Category Archives: Van Chronicles

Van Chronicles – Chapter 13

I got my karma from here right to New York

By 1994, we’d moved from the house with the half court to a house in the next town over, inching ourselves closer to New York by eight miles, shaving two exits off the Merritt Parkway, heading in the New York direction. You’d have to know the Merritt to really appreciate just what a good feeling that is. It’s a beautiful highway. Wall to wall trees the length of that stretch – in midsummer it is a sea of green. That is its best feature by far: its sheer loveliness. Its worst feature is everything else. A divided four-lane highway, where the right driving lane doubles as the exit lane and exits came up rather frequently. The fewer of those exits you have to face when two or more cars are gathered together on the Merritt is directly proportional to the joy in your life. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 12 (continued)

The venue was an amphitheater at Lake Compounce – a theme park about twenty miles outside of Hartford, which claims to be the site of the oldest continuously running amusement park in North America. It was built in 1846 and has been in business to a greater or lesser extent ever since. During one of the lesser-extent years, they built the amphitheater to attract the crowds with acts like Neil Young, the Allman Brothers, and Bob Dylan. But its major claim to fame is that this is the stage in 1989 where Milli Vanilli got caught lip-synching – the record skips, the record skips. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 12

Lost dreams and found dreams in America

The countless stories of America welcoming the downtrodden, the poor, the detritus, the fleers, all looking for freedom and the chance to make a buck, if they just put their nose to the grindstone, are the newsreel footage of the immigrant. That’s the white story at least. The black footage – well, not a lot of Statue of Liberty stories there. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 11 (continued)

Imagine Cinderella walking into the prince’s palace. No matter how much she liked her old digs, this place was a huge improvement – everything was more. More rooms, more space in each room, a two-car garage, a family room the size of a small restaurant, and three, count ’em, three bathrooms – it was like the Ritz. And it was ours for a pittance in rent for as long as it didn’t sell. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 10

Turn It Up

The show on April 14. 1990, was at my old stomping grounds – Massey Hall. Only this time I got to walk through the front doors and see the show from the start. Well, I’d see as much of it as I could – our tickets said obstructed view. As it turned out, they were really only obstructed if you wanted to see the stage. The view of the rest of the theatre was panoramic, especially up there in the balcony, which was looking to be my geographic lot in life. But I found if I listed just slightly into the person to my left, I could see one quadrant of the stage, the quadrant that included Van. But first up was Mose Allison. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 9 (continued)

I was playing hooky the day they handed out the mother gene. I had no idea what I was doing – or what was to be done. I spent all my time reading about being pregnant when I was pregnant, so I never got to the being a mom books till after the fact. Actually, just the one – Dr. Spock. It’s like the Betty Crocker Cookbook – as generic as it gets and indispensable. When anything went wrong, consult the index and then read the answer. Periodically I’d remember something about how some years back there had been a groundswell of antipathy for the good doctor, but I couldn’t remember if everyone had their knickers in a twist because he was too harsh or too gentle. To me, he was perfect. Well, maybe he wasn’t perfect, but the index was. If my child had an ailment, from pink toes to a spotty bum, I would look up pink toes or spotty bum in the index, and there it would be. The answers were always so simple too – whatever it called for, we either had in the cupboard already or I knew exactly what aisle to find it in at the store up the street. Just like Betty Crocker recipes – you’re bound to have all the ingredients at home, but if you don’t, she’s not going to make you drive to some little store three towns over to find fresh garam marsala. So Dr. Spock got us through the tough spots, and the rest of the time we winged it, going with whatever worked – we let our imaginations roll and went wherever they took us. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 9

Did I tell you about my baby?

Mind you, I didn’t have much time for religion in those days. Van wasn’t leading me down any religious paths. Life was too busy with practical matters, like babies, for me to be doing much religioning. I’d been holding out on having babies for a long time. I had the idea that it wouldn’t be right to bring children into a world that wasn’t all that attractive a place. Very bleeding heart. I worked under that assumption for years, right up until the day I turned to Dennis and said that if we were going to do this having babies thing, we should get started. It didn’t sound like my biological clock, but at thirty-one, maybe there was a bit of ticking going on. Dennis was keen; he had always wanted children – however many I wanted, that was good for him. Having none had been cool with him; but having some was more cool. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 8 (continued)

If you’re keeping score, this is the fourth Van concert I’ve been to, and up after “Got to Go Back” I get to hear “Moondance” for the fourth time in a row. There are not many Van shows I’ve been to that I haven’t heard “Moondance” – he’s taken this song through the ringer and back through it again; just when you think there are no more ways to do it, out comes something completely new and different. But after a while, no matter how innovative, it is a song, ultimately, that you feel you’ve heard several hundred times too many as it is, knowing that as long as you continue to go see Van live, you’re going to hear again and again. What a marvelous night for a moondance. If somehow I could collect all the times this song has been played and multiplied that by the number of people who have heard it all those times, and could package that up, well, that would be an awful lot of moondances. I have this new rule about “Moondance.” I make it a rule to listen to it no more than one time a day. Which means that any time it comes on, say, in the car, I immediately fast forward; this on the chance that I could be in a position at some point later in the day when I can’t fast-forward and will therefore reach my quota for the day. There’s no value in peaking early with this rule … can I just have one more dance? Like if I’m at a concert. I can’t fast-forward live. Not yet, anyways. As long as there is Van, there is another chance to dance. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 8

For those of you keep score, no, you didn’t miss Chapter 7. There is a Chapter 7, but, much to my surprise when I opened it up, it’s just the barest of outlines for this grand idea I had to cover the trinity of Van’s music – the physical, the emotional and the spiritual – which would mostly give me an excuse to listen to a lot of Help Me, It’s All In The Game, and Summertime In England. A huge and extremely rewarding project when I got to it, but I’d have to get back to it some other time. For right now, there’s Chapter 8 … Continue reading