restaurant, the consequences trickle down to the customers.  I can safely say that the customers at Red Lobster on exit 7 have nothing to worry about.  Their food is cooked exactly how it should be cooked, the kitchen is near-spotless all the time, and no one even jokes about messing up the food or their job.  There are (or were when I worked there over a year ago) however, still the occasional drug users.  One of the dishwashers I worked with went out by the dumpsters during the first cigarette break of the day and smoked some meth, and there was another guy on the production line that was high almost all the time.  Not while he was at work, but you could tell that’s all he did other than work on the prep line with me.  That same day, they both indulged themselves out of the test tube, and I’ve never seen so much work get done in such a short amount of time.

On a regular work day there, I would show up, set up my station and get to work on a “par sheet”.  It told me exactly how many fish fillets I had to bread, how many coconut shrimp I had to make, etc.  There were 2 people working on breading (another gentleman and myself), there were 2 people on salad prep (they didn’t make salads, but worked with all of the veggies) and 2 guys prepping the lobster tails and such for the broiler.  Each station had so much work to do, we didn’t have any time to help out the other prep stations.  But the day the other prep guy and the dishwasher guy got on that redneck heroin, they were walking around the back looking for things to do.  The prep guy finished his par sheet and helped me work on mine.  He turned my 8-9 hour work day into a 5 and a half hour day.  And the dishwasher was the only person in the dish room because of how early it was, and the entire kitchen could not dirty up enough dishes and utensils to keep that man busy.  You know that “Theoretical Rate of X” you learn about in school or business classes (especially)?  The value that is not realistic and is merely the fastest possible rate at which things could get done if everything was perfect?  That’s the rate at which those 2 guys moved.  Which is why we compared every work day after that to that one day, and called it a “burst-of-energy”.

I do have to say though that the General Manager, being a young guy, I know had to have done some partying in his day, because he knew if anyone was on anything, anytime.  A lot of people would get sent home if they weren’t performing well due to a hangover.  He was understanding about it and most of the time it worked out well.  Which is another thing that’s good for the customers, because you don’t want someone breading your fish that smells like vodka from the night before.

Everything Between

This is a very professional establishment, that does what Red lobster does best: make delicious seafood.  For lack of a better phrase, they do it like it’s their job, and they make it look so easy.  A lot of the cooks and prep guys are very good at what they do, some of them have been chefs all their lives.  Why they are not working at a higher-end restaurant is beyond me.

I didn’t appreciate going out to eat there until after I worked there.  The prices are more than fair, ask to take a look back in the kitchen one good time, and you’ll know what I mean.  There is a lot of work that goes into each and every dish that passes through the various stations, ovens, and servers, before it finally makes it to your table.  I recommend eating there, I recommend working there if you can get a job.  I went through a period of trials and tribulations, where I was dealing with a lot of personal problems and could not continue working at Red Lobster.  About a year and a half later, I tried getting a job at Red Lobster again because it is such a good place to work.  The hours are fair, the management is superb, and the co-workers are fun to be around.  Everyone gets along and enjoys what they do, even though they pretend they hate it.  I didn’t get the job.  It’s the only time I was told point blank that I was not going to be working somewhere, and it made me a little sad.

I’ve lived in a lot of places, and visited many cities in the United States.  I’ve also eaten at a lot of different restaurants, and when it comes to common restaurants you get uncommonly well prepared food at this Red Lobster.  Overall I would give it a 4/5.  Compared to most Red Lobster locations, including the Johnson City location, it is well above average.  So if you’ve just moved here, or are just visiting our little nook in the cranny of South West Virginia and you don’t particularly care for Red Lobster.. try this one out.  It’ll be worth it, I put my personal guarantee on it.

Nerdy Monday and local blog combined: my first video blog!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Hopefully my readers have caught on that I make a local post on my blog on on Fridays, then the Nerdy Monday post comes somewhere between Sunday and Tuesday.  Well, I didn’t have time to make a Friday post this week because I have been getting over an illness, and had some extenuating circumstances that prevented me with interviewing a representative for Theatre Bristol.  I apologized to him, and hopefully we will be able to make up the interview for next weeks post.  This morning however, I was able to hit up a few yard sales and came across some video games, and since I get so many requests to make a vblog, I decided to try it out.  Please excuse the quality of my video, this is my first vblog, I didn’t practice it before I did it, and my voice probably sounds pretty bad, because of my cold.  But I think it’s cool, it’s just showing you the advantages of living in the SW Virginia/NE Tennessee area when it comes to “yard-sailing” as a retro gamer, like myself.  You never know what you’re going to find, take a look…

I understand the video is not that great, I was just trying things out… now I know what to do better for next time.  I hope you all enjoyed this little snippet into some of the treasures I came across in other people’s junk.

The grand total of everything I spent: $51.50.  And a a few of those things go on ebay for 30-40 dollars a piece.  You gotta love it!

 

Follow up to Nerdy Monday: I answer my first piece of Fan Mail.

Posted in Fan Mail, Nerdy Monday, Video Game on October 12, 2010 by Divide By Zero

This blog is about 2 months old now, and I have done 6 Nerdy Monday segments.  I have finally started to have a decent size audience, and have received both fan mail and hate mail.  I usually don’t make a post about answering my fan mail, but I like this one, and wanted to let my readers know what all I have going on over here.  Steven from St. Paul writes:

“jester

i love the vidgame reviews. keep em comin! i have a pretty big collection of games and was wonderin which games you have? i dont have many systems but am slowly gettin all of them off ebay.  which games would you recommend for the systems? i have added a trackback to your blog so i am notified whenever you post something new.

best regards

steve m.”

