Friday, September 17, 2010

Recovery Time

After a long time on the road, any sort of recovery time is always appreciated. And when I got home to Port Angeles, I was able to fulfill a promise I made to Joy. We went to the fair.

And not just any old fair, mind you. The Western Washington State Fair, a/k/a "The Puyallup" after the city where the fairgrounds are located (pronounced 'pYOO-all-up' for those of that didn't know) is the largest fair on the West Coast, a two-and-a-half-week-long extravaganza of all things both urban and rural. Rides, food, rodeos, concerts, farm animals, firefighters and State Patrolmen (who demonstrate field-sobriety tests at their booth), all the things that make fairs what they are. Not to mention lots of infomercial-grade crapola being sold. There are probably a dozen or so tents at the fair solely dedicated to selling 'waterless cookware'. Okay stuff, but my All-Clad Emerilware is better quality, not to mention a whole fuck of a lot cheaper. My only problem with The Puyallup is that almost nobody takes plastic there.

Not that I had that much of a problem with that. Y'see, I'd pretty much ruled out eating overpriced fair grub from the jump-off. Here's how the day went for us:

Joy and I left PA about 9:30 or so that morning. I'd also invited my mother and little brother to come along, but Mom backed out at the last minute, which is pretty much what she always does. I guess I only invite her along for trips like this as a pro forma gesture. But little brother Mac was more than happy to get out of Dodge for the day. We hopped the Bainbridge Island ferry over to Seattle, and did some grocery shopping at Uwajimaya, arguably the best Asian market in the Northwest. And we're talking all of Asia here nowadays, instead of when it was more just for the Japanese immigrants that started the place. There's even an apartment complex directly above the store. I'd love to live there. It also doesn't hurt that it's walking distance from Pioneer Square and the stadia that host Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders FC games. Uwajimaya also sells sundries, has a wonderful bookstore, and a food court that we all took great advantage of. Joy and Mac had udon and tempura, while I satisfied myself with some lovely Korean barbecue.

With a few bags of groceries in tow, we headed east over Lake Washington to go to the local branch of Fry's Electronics. We needed ink for our printers, but after we got what we needed, we came to quite a dilemma - the ink was going to cost over $120! For that much money, we wound up buying a brand new printer that will go a little easier on the ink, and a new Bluetooth for my cellphone, with the money we saved going towards dinner afterwards......

.....only that it wasn't at our final stop on the trip, a wonderful little bar in Tacoma called The Red Hot. After leaving the Puyallup, we went over to visit with Joy's mother in Parkland (Mac wasn't thrilled with that, and just stayed in the truck), then we headed over to The Red Hot. But as we loaded out of the truck, we found that Joy had misplaced the little clutch purse that contained her ID! And even though Joy is approaching........ well, let's just say she's approaching 'a certain age', she refused to go in to the bar because she wouldn't be able to produce ID if asked for it. And they check ID's pretty rigorously there. So I made a command decision and called it a night for all of us. We hit a Jack In The Box on our way out of Tacoma, but I was so looking forward to The Red Hot's totally awesome hot dogs, and washing them down with a Mexican Coke (made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup) while Joy and Mac knocked back some of the area's best microbrews. Honestly, I can't recommend the place enough to you. If you've got any reason to go to Tacoma, check out The Red Hot. A disappointing finish to the evening, but the time spent with Joy (and with my little bro) was well worth the time and money spent.

And now I'm just resting up, healing psychological wounds, and this time physical ones as well. The dog-bite marks are healing, fading away. To be totally honest with you, I don't think I'll ever be able to really enjoy playing in Shreveport again, no matter how well the gigs themselves go. Psychological trauma caused by physical trauma, y'know? But we won't be going back there any time all that soon. Next up for me is a weekender at the Nugget in Sparks at the end of the month. I'll be back on the road in less than two weeks, and even though it's for only a weekend, I'll be looking forward to going to a place I know, where things are familiar to me. And then a few weeks after that, it's back to home base in Carson City for two weeks. That one I'll really be looking forward to.

Talk to y'all later!

