Maybe the Cowboys really ARE America’s Team

Whoah, did I just say that?  As a life-long New York Giants fan, there is no love lost between me and the Cowboys.   I’ll admit that there were some sour grapes during the 90’s when the Giants struggled and the Cowboys went on a run of championships.  That’s on me, though I think that it’s a human reaction.  But my biggest gripe about the Cowboys is the whole “America’s Team” moniker being shoved down my throat.  Even in California where I grew up, it was impossible to get away from.  They may not have appointed themselves to the elevated status, but those Cowboys sure reveled in it.  Pure audacity or marketing genius?  Perhaps both.

Flash forward to 2014.  I live in Texas.  My boyfriend Ryan is a diehard Cowboys fan, my boss is a Cowboys fan, friends, coworkers, it’s Texas, you get the point.  I still cringe when I hear the phrase “America’s Team”.  I don’t even try to hide the exaggerated eye rolls.  Because here’s the thing – they’ve won TWO playoff games since their last Super Bowl win in 1995.  How exactly does that qualify them?  If anything, I’d think that the Green Bay Packers with their heart of America, fan-owned and very storied (and successful) franchise would be a better candidate.  For that matter, following the 9/11 events and the surge of Patriotism, the New England Patriots could have made a run at it, Spygate or not.  But the Cowboys?  Still?  Really?

As free agency opened up yesterday, the Cowboys did the unthinkable and released their all-time franchise sack leader Demarcus Ware.  We knew this was coming.  The Jones’ hinted at it two weeks ago.  They have major salary cap issues caused primarily by bad management and bad drafting.  As a business decision, they didn’t have a choice, but even for a non-Cowboys fan, it hurts to see a great player, team leader and future Hall of Famer leave like this.  Was Tony Romo’s huge payday worth it?  I hope that Sean Lee is ready to carry the entire defense on his back because I don’t think that Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Spencer are going to get you there.

The Cowboys have a record of 146-142 over the last 18 seasons.  That’s barely over par.  America’s Team?  Pfft.  But then it hit me.  Maybe they are more like America than we have realized.  Like America, the Cowboys are a former powerhouse and industry-dominator that now struggle to live up to mediocrity.  Like America, the Cowboys have mismanaged their finances, blown through their budget and now have to make unthinkable cuts.  Like America, the egos of the 1% who believe that the ability to buy their way into an industry (or government) gives them the knowledge to run it.  Like America, the Cowboy glorify criminal behavior and diva mentality while nanny policies are put into place.  Like America, the Cowboys have ousted one inept coach for one who turned out to be worse (Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett have both coached exactly 56 games and their records are 34-22 and 29-27 respectively).  Whether coaches or presidents, does anyone else ever find themselves asking if this is really the best we have to choose from or is it just me?  And like America, the health, well being and retirement plans of the Cowboys players are dismissed if it stands to make the executives a few more dollars.

So yeah, the way I see it, the Cowboys represent America – at least everything that’s wrong with it.  Both are resting on what’s left of their reputations while scratching their heads, looking back and saying “that used to be us”.  If that is something they are proud of, who am I to judge?  America, here is your team.

Oh Lord, what have I done?

I was one of those college students who could never quite get it together.  A stop, a start, a major change.  A few semesters on the Dean’s list followed by a few semesters of incompletes.  A few more major changes, a few more stops and starts and well, you pretty much get the picture.  In the early years, I was partying too much.  In the later years, I was working full time.  In the middle, I had some brilliant moments of straight As great accomplishment but for the most part I think it just wasn’t that important to me.  I managed to squeak an Associate’s out of it all but damn if I didn’t rack up a lot of useless credits in the process.  I’m probably better educated than a lot of BA holders out there and I have nearly as many credits…..they just don’t happen to be in upper division.  

Over the last few years it’s started to become important to me to get that Bachelor’s degree.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do that now that I live in Texas.  Can’t get in to UT.  Can’t make the drive to Texas State.  Not a lot of other options.  But now there is a program through one of the Cal State campuses that works entirely online.  “Cool!” I thought.  I can get the degree and it will be a REAL degree from a brick and mortar school (no offense to any University of Phoenix folks out there).  No sweat.  Online, easy to manage the schedule with my job, etc, etc.  So I signed up.

