Monday, March 26, 2007

Four-Star Infractions, Continued

Perhaps the most disturbing element of turn-down service experienced thus far is this:

Really? Philadelphia, I expected better of you! Only a hair more class than the legendary quarter-fueled vibrating bed.

Ooh, we're having an "emergency condition" here in the hotel... Guess I should sign off while I stay calm and await further instructions. More tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

On The Move

Though having wireless on the bus is a groovy thing indeed, it can be maddening when the bits trickle through the pipe slower than than treacle through a drinking straw. Of course, I suppose one should be happy with a rate of 1 byte/second whilst motoring through the Catskills between Syracuse and Philly...

Our hotel in Syracuse sat right on the edge of campus, steps away from one of those obligatory strips found in college towns nationwide. South University in Ann Arbor, Marshall Street in Syracuse, same thing. You know the type: several varieties of cheap food, from the Jimmy John's to the Greek diner to the sushi-to-go joint, drug stores, a couple bars, a Starbucks, and one of those shops stuffed full of sports regalia and t-shirts flashing phrases like "If I'm not WASTED, the day is!" Almost went for that one, but then through my $15 might be better spent betting on horses. Nostalgic, yes, and nostalgic enough.

Sharing the hotel with us this time around was the entire cast and crew of Riverdance. Although the scenery in the hotel bar was pretty fucking spectacular, they were, with notable exceptions, a rather chilly and impenetrable bunch. Aside from the band and a couple of the dancers who were awesome and conversational, they seemed to have very little interest in outsiders whatsoever, choosing instead to cluster with their own kind in armored corpuscles. Some were downright rude last night, dishing out unmerited sass to female members of our cohort, pushing me and a couple others off the lobby piano in favor of tinkling at the hands of their own. Granted, gallons of alcohol had been consumed by the wee hours, but since when was booze an excuse for being an asshole?

From my fledgling road experience, the attitude of exclusivity and insulation is one that I just don't comprehend. Stuck with each other day after day, I and the rest of our group make friends everywhere, always happy to welcome others into the fray when we're out on the town. In a roundabout follow-up to the posting of several days ago, a variety of fresh faces and perspectives are of utmost necessity in maintaining sanity, as fleeting as it may be. Why one would want to limit their social circle to the same click every day, I do not understand.

As I packed and ventured out for bagels and coffee this morning, I couldn't get "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" by the Four Tops out of my head. Why? Not sure. Certainly not because of any direct feelings regarding the tour. I'm guessing it's more due to residual frustration and annoyance from the night previous. Or maybe just because the song rocks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pimp n' Pyro

Were a "You know you're a rock star when..." list to be assembled, few things would be added as readily as having played a concert involving significant use of flammable material. After our show in London on Sunday, I can now put one more notch in that rock star belt...

Since the London show was the venue for the filming of a live DVD (which title must somehow include Live In London... Ontario), they decided to pull out all the stops for the event. Some of you will be familiar with my past (past!?) as quite the firebug, and will understand the excitement I felt, the impish sparkle in my eye, when I found out that there would be six towers of propane-fueled flames erupting behind us during one of the songs. Though the picture doesn't quite capture the inferno in it's full splendor, each flame reached as high as 25 or 30 feet. As the closest one to me stood about 10 feet behind me, it got pretty crispy up there for a few minutes, and I loved every minute of it. Besides the flames, they also set up some airbursts and a row of sparklers for a few other tunes — but nothing quite as glorious as the fire!

The DVD filming also inspired a new line of costuming for the first couple of numbers. Previously, we'd worn football jerseys, and seeing as how I'm about as happy in a jersey as a cat in a bathtub, just about anything would've been a step in the right direction, no matter how ridiculous. As you can see from the picture, ridiculous and over the top is what I got, and I loved it. The theme of the recostuming was '70s attire, a theme that came across clearly enough with other members of the band such as the lovely ladies beside me. Mine, however, a different story. I was supposed to be outfitted as a pimp, but I look like I should be pimping Hobbits instead of harlots. Say hey to Gandalf and his superfly honeys. Yeah, I got a spell for you. But it'll cost ya...

