Sweet Liberty

In the cab on the way to the airport I realized how ugly L.A. is.  It’s like sixties mall culture gone haywire.  Endless mini-malls with signage insuring you just can’t miss the unnecessary product the proprietors are purveying.

Then again, the landscape had nothing on the people at LAX.  Remember when your dad used to dress up for the flight?  Oh, YOU didn’t have to wear a tie, but you didn’t wear sneakers, or jeans.  Now people wear flip-flops.  If you’re lucky they’ve taken a shower.  Not that you can blame them, the airlines have turned into Greyhound.  Northwest not only doesn’t serve nuts or pretzels, there are no pillows or blankets, which is a REAL crisis when it’s COLD!

I’ve never been on such a cold flight.  I couldn’t sleep even though I was only riding on three and a half hours of sleep.  God, when I broke out my cell phone after the flight it had CONDENSATION on the screen, as if it were the window in a ski area base lodge.  MEANWHILE, I had a big cell phone crisis.  Trying to retrieve a message as I got on the flight, I held down the pound key too long and I locked it.  Thank god I packed the manual, but what was I gonna do on the PLANE??  When they said to turn off all electronic devices, including CELL PHONES!

Actually, last May I flew with my cell phone on.  I’m here to tell you the story.  But, I was unaware that time.  Today…did I want it to be the last day of my life?  Was Northwest 306 gonna crash because I’d left my cell phone on?  Was I supposed to leave it at LAX?  But how can you function away from home without a phone?  Then, after madly punching in codes to no avail, I had a brainstorm.  I’ll just remove the BATTERY!  Then, feeling really lucky, I reinserted it.  But no dice, the damn phone REMEMBERED that it was locked.

Descending into Minneapolis was a trip.  Because they had those CLOUDS!  You know, the kind you used to stare at whilst lying on your back growing up.  Well, if you grew up anywhere other than L.A.  We don’t get clouds in L.A.  Maybe an occasional wisp that looks like a jet trail, but no Michelangelo puffs.  But these were like giant cotton balls.  I wanted to reach out and touch them.

Upon landing I found out that the code, unless you change it, is the last four digits of your cell phone number.  So, if you’ve got an LG…  As for Motorola, Samsung and Nokia users…you’re on your OWN!

And then to the hotel to pick up passes for my sister and brother-in-law.  I had mine.

What is it about laminates?  If your heart doesn’t start to palpitate when you hold a laminate, you’re not in this business, you don’t belong.

I’m not talking about backstage passes, not the sticky-woven things that someone magic-markers with the date of the gig that allow you to be herded backstage after the show to eat some hors d’oeuvres and hang with other losers, I’m talking about real INSIDE passes.  Ones not only good for THIS gig, but ANY gig.  Yup, you could show up WEEKS from now, unannounced, just flash this plastic-encased card and you waltz right in like you own the place.

And that’s what an all access pass will give you.  You start walking towards the stage, you’re ON the stage, and now the road dogs are after you.  And, when they’re just about on top of you, maybe five feet away, you flash your laminate and they back off.  You can go everywhere nobody else can.  Hang out at the sound board.  Watch from just inches away, in the wings.  It’s not only the access, but feeling like you belong.  That’s what we all want, to belong.  That’s what we’ve worked so hard for, to BELONG!

Contrary to Tony’s missive, the laminates were not at the hotel desk.

And then I had to explain.  I was with the band.


That’s what the clerk said.  It was Rock and Roll 101.  They figured I was some kind of groupie, gonna chase down the act.

After a  stalemate, I logged online at the business center, retrieved the name of my contact, the tour accountant, went back to the desk and it was like I was a member of a secret club.  Oh, we’ll dial Mr. Litten up RIGHT AWAY!

And when Mark came down with those laminates, on the lanyards, for my sister and brother-in-law, when he put them in the palm of my hand, I got that shot of adrenaline.  This was not regular business.  Besuited men in from New York to drink cocktails and chat up disinterested women in the bar.  No, this was the real deal, the club everybody wants to belong to, I was a member of the rock and roll circus.

But the gig’s tomorrow night.

So, tonight, after dinner, we went out for dessert.  To Liberty Frozen Custard.

They converted an old gas station.  The place was overrun.  With ALL generations.  A girls’ soccer team gossiping about early teenage life.  Bikers.  Suburbanites.  Made me think these people in the midwest knew something I didn’t.  That it was about quality of life.

Oh, the custard was phenomenal.  They made the waffle cone on the spot and then dipped it in chocolate.  But it was the TRAPPINGS that blew my mind.  The advertisements from the FIFTIES in the bathroom (that didn’t require a key to enter!)  The pinball machine.  A Gottlieb from before digital readouts, that I had to throw a quarter in.  And then there was the stack of vintage magazines.  An old "Look" with a headline about Senator Jack Kennedy, how he might be a good candidate for President.  And, there were pictures of the new compacts.  The Falcon, the CORVAIR!  And a multi-page ad from Chrysler explaining in DETAIL why their cars were better than anybody else’s.

I wasn’t planning on writing.  I’ve got to catch up on my sleep.  But I had a tune in my head.

It’s on my desktop Mac.  It’s on my iPod.  But my headphones are plugged into my PowerBook.

So I fired up my favorite P2P app, and took it.

Heaven is a girl that I’ve got to have
She makes me feel good when I feel like hell

I don’t know if Def Leppard will play "Heaven Is" tomorrow at the ballpark.

All I know is sitting here listening to the track inspires me.  Makes me glad, PROUD that I’m a believer.

Liberty Frozen Custard review

Pictures of the reno (they’re three quarters of the way down the page):

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