Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Under Attack!!

Or, at least Charlie is...  Yesterday I awoke to a loud explosion, so loud it set off a car alarm in front of my apartment building.  Now, living in the 'hood, this is not unusual by any means, but since this particular BOOM! was right outside my front window and I've been very on edge (to say the least) about my van, I ran over to the window to check it out.  I was hoping the explosion hadn't affected my van (and it's cracked windows that would be susceptible to a blowout) and at first glance all was well.

Then I notice my flat front driver's side tire, blown apart with the threads sticking out of the hole on the top.  Fuck.  Me.

Upon closer inspection it would appear that someone stabbed my tire, as right below the blowout there is a very neat, precise 2-inch line, as a knife would make.  You've gotta be kidding me!  This happened in broad, sunny daylight, 2pm.

I've had the van for less than 2 months and I've already been broken into (with many valuables stolen and stuff broken), where they also tried to hotwire and steal the entire van (ripped out ignition).  After that I'm thinking the same person(s) tried to break into my apt (my address was on some mail in the van).  Now they're apparently trying to immobilize Charlie to scrap him for parts!

I'm trying very hard not to be paranoid, but how many coincidences can there be until it's truly a string of related events?

I need to get the fuck out of Chicago.  But I will not give up!  I just need a better neighborhood to park in.  Everything worthwhile comes with a price, a fight.

I've got my gloves on, bitches.  And someone's ears are surely a-ringin' from yesterday's attack....  Serves them right!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Ok, Let's Go'.

"I'm ready!"

I turned around, unaware that someone had come up behind me, and saw a much older man with gray hair, smiling and leaning heavily on what looked like a black walker stacked with electrical equipment underneath the handles.

Having thought I may have misheard him or was blocking the doorway he'd just exited (and not entirely sure he had even spoken to me), I hesitantly replied, "Excuse me?"

He said, "My dream in life is to walk up to a lady - a pretty lady - and say, 'I'm ready!', and she would respond, 'Ok, let's go'."

As the countless possibilities of where such an interaction could go crept in, he smiled and continued, "But I guess that isn't going to happen."  With a wink and a dash of Cary Grant charm he said, "Enjoy your day", and still smiling, ambled off.

He swung his legs widely to each side to step around the other foot as he walked, very slowly, a step a second. 

I was left wondering, lost in the myriad...

Step off that edge, and see where it takes you.  
Spontaneity.  Risk.  Adventure.  Opportunity.  Chance.

(Post has been backdated to reflect the date and time of this occurrence.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Raping Of Charlie

So I've had my van for about a month and a half.  Wednesday, June 30th, was my first break-in.  As in, someone got inside, stole my stuff, broke other stuff, and oh yeah, tried to hotwire and steal the entire dang thing.  Oh Humboldt Park, your crackheads sure do amuse me.

I have been very cautious since then with the van (or Charlie, as I've taken to calling him.  He has a few other names in Cherokee and other symbolic tags, but they're for my knowing for now).  I cover every window and frequently go to my apartment windows and shine a flashlight down on/around it to see if anything seems amiss when I'm inside, although I've taken to sleeping in the van so I can hopefully scare whoever away if they come back.  I still need to get some sage and clear the air inside though, as it doesn't feel like 'mine' anymore.  The energy inside feels.... violent.  When I first discovered what had happened it looked as if the inside of the van had thrown up upon itself.  Everything was upended and thrown about, the bench seat twisted oddly against itself, miscellanea scattered about, my ignition hanging from it's wired guts.

The scariest part was that we (my temp roomie & mechanic) found only 2 of the 3 ignition parts outside the vehicle, which meant whoever had done this was planning on coming back for the van and stealing the entire thing after modifying the ignition switch (since they were too dumb to hot-wire it).  So that night I hot-wired it with a paperclip and drove it to the suburbs, where my mechanic and I worked on it a bit the following day and ordered the ignition for it (only $26 total for both parts!).  We installed it when I returned from WI before I left for MI, which is great because without my ignition in nothing else was working either - gauges, blinkers, wipers, radio, etc.

I won't go over what was taken because I'm thankful for what was left.  I'm even more thankful that I am not fully living in the van just yet, that Dru & Penelope weren't in there.  The thought of anything happening to them makes the pit of stomach just drop.  That's actually my biggest fear or worry about traveling - not that I'll break down or get injured or run out of money or have my stuff stolen, but what if something horrible happens to Dru/PenPen?  You can't say it wouldn't be my fault because it would - I'm the one making the choice to live like this, not them.  But there's no use in dwelling on 'what-ifs', I can only be prepared and prudent.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Night of Guitar Solo With Billy Corgan

Yesterday (Thurs. July 8th) I left Chicago to drive to Grand Rapids for the Smashing Pumpkins show.  I figured I've been listening to them for 12 years or so now, might as well see them live for once, right?  As their tour was not bringing them to CHI I decided a road trip was in order, and that perhaps I'd go to the Columbus OH show the day after as well.

I leave CHI super late of course and get stuck in every rush hour imaginable through CHI, Indiana, and Michigan.  BTW, Michigan has the worst roads I've encountered yet.  I finally get to Grand Rapids and am driving all around this stupid mall where the venue is supposed to be before asking a taxi driver where it is.  Turns out I'm right next to it (you really cannot even tell a venue is there from the road -argh).  So I turn left where Mr. Taxi tells me to and end up driving back to where the tour bus is before security waves me away - oops!  Luckily there was one parking spot in the back lot that I easily backed into.  The tour bus was maybe 75 feet away if even.

