August 10, Day 18, Toledo
The Ohio State Fair! Wow - a completely unexpected
treat. The Ohio State Fair in Columbus is an enthralling, sprawling, full-on
middle-American freak show. As the meat, poultry and dairy industries have recently fallen
out of grace with health-conscious consumers, much of the fair is now devoted to shoring
up the soiled and scuffed public image of these hapless foodstuff producers. For instance,
I learn that eating pork two or three times a week may not necessarily be bad for me,
depending on my age, height, weight and immediate reproductive plans.
Speaking of physical dimensions, I am unjustly turned
away from all but the kiddie rides because of some absurd minimum height requirement.
However, this does not prevent me from enjoying the other treasures the fair has to offer,
including but not limited to the bi-hourly fair parade (complete with marching band and
the Ohio State Fair Queen and Her Court - hubba hubba), Grand Ol Opry star
Whispering George Anderson (he finishes his first song bobbing and weaving evasively, as
innumerable women from all walks of suburban life are showing their appreciation for his
craft by heaving their control-top panties and Depends in his general direction),
life-size butter sculptures celebrating last years Ohio State University Rose Bowl
victory, cotton candy, peanut brittle, maple candy, blue-ribbon fruits and vegetables,
ultra-avant garde flower arranging, heavily scarred flame-jugglers and new product
demonstrations galore (slicers, dicers, water-less car washers, the mop designed by NASA,
super absorbent everything). The only disappointing aspect of an otherwise perfect day
(aside from the aforementioned problems with the rides) is that I dont get to
fulfill my lifelong dream of having unprotected anal sex with a carnival worker. Oh well,
maybe next year.
Sadly, like a perfect dream, the fun ends abruptly (but
with no stains), as we are unceremoniously thrown back into the cruel reality of our
business at hand - the tour. This means climbing back into the piece of shit that used to
be our cool van, and chugging on to Toledo. I dont remember anything about the show
except the last band, The Unearthlies, an unholy marriage of shitty punk and shitty metal.
The bass player is entertaining, but the drummer and guitarist make me wish I hadnt
forgotten my pepper spray at the Dennys in Kansas City. These guys act like they
have the inside line on the punk aesthetic, but I know better. You know what my idea of
anarchy is? Kill all the wanna-be punks.
August 11, Day 19, Cleveland
Its raining in Cleveland, but that doesnt
matter because we get to hang with Sharon, bartender at the Euclid Tavern (site of
tonights show) and longtime friend of the band. After the show, when its time
to leave, I try hiding in the bathroom, hoping that Sharon will discover me, take pity on
my plight of apparent abandonment and bring me home to start our new life together. In a
predictably callous twist of the fate screw, it is Geoff fuck who discovers me, and as
punishment I am imprisoned in the van cooler for an hour. I get even by eating a putrid
peanut butter sandwich and shitting all over the rest of the food.
We spend the night in Kent with Bobbi and Alex. Very
nice people - I even like their big dog, Earl, despite my history of problems with big
dogs. I suddenly realize that for me, this journey has been one of deep and boundless
spiritual growth. With my inner glow completely renewed, I climb back into the van and we
continue eastward. Ted fuck starts whining about having to sit in the middle, so I summon
my newly balanced chi and kick him in the balls.
August 12, Day 20, Pittsburgh
We get to Pittsburgh early, so the fuck boys go record
shopping. Having spent nearly three weeks away from my supportive friends and family, I am
in desperate need of a self-esteem boost. Knowing that theres nothing like the
glimpse of a life more miserable than mine to recharge my ego, I head over to the local
Radio Shack and strike up a conversation with one of their typically pathetic employees.
After less than two minutes of single-syllable interaction and thinly veiled sexual Star
Trek references, I am completely rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world.
The show at the 31st Street Pub is mostly amorphous.
Note for future bookings - when presented with the opportunity of appearing as the fifth
of five bands on a rainy Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, the correct response is "no,
thank you." After loading out, we drive all night across Pennsylvania so that we can
spend our day off in Manhattan. I support this plan wholeheartedly, as I was always the
only one in my family who really identified with Zsa Zsas character on "Green
August 13, Day 21, New York City
Wow - a whole day off in New York City! I begin the day
in high fashion with a trip to my favorite New York restaurant, Five Roses (on 1st Avenue,
between 10th and 11th). They do this thin crust oil and herb pizza - no sauce, no cheese -
for $1 a slice. In heaven, they serve the same slice for a dollar, but it comes with a
free large root beer. In addition to being delicious and a great value, this royal fare
can really help firm up your stool, especially if youve been riding in a van all day
everyday for the better part of a month. Highly recommended.
A quick glance through the local press indicates that I
am not the only one who is "stool aware." There is quite a buzz in the air over
the "Plunger Gate" scandal which is taking place in Brooklyn. The word on the
street is that some of the NYPDs finest have developed an exciting (though not
currently "officially" approved) new interrogation method whereby a male suspect
is sequestered in the precinct mens room for a brief period, during which time he is
beaten senseless and sodomized with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger (aka The
Plumbers Helper). This is the number one story in every local paper (even the
Times), but in reading the accounts of the incident, I notice that not a single reporter
has seized upon the supreme irony of this apparent abuse of police authority. Think about
it - the very tool designed to dislodge a turd from the pipes of our external sewer system
is used to invade the pipes of some poor chaps personal sewer system, and it
all occurs in a restroom built to flush away the donut turds of the people whos job
it is to flush away our societal criminal turds. And how about the published photos of the
officers suspected of committing this procedural faux pas ? One look and youll know
that these peanut-brains have never been anything but turds. What does it all mean? How
should I know? Im a monkey. We dont have these kinds of ridiculous problems
where I come from.