Yesterday's show was in Hamilton, and marked our last in Canada. It was so absolutely freezing on stage that we all would've probably chipped in a few bucks to have the pyro team set up again. And now, as I put the finishing touches on this here posting, we're going through customs in Buffalo — back in the USA! I can already smell the freedom.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's A Bus!

After several weeks of continually checking and reclaiming baggage, going through security, wondering how hard they'll have to stick the landing this time, watching portions of in-flight movies, breathing everyone else's germs, and attempting to adapt swiftly to divergent climes, we finally have our very own tour bus. As yet unnamed, she's pictured above after her maiden voyage from Toronto to Ottawa. Our excitement is palpable; though no ones' idea of a great day commonly incorporates a 7-hour bus ride, it certainly beats the airport hustle for an equivalent trip. With two lounges, 12 bunks, plenty of edibles, satellite TV, DVD players, and (intermittent) wireless, it's kind of like hanging out in a hotel room with constantly changing scenery and a sawmill on the ground floor. Except for two more flights, we'll have her for the duration of the Canada/USA leg. Joy!

I've been told that while it may be small and there's not all that much going on, Ottawa is a beautiful city. Judgment on this matter will have to hold off until next visit; no chance for sightseeing this time around. Were I not trying to recover from a very low-level head cold, I would have taken the usual explorative run, but given the sub-freezing temps I opted instead for the treadmill. Nearly took one hell of a spill, too, when I stepped on the side rail while trying to plug in my headphones. If asked, the dour spirit of the gym needed a little lift, which I attempted to provide...

It is worth mentioning that Ottawa provided the best breakfast spot since Victoria, a place named Cora's right downtown on the main drag, some French-sounding street that begins with an R. Though it may seem a banal detail, a good breakfast spot is a critical component of whatever routine I'm settling into, which goes as follows: wake up, stretch out and watch news, run (usually), walk around and find a fitting spot for breakfast, hang for a bit and read, then find a coffee shop before A) going to sound check, or B) leaving. Breakfast carries as much importance as dinner, maybe more so, and I haven't been completely satisfied in my quest for a good spot since the west coast. Some have suggested that such a search is automatically rendered futile by a time of, say, one or two in the afternoon, but I beg to differ.

Given a schedule such as ours, I've noticed that days and weeks dissolve into monochrome fudge. Dates and content-du-jour bear more meaning than Monday or Tuesday. Likelihood of performance or travel on any day of the week is equal. On a number of occasions, I and others have had to dedicate a substantial portion of brainpower to the act of remembering what day it is. This morning, I completely forgot it was Saturday until I reached Cora's around noon and found a mob of hungry brunchers waiting ahead of me. Knowing full well that the bus wouldn't wait around just out of respect of my desire for a hearty sit-down breakfast, I opted for a bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel at a shop around the corner.

New York City has the best bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel in the whole fucking world. This is the thought that I couldn't help thinking whilst chewing away this morning. Though careful not to let such thoughts snowball out of control, I let out a little line...

Yeah, I miss New York quite a bit, whether it's the bacon, egg, and cheeses, hanging with the crew for a Sunday dinner, spinning records at Matchless, regular gigs, heading to usual haunts for shows, or just soaking in the neighborhood. As of yesterday, we've officially been gone for a month, so I figure I'm perfectly justified in missing the city. Being away makes it so crystal clear that over the three and a half years I've been living in the city, it has become home; we've developed a complex relationship of love, comfort, frustration, inspiration, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Transient relationships on the road fuel exhaustion in an around-the-back manner; they go terminal as soon as the surface has been scratched, whether with person or place — all the more pronounced at our pace. I sense that the challenge here is to develop an ostensibly paradoxical relationship, to embrace the transience for what it and only it can be.

We'll see what unfolds, but for now, I'm just happy to have a bus.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Farewell, Toronto (Now w/ Addendum)

As it goes, we had to leave Toronto just as I was starting to sniff out the good parts of town. But on the upside, we're back in Fairmont country, where the internet is free and the DND signs actually have meaning.

Also on the upside, I get to leave behind what was personally the most harrowing show to date. It all started when some demon jumped into my wireless mic setup, robbing me of amplification at less-than-opportune moments. I derailed in the first 30 seconds, and never quite got back into the groove for the rest of the night. But the icing came at the very end when I picked up my shaker to start “Gimme Shelter” and realized that it contained none of the little beads necessary for qualifying a plain metal tube as a shaker. If you look closely at the photograph, you can see many sparkley silver beads ground into the carpet of my station, where they look pretty but don't contribute much to shaking.

