Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thanks for following me to Blogspot, and thanks to my new readers. To those of you unfamiliar with the Sunday Review, it's just a nice way to sum up and respond to comments and messages. It also reminds me that another week has flown by without having accomplished all on my To Do List. hmpf.
I posted that Craiglist Missed Connection, but no word from Miss English Engaged. Oh well.
If I miss your comment, I'm sorry. I'm sorting through comments on Facebook, MySpace, and Blogspot ...hard to streamline. But here goes:
Joy - I'm thrilled to know you're reading! I was beginning to think the Blogspot move wasn't such a good one, but I think you're in the majority here. Most people don't read MySpace blogs. By the way, I'm stoked to now be reading your blog. Whenever I get up to Philly, we should find a nice coffeeshop and blog side-by-side.
Shari - I have not tried that pen, but I'm in favor of anything that doesn't aggravate my wrist. Thanks. And also, it's about time I headed to Indy for a show. The radio's been good to me there.
Left in the Woods -- Yep, No Bleed Through. It's awesome. Powerful, yet concise.
Chuck -- What's your book about? I'm mostly just writing songs. Although I laugh at my adventures and wonder if I'll write a book someday.
Bard - How do you know it was me who did the something bad?
Jim -- thanks for that link ... tempting tempting!!
Daniel -- Good thinking. Although, if you go straight to xxxxxx.craigslist.org/mis/ you get ALL the missed connections, no separating by M-for-W or W-for-W. More entertaining that way.
Mia -- Let me know if you find any good Missed Connections out in Vegas. I bet they're pretty good.
Marty -- I hope you don't disappear from commentland just because I'm not on Myspace? Please? please? I'm still around MySpace, just not blogging there so often....
Jonathan -- Delete away, my friend.
Paul - That is awesome about the Signature Room. What a night that was. We meandered to Navy Pier afterwards and rode the Ferris Wheel. I was giddy on wine, food, and good company.
Thanks, everyone, for enduring guest blogs. I promise to bring you only worthwhile guest blogs. These weekend blogs are killing me. I'm glad it was review day. I think I'm still hungover from Friday.
I promise some good blogs this week though. I'm off to a hootenanny, so that's got to lead to some good stories.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Then, I drank half of someone's nasty fruity grosso-tini.
And I have been in cloudy headache land all day. I wasn't even slightly drunk last night, so why the hangover?
I thought I'd teach a little lesson about whisky versus whiskey today.
It's okay to spell it without the "e." The Scottish whisky makers (yes, scotch) don't spell it with an "e." That's why Maker's Mark Whisky has no E. But Jim Beam does. Maker's Mark's developers were descended from Scotland.
I was drinking Knob Creek last night. That is whiskey.
Ok, lesson learned. Back to bed.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I've been writing lately. Not as much as I had previously. I hibernated this winter and spent time with good friends. The past few weeks, however, I remembered an old favorite trick to get me to write: new ink pens.
I know I'm not alone here. There is something extremely satisfying about opening a new pack of pens and dating the first entry in a leather-bound journal.
Last week, I went to Staples and bought a pack of Uni-Ball Vision Needle (fine point) black pens. They have been good to me. Other favorites of mine include the classic Pilot Precise V7 Needle Rollerball and a recent discovery, the Sharpie Pen (no bleed-through!).
Sometimes I write the most inane things, but it always feels like I'm writing the Great American Novel when I've got a new pen.
Playing tonight at the Monkey Wrench. Maybe I'll write out some new lyrics with my new pens and sing you some new songs.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
(For your GoogleReader or MyYahoo)
I seem to be playing Louisville about once a month at the most. It's not really enough for me. I want to play more often, but Louisville audiences have this bizarro attitude about bands. People still seem to think I play Air Devils Inn every week, when I've only played there once in the past two years. I haven't had a weekly gig there since 2004. Maybe we have mass dementia, but audiences in this town get spoiled by thinking they can see any artist whenever they want.
I've got an agenda when it comes to playing in Louisville. I like to play shows with artists I want to hear and see live. I'm working on a master list of my favorite artists, and musicians I think other people should hear.
It's like I've got two titles: performer and show promoter.
Tomorrow, I'm playing with David Mead at the Monkey Wrench. Yes, I play the Monkey Wrench a lot, and yes, it's not the best venue in the world. (I blame the audience because they tend to talk too much there. At tomorrow's show, I'm aiming to have a more Listening Room-type atmosphere. If you want to hang and talk with your friends, please consider going up to the fantastic rooftop.) But Dennie, the owner, is incredibly passionate about music and artists and songwriters and is just about the most supportive bar owner in this town -- right up there with Ken and Sheila Pyle of the Rudyard Kipling. Other bar owners have their eyes focused on what cover band can bring in the most drunks. Dennie is on the side of the artist, and I love to support an attitude like that.
Anyway ... David Mead lives in Nashville, and you've heard me write about him before. He's had major record deals and multiple records. His most recent release, Almost and Always, is a beautiful album with songs that remind me of old standards.
David's voice is saccharine and soaring and his melodies remind me of Paul McCartney's -- simple, but catchy and beautiful. He's one of the few artists in music history -- yes, I said music history -- who manage to combine great melodies with perfect lyrics. And he can sing. And he's a redhead.
Showtime is 9:00 pm on Friday, May 29. The Monkey Wrench has food and drink. Ask your friends to keep quiet so they can hear. Admission is seven dollars. It will be totally worth it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
- Business First: Don't worry, I'm definitely not deleting my MySpace page. I actually still like MySpace, except for a few other annoying functional problems. But I like it for music and art and blogging. I'm just trying to keep up with (and reach new) a wider audience.
My MySpace blog page just hit something like 50,000 views ... I promise not to disappear. And if MySpace EVER gets smart and adds an Import Blog function, then I'll be able to feed my new blog directly there, rather than copy and paste every single entry.
- RSS Feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/brigidkaelin
I am mildly obsessed with reading the Craigslist Missed Connections. I know that many of you probably are as well, and I also suspect you secretly hope that someone is looking for you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, have a look at your city's Missed Connection List: http://nameofyourcityorvicinity.craigslist.org/mis Here is Louisville's.
There is debate over the actual function of the MC site, but generally it's used for when you are looking for someone you saw fleetingly and have no other way to contact them. Perhaps it was that jackass who cut you off at the intersection of Eastern Parkway or Bardstown Road. Maybe it was the man sitting across the coffeeshop from you as you typed yesterday's blog. You get the idea.
Anyway, I read them, more for the amusement factor than anything. There was this several-month-long back-and-forth public forum about a guy stalking a girl with pink hair at Highland Coffee. It was funny, mostly because the guy was probably harmless, but voyeurs took it to a new level.
I doubt I'll ever see myself in the Missed Connections because I'm pretty easy to find. But I've wanted to post one here and there, mostly because I think it would be fun.
A few weeks ago, I left a coffee cup on my car roof as I was driving off and a nice biker waved wildly to me and gestured for me to look on the roof. Thanks, nice biker by Keith's Hardware!
This weekend in Chicago, I really really wanted to post one though.
