So a couple of friends met us at the house early yesterday afternoon and we headed off on the 1.5 hour trip to see Van Halen at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. I was looking forward to the show as I've never gotten the chance to see VH at all over the years in any of their multiple incarnations, but I've always loved the band. (I was more than a bit trepidatious about catching up with them now so late in their career, but figured it'd either be one helluva great experience or else I'd come away traumatized for life. Ha! So, what the hell, right?)
Here we are, our balls-to-the-wall roadtrip pre-party starting early:That's my brother-in-law munching on the p,b & j sammich his honey packed for him. Aww! And a little heart-shaped chocolate for dessert. We are SUCH hardcore party animals! \m/ (I don't even want to TALK about the chick repellent geezer-ass goggles he's wearing. WTF?!)
90 minutes later we arrive at our motel. Yes, MO-tel. Two months ago we'd made reservations at a pretty plush Extended Stay America right on the water across from The Landing. Well, just last Thursday, TWO DAYS before the concert, Extended Stay America calls to tell us that several of their current patrons had opted to extend their stays (heh) and we no longer had rooms (but they'd let us know if anything opened up in the next two days). Ha. Nice. So here we are scrambling at the last minute (what a pain in the ass!) to try to find two rooms elsewhere within close proximity to the concert venue because we planned to taxi back and forth to the show.
Here's a shot of our room at the Scottish Inn:
Check out the identical paintings! (And the second room we booked also had those exact same identical paintings hanging over each bed!! haha! Too funny.) I found the mismatched lampshades tres hip though, and while the retro telephone was groovy, a rotary would've REALLY polished things off!
Not like the phone really mattered any since it didn't work. Nor did our television, which turned off whether you pushed the volume, channel, or power buttons.... and once you had it on a channel it would spontaneously change to something else every few minutes. It was possessed!
I've slept in seedier hotel rooms in my time, but definitely wouldn't have wanted to shine a blacklight around this one. haha
It DID however, have a Party Passage between our rooms! Woo!
That's my friend Scott. Hi Scott!
So we proceed to hang out at the hotel and toss back a few cocktails while watching the end of the Gator basketball game before calling a cab to head over to The Landing (an area near the concert venue on the water in Jax with shopping/restaurants/bars).
The cab took for-fucking-EVER to get there.
By the time we set foot at The Landing the place was HEAVING with its typical Saturday night activity. Live band playing in the courtyard, people everywhere, lines out the door for every restaurant. But that was okay. We still had time.
At least, we started out with time.
45 minutes later the four of us are TRASHED and STARVED and are finally getting seated for a table. 15 minutes after that noone's come by to even say hi to us at our table so one of us heads to the bar to get a round of drinks for everyone. All doubles. 15 minutes after THAT someone finally takes our order. In another 20 minutes 2 of the 4 of us get appetizers which everyone proceeds to share because we're all freakin famished by this point. We keep waiting for the rest of the food. Someone gets up to order us another round of drinks from the bar since our waitress was invisible. Doubles. We finally flag someone down, ask where the hell the rest of our food is, they tell us they will check on it right away. With no response whatsoever 10 minutes after that we realize we no longer have time to eat the food and still make it to the concert on time even if it were to arrive at our table that very second, so we make a teensy bit of a drunken scene demanding our checks and paying for the two appetizers we'd gotten and we haul ass for the ferry over to the concert venue.
This was the view right from my chair at our outdoor table at the restaurant though. Pretty cool.
So anyways, we teeter to the ferry landing to hop aboard. You pay $3 and get to take a short 5-minute ride via water over to the concert venue. Fun and scenic, but we were drunk and STARVING and cranky about the pissy service at the restaurant where we'd just wasted 2.5 hours for basically little more than a bad mood. An older couple exiting the ferry as it docked overheard us griping about the restaurant and how hungry we were and saying we'd just get a hotdog inside the show, etc., and the lady held out this styrofoam container to us and said, "You want my leftovers? We just ate at a fantastic place across the water and it was way more than I could eat and we're here from out of town and there's no refrigerator in our hotel room." hahaha!
Random acts of kindness from strangers is such a rare and beautiful thing.
We didn't NEED no steenkin' fork!! ;-)
Here's a pic from the ferry ride over.
And here's a pic of a really badass boat docked near the ferry landing. Just thought I'd share it. hehe
And then, of course, there's the concert itself. Our seats certainly weren't the greatest, but we were there (ya know?) and with binoculars I could check out the set and the guys up close. Couldn't take actual cameras in so these shots are with my iPhone which has no zoom.
It was a fun show. We arrived just after they'd started so I can't tell you what song they opened with (annoying!), but I had fun watching them and they definitely played a solid couple of hours. Eddie played the show shirtless and didn't look bad! He's still the total axeman, hasn't lost a thing; and Alex on drums was spectacular as well. They didn't have any bass features so we never got a chance to hear Wolfgang shine. As far as I'm concerned he could've been any ole studio musician stand-in. That was too bad. I had hoped he was going to funk us out at some point.
Diamond Dave? Good god. He sang off time, the wrong lyrics, etc. He was easily the weakest point of the show hands down. Tsk tsk. He did do a really cool nostalgic chit-chat section with the audience toward the last third of the show that earned him a few points back with me though. :-)
And they closed with "Jump" which I CAN'T STAND... but whatever. All in all it did end up to be a really good time. (and sure as hell beat The Cult in concert. :-p)
So anyways... of course we have more drinks during the show and NO FOOD, so we are completely zonked by the time our taxi drops us back at the hotel. The plan was to order pizza but we didn't know which pizza place to call... opened the phonebook to 4 pages of pizza entries and no idea where the hell we really are. Spent 20 minutes trying to reason out the blurry text, then tried to call the front desk to ask them for suggestions but .... the phone in our room didn't work. haha
I finally just walk my ass to the front office and ask and the guy looks at the clock (it was 12:10) and he said, "I can give you the number to Dominoes but they're closed."
I go, "Closed?! It's midnight on a Saturday night!" And the hotel clerk goes "Yeah, but this is Jacksonville."
hahahah! Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida, the largest city in land area in the United States, and ranked as the 12th most populous city in the U.S. in 2007 and you can't getting a fucking pizza delivered on a Saturday night after midnight!!!! INSANE!
I took the number from the guy anyways, rushed back and called it, some guy said, "Dominoes, we're closed." I said, "is there ANY place I can get a pizza delivered at this hour? We're dying of starvation over here!" And he said, "Nope. Not that I know of. Everything closes at midnight."
So I was forced to take one for the team, get behind the wheel, and drive .7 miles south to McDonald's (which I hate), but it had to be done. Scott went along to keep me company, so that was cool.
After another 20 minutes in line at that frikkin drive-thru we finally made it back to the hotel around 1am with a couple of sacks of cold burgers. And the funniest thing about that part of the outing?? McDonald's has a "late night" menu that excludes their signature Big Mac. WTF? We can order quarter pounders but Big Macs are No Can Do?! Sheesh.
And then this morning when I woke up dying of thirst and sat at the little table in our hotel room guzzling water, I glanced down and noticed our hotel room key: