This was taken around 4:45AM. Don't look so cute now, do we?
That's 8:30AM, by Thad's watch.
Wednesday, March 18, 2004
SXSW 2004: Part Four
TX to NY
Things wrapped up nicely, and less than an hour after being surrounded by noisy rock and the hubbub of the conference, we were back on the road to Houston. Our flight, you see, was due to take off in about 5 hours and we still had to drive back. So drove we did. Caffeine fought nobly against fatigue, but not always successfully. We switched drivers two or three times, cursing ourselves for not really bringing any music along for the ride. We did have a few CD's of "This American Life", but the subtleties of America's premier audio-documentarians weren't doing much to help the Austerity Program as we tried to keep our Chevy Metro between the yellow lines. We won't tell you what we needed to keep us wired, but here's a hint - he got out of jail last year.
As we rolled into the last leg of the trip, Justin skipped on our CD's and turned on the radio. A talentless morning DJ on the local hip-hop station kept bragging that Beyoncee had shown up at his birthday. Granted, had that happened to either of us, we would tell everyone as well. But not for a half hour, and certainly not in lieu of a weather report. But he did. We pulled into the rental car place, got on the shuttle bus and, after an extraordinarily nasty discussion with the gate agent, found ourselves at the gate 2 hours before we were supposed to leave.
So we slept for an hour, sprawled out next to the gate entrance, snoring amidst kids begging mom to take them to the bathroom and scornful senior citizens. When we sort of woke up, we stumbled over to the snack bar, serving up breakfast burritos and $3 bottles of Dole OJ. We ordered two beers, big ones. For us, it was still really late at night and we had to sleep on this plane. It tasted really, really good.
Due to our last minute flight reservations, we were only able to sit together on the plane by settling in the last row. This didn't bother us, as we didn't plan on being conscious for much of the ride to Newark. But, despite the fact that we were told on our itnerary that it was a non-stop flight and despite the fact that the only two locations on the tickets were Houston and Newark, the plane made a stop off in Detroit. They told us to get off the plane. Confused and irritable, we complied, if only barely. It was only mitigated by more drinking, as we still worked on the premise that it was just really, really late the night before, like 11:45 in the morning late. Because this was Detroit (see the first page) we ate at the "Budweiser Grill". Not very good, but it could have been worse. Thad mentioned something about trans-fatty acids. You can imagine the expression on Justin's face when that happened. Thad may as well have been speaking Inuit.
It should be noted that we have kept things pretty clean so far. If you like it this way, please skip to the next paragraph. At the risk of sounding sophomoric, we will relate what happened when we got back on the plane. As we blearily settled back into our seats in the last row, the lavatory door opened after a muted flush and a worried looking man emerged. And friend, when we tell you that the plane suddenly smelled terrible, you had better believe it. Even the people sitting across the aisle from us looked beyond offended. We each smeared a bunch of Chapstick beneath our noses to help us suffer through, a neat trick we pulled from the autopsy scene in "The Silence of the Lambs". The plane pulled out of the gate and, after about a half an hour of hanging out on the runway, the pilot informed us that he was turning off the "fasten seatbelt" sign. "Folks, it turns out that we don't have anywhere to park at Newark, so we're just gonna let this next plane coming down the runway skip in front of us. And then this next one. And then the one after that. And I think we'll let this next one go. And then another..." After 10 minutes of this, Mr. Digestion Problems ducked back into the lavatory. We looked at one another horrified, but there was nothing we could do; he did it again, just as bad as the first time.
Finally we were off. Thad slept, Justin read and we eventually were back in Newark. Not too much to say, although we did peek out the window when we landed and watched the crew unload the guitars from the plane. Justin felt sick as they were thrown on top of the baggage carrying truck and driven away, trembling and nearly falling off. Abby and the amazing Mr. Benjamin picked us up at baggage claim, waiting out our late arrival by driving around and around. We all drove back to Brooklyn to drop off T, A and B. Justin went home and took a nap on the couch. That was a nice nap.
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