It would read:
95th Floor of the Hancock Building, Women's Bathroom, Leggings and a Diamond Ring. (Chicago W-for-W)
You were there by the sink, and you looked like you'd been crying. I was the redhead in the white dress washing my hands. Then I noticed that tasteful sparkly diamond ring on your left hand, and I asked you if you'd just gotten it. You exhaled, smiled hugely, and said in a lovely English accent, "He just proposed! I've been dying to tell someone."
You were flustered and said you'd been here with him three times before, but the proposal was a complete surprise. If you'd suspected anything, you said, you would have straightened your hair and worn something besides leggings and a cardigan. I thought you looked great, and you were positively glowing.
I gave you a hug and told you to call your parents. You said you couldn't because they lived in England, and it was 3 am there. I think they would have forgiven you the wake-up call.
Anyway, congratulations, and I thought you looked radiant, as did your fiancé. I also wondered where you live in England because I'm planning a tour there in the fall. Maybe I'll be in your area and I can buy you a congratulatory cocktail. Actually, I wanted to buy your entire meal on Friday because you just looked so happy. Had we been at a normal restaurant -- and not the Signature Room -- I would have at least sent over a bottle of champagne.
I hope you called your folks. Maybe see you in England?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
MySpace is pretty much done-for, except for the musician pages, and Facebook is the new King. But I hate the "Note" function in Facebook, so I'm moving my blog over to a dandy ol' Blogspot page.
I'm going to continue to copy and paste blogs to MySpace for a little while longer, but you might want to change your RSS feeds over, or your bookmarks or whatever you do to read your blogs.
This particular blog is mostly so I can launch the new site and find out my RSS and URL and all those fun acronyms.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Category: Travel and Places
I had a pretty busy schedule while I was there, and I won't bore you with the running-from-here-to-there and doing wedding things.
Instead, I'll let you in on one of the most perfect evenings I've ever enjoyed.
I love fine dining and epicurean delights. It's borderline hedonism, but epicurean sounds more stable so we'll go with that. I don't get to enjoy fine dining often. On the road, it's generally Flying J's and Burger Kings. Packs of cashews and Junior Whoppers without the meat. There's not even time for Applebee's (which is good because everything about Applebee's is disgusting ... another blog topic all together).
In Chicago, however, I made time for a fine dining experience. Friend-with-a-Truck is the perfect date for a weekend road trip because he, too, is up for anything and appreciates the luxury of an excellent meal. I'd made reservations earlier in the week at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. This itself was a task because the restaurant books up weeks in advance regularly and months in advance on a holiday weekend. This is where being a persuasive charmer with an On-Demand Southern Drawl comes in handy. Earlier this week, I sweet-talked the man into a two-top table at 8:30.
The view from the 95th floor is specatucular, especially just after sunset, with the colorful clouds reflecting the city lights and the waves of Lake Michigan. We also took our sweet sweet top enjoying the meal, watching the surrounding tables turn over at least twice while we sat there for a few hours. We ate several courses and drank delicious pinot noir.
I had an awesome potato gnocchi with lemon garlic butter and ramps. I learned what ramps are and that I like them. (They are kind of like leeks or wild onions and taste delicious in a cream sauce.) Friend-with-a-Truck got some sort of meat -- i think it was lamb -- that actually looked appetizing. I didn't want any of it, but it looked pretty on the plate.
Fine dining makes me want to eat every single meal at home for a couple of months, only so I can save up enough money to go out to eat somewhere amazing. Somewhere where the servers blow your minds with their food knowledge and attentiveness. Where they fold your napkin on the back of your chair when you get up to go to the restroom. Hmmmmmmmmm......
Okay, I'm off to the grocery store to stock up on nacho supplies.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Yesterday’s blog by Friend-who-cooks-pancakes-and-sometimes-cooks-grilled-cheese-sandwiches discussed his pool, but failed to mention that at least once a month they have live music in the evenings. That pool really does rock.
While Friend With A Truck and Friend Who Plays Accordion are in Chicago, I wanted to talk about one of the most important things in my life....Music. I firmly believe that I can’t live without music. It’s right up there with oxygen, water, and thin mints. Today’s blog title comes from the inscription in a book given to me by a very close friend (are guys allowed to have a BFF?) Motif: An Anthology of Writings About Music is the book, and I highly recommend it. Several good friends, and some of my favorite artists are featured.
I picked up the moniker Friend who lives close to the bar because I live just a few doors down from the Monkey Wrench. We tried out Friend who lives close to the Fish House, Friend who lives close to the cemetery, and even Friend who would rather be at the Monkey Wrench than the Fish House or the cemetery...none of them stuck. The Monkey Wrench has great music on a regular basis...my house has become the unofficial green room for artists... they hang out here before the show, tune up, drink a little bourbon...after the show they come back with fans in tow...maybe play a few more tunes then wake up the next morning on the couch fully-clothed with the lingering smell of bourbon and bad decisions.
I’m not a musician...but I play a mean radio. My intense love for music lead to working on the business side...what we call “Artist Development.” It’s a catch-all phrase that means I’m willing to do anything I can to help advance the career of an artist. I have such a passion for music...a passion for the people who write the music...a passion for the people who forgo more lucrative careers involving a desk just so they can write songs for me...for us...to enjoy. Don’t I owe it to them to do everything in my power to help them succeed? Don’t we owe it to them to buy their CDs and go to their concerts?
Here in Louisville this weekend is the Abby Road on the River Beatles Festival. I like the Beatles. I really do, but I don’t understand why 30,000 people come from all over the country to hear cover bands when they could just come my house and we could listen to the real Beatles on vinyl, and I promise it is better. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cover...I love music that is constantly reinvented. One of my favorite albums last year was a covers album...And I really like the Abby Road festival. I like that 30,000 people come to the city that I love. It’s the largest Beatles Festival in the U.S., so I know it doesn’t suck or people wouldn’t come. You know what else doesn’t suck? The dozens of original artists that played out this weekend. 30,000 people come to a cover band, but we can’t get 30 to come to some of the best original music I’ve heard in years???
I know we all have different priorities. Jobs...kids...reality TV...but a life without music is a life without meaning. Do you really want your life to pass you by, missing out on that one song...that one poem? I read somewhere that all song lyrics are not poetry, but all lyrics are poetic. Life-altering poetic. Do me a favor this weekend...go to wherever you keep your music collection... CDs, records, tapes, itunes, 8-tracks...whatever...seek out that song...the one that has special meaning. Share your music...with us...or with a friend...and over the next month go out and hear some live original music...maybe even the artist that penned your favorite song.
This Friday, May 29th, Friend with an Accordion will be playing live at the Monkey Wrench with the magnificent David Mead. No he is not a magician. That would be kinda cool. David has a new CD out and it is also magnificent (and also not a magician). So mark your calendars now and find a baby-sitter. Brigid Kaelin & David Mead: Live at the Monkey Wrench. May 29th, 9pm. Feel free to drop by the house before or after the show. You’re always welcome.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Guest blog: Friend who cooks pancakes.
Hello blog world. Yesterday, Friend-with-a-smart-car-who-drives-a-truck-for-the-weekend set the bar very high for guest blogging. I hope I can do half as well.
