Saturday, December 28, 2013
The Royal Norfolk Hotel at Paddington station is just as I remembered it, a funky, somewhat dilapidated hotel with tiny rooms. But it works considering it's only meant for sleeping.
Went to see Ranking Roger and The Beat that first night in London. Excellent.
The train ride through the English country side to Liverpool. We caught an earlier train than the one I reserved, so we got into Lime Street Station an hour earlier.
We toured the waterfront along the River Mersey, spending most of the time at the Liverpool Museum, with a required walk down Mathew Street.
Got to the theater early and stood near the head of the line, entertained by the crowd of girls who were waiting to get into the theater to see the Valentine Brothers. Pounding the doors to get in to be with their heart throbs.
The Probes were the opening act, with early 80's influences, including the Bunnymen. They sounded great and put me in the mood for what was to come.
The Bunnymen were phenomenal, rousing the crowd into one big sing along all night long. Two new songs off of an album to be released...soon? We had front row seat, the barricade offering an anchor against the swaying crowd pushing from behind. Loud, very loud audience.
Hanging out near the stage door exit. Before exiting the building I met Peasy and told him to have the band come to the US in 2014. Spent some time with The Probes, a local band hoping to release their first EP. Told them to make the trip to America. The Bunnymen came out one by one, greeting them with complements on their performance. Caught Ian as he hopped in a waiting vehicle, getting a smile out of him when I said his music put me in heaven. Very surprised when Gordy greeted me by name. Will was last to exit, informing me of the fact a few of them were heading over to the Grapes bar, "near the bombed out church." I've been in Liverpool long enough to know exactly where that was. I made the point very clear that they should tour in the US next year.
Spent a little time at the Grapes bar, speaking to Gordy and several fans of the band. Interesting conversation. While distracted, Will slipped out and was gone.
Another early train ride, but this time back to London, sitting in a car with a bunch of guys, one of whom walked on with a big plastic bag of bottled beer, cracking them open at 10:30 in the morning. Must have been a good game they watched the day before.
Time in London was limited, visiting a print/water color gallery and the TATE Modern along the River Thames. Dinner at an Indian food restaurant and then back to the hotel to repack our bags in anticipation of an early flight out of Heathrow the following morning.
Hanging out at the airport waiting for the flight. I felt like I was in a shopping mall with all the stores around.
Flew over Greenland, blue shadowed peaks rising above the smooth ice cap, yellow sunlight reflecting off the water in the fiord's on the west coast.
Frigid temps in Chicago, the snow just beginning to come down. Concerned as they deiced the plane while the snow only kept increasing in intensity. Visions of a skidding airplane as it attempted to climb off a slick runway.
We return home in Denver, the excitement is over, back to reality, resuming an ordinary life, but only after a good nights rest.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Being near the winter solstice, the days were short, sun rising at about 7:15 and setting at 4:30 in the Naples area, the day being even shorter in the UK. This required early starts to the day to pack in as much as possible, the evenings reserved for music and cigars.
A trip to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples to see the frescoes, mosaics and sculptures excavated from both Herculaneum and Pompeii. Faces centuries old staring out at me from the plaster.
Walking the streets of these two cities, once buried under many feet of ash and pumice, the stone pavement still rutted by the wheels of chariots and wagons. I look into homes of the people who had the misfortune of having witnessed the August 79 A.D. eruption, a classic story every geologist learns about.
Basking in the sun while sitting on a bench atop Mount Vesuvius, drinking wine, smoking cigars, watching the sun cast its light across the Bay of Naples, silhouetting mountains and islands.
Sleeping in the tent atop a cinder cone near Pozzouli, the youngest mountain in Europe, the heavy rain tapping the fabric, a feeling of warmth and comfort in my sleeping bag.
Trains awash in bright, colorful graffiti, thinking that it actually looks pretty good compared to the run down interiors of the cars.
Listening to music that first night following my arrival in Naples, below a castle on the bay, two lovers in a passionate embrace as they stand near the entrance to the fortress. I close my eyes and also fall in love with the music filling my ears.
Beams of sunlight silhouetting Vesuvius, the hazy floor of the Valley of the Giants below, framed by tall cliffs that were born during the destruction of the old volcano nearly 2000 years ago, regretting the fact I must go, perhaps never to return.
Deep beneath the edifice
Wakes to make some noise
On unsuspecting Pompeii
They thought forever
Whether we are here or not
Falls into the sea
Human attendants scurry
Winged behemoth rests
Kneel before Walmart's alter
To get a soundboard version signed by Ranking Roger, go here: