Thursday, January 17, 2013

No 504 – Nearly Lost You

Performer: Screaming Trees
Songwriters: Gary Lee Conner, Van Conner, Mark Lanegan
Original Release: Sweet Oblivion
Year: 1992
Definitive Version: None

Scott and I had such an excellent time in Toronto in 1992 (story or stories to come) that we decided to do it again the next year, and the destination was obvious: Seattle. I always wanted to go anyway, but now that it was the music capital of the world, that added emphasis to the decision.

Although Seattle might have been the destination, it was never going to be the whole of the trip. The plan was to fly to Seattle from Chicago and then drive back and see everything in between. Scott liked it. In retrospect, that trip was too rich for his blood. He was only 21 and still in college. But at the time, he wanted to do it. The whole adventure has been immortalized as The Seattle Trip.

So I booked the flight for July 1993. A one-way flight was, like, $500 per person. A round-trip was $200. I booked two round-trip flights, and we’d just unfortunately miss the return flight. (Accidents happen.) Because this was pre-9/11, you could do stuff like that. The airline had its money; it didn’t care. Then I booked the rental car.

As I mentioned, the first part of the trip—at least for me—was a weekend in Chicago for the National. I did my usual forced turnaround on a Thursday, getting up at 11, which was a little earlier than usual, to drive to Chicago, so Dave and I could have some card show time that night. This fact would be important later.

We stayed with Jin, and although we didn’t have to deal with any funky roommates this time, we were on the clock. Back then, the National was a big deal, and card companies held all sorts of press announcements. Because Dave and I were card columnists for The Journal, Dave wanted to hit them all—including Donruss’s 7 a.m. breakfast to announce its entry into the hockey-card market. Working on 2 hours’ sleep, I was nonplussed, but, like the man said, I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead, so I agreed.

Actually, I remember the press conferences better than I do the actual card show. The Score press conference featured the company proudly introducing Alexandre Daigle, the No. 1 NHL draft pick that year and the next hot thing, as official spokesmen. He had been well-coached by the company, because when Dave asked him what cards he collected when he was a kid, Daigle said, Score cards. Score had been in the business only the past three years. Daigle was only 18, after all, but still …

Anyway, that night, we went to see the White Sox, accompanied by Jin, which meant another long day and late night. By Saturday, I was pretty whipped after getting a total of 14 hours the previous three nights. No matter, Scott was driving from Indiana that day to pick me up at McCormick Place and head to O’Hare. I was jacked up.

As I recall, traffic was brutal on the Kennedy until we got to the Junction, but we gave ourselves plenty of lead time to park the car in a distant lot. Back then, security was a quick walk through the metal detectors, so that wasn’t a problem.

I booked the least expensive flight I could. We flew to Minneapolis, where we had a bit of a layover and then changed planes to Seattle. By the time we got to Seattle, it was after 10 p.m., which meant it was after midnight, Chicago time, and 1 a.m., according to my body.

We jumped in the car and headed off to the hotel, which we hadn’t prebooked. Scott had a specific hotel in mind on the other side of Lake Washington, but I just figured we’d find something after we got away from the airport, a Red Roof, anything.

It turned out that there was nothing along the way and soon we were driving through downtown Seattle. OK, let’s try the burbs. There has to be something. Nope. We made a loop around Lake Washington. We stopped twice. One place was too funky; the other was too expensive for Scott. Scott kept saying, let’s just go to the place I found.

Finally, after at least an hour of driving around Seattle, we found Scott’s place and called it a night. All the while, we had KND on the car radio, which played almost nothing but local music. Of course, in Seattle, local music meant Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and, of course, Screaming Trees, so it wasn’t all bad.

When we hit the rack, it was about midnight local time. I was zonked, and tomorrow was a big day.

(To be continued)

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