Cut to today.  Classes start in a couple of weeks so I figured I ought to check in and check it out.  And here we go.

First – I have a class whose E-BOOK version of the text book still costs over $100.  FOR AN E-BOOK.  Still $99 TO RENT it for the semester.  Wait, what?  I remember full well how expensive textbooks are but this….this is robbery.  

Next – On top of the syllabi that are long enough to pass for the texts that I just mentioned, I have research papers.  First time out of the gate in years and I picked two classes that have research papers.  I have to admit, I thought about trying to drop and pick new classes but they are both required so I will have to face them anyway and oh yeah, I’ve already traded my first born for textbooks.  

Here’s me now: Glazed-over-deer-in-the-headlights and about to make a sharp turn to panicsville.  I have trips planned!  I have fantasy football teams to manage (3 of em!)!  I have Cowboys fans to harrass over beer and chicken wings!  I have….absolutely no chance of having any semblance of a life for the next 3 months.  

Me and my bright ideas. 

From sushi rolls to eye rolls

OK, so I haven’t blogged in a ridiculously long time. Not that I haven’t had anything to say. Oh I’ve had plenty of great ideas that will sadly remain as such. But let me catch you up. Work, boyfriend, football season, work, holidays, hockey season, re-enrolled in school, found a new obsession with my lawn and garden, spent St. Patty’s day in Chicago, ate some crawfish, and here it is already BASEBALL season and here I am wondering where the hell the time went. Pretty much the same ol’ same ol’. Except I haven’t painted, I haven’t written and I haven’t seen any live music to speak of since……actually I’m not sure and that is a problem. I did however get to hear the new Thieves Like Us album thanks to a friend who has yet again rescued me from my creative abyss. (album is awesome BTW)

At any rate, the first thing I want to say is Austinites – if you haven’t been to Roll On Sushi on Burnet, you are missing out. I had the opportunity to go their yesterday and their food is top notch. They call it fusion. I call it yum. Clever ideas, even more clever names like the “Guaca-Rolly” and the “Make it Rain-bow” roll. Even more fun are the non-traditional rolls like the “Cholesta-Roll”, the “Beefy Texan” and the “Rolltallion Stallion”. I could go on and on, but the best thing to do is just go in and check it out. It’s about as unpretentious as you can get and the staff is treats you like they’ve known you for years. If you can get there between 4-7 they have some great happy hours specials and off the menu selections that are to die for. We turned a couple of sushi skeptics into raving fans and advocates. I think that says it all.

So a good night, right? Right! Then on my way home I stopped at my neighborhood HEB. (For you non-Texans, this is the predominant grocery chain in the area) I didn’t have much to purchase so I used the handbasket which I set on the conveyor belt at the checkstand. The checker had walked away so I read a text or two while waiting for her to return. All of a sudden I hear a melodramatic sigh that caused me to look up and come face to face with what I assume was a person, but all I could really see was the inch of black liquid eyeliner. Eyeliner girl proceeds to roll the eyes I THINK are under there and say in what I can only describe as a disinterested-Kardashian-pseudo-Valley Girl whine, “so….are you going to be unloading your basket?” I stare at her blankly. She goes on to say “because, I can’t scan your items if you don’t take them out of the basket….” We had a sort of stand off that MAY have ended in us both reaching for the basket and me taking it out of her hand and saying something along the line of “you just stand there and look pretty and I’ll do the work for you”.

You know that moment when you hear yourself saying something and you realize that you have become your parents?  I’m there!  I am telling stories and making statements that start with “back in my day…”  and “when I was your age…” and that right there is the most horrifying thing.  Almost as horrifying as the music I grew up with making it into the regular rotation of classic rock and oldies stations.  Ouch.  But I digress (look!  squirrel!) and things really are different these days. My grandma would be horrified. And the worst part is that when I made the crack, eyeliner girl didn’t even seem to get what I was saying. Not a clue. I guess I should have used the Kardashian voice.

With my soap-box rant over, I’m off to enjoy my Friday afternoon. You should do the same.

The art of saying goodbye

I have a lot of things on my mind this week.  Jon is one of them.  In a few days it will be the one year anniversary of the day he died.  But I’m trying not to think about it too much.  Remembering him for his death wouldn’t serve his memory because he was, in every sense of the word, full of life.