Monday, September 13, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part Four: Canines, Postscripts, And Even Fred Phelps

The start of my second and final week in Shreveport found me adrift in a haze of Vicodin. How I managed to get through the week just past was pretty much beyond me. But I was beginning to see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. On Monday I joined the Mike and Arthur on a trip out to a local Wal-Mart to get supplies, for me it was ibuprofen and Slimfast shakes, since the pain from my kidney stone had lessened to the point where the Vicodin wasn't necessary any longer, but the aspirin in my ditty bag dissolved in my mouth before I could swallow it, way too fast for my liking. By Tuesday the Vicodin-induced constipation and nausea had passed enough that I could entertain the thought of eating solid food again, though I wasn't really up to snuff until about Friday.

But we were kept pretty busy regardless of my health. Those minor sound problems that I'd mentioned before were persistent enough that we'd wind up eventually having to go through about six soundchecks to finally nail down a consistent sound. Fortunately for us, we were blessed with having a damn good soundman in Cary Jeter, who gets very high marks from me for his determination to get things right. And the good vibes we were getting from the management and employees were a very encouraging sign. Thursday brought the resumption of the gig proper, and things were moving pretty smoothly.

On Friday, I took a walk to take a picture of a building that I'd seen on my walk back from the hospital the previous Friday. The name of the business inside this building was quite close to that of my good buddy Brian Thrasher, leader of the Tacoma-based hard-rock cover band Just Dirt. I just had to get a picture of the place. Pictures taken, I started back towards the hotel. And that's when all hell broke loose.

Taking corners pretty much at random, I was walking along Lake Street, several blocks south and west of the casinos. There was this long one-story building on the south side of the street, and the businesses in the far end of this building were a tattoo school and adjoining parlor. An iron fence festooned with warning signs ran eastwards along Lake Street away from the building. There seemed to be some sort of residence beyond that fence. Well, if someone's going to put those kind of signs up along a fence like that, I'm not going to be inclined to even approach the fence, let alone hop it.

Something bit my left tricep!

What felt like a shoulder charge hit me from behind and scraped at my back as I went down. years of being bullied as a child came right back to the forefront, and I curled up in a ball as a fang found my right leg. Peeking through my fingers, there was a white and brown pitbull releasing from my leg, barking madly, then slowly walking away, never taking its eyes off me. Pain and blood were everywhere in my senses, and I started screaming like mad, hoping someone would hear. It might have only been three minutes or so, but it felt like an eternity to me. Eventually a man came up to the gate from the residence and called to the dog. This guy claimed to be a maintenance man for the building's owner, and took the dog back to its side of the fence. He then came back to help me up, apologizing profusely. The dog was a guard dog (which explained the attack, and why the dog stopped when I curled up), and had gotten loose from its pen. He told me that the building's owner would be there 'in five minutes', and said he would take care of things from there.

After thirty minutes of waiting out along the curb, I came to the realization that this jackass wasn't going to show, and if that dog could get loose once, it could do it again. So, holding my wounds, I started to walk back to Sam's Town. Along the way I tried to call the police, but my phone's 411 service spun me in so many circles I decided to just call from the hotel. I tried to call Mike, but had to leave a message. Once back at the hotel, the Shreveport Police Department referred the Caddo Parish (in Louisiana, it's parish instead of county) Animal Control Board. An ACB officer came by to take my story, and a supervisor from the SPD came by to listen in. When I told him where the attack happened, the super shook his head and told me that they'd had problems with the resident there before. A report was filed, the Parish would take care of my bills and hand them over to the owner of the dog, and the dog itself would be taken in and quarantined for ten days while they tested it for rabies and any other diseases that might negatively affect me. They'd inform me of anything that I'd need to have taken care of after I left Shreveport. That phone call hasn't come since, so I'd presume that the dog was healthy. I hope now that that the fucking thing is dead.

About this time, Mike finally got back to me and I was able to tell him and Arthur what had happened. At first he claimed that I hadn't called him or left him a message, then he actually checked his phone and found my voicemail waiting for him. Arthur went to the pharmacy again and returned with hydrogen peroxide and bandages, while Mike brought some neosporin from his medicine bag. Nobody could believe my rotten luck. Two Fridays in a row that I was destined for the hospital, though this time I was going to have to wait until after the show was over before I could get my wounds tended to. After much debate, we decided that I should return to Christus Schumpert, though on a Friday night, I might have to wait for the local wildlife (gunshot wounds, stab wounds, motor-vehicle accidents, etc) to be tended to before I could get bandaged up. As it turned out though, the ER was empty when I got there, and I was treated (including a tetanus shot) so quickly, by the time the woman from the admittance office got me to sign the papers saying that they could treat me, the release papers and a script for antibiotics came as soon as she'd left. I was in and out of hospital in a little under an hour, and I fervently hoped that I'd never see the inside of that hospital again. Two ER visits in a week. A week!

