Well, I've been free floating (falling?) for a couple of weeks and really missed a great opportunity to put my thoughts on seeing Chicago, The Replacements, and Riot Fest for the first time into the written word. I will attempt to do that later, but I'm certain I will miss some stuff I would have liked to included. Maybe if Chris reads this, he will be able to throw in some shit and I'll just edit and add. It's a work in progress! For now, I want to write about going to and from Humboldt Park.
Chicago is one big city and when you stretch it out to include the "burbs", it's tremendous and, for someone like me, almost overwhelming. It seems as though it takes forever to get around. For my tastes, I'll just settle on Louisville as being about the right size for me. Chris and I went up to Chicago by car and really were flying by the seat of our pants on how to get to and from Humboldt Park, where Riot Fest was being held. We finally settled on taking the train. Fairly inexpensive, but for the uninitiated, a bit confusing....sort of like the subway in Boston. After you get your bearings and study the map, it's not too difficult to figure out where you need to go.
We got off the train along with a bunch of kids that were also headed to Riot Fest. Not knowing where the hell we were, we just decided to follow them. Whether it was to hell or Riot Fest, they held our lives in their sense of direction. It was a couple of miles to the Park and every step felt like it. We were in a largely Hispanic neighborhood that seemed nice enough, but I don't think the kids we were following were tuned into the fact that they need to chill their asses out. Walking in a neighborhood that isn't your own should pull some respect out of you. Well, it wasn't THAT bad, but singing, jumping around, being loud, drinking right on the street.....apparently that was a bit much for some locals. Chris and I overheard a native say that they (Hispanics in the neighborhood) would be locked up if they acted like that, but implied since the kids were white, they were just fine. And yeah, the guy was probably right.
We got to the park and it was pretty damn awesome. Rides, games, "fair" type food at reasonable prices, swag tents, and sound stages. Street performers wandered around, and despite the volume of people, I don't remember seeing even one uniformed police officer. On top of that, I didn't see any altercations. The entire weekend was peaceful and pretty much douche bag free! That was welcome, because any time I go to see music in Louisville, there is always a contingency of douche bags that are not there for the music, but to be seen and to generally engage in douchebaggery. I guess people took the words on the bottom of the Riot Fest poster seriously.
After the music ended on Friday night, we knew damn sure we didn't want to take the 2 + mile trek back the way we came. So, we saw a dude with a rickshaw bike and we caught a $20 ride to the train station. We went through a pretty rough neighborhood, almost like something out of a movie. It made me appreciate that I was removed from the poverty and hopelessness that seemed to prevail. Took the train back and I have to make this observation; does anyone on a public transportation train have a good time? Having to spend nearly 45 minutes on a that train made me feel like I wanted it to jump the rails and slam into a pillar.
The next day we drove.....or rather, Chris drove. I thought we were going to be a couple of miles from the park and just catch a cab. We found a parking garage and then found a bus that we could take to the park. Little did I know we were about 8 or 10 miles from the park and that distance of a ride on a bus in a city that averages 8 stop lights every 100 yards made for a LONG trip. It was about an hour getting to our destination and if I thought the train was ripe with depression, the bus was worse. Stare at the floor, at the ceiling, read the advertisements, look out the window at traffic, check your phone for a message that isn't coming. Wash, rinse, repeat....about 10 times.
All was right when he hit the park though! Great music, great food, and what seemed to be to me about 50,000 people! Once again, no trouble, just people of all ages (from babies to those in their golden years) listening to music and sharing laughs. After we had exhausted ourselves, we took a cab back to the car. The dude that picked us up assured us that Chicago was easy to learn, but this Serbian immigrant pulled a fast one on us. He went up and down side streets, got lost and even went all the way into a dead end. Which is where Chris thought our lives would probably end. Finally, he got us to our destination. We got our asses back to the hotel, hit the peace pipe and watched some Larry David.
On Sunday, the day that I had been waiting on for most of my adult life, Chicago saw rain falling all day long. We decided to stay at the hotel until closer to "Replacements" time. We decided to try to place ourselves close to the park. We went to Humboldt and for about 30 of so minutes of riding around we thought we were screwed and would have to head miles away and take a cab. As we were leaving there was a dude just standing in an orange vest and Chris pulled up and asked if he knew where there was any parking. Well, it turned out he had one spot left. It was right across from the park. Incredible. $20....right there at the park, when it seemed there was no parking at all. It simply reaffirmed my faith that there isn't a god. If there was, the chances that Chris and I would have gotten that spot would be just about zero, especially after seeing GWAR and laughing our asses off through that performance. And that is for another blog.
Yeah, I know....not much substance. Just felt like writing. My next effort will focus on the music and how I felt about seeing The Replacements....finally.