Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Monday, June 16, 2008

My subversion is complete

In August 1990 I was a fresh-faced freshman at St. Olaf College, a bastion of Scandinavia right in the middle of Minnesota, little Scandinavia in its own right. It was a safehaven of sorts, scores of blonde, blue-eyed Minnesotans, safe from the corrupting influences of alcohol, condoms, and other undesirable things. And thank god for that.

I arrived with the sounds of AC/DC, Metallica and other similar music ringing in my ears, just as a small-town Minnesota boy should. Just down the hall from my room in Hoyme Hall was another young lad of scandinavian descent. Let's call him Jeremy P. (not his real name...okay, his real name). He looked just like the rest of us.

But he had a secret.

He was an agitator.

An agent of influence, if you will.

From his room came strange sounds. Sounds I hadn't really heard before in my small town. Wadena kids didn't cotton to such things.

My will was strong.

But Jeremy P. was well-trained. Over the days and weeks he wore me down. He was very good at his job. A subtle invitation to listen to his Charlie Parker disc. Perhaps I'd like to hear something from A Tribe Called Quest.

NO! I said. I want to listen to my new Motley Crue album, and the guy down the hall has the new Warrant CD. Let's listen to that.

Later, Jeremy said. But first, listen to this. It's a guy named Lenny Kravitz.

18 years later, I have finally and completely succumbed to Jeremy P's strange ways.

Lenny Kravitz in concert at the Sports Palace in Kyiv.

You've done your job well, Jeremy P.


By the way, amazing show. We were stuck in line to get in when he started, so we missed Always on the Run, but that was it. We were again in the Fan Zone, about 30 yards from the stage, until Lenny came down into the crowd through a little runway down the middle. When everyone turned to see what he was doing, we snaked our way up to about 8 people from the stage.


So, Paul McCartney vs. Lenny Kravitz

Historical note - + McCartney

Gargantuan outdoor stage - + McCartney

Pyrotechnics - + McCartney

Energy - + Kravitz

Music - + Kravitz

Backing band - + Kravitz

Weather - + Kravitz

Encore - + Kravitz (granted, we left during the McCartney encore to spell our babysitter, but still, Love Revolution and Are You Gonna Go My Way blew away anything McCartney did while we were there or was ever going to do.)

So Lenny wins 5-3. Katherine might quibble with my accounting of our two concerts this weekend, but that would entail her actually writing a post on this blog (besides the recent 'Jack has croup' post) which she isn't likely to do.

Of note, Lenny's grandfather came from Ukraine. So he's part Ukrainian.

I think our next concert will be Druga Rika, a very popular Ukrainian band whose lead singer happens to be the husband of one of my Ukrainian colleagues in the consular section.

For now, though, my ears are ringing, and my feet hurt from 5.5 hours of tennis yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tournament. Second place, thank you very much. I was defeated in the finals by a guy I beat in my first match of the day. We played round robin in 3 groups with the top 2 in each group advancing. As such, the number 2 guy in my group who I'd already beaten, turned around and beat me for first place.

But I still got a trophy...which is nice.


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