Friday, May 05, 2006

Problems and their half-assed solutions

Do you believe in curses? I do. And, the sad truth
is, I think Patrick Stewart might be cursed. See,
yesterday, as we sped through New Mexico,
listening to Richard Buckner (who actually sounds
like New Mexico), we noticed a sporadic stench, an
unmistakable one, the smell of burning oil. But, as I
said, it came, then went, every hour or so. Then,
somewhere just past Santa Fe, we started trailing
a plume and smelling like those parts of Texas do
so we pulled off, turned around, and trundled back
to Sante Fe, unpacked the van, and slept the sleep
of the spastically worried.

Pete and I woke up the next morning (this morning,
actually) and went to Pep Boys for a diagnostic. A
surly woman with bad pants and a guy named
Wilson told us that we had a leaky oil pan and a
different, leakier rear gasket, which, although only
worth sixty bucks combined, would take about
seven hours to fix, thanks to being buried under
most of the transmission and engine. Good ol'
American cars. "How much?" we inquired. "About a
thousand bucks," the replied. Then I ripped out a
chunk of my hair and politely relayed that we
could scarely afford last night's desperation Taco
Bell, let alone a four-digit car repair, let alone lose
the full day getting her repaired, when most of our
drives are 550 miles a day.

So, here I am in the backseat, relegated to plan B.
We bought about 6 kegs worth of motor oil and, on
the advice of badpants, Wilson, and our at home
mechanic, we're stopping every 200 miles to check
the levels. Now, basically, I'd come to terms with
the fact that I was going to spend the remainder
of our journey grinding my teeth in anticipation of
a full-fledged Patrick Stewart meltdown, but, at
our last check, we'd barely lost any.

So, is she cursed? It's possible. I wish Madame
Laveau was still around so I could ask her. For
now, I'm just going to cross my fingers, check
fluids more often than an OCD In'n'Out emlpoyee
washes his hands, and forge ahead. There are,
after all, shows to play.

Tucson was the last of these. After the van's
first on-tour repair, we cruised up well past
soundcheck and well past when any palatable
restaurants were still serving, right after the
Cavs beat the Wiz, and right about when doors
were opening. A hectic day usually transaltes into
a good, exhausting show and Wednesday was no
exception. At least I think it was Wednesday.
Anyway, we had a good time, once the day's
madness was stained with some liquor and British
accents. Art Brut, again, kicked ass. They've
started their last three shows with eight bars of
AC/DC and tonight promise something a little
different. Here's hoping for Whole Lotta Love or,
at least, a whole lotta Muscrat Love.

They've been great tourmates, by the by: Jovial,
loud, hilarious; nothing but good things to say. Hell,
they bought me a power chord at Guitar Center
before I knew half their names (back in SF). We
would've loved to see them on Win Ben Stein's
Money alum Jimmy Kimmel's show last night, but,
well, we were too busy trailing smoke up the 25.
Hope they rocked late night TV's face off.

Hmm. We're getting hailed on now. Bring the pain,
New Mexico. Patrick Stewart might be cursed, but
at least she's water-tight. Onwards, Birdmonster!


Higgity said...

Man, you guys must be loving New Mexico! I know I did.

pink brontosaurus said...

I think an exorcism is in order.

Anonymous said...

that there is Hughes country

jeff said...

my 1990 toyota camry, a car that goes and goes and goes, had a similar problem as your so-called patrick stewart. some rear gasket costing 60 dollars was busted, but the repair was going to cost 900. no way, right. i drove it like that for over three years, across country and through canada to alaska even. i eventually ended up here where after 220,000 miles the camry needed a new transmission, leaky gasket included. my camry never had the smoking problem patrick is struggling with, but i would say what everyone else told you. keep an eye on the fluid levels. you may have to add a quart of oil here or there and inbetween runs put some cardboard under the engine so you can see if he/she is leaking while parked. you may find the oil splatters the answers to all your prayers if you find any at all.