Happy pool-opening day. Today’s blog title was inspired by my good friend Kyle Meredith who played a little bit of Gene Kelly on WFPK yesterday afternoon in honor of the beginning of Summer Swimming Fun. Here’s some summer fun video for you.
I love the pool. I would go to the pool everyday if I could. This is hilarious to most of my friends for two reasons. First, I’m ghostly white. The sun is my mortal enemy. Secondly, and this is the important one...I can’t swim. I love the pool. Can’t swim. I guess that’s not entirely true. I can swim the hell out of 4-foot-deep water. I guess I know how to swim. I don’t know how to not drown. Put me in deep water and I’m a goner. Before I get a million offers for lessons, please know that I’ve tried them. All of them. Even Brigid, who has taught half of Louisville to swim, has been unsuccessful in her lessons for not drowning. Michael Phelps I am not.
I love the pool for the experience of it all. The smell of sunblock and chlorine. Grilling burgers (and tofu for Brigid). Babies getting in the pool for the first time...swimming better than me after 10 minutes. Kids jumping off the diving board for the first time. I especially love my niece and nephew (aka my nephieces)...they will do anything to garner my attention...Hey Uncle, watch me backstroke, watch me flip off the dock, watch me swim underwater, watch me climb the high dive, watch me climb back down from the high dive.
Mostly, I love my pool for the snack bar and the 1960s prices. More specifically, I love the grilled cheese sandwich. It’s the most basic, non-fancy grilled cheese. It’s perfect. I am a sucker for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve had lots of fancy grilled cheeses over the years...Gruyere cheese, pepper jack, goat cheese...you name it. But the plain grilled cheese at my pool is unbeatable. I’m sure there are better tasting sandwiches out there...but for me it’s the perfect combination of cheese, chlorine, uncle-attention-grabbing, and the fear of drowning.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Guest blog: Friend with a Smart Car
“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
- Mark Twain
This blog is egregiously long and pointless. My apologies in advance.
Hey folks. Brigid took my Smart car and headed out of town this weekend, so she asked me to step up and fill you with words.
Yes I own the Smart car. Yes it’s safe. Yes it goes fast. Yes I’ve driven it across the country. His name is Pip. When I first got Pip last year, I figured that he needed a European name, and one that was short for obvious reasons. I have a deep love for literature...recently had a conversation with a good friend about how much we loved the movie Shakespeare in Love because of all the great literary references. Pip was a natural choice for me. Brigid now jokingly refers to her Volvo wagon as Mrs. Havisham.
On to the blog topic...
In the first week of March this year, we had an unseasonably warm Saturday. All the friends gathered at the Monkey Wrench at Noon to bask in the sun. We decided to grill out at the bar, so folks scattered to get supplies. Pip was borrowed over and over again...because everyone wants to drive him. I obviously have the smallest car, so everyone took turns driving my car back and forth to the store. No less than 10 people drove Pip around that day. You can see what’s coming...12 hours later, my keys are nowhere to be found. We search the entire bar. No luck. Not to worry...I have a second set of keys...oops...they are in the glove compartment of my locked car (a friend recently borrowed the car for the weekend and that’s where he put them when he dropped it off).
I missed my keys so much that I wrote a Craigslist missed connection for them...it garnered a lot of attention, but no keys. Those posts expire, or I would share it with you. If you know how to retrieve an old Craigslist post, look for one titled, Key to my Car, Key to my Heart .
Over the next month, I checked with the bar on a near-daily basis. No keys. I still had my one set of keys, that AAA so kindly retrieved for me the following morning, so I had my car back, but there was something unnerving about only having one key. Before I had Pip, I had a beat up 1995 Honda Civic...manual EVERYTHING. His name was Buster. A friend borrowed Buster, then lost the key. The only key. Turns out all car VIN numbers are registered with some fancy key database that locksmiths have access to...so even without a key to copy, a locksmith made 3 keys to my Honda in about 5 minutes. $50. It was awe-inspiring and government-conspiracy scary all at the same time. But that was then...back when keys were just keys...car keys didn’t look all that different than house keys.
My smart car key is different. My smart car key is huge. It’s roughly the size of Rhode Island. Keys nowadays have fancy computers inside them. I was told it would cost $125 to make a copy. Out of curiosity, I asked what it would cost if they had to make the key from scratch. $950 I was told. Plus shipping. I would have to pay extra for a reach around.
Just I was about to break down and pay the $125 to get a spare key, I received a mysterious knock on the door. The delivery man handed me a box and walked away. As a music promoter, I receive packages on a regular basis...but I’m still like a kid at Christmas/Hanukkah every time. I open the box and there, to my utter surprise, are my keys. Unscathed. All accoutrements still attached.
The included letter was from the Kroger Card Lost Key Department. Yes it exists. Stunned I was. I called everyone I could think of...what a reunification. Turns out that if you find a set a keys with a Kroger Card, you can toss them into any mailbox and they get shipped to Kroger. Kroger uses its fancy-pants computer and finds out who owns the keys. Ships them right to your door. I love my Kroger Card. I love it.
This is a complete 180 degree turnaround for me. I used to loathe the Kroger Card. Back when I was taking MBA classes, I wrote a paper on the then-emerging customer loyalty programs. The Kroger Card had just launched, and being computer-literate, I knew exactly what Kroger was going to do...hello data mining. In the beginning, the Kroger card actually saved you nothing. It only served to divide the customers in two groups...rich ones that wouldn’t bother with the card and was willing to pay extra (but not rich enough...they are doing their own shopping after all) and then the group that most of us are in...can’t afford to not use the Kroger card. Everyone lauded the Kroger card, but there was no savings...initially anyway. An item was $3.50 before the card. The next day it was $3.65 with a $0.15 discount if you get a Kroger card. Everyone was stoked. Discounts galore...and you got instant coupons based on the stuff you bought. Kroger was laughing all the way to the bank. All the sudden they knew the buying habits of your family...your street...your zip code. The most sellable data in the country. It’s not all bad I suppose. A few months back when we had the peanut/peanut butter scare, Kroger stepped up and when you swiped your Kroger card it would say, “whoa, jane...last time you bought xxxxx peanut butter. Don’t eat it. It’s been recalled. Please discard it. Blah blah blah. We care about you. Blah”
I’m a pretty friendly guy, and strangers love to talk to me. Not really sure why. I always indulge them. The one person I do my best to avoid is the Kroger checkout person. Here, at my Highlands Kroger, I seem to always get a checkout person that loves to comment on all my purchases. This seems harmless enough, but I feel it’s a personal boundary issue. “Oh I love these crackers.” “I haven’t tried this beer yet, is it any good?” They sound like perfectly normal questions, but they are tacitly informing you that they are judging every item in your cart. Things just get awkwardly silent when the usually-boisterous checkout person clams up while scanning my toilet paper.
I realize this blog is about nothing at all...and entirely too long...brevity is not my strong suit. Brigid sprung the guest blog on me when she swept into the house with Friend-With-A-Truck as they scooped up my keys and headed to Chicago...leaving me to become Friend-with-a-smart-car-who-drives-a-truck-for-the-weekend.
