Welcome to my Kill to Get Crimson 2008 tour blog!

My name is Isaac, 30 years old from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up for the purpose of documenting the journey I am taking following Mark Knopfler’s Kill to Get Crimson tour in North America, in the summer of 2008.

The North American leg of the tour, as well as my journey, begins June 24th in Morrison, Colorado and ends on July 31st in Miami Beach, Florida.

Even though I intend to write on a daily basis, publishing the stories onto the server would be tricky. After all, we’re talking about vast distances which will be primarily crossed by driving, and there is no way for me to predict the availability of Internet connection throughout the way.

So… make yourself at home and feel free to drop a comment.

Yours,

Isaac

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Filene Centre, Vienna, VA

Left my house at about 9:30am, starving like a stray dog. I haven’t been home in a while, and before I left I emptied my fridge. Not even a snack to enjoy.

I finished unpacking / laundry / repacking the night before, so I wasn’t in any rush. Went to this famous Waterloo place (I mean, famous among Waterloo people; I don’t think anybody knows anything about it outside of Waterloo) called Angie’s Kitchen, right on Erb & King, which has been serving great breakfast since the 1960’s. Among the usual North American selections which I wouldn’t touch with a 10‐foot pole, there’re some really good omelettes.

It’s been a while since I had good espresso so I figured I’d hit one of my favourite places—“A Matter of Taste” in downtown Kitchener. I was in mood for a latte, however the insane heat swayed me towards the cold stuff. Got an iced latte—that means, real espresso with real milk blended with ice, not some junk made of chemicals—which was good.

As I ran out of earplugs, I had to drop by Shoppers Drug Mart to pick some up; then went on my way to Buffalo airport.

I allowed for about an hour and a half “extra time”, just in case. And it was one of those “in case” cases. I happened to have hit the slowest lane in the Lewiston border crossing; one particular car there took 10 minutes (!) to clear. The rest of the cars took forever too. You know that feeling when you’re standing in line, and it seems like everyone in front of you takes forever to clear, then it’s your turn and you’re done in 10 seconds? So you know my feeling after I was cleared within less than one minute.

The drive from the border to the Buffalo Airport was rather quick. I ended up parking in Parking Lot B, which is for long term parking and is the farthest from the airport. Took me about 10 minutes to do some final packing rearrangements. In those 10 minutes, three parking lot shuttles came by and asked me if I need a lift. Once those 10 minutes were over, I had to wait 10 minutes for the next shuttle.

Arrived at the terminal. Southwest Airlines has this “curb‐side check‐in counter”, which is exactly what it sounds like—a check‐in counter outside the terminal building. I approached the guy working there and asked him if there’s any fee for using it.

He gave me the look of “I’m having a great day, why do you have to ruin it”, and replied:

– “No, it doesn’t cost any. But we accept.”

I didn’t understand what he refers to. Probably yet another English expression that you have to have lived here more than 5 years in order to comprehend.

– “What?” I asked.

– “Tips. We accept tips.”

Seems to me like we have to tip for everything now. I happen to be a Seinfeld addict, and I recall one of his pieces talking about having to tip people just to avoid outright hostility. I mean, what the hell is going on in here? You have to be absolutely naive to not understand that this entire “tipping” industry is one big unpleasant & ill business practice. There’s a poor guy standing in the sun all day, earning minimum wage, and agrees to be hired by a company that tells him “we’ll pay you the minimum allowed by law; the rest is up to you and the kindness of whoever uses this service”. A huge reform is needed in the tipping industry—in restaurants, taxis, cafe’s and curb‐side check‐in counters. The current practices have been established and promoted by exploiting employers who uses clients’ compassion in order to save themselves some dollars in payroll.

What is really outrageous is that there are so many restaurants out there that tell you, right there on the menu, how much to tip. This is very common in touristic locations, and their excuse is that “tipping standards are different in various countries”. How lame. Just include the service in your prices, bozos. I skip such restaurants.

I gave him the look of “yeah, right” and moved into the terminal building. No line‐up. I did everything electronically so all I really had to do was to hand my 70L backpack to the attendant. Looking at my cellphone, I realized that the plane departs in 45 minutes.

Good timing.

The one hour flight to Baltimore was rather rocky. We arrived safely at Baltimore airport right on time.

The Baltimore airport is very clean and organized. You can’t get lost there. Within 15 minutes I already grabbed my backpack from the carousel, and made my way to the rental car shuttle.

