Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Wall - or - Our version of Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Many moons ago, John came to me and said, "Roger Waters is doing The Wall at Wrigley Field.  We have to go."


Then I saw the price tag and nearly fell over.  We not only paid more for these concert tickets than anything else this summer, but we had to pay to board the dogs and drive 12 hours minimum to get there and back.

This. Better. Be. Good.

John convinced our friends Kathy and Leroy to join us.  We bought the tickets and waited for 6 months.

So last Friday morning, John dropped the dogs off at 8:00 and we were on the road shortly after. We arrived in Bloomington, Illinois around 12:45 and enjoyed lovely Italian Beef sandwiches a la Leroy and Kathy.

Leroy had to take their dog to his mother's house in the Chicago burbs, and hit the road before the rest of us. John, Kathy and I left around 1:30, potato chips and wine in in hand.  We were staying the night at Kathy's parent's condo.  It's a gorgeous family retreat, wonderfully placed near Millennium Park, and I absolutely LOVE going there.  With enough potato chips and wine, I could sit there forever and just stare out of the windows at the beautiful Chicago skyline.

Anyway.  We ran into traffic.  Like, a lot of it.  An accident here, construction there.  We didn't worry  too much about it until we hit the Chicago city limits.  Holy moly.  Driving anywhere in Chicago on a Friday afternoon  is NOT A PRETTY THING. After about a 4 hour trip that should have only taken 2 hours, we finally arrive at the condo around 5:30 and waited for Leroy.  He was stuck in worse traffic than we were.

Bumper to bumper on Lake Shore Drive.

But as we were relaxing, sipping our wine and eating our chips, we kept hearing fire alarms from the neighboring fire station.  The alarms weren't fading off into the distance like they usually did.  John got up to investigate, and reported, "I think we may have a problem."

Sure enough, the fire trucks were pulling up to our building.  We counted a total of 7 fire trucks, 4 SUV type vehicles and 2 unmarked cars.  An announcement came over the hallway intercom, instructing everyone to stay in their apartments.  They weren't letting anyone in either.  See the guy standing next to his red SUV parked on the far side of the street?  Yes, that's Leroy.

So we waited.  And waited.  The firemen coming and going didn't look too terribly concerned.  That was comforting.  But the clock was ticking.  From what it said on our concert tickets, the show started "promptly" at 8:30, and we still had Friday night Chicago traffic to overcome.  

We finally decided they couldn't do anything to us but tell us to go back into a burning building if we went down the stairs.  They let us out but there was still the question of where Leroy was going to park his car.  If we waited for the trucks to leave so that he could get into the underground condo parking, we would miss the start of the concert.  If he left it were it was, it would get towed.  

Kathy and I still managed to, well, I really don't know what the heck we're doing here...

But then thought we should say a little prayer about the whole situation.  After seeing the video below, you'll find it ironic that I have my iphone between my hands.


We learned that some bonehead had thrown a cigarette butt down the trash chute and it started to smoke.  Boneheads should not be allowed to live in high rise buildings.

Leroy finally joined us and we flagged down a cab.  Luckily, we climbed into Pano Johnson's taxi.  He was our hero.  I think if he could have driven up onto sidewalks to get us to Wrigley Field faster, he would have.  His high speed traffic weaving was a thing of beauty.  And we discovered there is a code of conduct among Chicago cabbies.  Something like, "If I'm driving like a lunatic, I have good reason to, and you need to back off and let me do my thing."

We made it.  We stopped at concessions and got hot dogs and Old Styles - not the nice dinner Chicago is perfectly capable of providing, but it would do.  We got to our seats with 15 minutes to spare.  And then Roger Waters lied to us.  "Promptly at 8:30" turned into after 9:00.  So we had plenty of time to sit and wonder who would be the obnoxious concert viewers around us.  (Clueless teenagers to the back of us, big, bald drunk guy in the front who didn't know when to sit down. Why do they show up at every concert I've ever been to?)

Here is the stage, with the partially built wall.

Ironically, the best photo I got all night was when I was mistakenly taking video.  Here is a 10 second clip of what it looked like early in the show.

This is toward the end, after the wall was fully built.

And if you're interested, the Chicago Tribune wrote an awesome review of the concert.

All in all, through "Trains, Planes and Automobile" like experiences and boneheads all around, it was the concert experience of a lifetime.  I don't agree with all of Roger Waters' views, but I appreciate the way he puts his out there.  

Because the way he puts it out there is pretty incredible.

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