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.



Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mann Center, Philadelphia, PA

Before heading to the venue, Jeroen and I decided to try a Philly Cheese Steak. It appears that everybody’s talking about the “Philly Cheese Steak” and that it’s a must‐eat when in Philadelphia. So we ended up having one in a market next to the hotel.

I swear to God, I have no idea what the fuss is all about. It’s simply thin slices of steak, on a bun, with some cheese on it—American cheese, or Provolone, or whatever. It is not that tasty at all. I didn’t like. Will probably never try again.

The special bus that takes you from downtown (picks you up from multiple locations, dropping you off at the venue) was on time and we got to the venue earlier than expected. We had about an hour to kill before Jesca’s performance, so we started by checking our seats out.

I was seated at pit center, row DD, seat 108—4th row, right at the center. Not bad at all. Jeroen was sitting at pit right, row AA all the way to the right.

We then took a walk around the venue. Very nice venue, indeed—one of the best open‐door venue I’ve seen so far. The pictures I took of the venue itself came out blurry, but here is a picture of Philadelphia’s skyline, taken from within the venue.


I continued walking, and as I was climbing the stairs I noticed a couple going the opposite direction. Suddenly, the woman calls my name.

– “Isaac?”

– “Yes…?”

– “Hi, I am Patty. I was reading your blog.”

It’s not the first time it happened to me during this trip. It appears that more and more people are reading and following this blog, which makes me happy as it implies that I’m doing a good job. It’s not hard to find a picture of me here, so I guess that’s how I get recognized.

We continued talking for a few minutes. Patty and John turned to be a very nice couple, living in Walnut Bottom, PA (yes, I was also baffled when I heard the name of the place). Very laid‐back people, from a small community—ah, I miss home. We shared a few stories, had a couple of laughs… was great talking with them.

Before Jesca’s show, Jeroen asked one of the people in charge of keeping the herds of people from the stage if he could take a picture of us both, which he denied. I wasn’t surprised. I turned to that person and asked him if it’s because his job mandates that he never turns his back at the crowd. He confirmed, saying that his job definition is to do exactly what he is doing at the moment.

Now I’m sorry to deviate a little bit from the description of the event. I have absolutely nothing, nothing against that person. Really. It is his choice how to fulfil his job.

I am thinking about that person. From what he said, and the tone in which he said it, I could easily conclude that he spoke out of fear. Fear of losing his job due to taking any sort of risk or of deviating even one millimetre from the one single functionality which he was commissioned to fulfil.

This fear is not born; it is acquired. So yes, this person really does his job. But lets look at the general case—forget, for a second, about that venue worker: if all of us do exactly what we’re told to do, in the way we’re told to do it, and never deviate from the single functionality we’re supposed to fulfil…

Then where are we headed?

What baffles me is that people working in a society that promotes innovation and progress educates and trains its workers—and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about highly‐paid executives or low‐paid stage security guards—to do exactly the opposite.

It’s time that we all realize that we would have never got to where we are now if it wasn’t for daring, for innovation, and for not fearing being different and dynamic.

Most people claim that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

My claim during 30 years of living is that if it ain’t broken, make it work better and more efficiently.

OK, back to the concert.

Jesca went on stage at 8:00pm to play her usual set, which I liked and it seems like I wasn’t the only one. She gave a very good performance.

During the intermission I took a few more pictures showing the venue filling up with people.


I started the show, as mentioned above, sitting in row DD seat 108. It turned out that the seat right in front of me—row CC—was empty. I asked the nice woman sitting next to it whether it’s available or not, she said that as far as she knows nobody’s sitting there. I waited to the applause break and went to Jeroen, gave him my ticket because he previously mentioned that he prefers being in the center; I then went one row forward and now I’m in row CC, right at the center.

Right in front of me, row BB, there was Nancy again and her friend (have I already mentioned how bad I am with names?). It turned out that this is the last concert Nancy’s going to attend in this tour. How sad.

The best seats in the house—row AA, dead center—were empty for most of the time. There were two guys who took these seats at the beginning of the show, and were actually sitting on them maybe %20 of the time, to a stretch. At the rest of the time, they were out drinking beer.

My guess is that at least one of those bozos is a scalper, who simply couldn’t sell those tickets for the price he demanded so he figured, hey, what the hell, lets see portions of the show.

The show itself was an absolute blast. I can definitely state that the Philadelphia show ranks very high up there, alongside with the L.A, Seattle, Edmonton and Ottawa shows. It was a blast in every way possible.

The sound was terrific. Even Jeroen, sitting at the very right of the front row, claimed that the sound was better than most of the shows he attended in Europe.

The crowd was great and extremely cheery. People got up virtually after (and sometimes during) each and every song, with some enthusiastic cheers during “Sailing to Philadelphia”. The crowd went completely bananas during Telegraph Road.

During the introduction of the band members, Mark spotted two people filming the show and asked them to turn it off.

The performances were nothing short of outstanding:

Hill Farmer’s Blues was amazing.

The Marbletown interlude was a bit different than before with John simply kicking serious butt. What a powerful performance!

Brothers in Arms—very touching solo, almost as touching as the original from the CD.

The climax—another amazing performance of Telegraph Road. It was so amazing, that I almost strained my neck due to moving it in random directions, getting completely addicted to the music. And I wasn’t the only one. The audience was amazed. So amazed that we all got up about a minute before the Telegraph Road performance ended and just cheered to no end. It was that awesome.

Shangri La has been resurrected and was played in the encore.

This show was so fantastic with every single band member demonstrating outstanding musicianship.

