Thursday, August 13, 2009

LAX: Never again: Cali Trip Home Part 1

On my trip back to home for a week and a half, I found myself missing Louisiana! Impossible! Right?

Trip Part (1): The Third Tier of Hell AKA Los Angeles International Airport

So I arrive at a gate somewhere in the 50s, go to McDonald's because, guess what, Delta charges for food now, and call my mom asking her to look up what gate my connecting flight is on. It was an Alaska Airlines connection, so I figured it was somewhere in my terminal, but I had no idea where I was. It was 7:20. My mom informs me that my flight is in Terminal 3 and that I am in Terminal 5. She tells me to pack up my food ( I hadn't started eating ) and get to the gate first. I pack up, ask an airport attendant where to find Terminal 3, and head on my way. THE GREATEST THING ABOUT LAX is that you have to go through security again if your connecting flight is in another terminal. Genius. So I go outside to where the Taxi's are and walk by Terminal 4 and then go into the one after it, presumably number 3. I go into the Terminal and see half of South East Asia standing in the ticket lines. I mentally note that there seem to be a lot of foreign airline ticket booths in the terminal. I start to think I am in the wrong place, but low and behold I look up and see my flight, Alaska Airlines 721, departing 8:55, top of the list on the departures. Kinda weird that all the flights following it are international flights, but I shrug and continue. I go through the International security line, get glared at for not having a passport (I'm flying to San Francisco, I said), and briskly walk to my gate, Gate 123B. Half of Mexico is standing there. I realize there aren't that many Latinos in Louisiana, not compared to California, and maybe my radar on ratios is off, but still, I find the situation odd. I go check the Departures television and can't find my flight anywhere. I go back to security, see a departure television there, and see my flight again.

123 B. I go back to the gate and hear the announcements in Spanish. Odd. I call my mom and start panicking. She tells me my flight is at gate 31 A. By this time it is 8:30 and I am certain I will miss my flight. I go to the desk at Gate 123 B, and talk to the representative, who is latino. He tells me Alaska Airlines does not come to this terminal, and that it is in Terminal 3. I shake my head and ask, "This isn't Terminal 3?" Realizing that only in a dream world would the terminal before 5 be 4 and the one before 4 be 3. "No, this is the International terminal!" And I curse myself and Alaska Airlines and think, "No shit!" I briskly walk, because I don't want to be one of those people who runs, out of the terminal, out onto the street sidewalk, and down the walk to T3 Alaska airlines. I go inside, go to the ticket booth, because surely at 8:48 I've missed my 8:55 flight. I wait behind a woman who is bickering with the attendant about her bag, which is too big to take on board, but she is too late for her flight to check it. I stand restlessly. The attendant leans sideways and asks, "Can I help you with something?" I reply slightly annoyed, "I am missing my flight right now." She kindly asks, "Where are you going?" San Francisco. She asks if I am checking a bag, I say no. She says, "Run." After going through security AGAIN, I run through the terminal, shoes in my hand, pants falling down, belt around my neck. I get to my gate and see that no one is boarding the plane. All the seats are full and there's a line at the desk. I ask some guy what is going on. He replies something about Miami. I shrug and sit down, annoyed that I let myself actually run. While boarding the plane, I hear a couple complaining to customer service about having done the same thing I did. "There's nothing we can do, sir," the attendant replied. The man was very angry. I was too relieved to be angry. I get my aisle seat, talk to the women in my row and relate my story, and we commiserate about connection flights and LAX. I read The Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series, and eat my McDonalds as we wait on the tarmac another hour because of the fog at SFO. During the flight, we linger over Big Sur because of the fog. When we finally land and I get my luggage, it's 12 a.m. As my mom and I leave to go to the parking garage, I run into a high school friend, Kurt, who is so tired from traveling he can't even remember where he came from. I almost felt the same way..more like didn't want to remember. If you ask me tomorrow about LAX, I will reply with some offhanded joke about a sport with sticks.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Share and Tell: MAE

I am so overjoyed that Mae is going to be on tour again, and coming to New Orleans the week after my birthday! So I decided to write about how amazing they are.

I've been listening to Mae since freshman year of high school (circa 2002) when my friend Tony sent me one of their tracks, Summertime. What caused me to fall in love completely? UM...the catchy guitar and the pretty piano in the background. The piano will get me every time.

Then I got my hands on their album The Everglow, which was in itself, something completely different from their other stuff, at least to me. This album is a storybook, a journey, and a complete masterpiece, from the prologue all the way to the epilogue. I have had a love affair with each and every song, starting the moment I bought the CD and continuing on even now with "The Sun and the Moon" (which could be my wedding song someday).

If I couldn't emphasize the magic of this music enough, I have to tell you about their shows. I've been to two. The first one I went with Christian, and we were really there to see Relient K. We got there late and frazzled, having to take a cab to the Fillmore since the bus was being retarded. We saw the last few songs of Sherwood's set, and then Mae. It was simply put, magical. I was in the back, and I still felt the entire emotion of the crowd change as people stood there and had some great inward experiences with the music. When Relient K came on, it was just icing on the cake. (They were pretty fantabulous as well, but that's another blog post. Sadie Hawkins Dance, woah!)

When I saw Mae this past spring, it was at Bottom of the Hill, a much smaller venue than the Fillmore. I had been there before, and knew it was going to be cramped. When Mae took the stage, everyone crowded around the small, 3 foot tall stage. Dave Elkins, on vocals and guitar, really has a great presence on stage and a performs almost perfectly live. For this particular tour, they had videos for each song that "aesthetically" went with it (Cause a rumor I heard is that MAE is acronym for "Multi-sensory Aesthetic Experience."). Walking away from that show, I had a natural high I had never experienced before, but similar to the one I felt about Ryan Adams at the Zellerbach.

Their album after The Everglow, Singularity, is very different than its predecessor. At first, I did not enjoy it that much. But having it in my iTunes library for a while now, I find myself listening to it more and more. The mind only has a capacity for so much that's familiar, I guess. I really love some of the songs on it now. A lot of fans criticize it though, because the sound is so different from what Mae had come out with before.

Their newest venture, Morning & Afternoon, 2 ep's that are being released over the course of this year, are quite different as well. The songs have that Everglow magic to them, but have a different lyrical substance. Their Morning tour (which is what I went to) and song proceeds all went to building a house for a woman in need in their home state of Virginia. As of June 1st, I believe the woman and her family have a brand new house, thanks to Mae and Habitat for Humanity.

If you haven't listened to Mae, you should definitely check them out. They have a great range of music out now, over the course of 8 or 9 years, and there's probably something in there you might enjoy.

My recommendations:

From The Everglow:

"Someone Else's Arms"
"The Everglow"
"The Ocean"
"The Sun and the Moon"

(or pretty much the whole album, start to finish)

From Singularity:

"Brink of Disaster"
"Crazy 8s"
"Just Let Go"

From Destination: Beautiful
(this is their first major album, I think)
Add Image
"Giving It Away" (But I like the raw version on the Destination: B-sides cd they released after this one)
"This Time Is The Last Time"
"Embers and Envelopes"

Visit their official site @