Steve, I have lots of games, I get them from eBay (if the price is right), and the local flea markets here in the TriCities.  I’ve kept an inventory of everything I have, and update it somewhat frequently so I don’t accidentally buy the same game twice.  Here’s photo-shots of the notebook I keep my inventory in.

Just to get it started…

The FC Twin was the birthday present I got that started this whole collection.

The only games on this entire list I have not tested are the 32x games.  I’m looking for a power cord for it to test it out though, probably by the end of the month.

The Dreamcast games (that I burned) have all been tested, and are working.  If you live locally, I can burn them for you, for a price!

Yeah, there are some good ones, and there are some bad ones.  Gotta love the Dreamcast!

Yeah.  I’d like to know how much all of this would cost someone.  Like if I were to sell it tomorrow, what would be a fair market price for everything?  To answer, e-mail me at capwn1@gmail.com.

Now we’re getting into the serious stuff.

There have been some additions to the list since the last time I revised it.  But that should answer your question Steve M.  As for the games I recommend for each system, you’re just gonna have to keep checking back here as I review them!  I look forward to getting more fan mail and answering more questions.  And just to nip anything in the bud right now, don’t e-mail me asking to buy something you found on my list.. I’m not a seller, I’m a collector.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have about 400 video games I have to go play!

The Jester.

Nerdy Monday 6: Ecco the Dolphin

Posted in 1980's, Ecco The Dolphin, Forgotten, Modern, Retro, Video Game on October 11, 2010 by Divide By Zero

In a world filled with first person shooters, World of Warcraft, Mario making yet another comeback on the Nintendo Wii, RPG’s, and character mission games, there aren’t any puzzle games anymore.  If you look back on the great NES/SNES/Sega games of the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s, there were a lot of games that required you to solve puzzles in order to advance in the levels of the game.  Zelda is the prime example I think of.  Everyone remembers it, it was (I think) the only officially licensed game (that was popular) that came in a golden cartridge.  With the many different worlds, enemies, screens, weapons, and all the other things involved with Zelda, it took time to play.  Nowadays, the die hard fans can beat that 8-bit masterpiece in a matter of an hour or so.  But when we were all going through the levels the very first (or even the second or third) time around, it was puzzling.  The different moves you made in certain levels played a factor in other levels.  There were sequences you had to perform certain tasks in, and I wrote a lot of them down in the “notes” section of the instruction manual I had for the game.  Those kinds of games were great.  I certainly don’t think my parents thought so at the time, but those skill sets carried over into my studies.  Especially in middle or high school when I started getting into more complicated mathematics.  I already had sharpened my problem solving skills to the point of being deadly, and deadly accurate with them.

Which brings me to a cult classic:  Ecco the Dolphin: the Tides of Time.  Yes, I owned this gem growing up.  I recently repurchased it at “Trader’s Village” in Kingsport.  I got it for $2.  If you’re looking for retro video games, go to Trader’s Village, there’s a man named “Tony”, he’ll have just about everything you’d want.  Tell him I sent you.  Anyways, this past week, between interviewing Mrs. Bethany Wilson for the write up on The Blowfish Emporium, lining up an interview for this coming Friday, and typing up the next section of my book, along with looking for a steady job, I re-played, and re-beat The Tides of Time.  It was great.  I had to cheat once or twice, but I didn’t break out my game-genie.  For the most part, I sat down and played and played until I figured out how to get through each level.  20 years after the original release, it was still challenging, frustrating, and aggravating, all in a good way of course.  It’s funny because my buddies and I get together and play these old games.  Big Rod, a friend of mine is all serious about first person shooters, and he and I had a hard time playing Paperboy 2 on SNES one time.  My brother A1C Jeremy Dotson is the same type of gamer as Big Rod, and plays COD 13 or something on 360 Live, but can’t get a handle on playing these older games.  It just goes to show you that no matter how good of a gamer you are, playing ehse old games that came out in the video game industry’s infancy will challenge the crap out of you!

Look at him, smirking. He knows he has your ass.

Everything I remember about this game is still there.  The controls are simple and effective, the gameplay seems cut-and-dry-enough, and there are numerous enemies, warp levels, and other dolphins to talk (“sing”) to, to keep you amused for a while.  If you’re lucky enough to still own this game, keep it.  It is a treasure work saving shelf space for.  If you can play it on an emulator or something, do it because you will be thoroughly satisfied.

Each one of the levels teaches you a new skill.  I think it’s the first 6 or 7 levels that teach you all of the possible capabilities that Ecco can do.  After that, you have to remember to use all of them in the more difficult levels.  And if you get caught, do what I did.. go to youtube and look up level walk-throughs for the Tides of Time.  That in and of itself is amazing.  I wish I had youtube back in 1993, it would have saved a lot of controllers from being turned into frisbees, or getting stomped on, thrown in the freezer, off the back deck, or up into a tree.  yeah, my parents were not happy about that any time it happened.

As an added bonus, I also went through and beat Ecco the dolphin: Defender of the Future for you guys on Sega Dreamcast.  It was a little different.  As opposed to the Tides of Time, which is a sequal but can serve as a stand alone game, Defender of the Future took it one step further.  It was a little more difficult getting used to all of the controls.  That’s to be expected though on any Dreamcast game.  That system was not out for very long, not many people had it, and not a lot of people remember the controllers like they do Sega genesis, N64, or playstation.  Once you get past that though, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to get everything down pat.  Playing Defender of the Future (DoF) was more fun to me than Tides of Time (ToT).  I think it may have just been me, but I think Ecco is self aware.  He looks happier to see me in DoF.

