Stumbling through the dark

Got up very early Monday morning in NJ after staying up very late packing. I wasn’t sure how to get to LGA from Penn Station, but it seemed that the E train to Jackson Heights and then to LGA via the Q33 was the way to go. And though my train was delayed, I wound up making it through security and onto the plane with a good ten minute window before they locked the doors. Stein saw me before I saw him, and laughed heartily when he saw me in my full beard, western shirt and my old Minnetonka wrangler hat. Came up and gave me a big bear hug and immediately began quoting lines from Neil Diamond’s “Jazz Singer” to me. If you haven’t seen this schmaltz-fest film from 1980 (starring Luci Arnaz and…Laurence Olivier?!), well, I would recommend it simply for the amusement and over-the top-ness..late in the movie, Neil Diamond’s character, frustrated with the slick LA studio, takes off in the middle of recording and winds up in…a redneck biker bar playing country classics. And apparently my current look is just a little bit too close to that for Stein not to make mention of said similarity. You are my SunshineCan’t find a clip on youtube. So here’s the schmaltz-laden trailer…

The flight wasn’t as full as we were told, and I had a seat next to me. So Scott and I wound up sitting together and catching up for a few hours, til he passed out and I tucked into my copy of East of Eden.  We got into Dallas with no problems save a little bumpy descent which made me a little loopy. For some reson I felt compelled to steal a blanket from the first-class section of the plane (which says” not to be removed from aircraft” on it…ha!) and which I’m using to line my too-big-for-Betty Lou guitar case. We got some quick lunch and caught our connection, and this time I passed out the whole flight til we hit the ground in San Antonio.

Boy, is it hot here. Kind of like Jerusalem…blazing sun, not too much humidity, but pretty intense. We eventually got our rental car…someone was in line before us looking for a homemade CD she’d left in a car and there were hundreds of CDs in their lost and found…drove into downtown San Antonio and walked around the Alamo for a few minutes.

I literally mean a few minutes becuase we got there 7 minutes before they closed. It’s a somber place; you don’t forget that this was both a church and a place where many men met their end. They ask gentlemen to remove their hats upon entering. So we did.

It’s pretty amazing to see ephemera from David Crockett and James Bowie. (Though I did hear some kid ask his dad where David Bowie stood his ground. Ha.) That men fought and died in the name of their beliefs, on both sides of the walls. That anyone survived the siege, out of 200 Americans facing many thousand Mexicans. Crazy.

The docent said, “Hey, you have to check this out,” and brought us into a room where frescoes were revealed fromt he Alamo’s pre-war state..he talked a bit about how they found them, just a few weeks ago. I detected a slight twang to his voice that could only come from one place and said, “Excuse me. Are you from New York?”

“I’m from Brooklyn!” he responded, jovially. Arnold was his name,; he’d wandered the country for years living his life before settling on San Antonio for his retirement. We had a nice chat; he grew up in East Flatbush and went to Tilden, same high school as Willie Randolph and Al Sharpton. He let us stay and linger and showed us some new discoveries the archeologists had old Spanish arch, more frescoes, ancient graffiti. Only Scott and I wind up finding the one Brooklynite Texan docent at the Alamo.

We walked a bit around the Riverwalk, mainly to get out of the sun, bought a bottle of wine for our host, Pete, and got back on the highway north. After being in that big truck for a week it was quite a shock to be in a Camry, not behind the wheel, playing with the stereo, and talking smack. It was really great to catch up with Scott, as we haven’t seen each other in over a month and had a lot to catch up on.

We got to Pete’s great apartment, right by the Union Pacific and Amtrak line. The sun was setting and a big double-decker train came in; I snapped a shot on the Pentax and then we all had a Pimm’s Cup. We headed to Ming’s, a fantastic Asian restaurant with live music on Mondays, and caught Dustin Welsh, a ridiculously vibey singer-songwriter. Willie Nelson’s producer was there and sat in on piano. Not a bad way to start our Austin trip!

I started getting really, really tired. We headed back to Pete’s for a moment then walked along the railroad tracks to Mulberry, his local bar. By this point, fatigue had set in to the extreme that I became a complete motormouth…probably to keep myself from passing out on the bar. Hm, I guess 4 hours of sleep in 36 hours and 24 total hour of traveling takes a bit out of a guy. I don’t quite remember much of anything else..only that I said, “I need to get horizontal, STAT,” and that we left, Pete and Scott in front, me stumbling behind, and that I started seeing trails and was still motormouthing, talking bollocks and terrible stories…we got into the elevator and I almost passed out on the wall. I ripped my entire bag apart (which I didn’t see until this morning) looking for sleepwear, put it in the bathroom so I could change into it….then passed out across an easy chair. Ha.

I did wind up waking a couple hours later, mainly because I was sweating in my street clothes..took a quick rinse off then passed out properly. According to Scott, several freight trains passed by loiudly in the night. I didn’t know the difference.

Off to go get breakfast tacos and purchase some used records.


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