I have held many titles in my life – daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, aunt, student, writer, author, data entry technician, barefoot dancing girl, waitress, sub table protege, secret squirrel – but none tickle me as much as being the “make it happen” girl.
What does that mean, this make it happen girl thing?
It means my friends or family could tell me something they wanted to do and assuming I had enough time – and even when I didn’t – I could find a way to make it happen.
Oh, it’s 3 am and you want to go to the casino? I’m on it.
We have four hours to get to Detroit to watch a show and none of us have a car? Watch this!
You have a craving for cookies and all of the stores are closed? Allow me to show you this recipe I found for cookies from ingredients around the house …
I’m pretty good at finding middle ground as well, when needed, so that most of a group can come out of an activity happy.
I don’t know why I was blessed with this skill/talent, and I’m not complaining.
Why did I tell you all of that? It’s a lead-in to this:
Day 22 of the #PNIWritingChallenge asks Who is your favorite musician? Would you attend a performance no matter the cost?
Sit back, my friends, let me tell you a tale – another true one.
Friends and fans of the blog have heard multiple stories about my going to see Phish in concert, among other bands. How I waited all night in line at Boogie Records in Kalamazoo at least once to get tickets, and how I believe The Internet Ruined Concert-Going. It’s nice that we’re asked this question now so that I can elaborate further.
Or, you know, tell you something completely different.
The question asks musician and I would have preferred artist here. The story I’m going to tell involves a musician, but I hate their music. Passionately.
I’m taking you back to the mid to late 1990s. It was a fun time. Nirvana was hitting their stride and Pearl Jam was blowing minds. For some reason there was a swing phase, and a ska phase, which were weird, but they mixed well for ambiance.
I was an edgy teen. Okay, I was a self proclaimed edgy teen. I dunno, maybe I actually was. I definitely thought about different things than my friends and classmates so perhaps I was on the edge of something …
Part of being an edgy teen in the 90s was wearing essences like patchouli and listening to music no one else would. Bonus points were granted if one carried around books no one else had heard of or would want to read.
I made mention of Boogie Records before. Located on the corner of Student Living and Kalamazoo Ghetto, it was a scary place to go, but one of two places to get bootlegs and books, and posters, and banners, and incense.
One day I was browsing music and books, being all edgy, and found a book called Black Coffee Blues by this guy named Henry Rollins. I didn’t know who Henry was at the time, and I didn’t for another couple of years, not really, but I liked what it said on the back.
Black Coffee Blues was essentially a journal Henry Rollins had written about what it was like to be on the road with his band Black Flag. A lot of it occurred in Europe, which I found super interesting.
This was a guy down on life but with a dry humor I found appealing. Total misogynist, a bit of a douche, but it was funny and the guy touched on a lot of subjects in a way that spoke to me.
I didn’t become obsessed, not yet, but when I discovered he had his own press – 21361 – I started special ordering books through Boogie Records and the other place whose name escapes me now.
Jack Kerouac’s book On The Road was one of my favorites at the time, closely followed by pretty much anything by Ken Kesey. Henry Rollins wrote similarly to On The Road but in a modern way that did not require translation.
A modern day beat poet, if you will.
I was aware of Black Flag but had never paid attention. They weren’t – and still aren’t – my kind of music.
When Napster was kicking in with their full on assault on the music industry, I was right there with them. I was scrolling through artists one day when I saw Henry marked down with a track called “The Adventures of an Asshole”. I downloaded it, listened to it, and it was all over.
That dry humor I mentioned in the books? Oh man, does it come across when he’s speaking. It goes from dry to straight up hilarious. The voice, the words, are not what you expect to come out of this dude’s mouth.
I was hooked on his spoken word. He is officially my favorite stand up comedian, even if that’s not actually what he is. I got my mom hooked on him, too. She refuses to watch the DVDs, however, because he doesn’t look like he sounds and it turns her off. I get it, and I agree, but all good.
