Vote For Change

I love going to festivals and other concerts with a lot of artists, because there’s always a possibility of a once in a lifetime collaboration. Often, the shows aren’t that memorable, partly because of the long breaks between sets. Last night was different; I never thought I’d see a show to equal Saturday night of Woodstock ’94, when it wrapped up with Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and Aerosmith – each at career highs.

The show was announced and tickets went on sale while we were on our honeymoon, and I didn’t get near a computer that week. Still, I was determined to go, and I figured my bad luck scalping for the Prince show was bound to change. Looking on Craigslist in the last week showed me I could get a ticket for less than face value. I tried going for $50 on Craigslist, but I had no takers. I headed out of work at 6PM, figuring I could make the 7PM start since it was Columbus Day. Apparently no one got the memo, as the toll road spur was backed up nearly to 123. I got to East Falls Church just before 7, and got to the MCI Center quickly. I was quickly accosted by two scalpers – they both had tickets in the 200s. I offered $60 and they snapped it up, and I was in my seat by 7:30.

I’d missed most of John Mellencamp, he was just finishing up, and he left his band so Babyface could take over. I was glad I’d brought Jill’s binoculars, because even though the seat was only halfway back, everyone on stage was pretty small. The stage rotated in the center and the roadies worked fast, so Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt & Keb’ Mo’ were up soon. First time I’d seen Jackson Browne or Bonnie Raitt, and they were fine. I was a bit disappointed they didn’t play any of their hits. In a festival type show like this, not everyone’s there to see the artist who’s performing, at it’s easy to lose momentum if you’re doing songs most people don’t know. Much to my surprise, R.E.M. didn’t fall into this trap.

After a short set by Jurassic Five, R.E.M. brought it hard (“We’re R.E.M. and we approve of this concert.”). They went right into “The One I Love” with Michael Stipe flailing around the stage in his crisp white suit, then brought Eddie Vedder up for “Begin the Begin”. Their one new song, “Leaving New York” could have come off “Out Of Time”, and the crowd went nuts for “Losing My Religion”. They managed to top that by bringing up Bruce Springsteen for “Man On the Moon”. As I overheard in the bathroom afterwards, “that was worth the ticket price right there”.

Pearl Jam, on the other hand, managed to kill the pace. “Grievance” and “Save You” are newer songs that the crowd didn’t know. They brought up Tim Robbins to sing X’s “The New World” with Eddie, which was cool (Robbins sang songs in “Bob Roberts”, where Robbins plays a Republican who sings right wing folk songs to get elected, but never released the soundtrack because he didn’t want them used by Republicans) but again the crowd wasn’t familiar with it. “Bu$hleaguer” fit the theme of the night, but only the lyrics got a response. The redeeming part of the set was “Masters Of War”, the Dylan song Eddie and Mike McCready had done for the Dylan tribute back in 1994. I loved their performance then, and was thrilled with hearing it live.

James Taylor was up next, “I hate it when they say, ‘You shouldn’t change horses midstream.’ I hate it ’cause if your horse can’t swim . . .”. He sang “Secret O’ Life” and “Never Die Young” before bringing up the Dixie Chicks. Natalie sang lead on “Sweet Baby James”, then James was back on “Shower the People” and “Some Days You Gotta Dance” (a Chicks song). James left (although not before he said when people ask him who to vote for, he said “look at the issues and candidates, then vote for the smart one”) and the Chicks took over for “Truth No. 2” (great Patty Griffin song) and “Mississippi” (good Dylan song). Funniest line from Natalie: “After the incident, people asked me if I wanted to take back what I said. Well, no, ’cause after that Bush would just call me a flip-flopper.”

I could tell Dave Matthews Band was next (Carter’s set, Leroi’s saxes) and I was pumped. These guys understand the power of a short set, and I wasn‘t disappointed. They started off slow with an extended intro into “Don’t Drink the Water” (appropriate for Columbus Day), then “One Sweet World”. One new song, “Joy Ride” (my favorite new one), then they slowed down, only for my favorite snare crack, and straight into “Ants Marching”. I never get tired of hearing it, and was bummed they played it last at Nissan this year, after we left. I had been dancing like crazy, definitely one of my favorite performances of theirs in the last couple years, but the show was running late (supposed to over at 11, and it was after 10:30), so I figured that was it. Nope – “So Much to Say” into “Anyone Seen The Bridge?” into “Too Much”. Amazing set.

