Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Police Concert, Opening Night Vancouver

The last time I saw The Police was in back in the 1980s during the final tour before the band broke up, so I was very excited when the reunion tour was announced, and even more excited to learn that the tour would start in the Pacific Northwest. The only problem was, back when the tickets went on sale, I had no idea if my travel schedule would allow for me to go to the concert. So I didn’t buy any tickets. But as luck would have it, the first show of the tour was in Vancouver, BC on Monday, May 28 and I didn’t have to leave town until the following day.

One week before the concert, I started looking for tickets through brokers like StubHub, and on eBay. With the date getting closer, all those people who thought they’d make a killing scalping tickets were obviously starting to panic. I ended up getting a fantastic deal from a guy in Ohio. I picked up a single $225 ($238.25 including Ticketmaster charges) floor level seat in row 35 for $49 plus shipping. Then, after exchanging email, I bought a second single ticket two rows behind mine from the same guy for the same price so that my friend Tom Dudek could go with me.

(my actual ticket, purchased for $49 on eBay)
We drove up to Vancouver on the afternoon of May 28, had a nice dinner, and then walked over to GM Place. By the time we bought a couple of beers, the opening band had already started. We missed the introduction, but learned the next day that it was Sting’s son’s band FictionPlane. We thought they looked and sounded a lot like The Police.

The opening band got a decent reception, but the place went absolutely nuts when The Police took the stage. No one sat down for the next two hours.

The Police opened with “Message in a Bottle” and then went into “Synchronicity II” after which Sting introduces the band. The rest of the set included:

  • “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
  • “Voices Inside My Head”
  • ”When The World Is Running Down”
  • “Spirits in the Material World”
  • “Driven To Tears”
  • “Walking On The Moon”
  • “Truth Hits Everybody”
  • “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
  • “Wrapped Around Your Finger”
  • “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”
  • “Murder By Numbers”
  • “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”
  • “Invisible Sun”
  • “Walking in Your Footsteps”
  • “Can’t Stand Losing You”
  • “Roxanne”
  • “King of Pain”
  • “So Lonely”
  • “Every Breath You Take”
  • “Next to You”

The show was everything I could possibly have hoped for. The sound was superb, my seat was good, and the concert itself was incredible. Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland were all at the top of their form. After watching Copeland intently throughout the show, I’m convinced he is one of the greatest drummers ever. At several points during the show, his drum kit was augmented by additional drums, gongs, and bells that rose up on a second platform behind him.

Summer's guitar playing was flawless.

Even the people sitting behind the stage were treated well, with Sting and Summers often mounting a semi-circular riser behind the main stage platform and playing to the people behind them.

There wasn’t an off moment the entire evening. If I weren’t traveling for the next few weeks, I would go to one of the other shows in Vancouver or Seattle. As things currently stand, I’m going to see if I can arrange my travel plans so that my path coincides with one of the other many stops on the tour.

(photos are from The Police website, AP, and other wire services)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Cool House by Koolhaas

I had been meaning to get over to the Seattle Public Library for quite a while now. And no, I wasn't going to check out some books. I wanted to finally see first-hand what I had been reading about in the architectural press for more than a year—the new Seattle Public Library building by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
This has got to rate as one of the coolest, most exquisite pieces of architecture ever to grace a major city. From the outside, the glass walls seem to fold up and over themselves, making the building look much smaller than its full city block size.


But on the inside, the building soars.
Yet, after briefly orienting oneself, it's quite easy to find one's way around.
Entering from the 5th Avenue (east) side of the building, you enter the "Living Room", the base of the atrium, which contains the reading room, fiction collection, a cafe, and the entrance to an auditorium. Escalators take you up to level five, which houses the "Mixing Chamber" where library patrons can meet with librarians to get answers to general questions or receive help with research projects.
But once you're ready to do any real work, you ascend to the upper levels. Levels ten through six form a continuous "Book Spiral" that allows the library's non-fiction collection to grow without having to move books to different areas. From level ten, you can spiral your way down through the stacks along a continuous ramp.

There's also an abundance of artwork, in particular an installation by Tony Ourseler projected on oval "eggs", which provide a running commentary as you move between the Living Room and Mixing Chamber levels on a bright yellow escalator.
I also absolutely love the floor of the Children's Center on the ground level. Designed by Ann Hamilton, the floor features polished wood planks with phrases in 11 different languages, but they're backwards to evoke type set to print the books housed in the library.

