Archive for June, 2011

Ol’ Blue

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

My first marriage has had its ups and downs.

I first met her when I was 14 and I was working a summer job at the garbage company working on weeds at rental properties. She was hot. She was different that all the others. Nice lines. Big in the rear, robust in the front. I knew that she was the one I was going to commit to forever.

So, with $1,500 I had saved, I bought a very low mileage 1966 Chrysler 300 that I wouldn’t even be old enough to legally consummate the relationship with for almost another two years.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from doing a lot of heavy petting and “fooling around.”

Then she was my car in high school. Perhaps, in some ways, other than people that owned a SUV in high school, she was about as perfect of a high school car as one could ever own. But by the summer after my senior year, we were drifting apart. I was leaving for school in Boston and she was not coming with me. She was parked. Oh, sure, I visited here and there, but a Honda Prelude was new fling. It had a sunroof and a tape deck with FM radio. And it was easier to drive back and forth 3,000 miles across country and park in urban streets.

But she waited.

By the time college ended, our divorce was declared. I really didn’t even think about her much. But then my parents got a divorce, and she lost her sweet place in their garage. I was married to my current wife by then and I had to make a decision…sell my first love or keep her.

My honest thinking at the time was simple…she was the single most valuable thing I owned at that point. My job position was precarious, and I needed her as collateral for a loan I was taking out to buy a new car.

And so it was: We became ball and chain. Everyplace I went, she came with the deal.

Then, one day, my wife declared that, in the new house, she needed more room in the garage. It was really a “me or her” moment, but I got the point. The Chrysler got rolled 30 feet out the door. And she sat. Through wind, sleet, rain and snow, she sat. Sure, I’d start her up once in a while, and I still had stuff in her trunk I needed here or there. But she got old and tired looking.

Parked in my front driveway, she also got a lot of suitors. Middle age guys like me, would stop and inquire about her, or as just to look under the hood for fun. And the thing was…I always obliged. But I started to get a little embarrassed about it. I mean, I had a sweetheart parked in my driveway and she was turning into Bette Davis before my eyes; she was saggy and old and tired and smokey. So, about a month ago, I sent her off for a medical evaluation and some honest assessment.

Just as I suspected. The brakes were shot. She was horribly out of tune. The gas tank needed to be replaced. Some serious facelift work was needed. And today, I got all of the cold hard realities of it. My concubine was not only going to cost thousands or dollars to fix up, when it was all done, she was going to need to go back into some garage someplace.

“What are you going to do,” asked the mechanic.

I had to make a call right then and there.

Crap. I already own four other cars (don’t ask, my grandpa dies with 3,000 of them). I just bought a brand new one. I just paid the rest of our summer vacation. To put it mildly…spending more of my savings was not in the plan. And what would i do with her? I had no room in a garage. My monthly budget doesn’t include rent money for a mistress. I don’t even have a steady job.

“I’ll be buy with a check in the morning.”

Here’s the thing. You really don’t ever forget your first. I just took it to the extreme because my first car is my first car. I know everything about it. I know the one guy that owned it before me. I even know where he lived and how he bought it. I know this car like the nape of a teenage girls neck.

She was my first.

Big Man

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Clarence Clemons died.

My daughter asked me, “What’s the big deal about that? Bruce Springsteen is still alive.”

This is a great question. So I showed her some videos on YouTube.

“It sounds like a violin with rock and roll and bass!”


And with the death of the Big Man, so, too dies the greatest garage band ever, in a way.

Yeah, Bruce will be around a while longer, I get that, but you have to have seen it to understand. When they were all there together, it was the most fun concert live in the history of whatever God calls a concert. I knew that from the first time I saw them, and it’s why I went to weird lengths and expense to see them open the last tour in San Jose and close Giants Stadium. Just YouTube anything from April 1, 2009 or October 3, 2009 for Bruce.

But here are the kickers…I knew kinda something wasn’t right in the April show with Clarence Clemons. And I couldn’t figure out how Max Weinstein was going to do this and whatever…it was like, I gotta see them one last time now. I fiddle faddled and didn’t do it, and then we saw it all in Giants Stadium and, well, it all made sense…they knew this was the last big gig in New Jersey. I really believe that.

