Alexis and I went to Indy yesterday. She picked me up from WJOB after an unremarkable two and a half hours of radio and we headed for the Borman.
What a joke the Borman is these days. You get on going eastbound at Indianapolis Boulevard and you’re immediately surrounded by semis. The lanes are thinner than usual in that the Borman from I-65 to Calumet Avenue is under construction. There’s several quick and unexpected lane shifts.
If you can, stay off the Borman.
And also stay off I-65, where the state of Indiana announces:
“Road Construction. Next 26 miles.”
It was cold, rainy and windy yesterday. Several times before Lowell, Alexis warned me:
“Jim. That semi is stopping. Watch.”
“Jim. Not so fast. It’s raining and there’s construction workers.”
Why construction workers were out in the rain, I have no idea. I also have no idea why I haven’t blogged for the three or four of you in a while. It’s just business, that’s all. I’ve had too much to do in too little time. That’s the nature of living a life of local radio. Accept it and you’ll survive. Fight it and you’ll be miserable.
I have also not had the time to knock out any poems. Writing poems is just one of several things that I didn’t want to do at first but after a while it’s not so bad. Another of these surprisingly rewarding activities is the radio show. I didn’t want to do it at first. Alexis and I bought the radio stations in 2004 and at the same time bought the Calumet Press newspaper. I was in charge of putting out 85,000 papers each week. There was no time to host the morning show, even if I wanted to.
As far as my current radio life goes… On Thursday, I moderated a panel in front of 300 people at the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce luncheon. On the panel was:
We talked about how can local media can affect economic development. I really wasn’t looking forward to leading a discussion about such a narrow topic, but it turned out to be one of the better panels I’ve moderated. Times publisher Chris White proved especially insightful.
Another activity in this category is the radio show itself. After three years of owning two radio stations and a newspaper, I got rid of one radio station and closed the faltering newspaper (best business decision I ever made). I threw everyone out of the radio studio and started hosting the morning show. My childhood chump Billy Baker had been prodding me for years to take over the morning show. I didn’t listen to him, not until September of 2007. That was ten years ago. I didn’t want to host the morning show at all, but it has turned out to be my destiny.
Truth be told, I didn’t even want to get married. I was perfectly happy partying my ass off and bumping around from job to job. Then I met Alexis, and that too has been my destiny. I wrote a poem about it today on our way back from Indianapolis. Here’s what I know about how poems come to me.
Yes. Silence. Alexis and I were driving north on I-65 and she said something. Next thing you know we get off at Exit 172 in Lafayette and I’m standing at the gas pump in the rain scribbling down a poem.
One ray of sun is poking through.
The whole sky is full of clouds,
yet here we see the light.
I never wanted this.
I wanted to f--- a lot of women
and do a lot of drugs and
die a tortured soul.
Instead, I’m holding hands
driving down I-65.
I have been tamed.
To hit the highlights of our overnighter to that overgrown farm town known as Indianapolis…
I had four hours to blow while Alexis went to her meeting, so I did what any overworked radio guy would do – I went to a bar. This one is called “The Slippery Noodle.” It’s right next to Lucas Oil Stadium. I sat at the bar and drank Coronas and did a bunch of work from my phone. You don’t realize it, but you can do a lot of work just sitting in a bar looking at your phone.
Here’s a text I got from station manager Debbie Wargo.
“Matt from 360 Group called for Ryan and said we cannot video the game tonight. Ryan told me to tell you because he’s announcing the PNW soccer game right now.”
Since I haven’t really connected with the three or four of you in a while, I should probably note that we’re doing a ton of Facebook living around the Region. On Thursday, besides our several in-studio shows, Ron Harlow, Tony Panek, Jimmy Mullaney, Christina Cortez and Shamari Walker live interviewed a few dozen of the exhibitors at the Lakeshore Chamber. And on Friday afternoon, we helped to broadcast the PNW soccer match from Dowling Park.
What Debbie was in a tizzy about was that we had promoted like hell that we were gonna be Facebook Living the Morton at Griffith sectional game. So I called this Matt from 360 and paid the 300 bucks for the broadcast rights.
“Relax. I talked to Matt at 360. You’re good to go to do video and radio of the Morton at Griffith game tonight.”
And good thing we were good to go. The game got 10,000 views. That’s a lot for high school football these days. High school football, with all of the concern about concussions, is slipping in popularity. But now it’s the state tournament and there’s a lot more interest.
I was also tasked with finding Alexis and me a hotel room. This proved to be a much more difficult task than I had expected. It turns out that the “Future Farmers of America” were in Indy for the weekend. There were tons of groups of future farmers walking around in these Navy blue pullovers with their originating towns on the back.
“Kern County, California.”
As much as Indianapolis wants to be more than it is, it remains, in the end, an overgrown farm town. After checking with the Hilton Garden Inn - $369 a night – and the Omni Severin - $299 -, I wound up walking in to the relatively new “The Alexander: A Choice Hotel.”
Now I don’t know how much the three or four of you know about boutique hotels, but they’re popping up all over. They have bright, colorful lights in the lobby and they play techno music and at the bar you can’t get a Bud Light but you can get a locally-made bourbon and locally-sourced asparagus wrapped in gorgonzola cheese. These boutique hotels are the chicest places to be in a city. Their bars are, too.
