Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stand Up Comedy

If I were to describe the details of the past 4-5 days it wouldn't sound much different than a person doing improv at the local comedy club. It has felt a lot like "walking down the road like loose electricity," a borrowed phrase from the lyric master Bono who was definitely on his game Saturday night when U2 kicked off their North American Tour at Chicago's Soldier Field. We were there, but first there was Sportapalooza.

No there are no typos there and no it was not a music event. It was the brainchild of my boss, an overactive sports fiend and former athlete (he would contest the former) determined to get men into church to see it can be fun, competitive and still honor God. He insists you keep score. And he's the Executive Pastor.

Well he and a buddy pulled off the first annual Team Competition Event for men (oh believe me ladies, he received plenty of emails asking when its our turn) and about 20 teams of four showed up at 7:30 am to compete in five different events; football toss, slapshot (hockey), closest to the pin (golf, not bowling :-), baggo, and 3 point shooting (hoops). There was a fairly complicated scoring system that rewarded both individuals and their teams and some majorly cool prizes for the winners.

Dan and Ryan attended this event which Ryan said - and I quote -"That was the best day of my life, Mom. I don't care if Dad goes or not next year, I'm in." Ryan came the third closest to the pin and was competing against mostly adults. We've found what he lacks in humility he makes up for in celebrating his victories. Dan - who was accused of not being atheletic by said boss - won the football toss and the best prizes of the day (in my opinion) - two autographed footballs from the Bears - Brian Urlacher (let's backtrack about 48 hours and pretend he's not out for the season) and Alex Brown. Oh yeah.

They finished around 2:00 pm. Dan came home, showered, changed and got in the car with me to drive to Soldier Field for the long awaited U2 concert. I will not include the full concert review here, that will have to be another post. We got down there around 4:30, parked about a mile away from the stadium, checked everywhere for "permit parking only" signs and congratulated ourselves for saving the $40 parking fee (always jacked up $15-20 for special events nights, clever Mayor Daley).

We found a Jimmy Johns, got some subs freaky fast and made our way over the bridge to find a spot on the field with our general admission tickets. I knew I wouldn't be in the "inner circle." Bear with me here non-U2 fans, those of you who haven't heard about or seen "the claw" (or for that matter the stage for the last four concerts) will have no idea what I'm talking about. U2 like to have their fans close by and so they almost always have a catwalk that brings them out into the audience and surrounds the people closest to the stage. I'm usually a few feet deep on the other side of the catwalk. I won't elaborate on the usually for now, but you probably get the idea.

We got a great spot and got to chat with great people, including some from Green Bay! On Bears turf! Gasp! U2 fans unite across all differences. Tattoo riddled 20 somethings and middle aged suburban mothers all speaking the same language for a night.

The opening band was Snow Patrol which was the best kind of icing on the cake. I love that band and they were clearly elated to be playing to this city at this venue, opening for U2 on a perfect late summer evening. The lead singer did not stop smiling (and quite often laughed his way through songs). He was giddy happy and it spread. It didn't hurt that he's Irish too.

U2's show was amazing. They played so many of the songs I wanted to hear, except for one, which I knew from reading all the spoiler reports they wouldn't sing. It's from the new album and it's called Stand Up Comedy and for some reason I'm the only fan who loves it. I mean I love it. Best song on the album in my mind, and best potential to rock live. But no critics, fans or managers seem to agree with me so alas it was missing from the set list.

It was not the best U2 show I've ever seen and by now you may have guessed I've seen a few, but it was extraordinary (as Bono likes to say) nonetheless. So much so, that it didn't really bother me that it took us 45 minutes to walk from one end of Soldier Field to the other because they only had one 12 foot gate for 70,000 people to pass through. I didn't mind when they refused to let us use the indoor plumbing and had no handwashing stations by the port-o-potties and I didn't mind when people stepped on my flip-flops repeatedly while we exited the premises in true cattle prod fashion. I was okay with the police refusing to let us walk on the opposite side of the street and force all of us onto one sidewalk to make our way back across Michigan Avenue. I had just seen U2 perform live. The night was glorious.

Until we got to the street where we left our car, which...wasn't there. We called the police immediately and two nice cops on bikes rode up and asked how they could help. We told them our car had been stolen and they laughed and said "No, your car wasn't stolen, it was towed." We protested, surely they were mistaken, there were no signs posted at all anywhere on the block that said permit parking only and they nodded and said "Welcome to Chicago." They proceeded to claim that is wasn't "them" as in the police, it was a private towing company and we'd need to go to the central pound to retrieve our car. I asked if we could walk there ignoring the look on my husband's face who had been on his feet for literally 17 hours with the exception of the drive down. They laughed again, "Oh no, it's on lower Wacker, the other side of the district, you'll never find it, but every cab in the city knows where it is." Chicago's finest - very polite, even apologetic, but done with us now.