Right after So Far Away, when it was time for the last encore, the two bozos capturing the best seats have departed the venue. Nancy, her friend and myself found ourselves standing in the front row, at the center, during the performance of the last encore. Richard appeared surprised, as if he couldn’t fathom how come I made it from the 4th row to the front.

After the performance, some people went towards the stage in order to shake Mark’s hand. I decided not to, even though Mark appeared to not mind. He still carried his Fender in his hand, and the cord was wrapped around one of the speakers in a way that would shortly result in the guitar being dropped, however Guy realized this early enough and grabbed the guitar from Mark’s hands.

We left the venue hungry for more. Walking out of the venue, Nancy and her friend suggested that they drive us to our hotel instead of us having to worry about finding that bus back home which takes about an hour. It was so nice of them. I mentioned before that one of the main reasons for this trip being such a great experience for me is the great people I meet along the way. Thank you both for the ride!

As I have to leave early tomorrow, back to Newark to return the car and take the flight to Charlotte, I decided to stay in the hotel room, write my blog and pack my stuff instead of going out for a drink. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I’m sad for parting ways with Jeroen, but I’ll see him again in Miami Beach for the last concert.

I can’t believe that there are only four shows left.

In a way, I really don’t want this to end.


Streets of Philadelphia

This Bruce Springsteen’s song from 1993 has always been one of my favourites, and even prompted me to buy his Greatest Hits CD two years later.

So today I found myself walking the streets of Philadelphia. It is a wonderful city, and I will definitely come back here to explore more. As the hotel is located next to City Hall, exploring the downtown area is very easy. I walked up Market Street, then just took a turn and let myself get lost. I ended up walking through Antique Row (Pine Street).

I stepped into Starbucks and got their iced “Passion Tea”, which lived up to its name and built up immense passion within me to throw the darn thing away as it gave “repulsive” a whole new meaning.

I then continued getting lost and got the urge for some espresso. I noticed this tiny place called “Spruce Street Espresso”. They don’t have a website but here are some pictures:


The cappuccino was amazing. Very recommended.

Jeroen and I agreed to meet in the lobby on 4:00pm sharp, so we can catch a Philly Cheese Steak before we take the bus to the venue, so right after the cappuccino I started walking back to the hotel. I caught this nice view in Broad Street:


It’s 4:00pm now, so time to get dressed and get some late lunch before the show.


New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, Newark, NJ

So the day started easy. Woke up at around 9:00am, then Jeroen and myself hit the Manhattan Diner for breakfast which was good. Then we returned to the hotel room, to make some final arrangements. Jeroen decided to join me at the Newark concert—poor guy, got a seat at the fourth tier—dead center though. I called my (never to be used again after this trip) travel agency to cancel flights that I am obviously not going to take.

Before leaving the hotel for good, I toyed with the idea of playing that piano again.

I didn’t mention it in my previous post, and perhaps I should: During my childhood, I used to play the keyboard a lot. It was a simple keyboard, that my wonderful dad bought for me when I was 4 years old. He bought it as he was returning from a draft military service during the 1982 Israel‐Lebanon war (he was later injured during that same war). Being 4 years old at that time, I didn’t really understand what “war” means and I further wasn’t able to appreciate how much time, money and effort it took him to do it.

So anyway, I happen to have a perfect pitch and an extremely developed “relative hearing”. As I was 4 years old and there was nobody to teach me how to read notes, I simply taught myself. So there I am, a 4 (or maybe 5) years old kid trying to understand the written language of music.

The way that I did it may sound a bit odd, but it worked. My parents happened to have an old Richard Clayderman record. I listened to it, and then asked my dad to go with me to buy the sheet music for the same songs played on that album. I then dedicated days and nights, listening to the album and trying to make sense of the sheet music, and haven’t given up until I figured it out. In a sense, I learned how to read notes simply by hearing and trying to synchronize what I’m hearing with what I’m reading, as well as trying playing it myself.

I really wanted a piano, however my family’s financial situation was not good at all (which also explains my attraction to the field of money management, investing etc., acquired later in life; perhaps in a separate post). They couldn’t afford it. As years went by, I ditched that keyboard however the knowledge of how to play the piano has remained. The passion has remained as well.

The number of times I actually sat down in front of a piano and played is, I would estimate, less than 100 in my entire life (there was an old piano in the neighbourhood's library, and my best friend in Israel had one at home that I seldom played).

Last night, I gave it a shot and decided to play my own custom piano version of Richard Bennett’s “A Face No More”, one of my favourite tracks of his first album. I have never played that song before, even on my guitar, let alone on any sort of keyboard. Yet it came out beautiful on that grand piano they had there in the hotel.

So, anyway.

I needed to get to the Newark airport to pick up the car. And who is better to advise me than the wonderful concierge in the hotel. Our options:

  1. Pay $80 for a private car service that will be ready upon a 2 hour (!!!) notice.
  2. Take a taxi cab and hope for good, because—and this is according to the concierge, I swear to God almighty that it’s an accurate quote—“they don’t like driving to Newark”.
  3. Pay $17 each and get there by public transit within an hour.

Now, Jeroen has a PhD in mathematics. I am very good in mathematics myself. Combining our two awesome brains together we arrived at the conclusion that the third option makes a bit more sense.

We walked to the subway station on West 79th and took route #1 to Penn Station. That was a very interesting experience due to the humongous load on my back, which forced me to manoeuvre myself as people boarded and left the subway. Finally we made it to Penn Station, bought tickets to the NJ Transit and waited for the next train, while I was devouring an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.

We left the station at 1:03pm en route to Newark Airport. The train ride starts underground, and is 20 minutes long. 5 minutes into the ride, it goes to ground level and you can’t believe your eyes. How different it is than NYC! No rush, no giant buildings... feels like home again.