I arrived at the venue around 8:15pm and wasn't sure when the show began.  I called the box office over and over to no avail as I was getting dressed and putting my contacts in.  I figured that even if SP was just going on stage it was worth it as they're the only ones I'm interested in seeing anyways (the opener was Kill Hannah, and while I've never given them a legitimate listen, I saw them waaaaaaay back when they were first starting out and had a spot at Summerfest, and to this day there's just something about them that dis-interests me - maybe that they're so seemingly 'scene'/emo/cliche).

I go around the building and there's a short line to the box office, where they're selling tix for $49.  WHAT?  Ok, I usually take my chances buying tix @ the door/day of show because that way you usually circumvent the Ticketmaster fees and if the show does end up being sold out there's always scalpers lurking.  If I had bought my ticket online, even with the fees it wouldn't have been more than $37-42.  WTF Orbit Room.  I have an increasingly bad taste in my mouth regarding this venue.

So a group of four walks up to the line, 2male/2fml, in their 40's or so, asking if anyone needs a ticket, and I say how much.  Fml#1 says $30, and Man#1 holding the ticket says that should be fine, in agreement.  I say I have $30, to which Fml#2 says, "Wait, they're selling them for $49 at the B.O. and you're only gonna try for $30?".  I think to myself, "you greedy bitch" but instead say, "Well, I have $30" and begin to get my money out.  Fml#2 (aka Greedy Bitch) then says, "Well, you paid $42 for the ticket, you should at least get $42", while the other 3 look on, prompting Man#1 (ticket man) to ask, "Um, $35?".  I look at each of them individually in the eye for a glance before looking at Ticket Man and Fml#1 who made the original offer and stating clearly, while holding out my cash, "I. Have Thirty.  Dollars"  Ticket is sold.  Immediately after this exchange Greedy Bitch turns all peaches and cream with me.  "Oh, are you here alone?  Why don't you hang with us?"  Smile smile smile.  Whatevs.

On with the show.  I buy a Stella inside and quickly ditch the foursome as I wasn't feeling very sociable anyways.  Kill Hannah is finishing up their last song, thank god.  I work my way to mid-room while waiting and finish my beer within ten minutes.  Now, while I am a lush, I hardly expect to pay $6/beer as I'd get full before drunk anyways, so the speed of my imbibing was most likely due to the completely insipid conversation surrounding me, SP-related or otherwise.  Ok, seriously people, I don't expect anyone to know an entire band's history/members by heart, but at least skim their fucking Wiki page if you're that goddamn confused as to what's going on and who's playing.  The average age of the crowd was 30-45, and most of them were sloshy drunk and slurring their conversations.  It was annoying and pathetic, especially when all I heard directed at me was, "You muss only be 20 erso, youso yuuuung, whatchu know 'bout PumPKins?" (with a good amount of saliva sprayed into the ignorance for good measure).

The venue was a pretty good size and it was packed.  I allow myself to be pushed further and further up when the crowd surged at each light drop.  By the time SP takes the stage I'm less than 10ft from the stage, front and center (well, a person-width to the right, as if my left arm were next to Billy's left arm as we're facing opposite directions).  This is perfect.  It means I can clearly see all of the band members. 

First off, let me start by saying the new drummer is fucking A-Maze-ING.  Holy shit that kid can wail.  And he eerily reminds me of a coworker of mine from Madison, who I was completely un-attracted to, however, I'd totally fuck that drummer.  Lesson here kids:  Learn an instrument and play it extremely well.  You will get chicks (or dicks, or both if you so desire.  This news is not new and shouldn't surprise anyone). 

So they start off with a 'new' song, 'Astral Planes', and follow it with Ava Adore.  I tried really hard to remember the order of the rest of the set list but they played for almost 2 1/2 hours!  So I'll hafta do my personal highlights. 

The played an amazing rendition of 'Eye', easily one of my faves.  Also 'Stand Inside Your Love' really got to me, 'Song For A Son', which was amazing live, 'Perfect', which totally entranced me as I'm really feeling those lyrics right now.  They played all their latest songs and during 'Widow Wake My Mind' Billy wanted everyone to sing along w/ the "Oh, Oh-Oh" part, and the first time the crowd was really weak.  Billy quipped "You guys make me think I'm in Chicago or something" and he was met by reverberating Boos at that burn.  Needless to say the next take was on point.  And of course the place was pure bedlam during 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'.  I quickly made my way up a few more rows until I was up front, five feet from the stage, Billy leaning over soloing his little heart out.  Seriously, there was at least 45 minutes of just soloing throughout the entire show.  Dude can play some guitar.  I suppose that makes sense as he's been making music for most of his life. 

Overall the show was fantastic.  I was really amazed by the drummer, and the guitarist as well.  Billy was of course, Billy, all hunched over and singing out the side of his mouth.  The bassist Nicole was gorgeous, but very bored.  And I totally witnessed a silent cat-fight between her and the band/venue photographer at one point lol.  But as it is already almost 5pm here in GR, I don't think I'll be making it to the Columbus show, which is ok.  The show was definitely worth seeing again, and I think that with this lineup they'll be around for awhile and I'll be able to see them another time. 

The internet finally starting working here, now that my battery is at 50%.  I think I will stay overnight again and check out the area a bit more tomorrow.  I had awesome sushi today at Makado & am currently looking up beaches and community events to attend.  I've been in this A/C for too long now, time to fill up the gas tank and go exploring!