Monday, January 24, 2005

First thing: Dropped this here G4 on some asphalt last Monday, severely enough to kill the video. Took me until today to get it back from the shop, essentially unharmed but for a chassis ding. Hence (along with the story below) the longer than expected absence, and the difficulty of reaching or being reached by me. Day before the first class of the term was a hell of a time for this...

In other news: It isn't every weekend you ruin someone's wedding. Well, ok, reception.

The short version: I, along with Kyle and Daniel, were to be the band at my college/grad-school friend Guy Rohrbaugh (and his now-wife Sonoma's) nups this last Saturday, in Charlottesville, VA. The other two-thirds of the band flew into D.C. on Friday and drove down that night; Bree and I flew in a bit later the same night, and stayed with Jenny and her s.o. Brian, with plans to make the 140 mile drive after breakfast in time for a 6 o'clock ceremony. Call that Plan A.

But then there was this blizzard. Now: There are several 'could haves' that would have gotten around this difficulty. I could have reserved a car for Fri. night instead of Sat. morning and driven down as per K & D. I could have left the next morning well before the snow began (though I'm not sure exactly when that would ahve been). I could have realized the drive was impossible in time for the 9:30 bus (there was no morning Amtrak on Sat.). But, I did not.

Plan B was the 1 p.m. Greyhound; which, once we got to the terminal, had been cancelled. Plan C was driving after all, despite Jenny's doubts (she's seen me drive) -- leaving at 1, we'd still make the event, or at least the reception, even at a crawl, right? Wrong: We left well after the ice had formed but before the scrapers and salt had come out. There was some swerving, a certain learning curve with the brakes, and many drivers as bad or worse than me on the way to Hwy 29. We got about 15 miles in a little over an hour before I realized that I was being very, very foolish. Found our way off the highway in Tyson's Corner (where the supermarket had closed for the duration), spoke to the hotel and the bride's sister, said we had to turn back and would take the evening train. Turning back, the driving was not quite as bad, and the fall had more or less stopped, but: I've been on 29 before, part of it is two-lane and wooded, and I had no way of knowing whether it would have been cleared (or even, at that point, which way the storm was headed). I am not macho.

Plan D was the 7:10 Amtrak, slated to get into C-Ville at 9:25, just in time to get a cab to the reception, rush in w/ the guitar, and 'save the day' or at least play "Close To You," our rehearsed mother-son dance. So, we got dressed back at J's, reserved tickets, headed to Union Station: The route hadn't been cancelled, but it was coming from the north, where the storm had been even worth, and was already delayed 2 1/2 hours; even w/o any further delay between D.C. and C-ville, we would have gotten there just shy of midnight -- useless, given our purpose. Made more calls, tendered regrets; Daniel left me a very kind message telling me not to beat myself up about it. There was no Plan E -- unless eating the turkey Brian had cooked instead of a chicken because he thought all along that there was a good chance A-D were not going ot pan out counts as Plan E. (He went to school in Buffalo; I think his intuitions are pretty good on this front.) I felt pretty bad that I ended up having a pleasant evening with friends (Antidote/Tempting trumpeter Kevin Cordt, whose jazz quartet we'd seen the previous night, came too) despite fucking up fairly royally, but I'd have felt worse if my girlfriend had died in a snowbank.

By the way, you can see that travelling and otherwise being w/o the computer (and thus not having some of my usual phone #s and addresses) added complications to all this at various points.

I know all this may sound more like poor planning than high drama to those of you who live where rain is not a top news story. I'm not a complete So. Cal. wimp about weather (but close); I have toured cross-country in heavy rain, though not in ice and snow; I even have a little bit of driving experience in the latter, but not for this kind of distance, and not in a vehicle I didn't know well. I did what I could, which might not be what someone else could. (Yes, I'm making excuses: Well, I told you felt bad.) This is only the second show I can remember not making -- which doesn't count cancelling a few days ahead because of, e.g., breakdowns. 0pb never played in Montana or the Dakotas because of the latter, but there was notice. The only one we actually failed to arrive for was in '92, at what would have been our first Columbus, OH show, with, wait for it, Grotus. (And there might have been some weird thing once where Simon Joyner double booked the two of us somewhere in the Midwest and I went to one show and he another....)

This would have been an interesting performance, as it would have been 'for' (besides many strangers and family) some of the first people I ever played in front of at Pomona College. We'd worked up less "irreverent" versions of some of our frequently played covers circa '87, notably "Cathy's Clown" and "I Will Survive," plus various mostly-generationally-appropriate numbers that might have some chance of inspiring dancing: "Our Lips Are Sealed," "What Do I Get?" "Lovesick Blues," Ewan MacColl/The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town" (by the bride's request), "Pump It Up," "Pina Colada," "My Baby Just Cares For Me," J. Richman's "Affection" going into "The Look of Love," a Krall-inspired arrangement of Tom Waits' "Temptation," "Uncontrollable Urge," "Rock 'n' Roll Friend" (Guy's a big enough G-B's fan for this to make sense). And about 4 of our more palatable originals.

I'm sure I didn't really ruin everything -- we were actually only supposed to play for an hour, and then the iPod would do its magic. But I was looking forward to fulfilling our function, that function being "shuffle" -- the last time I played an appropriate set at something like a dance party, for a KSPC fundraiser, I found it very gratifying. (I will also say that I often, to the rest of 0pb's chagrin, suggested to crowds at, like, Jabberjaw or Under Acme that they dance; that was one part of indie manners I didn't quite get. And, on the other side, I was the guy dancing at, like, Bats and Big Dipper shows....)

But, instead, my drummer and bass player ate cake with people they hardly know, while I had the drumstick back in D.C.. And made a mad rush through Bridge St. Books the next day before the flight back, but "Purchased:" can wait a couple days, as will Dulles Airport on post-inauguration [a.k.a. "Ignore-the-Nation," per Jenny"] weekend.

Sorry that was so long. Had to go somewhere.

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