What strikes me most is how quickly the year has gone by.  It seems impossible but the calendar doesn’t lie and September 17th will come and go.  And then it will be another year.  Life….keeps going.  That may actually be the hardest thing to cope with at first, because it doesn’t seem like it should.  Everything is turned upside down and nothing will ever be the same again yet the sun shines and the birds sing as if nothing has happened at all.   It’s funny,  but I think it is because of that very thing that we are able to heal.  We’re sort of forced to.  The scar will always be there as a reminder of what you’ve lost but the wound, amazingly, does heal.

Looking forward and moving on….the best way to pay tribute this week is for me to go out, have fun and live life to the fullest.  It’s how he lived every day of his life and what he advocated to everyone he met.  So no tears, no sad songs, no alcohol-induced stupor, and no feeling guilty for being happy – just a simple acknowledgement, a nod and a wink if you will, to a life that was, the stories that endure, and friend who will always be missed.

A football (girl’s) life

Football is back.  Glorious football.  It’s been a long and crazy off-season with the lock outs and the hold-outs and the wackadoodle free agency happenings.  I think that a lot of us weren’t even sure there would be a season at all.  But after all of the twists and turns and bumps in the road we made it to week one.  I woke up yesterday giddy like a kid on Christmas as we got ready to go to a series of watch parties that would take up the entire day and evening.  The weather was slightly cooler.  It almost felt like fall.  Everywhere I looked there were people in jerseys and hats and there were game sounds filling the corners of every room.  Excitement!  Anticipation!  Elation!  And then I saw the Giants game.  Cue sound effect: wah wah wahhhhhh…….

I’ve  loved the Giants as long as I’ve loved football.  Big Blue is the only team I’ve over been a fan of.  Why the Giants is what most people ask.  Not important!  What matters is that I am a loyal fan and that’s all I’m going to say about that.  But I’ve been with them for a while.  I’m old enough to remember the glory days of Superbowl victories against the Broncos and the Bills, of a rock solid running game and bone-crushing (or bone- breaking if you ask Joe Theisman) defense.  They were beasts and I loved it.

Of course cut to a few years later and we endured the years of Dave Brown and Danny Kanell at quarterback.  Oh and don’t forget Kerry Collins and the miserable showing at the Superbowl against the Ravens.  Couldn’t even watch the second half.  For real.  Every time I hear that yet another team has decided to bring him on I just shake my head.  How’d that work out for you Oakland and Tennessee?  Oh and Indy……good luck with all that.

At any rate, I met the start of the season much the same as I usually do.  Cautiously optimistic.  Hoping for the best but mentally and emotionally preparing for the worst.  I’ve been here before and so has my blood pressure.  And after a great start with a score on the first possession I watched it all slipped away as Eli threw a pick and was sacked 4 times.  We gave up a lead and lost to the Redskins whose quarterback is REX GROSSMAN.  Oh yeah, I remember this old feeling.  The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the “ I just got kicked in the teeth” feeling of watching all hope crumble in front of your eyes.

But there’s always next week.  And we’ve got 13 more weeks to prepare for the Cowboys – my boyfriend’s team and of course arch rival of the G-Men.  We both lost yesterday and were nobly empathetic for each other but something tells me it won’t be like this all season – especially since we are competing in fantasy football and survivor football as well.  Oh yeah, it’s like that.  But even the worst day in football is better than the best day without it so bring it on.  And of course, go Big Blue!

When life give you lemons……

When one door closes, another one opens.  Don’t be sorry for what you’ve lost, be glad for what you have.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.  Etcetera.  So many proverbs and adages – or as I like to think of them, so many graceful ways of telling one to suck up and deal.  But there could be something to the wise words which have been burned into our brains from the time we were born.  My big birthday trip to Munich and beyond is officially dunzo.  Finished.  Caput.  And you know what?  I’ve never been happier. 

