Wednesday, April 28, 2004

This Too Shall Pass

Two nights ago I saw Kraftwerk, and they fucking rocked. Things I missed from the '98 show I caught in Chicago: the four of 'em coming out front, no backdrop at all, and doing "Pocket Calculator" with, um, pocket calculators! And getting, ahem, "funky," in that inimitable old-German-dudes way, meaning twitching around spasmodically, kinda Devo-like only without any real regard for the beat proper (or maybe just overresponding to that/those beat/s), yet obviously feeling the rhythm, into it, kinda like a kindly old uber-white-guy professor crashing a frat party and getting "down." Really, really endearing. (The infamous Carl Craig [I think?] quote, "They were so stiff they were funky," never made more sense than seeing them do that.) At the Paramount Monday, they just stood behind their laptops and Florian (or is it Ralf? I can never keep them straight, all old white German robot-dudes looking alike and all, cough cough) would occasionally cup his hand over the right side of his mouth so that his mouthpiece would catch all his words and they wouldn't just unbidden out into the air. (I think.) Undisputed highlight, though, wasn't the show itself, fine as it was. It was that after the main set (climaxing w/"Trans Europe Express," duh) and the first encore, when they closed the curtain a second time, the audience stomped and cheered for more--and then, instead of holding their lighters aloft, everybody held up their glowing cell phones!!! It was totally amazing, a PERFECT homage to the artists and their vision, and a pretty wonderful nose-thumbing at tried-and-tired rockshow ritual. (One or two people held lighters up, as if trying to rep for humanity, which was kind of touching but at the same time I was thinking, "Dude, the revolution is OVER and the robots have won!") Then they sent out the robots for "Man-Machine" and it was over.

Afterward I had drinks with a recent friend named Cami--really fun, excellent conversation that went on till closing time, at which point she dropped me at home. Next day (yesterday) I woke up feeling groggy, and on the bus to work I began feeling sharp pangs of pain in my lower abdomen (and, um, other areas) that I figured would subside once I got to the office and relieved myself. I did those things but the pain persisted, and after lunch at Salumi w/Brian, Jody, and Chris (the latter two visiting for the K-werk show, and great company all weekend), my abdomen began attacking me; I threw my lunch up an hour after eating it, and went home in a cab. I tried relaxing and drinking lots of water--I figured I was dehydrated--but nothing was helping. Finally, I called my friends Jason and Kirsten, asked them to bring me to the hospital, and went to ER.

I'm 29, frankly overweight, and not in great shape; I have trouble biking up incline that runs from my work (on Madison St.) from First Ave., which is a slow-rising but steady and fairly hefty incline, which is partly due to the excess weight and partly due to the fact that I'm out of practice as a bicyclist. (I used to ride constantly when I lived in Seattle from Aug. '99 to March '01--for the last eight or so months I regularly pedaled to Capitol Hill, which is basically a mile or so straight uphill ranging from 45 to 70-degree angles, usually carrying a full backpack of CDs or books to sell.) I figured, if anything, that I'd dehydrated myself and then gotten alcohol poisoning. Or maybe something more severe; my family has a history of diabetes, and I'm probably next. So I was steeling myself for pretty much anything. But after a bunch of tests, I found out what the problem was: I had passed a kidney stone! Hearing this was a little like being told, "Congratulations, you just gave birth," and thinking, "I what?!" Anyway, I'm on Vicodin (heh heh) and taking a rare day off from work.