We're gonna rock the shit out of this one, boys!

It’s almost as if the dolphin himself knows this will be a better game.  Granted the graphics were better, because it came out on a “Next-Gen” system with a 128K byte processor.  I loved the Dreamcast.  I was one of the first people ever to have Soulcalibur, still have it, and am proud of it.  DoF also brought into the next generation a lot of the puzzles that seemed to fade away with the cartridge consoles.  With DoF, it seemed like you had to remember all of the “strategies” and abilities from the first Ecco, and ToT.  AND it added new manuvers and things of its own.  The levels were longer, and there were more of them.  After beating ToT just a few days ago, I feel like I could beat it in an hour and a half if I really tried and timed myself (and if I cared).  DoF though, you get so frustrated and confused you have no choice but to save it to your handy-dandy VMU, and walk the hell away from it for a little while.  You have to set time aside from it to go think about other things.  And in some cases, figuring out the meaning of life would be less mentally straining than that game.  Keep in mind I had never played it before this past week, so it was all new to me.  But once you beat the entire game, and you see Ecco swimming and he’s all happy, and tells you congratulations, it makes it all worth it.

Overall, both of these games get 8/10 difficulty, 10/10 nostalgia, and 9/10 overall game play.  Not bad for a bloodthirsty, smart-as-hell hunter who catches fish like this.  Play these games.  you can get a Dreamcast at flea markets all around the Tri-Cities for $20.  That’s how much I paid for mine, and Tony threw in about 5 games, 3 controllers, 5 VMUs, a RumblePak, and a controller cable extender.  There are websites out there that let you download Dreamcast games for free, or $6 a month.  Either way DoF is the way to go.  Oh and by the way, downloading/burning/copying Dreamcast games is legal since no one is making money off of the rights to the games anymore.  It’s delicious.  DoF was the first game I downloaded and burned for my Dreamcast, and I have close to the entire Dreamcast library.  You can youtube how to burn the games, they’d explain it better than I ever could.  I highly recommend the Ecco franchise to anyone.  Maybe you played them all growing up, and want a little nostalgia in your life (like me), or maybe they’re just new to you and you want to see what the older Sega games are all about.  Ecco may not be the best thing that Sega ever developed, but it’s up there.  It’s definitely one of my favorites.

I just pooped a little bit.

See you at the flea market, and happy gaming!

The Jester.

*All images are the property of their respective owners and may be subject to copyright laws.*

The Blowfish Emporium: Let me explain…

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Fan Art, The Blowfish Emporium on October 7, 2010 by Divide By Zero

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know that I am all for local businesses.  There are some that we frequent, and there are some we rarely ever go into.  Until recently, the Blowfish Emporium was a place I rarely went into.  And after spending a little bit of time there, and getting to know the owner, Mrs. Bethany Wilson, I think I have figured out why I was reluctant to shop at her establishment.  Also, I hope to turn around the opinions of others who are in the shoes I was up until recently.

If you have heard about the Blowfish Emporium (just “Blowfish” from here on out), you probably know that it’s an art gallery.  You probably don’t think you fit in with people who look at art.  The kind of people that you see dressed in Manhattan Black and Kangol hats staring at an unfinished tic-tac-toe board or something.  Well, we’re not in Manhattan, and that’s just not how Ms. Bethany rolls.  Like I said, I was a little intimidated by the store, but I can assure you that once you walk inside, you will feel very much at home.  The art is fantastic, and it is all done by people who live in the area.  I’d be willing to put money down, saying that if you bought a painting from Blowfish, you could arrange to meet the artist for a word or two.

Another thing about this art gallery is that it’s not just paintings.  There are also practical pieces in the store like hand-made jewelry, pottery, they have classes lined up for you to make your own masterpiece.  It really is a place of business that not only fills a niche, but inspires and invites new people into the niche.  Being born and raised 20 minutes from D.C. I had easy access to art shows, gallery openings, and museums.  I have also been to Chicago and absorbed the cultural art there.  But nothing is like going into the Blowfish.  I felt very comfortable there, Mrs. Wilson is very professional, yet laid back enough to make sure you have a good time while you’re browsing through her store’s many different items.

Like these people.

And I know what you’re thinking: “But Del, she could just have been nice to you while you were interviewing her, for the publicity!”  No, she was being nice to me because she’s genuinely a nice person.  She wants to answer your questions, and tell you her opinion without forcing it on you.  And as for the publicity… my site gets about 80-100 hits every 6 days or so.  Her background is in marketing.  I don’t think she needs my help getting her name out there.  She’s just very sincere, very confident, and seems like the kind of person that really enjoys what they do!  I visited the store the day after I was able to interview her and she loves striking up conversations about the different pieces she has on display.  And you can bet your butt, if she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she will find it out for you.

Also, (heads up for the guys out there), I highly recommend shopping for your g-friend at Blowfish.  Mrs. Wilson has informed me that if you purchase something there, you can work out a gift-wrap situation and a bag, and everything so all you have to do is sign the card.  It will really make you look like you know what you’re doing.  Especially if you’re like me and it takes 3 or 4 tries to wrap something, then you realize it’s July and you’re using Christmas wrapping paper.  Definite thumbs up there.

Pictured: Something that's not scary.

