I really should be asleep right now - it's late (after midnight) and I'm tired, but for some reason, the second I put myself horizontally into bed, my mind turns on and the hamster wheel starts turning. I think tonight's culprit for the spinning wheel is that Mark Wahlberg movie I just watched with my father in-law. After a really good first half hour (a very Bourne-esque half hour at that), the plot somehow ended up in front of one of those machine guns and was pumped full of ridiculously big holes. I could have sworn I was watching a remake of Shwarzenegger's 1980's classic "Commando with all the scenes of Marky Mark running across wide open spaces and dodging the bullets from about five dozen enemies with bad aim and a helicopter with mini-gats putting hundreds of rounds in the air at one time. And you know he shot down not one, but TWO helicopters in this movie. But hey, it was called Shooter for a reason, so I should've expected something like that.
Looking at it now, I feel like my summer has kind of been like that Marky Mark movie. By the time the credits are beginning to roll, the lights have come up a bit, and I'm looking around wondering what the heck just happened. Here are a few items of note:
In May I drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan to play some golf with two friends and a guy from Australia. Okay, the guy from Australia is a friend, too, but it seemed like the opening line from a joke so I couldn't resist. Plus, we hadn't actually met before he flew around the world to spend a couple of weeks living in my spare bedroom. His name is Mark, and he runs the very cool nonprofit indie label Small House Records in Melbourne. On the day Mark arrived, I convinced Al the Rebuilt Intern to drive to the Atlanta airport to pick him up, partly because I like the company and partly because I was taught that the buddy system is the best way to stay safe. This would be especially important later on after Mark's midnight arrival was pushed back to about 2 AM when a homeless(?) man threatened my life in the atrium. I guess if I found a stranger in my living room at 2 AM, I'd be a little upset, too. Details are a bit sketchy, but in my best guess, he thought I was going to rat him out for living in the airport. I say that because he told me a story about how some very bad things happened to a white guy who told the cops he was living in the airport.
Needless to say, I was glad Al was around to have my back while we waited for Mark to arrive. Hartsfield-Jackson airport is kind of a miserable place in the middle of the afternoon - much less in the darkest hours of the night - and I can't help but think about how I ordered some food from the Krystal on Concourse A before boarding a flight only to have the nice lady behind the counter stop me mid-order so she could text message someone on her cell phone. It was amazing; I couldn't be mad.
After having someone threaten me with "very bad things," I wasn't mad then either. Just a little terrified. We put some distance between ourselves and the potential for bodily harm and waited as patiently as possible as we could for Mark to land. Of course, if things were a bit uncomfortable for us, they were by this point absolutely insane for Mark. Not only had be been traveling for about a day and a half (including a 7-hour layover in LAX, his first-ever taste of American soil), his plane had spent about two hours circling Dallas while a storm passed on. When he finally got off the plane, I think he had been awake for so long that he really had no idea who he was anymore, or why life was supposed to mean something in the first place. He did like the big "WELCOME TO AMERICA!" sign that Al and I had made before we left Athens. For some reason, the travel-weary folks on that flight didn't seem to share our excitement. Maybe their lives had been threatened by someone living in the Los Angeles Airport.
I let Mark sleep for a bit the next day, but after traveling a gazillion miles and stopping at two of our finest airports, what we really needed to do was cram ourselves into my wife's 4Runner with two other guys and take a 16 hour road trip. True, I'm not known for my impeccable foresight. Our destination? Hackfest 2007, a golf marathon fundraiser held by Fireproof Ministries, the parent organization to Rebuilt Records (the label I manage). The crew? Well, Mark and me, of course, and Paul Reeves and Jonathan Rich. We met up with Paul at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta for the very cool 500 Songs for Kids charity event. 500 Songs is a nonprofit that raises money for a handful of children's charities in the Atlanta area, and for this event, they took RollingStone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and picked 500 different artists to perform them. 50 artists a night for 10 nights. It was ridiculous. I was fortunate to have Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" on the same night at Jon Black (who had a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song) and Paul (who had some old song that I've heard a bazillion times but can never remember who recorded it). The place was packed and the vibe was really fun. It was great to see so many folks put their individual spins on songs everyone new, and to do it for a good cause was the cherry on top.
After picking up Jonathan and crashing at Jon Black's parents' place, we turned the 4Runner north and slightly west and drove through Nashville, Indianapolis, and on to Grand Rapids. And that's where the story will pick up next time, kids...