You have no idea how funny it is to see the looks on people’s faces when I tell them my mom is a Henry Rollins fan. Oh man, I had to wipe tears of laughter the first time.
A decade after discovering the books, I had the chance to go see Henry give a spoken word performance in Kalamazoo. Fortunately that’s where I was living at the time. It was either my 28th or 29th birthday, I’m not sure which.
Time goes by too fast.
I was dating someone I probably shouldn’t have been dating at the time. I was fresh out of my first marriage and in a bit of a phase.
Of course there was drama in my relationship. Why wouldn’t there be? Outside drama had been weaseling its way in and came to a head the night of the show.
We drank a little, smoked a little, and hit downtown Kalamazoo. The show was at the State Theater, which is gorgeous. One of Pearl Jam’s first videos was recorded there so you’d probably recognize it if you saw it.
They don’t allow drinking in the actual theater and my guy wanted a beer. He’d been moody all night, and I didn’t really think anything of it when he went to the bar out in the lobby.
Henry was in the middle of telling this amazingly funny story about the Tran-Siberian Train when I realized he had been gone for like half an hour. It turns out he was too drunk to be allowed back in.
This guy, who happened to be Canadian, was picking fights in the lobby bar and the ushers wouldn’t let him back in to see the show.
I missed most of the story and had no context, but I stayed until the end of the show anyways. Dammit, that was my birthday. It turned into a huge fight and we stopped seeing each other shortly afterward.
I hated that my only story of going to see Henry Rollins was ruined, that I got angry every time I talked about it.
Fast forward a few years and I’m still in Michigan, but living in Grand Rapids instead of Kalamazoo. I made sure I was receiving updates on Henry’s spoken word shows and it turns out he was going to have one in Illinois, and it fell on a weekend.
I bought two tickets and tried my damnedest to find someone to go with me. Had the show been local, this would have been much easier. Ultimately, no one wanted to ride six hours, watch a 2 hour show, hotel for a night, and six hours home again the next day. I can’t say that I blame them.
I, however, would not be deterred. It made everyone crap their pants, but I went by myself. I left early Saturday morning, got to Champaign, found my hotel and went to the show.
It was being held on a college campus so there were tons of students around. It was awesome! I had no companion with me that I had to worry about so I could talk to anyone, sit wherever I wanted for the show and, oh my god afterwards …
Had anyone that I had asked chosen to go with me, I would not have been able to hang out after the show. I would have felt obligated to take them to another bar or back to the hotel or whatever.
Because I was alone, I was able to hang out and watch drunken college student drama for 45 minutes – somehow I got involved in some of it as a third party but not in a bad way. I made friends – and that gave Henry time to go out the back of the theater to where his bus was located and meet people.
I scurried my butt back there and watched all these college kids stand 10 feet away in a semi-circle while Henry told stories. During an awkward pause I stepped forward and told Henry how happy I was to see him in Illinois. That I had gone to a Kalamazoo show and hadn’t had the best experience and I drove six hours to see this show and have a better time.
Henry Rollins hugged me.
He hugged me, thanked me for coming, and asked one of the college kids to take our picture using my phone. We took three, one of them came out perfectly.
I’m taller than Henry Rollins, especially in high heeled boots with my hair spiked up.
In the photo he had his arm around me, actual smile, all of it. I LOVE that photo.
I LOST that photo. I was using a Boost Mobile phone at the time and when I bought a new one we lost the photo in the transfer. The tech helping me thought I was going to kill him. To be honest, I thought I was going to kill him.
I have gone through hell to see some shows. Someday I’ll tell you about seeing the Grateful Dead at Deer Creek right before Jerry died, or some of the Phish shows and the crazy shit we did coming and going from those.
But out of all the shows that was the hardest to get to and the most rewarding. I wish, oh how I wish, I still had that photo. Out of all of the ones I’ve lost, that one hurts the most.
Not only am I the “make it happen” girl, however, I am also the “we can fix this” woman.
How do we fix this? Easy. I go to another show and get another photo. Trust me, this will happen. The Queen of Logistics said so.