See….what had happened was…..stories that start off that way usually go quickly awry, don’t they?  Not so in this case. The simple truth is that I had been planning this trip for a while, and as various friends committed and canceled, I continued with my plans figuring that I would go alone if necessary.  When I realized just how much more money it would cost as a solo traveler, it became a huge, expensive stress fest.  Not exactly the fun-filled birthday trip I had envisioned.  And while, I could and WOULD go alone, I don’t really want to.  I’m not looking for an “Eat Pray Love” sort of getaway.  Since my heart just wasn’t in it anymore, I took a few deep breaths and pulled the plug.  I was about to be required to make another payment and I was losing sleep at night over it.  At this point, I had only invested frequent flyer miles to book the airfare and a few hundred dollars as a deposit.  Don’t get me wrong – 100,000 wasted miles makes me physically ill (international ff miles can’t be changed in any way once the flight is booked) but other than that, the financial loss is minimal. Disappointing?  Yes.  But the right decision.  

But here’s the thing.  Now I’ve planned a trip out to California for an extended weekend and I’m really excited about it. Way more excited than I was about the “other” trip.  Magic Mountain which has a brand new roller coaster opening this summer, In-N-Out, a group dinner at Angelo’s and Vinci’s, my friends and family… THAT’s a good way to spend a birthday.  There’s a bit of an added bonus: I won’t be travelling alone.  A particular someone is going home with me and I’m stupid happy about it.  That is all.  Or is it?

Missing Oktoberfest does not mean missing Beerfest.  Texas has its legendary Wurstfest every fall and I’ll be making my maiden voyage.  The will be beer.  There will be beer consumed from boots.  There will be sausage and crazy hats and oompah bands and leiderhosen.  Proving at least one of those adages wrong, I’ll be having my cake, eating it too, and of course washing it down with a good dunkel.

Let’s give it to Mikey, he hates EVERYTHING…

Food is a curious thing.  There are a lot of sensory memories involved with the tastes and smells of what we have grown up on.  Meals and specific food items have a way of socially and emotionally bonding us to each other – whether the bonding is between family members or friends or communities.  What I notice the most about this though, is how much of what everyone else likes that I……pretty much hate.   Perhaps its part “I just really don’t like this” and part “I know I’m supposed to like it but I don’t because everyone else does”.  I don’t know.  But here’s a list, in no particular order and in no way all-encompassing:

Bananas.  Nothing is nastier than bananas (except for banana FLAVORED whatevers).  Yuck.  just yuck.  They’re mushy, they have those stringy things on them and they are always either way too green or way too brown. 

Watermelon.  EVERYONE likes watermelon, right?  No.  What does watermelon even taste like?  Water?  I can get that without the grit and seeds, thank you.  Unless you’re punching a bottle of vodka down in it, I’m not interested. And really, even then….

Melon in general.  Honeydew?  No thank you.  Cantaloupe?  Not unless you want to watch me become ill.  I can’t even stand the smell of it and I can smell that foulness from across the room.  To borrow a phrase from a friend, MBLARF!

Peanuts.  This especially includes their gag-inducing mutant offspring peanut butter.  It frankly looks like something out of a diaper and I don’t understand the allure of eating something that will glue your mouth shut and stick in the back of your throat.  Continue this to Butterfingers, Reeses anything, and Snickers.

Granola.   Too crunchy.  Hurts my teeth.  Isn’t filling and is disproportionately high in calories.  I simply don’t see the point. 

Graham Crackers.  Dry.  Might as well eat cinnamon flavored sand. 

Marshmallow.  Practically pure sugar.  Oh, and a little cornstarch and gelatin adden in for good mix.  Did you know that you can light them and create a light source?  Next time there is a blackout, screw the candles and grab the marshmallows.  Add this to the graham crackers above and there are clearly no s’mores in my future.

Rice Krispy Treats.  Since we just talked about marshmallow, I may as well bring up the other famous marshmallow-related product.  Candy coated and petrified cereal.  Mmmmm.

Honey.  First, it just doesn’t taste good.  But second, along the lines of peanut butter….why would someone want to eat something that sticky and that prone to glue your mouth shut?  And isn’t it basically bee barf?

Popcorn.  It smells ok.  Kind of.  But inevitably, 9 times out of 10 when I smell popcorn it is burnt popcorn.  We had our fire alarms go off and had to evacuate our 4 story office building once because of burnt popcorn.  It doesn’t really matter if it is dry or drowning in a pool of butter and salt….the kernals stick in your teeth and it leaves a horrendous aftertaste. 