I’m signing off. Tomorrow I’ll turn over the blog keys to another friend-with or friend-who. Happy Memorial weekend or labor day weekend...I always forget which one this is.
All in all, I love my Kroger Card... it helped reunite me and Pip with our lost keys. I wonder what would happen if I attach a shopping list to my keys and leave them at Kroger...I suspect the awesome Kroger person would return my keys and a bagful of groceries...silently judging every item I purchased.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We met at the Smart Car dealership and lined up with hundreds of other Smarts. People came from all over the country for the event, so we definitely did not win the "Traveled the farthest to get here" Award. That went to some Canadians I think.
As you might expect, there were lots of tiny treats. Miniature bottles of water and doughnut holes (munchkins). And, of course, Smarties.
We had police escorts and got to drive through red lights like funerals do, all the while confusing the morning commuters.
-the pace car taking the wrong exit and leading the caravan a-stray.
-Three of us figuring out the mistake and U-turning on the Interstate to head towards the Speedway.
-Two Smarts on the side of the highway in a wee little fender-bender, their owners laughingt about it merrily.
-us ending up in front of the Pace car at the turn into the Speedway, and letting him get in front of us
- lining up next to a caravan of Corvettes and playing AC/DC really loudly
- three words: spontaneous dance party!
- sitting in the Pace Car corvette ... it was purple!
- driving around that ENORMOUS track with a few hundred other Smart Cars
Video Blog promised, maybe tomorrow. If I can get my editing done.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
My neighborhood in Louisville has a monthly magazine, and the cover story features my little squash seedlings.
Since the article was published, however, my garden has grown and blossomed. I've got dozens of volunteer squash and tomato plants, which makes me wonder why I bothered with seedlings. I've also got volunteeer dill galore and min, of course, and several other herbs dotting my front-yard.
All these things grow in Kentucky, but I've got a little fetish for exotic plants. Every time I go to Texas, I bring back a little cactus. My agave is tiny because it has to stay inside all the time. This year, I brought back a strange little curly-cue of a succulent, similar to a Christmas cactus, but but with longer segments. I want to be able to plant them in the ground directly, but it has rained here for a month. And despite the fact that I shelter the mystery-succulent from the rain, it's developing root rot.
I am not deterred. I've always wanted a palm tree in my yard. Specifically, I'd like a date palm because I adore dates. (If anyone is vacationing to Florida, would you please buy one of those palm trees they sell in the airport, and bring one to me?) But just a few days ago, a friend delievered a baby fig tree. Figs! I'm on a mission to winterize it and have it produce lovely delicious figs next summer.
If there are any other blog readers who like to deliver exotic fauna, I'd also like a pecan tree and a kalamata olive tree.
Maybe I should just move to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Thanks for the thoughts, messages, and prayers (prayer cards unnecessary) for my mom this week. They worked; she's home recovering now.
To those confused about Book-It!™, it refers to a program we participated in as kids in the 1980's where Pizza Hut offered free piza to kids who read lots of books. We're all trying to read more and give ourselves points based on our readings. 2 points per book, in general.
A few topics to cover:
- Friend-Who-Cooks-Pancakes was not entirely Evil-Brother in the hospital. I created a Mother's Day card in Microsoft Paint on the hospital room computer ... and FWCP saved the card to his jump drive and emailed it to mel, so it could be saved for posterity. That was nice, I guess.
Cari -- I always wonder whether I should refer to the original coment or make my readers guess/try-to-remember what their original comment was about. Ha ha, you'll have to figure out this week's as well.
Mia -- Glad you didn't have to get your Last Rites. Then we wouldn't be enjoying your insightful comments:) And thank you forfinding out about "Alabaster." I had completely forgotten to find out what 37 called for Now where the helldo I find alabaster? I only know that word from fairy tales ... like Snow White had alabaster skin.
Left in the Woods -- Good to hear from you! Glad you're well. I need to head down I-65 soon. It's been a while.
Cari - Book recommendations are ALWAYS welcome during my blogs.
Dad -- I think you have more points than that. Several of those books are tomes, and tomes are worth at least 3 points. But even without weighting the Booki-It!™ GPA, you are surely far ahead of the rest of us.
Alex - I anxiously await my copy of HNTSH. You are hilarious.
Teresa - I know, right? I keep telling FWCPancakes that I think it's his nice-Guy thing that is keeping him in the friend zone. He needs to don a leather jacket or start being mean to puppies. Or maybe stop hanging out with me so people will stop thinking we're dating. (Ladies: He's single!)
Bard - Ha ha. I keep looking for the etymology of "pushing one's buttons," but can't find it online. Must consult my books at home. If I'm ever home.
Maybe I'll run by my house now and water my garden. My radishes are waaaaay overripe.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Perfect day. Quick blog. Woke up early, stopped by Guitar Emporium on the way to the farmers market. The omelet guy was there today... delicious veggie omelet before loading up the truck to drive to work. I love my job. Tpdays gig was an outdoor festival in Historic Madison Indiana, the Ohio Valley Folk Festival. I played this afternoon, and I'm now lying on a blanket under the stars listening to Sam Bush and his band sing to a few thousand people. It's kind of perfect, so I'm going to stop ruining it by messing around on my iPhone. Cheerio!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Anyway, Friend-Who-Cooks-Pancakes is a super-good-friend of mine, and I told him a few weeks ago that he could borrow my mom whenever he wants because his mom is dead. See? Only children know how to share. Mom and FWCP get along well enough, and FWCP is a nice and considerate boy who makes my mom laugh.
So FWCP goes to visit my mom in the hospital. That's cool. Mom loves it. (Except the part when her IV starts beeping and the nurses aren't coming and FWCP decideds to start pushing buttons on the IV to get it to stop beeping. At that point, Mom wasn't too thrilled about FWCP's inquisitive mind. I think he pushed her morphine pump a few times to calm her down.)
Then he goes to visit her in the hospital on Mother's Day. That's cool too ... except he brings her a card. A Mother's Day card! A Hallmark card that says, "Happy Mother's Day from your FAVORITE!" I'm a little annoyed because I can't give Mom her present in the hospital. Her present is a garden I planted for her at her house.
Then, FWCPancakes jumps right over that line when he gives her a SECOND card ... seemingly from her two dogs ... that says "Happy Mutt-er's Day!"
But my case of sibling rivalry reeeeeeally escalated when on Wednesday, I decided to go out to dinner with Beth and Friend-with-a-Truck rather than going straight to the hospital. FWATruck texted FWCP to come to dinner with us and FWCPancakes responded: "can't, have to go to the hospital."
I really did shriek a little bit. Then I said, "Is this sibling rivalry?" And FWATruck said, "Yes."
Then I ate pizza and was glad that mom had company until I was able to get there for the late shift.
Thanks for taking care of Mom, FWCP. But I am pretty sure I am her favorite.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I had a great April, but have slacked a bit since Derby.
Several of you have sent in your reading lists, and I'm impressed. I also think that a National Geographic magazine (did you see that article about the Ice Baby Mammoth?! Wow!) counts as a point.
My April was:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1 point because I've read it before)
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho (2 points)
Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande (2 points)
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (2 points)
The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran (1 point because I read the first half back in October)
May so far:
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (2 points)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (almost finished ... for 2 points)
I feel like I left something off of April's list, but I can't find my wee little Moleskin/ Book-it!™ Passport.
