I was in bed pretty early Sunday night, passing on both the Emmys and -- more surprising for me -- the later innings of Red Sox/Yankees. Problem with the Emmys is that usually, by the time I've gone over the nominees, I am more than sick enough of the process to shrug off the actual winners. Even a look at the winners' list this morning has the usual mix of righteous choices and head-turners, although I would have been interested in all the censoring of the show. (I can catch up. This is why there are DVRs.) Problem with the Red Sox/Yankees was just that after a weekend that included a Friday performance by Chrissie Hynde, Saturday chores, an attempt at attending a Saturday concert, a Sunday morning drive to Cleveland for an Indians game and a few more obligations, I was just wrung out. Details after the jump ...
The longish weekend kicked off Friday night with a reception for VegiTerranean, the new restaurant the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde is opening here in Akron. Chrissie, as you may know, is one of Akron's own, and has had a sometimes difficult relationship with the community (notably in her bitter ode "My City Was Gone"). But the restaurant has had her reconnecting in a big way, including a weekend of events.
It wasn't entirely necessary for me to be at the reception, since we had two other writers -- Lisa Abraham and Malcolm X Abram -- covering aspects of it, but there was a spare pass available, and I do write that people-in-the-news column, and I'm a Pretenders fan. I did put in some work time. Picked up three story ideas from talking to people. And when Lisa and Malcolm had to depart before the end of Hynde's performance because of a deadline, I could call in later with some notes about the end of her show. (Closing song: "My City Was Gone.")
As I've said before, this was one of those cool-job moments. We're talking an audience of between 50 and 100 people, Chrissie and guitarist Adam Seymour playing and singing -- snippets of local jingles, as well as 11 songs, including some of my favorites ("Talk of the Town," thank you very much. And Chrissie said that title was suggested as a name of the restaurant -- before she vetoed it.)
A close look at Chrissie at work, in her stovepipe jeans and Akron T-shirt, and as she mingled a bit with the guests. Brief chats with Dan Mathews from PETA, and with Seymour. (I asked if Chrissie had thrown him any curves during the performance. He said yes. He also said, even after 15 years of playing with her, there are always curves.)
I was puzzled by one thing, and the puzzlement only grew on Saturday night. Why did some people come to this reception and then chatter through much of Chrissie's performance? I have a partial answer, gauged from talking to folks there. A fair number just weren't fans of Chrissie's music. Yes, some were fanatical. But others were there for the event; the music wasn't in their system, whether because of age or taste or another reason. Still, the talking -- a semi-constant buzz from the back of the unfinished, ninth-floor area in the Northside Lofts building -- seemed more than a little rude. But it was a grand evening nonetheless, a major piece for the memory bank.
Saturday morning was eaten up by home work: The bride and I did some banking business, then were off to a home-supply store for shutters, paint and outdoor lights. We're finally getting repairs to our roof and siding because of hail damage earlier this summer, and we're using that as an opportunity to make some other changes. Lots of discussion, some second-guessing -- I am always convinced that any home-improvement choice I make will turn out to be wrong -- but the back of the car was well-filled by the time we were done.
Then came outdoor work -- me mowing the overgrown lawn, the bride weeding. Then I wrote a brief Sunday HeldenFiles before we got ready to go to the "Chrissie Hynde & Friends" concert at the Akron Civic. I love the hall, which has been beautifully restored. But this was not my kind of show. Well, I should say it isn't my kind of show anymore. In my reckless youth, I hit a few concerts that were more like parties -- long lists of acts with audience members drifting in and out, and talk during the less interesting portions of the show. But since I don't go clubhopping, I was curious about the likes of the Diffi Cult (or Diffi-Cult, or Difficult, depending on which reference I checked), Patrick Sweany and Judah E, and aware enough of the Bizarros to be interested in seeing them live.
There were other acts on the bill, of course, including Chrissie Hynde again and closer Jerry Lee Lewis. And rumors about Paul McCartney had been flying for days. But once we got our tickets and found our way to our balcony seats, the four acts I mentioned were all we managed to see. It wasn't just that we were tired. Or that I was nearly decapitated by a woman behind me, as she tried to point out something to her friends. Or that Sweany got the hook from concert host Billy Soule, trying to keep to what looked like a very tight schedule.
It was mostly that that woman demonstrated astonishing breath control by talking nonstop through the four acts I mentioned. She was vaguely aware of what was being said onstage, but was far more interested in what she had to say than in what the musicians had to play. Still, after an hour of her gab, my ears were bleeding.
I considered asking her which acts she planned to shut up for, just so I could be ready, but there was no point. Her companions prattled with her, and I didn't have the stomach for a scene. Besides, there was enough wandering around of other spectators -- not to mention lobbies loaded with people -- that the consensus was that this was a party, not a concert. And, since I had seen Chrissie Hynde in splendid form the night before, I was only mildly torn by the idea of leaving. Would have loved to see Jerry Lee Lewis, but I reminded myself that his greatest days are long gone. The Macca rumors were strong, but still only rumors. And so the bride and I went off into the night, in search of peace and quiet -- and a piece of pie.
And, eventually, Sunday. Indians game. 1 p.m. start. Same time that the Browns were playing the Bengals at home. (Say it with me: 51-45. 51-45.) At about 9 a.m., Channel 3 was showing footage of tailgaters parked and cooking outside the stadium. We were on the road by 10. We beat most of the traffic to our favorite parking, near Tower City, by about 11 a.m. Most of the stores were closed, but the food court was busy with Indians and Browns fans on their way to their respective games. We were at Jacobs Field when the doors opened at 11:30.
One funny thing from standing in line: This was kids' fun day, so there were games and giveaways outside the Jake. One of the giveaways was a Frisbee-like disc. Verboten at Indians games. So people who had gotten the discs moments before had to throw them into trash cans as they entered the ballpark.
Still, the early arrival was actually a pretty good way to get to a game. Though we were hardly alone, the crowd was somewhat thin at that time, making it easy to do an early run to the concessions and to have a relaxed view of preparations, and to see the players as they warmed up. (We've had workday night games where we spent so much time in traffic that we missed the first pitch.) And I like the hanging-out aspect of baseball games.
It is striking, though, how much modern sports have blended themselves with pop culture. The kids' giveaway on Sunday was a SpongeBob bobble-head, and one of the jumbo-screen videos included SpongeBob footage. Another video used "I Don't Dance" from "High School Musical 2," mixing footage from the movie with big-leaguers saying "I Don't Dance." Surely some do!
The game was blah. The Indians did not seem all that interested in beating the lowly Royals. At the end of the seventh inning, the Royals led 4-3. We were worried about the blending of traffic from the Browns game. (Although the Indians did not put up scoring updates for their sporting neighbors, the Browns' astonishing progress was being tracked by folks with radios, portable TV sets and cell phones.) So we departed, and on the way home kept track of the Indians and the Browns on the radio. Got home in time to see the last few dramatic minutes of the Browns on TV.
Then I wrote a Monday column and threw together some dinner. After dinner, the bride and I did our weekly grocery run. (We'd made the list before going to the ball game.) By about 8 p.m., we were back home, with baseball on TV. Until, that is, we wore down. Can't imagine why.