Last week, we were down in Phoenix playing several resort communities for folks who have decided to leave winter behind. It just so happened that one of our good friends and Switchback supporters, Norm Weitzman, was celebrating his 70th birthday. With us being in town and staying at Norm's, it made perfect sense to play his party. So as we prepared to leave Chicago, we decided to pack up one of our powerheads which we use for a sound system and fly it down with us to Phoenix. After wrapping it thoroughly in bubble wrap, we were able to fit it into a suitcase. It weighed right in at 49 pounds, which was perfect for the airline. We added a pound of clothes in for extra padding and then set up another suitcase with some CDs, stickers and the like, as well as clothes, cowboy boots, and one suit jacket. Finally we had Joey’s drum case, which ended up being over by about 10 pounds. So we had to redistribute everything there at the airport. We planned to purchase a hi-hat, drum seat, and speakers once we got to Phoenix.
We did that the next day, heading over to a music store that carries everything and found two perfectly good used speakers that we purchased, as well as a hi-hat and drum seat. All this along with some cables we put in our rental van. Norm watched all this with a bit of amusement as we haggled with staff over costs and played the speakers to make sure we were satisfied that they were in good shape.
The day of the party began and Norm was excited. Turning 70 was a milestone, and so he was being congratulated by everyone at the resort where he lives.
That’s where the trouble started. One lady got very excited and decided to push Norm fully dressed into the swimming pool. Norm’s cell phone shorted out in the pool, which we needed since his phone number was the number for people to call for a concert the next day. People who were invited to his party were now left clueless if they had to call Norm for directions. It was a study in restraint, watching Norm not swear or totally lose his cool while dripping wet with a shorted-out cell phone.
I have a theory that such events trigger energy that has the ability to ricochet around. It requires a little while to settle down, and until it does there's nothing but pure chaos. Chaos now started coming out in force. We went over to the hall for Norm’s party and Joey unpacked the hi-hat stand to find out that it was broken and repackaged. Now Joey was mad, we had no hi-hat, and we were looking at Norm’s party starting in an hour. So we jumped into the rental vehicle and ran back to the store. I wanted to call Norm and tell him what was going on, but we couldn’t call Norm because Norm had no cell phone.
So now we were driving on Highway 101 as fast as we could. I got a phone call from Norm (using his girlfriend Audrey’s phone) to call our friend Beau who was flying in from Chicago. Norm was supposed to give him directions to the party. So I got on the phone with Beau, and Beau told me that he had been dealing with, you guessed it, some chaos.
It turned out that Beau was going to use Uber to head over to Norm's. The driver told him that he was outside Terminal 3, and so Beau headed over from Terminal 4. He got to Terminal 3 and there was no Uber driver. He called the driver and told him he was now on the second floor of Terminal 3 looking for him. The driver was a bit confused now and suggested that Beau might be actually in Terminal 5. This continued on for some time until Beau realized that the driver was back at O’Hare in Chicago, and he was in Phoenix! So he hailed a cab and headed out to Norm’s party. Chaos was having a field day.
Meanwhile, we got a new hi-hat stand and were roaring back down Highway 101 to set up for Norm’s party. We got into the hall and were about to plug in the powerhead when we found out that one of the pins that goes into the socket had snapped off! Now we had a problem. Joey and Brian found the broken pin and gently inserted it into a power strip with the rest of the plug. It managed to work but was only taped to a small cardboard box to enable it to stay steady.
Finally, it seemed like chaos had run its course. People showed up, and we got ready to play. Joey settled down into his brand new drummer seat, only to find out it was not working properly and was the most uncomfortable seat ever created. He soldiered on for Norm’s party. The next day, we once again headed down Highway 101 for our fourth visit to the music store just to get everything right.
In my book, chaos is usually present right before everything goes right. It is the way that Adversity challenges us to see how committed we are and how much we are able to "rise above the moment.” Though never welcomed, it does always make for a good story. And ultimately, that is what life is all about.