From the Newark International Airport station, we took the AirTrain directly to the Newark Airport’s car rental location. The AirTrain thing is cool. In fact, I found the entire Newark Airport area to be rather clean and very well marked. You can’t get lost here.

Rented a car, a Chevrolet Cobalt, however its remote seemed to have been broken; car was exchanged to a Dodge Caliber which worked fine.

For some whatever reason, Jeroen and I decided it would be best to first drive to Philadelphia, unload our luggage, check into the hotel and go back to Newark, so we drove a few miles (well... 20) on the toll road before realizing that we are both extraordinarily stupid and turned back.

We went directly to the venue, which turned out later to be a very wise decision. We parked at the venue. A text‐message from my friend Alex Flagg (residing in San Francisco, we met in Boston after the concert), arriving about an hour after we parked, advised me that car theft rates in Newark are three times the national average and nine times that of NYC. As we had to leave our entire belongings in the car, security was a major concern. So it worked out nicely. As we came early, the venue’s parking lot was almost empty.

In the parking lot, I witnessed and extremely odd incident. I was going to pay for my parking pass. Suddenly some guy approached the person working at the parking garage, to ask him a question. He seemed to have tickets left at the Will Call for him, and asked for information where to pick up the tickets from.

The guy, seemed to be in his 50’s, looked at the requester with glazed eyes, and replied in a very deep and authoritative voice:

– “Do you have a parking pass?”

I was amazed, however not as much as the poor guy asking the question. He said “never mind” and left.

Yet another evidence to some people simply not caring for anything else in the world other than the specific function that they were destined to fulfill. That started yet another thought process in my head.

This really is a vicious cycle. People who don’t care and don’t see anything beyond the tip of their nose, typically are not promoted and are not given the chance to demonstrate more sophisticated abilities; and people who are being stuck with low‐end jobs and not being promoted and / or motivated are very likely to develop resentment towards the entire universe to the point that they completely lose interest in everything, except for what’s required for them to keep the job that they hate so much.

If it sounds confusing, then it’s because it really is.

But I think it’s true.

We took some stuff from the car with us and Jeroen wanted to pick his ticket up from the Will Call window, which, unlike the one in NYC, was very helpful except that they didn’t even bother asking him for ID—very strange. He then continued to ask if there’s any seat available which is better than the one he had. Some alternatives have been suggested, and he passed on all of them.

It was time to get a bite so we decided to hit what we thought was Newark’s cool downtown area. We walked from the venue to Broad Street which appeared to be the street where everything happens, only to find out that whatever happens there is not to our liking (involves people exchanging cash for some unidentifiable items). We switched direction and walked the other direction of Broad Street, just to get an even scarier image. Our mission to find a decent place to eat has failed miserably, and we had to choose between hitting Quizno’s Sub to going back to the venue and eating in the bistro they have there.

We went to the bistro.

Took us a few minutes to figure out that the outdoor seating is closed. It turned out that there are two parts to the eatery there: Theater Square Grill and Theater Square Bistro. The Grill was closed, the Bistro was open. As soon as we entered, we were asked by the hostess if we had a reservation. Here is what the place looked like:


Impressed by the outstanding occupancy of the place, we said “no” and headed to the bar. The Bistro menu is very short however has some interesting items in it. I went for the trout salad and the burger, which were very good.

We had some time to kill so we headed back to Broad Street for a Starbucks. I asked the Barista there if we’re in a rough area of town. She smiled and said that Newark itself is a rough area of the world. It’s relatively unsafe anywhere in the downtown area. I thanked her for boosting my self confidence. We had our beverages and went back to the venue.

I wanted to check emails. The venue has some laptops adjacent to this cafe they have inside. The laptops are there to be used by patrons. Supposed to be free. Problem is that it didn’t work at all. It seemed like they were all connected wirelessly to their main router, but their main router failed to provide the machines with appropriate IP addresses, giving you that icon of “limited or no connectivity”. I notified the guy who worked there, who suddenly decided to appear knowledgeable, and went on to the most advanced level of computer systems troubleshooting—that of rebooting the laptops. Obviously that didn’t help. He then later told me that I’m the first who complained, in a tone that appeared to imply that I ruined it.


I took some pictures of the venue:


The venue, as well as its surroundings, is very impressive. It shows that people put a lot of effort and money into it. It is extremely clean, very well designed and it’s very easy to find your way around. The staff is courteous as well.

The doors opened at 7:30pm, half an hour before the opening act. I entered the venue and, guys, this venue is nothing short of breathtaking.


What you see in this picture is the four tiers of this venue. I was seated front row, seat 115. The entire row had 16 seats and, really, no seat on that row is bad. Poor Jeroen, though, had to sit somewhere in the fourth tier. Look at it, it is so high. I suggested he rents some binoculars. He refused.

Jesca appeared on the stage at 8:00pm sharp, this time wearing jeans, some shirt and what appeared to be a bandanna on her head. As she approached the stage, I mistook the bandanna for some huge bandage and was really scared that maybe something horrible happened to her. I was relieved to find out this wasn’t the case.

Jesca performed her usual set which was good to my taste. I don’t recall which song it was when she suddenly realized she can’t remember the lyrics. She stopped for a second, then mentioned to us that she can’t remember the lyrics, got some good cheer and encouragement from the crowd and moved on. And she takes it all very lightly and easily! Amazing attitude.