Salmon.  I love fish.  Pretty much ANY fish.  I hate salmon.  I’ve tried to eat it many times and even in quality restaraunts – I just can’t do it.  The oddity is that apparently when I was a kid I loved the stuff and constantly asked my mom for “orange fish”.  I think I blame my grandma whom I loved dearly and was otherwise a phenomenal cook.  But she made this salmon loaf that made me run screaming.  Think meatloaf but made with canned salmon that is similar to tuna fish in textures.  I am shuddering just thinking about it. 

Dark Meat Chicken.  While we’re on the subject of proteins…..dark meat chicken freaks me out.  It seems slimy and undercooked no matter how long it has been in the oven.  I’ve been known to buy those pre-cooked seasoned chickens at the deli, eat the breasts and then throw the rest away.  Shameful, I know.  If I have my wits about me I at least try to retain the dark meat for soup or something where I won’t be able to tell.  But I won’t touch it. 

Breakfast Sausage.  Any other kind of sausage is great, but Jimmy Dean is not welcome at my table.  There is a particular flavor – could be the fennel – that makes me feel like I have the flu.  It’s also greasy.  I find no redeeming qualities in it whatsoever. 

Peppermint.  It gives me a headache.  And I have memories of endless Girl Scout Campouts where the rest of the troop just HAD to have Singing Oranges for dessert.  That, by the way, is a peppermint stick shoved into an orange and you’re supposed to suck the juice out throught the peppermint like a straw.  Has anyone ever had orange juice after eating something sweet or brushing your teeth?  Same principal.  Eesh

Cinnamon Rolls.  I really don’t get the allure.  They smell sort of ok.  But they are sticky and covered in gloppy icing.  And I hate sweets in the morning.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth at all, but before noon is unthinkable.

Big Red Soda.  It’s a Texas thing.  I’ve heard that it is allegedly supposed to be cinnamon cream soda.  All I taste is chemicals – you know that toxic red dye # 40 that was banned back in the 80’s?  But people in Texas (who grew up on it) LOVE it. 

It goes even deeper.  Until recently I wouldn’t eat anything with any kind of barbecue sauce, chicken wings or ribs (it’s a bone thing) or celery (except for celery root).  And I don’t consider myself a picky eater.  In fact, I like a LOT of things, weird things even.  And like Mikey, I love me some Life cereal.  Just don’t give me a peanut butter sandwich.

Beckoned by the Bunnymen

As much as I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember and as many shows as I’ve seen, I can’t believe that I never saw Echo & The Bunnymen.  Until now.  I gotta say, it was absolutely worth the wait.

The exciting thing about this show was that it promised The Bunnymen’s first two albums, Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, in their entirety.  It’s so rare for any band to do this but these are both great albums which are well worth this sort of showcase.

The band took the stage shortly after 10 and after a few hiccups with the sound (and a lot of muttering of the word “bollocks” from Ian McCulloch) we were on our way and delving deep into Crocodiles.  You know those bands who sound great on record but leave something to be desired live?  This is not one of those bands.  Musically they were focused and on point.  They “Do it Clean” as they sing on the album.  The vocals are an interesting story.  Mac would talk a bit between songs and between the accent, the ever-present cigarette, and the fact that he *may* have been a little inebriated, I couldn’t understand a bloody word he said.  But when he sang it was a different story.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough for me.

After a short break, we were treated to the album Heaven Up Here which was nothing short of spectacular.  They just got better and better as the night went on.  I was positive that “All My Colours” was going to be my favorite song of the set, but then they played “Turquoise Days”.  Wow.  Just wow.  I get the chills just thinking about it.  I’m not going to go as far as to say it was a religious experience but it was damn near.  A number of videos have been posted from that night….that’s the one that I’m waiting for. 

Another short break and the band came back for the encore.  I’m going to say right now that the encore was ridiculous: Lips Like Sugar, Bring On The Dancing Horses, Nothing Lasts Forever – with a transition into The Fountain….and then back, The Killing Moon, The Cutter.  All made more brilliant by the combination of the entire crowd singing along at the top of its collective voice and the uber fan next to us who was dancing like…..Elaine Benis while being electrocuted and not just screaming, but howling like a wolf howls at the moon.  The Killing Moon, that is. 

