Charleston revisited

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I’ve been threatening to make another roadtrip to Charleston for several years now. This weekend, accompanied by my new car, I did it. Frankly, it hadn’t changed all that much since 2008.

But I took pretty pictures!

Nine years. One waterfall. (OK…two waterfalls…)

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Almost nine years ago, the ex and I did a road trip to Charleston and Pittsburgh that ultimately had lots of implications, but for now, I’ll just mention that we took what was always my favorite “couple photo” on this trip, at a waterfall by the side of Highway 60 somewhere near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. I’ve been threatening to do another weekend in Charleston ever since, and this was finally that weekend.

More pictures to follow, but yesterday, I happened to take that same back road home because I wanted to shoot a couple of old Kroger stores along the way (and because I fucking hate that stretch of the West Virginia Turnpike between Beckley and Charelston), and I happened upon that same waterfall. I thought it was time for a new photo. I think I’ve held up pretty well over the years. Almost no evidence at all of decomposition…

And for the record, I found a new waterfall I like even better, because the nature is kept at bay by the pair of creepy old buildings adjacent to it.

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Again, more pictures and thoughts on Charleston to follow…

Every five years

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I bought my first car in 1980 and I ended up driving it for about five years. Apparently, that seemed like a good amount of time for me to hang on to a car, because it’s become my average over the past thirty-seven years. I’ve had seven cars since 1980. (Actually I’ve owned ten cars, but three don’t count: the one I totaled a week after purchasing in 1992, the one my ex signed over to me so I could dispose of it in 2011, and the one I inherited from my dad and quickly sold in 2013.) The only time I was ever completely without a car was for about six months in 1996 and 1997 in San Francisco.

Of the seven that count, two died very violent deaths, one in a collision and one in a fire. All but one of the others I pretty much dove until they either died or would no longer pass inspection. I actually bought and paid for four of them and assumed custody of three from my mom. One of those I acquired from her, a 2009 Sonata, turned out to be the best car I ever owned. I haven’t actually bought a car myself since 1997, when I bought the Toyota I owned longer than any of the others. And I only ever bought one brand new; it turned out to be one of the worst of the bunch. The rest I bought used.

So yesterday, I bought car number eight. It’s a very slightly used 2017 Sonata. it’s pretty and roomy and has Apple Car Play and all sorts of fun things. I thought it might be nice to buy one before I had to for a change. It’s also the first car I’ve ever paid cash for. I’m hoping we’ll have a lovely relationship. In much the same way I no longer stay at Motel 6, I have also decided I’m allowed to have a slightly more comfortable car now. I’m never going to be a spendthrift (I spent way too long being way too poor) and I don’t care about high-end luxury, but I can afford to part with a little money at this point in my life.

An exciting slideshow of my history with cars follows:

Why…

…do weird and heart-stopping (and temporary, thank the Great Pumpkin) database outages at your web host only happen at the precise moment when you just log in to check something right before bed?

Oh well. it inspired me to do overdue backups of all my site databases. And it’s not really all that late.

It was thirty years ago today…

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So it was thirty years ago tonight that the legendary Pterodactyl Club in Charlotte opened. Damn.

That was also the night that I felt I really started making friends in Charlotte after a long and lonely first winter there. I ran into an acquaintance I’d known in Myrtle Beach at the opening and she introduced me to a whole new crowd that quickly became my crowd.

I miss that old run-down steakhouse on Freedom Drive. I saw some great bands there (everything from the Flaming Lips to They Might Be Giants to Iggy Pop, among others) plus the DJ nights were a very welcome alternative to the never-ending cycle of annoying disco and drag at the queer bar a few blocks down the street. As someone who even then really didn’t love gay clubs–and especially hated the shitty music one was forced to endure in them–this was a pretty important spot for me. it was also a passably good place to pick up boys of a sort who were also not as annoying as the ones at the queer bar.

Side note: The grand opening flyer I scanned so a friend could put it on his blog a few years ago must be the only remaining copy in the universe, based on how often I’ve seen it floating around the web.