During the break between the shows, I was approached to by a nice couple. The man asked me if I’m Isaac. I confirmed and then he introduced himself as Bill. Can’t recall his wife’s name (I told you all about 1,000 times before, I am terrible with names), but I’m pretty sure it was Carol. Bill told me that they have been reading my blog and enjoying it. We had a short chat that was interrupted by Paul’s authoritative voice asking people to shut off their cellphones and declaring war on filming.

I also met Nancy, a cool lady whom I’ve seen in two shows before—Las Vegas and (I think) Boston. We had a very short chat—she was seated a few seats away from me, until I realized (by the songs playing pre‐show) that the show is about to start in 10 seconds. I told them (she was there with a friend. Again, I’m terrible with names) that the show is about to start any second now and counted down with my fingers. They seemed to have thought I went completely bananas, however I ended up being correct so they laughed.

The show was great. Richard has mentioned in his previous blog that, as the tour is coming to an end, he becomes more and more tired. Well, even if it is true, it really isn’t reflected by the way he plays because he seemed as energetic and awesome as usual.

The set list was the usual one and the audience loved the show. The guy sitting next to me went completely ape sh*t during the show and appeared to be very excited about finally seeing these seven wonders perform.

Mark appeared to have rememorized the lyrics of So Far Away, as in the NYC show he played the wrong order (almost positive about it; checked with Jeroen, he thinks so too).

Awesome solo work during Hill Farmer’s Blues and Telegraph Road, and great acoustic work during Marbletown right before the interlude.

Everybody played very well. I think that at some point during the show there was a buzz emerging from one of the speakers, which has been fixed within seconds.

The sound was great in this venue. Speaking to Jeroen after the show, after he managed to come down from 30,000 feet above onto the ground floor, he told me that this was perhaps the best sound he ever experienced in a venue.

The problem in sitting in the front row is that you rarely get really, really good sound. More often than not, you get some noise as well. The noise level heard in the front row yesterday wasn’t that bad, however I’m sure that people sitting farther away from the stage got some great sound.

After the show, we went back to the car and drove all the way to Philadelphia. Tried to avoid the turnpike by setting my GPS’s preferences, only to find out that it takes us through US‐1 & 9 which has lots of traffic lights in it. We ended up going on the turnpike all the way to Philadelphia, for the staggering cost of $3.05. Took us some wandering around in downtown, as I took a wrong ramp into the lower level and my GPS thought that I’m the second level, asking me to make turns that I simply couldn’t as my car had no wings. We figured it out at the end.

Jeroen, being so kind as he is, also invited me to stay as a guest in his Philadelphia hotel. This turned out to be the Marriott Courtyard, right next to city hall. He got a room which is larger than some Toronto apartments I’ve seen. What a great room!

I asked about parking. The hotel offered a valet service, $40 for 24 hours. Or I can park my car in the parkade across the street for $30 a night. Outrageous, considering the fact I have to leave my car there for two nights. I was so tired so I took the car to the parkade. Upon returning to the room, I checked the parking situation over Google and found out that I could have parked my car in the JFK Plaza for $8.50 for the entire weekend. I started to wonder why is it that the receptionist didn’t tell me about that cheap & convenient option (the plaza is two blocks away). Then it occurred to me—well, she works for the hotel after all. The hotel needs to make money. Why would she tell me of a cost‐effective way to park my car, rather than boasting their valet service?

So first thing I did this morning was to take my car away from that parkade to the JFK plaza, where it is now. Then Jeroen and I went for some breakfast in a place called “Corner Bakery & Cafe”. Their Chicken Pomodoro sandwich is fantastic.

Went back to the hotel (where I am at the moment). Jeroen decided to board one of those funny tour buses, I decided to explore things by foot. I only have a few hours in this city until the show, and I have to leave tomorrow early morning to catch my flight from Newark to Charlotte.

Tonight I’m seated in row DD seat 108. Jeroen will be in the front row, he got it by ordering through the venue itself. Whoever of you attending the show tonight, feel free to drop by and say hello.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Afternoon in New York City

So I managed to survive a day in NYC.

After posting the previous post, I went back to Times Square by the subway and started walking. It was a long walk. I went east and west of Broadway, as well as all the way to where Broadway crosses 5th Avenue.

During the afternoon, there were herds of people on the streets. I was amazed. Then came the evening, and it got to a point that I wasn’t just amazed; I was horrified. Coming 5–6pm, you simply cannot see the pavement due to the massive number of people walking the streets.

Other than touring around, I decided to get some taste of New York. Being alone, I preferred to not go to some fancy restaurant—I was content with just going to a small place. I ended up going to Pancho Villa, a Mexican pub/restaurant (sorry, I can’t remember where). Very filling meal, quite good, for $7.

Continued walking until I came across Aunt Annie’s, which is a chain that specializes in pretzels. Someone working there gave me a sample of those pretzels, and whoever knows me can tell you that I am a sucker for pastries. I got an almonds‐nuts pretzel which was amazing.

I am pretty sure that Starbucks took over the city’s cafe scene. There’s a Starbucks literally in every block here. I was craving a latte but couldn’t find any cafe that is not Starbucks, so I ended up stepping into one and getting a latte which turned out to be rubbish.

After walking for so long, I stopped at a bench near Broadway & 5th, for about 45 minutes. I could feel my blood flowing into my poor feet. Then I made my way back to Times Square and took the subway to the hotel.

Jeroen mentioned to me that he’s going to have a drink with a friend of his in some rooftop bar in downtown. We agreed that his friend sends me a text message to let me know exactly where the bar is. At around 8:00pm I got the text message, saying that the place is on 5th Avenue between 26th and 27th, and that you can’t wear shorts and must have a collared shirt. The latter was a problem as I only brought T‐shirts with me. Jeroen agreed that I wear one of his shirts, so I ended up wearing what I believe is the flashiest shirt I have ever wore before.

