Wednesday 23rd September:
Doozer and I went to the city.
We left Jamie’s house at around 10am and went to the train station, where we spent a whooping $45 on our return trip tickets to the city and back. I was feeling a bit rough by that day, a mixture of jet lag and exhaustion from the previous nine months had decided to punch me in the face with a cold from hell. I was determined to show Doozer the city, I had been there once before on my last trip, it’s a must see for everybody. We met my friend Alex who I met through Amber last time I was in America. He was the best tour guide ever. Actually, friends are always the best tour guides. He showed us the touristy bits, central park, times square, and the grand central. He also showed us the less touristy stuff, like the village which is where all the artsy fartsy hipsters hang out, and he took Doozer on a tour of where all the Ghostbuster and The Avengers and all those other geeky films were shot. The best bit about having Alex as a tour guide is that he brought a bottle of Rum with him in his backpack, and he took us in a cab to get cheap pizza. So now we can actually say we took a cab around New York. Tick! NYC is absolutely mad, intense and busy and no one pays any attention to what anybody else is doing. It’s interesting because of the mixture of people and the variety of personalities that this city attracts. Everything is enormous and confusing and smelly. The sun doesn't shine in there because the buildings block all the sunlight out and the billboards just glare neon lights into your eyes. It's a great place to live if you're mad. The streets are laid out like a grid and the street names have numbers but there’s no numbers on the street signs, like that makes sense. The day went a bit too quickly, but by the end of it I was bloody knackered from all that walking around we did, it's impossible to see the whole city in one day. We'll have to revisit.
The next day was Thursday, this was the day we planned to make our road trip to the Vigil which is held in Indiana. I don’t know if you have a map handy, but from New York to Indiana is approximately a 12 hour drive. We left at midday, went shopping to stock up on supplies then hit the road.
I didn’t do much on this part of the trip so don’t expect this bit of my blog to be really interesting and keroac-esque, because I was still feeling run down from the day before, so I drank smoothies and slept in the back seat a lot. What I did like though, was that Jamie and Doozer split the driving between them, 2-3 hours each. They shared music off the ipod and talked the whole way there. Jamie taught Doozer how to drive in America, and he taught her how to speak Essex... I was glad about that because if they hadn’t liked each other it would have been a really awkward 12 hour drive...
We managed to do the whole drive with only really a few stops for fuel, and one stop for dinner. At around midnight or 1am we arrived in Indiana, got to the Red Roof Hotel where we were sharing a double room with Diana and her daughter Shannon (named after THE Shannon Hoon) and we all went straight to bed. Not very rock n roll really.
Waking up and being in Indiana was really nice though. Everyone that attends the Vigil usually stays in The Knights Inn, which is a charming shit hole full of bed bugs and all our memories of fun times. If it wasn’t for all the good times that we had there over the years, it would probably just be another one of those motel rooms that smells and looks like a filthy sock.
The Red Roof was a step up, opposite the Knights Inn. Everyone stayed at the same hotel as well as the surrounding hotels so we were neighboring with everybody who was there for the same reason as us, to attend the last ever Shannon Hoon Vigil hosted by Nel Hoon. The next few days went in the blink of an eye. It was weird having Doozer with me this time, everyone at the hotels was enjoying telling him embarrassing stories about what a young, drunken idiot I used to be. It was like introducing him to my family for the first time. A lot of the stories I had forgotten until now, it felt a bit like I forgot who I used to be. My favourite thing was that almost everyone there had remembered that I taught them the word “Minge” and they all said it with pride, and amusement. I also learned that I used to swear a lot more than I do now.
The actual Vigil was on saturday, Doozer and I went there first thing in the morning. I never know how to feel when I’m walking through the Cemetery because it’s different every time I’m there, I feel like it changes me every time. I also anticipated how Doozer would feel about it, what he would think of the fact that I had flown him halfway across the world to go to the graveyard of singer from the 90’s. It’s hard to describe in a way that does it justice, as well as makes sense. I don’t want to sound like some hippy going off on a rant about why this is special. It just is.
For the people who go there it makes sense, everyone there is a family, a group of people who understand each other and come together once a year. Whatever reason they’re there for, everyone is bonded by the music that changed them at some point in their life.
This time it felt different, everyone knew it was going to be the last Vigil, and so there was almost a sense that everybody was saying goodbye.
It was great to see so many familiar faces, as well as friendly new faces. It was really heartwarming to talk to people and hear their individual stories about why they were there and what listening to Shannon Hoon’s music had done for them. The evening came too quickly, and before we knew it we were under a bright full moon, with candles everywhere, guitars playing and everyone singing Blind Melon songs with Nel Hoon in the middle and a sense of unity in the air.
It really was an emotional experience, so much happiness and sadness in one place. It was overwhelming. We stayed until around 3am.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the crazy horse lady. There was a crazy lady who owns a piece of land opposite the cemetery who is completely against the Vigil. She thinks it’s all a bunch of drugged up hippy nutters having a rave in a gravesite, which isn’t true. Drugs and drink are strictly prohibited at the vigil, and always have been. So this lady didn’t want the vigil to happen this year, and didn’t get her own way, so she decided to march on her horse up and down the road eyeballing people from afar… all day long. Eventually she got herself really wound up, and came down to the cemetery on her horse, with a GUN, and with her daughter on another horse, who was trying to whip people with the horse whip. The last straw was when her daughter whipped at Nel Hoon. They were obviously trying to spark a confrontation, and it worked… but it also backfired, very quickly. There were some angry words exchanged and a huge crowd came to Nel’s defense. Of course I didn’t see any of this happen, because as usual, Doozer and I are always somewhere else doing something mundane when things kick off. We were sitting on the back of our car across the road eating cheese and pickle sandwiches when we could hear lots of commotion going on and shouting. What I do know is, that by the time we got back to the cemetery, the police were there and the crazy horse lady (who looked a bit like one those mental “God hates fags” christians) had tried to get her horse to run over a police car. What a nutter!!! I felt sorry for the horse. Apparently the cops pulled her off her high horse and got her on the ground face first and arrested her. Which is an appropriate response to some lunatic with a gun on a horse whipping people and causing trouble in a cemetery where there are families and children!
Anyway enough of the crazy horse lady story. If she’s got any sense she’s probably a bit embarrassed by now.
....TO BE CONTINUED...