The Pterodactyl is now a grassy field in a rapidly gentrifying area. At least there’s not an artisanal grits and okra bar there yet…

Videlog: Make That Move

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Make That Move (1983)

A slick version of “rockabilly” that is purely 1980s.

Still a good listen that, for whatever reason, got stuck in my head this afternoon even though I hadn’t thought about the song in years.

My Ella story

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One night in 1996, I picked up a very adorable boy at a bar in Sacramento (the Wreck Room, I believe) and we went back to his flat a few blocks away. All night long, we made out to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, which made me like that adorable boy even more.

The next morning, as I was driving back to my room at the Motel 6 or wherever, I heard on the radio that Ella had died the previous night while we were curled up in bed listening to her. It made me very sad. I never heard from the boy again either, which also made me sad.

I loved Ella even as a child, and I have very sketchy memories of seeing her on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was really young (maybe this one?). In that proverbial game of dead celebrities you’d like to have at a dinner party, she makes my list every time.

Happy 100 and rest in peace, Ella.

Shoulda made that left turn (no, really)…

It was actually a lot of fun revisiting Albuquerque after almost twenty years. This is a city that appreciates its roadside heritage and recognizes it both as a part of American history and a tourism opportunity, and I was happy to see that a lot of the built environment–though not all of it–had survived since my last visit, and that a beautification and transit project was happening over the full length of Route 66/Central Avenue. This was a work trip so I didn’t get to do as much exploration as I might have liked, but I did also get some Groceteria research done.

And then came the trip home, which allowed me to experience a major U.S. air travel meltdown firsthand. Here is a timeline of my 36-hour trip home:

Wednesday:

8:00 AM MDT: Get an alert that my 1:15 flight to Atlanta has been delayed by two hours, which will cause me to miss my connection. I easily rebook the final leg and am happy that I get a few extra hours o explore.

2:00 PM MDT: Possible additional delays, but my coworker and I arrive at the airport since the rental car is due. We don’t realize at this time that there is a major weather issue in Atlanta that is about to cripple air travel nationwide.

4:00 PM MDT: It begins to look like our flight may be cancelled. The very helpful and friendly gate staff offer to put us up for the night at an airport hotel, which is not the usual M.O. for weather-related delays. We take them up on the offer and rebook for Thursday. I get booked on a very indirect route via Salt Lake City, but I score first class. This pleases me.

7:00 PM MDT: We have dinner in the hotel restaurant, where it takes two hours to be served a cub sandwich and a beer.

 

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Thursday:

4:00 AM MDT: I wake up and head to the airport for my first class fight to Atlanta via Salt Lake City. Alas, it is not to be.

6:00 AM MDT: My flight to Salt Lake City is cancelled. Fortunately, I manage to get on a direct flight that leaves about the same time, actually putting me In Atlanta earlier than the other route would have. Unfortunately, I’m in middle seat in coach rather than first class, and there’s a very annoying manspreader next to me, who will feel me knee very often over the next few hours. I am cranky, after all, from only having had a Kit Kat for breakfast.

11:00 AM EDT: I arrive in Atlanta. I finally eat. I find my gate and prepare for a four-hour wait for my connecting flight. The airport is a nightmare, with hours-long lines at every service desk. I feel pretty confident, though.

3:00 PM EDT: Just before we are to board, my flight is delayed for an hour. There is apparently no flight crew, though the plane itself is at the gate.

4:00 PM EDT: More delays. I’m getting apprehensive, but they’re still staging passengers so I don’t worry too much. Updates from the gate crew, however, are alarmingly infrequent.

5:00 PM EDT: My flight is cancelled. After pondering for about five minutes what I would need to do to get booked on another flight (one that would probably also get cancelled), I say “the hell with it” and reserve a rental car. I take the airport train to pick it up and find myself in line with a family who are about to rent a car to drive to Detroit for the same reason. There are a lot of people renting cars; I’m amazed I got one so cheaply and easily.

Friday:

1:00 AM EDT: Having driven over 300 miles from Atlanta, I finally get home. Just for fun, i check on the later flights I could have booked. All were cancelled. At least I made the right call for once.

Sunday update:

Delta meltdown: Delays drag into Sunday, improvement is slow