Went to the subway and found my way to the bar. It is a nice rooftop bar from which you can see some nice scenery—the Empire State building, the Chrysler building and more. You see the kind of life you usually see on TV—bunch of people, well‐dressed, very crowded, having laughs and drinks. The “New York Glamor” which, for me, is kinda fake, and I’ll leave it at that.

I got to meet Jeroen’s friend, Hiskias, had a drink and chatted. I was there for about 30–45 minutes and then Hiskias mentioned he has to leave, so we all left. Jeroen and myself walked to Times Square, I had a pizza and we took the subway back to the hotel. It was 11:00pm and the subway was fully loaded. Millions of people roaming the streets and the subway system.

Now it’s Friday morning. Show tonight at the NJPAC. I convinced Jeroen to come with me to the show, so we will be leaving to New Jersey soon.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Morning in New York City (or: Change)

So right after finishing writing the previous blog entry, Jeroen and myself went to this diner, called Manhattan Diner, right across the street from the hotel. It’s amazing how rushed and fast life is here. Everything’s so quick. All done in haste, as if someone’s up there waiting with a stopwatch for you to finish your earthly duty.

After breakfast, Jeroen and myself went different ways. He went to Brooklyn, I decided to walk downtown.

Very busy city. Can’t believe that some people are insane enough to drive in here.

Tried to find a coffee place, but all I saw was Starbucks in pretty much each and every block (I was walking down Broadway). Went into Best Buy, looking for a carrying kit for my GPS, only to realize their selection is rather dull.

I then decided to walk into Rudy’s Music Stop. I met Rudy yesterday at the meet and greet - very nice person, however it turned out that he could barely recall he met me. Not surprising considering the fact that he meets so many people every day. I asked him about a guitar I’d like him to build for me, a replica of the one Mark Knopfler played in “A Night in London” in 1996 (played “Sultans of Swing” with it - the version with the unforgettable, and never played thereafter, interlude). He mentioned the price of $7,995 and the payment terms, and then suggested that I meet him upstairs for a demonstration of how he builds his guitars and other interesting things.

I went upstairs, waited for about 20 minutes but he never showed up. I asked the attendant there to tell Rudy that I was waiting, so he doesn’t get the impression that I just walked away. Rudy must be an extremely busy person. Anyway, it was nice being there. I guess I’ll have to postpone my Pensa plans.

What a crazy city. Now, just for background, I did live and grow up in a crowded city. I was born and raised in a city neighbouring Tel-Aviv, and I have some experience of the Tel-Aviv life. Not as crazy as New-York, but pretty high up there. That was one of the reasons why I left Israel - to escape the rush. I wanted peace and quiet. And once you experience peace & quiet for a few years, you just can’t go back to life in the fast lane.

Yet, it’s nice to experience this kind of life every once in a while. Makes me appreciate the life I have back in Waterloo.

Ever felt like you need to escape of your daily routine, that you need to “see things from a different perspective”? It’s a really interesting phenomenon. Why is it that a person needs to get out from a certain “system” in order to “see things from a different perspective”, even if his life is good and comfortable where he is? I have no reason to complain about my daily life back in Waterloo, yet I often feel the need to just get away from it all.

I thought about it a lot and also did some research. The answer became very clear after I read one of the most fascinating books I have ever read, called “Change; Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution” by Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D, John Weakland, Ch.E and Richard Fisch, M.D.

One of the symptoms of living a routine is that our values, and the way we appreciate things, are adjusted to reflect that routine. A person who is born poor and has to live life of poverty, and a person who is born rich and lives life of luxury, often see things in completely different ways.

Now comes the important point: A system cannot be evaluated and appreciated by terms defined within that system; it can only be evaluated and appreciated by terms external to it.

It turns out that this distinction is as true in life as it is in mathematics (and I will not dwell into the Group Theory and Calculus here). Think about a situation that you have been involved in, or are involved in at the moment, that results in what seems like a “deadlock”. This is often the result of trying to think of a solution to a problem, by looking at the problem-space only and not thinking “outside the box”. This exactly is the topic of that book I mentioned earlier - how to change systems and solve problems that appear to be unchangeable and insolvable. The idea behind it is that certain systems will not change or solve by just introducing a change within the system; there is a need to change something in a higher level, that will cause a change in the nature of the system itself.

I know this may sound a little bizarre; however, from my experience, it is very true.

Very recommended reading. Link:


So there you go. When you live life in comfort, you sometimes need to get away from it all. Not because you don’t like your life, but merely to re-establish your appreciation of everything. This is true not only for re-appreciating lifestyle; it is also good, in my opinion, in relationships. However that would be a topic for a separate post.

Continuing my exploration of NYC’s streets…


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.


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.


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.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Everything is booked.

It’s so nice to go to such a trip when everything’s booked in advance. In a trip like the one I’m doing, there’s no value to being super‐spontaneous as I already know which cities I am going to stay in every night. Booking everything in advance makes life so much easier—much more time to enjoy the journey, less time spent looking for places to stay!

4:00am now. Got to catch some sleep as tomorrow is going to be a long day—driving to Buffalo (about 2 hours), catching a plane to Baltimore in the afternoon…

Time to go to sleep, in my own bed… Good to be here in my own private room, and good to get the hell out of here tomorrow for another two weeks of total freedom!

If anybody wants to get together pre‐ or post‐show, let me know by SMS to 519‐635‐5003 or email. You can also email my phone at 5196355003@msg.telus.com—free to send and I’ll receive it as an SMS on my end.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Travel Plans for the Rest of the Trip, and Some Explanations

OK, so I believe I finally figured out the best way to go at it.

