Posts Tagged ‘working class’

Across The Water

March 3, 2014

Saturday March 1st, 2014 – Muskegon, MI

From my earliest memory of seeing a large body of water first hand, the first thought that pops into my mind is wondering what’s on the other side. Growing up in Milwaukee, the water I saw was Lake Michigan and I was with my grandfather when I saw it. I was probably six or seven.

I remember asking Gramps “What’s over there on the other side?”

“Muskegon, Michigan.”

‘What’s that?”

“It’s another city in another state.”

My imagination took it from there. From that moment I began crafting a vivid mental image of what I purported to be an exotic faraway Mecca abuzz with rabid excitement and swashbuckling adventure. It was to Milwaukee what the New World was to Columbus – and I wanted to sample a spoon full of its charms. Surely it had to be better than the mundane boredom of my birthplace.

I don’t know why the thought of going there attacked my fancy so much, but it did. The legend of what I pictured Muskegon to be grew as fast or faster than I did, and somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew I would walk upon that soil. There was even a ferry boat that went there.

I assumed a ride on that boat would either be an Ellis Island immigration in reverse situation or a scary sequel to the Titanic or Edmund Fitzgerald. Neither appealed to me, and in all the years I had the chance to take that ferry I just never did. Somebody must have, as it is still operational.

After several years of getting out there as a road comedian, my professional trail eventually did go through Muskegon, MI – and the level of all out crushing disappointment was right up there in my life’s dumpster with finding out professional wrestling was fake and/or that I wasn’t going to ever receive the ten million dollars Ed McMahon promised. Baseball bat blows to the skull, all.

Muskegon, MI turned out to be just another town. Not a bustling city, but not a deserted island either. It’s a lot smaller than Milwaukee, and a lot less exciting – and I find Milwaukee to be not exciting whatsoever. It’s a blue collar working class city that tries to shine in Chicago’s shadow.

Muskegon is like a distant cousin we always heard about, but didn’t get to meet in person until a forced family get together like a wedding, funeral or reading of a will. It wasn’t a very moving experience, and when it was over everyone went their separate ways. That’s how this turned out, but I’m still glad I went there. It wasn’t the raucous thrill packed place I thought, but I got there.

Tonight I had a show in Muskegon at an old movie theatre. They have new owners and want to add live entertainment to the mix. They’ve only done a few shows, but it’s a nice facility. There was a smaller turnout tonight because of bad weather, and I never like to see that. It was a rough drive around the lake to get there, and a LOT longer than if I could have taken that ferry instead. But I couldn’t. Disappointment all around. But I did get paid, and made it home safely. Victory.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally got there.

No offense to anyone from there, but Muskegon, MI was a lot more fun and exciting in my imagination as a kid than it ever was in real life when I finally arrived there. BORRR-ring!