A Few Days in the Life (September 10, 2020)

September 10, 11:30

Room with a View, Chicago

It feels like I just left this town. Probably because I did. This is my fastest turnaround since 2017, when I was here twice in 10 days. I’ve beaten my record by a day.

I decided to stay downtown, which I haven’t done for awhile. My room is much, much better. With luck, this may be one of the last times I require a hotel here. Splurging for a small suite seemed worth it (brutal deposit aside).

They say life comes down to a series of moments. I’m a few hours from a HUGE one. This should prove to be a most interesting day.

16:41

The leap has been taken. The world as I have known it has shifted mightily on its axis. Things will never be the same.

September 11, 07:14

Room 1601, Chicago

Up too early (around 05:00) for no reason. I’ve never seen daybreak in this city. I have now.

What a year this has been. I need a moment to be selfish:

So much of the world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket. Yet I have quietly been undertaking the biggest series of changes in my life with relative success.

I’m not out to lord it over anyone. I know how fortunate I have been. But it seems like every moment of personal triumph has been undercut by something going horribly awry outside my door.

I want to talk more about how well things are going, because I’m bordering on actually being pretty happy. But it makes me feel like an asshole, because so many others have it so rough right now. Celebrating feels flat-out wrong.

All things in time, I guess.

One meeting today, at 11:00. Then maybe lunch in Chinatown. It’s cool and damp outside. Guess that Bears hoodie is making its debut today.

11:49

Brunch (or late breakfast)

The meeting is done. The next step in the transition is complete.

I’m a little annoyed with myself. I misplaced Wacker Drive, meaning I couldn’t get to my bus stop. Time was of the essence, so I was forced to call an Uber. First time in at least the last seven or eight trips. Dammit.

But I know where I am now, and it’s back on the CTA to get back to my hotel.

September 13, 08:07

Goddess and the Baker

The best thing about my hotel, in addition to the extra space? Good eateries within an easy walk.

I was all concerned about where to get a good breakfast yesterday. Turns out all I had to do was go outside, turn left, and walk about 20 yards. So here I sit, waiting for a decent meal before I head to the station.

After a relatively gloomy weekend weather wise, I naturally get the best view as I’m headed out the door.

Still, I hate I found this place just as my Chicago hotel run nears its end. My stay would’ve been perfect if not for the couple upstairs engaged in some kind of wrestling match at 04:15. Headphones on, back to sleep. And I have no idea what all the thumping was about.

09:01

Union Station

Breakfast was very tasty, indeed. Glad I made the effort to stop by. Got to the station in a snap. Doesn’t it figure that I’m finding ALL the shortcuts to get me around just in time to not need them anymore? Story of my life.

The only record store I really wanted to visit this trip was Dusty Groove. Erik and I planned to get there, but ran out of time before they closed. So I decided to make the trip the next day. I got there with relative ease and had my hand on the door before I realized it was locked, and the store was only doing business online.

Damned Bug.

Luckily, I remembered Erik mentioning that Dusty Groove, Reckless Records, and Shuga Records were relatively close to one another. A quick map check revealed Shuga was indeed, less than a quarter of a mile away. I was there in no time.

I’ve reached the point where I deem it necessary to have an agenda before I go into a record store. So I was boned in on Magic Sam, Freddie Hubbard, and jazz drummers. My quest for Hubbard went well, and I threw some other great stuff on top.

Tortoise, Lettuce, Squarepusher, Nina Simone, BadBadNotGood … it was a quality day of record shopping. I knew I had the right idea when the clerk checking me out said, “You’re in for a GREAT day of listening!” It takes work to earn respect from people who work in record stores. True music fans will understand the level of honor I felt.

September 17, 18:50

Home.

Packing has begun. I won’t even be getting official mover’s estimates until next week. But I have too much to do not to get going as soon as possible.

Yeah, I’m moving to Chicago. It was only a matter of time.

Some will take the news better than others. Regardless, this is happening. I’ll be in my new place for good in just under a month.

It’s still a little surreal. And my military mindset won’t truly accept the move until it actually happens. Orders aren’t orders until they’re carried out.

Still, I can hardly wait to get up in the morning, grab my morning coffee, and see this as I stare out my living room window:

Another big chunk of The Next Chapter has fallen into place. I know how lucky I am. I will remind myself daily not to waste this opportunity.

20:23

I’ll take “Things I Wouldn’t Expect in a Million Years” for $2,000 Alex.

Robert Fripp and I have interacted a couple of times on Facebook. We agree a lot on things like fashion and the importance of dressing for work. And he was very kind in offering his sympathies at the passing of my friend and colleague.

While King Crimson plays a large role in my first book, I have never asked Robert to endorse it in any way. As a matter of fact, I’ve never even mentioned the book to him. There’s no sense in barking up that particular tree. Nothing will come of it.

Robert likes to talk about or show what he’s reading first thing in the morning before he goes to work. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t. So when Facebook “tagged” me this morning in connection to a Robert Fripp post, I just knew it was a mistake. I figured he’d said something about Jimi Hendrix. I get tagged for that all the time. So imagine my surprise when I saw the words “Morning reading …” followed by a photo of his desk:

I responded the way pretty much any right-minded adult would: I completely freaked out!

What the hell is MY book doing on HIS desk?!? Dear God … what if he hates it?!? I wasn’t completely complimentary to the latest version of King Crimson. Oh, Lord … my career as a writer (such as it is) is OVER.

I’ve come down a bit since then.

It’s possible Robert won’t like what I said about the latest Crim. But I like to think he’ll know that I said it with all respect, I still complimented the skills of the band, and I fully acknowledge that Crimson is his band, and he can do whatever he wants with it. And as I’ve said elsewhere on this very page, I know I’m free to “move on.”