Next up for the Bunnymen after wrapping up their North American tour is a 6 date mini UK tour in September where they will be showcasing Ocean Rain.  Same time in September that I’ll be floating around pre-Oktoberfest.  Hmmmm……

Don’t Try This At Home Kids

I’m scared of heights.  And when I say scared, I mean really scared.  When I was in elementary school we took a field trip to Little Tokyo in LA and we got to go to the very top of a high rise office building.  I couldn’t get anywhere near the window.  In high school, we went to the Grand Canyon on vacation and I couldn’t get within 20 feet of the railing.  I feel physically ill just watching movies or TV shows that show the view from above.  Somehow, I decided that cliff jumping would be a fun-filled way to battle my fears.  I’ve made better decisions in my life.

So there we were.  50 feet above Lake Travis, looking down at the water below.  One by one, everyone in my group took the leap.  I stood there long enough that many of them had made it back up the face of the cliff and were ready to go again.  I let them all go in front of me and soon it was just me and Jon standing there.  He jumped and then called to me from the water.  There was moment where time stood still as I held my breath, closed my eyes, and stepped off of the cliff.  But let me back up for a minute.

There were two locations that we had to choose from that day.  The first, a mild 30-ish foot jump with a big rock just past the jump zone where people would swim to and jump some more.  The other was the higher, steeper elevation but it had a ladder that we could use to climb back up.  Sounds good right?  Jon was so convincing that this was where we should jump.  Having never even thought about attempting such things I was certainly no expert and this ladder sounded great.  Jump down, climb back up, piece of cake.  Right?

The first thing to go (horribly) wrong was my entry into the water.  The one thing that must happen, is that the jumper’s body must stay straight, and then with feet first break the water perpendicularly.  Sounded easy enough.  Except, the moment I was in the air I felt myself falling backwards.  This has got to be the biggest “Oh shit!” moment I’ve had in my life.  And then I hit the water in what was essentially a cannon ball.  From 50 feet it’s like concrete and it knocked the wind right out of me.  Had Jon not been waiting in the water for me to jump, I might actually have drowned at that moment.  But I was ok, and all we had to do was climb up the ladder.

And here’s where it gets good…or really, really bad.  The ladder was positioned above a shallow ledge where the water was about ankle deep.  Looking straight up the cliff from the bottom, all I could think about was that if I slipped, I wasn’t falling back into the water – I’d be crashing down on to the rocks.  Strike 1.  This ladder, rickety as all get out, was also quite a bit higher than anyone had realized.  I’m 5’9, and the bottom rung was at about my shoulder height.  Strike 2.  The ladder was also not really “a” ladder but two ladders that were separated by about a foot where the two ends met mid-cliff.  Annnd strike 3.  But what do you do?  There’s no choice but to suck it up and climb. 

It wasn’t too terrible getting up on to the ladder.  Our friend John went ahead of me and Jon was behind me.  Not that he could have done anything if I had fallen but somehow it was a comfort.  When I got to the break between the ladders I completely froze.  Maneuvering from one to the other would require me to let go and reach across and pull myself over.  I just stood there clinging to the ladder with sweaty palms and white knuckles unable to move a muscle.  FLASHBACK to 5 year old me climbing to the top of the monkey bar dome on the playground and being too scared to climb down.  An adult had to come pry me down after I sat up there for hours.  Back to the cliff…I clearly wasn’t going any farther up so the logical move would be to climb down.  I didn’t know how far I would have to swim to make to a place where it would be an easy walk to shore but I didn’t care.  Anything was better than the absolute hell that I was enduring on that ladder.  One slight obstacle….my boyfriend on the ladder below me who won’t budge.  Keep going, he says.  You have to keep going.  At least I think that’s what he said.  Only bits and pieces of his voice were getting through to me and I thought for sure that I would either vomit or pass out if not both.  Holy shit, how do I get myself into these situations?  And being competitive, it really pisses me off that fear and fear alone is keeping me from doing something that everyone else is doing.

Somehow, I made it to the second ladder and climber up toward the top of the cliff.  Strike 4.  Oh yeah.  The top rung of the ladder was way below the edge of the cliff.  And the edge wasn’t really a ledge but a slope of dirt.  Are you fucking kidding me?  The only way to get back to the top was to grab on to a tree root and pull myself up so that I was standing on the top rung.  Still not quite there.  Still have to make it over the slope.  Between the boys, Jon below me insisting I could do it and John on the cliff above who grabbed my arm and pulled me up, I finally made it to the top. 