The biggest problem with planning this second part of the trip was because I was initially under the impression that I won't make it to the Atlanta, New York and the Charlotte shows, so my trip was well‐planned for missing those shows.

About a week ago I realized the extent of my ignorance and decided that there is yet more that I can do in order to be able to make it to all of them. With the help of my friends and colleagues, I managed to pull it off.

What remained was the travel arrangements. As I had to do a bunch of changes, it turned out that I had to forfeit the fare for three flights that I booked already. This won't make me broke, however I was really upset with airlines' policies as well as the travel agency I use(d).

So here is my itinerary for the rest of the trip. If anybody has any ideas to improve, please let me know. Anyway, it seems like it's going to be the more challenging part of the trip:

  1. Cancel some flights, rendered useless as per the change in plans: YYZ → EWR, CLT → YYZ, BUF → TPA. Feel bitter about airlines stealing my money: Done.
  2. Tomorrow afternoon, drive my car to Buffalo airport, park it there till the end of the trip. Take flight from Buffalo to Baltimore: Booked.
  3. Rent car in Baltimore for the day, as there's no easy way of getting from Baltimore airport to the venue, then find a place to sleep, and then back to the airport the next morning: Not booked yet.
  4. Take train from Baltimore Airport to New York—Penn Station. Train departing 9:02am, should be in NYC by noon: Booked.
  5. Hook up with Jeroen, who is visiting NY and allowed me to be a guest in his hotel room. Thanks Jeroen!
  6. Rent a car in Newark on July 25, so I can drive to the show in Philadelphia the next day, find some cheap accommodation along the way, then back to Newark on July 27: Booked.
  7. Fly from Newark to Charlotte: Booked.
  8. Rent a car in Charlotte, drop‐off in Atlanta. I checked; no drop‐off fees. Not booked yet.
  9. Return the car in Atlanta, at the morning of July 30. Fly from Atlanta to Tampa: Not booked yet.
  10. In Tampa, hook up with Jim who's attending the Tampa and Miami Beach concerts with his family and suggested that I join them. Thanks Jim!
  11. August 1st–August 4th: There's a long weekend in Canada so no point to immediately return to Ontario after the tour is over. Flight booked from Jacksonville, FL to Buffalo, NY where my car is parked for two weeks. I guess I'll rent a car on August 1st and just enjoy the ocean until August 4th.
  12. August 4th: Flight from JAX to BUF. Pick up car from parking lot, and—assuming it's still running—make my way back to Ontario after what would be the vacation of a lifetime.


The Cost of Being Stupid

So when I was planning my trip, I made a spreadsheet with the distances between all cities.

Using Microsoft MapPoint, I typed in “Vienna” and instead of picking up “Vienna, VA” I picked up “Vienna, GA”. That resulted in showing me that the distance between Syracuse and “Vienna” is 1,760km instead of the true figure which is some 1,000km less.

That’s why I decided to drive from Syracuse back to home, and take a flight to Baltimore tomorrow morning, rather than drive what I thought would be 1,760km in two days.

Somebody hold me, I’m going to explode.

Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY

After finishing that burger I ordered in the “Cheers” replica and swore to never set foot in that place ever again, I realized that it’s time to go if I want to make it to the show. Took some photos of the market, then some iced latte from a place that shouldn’t be allowed to sell any sort of coffee anymore.

There appeared to be so many people in downtown Boston. My wonderful GPS showed me a few shortcuts to the Interstate, so within 2 minutes I was already on the I‐90 Westbound, waiting in line at the toll booth.

Massachusetts is a pretty state, and fun to drive through. As you approach New York state, things become rather boring. The weather turned more and more against me as I approached Albany. There’s been some severe storm on the way, so severe that I had to park my car on the shoulder as it was impossible for me to drive. It was raining so heavily that you could barely see anything more than five meters away. I waited for a few minutes waiting for the storm to pass, which didn’t happen. So I ended up driving 40 km/h till it got better.

Was pretty scary.

Eventually I did make it to Syracuse, though. I have only been in Syracuse once before, for circumstances I wish to not elaborate on but I can tell you that it involved a woman and that that experience caused me to never want to set foot in Syracuse ever again. During my last visit here, I got to think that this is a very boring city with nothing to do in. However crossing through this time, I noticed that there are a few things to see and do in here.

It was Sunday evening. Streets are, for the most part, empty. I parked my car within 3 minutes drive from the venue, right on the street. I heard that crime is a real problem in Syracuse so I took my backpack, containing my entire earthly belongings, with me to the venue.

Stopped in Subway to grab a bite, then another block and I’m at the venue.

The venue, called “The Landmark Theater”, appears to be run down a little but you can see that it once used to be a really awesome place. There’s also a poster at the entrance encouraging people to donate time and (mostly) money to help revitalize this “palace” (that’s how they call it). The hall itself was also run down—obviously this place has had its share of neglect—but again, looking at the walls and at the ceiling you can easily tell that this place used to be amazing. It was a little sad for me to realize that.

The venue had two rows in the pit. I was row YY seat 11. Row YY turned out to be the front row, and the front row turned out to have 21 seats, which makes my seat the absolute center. That really was center. Looking forward, I could see that my seat is perfectly aligned with the gap between the two front speakers. It couldn’t been any more “center” than this.

Show started early—at 7:00pm—the earliest one so far. Jesca kicked the night off with a great performance. It was her first time playing “Enemy” in this tour. A great song from her first album, “Kismet”, which I have some things to say about but didn’t get the chance to put it in writing yet.

