The Goddess of Travel Re-Emanates

I had a flashback yesterday on the phones. I was working with a client the day before who needed hotels booked from one end of Utah to the other, because she’d just been transferred to the West and had a long, long, long, skinny district to check out. We were chatting along and kidding around a little while I made with the flying fingers – I’m faster booking things “old skool” although the graphical tool we have is useful for “set it and forget it” bookings. So this woman was laughing about something I’d said to crack her up, and we signed off as new best friends. Next day, same woman on the line; she needed one of the hotel bookings moved farther up the road. Clickity clack, whickety whack, bada bing ka-ching, done. I recapped the cancellation number of the old hotel, gave the confirmation of the new one, and she was burbling on about how beautiful the drive was. I recommended she return in the fall to re-drive Price Canyon, which I knew she’d be driving the next day.

“That’s amazing! How do you know that?”

“Well, I used to go through there at least once a year with my mom when I was a kid, and one year was during the fall — it’s just gorgeous then. Based on where you are, and where you’ll be tomorrow, that’s your route.”

The traveler laughed, and got a few more “road anecdotes” from me before before the record was finished and emailed to her. She exclaimed, “You are the goddess of travel, do you know that?”

I was bowled over – the flashback kicked in, and for a second, it was… 1988 or so.

“Well, actually I do – it’s a long time since I’ve been called that, but that’s what they called me when I used to book travel for a little music company in Seattle called ‘Sub Pop Records.’ That was a loooong time ago.”

I’m not sure that she was suitably impressed; probably never heard of the legendary bands on that label. It sure was fun doing their travel (if a little nerve-wracking), and it gave me a peek at much weirder and more interesting and, hell, creative lives than my own.

It’s true: the founders of Seattle’s Sub Pop, and a couple of the other people in their office, used to call me up to book bands like Mudhoney and the Afghan Whigs on crazy trips to Amsterdam and Australia to go on tour. All I really had to do was get the bands to the starting point and from the ending point, for as little money as possible. I hardly knew what I was doing, but was a tiger for finding a crazy cheap routing, and more than once the owner of the fledging company would say “You are the GODDESS of travel.”

For some reason, the band organizers were always really excited when I booked the bands into and out of Amsterdam. “All riiiiight!” they’d exclaim. “I can deal with Amsterdam!”  I had an inkling as to why, but didn’t want to alert my old (SFX: hawk-spit) boss or she would have gotten all prissy about it. Fact was, Sub-Pop was big cool juju in Seattle at the time, even though they were constantly hanging by their toenails on the raggedy edge of ruin.

Aw, shucks. Good times.

I remember the agency’s owner sent her dad down there on a delivery run to the old Sub Pop office, and he about stroked out when he experienced the full-bore giddy weirdness that was SubPop in the late 80’s/early 90’s. They’re still trying to work out just exactly what happened in “the early years,” but from what I saw, it was like a juggling act with flaming chainsaws, with an excess of excess.

Still, they survived into the new millennium, and have the blog to prove it.

I wonder if they came across a mouldering box of old 3-part self-copying travel agency invoices with the “ears” still on? If so, the stuff would make wonderful mulch. Working at that agency was great experience for me, as I learned never to work for a family-owned business ever, ever, ever again.

Here I am almost fifty, and I still have a fondness for what was laughingly called “grunge” as a joke, and it got turned into a national music phenomenon. I was listening to WXRT today on my way home, and lost all patience with the evening drive-time guy, who is this kid half my age. For some reason, he insists on playing dinosaur shite, and fawning all over it, and blathering about how cooool it would have been to be at this or that legendary show what took place when he was nobbut a lad, or a glint in his ex-hippie dad’s eye, more likely. And he plays the Stoooones. And the Beeeeeatles. And Le-ehhhhhd Ze-ehhhp. Meh. Shite.

Make with the Decembrists and the Arctic Monkeys and Nickle Creek and Amy Winehouse already, young dude. Your station has a hugely diverse catalog of music to play from – get yer mitts out of the 70’s Arena Rock bins and play something from this decade already! The Goddess of Travel demands musical offerings that are not stale.

[tags]SubPop, WXRT, music, grunge, fifty, the Goddess of Travel[/tags]

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