It took about 3 weeks for the eggplant purple, avocado green and tangerine orange colored bruises that covered my right hip and thigh to heal.  My ego took a little longer.  I am no closer to conquering my fear of heights than I was that day in fact, the fear might be worse because of it.  The moral of the story?  Don’t do stupid shit.  I will never EVER cliff jump again.  Although that 30 foot jump might not be so bad…

SXSW Day 3 (How OMD saved the day)

Little bit of a slow start.  Each day has been starting a bit later as the week goes on and the cumulative total of the previous days catch up with me.  Billboard party for a second round with Deluka.  Windish Agency for The Naked and Famous and Friendly Fires’ last SXSW showcase.  Terrible food at El Sol y La Luna.  WhoMadeWho (brilliant, by the way) and Chain Gang of 1974 at ND @ 501 Studios.  Missed Miami Horror again.  Had been making mental notes about all of it but what I find myself wanting to talk about is what happened next.

We heard that there was no line at Stubb’s so we decided to check out OMD.  Got there in time to hear the end of Airborne Toxic Event.  Next up was a performance by Scala and Kolacny Brothers.  These dudes take rock songs (Radiohead, Foofighters) and arrange them for an all female choir.  Was pretty cool – oddly placed showcase, but cool.  What we all noticed during the performance was the camera that would swing out across and over the audience.  Not particularly noteworthy as they film there all the time.  But something didn’t seem right as this steel arm would swing out rather wildly and quite fast.  We had a conversation about it at one point when it swung over our heads so low that we thought it would hit us.  Between sets, they lowered it to make an adjustment and when they did, it dropped in an uncontrolled way and nearly hit a group of guys who were standing below.  Still, we didn’t give it all that much notice.

As OMD was about to take the stage, we moved closer and had a prime spot up front.  There was a great energy in the crowd as everyone laughed as Andy McCluskey came out and said “We’re too fucking old to go on this late, so let’s get to it!”  Just before the first note was played, that entire steel arm that the camera was on came crashing down toward the stage over our left shoulders and landing about 5 feet from where we stood.  At first, the band wasn’t quite sure what to do…play and keep going or stop the show.  It became clear within minutes that something was really wrong.  There were a couple of people who seemed to be unconscious and a few others who were sitting on the ground in a daze and bleeding.  The crowd remained really calm as we moved back to allow emergency personnel enough space to reach the victims.  Weird to say…victims.  We really didn’t know what to do at that point.  It didn’t seem like there could possibly be a show after that.  But we couldn’t really leave either, at least not until the medics had taken all who were injured to the hospital. 

After about 30 minutes, all had been tended to and evacuated.  We stood there stunned, silent, and somber.  The night could have gone in a number of directions at this point.  Out came Andy and Paul who acknowledged the situation, wished all who were injured well and then did their damnedest to give us a great show.  I could go on for days about how great they sounded because they really did.  But what impressed me was that in the aftermath of near tragedy they really came through.  With Stubb’s strict end-time policy (sound ordinance, schmound  ordinance!) their set time was cut in half.  They wasted no time between songs, rushing to get as much in for us as they possibly could.  Their energy was infectious as they took us through all of our favorites – Tesla Girls, Enola Gay, Electricity, and my personal favorite Forever Live and Die.  I don’t know if they were planning to play it, but when the audience started chanting “If You Leave” Andy quipped that they would squeeze it in.  And then proceeded to explain that this is when they sold their souls to Hollywood.  All in very good fun.  Amazing performance, and an even more amazing way to turn the night around.  These guys are classy.  They are pros.  And they really saved the day.

Paul Humphreys on the incident:

Enola Gay:

But where do we go from here?  How can anything top what we saw last night?  I’ve seen pretty much all I wanted to, and what I haven’t seen isn’t going to happen.  I’ve frankly spent about as much money as I care to.  It’s been a marathon of non-stop music madness, literally and figuratively…we’ve walked at least that distance over the last week.  So on that note, I officially recuse myself from Day 4.  I am cutting my wristband off and…..well…..maybe not just yet…..

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