Aside from pain and bruising, there was no really extraordinary inconvenience for me in the wake of the attack. Ironically enough, this was when my appetite finally came back to me, the shows got better and better, and the band's mood was about as good as it could get, all things considered. Even my voice being shot from all that screaming wasn't that big of a deal. It all culminated with a killer show on Sunday night, topped off by a pleasantly rowdy batch of airmen and women from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base, whose enthusiastic enjoyment of the show really gave us a good send-off.

Getting home got a little hairy, though. Cliff overslept and made us late starting the trip back to Dallas, but that wound up being the least of our problems. A tropical storm coming ashore from the Gulf of Mexico delayed our flight out of Dallas far beyond any chance of meeting our connecting flight in Houston. Big props go out to Southwest Airlines for recognizing our problem and redirecting our flightpath to get us back to Reno before Reno-Tahoe International closed down for the night. We were stuck in Dallas for over five hours, but we got out okay, flying first to Austin, then on to Las Vegas. When our flight from Las Vegas to Reno was announced as being overbooked, Mike and Arthur were tempted to just give up their seats and fly to Reno the next day with an additional $300 apiece, but by the time they agreed to give up their seats, others had beaten them to it. We got back to Reno a little after 11pm, and came across something I'd completely forgotten about: the Burning Man Festival held in the Black Rock Desert a few hours north of Reno had just concluded, and festival attendees ("Burners") were camped out in the baggage claim, waiting for flights out the next morning. One final oddity: Our luggage actually beat us to Reno, arriving on a flight an hour ahead of us. Cliff and his wife drove me up to Sun Valley, where I picked up my truck. I found damn near the last hotel room left at the Motel 6 in Sparks (where they kept the light on for me), and I managed a heavenly seven hours of sleep before trying in vain to purchase a new headset microphone the following morning. After all I'd been through the last few days, the long drive back to Port Angeles seemed almost inconsequential.

So what did I learn from all this? Well, I learned that Mike and Arthur really do like me after all. Okay, I'm just being a smartass saying that. But the fact that they took as good a care of me as they did speaks volumes. I can put up with them nitpicking about my playing after that. I found that I have a really good friend in Cary Jeter. Soundmen like him don't come along very often. I found that Sam's Town really liked us, even after I went and had such a disaster of a time as I had. I just smiled and told them that the next time I came back to Shreveport, things will go perfectly, because I got all the shitty things that could possibly happen to me out of the way all at once. I found out that Southwest Airlines' reputation for customer service is well-earned. I found that I really don't have that much of a problem with flying. I also found that I really, really wanted to go home and see my wife and family.

And I even have a new winner of the Fred Phelps Award for The Dumbest Humanoid On The Planet: the unnamed owner of the property at 403 Lake Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. I hope your fucking dog mauls you not to death, but to permanent disfigurement and disability, so that you can appreciate the pain I felt as an innocent fucking bystander walking along the street minding my own fucking business before your fucking piece-of-shit dog attacked me and damn near cost me the ability to do my fucking job!

May God have mercy on your soul, even though you don't deserve it, you bastard.

UPDATE: I recently contacted Caddo Parish Animal Services on the status of my case. I was informed that I was not going to be reimbursed for the cost of the antibiotics, and was basically told that the case was closed. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out that the pigfucking bastard owner of that mangy-ass dog refused to turn over his animal when the authorities came for it. Pigfucker had the balls to actually tell them that he had no idea where the dog was! And when I contacted the Shreveport Police about this, they referred me right back to CPAS. Let's just say that when I come back to Shreveport, I think I'm going to consult a lawyer about this. Do the words 'depraved indifference' mean anything to you, needle dick?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part Three: Stoned In Shreveport

Now I was headed into unfamiliar and therefore exciting territory. But I still had to get there. Combine my usual joke of a circadian rhythm with a 5:00am wake-up call and you get a grouchy, sleepless Joe ninety-nine times out of a hundred. But the sheer newness of this trip had me on an adrenaline high that was pretty much unstoppable. I wound up the night before the trip in Sparks, vegging out on Cliff's couch after dropping off my truck with Michelle and her family in Sun Valley. Then his daughter and wife took us to the airport to hook up with Mike and Arthur to get this trip started.