How are you with your reading? Looking forward to the pizza party...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In general, waiting rooms are not so exciting. Maybe in the Delivery Waiting Room people are joyful, but in the surgery center, it's a lot of families sitting around biting their nails, staring at the hotel-like pastel framed posters on the walls. There's coffee and the requisite AARP magazines. Surprisingly, the hospital has Wi-Fi, and I was able to get some work done.
Then comes the Old-Lady-with-the-Trolley. You might be imagining the Honeydukes Hogwarts Express Tea Trolley from Harry Potter, with Chocolate Frogs, and Pumpkin Pasties, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans. The hospital trolley is nothing like that.
"Can I interest you in a Bible? Or a Rosary? Or perhaps a Prayer Card?"
My dad and I had seen her coming and prepared ourselves for the uncomfortable moment of declining her kindness. I suppose Hospital-Trolley-Lady doesn't consider that -- and I know this is a totally crazy thought -- the patient might be Jewish. Or anything else for that matter.
I'm a little trickster, and I thought my dad would be amused if I told the old lady I wanted all of those things for Mom. But then I realized I didn't have any cash, and that might be awkward.
So I asked, "What's a prayer card?"
Old-Lady-with-the-Trolley responded, "You write your loved one's name on a card and someone prays for them."
I thought that seemed rather lazy or just covering all your bases, and instead just said, "No thank you."
I think we were the only family in the Surgery Center who declined the Old-Lady-with-the-Trolley's goods.
Dad told me it didn't cost anything, but I'm not sure I believed him. He tricks me a lot.
Later on that evening, Friend-with-a-Truck came over to hang out in the green room with me (or recovery room, whatever). We saw a sign on the first floor that said "CyberSpace Cinema."
Obviously, I had to know what that was and how I could be a part of it.
"What's CyberSpace Cinema?!" I asked the Old-Lady-at-the-Information-Booth. She was not amused by my enthusiasm.
"You can rent a DVD player and movies. But you have to be waiting on a patient here in the hospital, young lady," she warned me, as if I was a passer-by hoping to watch a free movie on a random Wednesday afternoon.
"Cooooooool, thanks," I responded and skipped away.
Mom's been here a week now, and I have yet to partake of the CyberSpace Cinema. But between my laptop and my Hulu account, there really hasn't been a need.
Monday, May 11, 2009
We've got a lot to review today, so onward.
Teresa - That is really sad. Memories of your folks ... reminds me of that John Prine/Steve Goodman song "Souvenirs." One of my favorites.
Mia - I wish Churchill Downs would get a sports book. We can't gamble here unless you're at the track or an OTB.
Bard - I knew you were there early in the evening, but I didn't know you were STILL there during the singalong, lurking surreptitiously in the next room. Come over and sing along next time.
All -- for the record, the bourbon in Derby Pie cooks away, so you can have it if you're under 21 or don't drink. You can't get drunk off it, not even a buzz.
Jonathan -- I totally should have cruised Broadway in the truck.
Cari -- I like your three-automobile theory. I've always had a thing for motorcycles, but mostly because they terrify me. Also because i grew up at a biker bar.
Arlene -- 18-wheeler? My keybaord would definitely fit in one of those. We used to have a CB radio in our old Gremlin. I bet it's still in my parents' basement. The CB, not the Gremlin.
Johnny T - Thanks for the incentive to blog ... i was wondering if anyone missed me:) And, by the way, my band can indeed play that show on June 27.
Mia - I think most of the locals don't care about Derby Day at the track. A party is much more fun. Honestly, even Millionaire's Row was great, a party would have been just as much fun.though
Denny -- Ha, ha, sure you can hang out with me. If you can find me, hee hee. Thanks for the well-wishes about Mom.
Liz - I sang "Whisky in the Faucet" and "Future Mr. Used-to-Be." Then I yodeled "Cowboy Sweetheart" and belted "Dancing Queen." All crowd-pleasers. At least they seemed pleased.
Christi & Megan - I know .. can't believe it's been a year. I got kind of excited reading it again too.
Mia, Johnny T, Teresa -- Yeah, there were shoes flying from every direction. No idea where they came from. Other drunks, I suppose. Or maybe the passed-out folks on the ground woke up barefoot.
Jim -- thanks, and what a sweet sentiment. It's a shame that the hospitals are run by these massive corporations. They are so bland. But then, I guess it's good they can afford teh fancy machinery that makes our mothers get better.
Mia -- Yeah, such a bizarro selection of magazines. Horrible about the wheelchair story.
Bob -- Thank you so much. I think you're exactly right. Good to hear from you.
Trees - What a brilliant idea! I'm going to plan some top secret random acts of kindness.
Johnny T - Ten points on the Canadian Maple Leaf. Ok, ok, I googled it.
Paul M - Thanks ... i eagerly anticipate an extra big hug when I see you next:) Beth looked great last week. Glad everyone's feeling better.
Paul C - Your vegetable garden looks scrumptious.
Kenny - I wanted a trampoline AND a balance beam. I was so deprived.
Mia -- Ugh, I don't like family dramas and people not talking to each other. Sorry to hear about yours! Hope you don't see a hospital for a looooong loooong time.
Okay, i'm signing off. Mom's having a renal ultra-sound. They are putting on the goopy jelly now. Weird ... i'm about to see some kidneys!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Anyway, I have seriously loved being an only child. I made friends on the playground and at the swimming pool by asking, "Hi, I'm Brigid. Can I play with you?" I get bored easily, but I'm extremely good at entertaining myself.
My whole life I've thought myself the luckiest thing because of my only-child status. No sibling warfare. Lots of time to myself. I've got no problem being alone, no dependency issues, and my parents all to myself.
But at the hospital this week, for the first time ever, I'm annoyed that I don't have any siblings. I love being here with Mom, but I seriously dislike hospitals. So I want to leave, but I don't want to leave her alone. Dad's been awesome about staying by her side non-stop, but what do only children do when their parents are a hundred?
Friend-who-cooks-Pancakes is hanging out in the hospital today talking about how he has "successfully avoided [his] sister's phone calls twice today."
So maybe it's a good thing I don't have to deal with that drama.
Happy Mother's Day.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
We entered the track with the most complex ticket I’ve ever seen, and passed through several checkpoints before we were granted magical orange wristbands that said, “Kentucky Derby 2009 Millionaire’s Row.” I love how there is no shame associated with the name. No one is embarassed or shy about being seated there; it’s just people who have the money to spend on a ticket like that.
I won’t tell you how much the ticket cost. Instead, I want you to imagine how much you might pay for front row seats and backstage passes to see your favorite band in the world. And let’s say the opener for that band was your second favorite band in the world, and the special guests included three of your favorite solo artists. Also included in this package would be a dinner with all of these artists and a hotel room for the evening. Imagine how much you’d reasonably spend for that, then multiply how that number by 10. That is how much my seat at this table on Millionaire’s Row cost.