Except that in Indianapolis, as much as they try to be chic and progressive, they’re still just Indianapolis. There is no way in hell that if you went to that boutique hotel in Soho that Alexis and I stayed at a few weeks ago you would run into groups of kids representing the Future Farmers of America. And there’s no way in hell that you would have to wait a few minutes for your bartender because he was busy splitting up a check for a group of French teachers from Argos Community Schools, wherever the hell that is.
Try, Indianapolis, to be chic. You might get there.
On my four hours of free time in Indianapolis, I also noticed that Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie were playing at the Murat Theater. So I went over there and stood in line behind a couple of gay guys. At least Indy is chic enough to have some gay guys.
“What are you guys here for?”
“Christine, baby. And Lindsey, too. They’re the best.”
“Are tickets still available?”
“Yes. I guess they sold out everywhere in America but here in Indy.”
The Murat Theater is old and smells like an aging bowling alley that the owner just keeps running out of habit. Outside of that, it’s a really cool place to see a concert. I picked up two tickets in row T of the balcony and Alexis and I wound up watching Lindsey Buckingham play some really good guitar. I didn’t realize this, but I don’t think that he uses a pick to play all of the leads. Do you know how hard that is to do without a pick?
While standing at the urinal in the upstairs bathroom of the Murat, a rather curious thing happened. I was peeing next to a guy in a ponytail and a Harley Davidson tee shirt. We were the only two in the bathroom, or so we thought.
Then, out of nowhere, some sounds emanated from the stall right next to us. It was a series of high pitches and low pitches that ended with a thud. There is no way in hell that you or any other human being would not have at least smirked at the variety of sounds that the man in the stall had just made.
At first, I just smirked. And the Harley guy next to me start to fwoot, fwoot, fwoot. That’s the sound of a man attempting to stifle a laugh. And then I fwitt, fwitt, fwitted. And then we got control of our giggles and went back to pissing. This man, like me, had to be in his 50s. It takes a long time to empty out two Coronas and a Stella when you’re over 50.
And then the mysterious man in the stall did it again. This time with an even higher pitch to the sounds of his defacation. That’s when we, the Harley guy and I, lost it completely. We were laughing out loud while we zipped up our pants. This also happened to coincide with several concertgoers coming around the corner. You can imagine the looks that they gave us as we laughed gutterally in front of the set of urinals.
I also heard a conversation between the theater manager and one of her workers.
“How can Lindsey Buckingham and McVie sell out all over America and not here?” she said
I didn’t have the heart to tell the woman, but I’ll tell the the three or four of you – “Hey, the reason that Buckingham-McVie could see out all over America but not in Indianapolis is that this is nothing but an overgrown farm town. Just look at all of the kids from Future Farmers of America walking in and out of really chic hotels.”
Anyways, Alexis and I met my cousin Michelle Combs and her friend for a drink at the bar at The Alexander.
“We’re in the corner in the old people’s section,” my cousin had texted Alexis as we arrived. That’s because there was a really loud group of young people who had taken over about two-thirds of the bar. These really were chic young people – thin young women with short haircuts and thin young men with tightly-trimmed beards. They held locally-brewed IPAs in their hands. The cool and the chic that do exist in Indianapolis evidently don’t come out until after midnight.
You don’t really want to hear about how we sat in the bar until the wee hours catching up on family stories. Just know that as I drove Alexis and myself back from Indy today, I did so without the help of Advil or Bayer.
It’s a vestige from my days working construction, which I started doing when I was 14. The older guys would show up at the job site looking as if someone had thrown Coca Cola in their eyes.
“Boy did I tie one on last night. Feel like shit. But I sure as hell ain’t gonna take any aspirin. Gonna play, gotta pay.”
More than one construction worker impressed upon me the idea that hangover pain can allow you to feel the true essence of your being. But only if you don’t take aspirin.
So I didn’t take any aspirin today. Several times, Alexis pulled two Advil out of her purse – “Just take them. Or just quit whining.”
I wouldn’t take the Advil, but it was impossible not to whine. Finally, Alexis, the guide and love of my life, found a solution.
“White Castles. Five miles. That’s exactly what you need.”
And she was right. From the moment that I finished my third slider and had several gulps of overly-carbonated Diet Coke, I felt better. One thing, though. The White Castles in south Lafayette doesn’t have Duesselforf mustard. They have horseradish mustard and honey mustard, but not the traditional Duesseldorff. That thoroughly bummed me out. I asked the woman at the counter.
“Excuse me. Do you have Duesseldorff mustard?”
“What are you talking about?”
I guess not only do they not have it now, they may have never had Duesseldorff mustard. The good people of Lafayette don’t know what they’re missing. There’s melted butter and cheese, Entenmanns chocolate doughnuts, Strack and Van Til’s coffee cake, John’s Pizza… and White Castle cheeseburgers with Duesselforff mustard.
That should do it for a Saturday afternoon. Alexis and the daughter went shopping.
“Get what you need,” I told my 22-year-old.
“I need a new purse, a little jacket for the cold, and some earrings.”
“You don’t need earrings.”
“Yes I do. I’m Mexican.”
See ya later. That’s all I got.