Friday, March 16, 2012

No. 811 – Driver 8

Performer: R.E.M.
Songwriters: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
Original Release: Fables of the Reconstruction
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: None

I have this thing with music where when I find something that I like, I play it to death for a while and when other things come along and I put the old music away for a few years until something else comes along that reminds me why I liked the first band in the first place. I’ve gone through that with pretty much every one of my favorite bands at some point—with the possible exceptions of Pearl Jam and Tool. I’ve always liked them and had them on heavy rotation.

Anyway, I had a big R.E.M. period from early 1993 to 1995 and then put them to the side for a long time. Then a little more than a year ago, Laurie bought a Greatest Hits album from their early days and played it quite a bit in her car, and it reminded me that even though this song wasn’t one of my favorites when I first heard it, it was a great song.

And that was at about the same time that we had Snowmagedden in February 2011. We’d been hearing for days that a massive snowstorm was coming, and we might get more than a foot of snow in a single day. Yeah, whatever. But sometimes, the weatherfolks’ predictions are spot on, and as the arrival date drew closer, the reports didn’t abate. So it certainly seemed that even if we didn’t get what everyone was predicting, we were going to be hit by a big snow, and it would arrive right at about the evening rush hour.

So I prepared as I normally do in such cases: I parked my car in an area where I could leave it for a week or so with the wipers up (so they don’t get frozen to the windshield) and took the bus to the train to work. I wore two layers of pants, my boots and a sweatshirt under my big puffy parka. The bus and train were a bit fuller than usual that day as others were obviously enacting similar strategems.

Everyone was talking about the coming snowpocalypse with gallows humor at work, yet no one really knew what the plan was. Shortly after I started, we had a huge snowstorm early in the morning, and I was the only one in the office for the first half-hour of work. The day before someone asked me what our snow policy was. My response was that our snow policy was you get your butt to work. We don’t have snow days.

Well, the weather warnings were sufficient enough this time, that the publisher closed the office at 3, so everyone would be able to get home by a reasonable hour, but when we left there had been no official word as to what we would do the next day. The editor was on vacation, so as managing editor and Number 1 to the editor’s Picard, it would be up to me to call the publisher at home and then relay the word to everyone else. I took home my office phone list, so I could contact everyone.

It began to snow as I walked to the train and by the time the train reached my station where I caught the bus, the roads were beginning to be covered up and traffic was backing up. The bus ride—normally 20–25 minutes on a snow day—took an hour to get to my stop. By this time, the wind was howling and snow was blowing sideways. We were in full-fledged blizzard mode, and there was no question: We were taking a direct hit on the snowstorm.

When I got off the bus, I had an errand I had to run. I had to hike to the nearest L station to load up my CTA card for all the bus fares I would need for the next week or so. (The buses take only cash or a card.) That’s about a mile-and-a-half hike going from the bus stop to the L and then home, and it was awesome in the original sense of the word to be out in it.

I was plenty bundled up, so I wasn’t cold, even with the wind, but it was getting crazy out. The wind was ripping through the trees and snow was blowing across streets like thick puffs of smoke. The few cars now not on the main streets where they still could move were slowed to a crawl as they forged slowly ahead.

Laurie made it home shortly after I did and said she felt lucky to get home because of the crush of traffic. Because we live in a 100-year-old building, we were concerned by how it would hold up to the wind and cold. It turns out that was the least of our problems. The building held up tight as a drum, and it was plenty cozy as the wind whipping through the trees lullabied us to sleep.

I have more to say about Snomagedden, but I'm already at two pages, so I’ll just put a –30– on this one and call it a day.

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