It was in the large yellow banquet hall on the 6th floor. Peter and I played the Ryder Cup Soiree Under the Spires in this very room last fall, but it had a completely different vibe on Derby Day. A massive buffet on silver platters lined one side of the room, ten betting windows were on another, and round tables and full bars dotted the center. The far side of the room was entirely glass windows and doors which led to long tiered balcony overlooking the finish line of the track.
Our table was right by the windows with an amazing view, and before I sat down completely, a server took my drink order. I’d brought extra cash for the overpriced drinks and racing programs, but it didn’t occur to me that drinks on Millionaire’s Row are free. If you pay that much for a seat, of course you’re not going to pay for drinks or food or racing programs. We had Bloody Marys and later switched to Mint Juleps. Divine.
I’ve watched races in seats like that before at Churchill Downs, but on Derby Day, it takes your breath away. Hundreds of thousands of people, decked out in their finest seersucker suits and massive floral hats, each with a cocktail in hand and their chins held high.
And then there’s the infield. The infield is like NASCAR on steroids. I’m not even going to bother with descriptions, especially since I’ve declared my infield days are over. I will, however, tell you that watching the infield from the view of Millionaire’s Row is particularly satisfying. I felt like Eva Peron or Marie Antoinette watching the poor plebians from my balcony view.
At first, I didn’t know what we were laughing at. I thought we were being merry and gay, preparing for the race with our finest My Fair Lady attitudes, when Peter pointed out to the infield and giggled. “They’re racing across the port-o-pots.”
And they were. One by one, and ocassionally two-by-two, the poor folks in the infield hoisted themselves up to the line of port-o-potties and ran across the tops of them as fast as their drunk bodies would allow. We cheered them on, laughing when they slipped, giggling as they dodged the flying shoes and beer bottles, and gasping in mock sympathy when they fell in between two ports.
To be continued.... but in the mean time, enjoy this:
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Yes, one year ago today, I played accordion and saw with Elvis Costello. It rocked.
Here is a re-print:
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Elvis. Oh. My. God.
Current mood: indescribable
Text message, from Mom, received 4:37pm: Omg
First, let me point out that my Mom wrote "Omg" in a text message.
I was still grinning madly in my car when I read the message, stopped at a red-light on Broadway, on my way to the Palace Theatre, for a soundcheck with .... ELVIS COSTELLO.
You know how you have a wireless internet connection in your house? And you get to name it? Well, mine is named Elvis. And the password is Costello. For years, that's been the code. If you know where I live, swing by and use my wireless internet. I figure if my neighbors are cool enough to guess the password, -- most people guess "Graceland" -- then they are cool enough to use my internet.
Anyway, the point of that is that I am a HUGE Elvis Costello fan, and I have been for quite some time.
I don't know where to begin in this blog. I should explain how this all came about, but right now I want to recap the nights' events before I forget.
So I'll start with the voicemail.
"Brigid, This is, uh, Elvis Costello. I'm down at the radio station here, and I've been given your number. You wanna give me a call? --. That's --. Bye now."
I'm not sure what came over me, but an overwhelming sense of confidence. I immediately returned the call, and he answered on the first ring.
"Hi there, it's Brigid, your accordion player."
"Brigid, darling, how are you?"
"Fantastic, thank you, you?"
There was some brief chit-chat, and he asked if I could be at sound check at 4:30. No problem. I hung up the phone.
Then I screamed. I screamed, and I squealed. I jumped up and down like I was in a Molly Ringwald movie and the popular boy just asked me out. I continued to scream. I went outside to see if there was a neighbor or someone I could tell.
* * *
Laura Shine mentions on the air that I will be playing with Elvis Costello at the Palace that night, which fuels the "Omg" text message from my mom. And about 10 phone calls from random musicians who want to play with me at the Palace, who don't understand that I'm not opening for him ... that I am going to be an Imposter! Well, an imposter Imposter.
I'm canceling my afternoon's lessons and calling Peter Searcy to get him to bring me my electric accordion, which I had left in his studio.
This town is so small. Word spreads quickly. My phone is ringing like mad. It will die shortly there-after from responding to text messages. (Sorry i didn't respond)
* * *
So I am whisked into the Palace by several production managers. The Imposters are on-stage already, but Mr. Costello is not there yet. The guitar tech, Bobby, is tuning up Elvis's twelve beautiful guitars, including a 1956 Les Paul and a brand new Taylor 12-string. So beautiful. Jeff, the soundman, asks me if my accordion is electric (yes), and he breathes a sigh of relief.
I mill around a bit backstage at the Palace, which is the most beautiful theatre I've ever been in. It's built to look like an Italian villa, with the ceiling charmed to look like the night sky (just like the dining hall at Hogwarts). I introduce myself to the Imposters, who are super-nice, although Steve Nieve doesn't seem as thrilled about my presence as the rest. I don't care. Steve Nieve is my hero. I learned to play rock-n-roll keyboards by listening to him and Chuck Leavell. I am meeting Steve Nieve!!!
Then I hear a beautiful voice asking, "Is she here yet?" Just as he asks this, Elvis Costello turns his head and looks right at me. I smile widely (actually, I don't think I had stopped smiling since his voicemail) and shake his hand.
"So good to meet you," I say.
"Thank you so much for coming down here," he says. Really, now. Imagine this. Elvis Costello is thanking ME for coming down to soundcheck. As my mom might text: Wtf????
I am re-introduced to the band, and then step aside while the boys soundcheck. Then it is my turn. What song am I playing? I'm not sure, but I don't care. This is why I learned all of my scales in piano lessons years ago.
Elvis looks at me and says: "B-flat."
And he launches into a three-quarter-time version of Lou Reed's "Femme Fatale." He even looks over and whispers in my ear, "It's just 1-4 in the solo part." I am in heaven.
I think at first he thought it would be fun to have a local musician play, but during soundcheck, he figured out that I really am a professional musician -- not just a girl in pigtails with a gimmick.
My favorite thing in the world is playing in other people's bands. I love performing my own stuff, but if you've ever seen me play in Peter Searcy's band, you've seen that same goofy ol' grin I have on my face when we are making music.
Good music with good people. That's all I want.
* * *
So Patrick, the production manager, graciously invited me to dine with everyone downstairs for a catered meal. I didn't much feel like eating, but how could I refuse?
I headed downstairs where the Imposters were lingering around the buffet line. They joked about the hazing rituals for new Imposters. Pete was first to the food, but I followed right after and helped myself to a plate of green beans and potatoes that I barely touched. There were several tables, but I sat with the boys in the band. Elvis was not around, and I figured he would eat in his own dressing room.
He came in and sat down right next to me, with a typed and printed set list, and immediately started talking about what songs should be cut/added. It was a totally normal thing to happen before a show. Peter Searcy and I do this every night on the road. Honestly, this didn't feel any different, except that I had never played any of the songs before. Talking to Elvis or Steve was completely normal, and I wasn't the slightest bit nervous. Every few minutes, I had to remind myself that I was eating dinner next to Elvis Costello and sitting at the same table as the Imposters.
We got to talking about bands I play in, and my new record, and other accordion players he knew in Nashville. We talked about a polka player we both knew, and I mentioned that I had played a party several months back with this polka player and Cowboy Jack Clement. Elvis exclaimed, "Cowboy Jack?! Have you seen his movie? Do you know him?"
