Live from New York! (11 hours, 29 minutes, 1 bad burrito later)

Team AJC was delayed slightly en route to the Falcons-Jets game. That's me on the left and Darryl Ledbetter on the right, starring in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Part II."
Team AJC was delayed en route to the Falcons game. That’s me on the left and Darryl Ledbetter on the right, starring in “Planes, Trains, Automobiles.”

(UPDATE BELOW)

Don’t do as much travel as I used to. Remembered why I don’t miss it a lot when I received an automated phone call Friday night from Delta saying my scheduled leisurely Saturday afternoon flight to New York had been canceled and replaced by a cartoonish Sunday itinerary that had me routed through Columbus, Ohio on something called Chautauqua Airlines, which Delta happily reported would still get me into LaGuardia at 2:02 p.m., assuming Chautauqua didn’t first have to circle back and fulfill its other obligation of dusting crops just outside of Springfield. The 2:02 Sunday arrival would’ve been just fine if the NFL hadn’t scheduled the Falcons-New York Jets game for a 1 p.m. kickoff in East Rutherford, N.J., or if commissioner Roger Goodell had the common decency to phone me and offer the use of his private jet. But no. The prima donna never called. And so. It was time to draw from all of those years of road nightmares. I also figured I might as well pass some time in plane, train and automobiles by putting together a blog. I’m weird that way. So here we go.

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snowat reagan

Because of scenes like this one at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C., all airports in New York, New Jersey, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia were shut down. Even the Falcons moved up the departure time of  their charter flight to beat the worst of the storm. (And by the way, Arthur Blank didn’t call me, either.) Late Friday night, I waited through 45 minutes of busy signals and then 40 minutes of on-hold Christmas music when a call did through. And by the way, the next person who sings, “Let it snow, let is snow,” gets punched in the nose.  So I finally get a ticket agent on the phone, and I’m pretty sure I interrupted her while she was doing her nails. She says to me, “There’s, like, this really bad winter advisory, and, like, it’s REALLY messing everything up.” And, like, I’m so not exaggerating how she said that. And when I asked her about my other options because this whole Columbus/Chautauqua thing just wasn’t going to work for me, she responded: “I really haven’t worked here for long so, like, I’m not really sure what to do. Umm …” And that’s when I, like, poured myself a vodka, and came to the conclusion about four hours sleep was the best option.

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danAlarm went off at 5:45 a.m. Saturday. Pretty sure I broke it. I kept hearing this voice in my head saying, “Like, I think you need to wake up, but, like, I’m not really sure because I’m new here.” Headed to the airport. The place looked like Kabul. I found a really smart ticket agent who informed me that, indeed, most flights were canceled. There was one early flight still going to LaGuardia and another to Neward but bother were oversold and the wait list came in three-volume sets. (Our Falcons’ guy, Darryl Ledbetter, texted me he was going to try to stand by on Air Tran flights. I laughed.) My super agent determined the best option was an 8:45 flight to Boston. Then a cab. Then a train. So I jumped on the airport tram and just as the doors closed I looked through the window and noticed that former Falcons coach Dan Reeves had to stop short because he couldn’t get on. He didn’t look happy. Actually, he looked like I looked before the vodka.

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pj

Meet my new pal, P.J. Alexander. He checks in at about 6-4, 306 pounds and says he has “pretty hair.” He sat next to me on the Boston flight. He was nice enough to let me share the arm rest, probably because he didn’t want to get me angry and he knew I could take him. If P.J. looks familiar, it’s because he’s a six-year NFL offensive lineman who played for the Falcons in 2006 and was in their training camp in 2007 before being released. He played last season with the Florida Tuskers in the fledgling UFL. He managed to get through the season without actually knowing what a Tusker is. Told some great stories. Turns out he’s the rest of us — he also hated Bobby Petrino (yes!). “He liked me for some reason,” Alexander said, “but I didn’t like him.” Told one story of a Falcons’ teammate breaking his finger. Petrino later saw him in the weight room and was nice enough (the player thought) to ask about the broken finger. The player said it was fine and that he could just “tape it up and modify” his grip to lift weights. Petrino’s response: “Why don’t you modify by putting some more [bleeping] weight on the bar,” and he walked away. Turns out he also had a flight to catch.