So without further ado.. here is the interview I was able to get with Mrs. Bethany Wilson.  And I have to say, she was so easy to talk to, I wish I had more questions/time for her because she made this interview fun.

Del Dotson:  Ok, this week I’m here talking with..

Bethany Wilson:  Bethany Wilson.

DD:  And she’s..

BW:  I’m owner and operator of the Blowfish Emporium, local arts gallery.

DD:  First question, what got you interested in art?

BW:  I worked with Believe in Bristol, a non-profit organization, which is a main street program that essentially runs downtown.  And it promotes economic development and all of that stuff, so I was involved with Believe in Bristol, Christina Blevins, and lived downtown.  My husband and I, we had this retail space because we own the building and after several months of not having anyone sign a contract, I kind of have always wanted to own my own business.. so being involved with Believe in Bristol, the arts were really something big here, and the art galleries surprisingly were pretty much non-existent.  I had several friends who were artists [and still are], and I’d ask them where they were showcasing, and they’d say: “Well, I really don’t do anything, because where would I put it?” so I kind of started thinking about that, and you know, the arts have been here for years and years, so why not add an art gallery?  Because I feel like, especially showcasing local arts you feel a little bit cultivated, and you’re stretched a little bit in your own world because the arts are so subjective.  And they appeal to such a broad audience.

DD:  Yeah.

BW:  You may have a particular style that you like.  Whether it be abstract, or realism, or whatever.  But when you see and view the others in an inviting and welcoming environment, you kind of grow yourself, and I think that can mainly be done through local art.

DD:  So is that mainly what you showcase here, the local art?

BW:  Mm-hmm, I have local and regional art.  And that includes everything from photography, pottery, original paintings, jewelry, handmade soaps, a lot of other little nick-nacks, hair-ties..

DD:  Yes, and it’s all very cool in here, I like looking around.

BW:  Thank you!  And I mean, I have everything from people showcasing their work publicly for the first time, to those who are well established nationally and some internationally acclaimed artists.  Like I said, it’s still artists from this area, so you have all sorts of price ranges and different takes on landscapes, improv paintings, abstracts, all sorts of cool things.

DD:  That’s really cool.  My next question is, I know you guys own this building and everything, but what made you decide to open a business on state street?  What made you choose this location?

BW:  I’m actually, both my husband and I are from the area.  So when I was in High-School I was involved with something called Bristol youth Leadership.  Through that program, we were introduced to future development plans of Bristol, Downtown area specifically.  So with the potential that Downtown Bristol has, was something that as I got older, I knew I wanted to be a part of.  That was actually the compromise, we were living in Atlanta at the time.  My husband wanted to move back up to the area and I loved Atlanta.

DD:  And he’s from around here too?

BW:  Yes.  He’s from Bristol.  So the compromise was, well if we’re going to move downtown then we’re going to live downtown and be part of the movement.  Because growing up, the downtown area was something that I didn’t ever frequent because all it was, was antique shops.  That’s great if you’re antiquing but if you weren’t into that then you had no reason to come downtown.  So between from when I was in High-School to when we started looking at relocating back to Bristol, Downtown was already starting to grow quite a bit.  Development opportunities were right in the prime time, I think.  So that’s kind of what brought us downtown.

DD:  I hear a lot of people saying that, you know, all Downtown has is nothing but this enormous potential.  So what would you like to see happen with Downtown Bristol, like say.. in 10 years?  Where would you like it to be?

BW:  Oh gosh.

DD:  If everything were possible.

BW:  If everything were possible, there is a project that has been on the table for 10 or so years.. it’s called the “Beaver Creek Project”.

DD:  I think I’ve heard a little about that.

BW:  They actually would go in and develop Beaver Creek, so where it would be somewhat like a city-walk.  And it would go along the creek, and it actually goes through Bristol.  It starts past the train station and it goes all the way down to the speedway [Bristol Motor Speedway – approximately 8 miles away].  But the plans for its development would not only 100% control flood damage, which everybody down here pays huge, huge insurance premiums for flood control, it’s ridiculous.  So not only would it completely have 100% flood control, but the development potential.. I think it would bring in new business.  If you look at Greenville, South Carolina that have a river-walk, or where is it, like Santa Fe or somewhere that also has a river-walk, I mean, its potential for river rides with quote-unquote gondolas [yes, she used the “quotation fingers”], maybe not exactly a gondola.. but aesthetically it would just make downtown..

DD:  Beautiful.

BW:  Absolutely beautiful.  It would be such a huge tourist attraction.  That would be my number one dream because I think with the Beaver Creek Project, it’s a very economically expensive project, I think it would bring in.. I mean when you look at the businesses that are downtown, that’s great that we have a lot of small businesses, but really we need major corporations to come in here that will bring in multiple jobs and multiple people who want to become permanent residents of the area.  So in order to attract those kind of businesses we need those big, major steps of why they should come here, you know?

DD:  I agree.

BW:  With Beaver Creek, I think a lot of other things will just kind of trickle..

DD:  Will just kind of fall into place?

BW:  Fall into place, yeah.  So that would be my first big achievement, if I could have anything happen it would be the Beaver Creek.  But that’s like a 40 million plus, dollar project.  Haha.

DD:  Well I didn’t know anything about it.  Kind of.. I think I kind of heard a little about it, back when I was reading up on all the City Plans and all that stuff.

BW:  Yeah.

DD:  It’s, like you said, it’s not really mentioned a lot in the more recent documents the City puts out.

