Back in November I received the best b’earthday gift ever. Jared from Burnt Sugar asked me if I would like to join the band in Paris in February for the Sons d’Hiver Festival. They were invited to do the James Brown se and wanted me to come along. Of course I said yes! In my excitement I wasn’t even thinking past Paris. That’s when my friend Ian reminded me of how close I would be to London. He suggested that I inquire about extending my ticket, which never even crossed my mind. I haven’t been back to London since 2007 so I was long overdue.
Before contacting Jared to ask about the flight extension, I sent an email to my man Adam Rock at Jazz Re:freshed to see if he could book me for Feb. 10th, which would be the week I could be in London. He said he had something booked, but he would bump it and put me in. Yes! So I went back to Jared and asked about the flight extension and he said it would be no problem. With that, it was on!
I never thought it would have taken me four years to get back overseas, and now I can’t remember why it did. Sometimes the small things in life get in the way. But there I was, poised to go back to London and I was prepared to go it alone.
The last time I went Shawn, Achuziam, Lionel, Irv and Teddy came with me and we had an awesome time. I knew that it may not be a possibility for them to come this time as I could not secure anyone’s lodging or ticket except my own. So I figured I would pick up a band there and just go for it.
Somewhere along the line I told Jeff of my plans and he said he would be down to go and was really excited as he had been to London and really wanted to check it out. So it looked like it was going to be just two hairs in the U.S. büshe in London, but I digress. Let’s get back to Paris.
When I told my mother that I was going to Paris, she said she was coming. I didn’t know if she was serious, but then she kept asking me for travel dates and where we were staying so I knew it was really on.
As the departure date got closer I was in full swing of booking shows for the band in London. I managed to book four shows and two radio spots. Not bad for a gorilla operation. I was planning and squaring everything away right up until I got the plane for Paris.
I have to admit that before departing I was concerned about how much luggage I was bringing. Would it be overweight, would they let me bring my bass on the plane, etc. I was making calls to airlines and praying the whole time. When people would ask if I was excited I would tell them, “I’ll be excited when I’m through security at JFK.”
I wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible so I got to the airport mad early. I printed out my boarding pass at home so I wouldn’t have to do it at the kisok. I wanted to go straight to the line to check my bag and pray they don’t ask me to check my bass because I decided not to bring the travel case. For comfort sake I needed the bass to be on my back. I just had too much stuff for it to be in my other hand. I needed an angel.
When I got to JFK to the Air France counter it was empty. I mean totally empty. There was no one on line at all. Note: If you want to fly to Paris from JFK and not wait on line, fly on Thursday night, barring a holiday of course. It was sort or eerily quiet, but I was glad.
I walked over to the counter. Presented my passport and paperwork, checked my bag and headed for security. The woman at the desk didn’t ask me about my bass at all. Just gave me my boarding pass and a smile and off I went. [Angel #1]
Next shocker, the security line was damn near empty as well. I went through without any problem, but they wanted to look at what was in the pocket of my bass case. The guy at security went in and pullout out my screwdriver. I forgot I had it in there. I use it to take the battery in and out of my bass when I need to change it. Well I was prepared to leave that behind, when my man slid it back to me sort of on the sly tip! Wow! I mean I know that I’m not going to try and hijack the plane with my screwdriver, but how does he know? lol Oh well, I’ll take it. [Angel #2] I gave him a nod and headed to my gate. He was flirting with me a bit too so I think that’s how I got over. Lol.
I walked down to my gate and I was the only one there. The only other Burnt Sugar members who were on my flight were LaRonda and Lisala. So as I was there waiting I had to buy the obligatory overpriced sandwich in the airport. If there is time to kill that is a must, unless you are at Chicago, O’Hare and then you must purchase the obligatory bag of Garrett Popcorn. ☺
Before I was able to make my purchase I saw Lisala coming toward the gate. I was on the phone so I waved. When I got off the phone we chatted a bit and then out of the blue I see my old neighbor Chris from my Clinton Ave. days. Can I tell you how much I love running into people I know at the airport? I think this is the second time this has happened to me. I ran into Saul Williams at O’Hare actually, on my way to Michfest. It just reaffirms for me that I am doing what I supposed to be and that all my artistic people are living the life they want to live. Chris was on his way to the Sudan to teach illustration. Nice!
As I walked and talked with Chris, on my way to the obligatory sandwich, we ran into LaRonda eating her obligatory overpriced meal as well. Ah, the airport. Chris and I said a brief hello, moved on to get our overpriced meal and then parted ways.
Air France is incredible from before you even step foot on the plane. They don’t calls seat numbers or sections or any of that in order to board people. They just said “Air France flight 008 is now boarding” and that was it. Now that’s what I’m talking about. That’s just civilized. LOL!
|My departure gate|
When I got on the plane my bass didn’t fit in the overhead, but they gladly put it in the closet, in business class thank you very much. I also wanted a window seat, but I just ran out of time to request that so I was on the isle. Well when they closed the plane door the person in my row had not shown up so there I was with the window seat that I wanted! [Angel #3] I moved over, situated myself and soon we were off.
The Air France flight experience is incredible. People rave about Virgin America and Jet Blue and I have flown both, but right now Air France is giving both of them a big run for their money. Big! I had no idea flying could be like this. There was mad room in coach, lots of movies for free and the topper, wine! Red or white, and it was good. The food was good for plane food and you didn’t have to pay extra. The bread was on point and the cheese was amazing. They are serving France before you even get there. They were also offering Champaign! For Free! What? Just lovely.
I could hardly sleep, which would catch up with me later, but for the time being I was happy as a clam. I was on my way to Paris.
|The French countryside from my window seat|