Dragons awake

Although the so-called “city of broad shoulders” (and, from the look of the average local, “fat thighs”) lies just four hours away from Grand Rapids, I haven’t spent as much time in Chicago as you might expect. My folks took me there only one time in my youth, and almost all of that 1982 trip was spent at the first 17 innings of a 1-1 baseball game between the Cubs and the Dodgers that was suspended due to darkness (this, of course, was in the pre-lights era of Wrigley Field). When I was in college, nearby Detroit seemed to have everything Chicago had (great indie concerts, great hot dogs) and more (Tigers Stadium and the double-play trifecta of Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker/Cecil Fielder). I never once considered moving to Chicago after school was done.

What’s more, Chicago has never been a major destination point in my adult years. And I’m kicking myself for it. After spending a week there I now feel like if everything went to shit here in Brooklyn I could move to Chicago without it seeming like a demotion. I was in town partly to read at Book Cellar, where scores (okay, two scores) of friendly Chicagoans politely laughed in the right places and greedily accepted my gift of Dum-Dum suckers — and one lucky attendee walked out with the Footnote-a-Rama grand prize:Moon Sand. (Regarding the unexpectedly awesome turnout, I am indebted to famous Wendy McClure, who rules.)

I stayed with my friend Noodles in his big-ass bachelor pad with a roof deck overlooking Lake Michigan. We did all of the following: drank our respective weights in beer, ate our weights in meat, slept our weights in hangovers. Our weights hate us.

Friday we went to see the Police at Wrigley Field. The less said about that mostly disappointing two hours the better, although I must point out that they didn’t play “Canary in a Coal Mine,” the song I most wanted to hear. Much more life-affirming was the Saturday night promotional fiesta at the Beat Kitchen. Way too many beers were consumed, but I can soberly say that the Textbook Committee, named after a line in “Smothered in Hugs,” made Chicago its love slave that night. Their set list was impeccable, their rawk unstoppable. Although this doesn’t begin to do the band justice, here is a drunken, wobbly, horrible-sounding video of their finale, “I Am a Scientist”/”Under the Neptune”/”Mesh Gear Fox,” which has been selected because about two minutes in you can see me make a sad attempt at a high leg kick and fail miserably, spraining my ankle in the process.

And here I am singing the chorus of Archers of Loaf’s “Web in Front” with Farewell Captain, one of the event’s two opening acts (the other being not-to-be-missed Billy Catfish):

I’m sort of gay for Farewell Captain.

Anyway, that will be my last stop in 2007 on the Perfect From Now On promotional tour. It was great to go out the right way: wasted, euphoric, and walking with a limp.

I caught an episode of Seinfeld the other day that I’ve determined HAS to be my favorite episode, even though it’s not as funny as probably 100 others. Why must it be my favorite? Because it has three separate plot points that could be taken from my life. George rails against a doctor’s cancellation policy; specifically, he is annoyed that he was charged $75 when he had to cancel at the last minute, but was denied $75 when his doctor tried to do the same. Elaine gets dropped off near her apartment instead of getting door-to-door treatment, despite the fact that she’d shared the same car with the driver for 150 miles. But most Sellersian of all, Jerry institutes a “no kiss hello” policy, and his neighbors shun him for it. Why do people kiss each other hello? What is the point of this? Are we European? No, we are not European. We are curmudgeons who dislike physical contact with pretty much everyone. And why do people take offense when you avoid their attempt at kissing you hello? Do they think that we don’t like them? Because, even if occasionally that might be the case, more typically it is not — we like them! We just don’t want to kiss them hello.