drunken piano man

billy-joel.jpg It looks like Billy Joel is coming to the KC Sprint Center in December. I’m not going because I’ve already seen him play… in a hotel lobby. It was early one night in April 2001 when a friend and I went to the Hurricane. The electricity was out on their block, so the Hurricane was closed. My friend and I sat around with some staff and other barflies trying to figure out what we were going to do for the rest of the night.

Then one of the off duty doormen called the Hurricane and said that Billy Joel was playing piano in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel on the Plaza. Now I’m not that big of a Billy Joel fan, but he was playing for free in a hotel lobby, so I said “what the hell” and went there.

By the time my friend and I got to the hotel, about 50 people were crowded around Billy at the piano. He had a black eye that night, and it seemed that he was on the way to a brutal hangover the next day. But he was in a great mood, and he took requests… well, except for “Free Bird” which one of the Hurricane doormen kept saying. Billy even sang “Kansas City”… he didn’t know all the words so he hummed until the chorus. Lots of us sang along.

Eventually, a gentleman from Billy’s crew or the hotel ended all the fun by asking Billy to call it quits for the night. By then there were around 200 people hanging out in the lobby. It’s an experience that I really appreciate, and I’m even happier that I didn’t have to pay some asshat ticket broker any money for it.

bum fight

I was driving to Walgreens at 39th and Broadway in good ol’ KCMO this morning when I got a red light at that intersection.  No big deal, just a red light. But then I heard a guy on the sidewalk next to me yell at another guy across the street. Both guys came out into the street, with just my car between them.  The guys’ shouting match went something like this:

Bum 1: Quit feeling sorry for yourself!
Bum 2: What?
Bum 1: I said quit feeling sorry for yourself! I have a cane. I can barely walk. At least you have legs that work.
Bum 2: But I’m homeless!
Bum 1: So? At least you can walk, dammit. I can’t even walk. (At this point the guy was walking and pointing his cane.)

Just when I thought the traffic light was permanently stuck on red, I got a green light and pulled into the Walgreens parking lot.  By then the guys were in the same lane yelling about who should feel more sorry for himself, while people in cars tried to navigate around them.  At that point, I went into Walgreens, and the guys were gone when I came outside a little later.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what happened to the guys, but I’m sure you can creatively fill in the blanks.