5...Make It 4 Days in New York City!
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the programming on XM radio’s channel 202. Opie and Anthony were the main reason I even subscribed to the service, but in recent months I’ve become addicted to Ron and Fez.
Aiding this addiction is a video-messaging program called Paltalk. O&A’s show features live Paltalk studio cams that allow listeners to witness their silly shenanigans and also interact with other fans of the show. Studio cams are not a feature of the R&F show, but there is a room where fans from all over the world congregate to listen to the show.
Paltalk doesn’t end with the daily conclusions of these shows. There are a handful of rooms where fans (and a few non-listeners) can hang out at any time of the day and night. The most popular of these rooms is the O&A Fan Room, where I am now an admin. At any given time, a couple hundred people are drinking, fighting, flirting, or just chatting about anything and everything. In the 18 or so months I’ve been around I’ve become very close with many of these people.
Since the majority of O&A fans live in the New York area, it’s natural that there are occasions where they all meet up in real life. Last year, many of these events were at comedy festivals centered around comedians that make regular appearances on Opie and Anthony. The O&A Traveling Virus were booked at around a dozen venues, primarily on the East Coast.
Jealous of all the fun my friends were having, I decided that sometime this year I’d venture out east for one of this year’s shows. Thanks to a ticket purchased by my friend Nora along with the offer of a couch by my friend Casey and her husband Dave (a R&F show employee), I spent the summer saving up for an extended vacation that I called Paulisded Weekend (Paulisded is my Paltalk screenname). I even had fifty Paulisded Weekend shirts printed up to hand out to my friends.
Thanks to my duties as a judge at Scarlett O’Hara’s amateur night competition, I woke up on the morning of my flight with a slight hangover. I finished packing, and headed out to the airport. Having some time to kill, I bought a drink at the airport bar and sent a pic out to all of my online friends. Given what happened over the next day and a half, I should have had a few more.
Everything ran smoothly at first. My flight was a little late, but not enough to worry me. I arrived in Chicago with just enough time to run over to my connecting flight, and started to become excited at the prospect of arriving in New York in an hour or two.
The plane made its way out to the runway…and stopped. After a little bit of time, the pilot came on to tell us that storms in western New York was causing LaGuardia to not accept any planes.
So we sat for the next two hours. Because I had used my phone’s online capabilities to show Cade from the KRRO some of the beauties I was going to hang out with during my trip, the battery on my phone was quickly dying. I texted Casey to tell her I was stuck on the runway, and waited.
Around 4:30, the pilot came back on to tell us that even though LaGuardia was now accepting flights, a storm was rapidly approaching Chicago so we were heading back to the terminal. Ten feet from the terminal, the storm hit the airport and because union rules do not allow employees to be on the tarmac during bad weather we were stuck.
This was a pretty violent storm, causing all kinds of vibrations in the plane. The situation wasn’t helped by a jackass sitting behind me who was monitoring CNN.com on his phone. Reading that a tornado had hit part of Chicago, he started yelling that we were in a tornado. Ugh.
I used what little battery was left to call Casey, and was shocked to discover that she was on her way to the airport to pick me up. United’s website said that we were only a half hour late! Uh, no.
When the storm finally ended, we were towed up to the terminal but advised to not venture too far from the plane as we could leave any second. Although I had not yet eaten all day, I stayed on the plane.
A half hour later, word came that we were going to leave. We pulled back onto the runway…and sat once again. An hour later, another storm was set to hit Chicago, and we made our way back to the terminal. Once again, we were stranded ten feet from the gate.
By the time the storm had passed, it was past 8:00, and I had spent seven hours on the Chicago runway. Although the pilot said that we were about to head back out, we were towed back in and then informed that our flight had been cancelled. WTF?
I had no clue what to do at this point. I had never been on a cancelled flight, and as I stated earlier my phone was completely dead. I followed the lead of some other travelers, and found myself in a customer service line that was over a quarter mile long (and that’s no exaggeration). After an hour or so of no movement, word came from another passenger that the customer service line in another terminal was a fraction of the length.
We jogged over to this area, and a few minutes later discovered that the earliest flight I could book was for 2:00 the next day. I reluctantly took it, but now the reality of my situation was hitting me in the face. The area hotels were rapidly filling up, but I couldn’t even attempt to book one as I had no phone. It looked as if I was going to spend a sleepless night at the airport.
I decided to search for an adaptor for my phone. Since I have an unusual model, this search was unsuccessful until I hit a clerk at a CD store said he thought he had one in the storage room. After another twenty minutes to find an unused outlet, I was finally able to call Casey to explain the situation.
At this point it was past eleven, and I was frazzled. I needed some place to sleep, and there was no way it was going to be in an airport. I finally found something in downtown Chicago that was going to cost me way more than I wanted to pay, but at this point I was not going to argue.
Yet there was more hassle in my story. Cabs were almost impossible to find, but luckily I found somebody who could not find the person they were there to pick up. Finally, after midnight I arrived at my hotel. It was after midnight.
I was beyond grungy at this point, but my clothes and bathroom accessories were back at the airport waiting to make the trip to New York. (Actually, I found out the next day my suitcase had somehow found a flight.) I did room service and took a long bath, and after a couple of drinks finally fell asleep.
I awakened mid-morning to more bad news - another storm was set to hit Chicago. The local news said it could be any minute, the security guard at the front door said by noon, and the woman at check-in said she heard 3:00. I prayed that she was correct.
As I said before, I had no change of clothes, let alone essentials such as a toothbrush and deodorant. I purchased what I could at the hotel gift shop, including a lovely green Chicago t-shirt, but still felt like hell when I took my $50 cab ride back to the airport. I had made some attempts to book an earlier flight to not only Chicago but Newark and Philadelphia but was stuck with my original mid-afternoon plane.