BW:  I think the big, one of the biggest.. it happens to be one of the most unique features of Downtown Bristol, but it is also a big obstacle, or it can be.  Because we are Bristol Tennessee and Bristol Virginia, we’re a dual city in 2 separate states.  We have completely 2 different laws and regulations, and committees.  So, you know, most downtowns are dealing with one city manager, one board, or one law enforcement, you know?  So like I said it’s one of our most unique features, but it’s also just, double the work.. haha.  Anything like a Beaver Creek or something would be interesting.

DD:  Right.

[Phone rings in the store.  Mrs. Wilson is constantly busy with that kind of thing, I consider myself very lucky to have been able to talk with her for as long as I did.]

DD:  Is this the first business you’ve opened up?

BW:  Yes.  It is.  My background, is actually.. it has nothing to do with art.  It has to do with business management and marketing.  When I graduated college, I moved down to Atlanta and then I became Associate Director for a marketing program for a private prepatory pre-school in Buckhead.  And that was my first job in marketing.. a pre-school which was interesting.

DD:  Right.  And it was a private school?

BW:  Mm-hmm.  Very prestigious families, and NBA players, and Ludacris’ daughter went there.

DD:  Awesome!

BW:  So that was my first experience and when I moved back here I worked part-time for an international marketing consultant.  That was great experience, but it was just..  I mean, not very many people can say that they love their job.  Owning your own business is definitely twice the work if not more, more hours, more responsibility..

DD:  I’m a business major, so I can see that.

BW:  But at the same time, you have to work for somebody, so why not work for yourself?  Haha!

DD:  Exactly!

BW:  If you can!  If you can, I mean, like I said it’s hard.  If you work for someone else you’re guaranteed a paycheck, as long as you do your job you’re guaranteed a paycheck every week or 2 weeks.  Owning your own business you’re not guaranteed anything, you just have to bust heiny and make it work!

DD:  So, being around all of these local artists and kind of having connections with everyone do you think that since you’ve opened up the Blowfish you’ve become a little more creative?

BW:  Oh yeah.

DD:  Like, do you pick up a paint brush now and try it out a little bit?

BW:  Yeah, we actually offer painting.  It’s a very informal twist on a painting class.  We offer BYOB painting every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  And what we do is, as you can see on the schedule we have a set image.  So tonight it’s going to be this deer with a million antlers.  But we offer a set image and some of them are originals from our artists, and others are, as you can see with the Bristol sign are just other images and works of different artists.  But what we do is we take that image and everybody gets a blank canvas, and we have a paint bar, so you don’t necessarily have to follow those colors.  But we use the image as an inspirational point and then a local artist comes in and does a demonstration on how to get you started.  Then you create your own interpretation off of that image.  Whether or not you follow it to the T, is really up to you.  but our art instructor really encourages you to kind of.. make it your own.  Whether it be adding something, taking something away, changing the colors to accommodate your house or whatever.

DD:  Just kind of making it special to you?

BW:  Yeah.  But I literally am 100% honest when I say that no skill is needed or required, at all.  We’ve been open just over 13 months, and since we’ve been open we’ve had over 1500 students.

DD:  Wow, so how many are usually in one of your classes?

BW:  It depends on the season.  When it gets colder, our classes get bigger, because there’s not as many things to do outside.  Colder seasons we average between 10 and 15, warmer seasons are anywhere from 5-8 typically.  Let’s say we have 1500 students divided by 12 months [it’s calculator time!], that’s over 125 people a month!  If you divide that by 4, that’s at least 30 people a week, so 15 per class.  But we do provate parties as well.

DD:  Very cool.

BW:  Where you can book a Friday, Saturday evening, have the whole place to yourself, you can bring in your own food, bring in your own drinks and set up a party.  Then you get to pick your image that you want to do.  And we have hundreds!  A whole selection.

DD:  Well that sounds fantastic!

BW:  So since.. well your question was “Have I gotten more creative”..

DD:  Oh yeah, I forgot that’s where we were heading.

BW:  Since opening that, the art instructor and I, we kind of came up with this concept off of a similar concept that is pretty nation wide.  Where you go, it’s not exactly paint by numbers.  Well, it’s definitely not paint by numbers.  I had gone to a private party in Alabama, and had such a good time painting, and had never painted before that I wanted to do something similar, but I felt a little bit restricted.  Because they literally were like: “Pick up this brush.  Dip it in this color.  Draw a line here.”  Everybody ended up with an awesome painting, but everybody’s looked exactly the same.  There was no freedom to express yourself.  And even though I had never painted before I felt completely restricted.  So Pat.. Pat Jessee, she’s the artist that comes in, and she’s been an artist her entire life, and is very well known.  She worked in New Orleans for 30 or 40 years.  She was a curator for an art gallery, she worked for some very prestigious artists.  She’s an art instructor but she also gets commissioned locally to do art improv on stage to musical performances.  She’s a cultural dance instructor, she’s just an awesome overall instructor, and she can make the most miserable, uncreative person end up with this awesome painting, where they learn something new about themselves.  I don’t know, she’s just amazing.

DD:  Well it sounds like she’s got it going on.

BW:  Oh yeah!  She’s awesome!

DD:  Okay, just a few more questions.  What do you think your store, what do you think the Blowfish Emporium brings to Downtown Bristol that wasn’t already here?  I mean, not just the fact that it’s the only art place..

