You learn things while you travel. You learn, for
example, that you can't get an oil change in
Denver on a Sunday, presumably because
Colorado's proximity to Utah forces it to act
religious and respect the Sabbath, even though
people in Denver like John Elway more than God.
And who could blame them? He'll cut you a deal on
a used Acura. God never does. You learn that it's
illegal for any road in Kansas to curve or turn or
have anything resembling what you and I consider
civilization within a twenty mile radius. You learn
that if you see a family dressed in construction
-cone orange, you can assume they'll have some
sort of hooved carcass shoved awkwardly in the
back of their rusted Jeep. You also learn about Hot
Now, Hot Mama is not a laughing matter. Hot
Mama must be feared and respected, not unlike
your dad's chainsaw or the neighbor's mentally
unbalanced Pug. Hot Mama lives in a jar, covered in
brine, and is encased in a red balloon of hideous
rubbery somesuch. Hot Mama can be eaten,
although calling her edible is stretching that word
to the furthest hinterlands of its legal definition.
Let me explain.
We were somewhere in Utah when our gas gauge
suddenly dipped to levels which could best be
described as dangerous. The problem was, by the
time we realized this, we were nearly a hundred
miles from the nearest "town" on the freeway
and, with the prospect of a horror-movie style
breakdown in the middle of Whoknowswhere Utah,
we decided to head twenty miles off the beaten
path to Ferron, a bustling metropolis of a couple
hundred, connected to the highway via a road
paved once since the Spanish American War. We
arrived, gassed up, drank burnt coffee devoid of
flavor and caffiene. And then I saw her. Over by
the carbonated syrup machine. A giant jar of Hot
The ingredients, in order: Beef, soy, beef heart,
cereal, spices of various levels of sickening horror.
We laughed. We walked outside. We made towards
the car. And then, something happened. I can't
explain what, but suddenly, we had decided that
someone needed to eat Hot Mama. Not
surprisingly, nobody volunteered. So we played
Odds & Evens (ostensibly the bastardchild of
Rock, Paper, Scissors) and, well, when I say no one
wanted to lose, I'm putting it mildly. If there was
a way to cheat, I would've cheated. I didn't. I won,
in the sense that I wasn't Peter. We all won in
that sense. Except Peter.
From about the time Pete threw a 1 while the rest
of us threw 2s, no one could stop laughing, and
that laughter soon devolved into spastic weeping.
Part of the bet was, in the spirit of The Three
Muskateers (the book, not the candy bar), if one
guy had to eat most of Hot Mama, the other guys
had to take a bite, just for the sake of comraderie.
Plus, if it was poisonous, we'd die together.
Optimism: not exactly running rampant.
It's hard to properly explain the stench of Hot
Mama. Imagine fast food jalepenos smothered in
gasoline. It's easier to describe her habitat: a
plastic tub, filled with blood red brine, packed
sardine tight with identical, ancient sausages. It's
disturbing to even remember her taste. It
resembled the smell, like most tastes do as it
turns out, but the texture was something
altogether more intense. Unbeknownst to us, Hot
Mama was three layers thick: the outer,
waterballoony casing, a mantle of greyish sinew,
and a core of brown. Brown what? you might ask.
Brown-I-don't-know, I might answer. And without
getting too graphic, biting into Hot Mama was like
biting into a meat plum filled with creamed dirt.
Okay. Probably too graphic.
So, let's move on. I've spent far too long talking
about Hot Mama. It was a good bonding experience
though. Not unlike spending five years in a
Vietnamese P.O.W. camp together.
But tour is more than collective suffering. It's
also about music. We, once again, got lucky with
our tourmates in La Rocca and Los Abandoned.
Last night was our first of roughly seven evenings
together and, well, we really enjoyed both of their
sets. Added bonuses: Pilar from Los Abandoned has
a ukulele, which bodes well for late night hoe
-downing. La Rocca are all from Dublin which means
great accents. Both bands get all dressy too,
which means I personally will spend the whole tour
feeling like a man in pajamas at a debutante ball. I
didn't have a whole lot of time to get to know La
Rocca last night, but Los Abandoned stayed around
late, ate at the adjacent table, and proved to be
great people. I'm excited for this tour, even if it
is, as it is, barely a week long. Tonight, Lawrence
Kansis. Tomorrow Minnesota. Maybe we'll see
more snow and gawk at it like the Californians
that we are.
By the way: the proof is in the pudding. Or the
brine, in this case. See below. (Regardless of the
fact I called it Big Mama, perhaps thinking of Cat
on A Hot Tin Roof, perhaps having lost my mind
far too early this tour).
...sent via sidecrack...