Don’t Leave Home Without It

Note to Self: even if you think you know where you’re going, even if you’re sure it’s perfectly simple and there’s no chance at all of your getting lost, bring the GPS. Just bring it. You’ll thank yourself later.

I went to see Steely Dan* at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley (the closest I’ll ever get to that august temple of higher learning) on a balmy evening. I was thrilled about seeing the century-old outdoor theater, built by William Randolph Hearst**, which has hosted both the divine Sarah Bernhardt and the divine Bob Dylan, among many others. How many venues can make that claim?

I was also looking forward to seeing Steely Dan, who first charmed me with their wit and irony floating on incandescent melodies when I was in high school. I thought it would be easy to just pop over to Berkeley: no bridges, no traffic, perfectly straightforward directions. I figured I didn’t need the GPS just this once.

I was, of course, wrong.

I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up hopelessly lost. Everyone I asked for directions told me something different, and none of them were right. I finally found Telegraph and just drove to the end of it, where I found hordes of concert-goers who could actually tell me where the theater was.

Parking was even harder to find than the theater. I eventually found a place, and it turned out be about 15 minutes’ walk away, up and down hills (though with a stunning view of the Bay and the famous Campanile). Needless to say, I got lost again (I don’t even need a car to do that!) and I must have looked so bewildered that a drunk, slightly crazed homeless guy took pity on me and told me which way to go. You know it’s bad when the drunk, slightly crazed homeless guy has way more of a clue than you do.

I was nearly an hour late (or Suzy standard time) by the time I got there, but so was Steely Dan, who took the stage right when I took my seat. I’m guessing that Mr. Hearst didn’t have the audience experience at the theater, because you’re jammed together closer than on a discount airline, and the seats are non-comfy cement. The girl sitting behind me thought it was a good idea to cross her legs, firmly wedging one of her wedges into my ass, while the stoned old pony-tailed guy beside me played air drums for the whole show.

I had no idea that Steely Dan was so big with aging hippie and/or dope smoking population, but I can tell you from personal experience that it was pretty hard to get a breath of air in the outdoor (and theoretically non-smoking) arena that wasn’t liberally laced with weed.

The show was great, and worth all the trouble of getting there. And I learned a valuable lesson: always bring your GPS with you. You never know if you’ll find a drunk, slightly crazed homeless guy when you need one.

*When I learned the origin of their name, I immediately wished I didn’t know. ~shudder~ It was like finding out that James Spader and William Shatner don’t get along that well in real life, despite portraying one of the most touching and complex male friendships in the history of TV on the wonderful Boston Legal. Ignorance is pretty much always bliss as far as I’m concerned.

**Is it just me, or did Mr. Hearst have a fancy for the ancient Greek and Roman? I mean, look at Hearst Castle. Also, I wonder what he’d make of his great-granddaughter’s modeling career.

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