I am still not rested or recovered from the past few days' festivities but I better start writing some of this down before I forget it. Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)...
I couldn't really sleep Tuesday night but I finally drifted off about midnight and woke up at 2:58 AM when I was supposed to leave for the airport at 3. And I was not finished packing. A mad dash ensued during which I threw everything but the kitchen sink into my new suitcase (which I affectionately named "Big Pink"), put on a heavy sweatshirt and my even heavier industrial strength red winter coat and headed out to San Francisco at 4:30 AM. Screw the airlines if they can't take a joke, you know what I mean? Anyway, we pulled up at the terminal around 5:00 AM and I jumped out with my stuff and sprinted to curbside check in, only to find out that my flight to Chicago had been canceled ten minutes earlier (this was the infamous day of 550 flight cancellations at O'Hare). I told my friend, Narciso, to drive around the airport a few times and not to leave until I called him to let him know it was OK. Then I went inside.
I got in the line to check in at the counter (I was told I needed to be re-routed) and waited about twenty minutes before being told I was in the wrong line. Patience, never a virtue in my possession, was wearing thin. I went to the back of the correct line, which looked like the line for the opening day of STAR WARS. It was suggested that while I waited in line, I call American Airlines, which I did. Press this, press that, you know the drill. I kept just yelling "human being" which of course the system did not understand. Finally, I remembered the secret word: AGENT. Of course all of their agents were otherwise occupied but I was able to get through after a reasonably short time (maybe ten minutes) during which my place in the line had moved up about four feet. I explained my predicament to the agent who said, "Why are you calling me? You were already re-routed to the 6:40 flight to Miami." It was 6 AM by now. I said "Why didn't someone call, you have my cell in your records and I am stuck in this huge line." Luckily, a customer service agent walked by and asked if anyone in the line was on the flight to Miami. She looked at my heavy sweatshirt and heavier coat and seemed a little surprised when I said, "I am." She pulled me out of the line and I was re ticketed and checked in.
In the midst of all of this, I was frantically calling Tricia in Iowa City (She and Brad were supposed to meet me in Chicago and fly on to D.C., arriving in time for the show in Falls Church, VA, that night) who said her flight to Chicago was on time and maybe we should just meet in D.C. Fine, except how the hell are we going to pull this off! I made the dash to security, saw that the premium and first class special lines were packed and that nobody was in the peon line, so I went through security that way, which was quick and painless, and made it to the gate ahead of schedule. The flight to Miami was smooth, swift, and not very crowded, which considering my mood was a blessing for the staff on board.
After I landed in Miami (where, by the way, it was 75 degrees outside and about 175 degrees inside and where I was the subject of several stares due to the weirdness of my attire), I called Tricia to check in again and see what was happening with the midwest segment of our little caravan. Bad news, their flight was canceled, too, and she and Brad were re-routed through Dallas and would not get in until 11:00 PM. No flies on me, I called Mookie Siegel in Baltimore to ask if he could pick me up en route to the gig (boy, don't I have nerve). I got his message machine, though, so I left a rather confusing message and boarded the plane to D.C. When I got to Reagan, I collected my bags and took a taxi to the State Theatre in Falls Church, which as it happens, is not all that far away. The driver pulled up in front of the theatre and I spotted Johnny Markowski and Ronnie Penque outside. They came over to the cab and collected a very frazzled Michelle and her psychedelic pink luggage and we went into the theatre lobby. Ronnie walked off with my bags (Timmy had said they would store them onstage during the show) and Johnny and I stopped to check me in on the guest list.
It was then that I finally met Doria Topazio, a.k.a. Mrs. Toast. She was manning the merch table (a thankless job, I should know) and we had a great conversation. I went into the theatre and there was Ronnie (whose nickname, Pinkley, is relevant to this story), still holding my suitcases and talking to David and Michael. David said, "Boy, are we glad that suitcase is YOURS. Ronnie told us it was his and we said, "No, Ronnie, no, not PINK..." When I protested that the reason I bought that was so I could spot it on the carousel, David said that was a great idea and that pink luggage for ME was not a problem, only for Ronnie. Oh, and did I mention that all this time, it was raining off and on there in the D.C. area.
I ordered some food and sat down to talk to Mookie while he ate. He apologized for not getting back to me about the airport until it was too late (he thought I wasn't coming in that day so he took another gig and was on a tight schedule with his equipment - not an issue for me). We had a great talk (I just love Mookie when I am not busying myself irritating him).
Michael showed me how to get to the backstage, which was a feat in itself (out one door into the rain, into another door if it was unlocked, then up three flights of stairs). So of course, going back and forth to the band room usually ended up in me getting wet.
Here is the set list:
whole show with mookie siegel
Instant Armadillo Blues
I Don't Know You
Whatcha Gonna Do
15 Days Under the Hood
Truck drivin' Man
Last Lonely Eagle
Absolutely Sweet Marie
Garden of Eden > The Last Time > Garden of Eden
Sing Me a Rainbow
Any Naked Eye
encore: Let it Bleed
During the break, everyone asked me if Brad and Tricia had arrived yet. We were so looking forward to seeing them and having a high adventure. They got there just at the beginning of "Last Lonely Eagle" and I finally calmed down.
After the show, we were in the band room for quite awhile before our whole gang headed out to the hotel in Annapolis, Maryland. The toilet upstairs had not worked all night and David Nelson decided to fix it. I took pictures of David giving Markowski plumbing lessons, and here is one of those pictures (butt cracks were photoshopped out at the insistence of the League of Decency:
When David very proudly pronounced the toilet fixed, I went in to use it. It worked fine until the handle came off in my hand and landed in the tank (I think David better stick to music). Around that time, the handyman police brigade arrived and arrested Mr. Nelson and Mr. Markowski for impersonating plumbers. I have the mug shots to prove it but David is insisting on creative control and will not let me publish them until he runs them through Photoshop.