I didn't see it happen, but by all accounts, the shower of beads issued forth when I picked up the shaker proved both humorous and visually spectacular.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Four-Star Infractions

Never would I dare complain about being housed in a Four Seasons hotel, especially in downtown Toronto, but I can't claim to feel completely comfortable there either. Some aspects even go so far as to irritate through their histrionic efforts to maintain such a high standard of comfort. For someone whose ideal concept of lodgings consists of a drafty cabin with a wood-burning stove on some lake in the middle of nowhere, this experience is excessive squared. I would be happy in a Hilton, Hyatt, Radisson, or whatever — but again, I'm not complaining.

It all begins the moment you walk in the door. Someone rushes over to spin the revolving door for you. Even if they're a good 20 paces away for your one, they'll be there. I've tried to trick them a few times already, hovering in the lobby as if waiting for someone, then dashing for the door. To no avail; they make it every time. "Good afternoon, sir! Pleasant day?" But I'm not a sir! Nothing about me other than the pervading complement of Y-chromosomes even approaches sir. And I'm perfectly capable, willing even, to open my own doors.

Turning up the nettlesome factor, we come to turn-down service. Should you happen to leave your room around evening time, as most people do unless they haven't a problem paying $200 for a chicken leg with some fancy-sounding sauce, the housekeeping drones come on in and prepare the room for bedtime. This generally includes closing the drapes, folding down a corner of the bed, turning on a light or two, and switching the radio on to some saccharine, "relaxing" station. But before I leave, I set the room exactly as I want it to be when I return: shades open, specific lighting, no music, pants on the floor. When I return and the room has been reorganized in a matter prescribed by the housekeeping manual as appropriate for evening hours, I get the distinct feeling that my space has been violated, someone else has been sleeping in my bed, and it is not relaxing.

Perhaps the greatest infraction occurred this morning while I was out on a run. I had left the "Do Not Disturb" sign hanging on the door, which, last time I checked, means do not disturb. Are we all on the same page here? When I returned about an hour later, I found that housekeeping had again used their golden key to enter my room and clean. Of course, all I had done since the last time they had cleaned was sleep, brush my teeth, and throw some dirty clothes on the floor, so all they did was make my bed, lay my toothbrush on a towel, and fold my dirty laundry (what!?). Must've been pretty boring. I was slightly shocked, but then remembered that a similar thing had happened to a fellow bandmate at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. She had gone down to the gym, left the DND sign hanging, and while changing out of her gym clothes upon return, housekeeping came barging on in. When demanded of an explanation, they said they'd called the room but no one was there. So it only means "Do Not Disturb" if we're in the room!? What if I'd been sleeping when they called? Out for a cup of coffee? Showering? Naked and sprawled out on the floor? Surely these eventualities haven't escaped without consideration.

Aside from the above, however, everything has been wonderful. While a little excessive attention might offset one's sensibilities, it certainly doesn't leave any lasting scars. I've learned since Vancouver, and requested that the ass-wiping homunculus be discharged for the duration of my stay. He readily complied, but only after I threw him a looney. Maybe by the next stay I'll remember to decline the services of the omnipresent helper monkey.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rockin' Vancouver

Many thanks to Meg Bourne for this spectacular shot, and for letting me paste it up here. I still don't think I look quite right in a football jersey, but at least the pants are pretty bad-ass!

Gang$ta Pooh

A number of people warned me about Winnipeg in preceding cities. "You're going where!?" "Any chance you give them to fight, they'll take it." "They'll cut you up, rob you, leave you for dead." And so on. Coming from Kelowna and Calgary, my nose smelled hyperbole. That bad? Really? Worse than anyplace I could normally find myself in Brooklyn or Manhattan?

I thought it a bit portentous, then, when I spotted the headline of Sunday's paper:

Yikes! This, from the city which inspired the eponymous Winnie the Pooh!? (Which show appeared on the telly for a few while I packed my bags this morning, oddly enough.) I'll never be able to think about getting my head stuck in a hunny pot quite the same way ever again...

