The rain in Maine falls mainly on the...um...rocks, I guess.
The school year is now well underway in central Ohio. Students have settled into familiar routines, teachers are dutifully plowing through the curriculum, and the specter of statewide standardized achievement testing is but a faint glow on the distant horizon. It's the season when the world of a teacher begins to contract like a closing camera aperture. Our collective focus is narrowed on academic objectives and the welfare of our students, leaving comparatively little time for our own extracurricular pursuits. That is why I am especially grateful that I enjoyed a totally fulfilling and restorative summer break.
If you are of the currently fashionable conservative ilk who resent educators as bloated, public-sector leeches sucking the monetary lifeblood out of taxpayer coffers, then read no further, unless you want to risk being provoked into a jealous and indignant rage. For while you were slaving away, trying to prime the sluggish circulation of our torpid economy, I was enjoying the better part of June, July and August in a leisurely existence free from the annoyance of a weekday clock alarm. Seething yet? You might just want to give this lucrative education thing a try.
If at first you don't succeed...
Fans of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake can be forgiven for being a little nervous this past Wednesday when an announced 7:30 showtime came and went with no sight of the famous prog rockers. Sure, it's not unusual at all for rock concerts to start quite late, but those of us squirming restlessly in our seats had been through this once before. As previously documented, the Emerson/Lake tour had been set to debut in Cleveland on April 1, but the show was abruptly called off at the last second to the consternation of a stunned audience. The next two dates were canceled as well, and sheepish statements were issued from the boys that vaguely attributed the mishap to unresolved technical issues. When at last the tour started with a successful date in Annapolis, the next evening's show in Alexandria was canceled due to laryngitis. Finally the ball got rolling, and our heroes managed to pull of a dozen consecutive performances without incident. Ticketholders from previously canceled shows were assuaged with rescheduled dates. Then, on what would have been the duo's thirteenth concert in a row on April 28, Lake's illness forced a cancellation at Colorado Springs. Before returning to Cleveland, the Emerson/Lake tour continued with a trio of Texas shows. So, given the tour's 79% success rate, we weren't about to get too excited until we saw the whites of their English eyes.
The minutes passed by, dry ice swirled under the lighting rig, a bottle of water was set in place for Mr. Lake -- all of the things that had happened last time at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium. As I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu and reassured myself that they surely would not cancel a second time, the noticeably thinner audience was getting restless. My front-row seat at center stage was flanked by three empty seats to my left and three empty seats to my right. Even some of the people in the VIP orchestra pit seating had apparently taken refunds rather than return. Someone called out from behind me, "We've waited a month!" Then, just a couple minutes shy of eight o'clock, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake took the stage, and all was forgiven.
...guaranteed to blow your head apart...rest assured you'll get your money's worth...
Last night's Lakewood, Ohio concert by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake was the stuff of dreams. I should know, for as a longtime fan of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the prog-rock trio has literally appeared in my somnambulistic scenarios no less than three times. In one ridiculous dream from years ago, they arrived at my house for the purpose of playing a game of Scrabble on my deluxe, $500, Franklin Mint Collector's Edition board. In another, I sat on a gym floor and watched them perform to hardly anyone from mere feet away. More recently, I dreamt that I stumbled across ELP playing an outdoor set in a park, and I simply ambled up to the front of the stage. I suppose hours and hours of listening to Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus will do that to the sleeping mind.
So when I heard that two-thirds of my favorite band were due to appear in a high school auditorium near Cleveland to kick off an unprecedented series of intimate, semi-unplugged shows, I was intrigued. It sounded like something I would dream. I checked the date and was surprised to find that it coincided with the very beginning of my Spring Break; I could conceivably head up north after school and catch the show. Then, when I got in on a fan club presale and purchased a single ticket, I was definitely excited. I would be sitting in the middle of the first row. Like my actual ELP dreams, this reality was strange, wonderful, and maybe too good to be true.