Plane, No Train, Automobile

Written earlier, on the plane and after:

Coming home from D-Town on a Southwest flight to Midway with sore ribs and sore body, out of the Loser pool and out of my mind. I got the full treatment at the airport security check and no one even said happy birthday to me. They probed me and my bags and took all those tiny trial size lotions out and even made me throw away my $20 Crew hair shit, which was .5 ounces bigger than is allowed. My hair now falls limply on my head. Some fear-mongering government official should pay me back for that ridiculousness and his name is George Fucking Bush.

By the time I got to the gate it was three minutes to take-off and I was breathing heavy from my O.J. run through the Denver airport, but all was quiet at the desk. The plane had been delayed and I had time to kill, at least an hour, and so I tried to calm down and breathe a sigh of relief. Another crazy weekend in D-Town, who would have expected anything else?

We drove out on Wednesday night, three of us taking shifts at the wheel through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and into Colorado. I handled most of Nebraska, taking over at about 4 am near the edge of Iowa and flying at ninety mph through the seventy-five speed limit, never seeing a cop at all. There were a million stars in the sky above us and since we spent most of the drive in darkness it felt like the sun was never going to rise again, gaining an hour of night as we headed toward Colorado. The car had a temperature gauge that told us it was as cold as 26 degrees outside and I froze my ass off filling up the tank two or three times. I played the Afghan Whigs Gentleman in its entirety and listened to a classic rock station for most of my drive through flat, dark Nebraska.

We pulled into Denver around 11 am Thursday and everyone got set to finally sleep in a soft bed but I was wide awake and so I walked around the neighborhood and had a greasy cheeseburger. Back at the house I drank a couple of Moosehead beers, jumped onto the neighbor’s wireless for a bit, and finally forced myself to sleep for a few hours. Later we went out and saw some bands at the Hi-Dive with our D-Town gang and whooped it up. The next day we hit Red Rocks under perfect blue skies and took a tour of the Coors brewery, loading up on the free samples at the end (Molson, Killian’s, Blue Moon).

Friday night we passed by a marquee that said “Banyan� on it and we realized our man Watt was in town. Watt! The venue was a short walk from Denver Jim’s place, so we got fired up and decided to check it out. Banyan is a project by Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins and Watt wrestles the bass along with a trumpet player and guitarist (normally Nels Cline but not this night). I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a great show, with Perkins at center stage and Watt as a sidemouse, and an amazing guitar player whose name I don’t know. Oh, and a dude painting on a huge canvas too.

The place slowly filled up but it wasn’t packed, and you could go right up to the front of the stage or the side where Watt was if you wanted. At one point I heard some familiar notes and Watt stepped up to the mic, speaking/singing “A love supreme…a love supreme…â€? and I went right up in front to witness Banyan’s take on one of the greatest songs ever, Coltrane’s classic jazz masterpiece. The whole thing was magic, just pure beauty, and I was so glad to be there for it. Later they tackled some Creedence too, “Born on the Bayou.”

After the show I hung around and talked to my old buddy Watt about the Stooges recording in Chicago (“it’s done!� he said) and some other shit. Very cool, awesome dude, Mike Watt. He was all bundled up in hat and gloves and so we walked outside to find a raging blizzard was upon us, crazy D-Town in all its glory!

The rest of the weekend was spent bikin’ and boardin’ and b-ballin’ and boozin,’ and right after Denver Jim broke my rib these two black kids came up and challenged us to a game of hoops. They were maybe ten years old and all talk, no game. I was in serious pain but still managed to score a few Jordan-like shots over the five-footers. We smoked ’em and then hit the skate park, where kids younger than ten were doing loops around giant bowls and it was all too much for me. We tried to do the Flying Dog brewery, with Steadman’s artwork and the ghost of Thompson everywhere, but they were closed so we hit the bar next door.

The bartender diagnosed my rib situation and prescribed a Bloody Mary and a beer chaser, an amber ale from the brewery, and who was I to refuse? Another night on the town and Chicago connections everywhere, we met people who just moved from Wicker Park and the bartender at another place saw my Hinsdale Say No To Drugs shirt and said “Hinsdale, Illinois?” (No, I’m not from Hinsdale). Later that night we had a jam session that went til 5 am and came up with a couple of hot numbers that Billy Bob Thorton would be proud of.

Sunday was football and hangovers and the looming flight home, so my head was in a strange state and I just tried to get through it. Philly got a one-point lead with a minute left and then Tampa Bay hit a 62-yard field goal to knock me out of the Loser Pool. Who makes that kick? No one makes that kick!

On the plane it was seat yourself (nice, Southwest!), so I walked to the back and took the empty row in the left corner. It was a calm ride home in darkness, but for this laptop, and I drank water and ate pretzels and tried to come down. At Midway I walked to the L and found the doors locked. It was just after midnight and the sign clearly said that service goes until 12:51 am, but the place was empty and so I walked around trying to find some signs of life. Finally a CTA woman appeared and said that there were no more trains and that the sign needed to be changed, but they haven’t done it yet. Oh. Really.

Gentle reader, this is where I lose my temper. My relationship with the CTA has always been tenuous and pretty much a hate-hate situation: hate to ride it, hate the shitty service. It is a piece of shit. I stood at the bus stop for a while in the desolate area outside Midway and saw nothing. It was cold and I had two bags on my shoulders. I finally walked back into Midway and out to the cab stand where I jumped in a car and turned my $2 ride home into a $35 ride home. It’s magic! The CTA has that ability, to turn the end of any trip into a clusterfuck, it is really something else.

Pictures and more to come, if I remember it. My camera is broken but I managed to snap a few anyway, I just can’t tell if they’re keepers until I get them back into the computer, it’s just like the old days.


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