Why does it matter? Because I regret the fact my daughter will only ever see what it was like on YouTube videos and DVDs. When you had all the E Street people (say for Danny), on that last tour, it was hard to describe. Clarence is now dead. Max’s son is playing more and more. Bruce is old. Little Stevie is old and making a mint on Sirius.

I guess my point is that you have to know when to grab the rings at the right times. I got it mostly right. But I didn’t get it all right. I should have had my kid with me for at least one of those shows.

All that said, I hope Bruce goes back on an acoustics tour. I saw him do that once at Fifth Avenue or Pantages in Seattle, and I didn’t appreciate it then. Shame on me. But as we all get older and our bands and out musical people begin to die off, I get it more.

I ramble.

But holy loving mother of gawd! You have never heard the alto sax until you listen to Jungleland live, in concert…


Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I have always wanted to see a game seven on of a Stanley Cup. I came within about 60 seconds of doing it yesterday.

First of all, I grew up near Seattle. We have no NHL team, but you will notice that the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to ever win the cup. It’s not like I live in a hockey wasteland…it’s just that we don’t have an NHL team because of the greedy NBA owners and how they designed Key Arena and blah, blah, blah…

But we had the terrible Canucks in Vancouver when I was a kid. I remember soccer cultural exchanges where I fell in love with curling and the Canucks. I love hockey. It makes no sense. I can’t really skate, I don’t even understand all the rules all the time, and I saw maybe one game a year if I was lucky.

Unfortunately, they pretty much sucked until the time I left for college in Boston. No, they just sucked. Let’s call a spade…

So I end up in Boston, and I’m working at the Globe and get to run film from The Garden during Celtics and Bruins games. And the Bs had Ray Borque. I started to have a man crush on him a little bit. So, my freshman year I bought a five-game plan, then for the rest of college I bought a 10-game plan, then I would buy playoff tickets outside the Orange Line after the puck had dropped in the first period because you could get them for, like, five bucks.

(My highlight was being in a bar in Southie in 1993 and drinking beer out of the Stanley Cup. Yep…it’s a short long story, but I knew a guy at the Glob that new a guy at BU that was best friends with a guy…and we all knew where it was going to be…see where it’s going…you end up in South Boston at a bar with about 50 guys that all sound like Mark Wahlberg passing the freakin’ Stanley Cup around. And just as one more aside…that was the last year…you can check this…the cup didn’t have a bodyguard.)

And then I moved back west and I was torn. I had no real “home” team in Seattle, and my little kid on soccer exchanges and buying 1979 hockey cards at the local 7-11 was torn with the fact I really liked having a team that was winning. So…I made a deal…

With the sports god devil…

I decided I was equally a Canucks and Bruins fan. Until Seattle had a team, I was a man of two nations. I was going to claim dual NHL citizenship.

So fast forward to Tuesday night…

I know one of my best friends, Brian, is not only and hockey player, but he grew up being a Bruins fans while driving to Canucks games. So I made an offer. I’d pay for tickets to a Stanley Cup game if they played each other. I figured it was about a $1,000 commitment. I figured a game five. Or something. I don’t know. But I said I could do it, and I would.

Here’s my thinking by the time the series was 2-1…I can’t lose. I kind of quit caring about winners and losers. I was rooting for no one. It was the Canucks and the Bruins. This thing was practically handed to guys in Seattle that love both teams on a silver platter…er, jug.

Then stuff kept coming up between both of us with work and life. I realized it was going to be $1,000 (at least) per ticket. But I am a man of my word…I said I was going to do it…

And then we get to Monday night. Brian has a huge deadline looming and a big meeting on Wednesday. I have a minor deadline that I can meet just by working late. We are both nervous and excited…he makes a call to his client and explains the situation…it seems like he might be able to get a 24-hour pass. I get my work done.

We look for tickets online…ugly. It’s $3500+/- for two tickets.


And here’s the thing…we both had to be back the next morning, him especially, and we started talking about the 1994 riots (just Google “1994 Canucks riot”). What if they riot and we get stuck.

Then some popped up that we started to do and they were $3200 for two tickets. I’m game, but I said to Brian: “Do you realize we could take a golf trip to Scotland for about that much money? I mean, seriously, we don’t trust that there won’t be riots, we have work obligations, and we are blowing about 100,000 frequent mate miles with our significant others if ANYTHING goes wrong.”

