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Here's the enhanced version
of the trip to London:

 

The trip began inauspiciously enough.  I caught a flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis / St. Paul.  Along the way, I flew over St. George, the pretty, yet culturally and socially bankrupt, town in southwestern Utah that I've lived in for the past seven years.  It was early November, and I killed some time aboard the flight by filling out my absentee ballot.  After a short nap, I looked out the window to see a lake I recognized.   It was Lake McCaughnahy, in western Nebraska.  It's outside of Ogallala, a tiny town that my wife and I considered moving to in 1999. 

After a short layover in Minneapolis, I was held captive on a Northwest Airlines / KLM plane for over four hours while the plane was ripped apart for a succession of repairs.  Let's contemplate something: You've boarded a plane that is sweltering. After nearly an hour's delay, a message comes from the cockpit: "there's been a delay!"   There follows three further hours of broken promises and delays. Airline staff open doors in order to get fresh air into the cabin, as the ventilation and cooling systems are inoperable.  "Please remain in your seats! It is not safe to approach the doors, as there are no stairways attached."   Mind the gap, indeed!  Thanks for the help, Captain!

Why were passengers boarded onto a troubled plane one full hour before the scheduled take-off when airline personnel knew complicated repairs were going to delay the flight?  Why were all passengers lied to about the cause of delay?  When does it become obvious that the best thing for an airline to do is allow passengers off the plane? Airlines wonder why they have to coin phrases like "air rage"?

The big house on Rupert's street......Gonna get a big dish of Beef Chow Mein...My local market on this tripMy local, the New North Pole  


After twelve hours of plane travel (including the four hour hostage ordeal), I eventually got into London.  Through the clouds, I recognized Kenney Jones' Hurtwood Park Polo Club on the approach to Gatwick.

While in London, I stayed with my friend, Rupert, and his two great kids, Luke and Molly.  Rupe lives in the North Kensington area, near an historic, beautiful cemetery, and two gas works towers.  Rupe took me on a walking tour of the neighborhood to familiarize me with the area.  One of our first stops was the gas works, and on the way we discussed Clash bassist Paul Simonon, who has been painting for decades.  Paul has done cityscapes of several gas towers, and he happened to be there that very day, painting away (You can kinda find him in ther red circle to the right.  I didn't bother him by asking for a close-up photo).  It was fantastic odds to run into him and be able to chat for a few minutes, but that seemed to set the tone for the trip:  Several odd coincidences and opportunities put me in places with people I'd never arranged to meet during the trip.

The Gas Works, Cemetery, and Paul
Paul Simonon is at the far right, way down the path
The bit of blue in the red circle is Paul Simonon and his canvas


One of the next coincidences came the day I spent the afternoon with Boo Oldfield. Boo, of course, is the lady Ronnie Lane lived with from roughly 1980 until 1984, and was instrumental in getting the A.R.M.S. concerts together. We spent several hours one afternoon talking, and when I left her flat I decided to look up one of my old haunts, the Dublin Castle pub. On the way, I was forced to take a detour because the police had cordoned off a few square blocks. The detour put me directly in front of a club that was the venue that night for a gig by Sid Griffin. Due to an error of some sort, the gig didn't get listed in London's entertainment magazines, so I didn't know about it until I stumbled across it. Sid, of course, was in the L.A. band, Long Ryders, before moving to London several years ago. His solo work, as well as his work with the Coal Porters and Western Electric, is even better than that legendary band. He's also worked with Mac McLagan, helping put together the recently threatened Faces box sets. Recently he's been doing solo gigs and opening for Billy Bragg and the Blokes (with Mac, of course, on keys) in the UK.

Sid Griffin on stage
Manifesto

Sid and band Sid, near the end of his set Sid with two of the boys from Tandy Sid and Tandy, closing the show 


It appears that the corporate buyout of scores of pubs has dried up the classic live music venues in London. Subtract from the ranks those clubs that specialize in techno-drone disco rave drivel, which I can't classify as either live or music, and the London music scene begins looking relatively grim. I'd been looking for a decent gig since I got into town, and Sid saved my ass. New York-based Tandy, touring to support their solid new album, Lichtenstein's Oriole, opened the show with a fine set. Sid's ninety-plus minutes onstage was filled with songs from throughout his career, as well as nods to the Byrds and Gram Parsons. This very impressive set was finished off by Tandy joining Sid's band to knock out a couple of collaborations.

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