All Poohs considered, I'm perfectly happy to be outa there and back in Toronto. At least they project an image of civility here. And they don't make you go underground to cross the street.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mad Meat Beyond Saddledome

Behold ye the paragon of literal architecture and ironic nomenclature:

'Bout says it all. I could've gone with Pringledome as well, but Saddledome works too.

We'll get back to the subject of *.dome venues in a few, but first, a summary of the two previous cities:

Whur' ta hell is Kelowna? A fine question indeed. For some reason while we were there, I had a feeling that it was north of Vancouver but closer to the coast. I was wrong. It's in the mountains in the eastern portion of British Columbia, close to the US border. As the picture will show, it lies in quite the picturesque mountain valley along the shores of a lake, which resembles an egg noodle more than a pancake. Kelowna reminded me something of my hometown in northern Michigan, a town that thrives on tourism and comes alive in the summer, a place where everyone knows each other and it's hard to keep your business to yourself, a place more suitable for visitation than settlement. I feel I should write more, but the muse stands mute. A shame.

After the bleakness of Edmonton and the small scale of Kelowna, it was nice to be in a walking city of significant size such as Calgary, especially since it was here where we had our first day off. And (bonus) it was 57°(F) when we got there, thanks to the phenomenon known as a Chinook, which I understand to be a giant fire-breathing goose that flies down from the mountains, melting all the snow with promethean exhalations and a volley of thermonuclear flatulation, instilling fear in the hearts of the townsfolk while drinking all their beer. By the time we got there, the goose was gone (cooked itself, maybe?).

Just because it was well-suited for foot traffic, though, does not mean that there were always things going on for those on foot after, say, 6:00. Like any other upright city with a financially-slanted downtown area, everything except a couple bars and restaurants went dark come sundown, leaving the streets filled with goose feathers and the occasional tumbleweed. No, I never saw anything remotely Olympic-related, so don't ask. What, do you think I'm gonna spend my first day off ogling a luge run? Hmmph. I did manage, however, to take a run along the river and get my hair cut (twice!). During the run, I was struck by the number of people running in shorts and a thermal shirt, while here I am wearing a thermal shirt, t-shirt, and full windsuit. So not a local. The haircut(s) proved to be both necessary and ultimately satisfying. Side note: whoever dreamed up the scalp massage deserves a standing ovation and a year's supply of Molson.

Ok, back to *.domes. Every one of our venues since Victoria has been one of these multi-thousand-seater arenas. They look about as impressive empty as they do full, though they lack in internal distinction. On the left, Edmonton from the stage; on the right, Calgary from just behind the monitor desk. As we've been cruising across Canada, all of these venues have been hosting hockey games as well as concerts. (Oh hey, Dennis Quaid just came into the dressing room, sat down, and started playing guitar. Go figure. *) Just about every soundcheck has been pretty chilly, sometimes to the point of requiring a coat and gloves. It took me a day or so to realize that it's because underneath the stage and seats and chunks of flooring in each venue lies a giant slab of ice on which teams such as the Moose, Canucks, Hitmen, or Oilmen try to slap a small black thing (and sometimes each other) with sticks. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Put a few thousand people in there, though, and they warm up a few degrees.

Has anyone noticed how *big* these provinces are!? I'm not even talking about the territories, which could plausibly float off into the ocean and claim continent status. British Columbia, when hungry, could consume about seven New Yorks or one and a half Texases, depending on its tastes that day (Yanks or Wanks?). Continue east, and each can claim similar status, but then come Ontario and Quebec. Each of these honkers could knock everything from Maine down to Florida into the ocean if they kicked in their sleep. Of course, they've got those weenies like Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to keep safe, but we can forget about them for now, as they are certainly the exception.

Just think about how simple it could be in the States if we had 20% of the states we have now. Why not consolidate? Why two Dakotas, or two Carolinas? Who wants to deal with Rhode Island when we could just have New England!? Are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia really all that different? Doesn't Iowilliandahio have a nice ring to it?

And on that note, I shall leave you all for the night. Until the next...