We walked a little over a mile (I'd never seen the Art Institute with no one standing in front of it before) hoping to grab one of the few cabbies not already flagged down by the 70,000 other U2 fans and finally found one with the only driver in the city who didn't know where the pound was. We found it eventually and probably only got charged one or two extra bucks in the process. We were let off in front of a dirty trailer which took off half the nail of my big toe when I opened the door to it.

We were second in line at 1:00 am as a nice couple who drove in from Indiana for the concert were ahead of us. They didn't know their license plate number, the car was brand new. One of the guys (both of whom looked to be well past retirement age) was kind enough to get me the first aid kit out of his car so I could stop bleeding on his carpet. I prayed and we stayed remarkably calm when they told us our cars weren't there after all. They were at the 6th district pound on Sacramento. About 10 miles west of here. Funny.

So we try to make the best of it, be encouraging to the other couple - hey at least our cars weren't stolen and we can share this cab fare (which was almost $30 when all was said and done). Another dirty trailer in a gang ridden neighborhood this time and a 45 minute check out process and we were set to get our car back. The Streets of Sanitation guys blamed the towing company, the towing company blamed the cops and the guy who finally handed us our receipt as the car pulled up said, "It's Daley, man. Anything for money."

We offered to help the Indiana couple get back to the expressway but they were having none of it, nothing was going to salvage the experience for them. We asked for a copy of the towing order because Dan is going to go to a court hearing to protest it since it was a perfectly legal place to park and the cops even admitted as much. Not to mention that the towing fee alone cost more than the U2 tickets. They aren't allowed to give copies. No they can't be mailed. Nope no faxing. They just smiled when we suggested email. They can be picked up three days later downtown at a separate facility. Nope not the same facility as the hearing. And we better have pictures of the street proving there were no signs posted if we want to be taken seriously. The lastest hearing time was 3:30 pm on a weekday - so take off work and come back into the city. We asked if many people contested and they said hardly any. Shocking.

We had tickets for Sunday night's show as well and had talked about selling them because it's time to be responsible in our economy and really try to obey the first commandment as mature Christians (not Dan's problem). Again, folks, think uberfan. This pretty much clinched the sell decision.

By now the encore of Moment of Surrender had well left my head and we drove home in dense fog to relieve my poor parents of their baby-sitting duties at 3:00 am.

When we got home our oldest daughter Caitlin was awake hacking and coughing and I immediately decided not to go to church even though it was kick-off weekend for all fall ministry and I was a main player in one of them.

We put the tickets up for sale on Craig's List around 1:00 pm (mind you this is the day of the concert and they were floor) and Dan's phone started lighting up like Bono's jacket during Ultraviolet rays. We were grateful to sell them so quickly.

We watched the Bears game that night, thought about the guy from Green Bay from the concert who happened to be a reporter in Green Bay and was covering the game and didn't think about the concert we were missing. Our new QB Cutler threw four interceptions and Brian Urlacher went out after the first half with a season ending injury - separated wrist. I kid you not.

Monday I was off, and Caitlin felt well enough to go back to school so I washed all the sheets to try to eliminate the germs and left around lunchtime to pick Ryan up for his oral surgery appointment. He had two more teeth pulled. We arranged for him to get Nitrous gas this time because he gets super anxious about this kind of stuff. No not like everyone else. Super. Anxious. Turns out he still had to get the novacaine shots on top of the nitrous which wasn't having much effect on him even though the doctor gave him twice the normal dosage.

It went by pretty quickly and he finished like a champ though there were tears and beating of fists during those last two shots.

Got home to an answering machine message that a good friend of ours was in the hospital for tests because he was having symptoms resembling a heart attack. He's in his 40's and in almost perfect physical shape. He's okay, but we didn't know that until a couple of hours ago. Thank God.

Today I encouraged Ryan to go to school because I knew work would be busy and that if I let him stay home he would just play Wii all day. He assured me he would read his Bible as well. I told him if he really wasn't up to going it was fine he could stay home. Then he decided to go. A half hour after I got to work the nurse called for me to pick him up. We had a great day playing board games and I finally cleaned the kitchen table. Work will be interesting tomorrow.

Yep. My life is a little like Stand Up Comedy.

But not nearly as clever as the lyrics to the song.

I got to stand up and take a step
You and I have been asleep for hours
I got to stand up the wire is stretched
In between our two towers
Stand up in this dizzy world
Where a lovesick eye can steal the view
I'm gonna fall down, if I can't stand up
For Your love

Stand up
This is comedy
The DNA lotto may have left you smart
But can you stand up to beauty
Dictator of the heart
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I'm getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree about Stand Up Comedy. Glad the parking thing was resolved. Love the musings. Pastor John