Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let Them Stand

One positive factor affecting the quality of life in Burlington, Vemont is music. As in lots of great music talent stops in Burlington.

The problem is that sometimes you have periods like the one we're currently in: there are simply too many acts coming through for me to see them all. Take, for example, October 2nd. We had Ben Harper at the Flynn and Los Lonely Boys at Spruce Peak Performing Arts. Hello people... can we not coordinate our efforts? I can only be in one place at a time!

Then this week, we have Brandi Carlile at the Flynn, two Yonder Mountain String Band shows at Higher Ground, and a new kid named Eric Hutchinson at the small room at Higher Ground. Not to mention the Vermont singer/songwriter contest held at various clubs, and the Richmond Bakery's own Bluegrass Night. Can we not spread these out a bit?

The two shows I did manage were Brandi and Ben -- both at the Flynn. First, a brief word about these two performers. Don't confuse Brandi Carlile with Belinda Carlisle, the heavily necklaced and braceletted (that is, "wearer of many bracelets") lead singer of former 80s band the Bangles -- oh no. Brandi is up-and-coming, and she's the real deal -- fun, funny, gritty, and, trust me, the chick rocks. Buy her records. Ben Harper, of course, is simply one of the all-time greats. I've seen him 5 or so times, and each time has been significantly different (all of them awesome) -- especially this latest solo acoustic show. He brought onstage no fewer than 16 guitars (actually some of them weren't guitars; rather they were stringed instruments with names unknown to me and with outrageously wild sounds), a piano, and a xylophone.  He sang, told stories, laughed, and mesmorized the audience for over 3 hours without a break. Quality.

But I have a gripe. (That's the thing about having a blog... I get to air my gripes. Nothing anyone can do about it!) The gripe is with the Flynn people. You're hosting rock-n-roll acts. So what's with the "No Standing" rule? Audiences at the Flynn (excepting Ben's) are confused, uncomfortable, and restless because of this dumb rule. If you're bringing in a foot-stomping, body-wiggling, arm-waving act, then -- for crying out loud -- let the people dance! We're not going to stand on your new chairs!

I only go to the Flynn when it's an act I have to see -- because of this rule. After all, the room and acoustics are amazing, and it's just a great place to see a show. But if the music's rocking, then so should be the audience. Don't try to stop it.

Photos (top): Brandi unplugged at the Flynn. (Bottom): Ben's guitars

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pregnant Woman Wins Marathon

This blog Post should probably be titled "Race Report: Zagreb Marathon." So I offer my apologies if the title ("Pregger Wins") is slightly deceiving, but it did get your attention, didn't it? Alison Aiken is, in fact, four-and-a-half months pregnant. And, okay, I admit that she didn't actually run the full marathon -- that part may have been inaccurate (she ran the half). And while she didn't "win," she did run it in an amazing 2 hours 10 minutes. So as far as I'm concerned, it was a highly impressive display -- and, on second thought, I therefore revoke my apology! She really made everyone proud -- especially me... and little J.K. (or whatever the kid's name ends up being), who I'm sure will grow up to be proud its mom ran 13.1 miles at an international race event when it was just a 16-ounce extra-terrestrial-looking thing in her belly.

As far as the full marathon went, I was shooting for a PR... but came up a bit short. Maybe it was the miles of walking to see all the sights in Zagreb and Vienna each of the three days leading up to the event. Or maybe I missed out on some training as I worked out an intense tendonitis (left shin) for the last four weeks. Either way, I ran a 3:16 (or so) -- the result of 5 bad miles as we ran against the wind. Each of the other 21 miles I ran at a 7:11 pace or less.

A sort of mile-by-mile report, the Race Start was in a square in the middle of beautiful Zagreb. Miles 0-10 were a very boring out-and-back. 10 to 13 were another out-and-back in the middle of the city -- a little more interesting. At that point, the 900 half-marathoners finished, and the "full-ers" did the exact same thing again. At Mile 15 I peed in a park. At mile 19 we turned to head back into town and I bonked. 8:15, 8:30: 8:45, 9:00, 8:30 in miles 19-24. Knowing my PR was out of reach, I did find some motivation: my friend Kristen Courcelle ran a 3:14 at Hampton last week. I ran a 7:23 in Mile 25 trying to catch her, but came up short. I'll get you next time, Kristen!

All in all, a great race. Several Croat spectators gave me a good "Go USA" cheer (see my USA singlet in photo) to which I always responded "Thank you Croatia!" We had amazing support on the course -- our hosts David and Diane Bahrenburg biked all over the course carrying post-race shirts and water for us. And they were simply amazing hosts and tour guides -- we had a fabulous time. For anyone thinking about building an international marathon into their next vacation, take my advice: do it.