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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rumsey’s Playfield (Central Park SummerStage), New York City, NY

Today has been a very long day.

Woke up very early in the morning so I can catch the 9:02am train to NYC. I had to drive the car to the rental place, catch the shuttle to the airport, and in the airport—catch the shuttle to the Amtrak station. All of these three locations are very close to one another. I made it to the train station on time.

Well this is some small train station they have there, close to the airport. My train was 25 minutes late. I used the time to practice more efficient packing. Finally, it had arrived.

The first thing I did after unloading my huge backpack onto the baggage shelf right above my head, was to get up again. I was starving and decided to hit the “snack car” they have there on the train. The “snack car” turned out to be some no more than a set of fridges holding out‐dated food, as well as a cranky old man trying to sell those goods to people who really had no other choice. Like me.

The menu had “the sandwich of the day”. I asked the guy there what is the sandwich of the day. He appeared to be baffled.

– “It’s a sandwich.”

You don’t say.

– “Yes, I know it’s a sandwich, but what’s in it?”

He pointed at the picture of the sandwich, hanging there next to the menu. I realized that picture before—it showed something that looked like beef. But hey, the menu says “sandwich of the day”. It may vary.

I told him I’ll take it, to which he replied:

– “Do you know what’s in it?”

I really didn’t want to fail that question because I got the feeling that if I fail it then he’ll hold the sandwich away from me.

– “... Beef?”

– “Corned beef.”

– “Yes, it’s OK, I’ll take it, and a bottle of sparkling water please.”

Made my way back to my seat and devoured the 30‐days‐old sandwich as if it was a juicy steak. Had some water and decided to catch some sleep. That was impossible as I can’t fall asleep for more than 2 minutes when I’m seated.

Very tired, about an hour away from NYC, I realized that although I know where I’m heading, I have no idea how to get there. I was going to meet Jeroen, a man who lives in Holland and came to the US for a vacation / concert combo, and who had read my blog and offered that I become a guest in his hotel room.

I have been to NYC only twice before, the first time being 13 years old and the second time, similarly to Syracuse, for reasons I will not disclose except that it had something to do with a woman. Yes, the same woman from the Syracuse story. I have never had the chance to actually explore NYC by foot, independently. A short look at my mapping software showed me that the hotel is 4.2km away from Penn Station, and that there’s a close‐by subway station on West 79th & Broadway.

I realized I’d have to figure things out on the fly. The concert starts at 5:30pm, Jeroen mentioned he’d like to be there early enough to get a good standing location. With the train being 20 minutes late, there was a bit of a rush there.

Got off the train into Penn Station. First time in my life in this huge, gigantic station. Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to navigate. Just follow the signs and you’ll be OK. I found out that I need subway route number 1 northbound towards uptown. After a quick ride, I ended up in Broadway & West 79th, walked two blocks south and here I am, at the “On the Ave” hotel.

Took me a minute to locate Jeroen. I never met him in my life—seen a picture though. We greeted each other and then went to the room so I can unload my baggage.

The hotel is very nice. Good amenities, excellent rooms. Huge flat‐screen TV in each room, and a bar‐fridge that warns you that the removal of any item for more than 20 seconds will result in the item being billed to your room. Insane. There are sensors there... an entire ordeal.

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We continued talking as I was preparing for going outside. We left at around 1:30pm, and talked about all bunch of stuff all walking all the way to the venue, right in Central Park.

I didn’t see much of that venue, except for it being really small. A line‐up started to form, and had 5 people in it—three kids from Halifax (was really bizarre to me to see three kids, maybe 13 years old, coming all the way from Halifax to catch Mark Knopfler live), another nice guy whose name I didn’t get and another adult German who happened to be in town and decided to catch the Knopfler show. We were both hungry so we decided to hit the Boathouse restaurant, nearby the venue.

So the Boathouse appeared to have two parts to it—the part with the nice food in which you enter the place and get seated right near the water, and an “express” part which is little more than hamburger & fries. We chose the latter as we wanted to get in line early. We ordered a hamburger that turned out to be completely tasteless (Richard—steer clear!). To put it in Douglas Adams’ words, it tasted more or less entirely unlike a hamburger.

We continued talking and then headed to the venue, for the line‐up that still had those same 5 people. We all had a really nice talk about everything while waiting for the doors to open.

As time went by, I realized that the people working in the venue are... how to say it... not very knowledgeable about what’s going on. My ticket, as well as many other people’s, was in the Will Call but the Will Call tent was empty. Nobody (!) could tell us when the Will Call position will actually start working, until some guy working there mentioned “4:30pm”. This, of course, turned to be untrue.

About an hour later, we noticed two female volunteers nearby. I asked them about the Will Call, they didn’t even know what I’m talking about. They said that they would check, which they didn’t.