You can view more photos of the Seattle Public Library on my Flickr site.
Click here to view as a slideshow.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

When was the last time you stayed up for 24 hours? Well, that's what I ended up doing on Friday, May 11. I certainly didn't start out the day intending not to sleep for that length of time. It just sort of happened. Let me explain.

I was in Tampa this week speaking at an AUGI CAD Camp event there. That was an excellent event, by the way. The folks in Tampa really rock. It was one of the most "with it" group of users of all the events we've done this spring.

Anyway, I had to leave my hotel around 4:45am to get to the airport for my flight back to Bellingham. So I was up early. Thank goodness I was able to get first class upgrades on Delta all the way back to Salt Lake City (there is no first class section on the Delta Connections flight from Salt Lake back to Bellingham).

But once back in Bellingham, my day was just beginning. It turns out that once American Idol narrows its field down to the last three contestants, those contestants get to fly back to their home town for the weekend. Well, Blake Lewis, one of those three finalists, hails from Bothell, WA. So Friday was Blake Lewis Day in Bothell. And Bothell is only about 70 miles from Bellingham. And my family watches American Idol avidly and we've been Blake Lewis fans all season (although I have picked Melinda Doolittle to win). You can see where this is going...right?
So, no sooner did I arrive back in Bellingham, then I drove my car to the Bellingham Amtrak station, shifted over to my wife's minivan, picked up our girls and my daughter's friend Anna from school, and drove down to Bothell. We made the trip in record time (amazing considering the usual Seattle-area traffic) and managed to find a parking space in beautiful (and tiny) downtown Bothell. The girls and I positioned ourselves near the end of the parade route while Genny went over to the small park amphitheater where Blake would eventually perform.

The parade was supposed to start at 3:30pm and the concert at 4. The parade finally got underway a little after 4pm. The parade consisted of two police cars, a fire truck, and then Blake riding in a convertible. Check out the reaction on Blake's face when he sees my daughters' sign.

As soon as the parade ended, we quickly walked over to the park to see the concert. Of course, the park was already packed with people. And when I say packed, I mean PACKED. There was literally no where to move.

Even the local television camera people were having a tough time getting a decent vantage point.

I didn't so much see the concert as hold my camera up over the heads of the people in front of me and shoot. My daughters were positioned near the stairs where Blake came in, and they touched hands when Blake entered the amphitheater.

After some introductions, the mayor of Bothell declared May 11 Blake Edwards American Idol Finalist Day and then read from a fax he had just received from Paula Abdul announcing that the judges had chosen "Roxanne" by the Police as the number Blake will perform this Tuesday, May 15, on American Idol. Then Blake performed several numbers, including two original songs.

When he finished his final song, he introduced some of his friends, including the woman who had organized the Blaker Girls.

Then it was pretty much bedlam again when it was time for Blake to leave to head over to Safeco Field where he was scheduled to sing the National Anthem and then throw out the first pitch.

So why is this posting called "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and why didn't I get to sleep until nearly 2 am (more than 24 hours after I had gotten up that morning)? Well, while there wasn't much traffic getting to Bothell, leaving Bothell afterwards was another story entirely. See, the rest of the plan was that Genny and Emma had tickets to "Rent" at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Clarice, Anna, and I had tickets to take Amtrak back to Bellingham while Genny and Emma went to the show. Thus the reason for me parking my car at the Amtrak station in Bellingham before leaving. Unfortunately, we missed our train. Then Genny thought she'd drop us at Safeco Field so we could try to get tickets to the Mariners game against the Yankees (at which Blake was to sing). But again, the traffic was so bad (not to mention the game being a near sell-out) that I was concerned that she would then be late for her show. So Clarice, Anna, and I ended up going to my sister Lori's house for the evening while Genny and Emma went to the show. Then they came back and picked us up a little after 11pm to drive back to Bellingham. By the time we dropped Anna off at her house, went to the Amtrak station to get my car, and got back home, it was after 1am. By the time we got everything settled, it was 2.

We were signed up to participate in the 5km Haggen to Haggen run on Saturday morning...

Right. Like that was going to happen.