BW:  Well I definitely think that, it being a local art gallery it definitely gives artists in the community an opportunity to showcase their talents, to show how talented our area really is.  And it just gives more personality to our area, for our artists to be on pre-view.  So Blowfish just is a place of opportunity and artists can promote their works, and promote what’s going on behind the scenes of Bristol.

Pictured: Mrs. Bethany Wilson. When it comes to the art scene in Bristol. She's a Jedi, is what I'm sayin.

DD:  Which leads me to my next question:  How do you think Blowfish fits in with the personality of Downtown Bristol, on State Street?

BW:  I definitely think that Downtown is on a fast track to growing and you have to be innovative in your business way of thinking.  Because we are dealing with such a different generation, you know?  Everybody’s on Facebook and the social media networks, so being in tune with all that, and also offering an art gallery where you don’t feel like “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to break anything.”   By definitely creating an environment that is welcoming and, whether you buy something or not, you’re going to take away something.  Just because that’s because how art is.

DD:  Sure, yeah.

BW:  So I want to showcase a place where if you have $5 you can buy something, if you have $500 we have something for you.  And none of it is mass produced.  All of this is hand-made, local art, local jewelry.  When you give that gift to somebody.. you know, when you buy local.. that money comes back to your community.  When you buy online, none of that money comes back to your community.  When you buy regionally, where you spend your money is where it comes back to, so when you come here and you buy a piece of jewelry that’s $50, well that $50 is going into your community, it’s going to a local artist, versus if you go buy a similar item at Wal-Mart, that money is going to China!

DD:  Hahaha!

BW:  You know?!

DD:  I hear ya!  And my final question is, well I had 2, but you already answered the other one.  Is there anything else that you’d like to share that we didn’t really touch on?

BW:  The thing about small business, and I think everybody everywhere feels this is that we are so, so affected by the economic downturn and the state that we’re all in.  That is even more of a reason why you should buy local.  Because small businesses rely 100% on our local community to survive.  And you still have to buy birthday gifts, you still have to buy anniversary, Christmas gifts.   You still have all of those things you have to buy for.  So when you go and shop, whether it’s at Blowfish or wherever, just buy local, so you can keep your small businesses in business.

DD:  Okay, well that’s all I have.

BW:  Awesome.

DD:  Thank you for your time!

BW:  Yeah!  Thank you.  I look forward to reading it!

I think she has it right on the money.  She knows what she needs to get done, and does it.  I hope this reaches out to people who have passed by Blowfish (like I had so many times in the past), and is the open invitation they need to get them in there and look around.  I am positive you will find something you’d like, or something you could get to score brownie points with your wife/g-friend/daughter/mom, or for the art enthusiast in your life.  I’ll see you there!

Blowfish Emporium

529 State Street, Bristol VA, 24201

(276) 644-1428

http://www.blowfishemporium.com

Follow them on Facebook & Twitter!

*all photos are subject to copyright laws and are the property of their respective owners*

Success Breeds Success: An interview with A1C Jeremy Dotson.

Posted in Jeremy Dotson, Patriotism, USAF with tags on October 6, 2010 by Divide By Zero

When you live down in this part of the country, you find some really patriotic people.  I don’t know why it is, but for Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, I find a higher concentration of military/ex-military people.  You can say it’s because of the economy, or they have no other options, but everyone has their own reason for joining the military.  My brother for example chose to join the military over any other option given to him.  When I had graduate high school, I looked into the military, and if my poor eyesight didn’t disqualify me from it, the fact that I had a heart mur-mur when I was born, did.  My brother went into the Air Force though, he is now a Body Bearer in the USAF Honor guard.  He has tried out for the Air Force Football Team, and has won many awards.  I would consider him to be “highly decorated” considering the small amount of time he’s been in the service.

He is very busy, and I don’t get to see him too often, but I had been thinking about writing something up on him because I have a lot of respect for him, the Air Force, and the military in general.  I was finally able to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about being a Body Bearer, what he does, how he prepares for it, and all that entails.  I don’t think I really need a conclusion for this one, so I’m just going to let his interview speak for itself.

Del Dotson:  Okay, give me your name, rank, and organization.

Airman 1st Class Jeremy Dotson:  Jeremy Dotson, Airman 1st Class, United States Air Force Honor Guard.

DD:  What exactly is it that you do for the Air Force?

A1CJD:  For the Honor Guard, we work in Arlington National Cemetery.  We do funerals there, or we do joint service jobs with other branches of the military.  We accept Senators coming to Washington D.C., or Prime Ministers coming to Washington D.C., basically we’re the showcase of the Air Force.

DD:  That’s really cool.  Can you take me through a day in the life of someone in the Honor Guard?

A1CJD:  Of course!  What I do for the Honor Guard, is I’m a Body Bearer.  And Body Bearing is probably the top job [in the Honor Guard], the job that people have the most respect for.  Because there’s no fooling around!  A regular day for me: I wake up, five o’clock.  I get all my uniforms ready, get shaved and everything.  Then I go meet the fallout, which is at six thirty.  From there we go to Fort Meyer, eat breakfast and get ready for ceremonies that morning.  And then..

DD:  What time is that?  What time do you finish with breakfast?

A1CJD:  We’re probably done with breakfast around seven ten or so.  The first funeral is always at nine.  We have to be there forty five minutes early.  We have to make sure everything is correct and we have to make sure we all look good to perform the ceremony.

DD:  Fantastic.  So you think.. or it is a really esteemed position.  So you guys..

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  spend a lot of time getting ready?

A1CJD:  Body Bearers, alone, by themselves put the most time and effort into their uniform.  We have to make sure we look the best, because we’re right there out in front of the family of the deceased.

