When it Rains
Chicago Skyline from the Pritzker Pavilion, 9-3-08

Chicago Skyline from the Pritzker Pavilion, 09-03-08

All day Wednesday it threatened to rain, and at one point shortly before Andrew Bird started his set, I felt a few  few fat drops that stopped as soon as they started.  Other than that one brief moment, all weather systems were go and it was a beautiful night to be in Millennium Park.  I am rarely averse to watching a man with colorful socks do interesting things to a violin, not to mention whistling and playing the glockenspiel at the same time (as each other, not the violin).  I’m sure there are those to whom this must sound like sheer torture, but at least no one could complain about the ticket price.  I dug it all, including the opening act, Occidental Brothers Dance Band.  They may not yet have the most striking stage presence I’ve ever seen, but the sax player laid down some mean grooves.

Funny thing, this free show did in fact have tickets, which were required to access the massive ten-row block of reserved seats directly in front of me.  Throughout the show, I got to watch the late arrivals confidently stride up to this large area of open seats completely surrounded by full ones, thinking they had just won the lottery because the rest of us just didn’t care enough to take the best seats available.  The most self-consciously hip and conspicuously overdressed among them were careful not to even break stride as their heads pivoted to the left and registered the “Reserved” sign.  Had it not occur to them to wonder even for one moment why the rest of us just chose to sit ten rows farther back than we had to?  I don’t begrudge anyone the hope or excitement of a good seat, I just think that if you expect to get one, you should also expect to show up early.

Accordingly, I picked up my daughter at school and took her straight downtown via public transportation.  Dropping her off with my spouse at his workplace, I grabbed a venti iced latte and made a beeline for the Pritzker Pavilion. I read on the Millennium Park Web site that they would be letting people onto the Pavilion at 5:00 for this 6:30 show, and it was just after 5:00 when I finally arrived with camera in hand.  It looked like this, not surprising for a free show in a stunning downtown venue:

Everybody's Heard About the Bird

Everybody's Heard About the Bird

You see how that works?  I wanted a good seat, so I got there early.  I’m just saying.  Not only did I get a fine spot, about 17 rows back and center stage, I may just have had the best seat in the house.  I neglected to get her name because I’m very bad at that sort of thing, but I sat next to a charming lady who offered me wine and Cadbury Twigs and who was friendly but not so much so that I couldn’t scribble away in my Moleskine and snap pictures unmolested.  Whoever said Chicago wasn’t a friendly city should be taken out and shot.

I also ran into some old friends out for an evening of free musical entertainment with their lovely daughter.  It quite stuns me to think I’ve known at least one of these people for 24 years, since the days when we all marched up and down the square.  To be more specific, I once marched down Halsted Street with the International Socialist Organization in the Gay Pride Parade.  Despite the fact that I was neither gay or a socialist, this is a memory I shall always treasure.

I still haven’t completely gotten on board with Andrew Bird’s songs, which seem to me a bit too cerebral and lacking in melody.  The best way to express the problem is to say that I always appreciate his music but I can’t seem to remember the songs from one hearing to the next.  But the man plays a mean violin, and he has good taste in socks and monkeys.  Bird is an engaging performer who obviously feels the music intensely, which makes him a lot of fun to watch.  He doesn’t say too much, but he comes across as immensely likeable and hardworking.  I can’t think of a better venue for him than the Pritzker, and he was obviously geeked to play there.  It made for an occasion, and I’m glad I was there.

From the Pritzker, Looking South

From the Pritzker, Looking South

I’ve been looking forward to that show for months, so I’m grateful that the rain held.  But yesterday it rained nonstop all day, mainly in my basement.  I lost track of how many times I emptied the wet-vac, but it was at least ten times and many gallons and indubitably a record.  When we bought this house in 2003, the previous owners disclosed that there was occasionally seepage in the basement when it rained.  Our bubble burst a few days before we moved in, when my spouse stopped by to check the place out and found himself ankle-deep in water.  He immediately purchased a wet-vac by Rigid that was one of the best investments we have ever made.  It has seen heavy use over these few years and shows no signs yet of giving up, and for that I shall be everlastingly grateful.

As for the people who lived here before, I would just like to say to them that I’ve checked the definition of seepage and I’m pretty sure that what we have is floodage.  Had I not kept at it, for sure our basement would have been under several inches of water yesterday.  That is several years worth of oozing, which is akin to seepage.  I may not know much about buying homes, but I will kick your keister around the block when it comes to language.

Speaking of raining and pouring, Comcast apparently read my post of September 2.  A representative contacted me via my comments the next day, saying he would reach out to his connections to help resolve the problem.  It was nice to hear that someone cared, but unfortunately I then missed their phone call because I was at the Andrew Bird show.  I missed them again the following day because I was downstairs vacuuming water, the same reason why I did not call them.  They finally reached me today, “they” being a typical customer service person with a flat voice to whom I had to repeat the whole story.  As much as I understand this is necessary, I have been through this already, not that long ago.  I just want it fixed and to have something vaguely representing the connection speed we are supposed to have, and then I’ll shut up and go away.  We now have an appointment to have a technician come by on Sunday, so I’m hoping for the best.

In the meantime, I looked out my kitchen window this afternoon and saw a Comcast truck parked across the street.  Given the circumstances, it seemed like a coincidence so I watched the driver just to see what he would do.  He appeared to glance at the house across the street a few times, but I didn’t see him look in my direction.  He then got a Kleenex and appeared to be focusing intently on employing it and examining the results, which I took as my cue to leave and do something else for awhile.  When I came back, I looked again and he was spinning his air freshener.  He then looked at me and saw me watching him, at which point he turned his truck around in my neighbor’s driveway and disappeared from view.  You would think they might have learned by now not to give me this kind of material, but now I wonder if he was a plant.  Just in case anyone might have been wondering, I have a mighty pen and I won’t hesitate to use it.  As long as I can do so at least part of the time at a speed better than 200 KBPS at least a portion of the time, I will be your friend for life.  But if you are going to sit in your truck and amuse yourself by twirling your air freshener, I suggest you find somewhere else to do it.

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