* Ok, so I wrote most of this in the dressing room Sunday but finished it today. Oops. But he really was there. I have proof, dammit!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Thank you, Air Canada, you've done it again! For the third time in two weeks, we have arrived without a full complement of luggage. I've been 50% affected; the smaller of my two bags made it, but the bigger decided to stay in Calgary another night. Thus, I'm fine if I want to go running in my plane shoes while reading Jane Jacobs, and I have a spectacular collection of button-down shirts, but all the essentials are in the big case. Yeah, so I should have learned to space out the necessities after the epic journey detailed below, but good ideas don't often manifest in the groggy packing frenzy leading up to the departure. Kick self.

As consolation for leaving your luggage behind, Air Canada hands out the handy "Sorry, sucks to be you!" kits pictured above. They must have thousands on hand at any given time, as indicated by the line at the baggage-oops counter and the fact that I now possess two of them. Contained within each stylish, blue, vinyl man-pack (the womens' are light blue) are, clockwise from the top: foldy brush thingy, shampoo, Q-tips and cotton balls, scented deodorant, razor and shaving cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, laundry detergent (my fav), and a white t-shirt, XL of course. Thoughtful indeed, but far from perfect considering the noticeable absence of underwear, whiskey, and prophylactics.

On the upside, we're at another Fairmont hotel, which means free internet for members of the President's Club, which is easy to join and also free of charge. I love loopholes. I'm entertaining the idea of having a mellow Saturday evening in the room, knock out another posting, do a little reading, get some pictures up... though a night on the town in Winnipeg certainly does sound, uh, intriguing. Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Flying High In The Friendly Skies

I snapped a bunch of pics on the plane from Edmonton to Kelowna, somewhere over the Canadian Rockies. This is my fav.

Soon and very soon, my Flickr account will be replete and overflowing with such tasty morsels as that above because I just upgraded to Flikka-PRO. Hi-res, too! What it IS! Check in the next couple days, I'll put up a few sets of travels to date.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Oh, Canada!

After splitting four days between Victoria and Vancouver, we landed Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta. It finally decided to get COLD. The weather sites said it was supposed to be about 7°(F) out there, but I didn't buy it. Teens, maybe. Cold for sure. And snowy! Then I went running in it this morning. I still doubt it was 7°, but it may have been 10°. Brisk indeed. If you look closely, you may be able to see my jogging path on the other side of the river:

Ba-yoo-tee-ful indeed, but in all honesty, I think I prefer the view from my Vancouver hotel room:

What a city that one was, Victoria as well. Having an opportunity to experience so many cities is a wonderful thing, but on a show-day/travel-day kind of schedule, all you're left with at the end is a handful of snapshots. At times, I'm more than happy to get the hell out, but then there are the ones where I just don't want to leave for a week or two or maybe more.

Vancouver and Victoria fall in the second category. Victoria seems like the kind of place I could go to after all this is done and spend a few weeks airing out my brain — with a hint of the literal; the air there really does smell amazing, something I noticed right off the plane. I could rent a room in a house for a home base, use it as a home base for further exploration of Vancouver Island. The camping and hiking there must be amazing, and completely plausible well into the colder months. I'm scheming already...

I barely got to see Vancouver, but it made a good impression. Most of what I did see, aside from a quick walk and a pretty standard Irish pub on Wednesday evening, was what I ran by over the course of a 50-minute, slightly-overextending run on Thursday morning. The path led me north along Coal Harbor, into Stanley Park, around Lost Lagoon (I found it!), over to the shore of English Bay, then back down to the origin (a more interactive look at the downtown area, thanks to Google Maps). My goal was to make it up to the 1A bridge, but I may have collapsed trying to get back.

It's definitely a walking city, a must for anyone who's spent the last few years of their life in New York. There's tons of new construction going on everywhere, mostly high-end residential towers from the looks of it (sound familiar...?). Architecturally, it appeared to be one of the more adventurous cities — and, for the most part, tastefully so! — I've had the good fortune to visit. At first sight of the skyline, I was amazed to see that it wasn't dominated with blockish mistakes from the 70s, but instead composed of a variety of shapes and forms, sharp embellishments, all fairly contemporary, decidedly unique.

Next time around, I'd like to explore the hipper areas of town, places where someone like myself wouldn't mind living or hanging about. Never saw 'em, but I know they're there! That's the problem with staying in nice hotels — not that I'm complaining about staying in a Four Seasons, but such places usually couch themselves in downtown areas surrounded by office buildings, shopping districts,
Starbucks, and boilerplate after-work Irish pubs, areas which are usually dead by 8:00 pm. Although I did notice, too late, that the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG?? hmm. Top 10 Unfortunate Acronyms...) was less than a block away. If only a few more hours...