This says it all. They don't mess around.

DD:  Very respectable.  Can you tell me about the biggest job you’ve done so far in your career?

A1CJD:  The biggest job that I’ve done so far was Ted Stevens, the State of Alaska’s former Senator.  There were so many people there, and it was televised, and we made the newspaper.

DD:  His recent funeral, right?

A1CJD:  Yes.  May he rest in peace.

DD:  And you made the front page of the Washington Post for that ceremony?

Yes. He most certainly did.

A1CJD:  Yes.  I most certainly did.

DD:  Along with.. Who were the other Body Bearers there?  It wasn’t just you, right?

A1CJD:  Haha, no.  The Bearers included myself, Dominic Napp, Eric McCall, Nicholas Spencer, Robert Matthews, Jeremy Lucas, Sergent Keith Wilkinson, and Jhurel Stevens.

DD:  And those are all guys that you work with on a pretty regular basis?

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  Do you work with them in every ceremony?

A1CJD:  There’s like a “base team” and they’ll switch people out every once in a while.

DD:  So they have a rotating shift schedule kind of thing going on?

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  Okay so, tell me now a little bit about the beginning of your career.  How did you get into the Honor Guard?  How did you get into being a Body Bearer?

A1CJD:  Well, in Basic, in BMT we’d have these in process meetings to see what our job was going to be.  I already had a job.  It was going to be some kind of low-ASVAB scoring mechanic.  Then they had this recruiting session for the Honor Guard.  We walked into this room and there were all of these pictures of the Honor Guard, and there was this little old Master Sergent, Master Sergent Moore.  She was telling us what the Honor Guard does, and the requirements.  She was giving out cards we had to sign, and we had to give her a 341, which is like a referral that we have to keep on us.  Then we had to write down our name and how tall we are, and why.. actually I think it was just our name and height.  In the next couple of weeks, we heard whether or not we got an interview, our instructor would tell us.  I thought: “I have nothing to lose” because I was in BMT, I was getting yelled at every day.  And I thought, since I have nothing to lose, I might as well do it because all they can say is just “no”.  I went through a couple of interviews for them.  Then out of a lot of people, like, over one hundred people only six of us got chosen for that week that we had to leave.  I was one of those six.  We got to D.C. [the USAF Honor Guard is stationed at Bolling AFB], and the first day we were there we unpacked and basically had a free day.  Not really a free day, but we went and saw an inspection of the ceremonial guardsmen.  At that point, there were two separate inspections going on.  It was of the details; that’s the Firing Party, the Colors and the Body Bearers, and we saw Flight get inspected as well.  All of the instructors wanted us to watch Flight get inspected because that’s what we were doing.  But I watched the details get inspected because the Body Bearers were over there.  Watching the details, you saw the first row of people were the Colors and they were really really skinny.  The last row of the formation were Firing Party which was the third row, and they were really small, really tiny.  Then I saw the middle row of the details, which was all of the Body Bearers.  They were the biggest dudes in the Honor Guard.  And I said: “That’s what I want to be!”

DD:  Wow.  So you found out about it by accident and really liked it.  Then you knew that’s what you wanted to end up doing, being in a highly respected position.  And it’s worked out well for you so far?

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  So would it be fair to say that all of the training you’ve gone through up until this point, you use all of that in your day-to-day work.  Like you didn’t have to specially prepare for say, the funeral for the former Senator Ted Stevens?

A1CJD:  Yes, I use all of my training every day I’m at work.  No, Bearers have a job, and we do it perfectly every time.

DD:  So everything that you’ve learned so far..

A1CJD:  We have to keep every ceremony looking the same, so the only thing that’s different about every job [funeral] is the carry to the grave-site.  That’s the only thing that’s different, we do every job the same.

DD:  “The carry to the grave site”? you mean the pathway you take to the grave-site itself?

A1CJD:  Yes, other than the pathway though, every job is essentially the same.

DD:  And it’s got to feel really good though, when you’re laying to rest these very highly honored men.  I mean, pallbearers at civilian funerals are supposed to feel really honored.  So I can only imagine..

A1CJD:  It’s a very high position, or highly public job.

DD:  You guys have a big public profile, kind of the way celebrities do?

A1C Dotson, with Hootie from Hootie and the Blowfish. Dotson is on the right.

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  I know this question is kind of deep, but can you tell me what it means to be a Body Bearer?

A1CJD:  Being a Body Bearer is a brotherhood.  We have a weight-room Physical Training Test, and if you don’t pass that PFT, you can’t be a Body Bearer.  And we have a minimum requirement of lifting a very heavy amount of weight on bench, and squat, and curls.  And the reason why it’s a brotherhood is because no female can do that.  If there is a female that could do that, she hasn’t come through the Honor Guard yet.

DD:  Wow.

A1CJD:  It’s all about your strength.  Even after the Duty Day, it’s just “Body Bearer” that’s what you have to think.

DD:  Yeah, like, that’s it.  That’s your job.  And you guys do it very well I’ve seen it on youtube and news, and stuff like that.  There is a lot of honor and esteem that you carry with you.  I just have one more question for you.  What was your favorite part of going through all of your training and everything?  Was there anything that happened that just kind of influenced you heavily?  It may not have been really big or anything, but you remember it and it will stay with you forever?