I started to get a bit nervous, as I was invited for the Meet & Greet, the time was close to 5:00pm when the doors open at 5:30pm, and I still didn’t have the ticket in my hand.

Then came by a guy who appeared to know what he’s talking about. “Listen everybody. If you are here to pick‐up your ticket, you are in the WRONG LINE”.

Thank you very much. It turned out that the Will Call people were supposed to form a line near the Will Call tent. Obviously nobody mentioned anything about it before, that’s why dozens of people kept going to the head of the line—to us—and ask us if we know anything about the Will Call procedure. The Will Call tent was scheduled to open at 5:30pm—exactly the same time as the doors are being opened to the crowd.

The line already stretched a few hundred feet. I had to leave my post, asking Jeroen very nicely if he could save my spot, to which he agreed. I went to the Will Call area, to a line‐up of about 100 feet. It started moving on 5:30pm. I noticed I’ll never be able to make my way back to the head of the line, as they condensed everybody into three files and it was crowded as hell.

I got my ticket and now wanted to ask the attendant there, some guy who looked important, what should I do if I’m invited to the Meet & Greet as I will definitely miss it if I have to stand in the line. Then I got to see a real case of what Guy once called (during the Shangri La tour) “a jobsworth with power”.

Before I even turned my head to ask him, he barked at me to stand behind the fence (which wasn’t there; he only put the fence later). I then told him I’d like to ask him a question. He just kept staring at me. I asked him what I wanted to ask him. He looked at me, pointed at the huge line, and said:

– “That’s the line”.

And simply went away.

Very helpful people.

As I was making my way towards the end of the line, I realized that there’s another entrance there with only a few people in it. I decided to check it out. It turned out that that was the line‐up for “special” people, like Meet & Greet invitees. Within minutes I checked in, and was told to go inside and that I will be instructed what to do there.

Going inside, I asked 3 people what I should do as a Meet & Greet guest. The first person told me doesn’t know what I’m talking about, and two others told me that the Meet & Greet, if there is such at all, will be performed *after* the concert is done. I quickly realized that employees’ ignorance here appears to be contagious and figured that I will have to actually scour the venue myself to find answers. I then realized that there’s a small stage beside the main stage, where I was supposed to enter and wait for further instructions.

So, from an organization perspective, this is by far the single worst venue I’ve ever been in and I can’t see any other venue breaking this record. People there really are not concerned with anything beyond the one single function that they are supposed to fulfill, and obviously there was no briefing before the concert. At least not a briefing to which workers actually listened. If you need an answer to a question, you better ask each and every worker individually—trust me, you’ll get different replies. You just have to check all options. Nobody there knows *anything* about what’s going on.

I should say that, once in that tiny VIP stage, everything went smooth.

I met a few interesting people inside the venue, including a writer who got an invitation from Richard after interviewing him a year ago. A few minutes later, some really important‐looking guy wearing a suit and a red tie has appeared, and then left, then appeared again and left. He was escorted by what looked like a body guard, a personal assistant or a combination thereof.

A few minutes later I saw Rudy Pensa. Not surprising, considering that Rudy’s guitar shop is in NYC. He, and some other people, wore a different tag—an orange one—which turned out to be “personal friends of the band”. Rudy shook hands with the guy next to me, then turned to me and shook my hand. I told him that I inquired in his store about an MK Pensa replica, identical to the one he played during “A Night in London” in 1996. He invited me to his store the next day. What a nice fellow! Very talkative, very friendly.

We were then escorted to the Meet & Greet. We were instructed to form a half‐circle around the band. I waved hello at everybody. Richard got up from his chair to shake hands with his friend, Rocky, who happened to stand right next to me. He then turned to me, shook my hand and introduced me to his friend.

Unlike the one in Boston, this one was very, very short. The band played some material that had nothing to do with Mark Knopfler although demonstrated the awesome musicianship of everybody. Then Mark went one by one shaking hands with about 30 people that were there. He either hasn’t recognized me at all or was just very much in rush—or both. As soon as the handshaking was over, we were told that it’s time to go. Some people rushed and insisted on taking pictures with Mark—which I found a bit rude as the man really appeared to be in a hurry. Myself, of course, hating to interrupt extremely busy people, decided to not add any more pressure to the pressure already in existence around Mark, and left the area.

I entered the standing area, after being barked by some security guard as to where it is exactly that I’m supposed to go. Got myself a drink and decided to look for Jeroen. So he actually saved a spot for me, about a meter left of the center at the very front row. What a great man!

Jesca’s show started at 7:00pm and she got some good cheers from the crowd. Then there was a break, Paul’s announcement and the concert kicked off at 7:55pm.