I've never been much for flying. I'm fully aware that commercial aviation in the US is actually the safest way to get around the country, but taking off and landing in Reno can be quite hairy due to the punishing winds, especially if your flightpath takes you in and out of Reno-Tahoe International northwesterly. But our flight out went in the opposite direction and there was nothing but smooth air between us and our first stop in Las Vegas, where we'd change planes and take a flight that would eventually deposit us at Dallas' Love Field in a muggy, sweltering Texas August afternoon.

From here, Mike and Arthur had rented a van to finish the drive. Y'see, there aren't any real direct flights to Shreveport that are, how shall we say, cost-effective. I'd been informed that actually flying into Shreveport would've likely doubled the cost of the trip for us. So I'll take the van. And pretty much as I suspected, we got maybe about a half-hour out of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex when Arthur asked me to take over for him. I finished the rest of the drive without incident, though I made some shopgirl's night when after being stuck with a flat Coke in a mini-mart somewhere off Interstate 20, I told her that there was only one true constant in the Universe:

Shit Happens.

I never fail to get a smile out of someone when I say that. Her tittering laugh followed me all the way back to the van. We pulled into Shreveport around 11pm local time. Cliff and I went next door to the Eldorado for a quick dinner, then retired quickly to bed. I found myself to be ensconced in a very nice ninth-floor hotel room, one that I'd wind up seeing far too much of in the days to come. And yes, my room had a panoramic view of that strip club I'd told you about before, but at least I know its full name now: Deja Vu presents Larry Flynt's Hustler Club. For the record, I never went in the place. Bad customer reviews.

I have to clear up a personal misconception here first. For some reason, I'd assumed that Shreveport and its sister-city Bossier (pronounced BOHS-yer) City were on either side of the Mississippi River. Incorrecto! That's the Red River passing through, on its way to join the Big Muddy somewhere in points east. The casinos along the river are actually riverboats connected to their respective hotels, though in some cases the riverboats aren't actually in the river, instead maintained in pools alongside and completely separate from the river itself. Nowadays there are similar set-ups all along the Mississippi and its major tributaries. Now back to the story at hand.

We had Wednesday to rest up and get used to the area, and Cliff and I walked over to the other side of the Red River (bridges are so handy) and visited what's known as the Louisiana Boardwalk. In other words, an outlet mall with some nicer shops and restaurants, a big movie theater (Mike loved that), and a Bass Pro Shops outdoor store that I never did visit. We found out to our relief that we'd basically be comped for every meal. Good news for us. The next day brought set-up, soundcheck, and our first night of work. The cabaret's house kit was nice, a five-piece Yamaha Oak Custom kit, albeit with only two cymbals (Zildjian A's, one crash and one ride) to complement the Zildjian Quick Beat hi-hats. The real problem was that the throne for the kit, while a reasonably comfortable bicycle throne, lacked a backrest. I was informed by the soundman that there had been a backrest on that throne before, but someone walked off with it. I wouldn't know how much of a problem that would be until the next morning. That said, the first night went well enough, but there would be minor sound problems that would dog us for most of the gig.

The next morning I woke up far earlier than I'd ever planned to, about 7am local time. Y'see, my body was still on Pacific Time, two hours ahead of Shreveport's Central Time. I woke up thinking "what the fuck am I doing up at five in the morning?" The reason was a small but throbbing pain in my right side, just above my waist and deep inside. Not a muscular pain, say a pull caused by all the stretching and bending I'd done the night before trying in vain to find a comfortable position for my back while playing without a backrest. Not a skin pain, like a rash or a cut. Deep inside. I hoped it would go away, but it wouldn't. I walked to the bathroom and took a couple aspirin and tried to return to sleep, but the pain began to increase. I got up, showered and dressed, then took a walk to get my mind off the pain. It got worse. I got back to the hotel, and there was no denying what was going on any longer. For the first time in about six years, I was dealing with a kidney stone. Unaware that I could've taken the shuttle bus, I called a cab and headed for what I was told was the closest hospital to Downtown Shreveport, Christus Schumpert Medical Center. Now I was in agony. I waited in Schumpert's ER for only about twenty minutes before being led back with what felt like a bear trying to eat its way out of my side. Thankfully, the staff didn't think I was some drug addict, but instead knew exactly what I was dealing with. A shot of morphine and phenergan later and I was feeling no pain. They passed along a prescription for Vicodin, and made me fork over $120 while passing on financial-assistance paperwork that will likely keep me from paying the hospital any more once I finish filling out the forms. I was so whacked out on the morphine that I wound up walking the roughly two miles back to the hotel before calling the rest of the band and informing them of my situation. The guys filled my prescription for me at a local pharmacy and Cliff paid for it, while leaving me in my room to sleep off the rest of the morphine.

