I wrote this a couple days ago and saved it in the Text Edit thing. I haven't been home much lately but electricity was restored about 9pm tonight (about 56 hours later). People bitch and complain about being without electricity for a few hours. Think about Baghdad - that's a city we invaded and occupied 7 years ago. Just trying to put things in perspective. And it's a lot hotter there...
Last night was relatively amusing. I was talking to my buddy Ken and he says, "You should really go see Devo. C'mon, what else you gonna do on a Wednesday in Wheeling?" I thought about it for 2 minutes and was in. So an hour later there's 4 of us en route to the Ohio State Fair. They were scheduled to play at a venue I was completely unfamiliar with, the Celeste Center. Anyway, it's me, Ken, and AJ being escorted by the fearless CHL. By the time we got to the 77N split, we got pelted by a 20 minute microburst. I was sitting in the back and couldn't see shit. I take that back. I could faintly see the flashing tail lights from the rig directly in front of us. Just continuous swaths of rain pouring sideways. The vast majority of cars had pulled over or off the highway. My point - I've been in some heavy downpours. I'm not sure exactly where this one ranked but it had to be in the top three.
As the tsunami of rain finally subsided, the weather vastly improved. Like every moron has ever said, "Ohhhh, we needed that rain. It really cooled things off." So Chris does a drive-by of the venue just to reaffirm it's structural location, and lo and behold, it's actually about a 1/4 mile within the confines of the state fair. I'm immediately thinking - come hell or high water (I've never used that expression in my entire life until now), under no circumstances whatsoever will I be paying money to see this concert. So we hit this bar on High Street about 5 minutes away to meet up with the indomitable Amy D. It's called the Surly Girl. Intriguing name. Anyway, Amy arrives, we drink some high end Bell's on tap and everyone grabs some food. I had this spicy quesadilla appetizer which was really strong. On the way out you couldn't help but notice the abundance of short-haired, stern-faced women. The realization that it was a lesbian bar suddenly became apparent. In retrospect, it would have been better if AJ had mistakenly hit on some of the dykish brutes. Alas, he never did.
So we head to the vehicle, but AJ has absconded with the keys and disappeared. Chris seems impatient and wants to get to the venue. 20 minutes late, AJ emerges from the distance and we set out back to the fairgrounds. So I rode with Amy and we park in the main lot. We go up to the main gate and it's 5 bucks admittance. No way I'm paying that. I just basically sidestepped all the state troopers and ticket people. "I'm just here for the concert." As if that somehow disqualifies me from the regular protocol. Alright, worked so far - dodged the cover charge. So we walk to the venue and it's basically a super-sized version of a building that eerily resembles Camelots (the phony Zien's in Elm Grove). It's a giant warehouse/gymnaisum. No way I'm I paying to see this. I actually walked inside to will call and then abruptly turned around and headed back outside. The other guys pick up and/or purchased their tickets. Like I said, it's only 30 bucks but I'm adamant. No way in hell am I paying for this thing. It's a fair deal to see one of the most intriguing bands of my lifetime, but it's just the principle of the issue.
Me and Amy take a walk around the periphery and slide through a makeshift barrier in the back. There's the usual buses and equipment. I test 2 doors. Locked. Fail. Locked. Fail. Then we see the area marked "Backstage." Amy seems a bit nervous and apprehensive. "If we get busted, just use the line - we were looking for the bathroom." "Alright, we're heading in. Stay focused. Be resolute, but not overly determined. I'm going to turn this knob. Exactly what we will encounter on the other side I do not know." So I open the door and we walk right thorugh the band area. There's basically 4 or 5 state troopers and a bunch of roadies milling about. We just walked through the place like we owned it. Strong.
So we meet up with the others and share stories of the heroic journey. Truth be told, I'd hardly call this a trek through the Taliban controlled mountain ranges of Waziristan . Nonetheless, it was definitely exhilirating. So we're in. We snag some seats in the handicapped area on the right front side of the stage. 15 minutes later the lights go out and the band comes on. The place is strangely empty. I'd say about 2,200 out of 5,000. But the energy level is there. I jump to my feet, "Alright everybody up!" Later on, I would be scolded for saying this. But in hindsight, it was a valid point. 2 of the guys in our area were in wheelchairs. I rarely divulge specific details of a concert (band behavior and set list), but Devo totally rocked. Killer video footage on the wide screens and they sounded crisp and clear. Great choreographed dance moves from these old-timers. Lots of smiles in the crowd. They even had a woman in a booth who "signed" the whole show for those who were deaf/hearing impaired. Kind of cool - it made you feel like you were at a political rally. Perhaps we were and didn't know it.
I briefly thought of the heralded concept of de-evolution. For me, it was all about sneaking in the back. I suppose that fits in with the conceptual nature of the band. At the end of the concert, the lead singer through out tons of bouncy balls. I managed to snag one but gave it to the caretaker of the guy in the wheelchair. It was instinctual because, deep down, I really do have a heart. But then I was kind of bummed because it could have served as my ticket stub/memento for the bedroom wall. Seconds later, the guy got a ball and gave it to me. Sweet. Regardless, Ken would later give me his ticket stub - very cool. We're all wieners.
Anyway, these guys insisted on hitting not one, not two, but THREE bars in downtown Columbus before heading back. Being the one who usually drives, I have a tendency to sympathize with the plight of the driver. Especially in light of the long 2+ hour ride home. Pittsburgh, not a big deal. But Cap City is an entirely different animal and the I-70 shot kind of lulls you to sleep. I think it has something to do with that early progression of Wheeling signs (Wheeling 112, Wheeling 109, Wheeling 104, Wheeling 99). I bailed on the urgency of the last bar and just crashed in the car. Fortunately, they opted not to close down the bar. We left Columbus somewhere around 1:30 am. Chris didn't seem to mind. Personally, I think it would have been advantageous to get on the road for a bit and break up the trip. I've always been a firm believer in compartmentalizing the ride home if it's one of the Cleveland-Columbus-Indy-DC treks. So we hit a Denny's near Zanesville. Denny's has had their problems with racial discrimination in the past, but that wasn't much of an issue as I devoured a mediocre breakfast skillet.
Chris eventually pulls in. The clock on the dashboard said 4 something. "See, just like I said. We'd be back around 4." My sincerest salutations to a strong driving performance. Anyway, I'm driving back to my house and there's debris everywhere. Virtually nothing in the way of street lights. As I head up the driveway, I notice that fuckface's car isn't in his garage. Hmmm, that's odd. I had to get out and clear some branches but there's no visible damage to the house. Of course, the power's out, and I choose to crash out. So I woke up around 9am and wrote this thing even though the internet is offline. Power is still out. I walked out on the deck and my upside down hanging garden has been annihilated. Buckets of dirt all over the yard with a scattering of tomatoes. This storm wreaked havoc. Then I notice Fuckface's Lincoln off to my left. That fucker parked his car in the cemetery and traversed my property. I should have put up a sign on his fence that said, "No Losers Allowed." Too late, his car is gone.
Anyhoo, I finally get to cross Devo off my list. I'm hoping they reschedule the canceled Pittsburgh show. It's kind of poetic - they canceled that "Rain or Shine" show because of rain. Personally, I though the weather pattern last night was vastly more devastating. No shows - TFE was out there but we never ran into him. Dunkle said he'd stop out if we got a hotel room. No offense, but bunking down with that crew was not on my to-do list. Hopefully, the power comes back on soon. I'm going to walk or run a few miles and sweat out the toxins. Upcoming 5K this Saturday night.