happened this last weekend. Some of it was great, some of it was grueling,
some of it... well, fucking surreal.
parts were that I finally got to see Davíd
Garza perform live. He was doing an in-store performance at Jupiter
Records. I met Davíd a few months ago. His brother Raul is a
writer for LCP and a close friend. One night we were at Raul's house
for New Year's Eve and Davíd comes in and at one point I remember
he was playing the piano. I'd heard some of his CDs, but never got to
see him play and it was a treat to see him do his thing, much to the
delight of the record-buying public.
got to stand outside a Molotov
show where it was so packed that not even people with South by Southwest
badges couldn't get in. People gathered outside The Vibe, and they could
hear every note from within. This worked out fine until the crowd got
so big that police officers on horseback had to come in and try to get
people to back away from the congested clump they'd created on the sidewalk
next to the 6th Street club.
was working late Saturday night and there was some Significant Shopping
done earlier that day. There was the free food buffet that Andy and
I crashed Friday evening on Auditorium Shore just as the free live music
was about to start. There was working on the lawn all day Sunday with
my family (it takes an entire family of Mexicans to do my yard. More
about that later).
far the strangest, most unusual thing that happened was... well, it
sounds silly if I say it out loud.
I flew a blimp.
the Fujifilm blimp. It's the green and white one.
to a helpful press kit they gave me, the blimp weighs 15,820 pounds,
is 206 feet in length and requires a staff of 22 to keep it going (it's
so temperamental, it requires people to watch it 24 hours a day. In
this sense, it's like a big, white Diana Ross).
the trip happened was very random -- I got a phone call from someone
I'd dealt with in the past on work-related stuff. They mentioned that
the blimp would be in town and asked if I would want to go up in it.
their right mind would turn down a blimp ride? I mean, besides people
who died in the Hindenburg and somehow were reincarnated and could travel
back in time to the day before their death.
got to bring a guest. Rebecca and I waited early in the a.m. for the
Fujifilm people to meet us at a general aviation airstrip not far from
my house. Some morning
radio station people were there and, remarkably, they were not awful
and scummy. In fact, they were freakin' hilarious. The three of them
were taping segments on a digital recorder for their radio show and,
instead of being grating and annoying, they added running commentary
to the freakishness of being Blimp Riders. They do call themselves a
"morning zoo crew," but we'll forgive them just this once.
get driven out to this grassy area where there are about nine red-shirted
people pulling on ropes. The ropes are connected to OH MY GOD IT'S A
FUCKING BLIMP! Big. Green and white. Inflated. They've got men and women,
young girls and old boys in equal measure, hauling these huge ropes,
keeping this behemoth near the ground. In pairs, we went on board, entering
a cabin that resembled that of a small chartered plane. There were seats,
seatbelts, a cockpit, big windows.
and cracked jokes. The pilots introduced themselves and told us about
some of the places they'd been. Apparently, it costs about $7 million
to buy a blimp and then whatever it costs to pay 22 people full-time
salaries to run the damn thing .There's only one Fujiblimp, so if you've
ever seen it on TV (or in the sky, perhaps), that's the one we were
has two engines and when the airship is ready to take off, the engines
pivot and propel the thing up in the air. The ropes are let go and you
are suddenly pointed toward the sky at about 45 degrees. The grass outside
the window recedes and you're floating in the air without the noise
of an airplane. And then things get smaller. And then you're floating
above it all and free to walk about the (tiny) cabin and marvel at the
things passing by below.
tough to put into words what we were feeling up there. Mostly it was
just childish glee. When you're on an airplane, everything up there
reminds you that you are on an airplane. The cramped quarters, the loud
engines, the popping in your ears.
was slow, ungainly, but something that felt like real flying. We floated
along at what couldn't have been more than 55 mph. Each of us got to
take a turn at the co-pilot seat and steering the thing was like steering
a huge boat. It responded to your turns, but slooooowly and in big arcs.
lots of pictures and then probably tell the story a little better than
I can. I still have to look at the photos just to remind myself that
this really happened and that it wasn't some strange dream...
big ass blimp