I'm just rolling along on my Midwest vacation. It got off to a rough start due to someone not answering the phone when he was supposed to, relegating me to driving myself to the airport (to the bus station actually, from where I rode the cool blue bus on the high-above-the-universe car pool lane on the 110). But the plane ride was smooth, the rental car is a teal Vibe, and I've had meals in Minneapolis, Rochester, and Chicago, as well as ice cream in Madison. It's been a whirl wind. It's too humid. Too hot. But I'll manage. Makes it more difficult to sleep. But... that's summer in the CDT.
During most of my Rochester-Madison drive along scenic interstates 90 and 94, I listened to the new album by The Hold Steady. I need to listen to it more but I think it's their masterpiece. Every song absolutely perfect. Chilling moments. Yes, more songs about big mistakes and the hedonistic joy and subsequent regret they bring. It would be easy to say: Their first album was the party; their second was its sad aftermath; their third album was another party; and this, their fourth, is the (much) sadder aftermath. But the temptation is replaced by something truer. Then I remember that they were almost killed on that first album (Almost Killed Me) and that the new one is called Stay Positive (and they do) and it all gets swirled together and I get it - the good and bad, the party and recovery, the camaraderie and emptiness - it's all the same. Wow, the new album is good.
Now, the Ambien is kicking in. I should sleep. The air conditioner is starting to fill the large Chicago apartment with just enough cool air. Meanwhile my cats sleep in regulated central-air bliss.