From there on, the experience was amazing. It’s the first and only standing‐only concert in the North American tour. So yes, you get to stand a lot but it is a lot of fun. It’s a much more dynamic experience. The crowd went crazy—definitely a loud crowd. Also, I noticed so many young people there. Perhaps we do have hope for the next generation of musicians. Perhaps there’s more than Britney Spears in our future.

The concert was very good. The band played well. Mark played very few off‐tones here and there but in general we’re talking about a great concert, a great experience for New York.

People insisted on filming the show, so Mark gave his now‐usual “thank you for not filming” statement. You have to be very naive to not realize the sarcasm in that statement.

Leaving the show was very easy as there’s no cars involved. Simply walked through the herds of people, exiting Central Park on our way back to the hotel. It started raining, which made the experience very interesting. Jeroen and I were hungry and decided to get some pizza. We ended up having some Chilean Empanadas and some pizza in a small pizza place on Amsterdam Avenue & West 77th. Delicious. Then went back to the hotel.

What a joyful day. And here is the place to thank the man who made it so enjoyable and easy for me—Jeroen Gerrits, who is visiting from Holland and incorporated some Mark Knopfler shows into his trip. He invited me to stay as a guest in his hotel room in NYC, as well as in Philadelphia and Miami Beach, saving me so much time & money looking for proper accommodation. He really is a great guy—Jeroen, THANK YOU for everything!

It’s a day‐off today, no show. So I’ll wander around the streets of NYC. It’s about time I do, after more than 5 years living in North America. I’ll drop by Rudy Pensa’s store to say hi, as well as discuss the possibility of placing an order for a guitar.

Cheers,
Isaac

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not surprising that you had a frustrating time with this venue. After all, it is normally not much of a concert venue at all (just take a look at the schedule for the venue). The surprising thing is that Mark got booked there at all! It's no wonder that the facilities and personnel were not up to the standards for a 5,000 person venue, they simply have no experience with this kind of thing.

Rob in Calgary said...

So its a bit unclear. Did you get to meet Mark this time?

Alex Flagg said...

Isaac, this is my favorite post of your entire blog. I love the dialog with the sandwich guy on Amtrak and the sensors in the hotel. I also thought you really captured the chaos at the event.


I'm surprised at Mark's apparent aloofness. From my count, you shook his hand once while he was on stage on the west coast, he may have seen you during the Boston Meet and Greet and now a quick handshake in NYC without him recognizing you.
It's not like Mark is Britney Spears and has tons of bloggers watching his every move. I've only heard of you going to every show. If I were Mark and I knew that there was someone so dedicated to my tour that they were going to such pains to go to every show AND cover the tour in such as wonderful and tasteful way, I would put it on my 'to do' list to have at least a 5 minute chat with this person. It would be tremendously beneficial since your blogs are influential.
Not sure if Mark is just too busy, can't be bothered, or just prefers some distance with the crowds. I don't get it.

Jennifer said...

Don't You Get It...(Golden Heart)
I hope no offense will be taken here Alex, and...Isaac.
I think being absolutely NO B.S. and a very charitable man, Mark is entitled to be a free man without presumtions...including the song title I inserted here.
It's just how I would feel.

Alex Flagg said...

If it were a badgering reporter, that's one thing. But, Isaac has gone out of his way to be respectful, to not expect anything in return, to not push on anything. Isaac is also a wonderful and seemingly balanced and fair writer. Would it kill Mark to remember who he was and say, "Hi, how's it going? Are you enjoying the tour?... Great, thanks for your support." ?
I just look at it as a lost opportunity to keep his most loyal fans (customers) energized.

Linda said...

The tour is not over yet. I think by the end of the tour, perhaps even the very last gig, Isaac will get his "moment" with Mark.

Hey Isaac, I read your blogs daily. This whole experience is just incredible. I wish I could have joined you!!

Isaac said...

Hi Rob,

No, I didn't.

Isaac said...

Hi Alex,

The dialog with the Sandwich guy was indeed funny. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. :-)

Isaac said...

Hi Jennifer,

No worries. No offense taken.

Isaac said...

Hi Linda,

Happy you find my blog interesting. Yes, you should have joined me. Don't say I didn't tell you so... :-)


Isaac

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Isaac said...

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for your note, however I think you got it a little off.

The "aloofness" that you were talking about was mentioned by another commenter on my blog, not by myself.

Therefore, may I ask that you edit your comment to reflect reality, as you mentioning my name in that context is really inappropriate and draws an incorrect image.


Thanks,

Isaac

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant no offense, honest. Can you walk me through the edit process and I will delete the post.

Isaac said...

Hi Anonymous,
No worries. Mistakes happen.

I think you can't delete posts if you're posting as anonymous, so I took the liberty to erase it for you. Feel free to drop an alternative comment, if you wish.


Cheers,

Isaac

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant no offense, honest. Can you walk me through the edit process and I will delete the post.