I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, per government nutritional guidelines. This would be easier if these things counted as fruits:
-- Diet Coke with Lemon
-- Tostitos with Hint of Lime
-- Starburst Fruit Chews
I am very lucky to have guy friends, because they are funny and smart and honest. Not that my girlfriends intentionally lie to me, but they might tell me what I want to hear in order to spare my feelings. Not so my guy friends. They give it to me straight. Or they don't say anything at all, which is a statement in and of itself. I really trust my guy friends.
JMS and I had one of our trademark strategy sessions tonight, and I was sharing my latest life lesson, which is "If you ask a question many times, and there is no answer, that is the answer." How Zen. His latest life lesson seemed to be, "Be careful what you wish for ... for you will surely get it."
Today another of my guy friends said something so nice and complimentary, I was truly moved. That was a sincere and hard-won accolade. I can go on that for months.
One of the people who went to Prince with me was HER, who is perhaps the most fashion conscious person I have ever met. The other day I wore a new pair of shoes, and about 15 seconds after she saw me that morning, she said, "Nice new shoes."
She actually does say things such as, "Monochromatic long lines are very slimming" or "Boat necks are best for narrow shoulders." Usually we are in the cafeteria or in a crowd when she unleashes one of these. Prince's show may have been tame, but the fashions of the concertgoers were anything but. Many were the times that HER said, "That's just wrong on so many levels."
So (at long last) here's the lowdown on Prince: the show was phenomenal, and I say that as a person who is not a very big Prince fan. I went with a couple people who are VERY into him, and they loved every minute of it.
Some of them also think he is very sexy. Sorry, I don't get that at all (eyeliner turns me off), but I do think he is immensely talented. I had forgotten how many songs he's written, what a great dancer he is, and how well he can play the guitar. He can swim in almost any musical waters, but he does owe a lot to James Brown. He's now a Jehovah's Witness, so it was a very PG-rated show (almost G-rated, really). This is not the show you would have seen in the '80s or the early '90s. It was billed as the last time he will play all his hits, and he did not disappoint.
The stage was two intersecting runways, with band members on risers around the intersection. The seating was in the round and everybody got to see Prince because he covered about every inch of the runways during the show. He only stopped moving for a solo, electric-guitar-only segment in the middle of the show. He sat on a chair and played retooled, often slower versions of many hits -- very impressive. While seated, he could move the chair a quarter-turn, and about every minute he revolved so the whole audience could see him.
The band was incredible. His drummer was very theatrical and he had an Amazon saxophone player who I'm sure thrilled all the men in the audience. They jammed, and they sneaked in so many riffs and hooks -- stuff from Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" to the Stones' "Miss You" and everything in between. It was interesting to read the Tennessean review, because the writer (who is more schooled in urban music) heard all the Outkast and hip-hop elements, and I heard the rock and blues ingredients.
What impressed me most was how much he interacted with the audience, with a lot of call-and-response. (He must have said, "Nashville!" about 372 times in the course of the evening.) He wanted people to sing along but during "Cream" he stopped mid-song and shook his head in a "that's pathetic" motion. "If you're going to do the background [vocals], you got to hit the background." That completely won me over -- that, and the part of the song where he stopped and showed us how to recite some of the lyrics as a way to boost our self-esteem. Hilarious.
LHK told me Prince has sold out three nights in Chicago in June. In Nashville, however, I think they were having trouble getting butts in the seats. I've heard that people here don't like to pay a lot for shows, because we are so spoiled by all the free, excellent music we have every day. Let me just say this: it was a pricey ticket, even for us in the nosebleed section. He played "When You Were Mine," and that made it worth every penny, at least for this listener. I love, love, LOVE that song, esp. the Mitch Ryder version.
Prince closed with "Purple Rain," and sang one line as "You'd better read your Bible," which I don't particularly recall from the original version. Then he gave the Sammy-Sosa-point-at-the-sky final gesture, which I think meant he was thanking God for giving him all the funkiness.
The first time I listened to the whole "Purple Rain" album was the fall of 1984 -- long after it had come out -- and I remember playing the cassette (yes, the cassette) over and over and over and over during my first college all-nighter. I had borrowed it from a suitemate, SDP. While I was home a couple weeks ago, there was a letter from SDP (it got forwarded to my parents' address). I hadn't heard from her in about three years. Spooky.
