I just flew in from La Coruña (via Madrid and London) and boy, es mis brazos cansados! In fact, I'm going to post utilize a bloggeur vérité mode of entry today because I'm too exhausted to work all of my notes into a single, flowing, easy-to-read "narrative" (that's Vassar for "story"). Sure, it'll be messier than a Spanish whore's closet (I bet you thought I was going to write "hairy, diseased chocha"). But hey, life is messy. Here we go...
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Queens, New York City
I'm checking in with a quick post before my limo (and by "limo" I mean "filthy subway") shuttles me to the AirTrain, which in turn will shuttle me to ye olde Idlewild Airport. It looks like I'll certainly be flying to Spain tonight, since Eyjafjallajokull has decided to take a breather. This is lucky considering the very airports I'm flying to (Barcelona and La Coruña) were closed mere days ago by that royal ash hole.
As mentioned in my last post (the hasty conclusion of which I humbly apologize for), I'm not quite in the mood to fly back to Europe just yet. I'm still exhausted from my encounter with Richard Dorfmeister and my month of touring there. However, duty calls.
In anticipation of having to sit cramped and motionless in flying tubes for the next 14 hours or so (or stuck in some port specifically designed for the reception and dispatch of flying tubes), I decided to get a last-minute stretch of the muscles in the form of a quick bike ride. Since I like to "balance out" any potential weight loss or health benefits gained from the exercise, I always incorporate eating into my cycling routes. In fact, I had already consumed a take-out container of leftover mock duck with Thai basil in anticipation of my departure (this is particularly good before rides on hot days).
I mounted my trusty velocipede and rode at an easy pace before stopping for my customary ten-minute-mark slice of pizza. Momentarily sated, I resumed cycling, but only made it a few blocks further before the onset of an unpleasant sensation familiar to all serious cyclists: the painful tightening of the taintal region due to the pressure of the bike saddle. Wincing in pain, hungry and seeking relief (and thankfully in Astoria, Queens, a neighborhood full of Greeks), I managed to score some koulouri at a nearby bakery. It was just what the doctor ordered, and my poor, tensed grundle loosened considerably. In honor of my Hellenic saviors, I purchased several large pieces of baklava and messily consumed them during the seven minute ride back home.
As I type this, it's dawning on me that perhaps I should have eaten a bit less. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the only volcano threatening my travel presently is nowhere near Iceland. I'll be lucky if my flight makes it past Hartford before my own Eyjafjallajokull begins erupting.
I'm staring out the window at the giant 747 I'm about to board, and the song playing throughout the terminal right now is Earth, Wind & Fire's "Let's Groove" (here is a sad video of the group performing the song at what looks like a LDS Church fundraiser). That's the one with these lines: "Move yourself, and gliiiide, like a 747. Lose yourself, in the skyyyy, among the clouds in the heavens." I always get a bit nervous before flying, and I can't decide if I find this musical coincidence soothing or foreboding. I suspect for it to be truly foreboding, I'd also be hearing a low, off-key synthesizer drone underneath the music, like in a horror film. I'm going with soothing.
I should be OK, however, since I always make a point to preemptively appease any plane I'm flying before boarding so it doesn't misbehave during the journey (in the form of, say, turbulence-seeking or catastrophic mechanical failure).
With a larger plane, the key is to start out gently:
At this point, if the plane (like this one) seems friendly and no signs of aggression are displayed, I move onto a full pet:
I knew I was in when the big guy started purring at this point (or perhaps the crew started the craft's engines, since boarding had commenced), and I wrapped up with my patented chin-scratch:
This ritual is obviously effective, as I've not died yet in a horrible plane crash. The only downside is that the other passengers tend to avoid eye contact with me throughout the ensuing flight, which can be quite lonely.
Friday, May 14, 2010
I'm sitting in Terminal Three of Heathrow. While I made it through the transcontinental leg with clean underwear, I continue to tempt my "pants volcano" to erupt, this time with a disgusting English breakfast purchased (somewhat ironically) from Caffé Italia (the sole hint of "Italia" I could spot was my waitress's mustache).
Please forgive my lowbrow (or perhaps "unibrow") humo(u)r, but I'm in a foul mood. I only had time for this meal because of the hundreds of circles my plane described in the ever-present holding pattern just outside of Heathrow. As a result, our arrival was delayed significantly, and I missed my connection.
I also broke a rule enacted years ago after a futile, sweaty dash through the human habitrail known as Charles De Gaulle Airport: never run for a connection you're on schedule to miss (this rule applies double if you have checked baggage). The impetus behind today's anomalous sprint was the promise of pescaditos fritos and patatas bravas awaiting me in Barcelona (rather than the pedestrian mint or chocolate, it is the custom of finer hotels there to place tapas on a guest's pillow). I ran so fast, in fact, that I beat BA's delivery of my bag of phonographic and compact discs to the plane. Rather than risk losing it, I elected to play it safe and take the later 11:00 flight, since the BA employee at the gate assured me (in uncertaino voce) that this "guaranteed" my luggage would arrive with me in Barcelona. We shall see.
The plane is delayed until after noon. The bravas will definitely be cold by now, my hotel pillow soaked through with oil from the uneaten fried fish. Three obese English children just put their sticky hands all over my sweatshirt. Things are looking up.
Friday, May 14, 2010
After 16 hours, I am finally in Barcelona. "Darshan" just sent a text: his flight to Madrid was late from New York, and since he is flying with that top-shelf carrier, Air Europa, there are no further connections to Barcelona until tonight. As a result, he has to waste the entire day in Madrid Airport. Even worse, I have no one to go eat tapas with. I guess I'll just go to sleep.
"Darshan" has arrived in Barcelona, but is still at the airport since his checked bag of records was lost by Air Europa. This, apparently, is his reward for having to wait nine hours for the next connecting flight between two cities that are less than three hours apart by train - a train he didn't take, of course, because he was waiting for his bags.
I'm off to dinner with the Type A (or "Tapaç A") hostess of the club we're playing tonight, called Razzmatazz (try that one on with a Castilian accent). I haven't slept at all, in part because she's been calling and texting me all afternoon with questions about our mixer (a mixer is to the "DJ" as a steering wheel is to the psychotic elementary school bus driver). We had a terrible experience last time we played the club, battling turntable feedback (a loud howling that drowns out the music) and a broken mixer all night. Technical issues invariably make the "DJ" look awful even when it's the fault of the club. Club patrons don't care about the subtleties of sound reinforcement and malfunctioning equipment; they just know they paid 20 Euro to get in, the ecstasy they took an hour ago is peaking and the fucking music just stopped playing!
Anyway, the mixer we chose months in advance for tonight's performance is apparently "broken." Keep in mind this is probably a multimillion-Euro club complex, and the mixer costs about $800. It's bad enough that half our records are missing courtesy of Air Europa, so I told the hostess to just find us any mixer that will be working 100%. Fingers crossed.
(to be continued)