From the category archives:

Music

A Memorable Mardi Gras

by Alan Rider

Look over the list of extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years and you might imagine it’d be hard for me to get really revved up about anything anymore. Well, let me tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Case in point: I’m heading off to partake of Mardi Gras in New Orleans in a couple of weeks and I’m practically giddy about the experience I have planned. You see, while I’ve always had a blast being part of the crowd at Mardi Gras parades, this time around I’ve figured out a way to go from spectator to participant.
It all started when my friend Arthur Hardy (who [...]

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Giggles Per Greenback

by Alan Rider

Look, I watch the nonstop gloom-and-doom festival they call the nightly news and I know that times are tough all over.  But I also know that, if ever there was a time when we could all use to blow off a little steam and have a few laughs, well, this is it.
Which is why I’ve created  a thoroughly unscientific list of extraordinary experiences that I feel are outstanding values.  We’re talking about maximum yucks for minimum bucks. 
All will set you back less than $500.  Which seems like a small price to pay for an adventure guaranteed to make you forget all those news reports that had you feeling so freaky-freaky in [...]

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Rock-n-Roll Fantasy

by Alan Rider

Alright friends, quick question:  What do guitar legend Jimi Hendrix and I have in common?  Give up?  Well, here it is:  We’ve both taken the stage to perform at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore Auditorium. 
I got the chance to play the Fillmore recently as a participant in the Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp.  After a full day of rehearsals with our “camp counselor” Kip Winger (yes, that Kip Winger,  front-man for the multi-platinum ‘80s rock band of the same name), my four bandmates and I took to the same stage that helped launch the carreers of  Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and—well—more rock legends than you can count.
While the one-day [...]

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A Labor (Day) of Love

by Alan Rider

In any other major city, the idea of a “working vacation” would seem like an oxymoron. But, then again, New Orleans is no ordinary town.
When I returned to The City That Care Forgot last spring, I was thrilled to see that this thoroughly unique American city—one of my absolute favorite places on the planet—was finally beginning to bounce back from the damage done when Hurricane Katrina blew through three years ago this month. Bottom line: Virtually all of the things that make New Orleans such a great place to visit—the distinctive architecture, the fabulous food, the great music, and the general joie de vivre—are still there waiting for you to enjoy.
But I was equally [...]

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Long Live The King!

by Alan Rider

The history books say Elvis died on this this day in 1977.  But I’m not so sure about that.  And not because some crackpot claims they saw him ringing up Big Gulps behind the counter of a 7-11.
No, you see, I met Elvis in person just a couple of years ago.  Turns out he’s living a quiet life in Las Vegas (where else?), working as a minister under the assumed name of Norm Jones. 
We met at the Graceland Wedding Chapel when Elvis—oops, I mean Norm—officiated as my wife and I renewed our wedding vows while vacationing in Vegas a few years back.  It was great fun and I’d recommend it [...]

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The Real School of Rock!

by Alan Rider

I was flipping through the cable channels the other night when I came across the movie School of Rock.  While it’s not my favorite Jack Black flick (that would be High Fidelity where he plays a serious rock-and-roll record snob, something to which I can relate), it got me thinking about Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a place that ranks as a truly extraordinary experience for any serious student of rock music.
Unlike your typical dusty museum, the I. M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame feels as vibrantly alive as the music history it chronicles.  Its 55,000-plus square-feet of exhibit space contain thousands of remarkable [...]

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Affordable Adventures: Part 2

by Alan Rider

Call me a tightwad, but I tend to look at things in terms of “bang for the buck.”  Which means I get kind of excited when I discover a truly extraordinary experience that’s absolutely free!
 Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  But while you may have to invest in a couple of tanks of gas and a motel room or two, I think you’ll find that the fun-per-dollar quotient of these three all-American adventures is off the charts:

 Woodward Dream Cruise:  Every August, Detroit hosts this 12-hour automotive spectacle that attracts more than 1.5 million people and 40,000 custom and classic cars.  Simply put, it’s the coolest car [...]

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