The venue was almost full. Surprisingly, the pit’s second row had about 6–8 seats left empty, pretty much in the dead center.

The band appeared at 8:00pm and were greeted warmly. Played the usual set list, perfect performance by everybody. There were a few things peculiar in this concert though.

There was this incident that Mark almost slipped, during the performance of Romeo and Juliet. And by “slipped”, I mean literally, “slipped”. I think he got his feet tangled with some cables on the floor, and had the expression of “Oh no, I’m going to fall” on his face. Luckily he survived.

Also, after playing the Song for Sonny Liston, there’s this part when Mark introduces the band. He usually has his Gibson with him when he does that, however this time the crew worker took his guitar away before the introduction began. It was very weird to see Mark without a guitar wrapped around him, putting his hands in his pockets.

A few people tried to record the show. During the introduction of the band members, Mark pointed in my direction and mentioned something about a blue light. Probably someone right behind me tried to tape the show.

During “So Far Away”, Mark usually embeds the name of the city he’s in into the first line of the song. However this time he said something completely different—I couldn’t understand what it was but it wasn’t “Syracuse”, for sure. Right after, he started coughing. It turned out that he noticed some problem with the equipment, as a stage crew member came rushing to the stage to assist Richard with something—I believe it was a faulty cable? Not sure.

All and all it was a very good show with good improvisations all over the place. I really enjoyed it and, by the crowd cheering, it was evident that everybody loved it.

Right after the show, I decided to drive all the way back home to Waterloo, which makes July 20th the longest driving day for me ever, with just about 1,000km driven in that day only (2,000km since Friday). My car appeared to not like it one bit. The engine is starting to make some valve noise.

But I did get home, though.

During the ride back, I heard “Inamorata”—the entire album—a few times, on repeat. This is such a wonderful album, containing great love songs with excellent lyrics and outstanding melody.

”Cold Water…”

Tomorrow I’m flying from Buffalo to Baltimore, then probably renting a car to get to the concert about 30 miles away. This is going to be the more challenging part of this trip, as I am trying to rely on public transport as much as I can—the driving really became a pain, to the point I really think it’s unhealthy.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

“Cheers” (the Replica)

So before I head my way to Syracuse, I decided to spend some time in downtown Boston. I have never been here before, which is a total shame as this appears a really cool place to hang out.

It turns out that, when you punch in “Boston, MA” to my GPS, it takes you right to the heart of downtown. This is very useful for people like me who otherwise would have no idea where downtown is. It’s Sunday so traffic wasn’t that bad. I can’t imagine how it is in weekdays, though. As you approach the downtown area, the roads become more and more convoluted and narrow.

I took the GPS with me, set to “Pedestrian Mode” which, I believe, is the same as “Automobile” except that it ignores “one way”‐ness. I found a parking spot on the street, right in Oliver & Franklin, which is a short 5 minutes walk from the Merchants’ Square.

Wandering around I noticed this place called “Cheers”. It turned out to be a replica of the “real” “Cheers” pub which is about 15 minutes walk from here. The interior looks very similar to what’s seen on TV.

I am waiting for my order now. I hope I have enough time to check out the original “Cheers”. One of my all‐time favourite TV shows, back from the days I used to watch TV regularly (nowadays I’m just too busy. It’s amazing how much of your schedule is freed once you give up television).

So I’m expecting an easy drive today to Syracuse. It’s a Sunday, and nobody drives to Syracuse unless he/she has a good reason to (that’s what I was told). I have been in Syracuse once before, about five years ago.

I am planning to drive home right after the concert. Tomorrow there’s no concert, and I’ll be flying from Buffalo to Baltimore, to catch the Vienna show. If anybody happens to live nearby the Baltimore airport and is willing to give me a ride to the venue—please speak up!

Food’s here…


Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA

Today was a long day, perhaps the longest one since the beginning of the trip.

Very shortly after leaving Montreal on my way to the US border, I realized that I should really stop driving and take a short nap. I suddenly started to see the road disappearing against my eyes, a good sign that my eyes going to get shut involuntarily very soon. So I pulled over to a nearby lake, a few kilometers away from the USA border, and tried to catch some sleep.

Before falling asleep I noticed how great the view is. It was on the shore of what I believe was Lake Champlain, which is split between Quebec and Vermont. Will come back here again.

I slept for about 30 minutes. Then continued the drive, a bit more alert this time.

USA border crossing took exactly five minutes—four minutes of waiting in line (the Nexus lane was closed) and one minute talking to the agent. Very nice lady there who, of course, had to dig into why am I doing this trip in the first place, how much it cost me (I gave her an estimate—“I don’t know” is not an answer border agents like to hear) and so forth.

Crossed the border to Vermont, just to find out that this is some beautiful state. Lots of green, lots of hills. Lakes, rivers. Reminds me of driving in British Columbia.

I made very few stops along the way, just for refuelling and buying some water as it was very, very hot outside and I wanted to get to Boston as early as possible.

After Vermont came New Hampshire, which was just as scenic. This is a part of the USA that I will definitely revisit for some camping or hiking trip.

Arrived at Boston at around 3:00pm. First task, as always, was to find a place to sleep. A few phone calls and I decided to stay in some Motel 6, about 20 miles away from the venue, in Farmingham. $55 and got an extremely spacious room with everything in it.

I quickly got everything together, preparing for the Meet & Greet. Checked some emails and off I went driving towards the venue.

I was so tired.

Took a while to get to the venue—about 25 minutes driving—however finding it was very easy (oh well, I have a GPS) and there was some street parking available right across the road from the venue, controlled by parking meters which accept quarters only. I put whatever quarters I could find, which wasn’t enough, and went on my quest to find some more.

