Sunday, July 8, 2012

Twit on a Road Trip [Part 6 : Day 10]

Ok, I know. Another post that only covers 1 of the 15 days on the trip. Trust me... it was a long day and deserved its own entry. As Day 10 started, I was starting to run on fumes. Up to this point, I had stuck pretty close to my rather non-existent plan. This whole thing started as an attempt to hit five baseball stadiums, though random wanderlust and nation-wide zigzagging would imply otherwise. Still, I wasn't going to hit Milwaukee because the Brewers ignored my repeated emails instructing them to stage a home game for my benefit. As I saw the days coming, I realized I was going to be unable to get to Detroit, also.

This had the added effect of me planning ANOTHER trip to the Midwest that involved drinking in Milwaukee and Madison and then taking the ferry over to Michigan and hitting up Detroit. I eventually came to the realization that I should end this trip (and the other ten that I have planned) before putting thoughts down about the next one (or, the 11th one).

This fell out largely due to my goal for Day 10, Sunday July 1st: Cooperstown, NY. There was no way I was going to get this close to the Baseball Hall of Fame and not check it out. This was especially true seeing as though it was in the middle of nowhere. It was unlikely I'd be in this neck of the woods again anytime soon.

I should point out here that I damn near planned a 12th future trip after I got to Cooperstown. But first... It was a more than a three hour drive to Cooperstown, so I hit the road early. Toll roads (sonuvabitch) stretched out before me, and it was hours before I slipped off into the central New York hills. I cut through some of the saddest little towns you've never heard of - Mohawk, Richfield Springs, Exeter - and became convinced that the baseball HoF was contained in a cave under a bridge. The Hall is located in this god forsaken area on the (completely incorrect) understanding that noted Civil War nobody Abner Doubleday invented the game in the region. I don't understand why he would choose this location for such inspiration other than he was hoping someone would hit him in the head with a rock. Instead, he swung a branch at the rock and hit a soft liner to left field (all corn by the way). This is the mythological and completely untrue birth of baseball (I'd stake my completely unworthy reputation on it).

Thus, I had mixed emotions as I crossed through a cut in the hill and found Cooperstown spread out below me. It. Was. Awesome. Respectably sized and all about baseball, Cooperstown is heaven for lovers of the game. The downtown area is like the set of a '50s television show. Cafes and diners mark the main road. Shops with baseball gear and equipment are on every corner. Pubs and restaurants line the side streets. Kids play stick-ball everywhere, and all the talk is of baseball.

I'll be honest, I thought I had hit a cow in Exeter and died. It was the only explanation.

Dodger great
Jackie Robinson
People were everywhere. They sat on the benches eating ice cream. They tossed baseballs. I thought, "How will I even park?!" Why... right here is fine. Right next to the baseball Hall of Fame would be perfect. It was like I was standing next to James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams as he explained what the sport means and what the field would mean to the lovers of the sport.

"People will came, Ray. People will most definitely come."

The front door to my personal religious institution
Sorry... I lost myself there for a second. Anyway, I ducked into Copperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. So very cool. They had hundreds of artifacts on the history of the game. Each team had a locker with notable accomplishments recorded. Stadiums were highlighted including Ebbets Field, which will always be one of the great regrets I have. Nothing I can do, but I would give anything to watch a game in Flatbush.

Records were highlighted... Rickey Henderson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Cal Ripken. An entire section was devoted to the works of Hank Aaron (a truly great individual, in baseball and life). Then, plaques for those honored in the Hall. A humongous apse filled with legends of the game. Some are well-known to the average person. Many are unknown except to the most ardent of fans. It was great. I could have spent days in this building. Alas, I only had four hours (they went by shockingly fast).

And, this is how I ended up planning ANOTHER trip (in addition to the aforementioned Milwaukee-Detroit sojourn) that would put me coming up to Cooperstown and staying for a weekend. Yes, there is that much to do and, yes, even someone that isn't as diehard a fan as I am would love it. The town itself is fascinating and home to a few thousand people. There's certainly enough to keep someone busy for a couple days, and - so - I will be returning eventually. I made myself a promise.

But, I had to get back on the road to Buffalo. I had another obligation. This time... a concert. When I checked on things to do in and around the 5000+ mile track I drove, I paired it off with some of my favorite bands. Sadly, most aren't touring right now. But, one was. And, damn if it wasn't one of the best ones out there today.

Lzzy.... Sxxy
So, I went to the Town Ballroom in Buffalo - a venue that had seen better days but was clawing its way back - to see Halestorm. Fronted by Lzzy Hale, the band had become a rousing success, especially with its latest offering that made it the first female fronted rock band ever to take the No. 1 spot on the Active Rock airplay chart. The music is great, but I hadn't ever seen them live. But, Lzzy is hot and I couldn't pass it up. Turns out that Lzzy isn't necessarily the most talented (in my humble opinion) of the Hale siblings. Her brother, Arejay, plays drums, and he put on as impressive a performance as I have ever seen in a live show. Totally unstoppable.

The crowd was diverse and devoted. It was quite the audience as I saw kids in their teens and adults in there 50s (60s?). Even the bartender pulled me aside during one of my (frequent) trips for libations to ask more info about the band. Even he was fascinated by the cross section of society in attendance. But, when they started rocking, Halestorm brought us all together. Town Ballroom was a great place to watch them, intimate and awesome. Orlando may have a glut of live music venues, but I have never been overly impressed with them (Hard Rock Live is the closest to 'good' in the area). Not only did the TB have a nice set-up, the history of the place was palpable. Well done, Buffalo. Below are some face-melting videos for your enjoyment. Trust me, they don't do the experience justice.

"Rock Show"

"Here's to Us"

"I Get Off"

"It's Not You"

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