During that short drive in the shuttle, it struck me how clean Baltimore is—at least the area I’ve been in. Later it occurred to me that Vienna, VA—where the venue is located—is also very clean and tidy.

After signing my car rental contract and refusing lots of suggestions by the agent to take more and more of my money for less and less value, I was on my way to Motel 6 in the airport, a short 2 mile drive. Reserved a compact car, got a PT Cruiser. I prefer riding a skateboard. I absolutely abhor the PT Cruiser.

Checking into the motel took 15 minutes. No, there was no line. There was just this receptionist who made so many mistakes in processing my (prearranged and reserved) request. At the end she sent me on my way, “you’re good to go”. I stared at her. I knew something was missing.

– “Can I have my ID and my credit card back? The room’s key will also be useful.”

Pheeeeeeew. Put my stuff in the room and went on my way to the venue.

Again starving like a stray dog, I decided to hit a Mexican restaurant. My GPS told me of this place close to the venue, called “Anita’s New Style Mexican Food”. New style indeed. Good menu. Great taste. Great value. Spent $12, had wonderful food and didn’t have to worry about food till the next morning.

I then headed to the venue.

The Filene Center is located inside Wolf Trap National Park. This is one beautiful national park to have fun in. There are streams and creeks there, lots of trees, trails... it’s really nice. I took a short stroll in the park. Worth revisiting.

It then struck me how hot it was. It must have been 100 degrees there, and it was extremely humid too. I only recall experiencing this kind of weather in Tel Aviv. As if somebody sprinkles boiling water on you and then covers you with some blanket made of wool, like the ones they give you in very cheap motels (or in the Israeli military).

I’m not sure if there are wineries in the area, but I could swear that the air had this wine scent in it.

I knew I was holding a front row ticket. Happily I stepped all the way down in this beautiful, awesome venue. I then realized that my spot is one of the two worst spots in the front row. I was all the way—yes, ALL the way—to the right. Row A, seat 44 out of 44. The viewing angle, though, wasn’t as bad as the one I had in Nashville.

It was so hot that I felt I had to drink something. Went to the concession there, bought a huge lemonade so I can drink it all during the concert, only to find out that they don’t let you into your seat with anything other than water. Why? Only God knows. Funny how they didn’t mention this fact to me when I bought the lemonade 2 minutes before the show started.

The show started right on time playing the same set list. From where I was seated, sound wasn’t very good as I was seated directly beneath the right‐hand pile of speakers threatening to fall on my head any minute (I get kind of nervous when there’s lots of speakers hanging above my head). I really enjoyed the concert, even though I’ll have to admit that I was very, very tired. So tired that I couldn’t even “dance” (it’s not really dancing; just random movements in my seat that makes people laugh at me) with the music.

There were no surprises during the show, it went rather smooth as far as the band is concerned. Incidental filming attempts, as always. Not much has been done about the people filming; I didn’t see anybody getting kicked out.

Beside me (seats 42 & 43) were two men sitting. Well, at least at the beginning. I have no clue what’s behind it but every few minutes one person got up, left his seat and was shortly replaced by somebody else. I think what happened was that two couples bought to pairs of tickets, and were rotating constantly. It was quite the disturbance, especially when one of them smelled like a bottle of vodka mixed with tobacco.

The audience appeared to appreciate the show very much and roared quite extensively after the famous Dire Straits songs as well as before and after the encore.

After the show was over, and it was time to give thanks (after the encore), I entered the pit. Really, as an instinct as I’m used to being close to the stage. The worker there told me that I can’t enter the pit without a ticket. I gave her a look of someone who hasn’t slept much during the last few days, and told her with a very patient voice that the show is OVER. She seemed to have accepted that.

Show was over and now it’s time to return to the car and back to the motel. So first, I had to wander around for 20 minutes looking for my car as it was very dark and there are a few paths you can take once you leave the auditorium itself—I obviously took the wrong one. Then, I had to wait just about an hour until it was possible to get out of the park.

30 miles drive back to the motel and another day is over. I was very tired and had to wake up early so I can return the car, make it to the Amtrak station and take the 9:02am train to New York City.

Later,
Isaac

2 comments:

Kami said...

You're cracking me up, Isaac. Capturing the essence of frustration so picturesquely. (Reminds me of the short stories I've written...similar flavor.) :-) See you soon.

Jennifer said...

I agree with Kami, fun blog to read. I'll remember that "tired look" next time I get kicked out of the pit at encore time. Have fun in NY City!