Now, we're in Kelowna, BC, which I have been told is small yet beautiful. It was dark when we got here, so I can't comment one way or the other. All I know is that I'm sitting right now about 100 meters from a big, scenic lake and I'm running along it tomorrow morning. But only after doing laundry; I can't keep on washing underwear in the sink, and I'm afraid this pair of jeans may soon demand a bill of rights.

Backstage Pass, Episodes 1 Through 3

At the last few shows, our esteemed musical director Kasim Sulton has been shooting video of the band and crew, editing it down, then posting the final cuts on YouTube with the name of Backstage Pass. I'll save y'all a few clicks and link them below. Enjoy!

Backstage Pass, Episode 1

Backstage Pass, Episode 2

Backstage Pass, Episode 3

For future episodes, check here, or maybe I'll feel like posting them again...

Friday, March 02, 2007

...And We're Off!

Before leaving for the airport Friday before last, the view out my Brooklyn window looked something like this:

Freezing Brooklyn
Upon arriving in LA on Saturday morning, the scene on the roof of our hotel looked something like this:

Sunny La La Land
Now, it's about a week later, and we've completed five days of rehearsals plus the first two shows of the tour. I can't say I miss the New York weather; the coldest it's been since arrival has probably been 55... in the middle of the night. It was a bit of a rocky start with respect to travels. Those of us in the New York area were supposed to have a Thursday evening flight out to LA on the 15th, but the ice storm seemed to have other plans for us. The flight was canceled, and the solution which got us to LA the soonest involved flying to Washington, DC on Sunday night (Reagan), then flying out of DC at 8:00 am Saturday morning (Dulles) to LA. Nothing like staying in an airport hotel for the night, waking up at six in the morning, then heading out to the west coast, gaining three hours in the process.

Yeah, it was a little tiring for the first couple days, but full recovery was attained soon enough. Sometimes I think that getting over jet lag is better achieved by —

Whoa. Time out. So here's the story for everything above. I started this posting about two days after we got to LA. Somewhere about halfway through, the browser crashed and I lost it. I started in on the reconstruction, but it already seemed a little stale, given the time lapse. Then, we went through one hell of an epic travel adventure courtesy of Alaska Airlines and Air Canada, an adventure that makes the first week look like vacation. The following image aptly elucidates the experience:

I'll try to reconstruct the timeline as best I can, despite the blur of it all:

Monday, 2:00 pm — Board the tour bus and leave Indio, CA. The plan is to drive to LAX, catch an evening flight to Seattle, then a puddle jumper to Victoria, arriving at midnight.

4:00 pm — Find out that our evening flight to Seattle has been delayed while crawling along I-10. Debate ensues about whether or not to stay in LA for the night, or head up to Seattle and gamble on catching the next flight. We end up going to the airport.

5:00 pm — Arrive at the airport. Wait for over an hour while our bags are tagged first for Seattle, and then, optimistically, for Victoria.

6:30 pm — To the bar! Tequila and beer and a bratwurst that gave me one of the worst cases of heartburn ever. Of course it had nothing to do with the booze...

10:00 pm — Finally board our plane to Seattle, which has been continually delayed every half hour or so. It's clear at this point that we're not going to be sleeping in Victoria when we finally lay down our heads.

Tuesday, 12:00 am — Arrive at Sea-Tac airport. The Victoria flight is long gone. Our only options for the band are a 7:30 am flight, or a 10:17; we opt for the latter. At this point, we have two options: head over to the airport Marriott right away with only our carry-ons, or wait at least an hour for our bags. Due to necessity, we wait for our bags. (It is during this exhausted, frustrating waiting period that the above image was captured...)

2:00 am — Arrive at the Marriott. Most of us end up watching Pulp Fiction to its conclusion, getting to sleep around 3:30 or 4. I would've been out at 2:05 had it not been for said heartburn.

7:30 am — Wake-up call!

8:00 am — Head over to the airport. Yeah, we're all dead tired and loopy, but we're supposed to land in Victoria well before noon, so we grin and bear it.