Chances are it’ll be fine. That being said, it took awhile before I could catch my breath.

September 21, 18:28

Home

Progress.

Packing to move is not done quickly. Not if you demand any kind of order, anyway. This is why I started so early. Why wait to put the non-essential into boxes when I can just do it now and be done with it? The system seems to be working.

I decided to completely re-supply my kitchen. I’ll be doing the same with 90 percent of the furniture. I want a fresh start. A hard reboot. I want to see something completely different, with few to no connections with what I had/was in St. Louis. I’ll hang on to certain aspects of the past. But most aspects will be left behind. My former profession will have nothing to do with my new world. That’s precisely the way I want it.

September 23, 11:08

Room 701, Chicago

It’s almost funny how this trip is being made virtually on auto-pilot. Up at 02:30, 04:30 train, Union Station, bus, hotel … all done today without conscious thought. I just wound up here.

It’s also kinda funny that I was disappointed not to be on a higher floor. I’m literally nine floors under my last room. Ah, no biggie. A room was available well before standard check-in. I’ll take it.

11:43

Goddess and the Baker

A quality breakfast right next door to the hotel. I’m a lucky dude.

I seem to have found myself in the good graces of Robert Fripp. I can’t explain why, outside of probable mutual respect combined with my intense need to ask nothing of him. I was thrilled (or was it terrified?) to see my book on his desk. A couple of days later, he posted photos of all the books he was reading, his version of a party. Or, as he says, a book and a cup of coffee makes for “an orgy.” Funny guy, Robert.

He only spoke on one of the books, and it happened to be mine. He was referring to the title, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This:

“Sir Cedric’s question is probably shared by anyone whose life-trajectory has been re-directed by the indwelling power of Music. Yes! Cedric is not alone. Not necessarily the same notes, but the same Music.”

Pretty cool. The “Sir Cedric” part is particularly flattering.

Mutual respect. What more can one ask of a relationship between musician and admirer?

September 24, 10:39

Breakfast, Chicago

Yesterday was quite productive. I spent the first part of my day buying furniture. The basics have been secured. There are still a few other pieces to attain, but I’m off and running.

Getting the stuff delivered is proving to be another matter altogether. The store is on board, but my new building is not. Sigh … here’s hoping things smooth out in time.

I swore I wasn’t going to buy any records on this trip. But the reason I found the furniture store in the first place is because it’s down the street from Reckless Records. So it’s not my fault I was magnetically pulled there. I like to think I restrained myself.

But the real surprise was yet to come.

I was in no hurry to get back to the hotel, and N. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park is a pretty cool place to walk. I found myself in front of an art gallery, and it too seemed to just pull me inside. I knew I wanted to change some of the art for the new place, but I wasn’t seriously looking for anything. All the same, I looked around.

I found some interesting paintings and drawings, including a really cool one of Beethoven. I stored it away in my mental Rolodex and made my way to another part of the gallery. I turned a corner and looked up at a relatively short wall space. It was there I saw this:

The first chapter of my book is called “Ground Control to Major Tom.” David Bowie was my first major influence, and “Space Oddity” is the first tune I ever loved, from the age of six. I audibly gasped when I saw this. It’s PERFECT! I felt like I was destined to find it.

Jason Brueck from Nashville is the artist. He calls it “A to Ziggy.” It will be prominently featured in my new home. Finding this feels like nothing but a good omen.

A leisurely dinner at Shake Shack (overpriced but tasty) pretty much wound up my day. Back to the hotel to watch movies and sleep.

There’s still more to do today, even without furniture delivery.

12:18

Walking the city feels more and more comfortable every day. It’s a good feeling. It’s mostly a matter of just looking around and seeing what lies before you. Of course, then you have to remember where it is! No matter. As long as I get close, I can figure it out from there.

Time to make my way toward my new home.

September 25, 11:20

Room 701

Free day.

Spent a good chunk of yesterday roaming around the new place, visualizing. There’s still a little more furniture and a couple of shelves to purchase. But it’s coming together.

Just about everything will be delivered over the course of two days. My first week will be an absolute madhouse. But I’m thinking it will be quite worth it.

I couldn’t stop staring out my windows, because this view is NEVER gonna get old.

Meanwhile, what to do today?

I’m not far from the Magnificent Mile. Perhaps a little shameless wandering is in order. As long as my ankle holds up, I’ll spend my time outdoors. It is, after all, a beautiful day.

September 26, 09:18

Union Station

The Lincoln Line pushes off in seven minutes. If things go according to plan, this may be my last train ride to Chicago for a bit. When I come back in three weeks, I’ll be a resident.

Has it sunk in? I don’t know. It’s the worst kept secret on earth. It’s why I retired from policing (okay, maybe not the reason, but it’s in the Top Five), and I’m doing all the things that someone about to move would do. Sunk in? Maybe after the first night in the new place.

My Magnificent Mile experience was relatively short. Strolling up Michigan Avenue, stopping in a few select shops, avoiding others (like the Zegna store) because the price tags will just make me cry. Champagne taste with beer money is not the greatest combination.

I have become mildly obsessed with handling my first Chicago winter. All I can hear in my head sometimes is Eddard Stark: “Winter is coming.” I’ve determined that a good portion of my life will revolve around hooded sweatshirts and sweaters.

I picked up a couple of each from a couple of stores. I’m slowly starting to feel more prepared.

Most of the broad strokes toward the move have been handled. It’s almost time to focus on the fine points. A friend pointed out how methodical I’ve been about this transition. I suppose she’s right. But the approach works for me. No need to change it.

Somehow, I need to bury myself in the music work again. Getting strict about the daily regiment (starting with hopping on Bane in the morning) will help. But old habits die hard, and every day is some kind of a fight.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

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