Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Thank the Lord for the Night Time

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” I believe this. My latest adventure began last night. I was watching the latest episode of Nip/Tuck, when at 11:16 p.m. my BlackBerry buzzed. Turns out it was an accusatory and terrifying e-mail from one of the honchos at work. He wanted an explanation that I couldn’t give him until today, but if it wasn’t satisfactory, I would be in a world of shit. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep, my mind raced for most of the night, and I got out of bed at 5:30 this morning and was at work by 7:00 to figure out what I was going to do. I sent a detailed e-mail explaining myself and sat to wait. I was in a veritable state of panic until about 10:00, when I got a call from the honcho. Turns out the whole issue was a paper tiger. No problem. Situation normal. Sorry about that e-mail last night . . . . etc. I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief, said a prayer of thanks, and wondered if it was too early to have a glass of whiskey.

My phone rang, and the caller ID indicated a 602 area code. It was my childhood friend Carlos, who lives in Phoenix. He’s working on his Ph.D. and I’m a research subject for his dissertation. I’ve been part of his research for the better part of a year, and he wanted to set a date when he could interview me for about three hours. I told him what had just happened and expressed my general frustration. Ever the old friend, he suggested that I hop on the next flight to Phoenix and come out for the weekend. The Phoenix Open AND the Super Bowl are both going on there this weekend, and as far as parties go, it’s the place to be right now. He has two guest rooms, and what better time to do the interview, catch up, and have good times? Well, I really couldn’t say no to that proposition, could I? A few clicks of my mouse later, I was booked on a late afternoon flight to the desert southwest.

Life is good, and I needed a vacation. Phoenix can be a good town, and the first chapter of the adventure has turned out to be great. The Phoenix Open (the “FBR” to the locals – I have no idea what the letters stand for) is essentially a gigantic party with a golf tournament built into it. I got in too late to see any golf, but not too late to make it to the “Bird’s Nest” – the party tent that is the real centerpiece of the event. Tonight, they were featuring the Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond.

Now Neil Diamond is about as square a performer as ever walked this Earth. My mom liked him in like 1983, for God’s sake. Neil Diamond and Anne Murray were staples of my childhood soundtrack, and I wouldn’t be caught dead at an actual Neil Diamond concert. A Neil Diamond cover band, on the other hand, is a whole other story. From a postmodern kitsch standpoint, it is hard to beat. This was my first Super Diamond concert, but they’re pretty much the World Series of Neil Diamond cover bands. Going to one of these concerts is like going to a thousand-person simultaneous karaoke bar. Given the sheer volume of alcohol consumed at the FBR, the crowd had shed all singing inhibitions. Like all these sorts of things, there was price gouging on the drinks. I was trying to save my ducats, so I asked for a Smirnoff – the cheapest vodka on the menu at $6.00 – and soda. In my opinion, Smirnoff is the best of the “cheap” vodkas. Skyy tastes like rubbing alcohol, and Absolut is little more than Skyy with a catchy marketing campaign. For some reason, the only Smirnoff they had was flavored – raspberry and blueberry. I opted for blueberry vodka and soda, and stuck with that through the night.

I just realized tonight that the reason that Neil is such a popular sing-along artist may be because the bastard has a three-note range. Pretty much anybody can sing along to Neil Diamond and feel like they can sing. He’s not like Axl Rose or Brian Johnson . . . everyone my age loves songs by Guns n’ Roses and AC/DC, but there are few things more awful than some jackass trying to sing Sweet Child of Mine.

Also, I just realized tonight that Neil has a pretty good repertoire of boozer songs. Red Red Wine and Cracklin’ Rose make being a wino seem almost noble. And I found myself actually reflecting on the lyrics of Solitary Man:

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man
A woman in front of me threw her 40 DD brazier onto the stage and flashed a dude who took a picture with his cell phone. A guy tried to rush the stage and was taken down by security immediately and severely. It was, in short, a pretty good PG-13 rated spectacle. Because it was a “school night” for Carlos, after the band went off the stage and last call was announced at 11:00, we headed to the shuttle back to the parking lot. It was a pretty good end to a day that started off so poorly. I don’t know how many adventures may come from this boondoggle, but I’ll keep you updated. Jack Gordon, live from Phoenix, signing out.

Also, I may need to buy myself some black velvet pants.

1 comment:

Jamm-o-rama said...

Good times! Good things! I can't wait to read what other adventures come out of this. Have a time dear Jack!