I played a double header in Chicago last night. 2 shows at Uncommon Ground Edgewater. They both sold out so thank you very much. They cleared the room after my first show and gave me an hour chill time. Then I came back up and played the second show. Now here’s the thing-
They were two completely different shows. If someone had seen the first show and then stayed for the second, they would have maybe thought “wow, this is weird, These are all different songs and a different vibe.”
Why why why? You’d think I’d just find a winning formula and stick with it. But no. It’s fun to stretch out and go to new places like bizarro land and stuff. Walk into dark caves in the corner of my skull and go spelunking down a forgotten tunnel into a room of gray matter jello. It’s fun to scare myself. It unleashes adrenaline and the A is a great drug. My body makes its own drugs and I dig procuring them from my drug dealers Mr Aorta and Mr Brain and Spiney Spinerson.
So anyways, I finished my show. The crowd let me know that The Dodgers lost. Most of them were Cubs fans and didn’t like The Dodgers very much so some of the folks probably enjoyed giving me updates. :-)). But I’d say most didn’t really care because they were music fans first and foremost.
I took an Uber to the show because I didn’t feel like dealing with Chicago parking. On the way to the gig the sun was still awake and the driver took Lower Wacker for part of the way. I felt like I was in Batman. I love the darkness of Lower Wacker. It must’ve spit us out at the water which is North Lakeshore Drive because all of a sudden everyone was jogging and biking next to the water of Lake Michigan. Man oh man, Chicago is a beautiful city! I forgot how gorgeous it is. Let me state for the record that I fugging love this city! The old buildings have such character.
So I finish my show and I’m chatting with the sound dude Eric and the server Audrey. They were super nice and kept my ice tea filled with that lovely caffeination nation vacation Eustachian tube lube for the rube. We say our goodbyes and I grab my iPhone and get thing to bleep its bleeping logarithms and the next thing you know an Uber pulls up.
This dude named Anas is driving a brand new black Infinity. This car was badass and totally high tech. I want one. It was so fast and sleek. So anyways, the driver has an accent and sometimes I just feel like chatting with strangers. I enjoy the verbal back and forth. So I ask him
“Where are you from?”
He says “Chicago”
“Did you grow up here?”
“No. I’ve been here 3 years. I came over from Pakistan.”
“Oh, did you live in Karachi?”
He starts laughing and smiling real big.
“How did you know that?”
“I just took a guess. I was gonna guess Makli but I’ve always wanted to go to Kirthar National Park And I feel like Karachi would be where I’d fly in to.”
So now he’s freaking out.
“Oh the food is so good. That’s what I miss the most. There are certain flavors that Pakistanis here in Chicago can’t get right. Oh my gosh you’re making talk about food and now I’m hungry!”
We’re both cracking up.
“Do you get home much to visit?”
“Well my mother and father still live in Karachi and I miss them so I travel back every year.”
“Aren’t most Pakistanis Sunni Muslim? Like 80 percent? Are you Shia or Sunni?”
“How do you know all of this? He’s looking at me in his rear view?”
“Because I’m fascinated with religion. Do you believe in God?”
He says “of course I do.”
“Do you drink alcohol?” I asked.
“No I don’t. But some Muslims do. It’s like anything else. Do you believe in God?” He asked me.
“Yes. I do. But most all of my friends are atheists. They think I’m an idiot.”
For some reason this got us both laughing so hard. We were seriously cracking up.
Next thing ya know we’re discussing Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism and we’re talking about Yemen and immigration. I ask him if immigration questions him when he arrives back in the USA. He tells me he usually clears customs in Abu Dhabi and then lands in Chicago. He says that USA immigration in Abu Dhabi usually ask to see his social media and tries to trip him up with questions but nothing too bad has happened to him. Just a bit of secondary questions about his university studies and stuff.
Then we arrive at my hotel and I see he has the new iPhone Xs and I do too. By now I should be getting out of the car with my guitar but we end up getting into a long discussion about facial ID and artificial intelligence. I could’ve talked all night. Wired from my shows.
So I get out of the car and say “hey man, it was great talking with you! As-salāmu ʿalaykum!”
He was grinning ear to ear and he says “peace be upon you too!”
And I say to myself- what a wonderful world.
(This has been a dispatch from Chicago)