February 23, 2002



Road Stories


Hi there and greetings from 33,000-- No, wait. If it's interesting once, cute twice, and just plain stupid the third time, then I'll be working on brain dead if I use that tired "get me, I'm flying" opening yet again. Instead, let's just go with…

Hi there.

Some of you may have noticed my dearth of new entries for a long stretch of time there. Then again, maybe you didn't, I don't know. I'd like to think you did. Frankly, I'd like to think there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments out there in the great Out There. I'd like people to have curled up into fetal positions all around the world, brought low with sadness and loss over the continuing silence over here at the 'stake. I'd like someone to have noticed. To those who did: thanks. To those who didn't… Well, um, hi there.

Wow. Tangent. Anyway…

During the dark days of my silence, a sad and ugly time that held the world gripped in a crushing, brutal fist of doom, during that sad time life went on. Incidents occurred, events transpired, shit happened. And some of it happened to me. I have stories yet untold. So I thought that tonight I might share a few of them, and since I'm traveling as I write this (uh-oh, there goes the flatline), I'll go with that as a theme and tell some traveling stories. So. Onward.

Way back when, in the bowels of time, circa about June of 2000 or thereabouts, I was working for PaineWebber and they sent me to New York for a week of Train The Trainer, uh, training. Actually, saying we were in New York is a euphemism. We were actually in Weehawken, NJ, just across the river from New York. There's a difference, trust me.

Anyway, the week I was there, so was Bruce Springsteen. In New York, that is, not Weehawken. The Boss don't do Weehawken. Because, you know, there's a difference. We had a pretty full schedule while we were there, but I made damn sure I built a hole big enough in mine for me to get away and see Springsteen. This was the E Street Band reunited after 13 years apart and Madison Square Garden is their old stomping grounds. There was no way in hell I was going to miss it.

I took the ferry across the river that night, then took a bus up to MSG. Went up to the will-call booth and, sure enough, they had tickets available to the sold-out show. That's the secret to seeing Springsteen, I've found: get will-call tickets the day of the show. I've never gone wrong that way. This time around I got a seat somewhere in the low risers about 2/3 back from the stage. Not bad for face value for a sold-out show.

He put on one of the best shows I've seen him do. He did old, obscure favorites like The Promise. He did my favorite, Jungleland, which I'd never seen him do in concert. The E Street Band was as good as ever and every one of us in the crowd was loving every second of it. It was fantastic. And then… Oh wow, then he did 41 Shots.

That was one of the coolest, most chilling moments I've ever experienced in a concert. The entire arena sang along with him, pumping our fists in the air, angry, angry, angry at the NYPD's execution of Amadou Diallo, and loving Bruce for putting our helpless rage into words and music for us. No wonder the cops were worried about him performing that song, no wonder they urged a boycott of the concert -- they had few fans there that night. Too bad they won't look to the cause and worry about why they gunned Diallo down in the first place … but that's a topic for another entry, now isn't it?

Seeing Springsteen that night makes up (almost) for the shitty way PaineWebber ended up letting me go, and totally made up for having missed him in Austin when I'd won tickets when I was with but couldn't make it due to my brief flirtation with being roadkill.

Now, with my new position, aside from my frequent jaunts to Dallas I've also been sent out to assist on-site at radio stations in Utica and Syracuse, both in upstate New York. I mentioned that in passing back in November, but I didn't talk about the cool part of that Syracuse trip. (I didn't mention anything about the Utica trip because there wasn't anything even remotely cool about being in Utica. Utica is like someone's half-finished idea of… Fuck it, I'll leave that thought half-finished in honor of Utica. Apolgies to any Uticans who may be reading this, but... well... You live there. You know I'm right.

Anyway. Syracuse was pretty cool for several reasons, not the least of which was that I was sent there with two of my favorite coworkers, Joe and Sal. My company doesn't schedule the three of us together very often. We feed off of each other, cracking on each other and doing practical jokes and being a little too high-energy and generally making asses of ourselves, be it in a classroom or on-site at a radio station or anywhere else we happen to be. Singing Wildfire at the top of our lungs at the Syracuse airport, for example, and goofing off so much that we were sent through security twice before boarding our flight. Tipping waitresses extra to abuse Joe. That sort of thing. Put the three of us together and we have a definite impact on any room we enter. So, as I say, they don't schedule us together very often. In fact, I've heard a rumor that the Chuck, Joe & Sal show won't be going to a radio station together ever again. I can't imagine why.

Anyway. I had a great time being in Syracuse with Joe and Sal. We were treated by the station to a Barenaked Ladies concert, which was very cool. But not the coolest part of the trip, oh no. The coolest part was this: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. If you're ever in the Syracuse or Rochester, NY areas, you owe it to yourself to have lunch there. We ate there almost every day -- my favorite was the Pork Carolina Style sandwich: pure barbequed pork topped with homemade coleslaw heaven on a bun. I never did get to try the Big Ass Pork Plate and don't think I'm happy about that. The food is excellent, and the fact that it started out as a biker joint only makes it cooler. I bought one of their T-shirts and wear it on all my biker club rides, their logo is my laptop's wallpaper, and I'm secretly plotting to talk Beth into taking our next vacation somewhere in the great Northeast - Syracuse, maybe, or even Rochester. They're outstanding vacation spots, aren't they?

Well, hmm… I think I'm out of traveling stories. I thought I had several, but it seems the concert and the BBQ are the only two that want to be told tonight. All right, then, so be it.

Thank you! Good Night!!!