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Exhausting, But Damn Fine Weekend Part 2: Concert

We had yet another trip to Pittsburgh in store for us Saturday–my fourth in a row, as I’d been in the suburbs Wednesday to help my mom pick out 2011-chevrolet-cruze_100330176_land negotiate for a new car–a long but unexpectedly pleasant experience with Day Chevrolet in Murrysville, PA.  We got her an almost new Chevy Cruze–a perfect Grandma-car, but still a little sporty, a little perky to drive.  Way to go, Detroit–this one brings a hammer to the Compact Dance, and has the Asian marques in a tizzy, I’d wager.

After that, and the two days of swim meet, let’s just say I was less than enthusiastic about another day crammed into a car, even though the plans for the evening were for recreation.  I was grumpy all day, sick of restaurant food, weary of having a seat belt carving into my cartoid, and just plain tired.  If we hadn’t been locked in to the tune of $130 I would have been tempted to bail.  I just wanted to sleep.

That would have been a shame, because we had a semi-potluck in the mid-afternoon: ham, oven-baked herbed potatoes, salad, lots of fresh fruit and tasty bread, and apple pie for desert, with 4 friends and our kids, then the grown-ups saddled up and made the very familiar drive back to Cardiac Hill.  This time, after hours on a weekend, the parking was easy.  We quickly found a space in a small garage, downed some beers in the van–the garage was full of folks sitting in their vehicles, bartending out of PetersenEventsCenter_at_Pitttheir trunks.  Soon enough it was time, and we strolled up to the Peterson Center, a pretty fantastic venue on the Pitt campus.  We were there to see  The Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers, and it turned out we got enviable, fantastic seats, just above floor level.

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And man, it was awesome.  Old Crow opened with a boisterous cover of John Denver’s seminal kneeslappin’ Thank God I’m A Country Boy and the crowd roared into Full Whoop–where is stayed through their too 4380881794_bf3f2fcf32_oshort 50-minute opening set.  I loved the crowd–more beards per capita than anyplace but downtown Islamabad– so I felt right at home, enjoying the irony of realizing that at the same moment Old Crow was jamming out genuine old-school Grand Old Opry-grade country to 35,000 hipsters in Pittsburgh, PA all over the country so-called Country Bands were shoveling candy-coated bubblegum pop to hundreds of thousands of rednecks.  The energy was pure and joyful–especially during the most popular songs, when the bands and 35,000 background singers–just listen to the voices….

By the time the Avetts ripped through more than two hours (!!) of their show then re-emerged onstage the crowd was in a danced-up, esq-avett-xlg-38788231full-flowering bliss, seemingly impossible to improve–until they called Old Crow out on the stage for a magnum freaking opus encore medley of Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again, The Carter Family’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken (you know an alt.country band is certified when they cover The Carters in their encore), and–finally–an inspired cover of the Spaniels’ Goodnight, Sweetheart.  Freaking awesome, and utterly perfect.  A stop for take out from Mineo’s Pizza on the way home, and the night was complete.

 

 

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I Missed A Day: Introducing “Chuckwagon III”

I actually left town for a couple of days to visit my sister and a few of my numerous cool nieces (I got to see four of 7 nieces–but none of my 8 nephews), which was awesome–my family is saturated by fantastic young folks–all of whom are going to come visit at Christmas, right?  Right?!  Thought so.

The main reason I abandoned you was to retrieve the latest in a long and storied line of ponderous machines.  I bought Chuckwagon back in 1991, after my mechanic told me he wouldn’t repair my old Datsun because, and I quote, “Son, people die in cars like this.”  Chuckwagon was better–Chuckwagon wasn’t rusted at all; it had merely been on fire, which was only the beginning of the legend.

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Chuckwagon inevitably evolved from primer grey beater to elaborate oil sieve, and I was wagon-less for the better part of a decade, until I traded some manual labor for Chuckwagon II: Son of Chuckwagon, a gloriously square ’84 Caprice that we used as a second car until it had the temerity to pop a break line while my wife was driving it.  Son of Chuckwagon was sent to the breakers, but it was my heart that was broken.  There was something about that backwards-facing rear seat….

There he goes….

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I’m stubborn, and when I found myself, three years later, with a few coins from beneath the sofa cushions, I couldn’t help by replace my latest beater–and my pickup–with a single, massive, beastly descendant of the great Chuckwagon gene pond.  So, without further ado, I introduce Chuckwagon III: The Legend Grows.

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It’s only a matter of time until….

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My Friend’s 1969 Chevy…God Bless America

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The Big Truck (excerpt)

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This picture respectfully stolen from http://www.reid.org/~dreid/89suburban/notes_on_truck/thoughts.htm

The Big Truck (excerpt from a short story, circa 1990)

A door slams and a key twists in the ignition of a big, new capable American machine. None of that third world bullshit, we’re talking Eight bedroom-sized cylinders displacing more than six liters in a gurgling rumble of power shouting of fundamental inconsistencies, hell, it’s goddamned hypocrisy to I digest so much carbon fuel in getting to the wild places I’m aiming to get to. And I don’t care.  To hell with consistency; it is the mask of the uninteresting soul, the warm, smothering blanket of the tamed mind: too much about being correct, responsible, intentional, when we should be flying full bore towards living for good, wild lives.
It may very well be that I am lacking hormonally something, needing three hundred-odd horses to power me, but those dainty little Asian fuel miser machines doesn’t cut it (I have had one, loved the zip but loathed the coffin-like fit my build demanded).  It could just be that I was raised on toy cars and trucks.  Whatever the case, there is something magic in the early morning growl of an idling big block V-8 engine.
I like that fact that it practically begs to be let loose to flatten the teeming knots of Hondi and other bullet shaped knatmobiles out there.  This machine, on the highway, is like walking the park with a vampiric Irish Wolfhound on the end of the leash.  Power to spare.
The assembled corps of Highway patrolmen wait ahead, their microwave beams slow-roasting innocents from over hills, behind bridge abutments, around blind curves.  We will tempt them presently, joining in the mass of sensible speeders bravely playing political out on the roads, defying the revenue fishers and legislators fat on insurance lobby kickbacks.  From here in Pittsburgh to the border it will be bad, Pennsylvania being a wonderful state except for its archaic clinging to the 55mph barrier.  Great yellow signs greet visitors: Pennsylvania Maximum Speed Limit is STILL 55mph!!  Might as well erect an afterward, a new slogan.  Pennsylvania, backwards-assed and proud of it….