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cab

A lot of planes on the runway. Arrived in Boston just before noon, a little late. Jumped into a taxi for the 15-minute drive to the train station. (Accounting: $25, including tip.) This is my Boston cab driver. Forgot to get his name. But he told me snow wasn’t expected in the city until about 9 p.m. and that Randy Moss was a lazy bum.

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trainstation

This is the train station. It’s just a little bigger than the one in Atlanta. It was a popular place Saturday.

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timeboard

So far, so good. All departures are on time.

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toytrain

And here comes my train now, right on schedule. OK, seriously. I missed the 11:40 train, but it was sold out anyway. I was there in time for the 1:45, but it also was sold out. Actually, every morning train was sold out. This was not normal for a Saturday. “Man, you wouldn’t believe what it’s been like here today,” the guy behind the window said. So I had to wait around for the scheduled 3 o’clock, four-hour ride to Penn Station. Got the last ticket. Ate a burrito in the food court. I’m regretting it in mid-blog. (Accounting: $6.25 for the burrito. You’ll be getting a receipt for $14.50, and you’ll like it.)

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realtrain

This is the train. It got into Boston late and departed one hour and seven minutes late. There’s nobody on the platform right now because they all ran me over to get on board first, including some 92-year old women who screamed, “Get out of my way you lazy bum! You’re just like Randy Moss!”

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My man, D-Led (wherever he is).
My man, D-Led.

I heard from Mr. Ledbetter. Long story short: He stood by for two morning flights. Didn’t get on either. (He never learns.) Caught a later flight to Boston, arrived and the 6:30 p.m. train was sold out. So he’s on the late night Amtrak that is scheduled pulls into Clarksville at 2:30 a.m. Sunday. If he’s not completely lucid in his pre-game Tweets, that’s why.

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station

Made it! Flight, I mean train, No. 165 pulled into Penn Station at 8:14 p.m. Haven’t ventured outside yet but I looked out the window as we were pulling into the station, and it looks ugly. I’ll try to post a snow shot later. Just wanted to bring this trip to an official end. Thanks for helping me get through it. I’ll check back in later.

UPDATE

hotel 001hotel 004

OK, peeps. Here are a couple of shots. I love New York. But because of days like this, I’m very happy to be living in Atlanta. Cab driver almost side-swiped a parked car between the hotel and the train station. Snow and slushy wet stuff has been coming down since 2 p.m., according to my weather source (cabbie). He says they’ve projected 12 inches but adds that it shouldn’t be too bad tomorrow. I just don’t know what “not too bad”  means to him. Let’s see how the Falcons handle this.

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302 comments Add your comment

MCook

December 19th, 2009
6:25 pm

Remember The Titans on CMT…Great movie!!!
Try a look see Choke…

MCook

December 19th, 2009
6:26 pm

sorry…err…First?
Back to the movie, bye

La Jolla Dawg

December 19th, 2009
6:41 pm

One of your best, Jeff!

You’ve probably been too busy rushing around today to read the AJC.com, so let me fill you in: USC’s football program is under investigation again. Weren’t you and I just discussing/wondering when the NCAA’s investigation of Reggie Bush would be complete? Well, now there’s another Trojan football player who might have received special consideration (this time from a booster) under the microscope. Want to put a bet down on how long this look-see drags on?

By the way, it’s 75 here in La Jolla today. Just in case you care…

Kennesaw Jacket

December 19th, 2009
6:42 pm

two if by land one if by sled?

Russ4Heisman.net

December 19th, 2009
6:44 pm

So Darryl’s on the last train to Clarksville?

MCook

December 19th, 2009
6:47 pm

Time out with tha flick…
750 people working at Giants Stadium all night , and still snow like @#$%^

Reid Adair

December 19th, 2009
6:48 pm

Wow, Jeff. What a trip. Hope you get to Manhattan safely and get a little bit of sleep at least.

Great piece about P.J.

I guess D. Led is wishing he had followed your idea earlier.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:53 pm

Thanks Reid. Do you believe D-Led has a law degree? How that man got through law school is beyond me.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:53 pm

MCook– sounds like a fun job.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:54 pm

Russ4Heisman — Yes! The first man to get the Monkeys reference. Your autographed picture of Davey Jones is in the mail.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:55 pm

Kennesaw Jacket — I think a sled just passed us outside of New Haven.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:56 pm

La Jolla Dawg — OK. I REALLY could have done without the weather report. That’s funny/interesting about USC investigation. Carroll probably wishes he had left a couple of years ago when he had the chance.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:57 pm

MCook — Every coach in every sport should be like Denzel Washington in Titans.

Curt

December 19th, 2009
6:57 pm

awwww, the joys of travel…………

Would be an interesting article/blog of the the behind the scenes stories of Patrino. got to be one of the biggest jerks in sports.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
6:58 pm

Curt — Yeah, P.J. also was talking about how miserable he was, even yelling at equipment guys for no reason.

BugKiller

December 19th, 2009
7:00 pm

Will you meet him at the station?

Heh.

Oh man, in the pantheon of Holiday Classics (of which, Christmas Vacation is the very PINACLE of celluloid achievement!), Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is often overlooked.

I think it’s because of the crappy 1980’s synth-score. Because otherwise, the film is just about the funniest thing ever.

dave

December 19th, 2009
7:02 pm

Where are you now, Jeff?

MCook

December 19th, 2009
7:04 pm

JS,
Amen
peace
happy xmas bro…

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:06 pm

Bug Killer — No. Mickey Dolenz was meeting a hot chick. I ain’t waiting for D-Led… Yeah, Planes was pretty funny — not Candy’s best but good.

Dave — I think somebody just said we’re pulling into Stamford.

Falcons Keys to Success

December 19th, 2009
7:06 pm

1) Jeff Schultz shaves and carries a coffin through the snow
2) Matt Ryan stays hurt
3) ????
4) PROFIT!!!

BugKiller

December 19th, 2009
7:10 pm

Jeff,

I know this has absolutely nothing to do with sports (accept it has Mike Tyson in an awesome cameo)…

… but when you get to your hotel somewhere in Jersey, you need to order up The Hangover on pay per view.

Order up some good Chinese delivery (something you can’t find in Georgia outside of one hole in the wall place in Athens, China Wok) and be prepared to laugh your proverbial butt off.

Funniest movie in YEARS.

You’ll thank me tomorrow, as you’ll have something good to remember as you freeze in the swamp and watch what should be a terrible football game.

BugKiller

December 19th, 2009
7:11 pm

*except

dammit

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:14 pm

BugKiller — I’ve seen the Hangover and it is great. One of those movies that even though you know the end, you still want to see it again. Tyson was funny in that movie. Almost human. Almost.

Wes

December 19th, 2009
7:20 pm

Holiday Rohhhhhhhhhhhhoooooaddd!!

Pilot

December 19th, 2009
7:24 pm

As a pilot for the crop dusting airline…please let me educate you. We are
owned by Republic Airways. Which also owns Shuttle America Airlines,
Republic Airlines, Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines. It’s a company that
does more than a billion dollars in revenue a year. Chautauqua flies 50 seat
regional jets. Please
introduce yourself next time you fly with us. We’ll let you mix the chemicals.

BravesFan79

December 19th, 2009
7:24 pm

With all the cutbacks the AJC has been doing, im surprised they didnt just make u watch the game on TV. Seems like alot of trouble to go to for a team that is going to miss the playoffs anyways. Your a trooper tho Jeff.

froggy

December 19th, 2009
7:25 pm

Jeff: Hilarious blog, fabulous stuff. You may be underutilized in the “toy department” (isn’t that what the old-timers called Sports?). It is so good and so funny I am making my wife, who could care less about the Falcons, read it.

If you run into John Candy on the train, let us know. We’ve been missing that boy for a while…

Geronimo

December 19th, 2009
7:28 pm

Please tell us u had a couple 16-ounce cans to numb the train pain. What an odyssey — all to watch a broken team play another broken team.Candy would be proud.

BugKiller

December 19th, 2009
7:30 pm

Then I don’t know what to recommend for your needed decompression time before tomorrow’s miserableness (both in weather and play).

Umm… the WWE is on at 2100 on NBC with their yearly trek to Iraq to do some fake ‘rasslin’ for the troops.

If you haven’t seen the new Star Trek, that one was really good, too. You have the look of a sci fi guy, even if you’re a sports guy.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:31 pm

Two more stops: New Rochelle, then New York (everything is new these days).

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
7:31 pm

Chilling at South Station. Admiring the savvy East Coast Harvard-educated homeless folks. They just seem to blend in better. I should go ask one of them for a quarter, you know, to get something to EAT!

(Bad move on the Burrito!)

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:32 pm

Pilot — Did satire ever make it to your town? Have a nice night.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:34 pm

D-Led — Hey, the sandwich place across from the burrito place didn’t look bad. Sorry I can’t pick you up at the station. Some of our readers think I’m abandoning you.

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:37 pm

Jeff, not taken off yet?

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:38 pm

BravesFan79 — Let’s just keep that blog-from-the-couch idea quiet, OK?

Froggy — Thanks for the comments. Candy rocked! He was another great alum from SCTV. If any of you saw that old show, you know what I’m talking about.

Geronimo — I’ve decided to stay sober until I get to Gotham. Go figure.

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:39 pm

Willie — I was just going over the game plan and . . .

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:40 pm

the edit keeps catching me on the title but i wanted to see if you had seen inglorious ba—-?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
7:41 pm

No, we chose different paths. My Airtran Elite status didn’t help me much this morning.

I think I’m going to ask one of the homeless guys for a shot of their vodka.

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:42 pm

my son has seen it but was disappointed. i think he wanted more gore from tarentino

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:43 pm

jeff and dol, bradley told me you guys always took limos from the airport to hotel, games, etc.

was he pulling my leg?

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
7:43 pm

Willie — Not yet. But I will.

D-led — Careful. I’m guessing that’s homemade stuff.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
7:44 pm

I’m having a live chat on my Blog. Since I banned “CHOKE” it’s safe for my football fans to come back outside.

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2009/12/18/roddy-white-spreading-christmas-spirit/comment-page-1/#comment-17762

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:45 pm

you guys remind me of home alone in new york. be careful!!!

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
7:47 pm

jeff & dol, a serious question: i’ve never been to a pro football game. is the action noticeably faster than major college?

Jeff Schultz

December 19th, 2009
8:02 pm

Willie — Yes. NFL teams are even faster than Florida looks against your old secondary.

willie martinez

December 19th, 2009
8:13 pm

jeff, LOL. a shot, but a pretty good shot. best, willie

Mr C.

December 19th, 2009
8:14 pm

Jeff, Great blog. Check the hotels in New Jersey. You might see Tiger with one of his Barbie dolls. Does AJC expect you to expense ur hotel bills or would you be sleeping at the train station?/?

Ugly game tomorrow. Did you pick the game? I must have missed ur Thursday article. Aight, heading out to see Avatar.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
8:21 pm

Why do I have to John Candy!!! You know, the big guy!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
8:21 pm

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 19th, 2009
8:23 pm

Have the Saints and Cowboys kicked off?