Working for the Week(end)

December 17, 2006

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been out and about a ton lately. I spent the week of December 4 away from the office, on a rather dull work trip. It was four straight days of meetings, and through almost all of it, I was talking or people were paying attention to me. (That might seem natural to you if you don't do a lot of meetings in corporate America. In reality, most meetings require you to only pay about 35-40 percent of your attention.)

I normally make a lot of notes so that I remember the funny things that might have happened while at a client's site. But all I had written from this trip were the statistics from a meeting on Wednesday morning:

RBC Meeting 12/6/06 Facial hair demographics: 8 Goatees 9 Clean shaves 1 Full beard 1 Bushy 'stache with a soul patch 1 Female

Just for the record, a lot -- but by no means all -- of the goatees belonged to bald or balding men. The beard was worn by a stereotypical bearded technical systems architect type, and the bushy 'stache/soul patch guy was a super-nice guy from one of the other vendors. The female never spoke during this meeting (and it was the only one she attended), and we didn't talk afterwards.

Almost all of the other people there were representing other vendors who have a stake in the project. The meetings went on all day, and then we would see the exact same people for happy hour back at the hotel. One night, the two of us from my office went to the Outback Steakhouse next door for a beer, and ran into some of the others that we had gotten to know. They were in with a couple of ladies from their company who were in town for the same client, but on a project unrelated to ours.

We joined them at a table and swapped war stories for an hour or so. Then, one of the ladies -- quick as a cat -- snagged the salt and pepper shakers from the table and dropped them into her purse. It was so smooth, I didn't notice, and I was the one sitting directly across from her.

A couple of the others at the table laughed at her, and asked, "What the hell was that?" but she didn't really answer, and no one came right out and testified to what they had witnessed.

So that was kind of wierd.

We got back to Baton Rouge on Thursday night, and I came in the house, dropped off my luggage, and turned around to leave for Lutcher. Thursday was the night of the bonfire festival, and we had tickets to see 80s icons Loverboy play that night.

We got to the event too late to actually see a bonfire, but we rolled into a big barn where a stage was set up at one end. The sides of the barn were blocked with vinyl sheets to keep out the cold, and without them, it would have been unbearably cold that night.

When we got there, Randy Jackson of Zebra was performing solo, with an acoustic guitar. He played a bunch of classic rock hits -- some Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, a little Zeppelin, etc. He was surprisingly good. There were numbers where you would have thought that there were two guitars playing, as much music as he got to come out of his single instrument. He wasn't the best singer in the world, but then again, he wasn't bad. And like I said, he could play the shit out of his guitar.

By the way, Zebra has two hits that I promise you know, and a handful of others that had short MTV runs in the 80s. I'm not going to try to describe them in text or hunt down relevant links for you tonight, but search Zebra from Itunes, and sort the results by relevance. You'll remember.

Steve's new shirt.

Toward the end of his set, Randy mentioned that Zebra t-shirts were for sale at one of the booths at the back of the barn, which sent Steve high-tailing it away from us like we had set his ass on fire. Jackson wasn't even done with his sentence, and Steve was long gone without a word to any of us. He returned by the end of the next song with his prize.

After a brief intermission, during which Steve befriended a cowboy who looked like Wyatt Earp and during which I was educated on the status of local high school football by a coon-ass, Loverboy took the stage to roughly 250 of their biggest fans in South Louisiana. They played a long show; it lasted at least an hour if I had to guess. I had expected what I normally see from the 80s stars who continue to tour -- washed up, fat, frog-voiced wannabes, who still belt out the same old tired tunes for a paycheck.

The members of Loverboy have added some fat over the years. But I was truly shocked to get a show from talented musicians. It turns out that they had a bunch of hits in the 80s (not just Working for the Weekend), and I knew most of their set. And they played really, really well. I think that they've aged better than comparable 80s group Duran Duran, who we saw at the end of October.

At the end of the show, I found that my friends were just as surprised by the level of talent, and I declared that this was probably the best rock-and-roll performance to have taken place in a barn in Lutcher, Louisiana EVER. You heard right. We witnessed history.

Driving down the rural highway on the way home, I got pulled over going 80. The speed limit was 65. The officer had me get out of the car and move to the back. I answered his questions about how many others were in the car, and that we had no weapons. He checked my eyeballs for signs of drunkenness, which were thankfully absent.

He had me go around to the passenger side to get the registration certificate and the proof of insurance. He was right behind me when the door opened, and Mrs. theskinnyonbenny handed me the papers with a single comment. "Dickhead."

Fortunately for me, he either didn't hear, or thought that she was addressing me rather than talking about the officer. As soon as he confirmed over the radio that I wasn't some sort of wanted criminal, he told me to slow down and sent me on my way.

I just about kissed him on the lips, but then considered that this might be another crime.

I have more pictures posted from the Lutcher scene. Look for the queen of the festival in the background for additional bonus points.