I can't really remember all that much of the rest of the week. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out that I misread the prescription that Christus Schumpert gave me. I'd thought that they'd given me a ten-pill script. In reality, that number ten was how many milligrams of hydrocodone were in each of the twenty tablets in the pill bottle the guys brought me. For example, the strongest pills Joy has ever gotten for her pain had only 7.5mg of hydrocodone in each pill. No wonder I was stoned out of my mind. And constipated and nauseated to boot, thanks to the Vicodin. Solid food just wouldn't stay down, and liquids came out only in dribs and drabs. I threw up more in five days than I had in the previous five years. I soon found myself on an unplanned fast, drinking nothing but water and fruit juices for the rest of the week while in a haze of Vicodin, sleeping sometimes 16 hours a day.

Some first week, eh? How was I to know that it was only going to get worse?

Friday, September 10, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part Two: Ghosts Along The Carson

After getting smogged out in Sparks for ten days, I was looking forward to two weeks at the Carson Station, Steppen Stonz' home-base gig. But nothing ever turns out the way you want it to, y'know?

I checked into my room as usual on Sunday night, the night after the run in Sparks ends. Because we're pretty much the only band that makes the Station money, they pretty much let things go with us. The biggest thing is checking in waaaay early, three days before the first night of the gig. Mostly it's because Mike and Arthur drive up from Las Vegas or from God-only-knows where else after the previous gig ends, and they've got to have a place to crash on their off-days. Arthur just tends to stay in his room, or visit friends during his downtime, while Mike is a film junkie. He'll head up to the Galaxy Theater owned by Casino Fandango, or even the new second-run theaters that opened up in Carson City's old empty multiplex to watch a film or two a day. He even recently admitted to me while we were waiting for a flight at McCarran International Airport in Vegas that he once watched four movies in one day at a local theater. Me, I just grab a free modem from the front desk and get online with Joy's laptop. But there's just one problem, though - it doesn't seem to want to charge its battery. And after consulting three different shops, the problem is clear: the AC adapter's socket is bent, and the wires connecting it to the motherboard have come loose of the solder holding them in place. All three offered to fix the problem, but at a minimum cost of around $150, that's a fix I can't afford right now. So the laptop goes into its case, and I go into withdrawals. At least I have my PlayStation 2 with me.

We also received a visit from an old friend of ours, Andre Stennis. As in Andre Stennis, the guy I replaced in Steppen Stonz. Good ol' Dre. It's been a rough year for him, losing both his parents in a little less than a year. But he's holding up the best he can, dealing with his parents' effects and last wishes and all that. We all have to go through it sooner or later, but I can't imagine how he managed to maintain his sanity through it all. He was in town to visit friends and pick up gear left in storage in Reno for a gig back in the Midwest (note: I've since learned that he's in the process of moving from his native Omaha to Minneapolis). He was his usual jolly self, looking like he'd lost weight (a winter of shoveling snow out of your driveway will do that to you), and everyone was glad to see him, myself included.

But there was an unexpected negative reaction to Dre being there that first week in Carson as well. I noticed that Mike was really wanting me to do things with my playing that he'd never really wanted me to do before then. It seemed to me that he wanted me to be more like Dre, to play more like him. But I'm not him, and never will be. My ass is too pale, and I have more hair than the rest of the band put together. I'll do the best job I can to play the parts the way I'm told to and I won't argue about it, but I can't be who I'm not. Square pegs still don't fit into round holes.