Long pause on the other end before I spoke.

“Buy the fucking tickets! It’s Canucks-Bruins in game seven.”

He clicked…they were gone.

I remember that moment. That moment where I was relieved and sad. I always figure out how to be “there” for stuff like this. But I am also such a ninny nanny, that I was kind of glad I wouldn’t be there.

We agreed to wake up at 6 a.m. and talk and hope there were tickets that had come down in price. Brian woke up to more bad news from work. I was about ready to board the train. It just fell apart.

Here’s the thing…I would have spent the money to do it. It sounds stupid, but I do think seeing either team skating around with the cup would have given me so much satisfaction, and I would love to share it with Brian, because he is a far bigger hockey geek than me,  and, well…I like the “event.” But here’s the other thing…

THANK GOD we didn’t do it.

We had both talked ourselves into this being the greatest thing we could ever see in our whole lives…and it’s not.

Neither team is our team, really. They are adopted teams. We knew the riots would happen, and we had talked about it a week before. I didn’t care who won. Our seats would have sucked. Brian would have risked a major job. I would have felt guilty about spending so much money…

But I am good at picking and choosing my experiences.There are so many other things that I have never experienced that I want to try with one of my best friends.

Yep…I was about 60 seconds away from having tickets to last night’s game. But I paused. I paused for some reason that someday I’m going to be doing something with Brian, maybe with the whole families, and I’m going to savor.

Besides…once you’ve sipped beer out of the Stanley Cup, just how great can watching other guys play with it be…


U2 Tomorrow

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Tomorrow night is U2 360…which I must admit I have been pretty much wishy-washy about since the original concert date was cancelled last year. I mean, there’s going to be like 100,000 people in downtown Seattle between three theaters, a Mariners’ game, a Storm game and the concert. What a headache.

But then I started really pounding on listening to U2′s music the last week and realized something…I like them. I really like them. Of course, I especially like the stuff I saw during the “Joshua Tree” tour and the “Making Fun of Small East German Cars” tour, but the new stuff works for me.

But here’s the thing that got me all nostalgic and thinking during the last week: Crap, I’ve seen some great concerts. Or at least really memorable concerts. I can’t even list them all; I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Some of them, I knew they were going to be “historic” at the get go. Some of them, just turned into awesome bootlegs. Some had great stories. Some sucked. But they were all great. All of them. I’ve seen bands that became really famous when they were playing dive bars, and I’ve seen really famous performers playing dive bars. I’ve seen the same groups in weird venues and in stadium concerts.

It’s not even like I go to many concerts. I just pick and choose them. My friends would not look at me and describe me as being a music “guy” by any stretch…but I do read newspapers and keep track of stuff. I’m surgical many times.

It’s like the guy I saw playing at the Nashville airport last month. (I don’t remember his name.) But I sat through a two-hour set, because I know he’s going to be famous someday. (I did get his business card.) Or the night I watched “Death Cab” at The Swiss in Tacoma. Or seeing Nirvana go acoustic and Pier 54. Blah blah blah…

But then there are the times you go out of your way for a big act, or you just “know.” I pledged a fraternity once just because I was guaranteed tickets to “Steel Wheels,” a Billy Joel concert in Worcester and the first night of Paul McCartney playing The Beatles. I dropped out on the night of the final rush job…I used it. I’ve saw U2 on St. Patrick’s Day at the old Boston Garden (and I hung out with him in the Commons (very cool).) Bruce closing Giants Stadium. Chet Atkins doing a guitar lick at the Roy Y. Dylan a couple of times; good and bad.  I saw the Dead twice and hated them both. I even saw Eddie Vedder at The Rat in Kenmore Square (and it was only that I was Seattle that I knew who he was, apparently).

My point is, that I am sure the U2 concert tomorrow is going to mostly be a big stadium blow job. Fine. I know that there is nothing I can do to fix that. I liked it 20 years ago when we were soaking wet from sweat in March and I had front-row loge seats in the old Garden with cars hanging all over the place on St. Patrick’s Day in the most Irish of American cities.

But I am a little more excited as it gets closer.