"Yes, I do. I've got his number; should we call him?"
We didn't call, but i told the story how I had played musical saw with Cowboy Jack Clement.
And that's when Elvis Costello said to me, Brigid Kaelin (oh my freakin' god!!), "You play the musical saw? Do you have it with you?"
So he grabbed a guitar, and we rushed to a rehearsal room to jam on the musical saw. We talked more, and Elvis realized that I am indeed a professional musician, not just some chick with a CD, and said I should probably play on more than one song. I, of course, agreed!
Then Steve Nieve, the king of the theremin, was interested in the acoustic theremin, AKA the musica saw, so I gave him a brief lesson.
Steve Nieve plays the musical saw
I think Steve was opening a bit more. I hadn't yet told him that he was my hero. Some things you have to keep to yourself. For a while.
Anyway, we decided to play "Mr. Feathers" during the encore on the saw, and Jeff the amazing soundman set up microphones and we soundchecked the saw.
(By the way, I am still freaking out. Right now. As I type this. I haven't come down. I just ran into my friend Judd at Heine Brothers and passed some of my crazy energy on to him. eek! eek! I played with Elvis Costello last night!)
* * *
Elvis Costello and the Imposters took the stage at 8:04. No opener.
I went out in the audience to listen, but I immediately went backstage. Why? Because, although it sounded better out front, I didn't have a close-up of Steve Nieve's fingers. I stood by Bobby the amazing guitar tech all night and watched Steve work his genius.
I sang along backstage to "Veronica" and "Red Shoes," and clapped enthusiastically like a big nerd. No one backstage is supposed to clap, ha. But i didn't care.
Then, he says something like: "So I was down at the radio station today, WFPK (well he said WFPX at first, but Su in the front row corrected him, so all's well), and they told me about this local girl who plays a demon piano accordion." And I could hear the screams from the side of the stage. (Thank you !!!!!!!) "So we thought we'd bring her out to play a little. Please welcome Brigid Kaelin."
I strutted out with my accordion and my red shoes. The angels definitely wanted to wear my red shoes because I tell you, heaven can't possibly be any better than where I was at that very moment. Standing ovations before I started, Elvis grinning ear-to-ear, and me ready to rock.
So we played "Femme Fatale," and the whole crowd screamed during my solos, and he did this a cappella part at the end where we all went off-mic and just sung that part of the song "she's a femme fatale she's a femme fatale" and i kept looking down and seeing people i knew and wondering how they got such great seats then looking to my left and seeing elvis costello wink at me and thinking holy hell, I am on stage.!!!!!!
But still, I wasn't nervous. I'm more nervous right now, blogging about it. Last night on stage, it was pure music. I was playing great music with phenomenal people. To the most appreciative audience I've ever encountered. In the most beautiful city. In the most beautiful theatre.
As i floated off the stage, I heard Elvis say, "We're gonna bring her back later to play something else."
He rocked the show away, and I came back during the second encore.... with my MUSICAL SAW chair in place.
Positioning yourself in a skirt, seated, with your legs spread enough to hold a saw, is a feat in itself. But then Elvis started the creepy little tune off his new record. It reminded me a lot of "God's Comic," which is a personal favorite of mine. "Mr. Feathers" was awesome.
Those of you who took pictures -- please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
After "Mr. Feathers," Elvis whispered in my ear, "Now let's play some rock and roll," in that dreamy accent. I picked up the accordion and he started into "Pump it Up."
I mouthed to the fabulous bass player from across the stage, "What key?"
"B." (Thanks, Davey!)
And did we ever pump it up.
The crowd was jumping, the band was rocking, and I was right next to Steve Nieve again, who was playing brilliant little riffs.
Being far more comfortable talking with my hero on-stage than I was in the dressing room, I decided to have a little fun with Mr. Nieve. He was playing a little riff. And I repeated it right back to him on my accordion. He did another one, and I repeated it back. This time he noticed. He looked at me cock-eyed, like he was almost about to smile. He played something more complicated. I gave it right back. Then we had a little game of call-and-response between the organ and the accordion. I rocked a bit. Elvis came over and stood right next to me as I ripped into a solo. He also introduced the band during the rock-out portion of the song. Davey on bass. Pete on drums. Steve ..boards. And Brigid on musical saw and accordion. I got a freakin' BAND introduction!!!! I was an Imposter for a night! An Imposter
And at the end of the song, as I was unplugging, Steve Nieve turned to me and said, "Do you need me to carry that off-stage for you?" He grabbed my accordion from me, and scurried off-stage.
Oh My God, Steve Nieve just carried my accordion off stage.
I think I love him.
That's when I decided to tell him, "Steve, you are my hero. I didn't want to tell you that earlier. But seriously, playing with you has been the coolest part of all of this.
Hugs all around backstage, and they rushed back for two more rockers. I ran out into the crowd to jump and scream and sing, "Peace, Love, and Understanding," at the top of my lungs.
Thank you, Elvis Costello, for being adventurous and for being a real musician. And thank you, Steve, Davey, and Pete, for allowing me into your magical world for an evening.
Oh yeah, those angels DEFINITELY wanna wear my red shoes. Imposter, I guess, but an Imposter nonetheless.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Beyond drink and lack of sleep, our only real problem at that point was the question of access to the clubhouse. Finally we decided to go ahead and steal two passes, if necessary, rather than miss that part of the action. This was the last coherent decision we were able to make for the next forty-eight hours. From that point on -- almost from the very moment we started out to the track -- we lost all control of events and spent the rest of the weekend churning around in a sea of drunken horrors. My notes and recollections from Derby Day are somewhat scrambled. - Hunter S. Thompson
I've been to the infield three times. The last time I went it was $40 to get in, although I hear the price has gone up, which gets you everywhere in the track except the grandstands. You can hang out at the paddock all day, or you can drink all day and get muddy in the infield. The last time I went, I showed up right at 6:00 -- about eight minutes to post -- and the gatekeeper let me in for free. I promised to buy him an ice cream, which I did.
I prefer Derby parties to going to the track, and I always said the only way I'd go to the track again was if I had a ticket to Millionaire's Row.
Yes, I'm aware that I lead a charmed life, and the only response I have to that is that I promise you I never take it for granted.
Thursday afternoon, Peter Searcy called me with an extra ticket to Millionaire's Row for Kentucky Derby Day.
It's pretty much impossible to get a ticket to the grandstands (and definitely not the most exclusive part of the grandstands) on Derby Day because they are legacy seats, sold-out for generations, and only available to those willing to pay thousands and thousands of dollars. You can buy bad seats on eBay sometimes for a few hundred bucks, but the hassle of crowds and parking and rain isn't worth it. Millionaire's Row is aptly named and no doubt the best way to see the Kentucky Derby.
Layla, Peter's wife, was decked out in a short silver dress and a wide-brimmed aquamarine hat with a huge organdy ribbon. Kristy wore a tight black dress with a diamond brooch (I finally know what brooches are for), patent leather heels, and the widest black hat the with biggest silk red rose I've ever seen. They looked like the image of the Derby. Kristy belonged on the cover of a Derby coffee-table book, and Layla looked like a supermodel.