First stop—the venue’s box office. “Sorry, I barely have quarter myself”.

Second stop—a restaurant called “Pressed Sandwiches” about 2 minutes walk from the venue. That place sells sandwiches, “pressed” inside a toaster so they come out warm & crisp. I got the Chicken Pesto sandwich. Delicious, yet overpriced. Quarters? Sorry, no. But try at Starbucks…

Which I did. Bought myself my favourite drink (light blended mocha frap) and got tons of quarters in return. That was enough to feed the parking meter so it doesn’t bother me again.

That area of Boston is clearly not a part of the downtown area, which I ended up not visiting due to lack of time. It is a quiet area, very pretty as there’s a nice‐looking harbour there with nice‐looking hotels, lots of restaurants.

Went to the Seaport hotel at around 5:00pm. Turns out there’s free Wi‐Fi there, so I replied to some more emails while waiting for a few MK Forum fans to arrive (I was invited by this lady named Emily). By the time they came, I already had to leave so I can be on time for the Meet & Greet.

Doors were supposed to open at 6:30pm. They opened at 6:45pm. Walked to the Meet & Greet location, and was told that it starts at 7:00pm.

At the meantime, I thought I’ll check my seat out. Turns out I was seated at the second row, about %75 to the left. Not bad.

Then it was time for the Meet & Greet which was very nice. The band performed a couple of songs that had nothing to do with Mark Knopfler. They appeared to be in a very good mood, and showed us some very interesting instruments—Richard’s slide guitar, and some other fabulous instrument that works by running some pointer over it. I have no clue how to explain it or what it is called, but Guy and Matt appeared to have mastered it.

The band was very… well, how to call it… laid back. As much as these people appear laid‐back and relaxed on stage, it is nothing compared to how they appear in such small gatherings. Mark turned out to have some great sense of humour (something I have always known, but didn’t know to what extent).

This is my first time in any Meet & Greet in any concert whatsoever. I am not used to this setting, but still, I’ve been following this bunch for 21 shows already so I didn’t feel too freaked out about it. I got the opportunity to speak with each and every member of the band, except for Mark. It was great speaking with Matt, John, Danny (what a nice guy!), Glenn, Guy, and Richard whom I caught completely off‐guard the day before with the Harvey’s gift card incident.

I took a few pictures, however only one with my camera—the rest were taken using (what I think was) Guy’s camera, I hope he sends them to me soon so I can post.


This is another thing I like about this band; they are, first and foremost, people. Very down to earth, very pleasant to speak with. I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to be in company with such a great group of people.

The reason I could not speak with Mark was that he appeared very busy. A few people from the Meet & Greet group appeared to be some sort of very close friends of his, and he spoke to them pretty much the entire time. I really hate to interrupt, so I didn’t. He did, though—like the rest of the band—take the time to sign my copy of the program.

I kind of felt sorry for not having the opportunity to speak with Mark, yet I am grateful for having given the opportunity to be there at the Meet & Greet. I hope I will be given the opportunity to speak with him later on.

Due to the Meet & Greet session, I missed Jesca’s act. So I returned to my seat about 5 minutes before the concert started.

The venue itself is great. It’s a pavilion, so you can’t really expect some high‐end sound like in sophisticated concert halls but the sound was very good where I was seated. Well balanced. The weather was hot, however from time to time we did get some breeze which was really nice. The pavilion is located right in the harbour, so you get some good view as well.

The stage was about 5 feet tall with no fence between it and the front row, which was great.

I didn’t get to see much of the concessions over there so I’m not sure what they offer and whether it’s reasonably priced or not. They did serve beer, though; I’ll give you that.

The place appeared to be clean and the staff was courteous. I liked this venue.

The show started at 8:30pm and had the usual setlist except that Shangri La has been resurrected. I was very happy about it as it’s a wonderful song. The Boston audience enjoyed an almost full set list (the only time the full set list was done was in Red Rocks, where the band also played Done with Bonaparte).

The audience turned out to be of the cheering kind. Of course some people insisted on filming the show, subjecting themselves to Mark’s pointed finger. He then said “thank you for not filming, we appreciate it very much” in what appears to have been a sarcastic remark.

There were no special incidents (off‐tuned guitar, broken amp, etc.) during the show. We got some great performances though. The audience appreciated the Marbletown interlude to no end, as well as John’s whistle works during Why Aye Man and Sailing to Philadelphia.

the two seats on my right were empty so I asked the lady sitting three seats away if it’s OK that I move right beside her—closer to the center—a request she heartily accepted. Once the encore started, I was already up against the stage, along with about 10–15 other people who just stood there watching an extraordinary performance of Brothers in Arms.

At the end of the show, Danny kept his promise and handed me the drum sticks he used during the show. Very kind gesture—thank you Danny!

After the show I got to meet Alex and his friend Eric. Alex emailed me about a week ago, he’s from San Francisco and, being impressed with the Berkeley show, decided to fly to Boston to catch another, while convincing his friend Eric to go with him. We ended up talking for about 30–45 minutes outside the venue about all sorts of things—very nice fellows. It turned out that they happened to be in that lobster place near the venue and talked to Guy who was also there. We decided to keep in touch. It’s great meeting great people along the way.

After the show I started driving back to the motel. I was starving. I was planning on grabbing some fast food on my way, that’s why I decided to not go grab a drink & some food with Alex and Eric. What a huge mistake, as everything in Framingham is closed at night. I had to resort to some vending machine food.


I’m finishing writing this post on 10:55am, the day after the show. I’m really, really hungry and there’s a 500km drive today to Syracuse, so I’d better be going.