Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toasted in Toronto

Note: Pictures from this event can be seen by clicking here.

There are two ways you can tell I'm hammered.

1. I'm dancing.
2. I'm saying "dude" a lot.

On Friday night January 2, 2009 I was in Toronto dancing and saying "dude" to my cousin. A lot.

Totally toasted and having the time of my life.

A few months ago, my cousin Garrett asked me if I'd be interested in going to Toronto with him for the International Bowl on January 3rd. I said, "Hell yeah!"

So on the morning of Jan 2 I headed out to his place in Syracuse and from there we made the trip up to Toronto. We pulled out of his place around 12:45 and, because of heavy traffic going across the border, didn't arrive at our hotel until somewhere around 6:00 or so. Check in, get our stuff in our room and head out for a bite to eat. First things first some real money for some of that Canadian monopoly money. This is where we got ripped off...I cashed in 200 bucks and only got 206 and some change back. The exchange dude fucker took a 15% cut.

Oh well.

Let's find a place to eat. Go to the Hard Rock. 45 minute wait. Alright, we'll find another place. We're downtown, there's lots of places. So we walk up the street looking for a place. Go into this one steakhouse...look at the menu...too expensive and we're underdressed for the atmosphere of this place anyway. Maybe if I were with a chick...

We finally find this pub (more than 45 minutes later) inside the Eaton Centre which is a huge-ass mall (and, incidentally, where the money exchange place was). We order one appetizer plate of chicken bites to share and we each order a bacon cheeseburger which comes with fries. No drinks, just water. Tab comes to 50 bucks with the tip. For a couple of cheeseburgers and some fried chicken bites. Holy shit, this is an expensive country! But it's all good 'cause it's monopoly money I'm spending.

Alright, our bellies are full so now it's off to the liquor store to pick up some stuff so we can pregame a little before heading out to party it up Canadian style. Liquor ain't cheap in this country either. I buy myself a 750ml can of Molson Black, he gets some carbonated thing that's got liquor in it that he's going to mix with the vodka he brought with him in a flask. He didn't realize it was carbonated when he bought it. Carbonation wreaks havoc with his stomach. Drinks it anyway. So we polish that stuff off in our hotel room, change our clothes and head out.

It's motherfucking cold. On our walk to the bar which was probably close to a mile away we see a homeless guy sleeping on cardboard boxes. Dude, if you're gonna be homeless, hitch a ride to Mexico. It's way warmer. Get to the bar...a place called Crocodile Rock which is kind of a combination of sports bar and dance club. 5 dollar cover. Monopoly money. Place is packed. Buy a beer. $5.25. Just keep telling yourself it's monopoly money, Dave.

So after a few, I'm feeling pretty good. We drag our asses up to the dance floor and just have ourselves a good old time. Plenty of hot chicks (mostly from America and there for the game). Fast forward ahead a little bit. I realize my beer is empty and it's time for my 9th or 12th or 16th. I lost count. And this money is starting to confuse me. It's all paper money except they have both $1 and $2 coins. My friggin' pocket is starting to feel heavy. Naturally, dumbass, it's full of $1 and $2 coins. So I pay for my next beer with some of the coins that have been collecting after I manage to accurately count them out (at least I hope I did). Get my beer, have to piss. Walk in the men's room. The floor is slick. I slip and almost catch myself. Almost, but not quite. Down I go on my ass, my still full bottle of beer breaks and I cut my finger. Not badly, but still. And I'm wearing off-white jeans. Fuck. Get up right away, take my piss, fish out some more coins to buy another beer.

Dude, I was wasted. 2:00 A.M. Closing time. My cousin wants some BK which is open until 3:00 A.M. and is right around the corner from our hotel. So we're walking back. As we're walking that carbonation from earlier in the evening catches up with my cousin and he just yaks as we're walking without missing a step. I'm walking a little too close to the street. Truck comes past us and splashes dirty slush all over my off-white jeans. Now I look like a fucking holstein. Get into Burger King and eat. Now my cousin wants to go to Zanzibar, a strip club we had passed earlier on our restaurant quest. I tell him they're closed but he wants to be sure. So we walk up there. Closed. Back to the hotel. At this point it's nearly 3 A.M. Game is at noon...9 hours away.


Wake up feeling like we got run over by a freight train. Shower, check out, put our bags in the truck and walk down to the Rogers Centre for the game. By the time we get down there, around 11:30, the hangovers are pretty much gone. Maybe there's something to be said for walking over a mile in frigid temperatures. No, there's not. Tylenol would have worked just as well and our fingers wouldn't have felt like they were about to fall off (we both suffer from Reynaud's Syndrome).

Alright, we're inside and it's game time. The combatants in this bowl game are Buffalo and UConn. I didn't really have a rooting interest in this game as my two favorite college teams are Syracuse and Boston College. But I had been leaning toward rooting for UConn for two reasons. First reason is I'm a Big East Conference guy and the second reason is that my last girlfriend, a woman named Heidi Wesch who lives in Connecticut, has an uncle who is a UConn graduate and has been a lifelong supporter and booster of the school. And, although I never met the man, I have a great respect for his life's work. And once my cousin told me he was rooting for Buffalo (because a Syracuse guy could never root for UConn), then I decided I was going to root for UConn.

In reality, I hoped to see a good game. And it was...up until the final quarter, which was when UConn went on a roll and put the game totally out of reach with a little under 3 minutes to go.

So we left, walked back up to the truck (with a quick detour into the Hard Rock so I could use up the last of my monopoly money and get myself a t-shirt) and pulled out. I think it was around 4:30 when we pulled out into the streets of took us a couple of hours to get out of the city...the traffic was unbelievable. We arrived back at his place in Syracuse around 11 PM...I got back home to my place at around 1:10 AM.

I arrived home thoroughly exhausted and wanting to do it all over again. Hopefully, this will become an annual tradition for us. It was a hell of a good time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bruce Springsteen Live at SPAC

Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (08/25/09) marks the third time I've seen them since November, 2007 and the second time in the past 4 months. The previous two shows were both at the Times Union Center in Albany and each lasted about 2 hours.

The Boss at Saratoga is a completely different animal. Nearly 3 hours of non-stop Bruce. High energy. While you'll never see a bad Springsteen show, the man is more in his element at outdoor venues. Lots of audience interaction complete with bringing a kid onstage to sing a verse of "Waiting On A Sunny Day", and bringing a couple of girls onstage (one very young, one middle-aged) during "Dancing In The Dark" to dance .

For all things Bruce, click here.

The audience even got to see the "imperfect" side of Bruce with a timing gaff in "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" near the end of the song forcing him to restart with his signature count-off and a miscue at the beginning of "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" which he restarted from the beginning.

The energy was palpable and these are the concerts which are always the best. The audience feeding off of Bruce's energy and vice-versa.

The show was a near sell-out and in a better economy I'm sure it would have sold out early on.

You can never go wrong at a Springsteen show because you never know what you'll get as far as do know you're going to get a great show.. The setlist changes from show to show. In the middle he takes audience requests. I heard someone saying on the way out that they thought , while people really brought the requests with them, Bruce knows in advance which ones he's going to actually perform. A quick look at the handwritten set list indicates otherwise with ?'s inserted in the request portion of the show.

Here's the set list from the show:

No Surrender
Radio Nowhere
Outlaw Pete
Spirit In The Night
Working On A Dream
Atlantic City
Johnny 99
Summertime Blues
Two Hearts
Surprise Surprise
Because The Night
Waiting On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Racing In The Streets
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born To Run
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road

American Land
Bobby Jean
Dancing In The Dark
Hungry Heart

To see the handwritten setlist, go to: