sphoto number 12

          Because of last week's Rodger Hodgson concert, I remembered the circumstances surrounding my purchase of this rather ordinary white agate 1⅚" (48mm) sphere.  
          In 1994, I read in a French magazine about an upcoming Alan Parsons Project concert in Freiburg, Germany, which was about a four hour drive from where I lived in Mons, Belgium.  I purchased tickets over the telephone from a woman who understood and spoke very little English (the European equivalent of Ticketmaster).  When they arrived in the mail the tickets were printed in German.
          On the day of the concert, I leisurely drove to the quaint city of Freiburg on the edge of the Black Forest with many hours to spare in order to be able to explore the city during daylight.  Upon arrival, it was immediately clear that there was no concert scheduled in the city's concert hall.  A local Freiburg citizen explained that although the word Freiburg was on the tickets, the rest of the information indicated the actual location of the concert was in Friedburg, Germany (at least three hours away).
          With more than five hours before the concert was scheduled to begin, I headed north.  First it began to rain.  Then the traffic went from bad to worse.  And then it got dark.
          The next three hours and forty five minutes are blur-burned in my memory under a deeply carved label:  stupidest/most risky.  I foolishly drove beyond my brake's abilities, beyond the limits of my tires, faster than my high-beams could illuminate...and, occasionally, faster than my wipers (on their fastest setting) were able to clear the windshield.  In other words, I reached speeds in excess of 120 mph (200 kpm) and sometimes hydroplaned in the express lane of the German autobahn around Frankfurt, while high-beam flashing and passing hundreds of slower moving the dark.
          I arrived on time.  A little early even.  No problems (except for the tiring aftereffects of a huge amount of adrenaline).  Not even any close calls (which is less the result of my abilities and more because of luck—all it would have taken is a mechanical failure or one driver not using his side mirror and cutting in front of me).
          There was a very sparse crowd around the concert hall.  A Friedburg citizen said they heard the concert was cancelled but they were staying until they got an official word.
          I counted umbrellas:  less than two hundred.
          Glanced around the venue's exterior:  it would probably hold three thousand or more.  There were no buses or equipment trucks.  There were no lights on inside.
          I returned to the Friedburg citizen and asked if he could recommend a good local Gasthäus.  He did.  I got a room, a schnitzel, and many, too many, beers.
          The next day I found this sphere in a local store.
          I was unhappy with The Alan Parsons Project and avoided their concerts for several years.  Later I learned that Eric Woolfson wasn't the lead singer at any of their 1994 concerts, so I was less upset.  I saw them in Rochester, New York, as the opening act for Yes in 1998 with Eric Woolfson (which made this my lifetime favorite concert).

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