9:45 am — This is where the shit really hits the propeller, and spacetime starts to contort. It is announced that our 10:17 flight has been delayed due to mechanical issues. Collective groan ensues, and we exchange knowing, diminishing-sanity glances. Sure enough, the turboprop of our puddle-jumper is cracked wide open and besieged by several wrench-wielding ground monkeys.

10:05 am — Our friendly neighborhood gate attendant announces that the flight has been canceled. We react with a round of further-dimished-sanity laughter, and he stares at us nervously as he continues with his monologue. He mentions that they may be able to get us another plane, and so we shouldn't rebook our flights right away.

10:10 am — THERE IS NO OTHER PLANE. We briefly consider rushing the gate desk, snatching the announcer, and offering him up as a sacrifice to the gods of airborne travel, then snap out of it. He informs us that there are no open seats on any other direct Victoria flights that day, and that our best option is to rebook on another airline (Air Canada) with an itinerary that would fly us first to Vancouver and then to Victoria. More laughter. And this is when I begin to be very thankful for tour managers.

11:00 am — All nine of us are booked and supposedly confirmed on a 12:40 flight to Vancouver and a 4:00 flight to Victoria. Things are looking up. Because it's another airline, we have to retrieve our luggage, recheck it at the ticket counter, then go through security once again. Because of the re-booking, we've all been "quad-S'ed," which basically means that ssssecurity gets to sssscrew us even more. Joy! They also tell us something about what we have to do with our luggage when we go through customs, and none of us really understand.

12:40ish pm — It gets hazy here. We're definitely not laughing anymore, and I think the Vancouver flight was delayed. I'm not sure by how much though. At this point, I can't even remember what the gate looked like. But eventually, we get on the plane and it leaves.

2:00ish pm — Land in Vancouver, go through customs, and try to retrieve our luggage (second time that day). Surprise! Seven of us, including myself, are without our baggage. There wasn't enough room on our flight, and the rest of it *should* arrive later that day. I go to check in for the Victoria flight, assisted by a canuckishly dry-humoured gate attendant. When I swipe my passport and I don't come up on the Victoria reservation, he asks if I bought my passport in China. On a normal day, I'd play along, but this time, I dryly assure him that it was issued in Chicago. A couple minutes later, I learn that I am not confirmed on the Victoria flight as we'd been assured, but waitlisted, along with one of the other band members.

3:00 pm — Go through security for the third time that day, and head to the gate. We explain our situation to the gate attendant, who turns out to be a Meat fan. We mention that if he manages to pull some strings for us, we could pull some strings and get him tickets for the Vancouver show. He is hopeful. Luckily, there's a bar within about 50 feet of the gate — gotta hand it to them Canadians! I order a Molson, then another, and another. Somewhere into the second, the attendant comes over with two tickets; we finally relax.

4:00 pm — We board the plane, and it takes off. One great thing about small planes and small airports is that it takes about five minutes to get from the gate to the runway and vice versa, so we're soon in the air. The flight itself is only about 20 minutes long, and it's absolutely beautiful.

Pretty islands and water...
5:45 pm — Arrival! Over 27 hours after leaving Indio, CA, we're finally at our hotel, only 17 hours late. ML treats us to drinks and dinner, and we collapse immediately thereafter.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now we're in Vancouver, I'm at the venue, and we hit the stage in a little over an hour. Tomorrow morning, we're off for Edmonton, Alberta. Everyone is praying that we crammed all the airline-related mishaps into the first day, and that the next couple weeks go off without a hitch...

Who Really Gives A Fuck About Anna-Nicole Smith!?

Obviously a lot of people, otherwise it wouldn't be on every goddamn news channel around. But really, get on with it. It was annoying the first day...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Enough Already...

I have been working on the same post for almost two weeks now. It's relevancy has plummeted with each passing hour. Yet, it will be finished, dammit, if I have anything to say about it. But until that day, here's a fun picture taken yesterday on the ocean shores of Victoria, British Columbia:

It seemed very Canadian to me in a way that would appear funny to those of us south of the border. It's all about the sorry, the deposits, and then thinking about the way they'd say it.

Perhaps this pathetic posting will act as the fiber necessary to keep my blogging regular. We shall see... more later!