August 14, Day 22, Boston
The Middle East restaurant/bar/entertainment multi-plex
in Boston is always an enjoyable and interesting tour stop. As any U.S.
geo-social-political buff can tell you, Massachusetts is technically not a state, but a
commonwealth, which means that its local laws are not written by earth humans, but
rather passed down every Tuesday by aliens from a technologically superior, but
cognitively underdeveloped galaxy. The details are unimportant, as long as you remember to
take nothing for granted. You think Im kidding? Just try to park your car within the
city limits without violating something. Really. Or get in line behind a touring music
group trying to buy beer after midnight at a supermarket with their out-of-state
drivers licenses. Tonight we are lucky, as Jesse, our hero and savior, snatches the
band from the steel jaws of impending multiple criminal infractions and offers us asylum
at her home in Allston. This is the same Jesse who brings the band toys every time they
play in Boston, the same Jesse who makes all the wierdness that is Massachusetts bearable.
Its also the same Jesse who seems offended when I ask if I can photograph her in the
shower, even after I explain that the photos will be strictly for my own personal
enjoyment. Oh well - turns out its my turn to sleep in the van anyhow.
August 15, Day 23, New York City
We make it back to New York City in time to load in at
the Mercury Lounge, and then head off for a photo shoot for Magnet. Wierdness and chaos
raise their familiar heads; consequently, the photo session takes too long and the band
miss their sound check. In the end it doesnt matter, as tonights sold out show
is easily the best of the tour. Viva Manhattan!
August 16, Day 24, Philadelphia
Whenever Im in Philadelphia, I begin to think
like an anthropologist. This trip is no different, as I notice a couple of interesting
local societal kinds of things that pique my intellectual curiosity. First, for reasons
unknown to me, although Philadelphia is a major urban center not unlike New York City,
everyone here is on average about 20% heavier than the citizens of Manhattan. Possible
causes - food, drink, fashion, economics or what? Very strange.
Second, as we travel from town to town, I have noticed
fluctuations in the way local citizens express their civic pride. Within the framework of
my hypothesis, people can be separated into two broad categories - those who like where
they live and those who dont like where they live. We encounter members of the
latter group most often in smaller towns; the people who make up this segment of the
population generally have a certain pathetic look in their eye, something like "help
me, save me, take me with you - I dont even care where youre going."
Members of the "satisfied" subset can be further subdivided into several smaller
categories, as follows:
1) Those who directly extol the advantages of their
community, no matter how implausible, with phrases like "You know, its really
not a bad place to live" (most evident in Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles and
2) Those who selfishly and shallowly deride their town
to dissuade any potential future citizens from moving there ("Oh, you wouldnt
like it here, it rains too much") on the grounds that it is already too crowded
(Seattle, Portland and San Francisco).
3) Those who choose a more indirect method of
expressing local support by adopting the attitude "Everywhere else sucks" (i.e.
New York City).
In the interest of completeness, we should consider the
plight of those who are too drunk to care where they live (Missoula, Denver, Boise and
Moorehead). There is actually yet another group to be considered - those that are happy no
matter where they live - but I am not including them in my study because they are too
well-adjusted to be interesting.
As we load in for tonights soiree at the
Trocodero (up two flights of stairs in the Balcony), I am inspired to make another mental
note for future shows: whenever the venue name includes words like Balcony, Loft or Attic,
I will hide in the bathroom until all of the equipment has been moved into the club. I
have been especially tense all day, as Timmy fucks significant other, Lori, is
traveling with us to Philadelphia. Normally this would not be a problem, but for the
entire trip she has made no secret of the fact that she plans to steal my last peanut
butter sandwich. When she finally makes her move for the food, I climb on her back, get
her in a full Nelson, and repeatedly slam her head into the van window until she loses
consciousness. By the time she comes to, the sandwich is safely en route to my lower
intestine. To the victor, the spoils.
August 17, Day 25, Washington D.C.
Tonights show at the Black Cat is uneventful.
This is the first time fuck has played in Washington D.C. and it comes off well enough. We
meet up with Chicago pal Jeff Gramm, who is visiting his parents in Washington. Jeff says
his folks have plenty of room at their house and offers us a place to stay for the
evening. This is a special invitation, as Jeffs dad is Senator Phil Gramm
(Republican, Texas), and Im pretty sure this is the first time weve spent the
night at a U.S. senators house, though Ill have to check my notes. We
dont get to meet Senator Gramm, as he is away on business, but we do get to have
breakfast with the Jeff and his mom, Wendy, who is utterly charming.
No doubt you are waiting for a witty diatribe from
yours truly to mark this tremendous occasion. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your
point of view), Im actually at a loss for appropriate verbage to describe this
deeply profound event. The idea of fuck spending the night at Senator Gramms house
is simultaneously funny and absurd on so many levels, that it defies summarization.
August 19, Day 27, Charlottesville
I like Charlottesville a lot, because in my book of
universal truths and equations, Charlottesville = sushi. Great, cheap sushi, compliments
of the Tokyo Rose, site of tonights fiesta. I stick to the vegetarian offerings,
because contrary to what Curt (or Kurt or Kurdt or whatever he called himself) said, fish
do have feelings, and most of the time they are pissed off about being eaten.
The only downside of the evening is having to say
good-bye to the gracious Two Dollar Guitar, as this is our last show together. The Two
Dollar guys have been a constant source of fun in an otherwise up and down trip. I could
go on and on about how great it has been traveling with these three fellows, but my
inadequate verse would probably just degrade into sappy, tearful, homoerotic mush. It is
probably enough to say that I am looking forward to seeing them again real soon.