I wore a red and white cotton dress and sparkly red ruby slippers. Rather than don a wide hat (I wear wide-brimmed hats every day ever since I had a pre-cancerous mole removed.), I wore red and black feathers in my wild curls.
We took the tour van to the track so all six of us could pile in comfortably. Driving down Taylor Boulevard was amusing, as we watched barefoot rednecks offer up their front yards to our van for $25. My favorite was a guy in a ripped up Lynard Skynard shirt with a terrible mullet and a cigarette dangling out of this mouth, holding a sign that said: "Sexy People Parking Here." We laughed haughtily and drove straight into the track. Millionaires don't park in lawns. Millionaires valet.
I hopped out of the van -- my ruby slippers have a sensibly low heel -- and giggled wildly at the absurdity of it all. The VIP red carpet entrance was right by the valet, and there was a huge crowd of gawkers snapping photos. We bypassed that and went for another gate. The entire way there, I skipped gleefully and repeatedly thanked Friend-Who-Gave-Us-Tickets-to-Millionaire's-Row. "This is the most awesome thing ever," I told him.
"Wait till you see the seats," he responded, amused by my Beverly-Hillbilliness.
To be continued...
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names. - The Great Gatsby
All I could think about when I arrived at the Barnstable-Brown Gala was this passage from my favorite novel. The black and white tiled dance floor was crammed with strangers and floated under a massive tent on a tiered backyard. Most partygoers had cleaned up after their day at the track and wore gowns that cost more than my car and the out-of-towners wondered who their host was. There wasn't any "yellow cocktail music," but the Jim Wilson house band kept everyone on their dancing feet whether or not there was a celebrity guest singer.
The long winding driveway that leads up to the Barnstable mansion was dotted with tall, beautiful women wearing tight black dresses -- think Robert Palmer, but with longer skirts -- holding trays of Grey Goose Pear martinis that were impossible to decline. On the side of the hill, the UK dance team was on repeat in their shorter-than-short shorts and midriff-baring cheerleading shirts. We walked past a replice of the Hollywood sign, the Statue of Liberty, and the Sphnix on our way into the party, which then offered an Egyptian-themed swimming pool solarium complete with a floating pharoah bed.
In addition to multiple bars stationed around the party, each table was supplied with full bottles of alcohol, various mixers, cherries, limes, lemons, and orange slices, just in case you didn't want to get up from your table to keep yourself hydrated. Or de-hydrated, I guess. There was a massive dinner buffet, with surprisingly good vegetarian offerings, and loads of desserts. I love a well-cooked asparagus.
At one point, I stepped outside the tent with Shannon, who wanted to smoke, and we lingered by one of the many security guards protecting the party-goers from crashers. This woman on the porch of the mansion next door called out to us, "Do I know you?" She seemed to be having her own party, and I called back, "I don't know. Who are you?"
"I can't see you from here. Do you know the *****s?" (It was some surname I can't recall.) We laughed and said we didn't.
Then she got huffy and told us we need to leave the premises immediately. She obviously thought we were crashers, which is dumb because we'd been talking to the security guard. "We're at the Barnstable party, just didn't want to somke in the other guests' faces." She left us alone after that, but it was still rude, I thought.
There was dancing now on the canvas in the garden; old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably, and keeping in the corners—and a great number of single girls dancing individualistically or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps. By midnight the hilarity had increased. - The Great Gatsby
I joined the band on-stage about 10:00 and played four songs, during which time I had a clear view of Kid Rock, who looked perfectly cool at his VIP table in the center of the room. I kind of love Kid Rock, mostly because he knows how awesome his life is, and he knows that whereever he goes, it's going to be fun. I yodeled, and the crowd cheered, and they loved my rhinestone cowboy boots. Paris Hilton watched with very little expression, but I had a killer time singing onstage with my good friends Peter Searcy and Shannon Lawson.
I was immediately followed by Run DMC, who performed about five songs, including "Cat's in the Cradle," which I think might be the ultimate white-person song, so that was fun. Especially seeing all the drunk, rich, white folks movin' and shakin' their hips. It really was kind of awesome.
My favorite band performance was En Vogue. I don't know how often they sing together, but it just dounded beautiful, and there's no way to keep from movin' your hips when "Never Gonna Get It" is on the radio, much less when they're wearing silver sparkly outfits and singing to you live.
Other performers included Taylor Dayne, Boys II Men, Joey Fatone, Nick & Drew Lachey, Travis Tritt, and of course the king of the night, Kid Rock. Kid Rock ruled that stage, ripped up the guitar, and even took over the piano at one point. Good times.
The reluctance to go home was not confined to wayward men. The hall was at present occupied by two deplorably sober men and their highly indignant wives. The wives were sympathizing with each other in slightly raised voices. -The Great Gatsby
I gathered my guitar and accordion and managed to squeeze through the large but crowded hallway out the front door, navigating my way down the driveway around "nappers" and couples wondering where they'd left their umbrellas or shoes. The line for
cabs and car services was longer than I cared to wait, so I decided I'd just walk a bit. I don't live far from the Barnstable mansion, although my house is a shack in comparison. About two minutes into my walk, I called FWATruck, who rescued me from the madness.
We went to the Monkey Wrench. Obviously. I'm not sure how Peter and Shannon made it home.
Anyway, Ii've always wanted to attend a Gatsby party, and this was the closest thing to time traveling to a fictional place. Well done, Barnstables. Amazing party. Hope to see you again next year.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names. - The Great Gatsby
Friday afternoon, I went to load-in my accordion to the Barstable-Brown Gala. A large stucco home on a hillside near Cherokee Park (the park where Gatsby courted Daisy Fay), the Barnstable mansion is the site of the most famous Derby Party in the world. It's been a mystery to me since I was a kid, and I always loved to drive past the home as they were setting up the massive decorations, hot air balloons in the yard, and towering white tents in the backyard. One year they turned the uphill winding driveway into the yellow-brick road and hired a children's dance company to dress up like muchkins and scarecrows. I've wanted to go for years.
The Gala is held the Friday before Derby, and draws loads of celebrities (from A-list to F-list), all to benefit Diabetes reseaerch. It's a pretty exclusive party, and the tickets cost at least $1000 a piece.
But not if you're invited to sing a few tunes for the revelers.
When I arrived for soundcheck, I discovered that I already knew most of the guys (and the gal) in the house band. They'd learned my tunes and nailed both last-minute cover songs I threw at them.
My soundcheck was delayed about an hour, however, because Mary Wilson arrived early for her check. Being a former Supreme, she has a little more clout than I do. That's okay with me because she was super-nice and super-awesome. She hummed a few bars of "You Can't Hurry Love" (which is still stuck in my head) while the band was warming up, then decided to sing "Stop! In the Name of Love" with the band.
Just as she was about to start the song, she said, "Wait, where are my girl singers?" I was sitting near the stage, and she pointed at me. "You sing?" I grinned and nodded, and Mary pointed to the microphone next to her and said, "Get on up here then."
So I was a Supreme for the afternoon, and had even more to look forward to that evening. (Think it o-o-over .... think it o-o-over...)
To Be Continued ...