"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6/2/09: Kalamazoo, MI

Tuesday began as Monday had: Dropping Shelly at work, then hitting the road to Ann Arbor. We returned to her house so I could prepare Elmo for his demise; unpacking everything and repeatedly searching him to be sure I was returning only the pack! Not unlike leaving an apartment for the last time. During this process, I discovered that even if I had not found the new pack, I would have returned it because stitching had failed where a stabilizer strap meets the rubber fabric on the bottom. My good fortune was continuing.

We found "Sunshine" again working at REI, and a new day had done nothing for her demeanor. I just glared at her the entire time she struggled through the process of refunding my money. We normally will look around for a spell anytime we get to REI, but through all of this, we were ready to get to Bivouac. I figured the various other things I needed would be better purchased there. Plus, we wanted to catch Pam before her shift ended at noon. We had a good time chatting with her and the other employees before heading to Whole Foods for mate' and Cliff Bars and returning to Ohio to prepare to meet my friends Brian & Joey in Coldwater that evening.

Once on the road back to Michigan, it was yet another trip down memory lane. Shelly took the Hillsdale County back roads thru Camden, Reading, and Allen before stopping at her mother's place on a lake in Quincy. I had heard a lot about Charlotte over the years from my own mother. They had been friends despite the fact that she was my father's ex-wife and my mother had always recommended that I contact her to meet her kids and learn about my father. Being at her house was a bit strange, and the idea that I was going to meet her the following week with my new- nephews was even more bizarre. That all changed immediately when she unexpectedly passed us on the road just after we had left her house. Shelly turned around, and we were instantly making introductions. Charlotte gave me a hug, an intense look up and down presumably evaluating any resemblance to my father, and all was well in the world. Another one of these mythical, main characters from an previously abstract past brought to life.

The four of us piled in Shelly's car, and finished our trip into Coldwater, stopping at the Big Boy for food and coffee while Brian & Joey made their way from Kalamazoo. Once they arrived, they joined us for coffee while I found myself astounded by this gathering of people. My sister & her mother from one era of my life. Brian & Joey from my radio days. Chris representing my days in Denver and beyond. I have never allowed these epochs to clash, and it was a sign of things to come. The conversation was light, loud, and full of laughter as we sat at this dumpy little restaurant on US-12.

I had lived in Kalamazoo for nearly 5-years before moving to Florida in 2004. Brian & Joey have been my best, longest lasting, perhaps my only remaining "real" friends from my Kalamazoo radio days. I met Brian when he was my Program Director at 107.7 WRKR. We had shared a common passion for radio, beyond "bottom line" and "product." We considered radio an art form, public service, and more than just a simple advertising venue. He is to-date the only PD who demanded creativity first, and avoided the "radio formula" like a plague. The ratings reflected this. Unfortunately, corporate powers disagreed and we eventually, after job changes for both of us, found ourselves continuously miserable and frustrated as we began to seek out other ways to live. After I left WRKR, I rented a room in their home for nearly a year. Brian and I would spend hours philosophizing about radio, life, politics...everything. I remember distinctly sitting at his dining room table when he made the decision to tell radio to go fuck itself and go back to school to get his psychology degree, in 2003. He's now preparing for his doctorate and presumably moving to Denver for that in 2010.

I had seen Brian & Joey once or twice a year, whenever Laina and I would return to Kalamazoo, and the familiarity was nice. As we rode back to Kalamazoo, the "plan" was to stay through Saturday, then meet up with Shelly after the BBQ at our father's house in Charlotte, MI that Sunday. The one I had once hoped to attend. That would give us 4-days in Kalamazoo, and I was eager to see how the conversations would go and what insights we'd leave with. I was also anxious to see if I was right in assuming that Chris would get along with these two brilliantly!