And as the gig progressed, I got to see my good friends Idekay play a Monday night show at MontBleu, paying tribute to a fallen comrade. I've since learned that Idekay is breaking up, playing their final show next weekend, so I've come to the painful conclusion that whenever I buy a band's merch, they break up shortly after. It saddens me to know that I'll never be able to buy another Rush shirt again......

(UPDATE: I've since been informed that Idekay isn't breaking up after all. The band's founding guitarist had decided to move out of Tahoe, but recently changed his mind. Instead, the band will be hitting the studio to record a full-length CD, and recording their 'final' show for a possible release on DVD. Then they'll take the winter off to rest and recharge. My boy Jeremy is already working on material for a solo/side project to occupy his time, getting his Dave Grohl vibe on.....)

I also began to worry about my friends in Carson, how the difficulties of life were wearing at them. Jazzy, trying her hardest to get off welfare buy starting her own daycare, only to find that she's making less money now than when she was on the dole despite working 50 to 60 hours a week. Sara, dealing with an ex who she can't get out of her heart altogether despite her friends almost-universal dislike of the guy. Alexis & Crystal, planning a wedding that no matter how heartfelt, will mean nothing in the eyes of authority. And I added a new friend to my circle, one with whom playing the six-degrees-of-separation game one night revealed that she and I are a lot closer to each other than I could possibly have imagined. I look forward to introducing her to Joy in October.

But the gig came to a conclusion without any real surprises, and now I was getting ready to really break a new trail for myself and push into (for me) new and uncharted territory:

The Deep South......

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part One: Smogged Out In Sparks

Sorry I've been away for so long, dear readers. Joy's laptop died on me while I was on the road, so I've had to wait until now to explain my absence for the last six weeks or so. It was a long six weeks on the road, so I've had to break it up into four parts. Here's the first chapter of my sprawling epic......

The first two weeks of the journey started in Sparks, where we played a ten-day run of shows at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks over the course of Hot August Nights. This has become an annual thing for Steppen Stonz, and while I had to pawn a mixing console just to get there (since paid off and returned), it's a paying gig, and a damn good one at that. But all gigs have their ups and downs, so here's how this one went for me.

I've discussed the pros and cons of playing at JAN before, so we won't go in to that. But the biggest downer is that playing for HAN is that it's for ten days straight, with no days off. Even though we're only playing for four or five hours a night, the drag of having no days off can be pretty hard on a guy. But it wasn't so bad compared to what I'd face in the future. Hell, it was a piece of cake compared to that. The only other real downer was that I had no real internet connection while I was there. The Nugget had recently introduced wireless internet access for its guests, but at a cost of $50/week, that was just too much for me.

And on top of that, the whole Hot August Nights event is a drag for me. Don't get me wrong, if you like classic American cars, it'd probably be nirvana for you. But it means something completely different to me. What, you ask? It means thousands upon thousands of big, old, and decidedly not low-emission vehicles tooling around the Truckee Meadows all day and most of the night. The resulting traffic makes it a bitch getting anywhere in the area. And when you combine all that extra smog with August heat, you get conditions that are entirely unsafe for Joy to be in. I hadn't planned on taking her with me anyway for a wide variety of reasons, but I could always use the company. I just wind up sitting in my room playing video games and watching TV a lot, just killing time until showtime came around.

But regardless of the negatives, the good thing about HAN for musicians is that everyone works while it's on. Everyone. I can't really tell you who played along with us in the Nugget's cabaret during the final weekend of HAN, but I will say that they were friends of mine, but they were pretty tired out by the end of the weekend, since they were also playing shows every night elsewhere after they got off the stage at the Nugget. Bands I know were also playing just down the street from the Nugget on a temporary stage set up by my friends at Starsound, serenading the nightly parade of cars through Sparks' Victorian Square. Every casino had live music, even the ones that generally don't have live music any other time of year. And the casinos that served as the official hubs of HAN had additional stages set up in their respective parking lots for local and national acts. Now if only there was something other than that boring Fifties and Sixties music being played. I'm just not much for nostalgia, but that's what HAN is all about - hearkening back to a day when gas was a quarter a gallon rather than three bucks, nobody cared about emissions, and it was all about muscle, tail fins and chrome instead of MPG and LEV.

Oh, bother.

At least I would be able to truly relax when HAN was over, when we moved on to our de facto home base in Carson City. At least, that's what I thought......