So, yeah, before I launch into this…
I feel obligated to preface the weepy tale below with the stark acknowledgement that there are people with very genuine problems, at the moment, and I -– ultimately -– am privileged and fortunate enough not to be among them. We’re existing in a volatile era of animus and uncertainty on a global scale. Here at home, portions of the East Coast are currently bracing themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, which promises to do not just a little bit of damage. Serious shit is going down. There are big issues to contend with. The following paragraphs below are in no way comparable, and are ultimately the quintessence of trivial, in the grand scheme of things. As the expression goes, the grievances expressed below are “first world problems,” and given the volume of awful things happening in the world, I almost feel remiss in invoking them at all, let alone right now. Just know that I’m aware how silly, stupid and petty it might sound, and I should really count my blessings.
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time reading this weblog over the past 13 years, or are burdened with the often awkward predicament of being a friend of mine in “real life,” you are doubtlessly aware that, apart from my patient, exquisite wife and my two incandescent children, there is nothing -– LITERALLY NOT ONE MOTHERFUCKING THING ON THIS CURSED AND BROKEN EARTH –- that I care more about than Killing Joke. This is not just venomous hyperbole. Since first hearing them at age 17, I was indoctrinated for life (and beyond). It extends far beyond fandom. Essentially, Killing Joke is like a religion of which I am a zealously devout fundamentalist.
You may remember, back in July, I posted a whiney little post upon learning that a mandatory and labor-intensive work event at my organization’s Nashville, TN office was scheduled to land on the same day as Killing Joke’s return to Irving Plaza in Manhattan for the NYC stop of their 40th Anniversary Tour. Despite there being 365 goddamn days on the calendar, these two things had to happen on the same one? Vexed as I was by this, I managed to hash out a scheme that would get me back from “Music City” to New York City in time to catch the `Joke. I’d procured a ticket to this show back in …. Jeezus, February or so … and was very much forward to it, the band having cancelled their last show here back in 2016. By hook or by crook, I was determined that I was going to be at this gig.
Time passed. I worked very hard to bring the Nashville project to its best-realized fruition in time for the event, while simultaneously tackling other tasks. I was multitasking with a vengeance. The entire time, though, I knew I had this show at the finish line, so it kept me motivated. I was still fine-tuning the project days before the event, but I knew I was going to nail it. I almost wasn’t even worried about it. I was really only worried about making it the Joke gig.
The Nashville event was this past Wednesday. I flew down crazy-early on Tuesday to help out work out logistics and basically do a bit of hand-holding for my department head, helping put out various fires in a slightly more diplomatic manner than she’s capable of. The event was scheduled for 11:30 am Wednesday morning, and we were ready. At go-time, we unveiled the project and it was an actual showstopper. Everyone was happy. Senior execs reached out to applaud the work I’d done. Mission accomplished with flying colors. Yeah, that’s great, but I now need to get in a goddamn cab.
Here's me looking prematurely pleased with myself after a job well done, oblivious of a giant metal horse about to kick me in the ass.
I’d arranged to get on a flight leaving the Nashville airport at 3:00 pm Central Time, landing me in NYC’s odious LaGuardia airport at 6:30 pm. Killing Joke were not slated to hit the stage until 9:30 pm, which left me three hours to get home, dump my stuff, change, meet up with my fellow zealots and get to the show. Easy peasy, right?
What’s that expression about the best-laid plans of mice and men going awry?
I arrived at the Nashville airport with time to spare, checked in, grabbed a bite to eat and settled back, safe – I assumed – in the presumption that I was going to make it. At this point, I’m going to repurpose the posts I put up on Facebook and Instagram to flesh out the rest of this narrative.
In a moment of premature buoyance, I posted the below, appended with the following legend…
That’s a wrap, Nashville. Next stop, NYC and KILLING JOKE @ Irving Plaza.
Almost on cue, stuff started to go wrong. At 3:02 pm, Nashville time, I posted…
BREAKING NEWS: This just in from the “Not so fast, Yankee City Slicker” department. American Airlines, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to impose a new weight restriction on my flight, pushing back the departure time, and asking for volunteers to take a later flight. Suffice to say, I am not happy.
After soliciting some volunteers to waive their seats in favor of later flights and a paltry 200 bucks, American Airlines let us board, a half-hour after we’d first been scheduled to leave. I entered the plane and resumed my presumption that I was going to make it. Then this happened…
BREAKING NEWS DEUX: Because God evidently hates me, he chose to blight the New York City airspace with “impassable” thunderstorms, so my plane flew to Syracuse. We had to do this, as — oh joy — we were running low on fuel. Likelihood of getting back to Manhattan to see Killing Joke (see ticket) now strenuously slim. The fates are conspiring against me. Suffice to say, daddy is NOT happy.
After spending ten to fifteen slightly harrowing minutes of trying to descend into the NYC airspace, we flew the hundred some-odd miles out of the way to Syracuse. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent any quality time in the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, but I assuredly do not recommend it. Here’s my update from an hour and change later…
BREAKING NEWS TROIS: Seemingly theoretical flight from Syracuse to attempt second pass at stormy NYC now pushed back to 8:30. Killing Joke to assume the stage at Irving Plaza at 9:30. I’m so palpably depressed I could throw up.
We didn’t actually get airborne until about 9:00 or so. When 9:30 arrived, I was still in the air. When we landed, there was no gate waiting for us, so we sat on the tarmac for another thirty-or-so minutes. I didn't actually leave the airport bound for Manhattan until about 10:45. I didn't make it back into the city until well after 11pm. My wife suggested scrambling over to at least catch up with some of my friends in attendance, but that almost seemed like it would be that much more painful, having missed the entirety of the performance (let along being exhausted, zonked and already demoralized beyond description).
So, to make a long story short, I did not make it.
By all accounts, the band put on a blinding set for the sold out venue. The emotional impact of the disappointment brought on by missing this event has verily left my soul bruised and my mood irretrievably soured.
Being that this is the band’s afore-cited 40th Anniversary tour, it seems strenuously unlikely that they’re going to be back here again any time soon – or, honestly, if ever again.
…which is why I’m looking into maybe going to see them in London in November, …. if I can make it work.
Here's a shot my friend Jeremy captured of the Irving Plaza gig.