Friday, March 6, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 03/05/20: Spokane Solitude, Nudo Ramen, Ecstatic Night with Pink Floyd

1. This house I'm staying in near Polly Judd Park sits in a very quiet neighborhood. I'm staying in a spotless large room with a firm bed, a comfortable chair and ottoman, a television (which I haven't turned on), and everything I need to make coffee. I have the entire upstairs with its huge bathroom and mammoth walk-in shower all to myself and no one lives downstairs in this half of the house.

It was tempting today to stay put in this quiet space, drink coffee, write, relax, nap, and let the pleasures of the Music of Cream concert sink in more deeply. I darted up to the Rocket Bakery and brought back a three berry scone and for a few hours I was still.

Around two o'clock or so, I broke out of my blissful solitude and rest. I love walking in cities and I'm concerned about how generally inactive I've been during the winter. I charted a route. I walked east on Twelfth from Oak to Cedar and turned south to 14th and walked east to the intersection of 14th, Bernard, and Grove. I headed north on Grove and followed its serpentine route around Cliff Park and Elwidge Woldson Park until I arrived at 6th and Stevens, the location of the Altadena Apartments, where I lived from Nov. of 1983 through May of 1984.

I won't go into detail, but, without a doubt, those seven months living at the Altadena were the most tumultuous, chaotic, and uncertain months of my life. Today, I sat on the building's porch, stared across the parking lot to where The Viking Tavern used to be, and wondered how I managed to pack so much disarray into a single period of time. I also thought about how, by the grace of all that is good in life, I had friends during this time who were not only wonderful companions, but who helped me find respite from my inward tempests. At least two of these friends would come to my apartment and sit in my living room and read and we drank tea and talked. I walked a lot during this time and my friends walked with me, shared meals out, and accompanied me to movies. We simply did things we enjoyed and I thought long and hard about all of this for a while this afternoon there on the porch.

I then walked down to the Knickerbocker Apartments where some sweet memories reside, made my way to Wall Street, stopped for a moment of nostalgia at the former location of the Magic Lantern Theater -- I saw countless superb movies there from 1974-84 -- and dropped into the Brew Bros coffee house for a toasted raisin cinnamon bagel with cream cheese and some glasses of water.

2. I decided to eat dinner at Nudo Ramen House on Sprague. It's a room more narrow than wide, featuring both communal and individual tables and pop art on the walls.

I ate an order of steamed pork gyozas to start (more dumplings!) and then I took a chance that turned out to be a mistake that, in the end, turned out fine.

I ordered a spicy seafood ramen and it was too spicy for me. I loved the noodles, the pieces of shrimp and scallops, and the pieces of broccoli and carrot, but the broth was, at first, painful. 

I was determined to make it work, though, and as I slowly worked my way though this giant bowl of ramen, the temperature of the broth cooled down and, as it cooled down, so did the spiciness. I sat and waited out this bowl of ramen and my patience paid off. By the time the broth was lukewarm, the flavors of the fish asserted themselves more fully in the broth and the peppery spiciness retreated quite a bit, and I enjoyed the bottom half of my meal a lot.

I am quite sure I'll return to Nudo and I'll stay away from spicy ramen. Or, I'll order a bowl of spicy ramen, tell my server I'll be back in about twenty minutes after s/he brings by bowl, go take a walk, let the ramen cool off, and eat it then. (Just kidding.)

3. The seven piece Black Jacket Orchestra consisted of three guitar players, two keyboardists (on of whom was also a saxophone player), a bass guitarist, and drummer. They all contributed vocal work and, together, brought Pink Floyd's music electrifyingly alive.  They blew the roof off of the Bing to the enthusiastic roars and ovations of a nearly sold out house.

The first half of the show was the Black Jacket Orchestra's recreation, sound for sound, note for note, of The Dark Side of the Moon. It was exquisite. I ached with pleasure.

In the second half of the show, the Black Jacket Orchestra played songs from Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. Their "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" transported me to private place of bliss and I loved being a part of the audience sing a long during "Wish You Were Here". Our old and wobbly voices filled the theater with the song's chorus:  "We're just two lost souls/Swimming in a fish bowl/Year after year" and so on.  Singing along with all these Spokane area people kind of choked me up and I had trouble, at times, getting the words out.

I was feeling delirious by end of the show when everyone stood up and clapped rhythmically to "Run Like Hell" and all cried out together, each time it comes up in the song, sixteen times in a row, the word "run". It was thunderous and exhilarating.

But, my joy wasn't spent and neither was the audience's nor was the Black Jacket Orchestra's.

I could see it coming and when it did, the Bing exploded for the band's encore and their fiery performance of "Comfortably Numb", sending us out into the Spokane night with the song's climactic guitar solo and thunderous conclusion.

The band left the stage and I just sat for a while, finally gathered myself, and headed over to the Sapphire Lounge for a couple of gin martinis and time to let these two spectacular nights at the Bing settle inside me.

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