Well, the good news is, there are no longer bad ads and viruses flowing into my laptop from the Internet. And I can once again check my e-mail.
The bad news is, nothing can flow into my machine from the Internet, nor can I post anything to the Internet. I'm cut off. Shut out. Unless I go to the Annex (aka main branch of the Nashville Public Library). So here I am, among the other fine upstanding Nashvillians who live downtown (usually not in buildings), to say, I'm going to try to write more offline and see if I can upload it tomorrow. My personal tech support has put some kind of Spyware on my machine, so once we resolve this mystifying Internet access problem, I think I will be back in business.
I would just like to report on certain restaurant developments here and in the land of my birth. I have written here before (see February 2004 posts about Chicago - I'll add the link later) about my love of Flat Top Grill in Chicago. Well, apparently that restaurant concept is called Mongolian Barbecue. I call it Create Your Stir Fry. I like my name better.
Anyway, Khan's Mongolian Barbecue got our lunch business downtown yesterday. It's locally owned and the food was good. On the downside: the logistics were complicated, and it was not an all-you-can-eat arrangement. Nobody beats Flat Top Grill when it comes to logistics.
There is a similar chain establishment, Genghis Grill, down in Cool Springs. There are three reasons why I am resisting going there. (1) It's in Cool Springs. A mantra of my Nashville existence is to stay as far away from Cool Springs as possible. (2) It's a chain. (3) It's named Genghis Grill. That bugs me.
But I do want to see if it's a worthy competitor to Flat Top Grill. I will report back.
The best news of all is that Flat Top Grill is opening in Peoria! Yes! It's true! At least if you can believe what you read on a Web site. After the week I've had with the Internet, I am leery.
You might lack professional distance with your co-worker (one of your staff members, no less) if you say to her, "There's something wrong with my foot," and then she tells you to show her, and you both remove your shoes and socks and put them up side by side, and the conversation turns to bunions.
I had to post this, even though there are about a billion other things I should be doing right now. Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men are playing Opry Plaza on 19 June. Dave Alvin. Here. Free. That's #3 on my 2004 concert wishlist. Yay!
My pledge to you, readers (all two of you): I will try to post more stuff (like the Prince concert review) this weekend.
"Peter and Marie became rich in the love and respect of their neighbors." Nope, I didn't write it. I read it in the liner notes (advance copy, thank you very much) of an awesome CD coming out in September. Fear not: you'll be hearing more about this from me.
A gorgeous-Friday-afternoon missive from someone who shall remain anonymous [names changed to protect the vacationing; reprinted with permission]:
"I am going to write a new series on being 'left behind,' but I will need to make a decision if it is based on [three recently resigned co-workers]leaving me behind or the fact that [my boss] and [a key co-worker] took off the afternoon. [My boss] was supposed to help me with something I have to ship for J. from [another department] who is also off today. Then I get a call from J.'s boss (out of the office today) to see if I have done the thing I am doing in J's absence. He also mentioned his administrative assistant has taken the afternoon off so she would not be able to assist me."
Speaking of The Rapture, Garrison Keillor did an amusing bit about it when "Prairie Home Companion" was at the Ryman Auditorium last Saturday. Turns out the Universalist Unitarians got taken, while the rest of us (and particularly the Southern Baptists) had to stay here. As I've shared before, I grew up with a healthy awareness that Jesus could return at any time, probably while I was at school. I don't say that in a joking way, as I have a high sensitivity to things that could be interpreted as blasphemous.
The rest of the show was not blasphemous, especially the part where Allison Krauss sang some old-timey gospel. Rapturous. The music was incredible, and the energy in the Ryman was kinetic, and the whole experience made me so happy to be in Nashville. Almost every day, I'm so happy to be in Nashville. [You can listen to the show through the Prairie Home Companion site.]
BR549 played a few numbers. I loved it. Sometime here I will post the tale of my very first visit to Nashville (circa 1994?), and how they had just gotten their first record deal, and I was able to meet them, and how I went to see their show on Lower Broad, and my friend Jason got up to sing with them and dedicated a song to me. That was probably the most exciting night of my life. Seriously. As far as I know, it's the only time anyone ever spoke my name from the stage at Robert's Western World. Well, I guess I just told that story.