Last was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Clearly a uniter, not a divider, he strode on stage to a rafter raising cry of “Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce”. Wasting no time, he went straight into a fiery solo acoustic take on the “Star Spangled Banner”, then the band kicked right into “Born In The U.S.A.”. With no waiting for applause, they steamrolled right through “Badlands” and “No Surrender”. He let everyone catch their breath by bringing up John Fogerty to sing his new “Déj Vu” and CCR classic “Fortunate Son”. Another guest next: Michael Stipe to duet with Bruce on “Because The Night” (you may think it’s by 10,000 Maniacs, but Bruce cowrote it with Patti Smith). The only recent song was “Mary’s Place”. It’s not my favorite song from “The Rising”, but in concert he can preach powerfully in the middle, and tonight was no different: “All this fuss about ‘the swing voter’. I got a question – what is a swing voter? All you who are swinging, swaying, all I wanna say is, it’s October 11, what the hell are you waiting for? You mislead the nation to war, you lose your job. It ain’t rocket science! I want you to take off all your clothes, and put one hand on the television screen, then repeat after me: Halliburton! Halliburton! Halliburton!” I don’t think the words alone can convey the passion and truth he conveyed, though.

He finished up the regular set by bringing up R.E.M.’s Mike Mills & Peter Buck to play on a crowd pleasing “Born To Run”, then the stagfe went dark. It was after midnight by now, and I decided to break my long standing rule of not staying until the last song to avoid the crowds. Luckily I could see keybardist Roy Bitten’s setlist well enough through the binoculars to see there were two songs left, and I vowed to leave while the last song was fading out. Bruce came to the mic, and told everyone to come up, and out came Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’, R.E.M., Eddie Vedder, John Fogerty, Dave Matthews, and the Dixie Chicks to sing Elvis Costello’s classic “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding”. Messy but fun. Finally, John Mellencamp, Babyface, Jurassic Five and James Taylor joined the group on stage for “People Have The Power”.

As they finished I ducked out and was part of the first big rush hitting the Metro at 12:30. There was already a big crowd on the platform, but I managed to get down to the far side by the time a train came. A Blue line train was at Metro Center, and I just had to wait at Rosslyn for an Orange one. It was nearly 2 by the time I got home. I was bummed because I’d set the VCR to record the show of Sirius, but Jill had changed the channel, so I had 6 hours of Toon Disney. I’m sure someone’s recorded it, and they also broadcast the video on the Sundance Channel, so it’s just a matter of time before I get copies of this amazing show (I have CDs of the Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and Aerosmith performances from Woodstock ’94). I’m dragging today, but it was worth it.

Bike

Jill called me on the Metro Saturday morning to let me know she’d bought a bike from the yard sale on our street when she came home from work. Sunday afternoon, we went out on the bike trail, her on the bike, me on my rollerblades. It went well, we made it to Sterling Boulevard and back with neither of us injuring ourselves. To celebrate, I made buffalo wings (actually thighs) for dinner while the Redskins got spanked by the Ravens. Hopefully the Red Sox will get the luck Gibbs was supposed to have this week.

Book festival

Friday I went to an early show at the 9:30 club by Vertical Horizon, and when they said early, they weren’t kidding – doors opened at 6, and the opening band started at 6:15. I went with Linda (who had won passes) and a couple of her coworkers, and we got in the club at 7:20 – 10 minutes before they started. Good show, they mostly played tunes from their last 2 CDs, both of which I knew well. Nice to be home from a 9:30 show before 10 – I even caught most of the debate (I thought bot of ’em weren’t answering the questions, though).

Got up early Saturday to make it to the Mall. Neil Gaiman was signing at 10, and since this was the 4th time I’d been to one of his signings, I knew how long the line could get (the first signing of his I went to, I waited three hours). I got there a little after 9, and their were around 50 people in front of me. He started a little before 10, and I got up there around 10:30 (asked him some questions about the lettered edition of “American Gods” which he hasn’t heard anything about either). His take on the day is at his blog.

I made it to the end of Robert B. Parker’s q & a, then got to the science fiction and fantasy pavilion in time to grab a seat before Neal Stephenson started. Due to the short time frame, he just did a q & a. He’s very sharp and funny. His signing was next, and while I was waiting I realized “Cryptonomicon”, the book I’d brought for him to sign, I hadn’t read, so I started reading it (I think I’ve only read “Snow Crash” by him). By the time I got my book signed, Frederik Pohl had started speaking, so I hustled back there (it was about half a mile between the signing tent and the science fiction and fantasy pavilion). He’s pretty spry for an 85 year old, but he said he wants to be like Jack Williamson when he grows up – Jack’s 96, and both of ’em are still writing novels.