Luckily, the promised storm never materialized and I breathed a sigh of relief when my flight indeed took off for New York. I finally arrived around 6:00, a full 26 hours later than I was scheduled.
Casey arrived a few minutes later, and at 7:00 I was safely in her Brooklyn Heights apartment. An hour of relaxation (and a hot shower) later, we made our way out to Bar 9, where a birthday party was being held for the owner of a R&F messageboard.
Bar 9 was a fantastic experience. While neither Ron nor Fez were present (they generally attend their fan’s gathering, particularly at this bar), I met quite a few great people, particularly GAZ (Great American Zero), Sheepy, Angry Missy, and Nora.
At one point, I was standing with Gaz when we saw a chubby, balding person at the entrance. Not thinking it was possible that a celebrity would show up, I asked GAZ if that was a Mr. Lovkin, a fan room regular. No, it was comedian Brian Posehn! Also found in the bar that night was Saturday Night Live’s Chris Parnell (who ordered a martini right next to me), comedian Eugene Mirman and Todd Barry, and the State’s Joe Lotrulio. Fan-boy that I am, I asked Posehn for a pic.
Casey had left earlier in the evening, so I finally grabbed a cab to head back to her place. For him to take me, though, I had to give him a cross street. As I scrambled back into the bar to see if anybody knew the info, I managed to text Casey. I still had to call her as the cabbie couldn’t find exactly where we were going.
Saturday was the day of the Traveling Virus show in Holmdel, NJ, and we hit the road in the late morning. I was finally able to see just what a mess New York is from a driving perspective, as there was bumper to bumper traffic for the first hour. A typical South Dakotan would never be able to maneuver the streets of New York.
O&A “pests” certainly know how to party, and I was amazed at the tailgate for this show. We arrived at 2:00 for the show that was not set to begin for another five hours, and there were already hundreds of drunk animals in the PNC parking lot. I’ve been to plenty of sporting event tailgates, and have never seen such a layout. Anything that could possibly be grilled was available, along with tons of beer and mixed drinks. DJ Dru Boogie was supplying tunes, and a Guitar Hero tournament was underway. Later, a wet t-shirt contest turned into almost a full girl-on-girl orgy.
Finally, I was meeting all of these people I had been interacting with for well over a year. There’s no way I can list everybody, but it was great meeting LeeMels, xxxmaulxxx, Legit Bill, Flight Benefits, HeyMotherKisser (one of my fave people in the world), the beyond beautiful Destanie, HappyTypingGirl, JMF, Babygirl, MephistosLoveChild, Friday (who introduced me to dozens of members of a rival messageboard), Jmich, Boater, Dick Whiskey, and so many more. (I know screennames are a strange way of acknowledging people, but it’s the easiest way to list them.)
Close to 7:00, I made my way into the show just in time for a surprise appearance by WWE’s Mick Foley. Rich Vos then did a short set before settling into his job at the host of the first half of the program, which also included Otto & George, Bob Kelly, Patrice O’Neal, and Bob Saget’s dirty act (which got old really, really quickly).
After an intermission, Opie and Anthony made their first appearance, and introduced the rest of the comedians – Louis CK, Lewis Black, and best-selling author(!) Jim Norton. Everybody had their moments, but for me Black was the highlight as I’ve always wanted to see his act. Although he tailored his act a bit for an O&A audience (less political material than you may expect), he lived up to everything I expected.
The show ended around 11, and although people went right back to partying and there was a meet-and-greet with the comedians, I was too exhausted to spend any more time at the facility.
I stayed at a friend’s home in Jersey after the show, and she treated me to authentic New Jersey diner after we awakened on Sunday. Seriously, everything you’ve heard about Jersey eateries is completely true, as I had the best omelette ever.
It was mid-afternoon when I made it back to Casey and Dave’s, and after three days of constant action I was ready to relax. We spent the rest of the day chatting and watching TV (at some point I heard Brent Mugsburger describe a Little League player as a “cutie”), along with the best delivered Japanese cuisine I’ve ever had.
The plan for the next day was for sight seeing. Not the typical tourist traps; I wanted to visit the former home of CBGB’s, along with the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot.
As I struggled to sleep on Casey’s couch, her computer suddenly restarted. Casey was also having trouble falling asleep, and when I alerted her to her computer situation, she discovered that a Paltalk message stating that we were invited to a BBQ being held in my honor.
In the days prior to my trip, plans had been made for a party thrown by one of my favorite people in the world. Thanks to some online drama, though, the party had been cancelled. Now it was back on? I was confused.
Although we had some discussion as to whether to change our site-seeing plans, it was decided that we should probably attend. We also had tentative plans to visit some other friends who lived relatively close to the party’s location, so everything was going to work out perfectly.
Jen and her husband Tony live in a beautiful home on a lake, and they went all out in providing food and drink. Seriously, every few minutes she was bringing out new stuff. I was blown away by her hospitality.
Many of the people who attended were also at the PNC show on Saturday, but there were a few new faces that surprised me. After the chaos of Saturday’s tailgate, it was relaxing to sit back and have real conversations with a smaller group of friends.
I felt guilty leaving, but we did have another engagement to attend. Thos who listen to Ron and Fez will know who IrishAlkey and his lovely “wife” Silera (they’re not quite officially married) are. Medical problems have basically confined Alkey to his couch in recent months, so it’s a rare occurrence for anybody to see either of them. Despite all the food I had eaten earlier in the day, I couldn’t resist the ribs that Silera had cooked for us.
Once again, I arrived back at Casey and Dave’s completely exhausted.
Ugh, my trip is over. Casey gave me a ride to the airport shortly after we woke up, and this time there were no delays. I had time to go online for awhile before my first flight, and time to eat during my layover in Chicago. This is how flying is supposed to work!