Monday, March 3, 2008

First Things First, Or How it Be to Be Me

Tonight's entry begins back on Wednesday evening--deadline night. In order to send the latest issue of the Arroyo Seco Journal (my other day (Check it tonight, not right now)to the printer, the cover has to be created and finalized by John, our art director.

So there I am at his place Wednesday night. My MacBook has been acting funny for the past few days every since he placed a folder full of fonts on my desktop, and I loaded some of them. Chaos has reigned since then. But we're trying to go to press at midnight, so I'm being extra careful with it.

So there we are. I at my laptop, writing some final stories and he on his, creating the cover. At just about 10:30, the cover is finalized and approved for uploading to our printer's FTP service. I'm just gonna head home and finish two more sections and lay out the art news. We wont make midnight, but we will make 8 a.m., which means we make our on-street schedule.

I get home, fire up the MacBook, and nothing....just a blinking clock. Not good. There isnt' even enough time to go, "SweetBabyJesusagogoOnaFreekingDirtBike, IcantbelievethisishappeningtomeAGAIN!" I have to get the paper to the press and get on a plane.

I cruise into the nearest Kinko's, pray they have the proper system available, and start working immediately. I'd saved all of the week's work on a flash drive, fortunately, so I had only to finish the remaining pages, and I was done. But this requires critical thinking at 2 in the morning. I, um, did the best I could.

By 7a.m. I was headed home, pages safely sent to the printer. Now the sun was up, and I am wide awake, on the phone to Don, my mac guy.

"Dude!!," I said.

"I can be there in two hours,"he answered.

11 a.m. He arrives, and reveals that he has forgotten a critical tool ("Your brain?", I offered, politely, under my breath.) "I'll be back in an hour," he assures me.

He is climbing the stairs to my apartment at 1 p.m. After about an hour of "tsk tsk," and "thatsfunnyhmm," I ask him if he has a loaner computer. He says his are all out with customers, but he knows where I can rent one."

"Call him right now."

3 p.m. I'm headed for Westwood (Imagine trying to drive to Laval from, let's say, Verdun, at 5 p.m., Montrealers), directly through the heart of afternoon traffic and moving deep into rush hour.

At 4:25, I am walking out of the store with another Macbook Pro, and headed up Sepulveda Blvd. north to the 101 east to the 134/5 interchange, onto the 5, to the Glendale Freeway north to the San Fernando road exit, up San Fernando to Cypress, up Roseview to the very very top, then Avenue 37, and home, with barely enough time for a shower and a dash to the airport. A 22 mile trip in about 3 hours.

Long Beach Airport is uncrowded and peaceful an hour before my flight. My bags (and guitar) are checked curbside.

Looking forward to a long dark, sleepy night, I am blazing awake until we embark at Dulles Aiport in Washington D.C. Another hour for the New York flight. I shoot a couple of video segments, we board the plane, and we are at JFK in about 11 songs.

I shared a car service into Manhattan with my two new friends, Crystal and OhMan,WHAT is her husband's name? They were traveling to NYC to help empty a friend's apartment after her father's move to LA. Long story, kinda. (They'll read this and send me an--oh wait, no they won't, but I'll get to that.)

I can't check into my hotel until noon, so I wile away the hours in a Starbucks on West 56th, watching the city's work force straggle in and walk out awake.

I stroll around Midtown for an hour or so, forgetting what real cold feels like. It's about 12 degrees, and the wind shoots through my clothes like an X-ray. I buy warmer gloves and ear muffs, and at about noon, I'm sitting in the "O" of that "L O V E" sculpture on 55th and 6th, having a hot dog and a diet coke (It's the little things, mon amis.)

By 1:30, I am in rapid eye movement, and do not anticipate any movement for several days. Alas, I am awake at 8 p.m. I board the F Train down to the Village in search of pizza. As I emerge from the West 4th Street Station, a gentle snow begins to fall, and the natives are giddy. Actual snowfall in the City is relatively rare, and the world feels like a happy place.

I found pizza on Carmine Street, in Little Italy, read the NY Post, like a New Yorker, yo, and then got back on the train. I exited again at Times Square, and barely recognized it from the 1986 version I'd been familiar with. No one brushed past me, whispering "Smoke? Smoke?," all the porn shops were gone, and the city that once looked to me like it was about to slip off the worn veneer of civilization was shiny and new again.

By now the snow had turned to rain, all the photos I took were wet and blurry, and it was getting late.

Ah, but by midnight, I was out again. My brother, in New York for three days on assigment for NBC Sports, invited me out for a late something.

We met like tourists at the Carnegie Deli, had strangers take our picture, planned my sister's surprise birthday party, then said our goodbyes. I headed back to the hotel full to the brim with every tiny, happy thing that pizza, falling snow and family fills you with.

(Oh, and why won't Crystal and her husband e-mail me? Because, dear friends, when I arrived in Montreal, I realized that I had lost my wallet. Along with the credit cards, license and all the rest, Crystal's card was in there. THAT is one more blog entry.)

Next: "Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the Culture of Rock and Roll Dorkiness." Only at, Montreal's Best Choice for Quality Low-Cost Entertainment at Work.

How YOU gonna act?