It got crowded as Neil was up next. He read three different sections from “Anansi Boys”, the new novel he’s writing that seems to be in the same universe as “American Gods”. Some very funny stuff, and since it was all about the character “Fat Charlie”, I’ve had the Paul Simon’s Crazy Love, Pt. II in my head ever since. I went to Frederik Pohl’s signing next, then headed out (with a stop at CD Cellar, my favorite used CD store/coffee shop, natch).

Jill didn’t get up until almost 7, but she’s feeling under the weather. I read the paper while she caught up on “Lost” and “Desparate Housewives”, then she made a salad and I grilled steaks, then we watched the first half of “Hunt For Red October” (it was her idea!), then SNL (the two debates were eerily like the real things).

Car problems

So my car has been having trouble starting. Every couple of starts, I try it and it’s like the battery’s dead. Also it’s leaking some liquid (not smelly). This morning it won’t start for five minutes. I can take a hint, so I took it to my mechanic. $430 later, I have a new starter, a new radiator hose clamp, and a flushed radiator. Thank goodness I’m working.

Jill came and got me for lunch; we went to Wegland. I hadn’t eaten there before, enjoyed the hot food bar.

Geeky

Funniest thing from “The Daily Show” last night: Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) is shown in a long speech about his financing SpaceShipOne, then it cuts to Jon Stewart “And then a giant paper clip popped up and said “You look like you’re completing a rant”.

Reminded me of the pain of making Windows look like it used to this week, as I started my job. It’s not that I’m a huge Windows fan, just I find the old look (and the detail view) is easier to work with. I wish there was something I could access to assure it I’m not a moron and can deal with seeing .dlls.

Debates comment

I suppose it’s better than the ones four years ago where everyone was agreeing, but it’s not quite satisfying. I have the feeling if the cameras were off Edwards and Cheney would be leaping across the table at each other.

Out and about

Friday night we visited Stuart and Janice for their semi regular steak and martini night. The steaks were big, but I probably shouldn’t have gone straight into the beer after my martini, as I woke up in the middle of the night with a headache. I just slept it off, though.

Saturday, I had scrambled eggs with cheese and chili garlic sauce, and Jill ran some errands (and picked up a bagel). I had to wait for Scott to come over and pick up his and Mel’s air mattress that we’d forgotten they lent us for the wedding, then I went to Reston for the library booksale, picked up some books I needed (“God Emperor of Dune” in hardcover that wasn’t a book club edition, the latest Robert B. Parker Spenser). Dave and Melissa are moving to Denver, and they had a farewell night at the Carpool in Ballston. We showed up early to eat dinner with them – Carpool has excellent barbeque. And lots of beer on tap – although after Friday, I only had 3 during the 4 hours or so we were there.

Today I made egg sandwiches for breakfast, then Jill ran some more errands. I watched the beginning of the Skins game, then went to the Herndon Folk Festival, where I saw Dee Carstensen and John Gorka, and met up with Stuart and Lorna and Dave. I left early to have dinner with Jill (heated up fried fish and beans), then she went to work, and I caught up on newspapers, then watched “Desperate Housewives”. Very soapy, but did have some LOL lines and a hint of mystery. “Lost” is still my favorite new show, but I have high hopes for “Drew Carey’s Green Screen”. I loved “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (dating back to the English version), and often watch the show (it airs weeknights at 10 & 10:30 on ABC Family, nice appetizer to the “Daily Show”).

Can I quit now?

Nah, day one back to work wasn’t that bad, just feels odd after nearly three months of unscripted time. Sounds like I’ll being doing some cool stuff for Pocket PCs. Nice bunch of guys, went to Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch (I had a turkey & bacon panini).

Last night, Jill and I went to Manassas. We got some books at McKay’s (well, she did, I’ve got a big enough pile), then went to dinner at Red Lobster. I had shrimp scampi, broiled shrimp/scallops/deviled crab with Montery Jack cheese, plus a side of Lobster Mac n’ cheese (that was the best).

Later, we went to the Little Feat/Allman Brothers show at Nissan. Nice show, and I was most impressed by Derek Trucks’ guitar playing. That kid is a monster. Glad we brought coats, as it got pretty chilly as night fell.

Final wedding pictures for now are by Jill’s mom.