A1CJD:  Yes.  There was this one time.. it was me and a friend of mine, his name is Jeremy Lucas.  We had just graduated out of tech school and we were sent to a Flight.  Our Flight name was Centurion.  We were going to be Body Bearers, but that’s what we were told was going to be our primary element until we got our official qualifications to be a Body Bearer.  So we would do Flight out in the yard for Arlington National Cemetery, but when we were back training, we wouldn’t train with Flight, we’d train with Body Bearers.  There, we had this Sergent, Sgt. Edgecomb.  He was telling us about the “old Body Bearers”, like how they did it.  He elaborated on how the training I was going through then was never going to be like it was back in the day..

Pretty badass, if you ask me.

DD:  Right.

A1CJD:  ..like the training back in the day was the when golden age of the Body Bearers were.  He was leaving, he was getting ready to leave, and one day he was training us and he found out that day that he was leaving for his next job the very next day.  So he had to get out of there, so he was packing up, and right before he left.. we already had this thing that was going around the squadron that we we were going to go back to.  It would make it so that instead of the Flights being Centurions, Titans, and Spartans, we would have Firing Party Flight, a Colors Flight a Bearers Flight, and then a Flight.  And Sgt. Edgecomb said: “If it goes back to that, good luck.”  He said: “I know the training is going to be hard.” but..

DD:  That’s when it’s going to get real?

A1CJD:  Yes.  That’s when it’s going to get real.  He said “Good luck.” and that’s what sticks out the most to me because that was before I had any qualifications to be a Bearer.  Any qualifications.

DD:  So it was a little intimidating?

A1CJD:  Yes.  It was intimidating for the fact that, back in the day, when the “old school” Body Bearers were around.. That’s when there was just a Flight for Bearers, a Flight for Firing Party, a Flight for Colors, and Flight.  Then it moved to the Centurions, Titans, and Spartans Flights, and then it switched back to the Bearers/Firing Party/Colors Flights, and that was intimidating.  It was a huge change, because you were surrounded by Bearers all day.  Like training, if there was a training day, there was always somebody to train with.  If you had two people there, you could train.

DD:  Wow.  That sounds pretty crazy.

A1CJD:  Yes.  That’s the thing that sticks out in my mind the most, when Sgt. Edgecomb said: “Good luck.”  And looking back at the point I was at then, and the point I’m at now.. makes me feel pretty good.

DD:  So you can attribute a lot of your success to him?  I mean, even though it was intimidating, it served as that little push to make you want to succeed within the Honor Guard as a Bearer, would that be correct to say?

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  Okay, well.. I know you’re a busy guy and everything, so I won’t take up too much of your time.  Is there anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t really touch on?  About anything that you’ve been affiliated with, or anybody else within the Air Force that have influenced you?

A1CJD:  Ah.. yes.  One of the people.. there were a couple different significant people that influenced me to be a great Body Bearer..

DD:  I’m sure you guys are always learning from each other, and you have that healthy kind of competition going on.  So I know you guys are constantly learning and trying to do better than the others.

A1CJD:  There’s one guy, and I’m not going to name his name but he’ll know who he is when he reads this.  He inspired me to put as much time in the weight room, as much “extra-credit” work I could do with the Body Bearers as possible.  Even after the Duty Day is done, nobody in the Squadrons would train, but I would go there and I would train.  I’d help myself out.  I’ll read the O.I., which is like, the instruction manual for how to do everything.  I’ll read the O.I., and I’ll take it word-for-word, then I’ll do everything exactly the way it says to.  Because for my full evaluation, no one wanted to train with me.  There would only be one person that would train with me.  It was this one guy, he said: “Whatever you do, whenever you want to train, you let me know and I’ll train with you.  Because we want you to be up there too.”  But he was gone that week.. the week I was getting my full qualification, my full honors qualification.  So I would just go in there, read the book, and practice for my evaluation in there by myself.  By the time I knew every movement, I could basically call the job if I wanted to.  but when you eval for your fulls for the first time you can’t call it.  So you have to be one of the extras there.  If you know how to call the job, it’s already giving you a heads up for what’s coming next.  But the guy that I’m talking about inspired me to put in all the extra-credit work for the training, in the gym, and then just eating right.  He’s the one that inspired me.

Plus they friggin' get to juggle guns.

DD:  So he gave you a bunch of overall guidelines for how to be the best Bearer you can be.

A1CJD:  Yes, he helped me lay the framework for being a Bearer.  You need to be strong, so he gave me tips for the gym.  You need to look good, so that’s why he gave me tips for my diet.  And then he said “You want to be the best Body Bearer, you don’t want to be a top 8 person.”  Which is someone holding the casket.  “You want to be the top 1 person.”

DD:  Right.

A1CJD:  So that’s what makes me want to go put the extra time into the training.

DD:  Yeah, so you can go above and beyond.

A1CJD:  Yes.

DD:  Okay, well thank you for your time.  I know you have to get back to base, I know you’re busy.  Thank you for letting me in on all of this and thank you for serving our country.

A1CJD:  Oh yeah, no problem.  It’s my job!  Thank you for everything.  I hope your readers enjoy it.

Okay, I lied, I’m going to put a little conclusion here anyways.  I just wanted to give another thank you to A1C Jeremy Dotson for his time, I’m very proud to be his brother, and wish him all the best.  I want to thank everyone he works with too, they all have done outstanding jobs from what I’ve seen, and I hope to see them more.  A good video to watch is found right here.  I speak on behalf of everyone I know by saying Thank You A1C Dotson.

*All images are subject to copyright laws.  They belong to their respective owners, in this case, Google Image Search.*