Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In which Birdmonster, not unlike Dorothy, returns to Kansas and, quite unlike Dorothy, sees very few flying Monkeys. Also: Minnesota.

When you're spending no less than seven hours a
day in a van, amusements are at a premium. Games
like Name That Bloke, 20 Questions, and Throw
Sharp Things at the Driver's Face can pass the
time but they can also get stale or result in
unfortunate scarring. The Donald has a backseat
VCR which is used primarily for viewing vampire
-related cinema but, well, there are only two
Fright Nights, two Blackulas, and three Blades.
This, indeed, is one of life's great tragedies. We've
got books but sometimes you bring the wrong ones
and suddenly you're in the backseat reading about
the Holocaust on a stomach full of Burger King and
that poses problems both philosophical and
gastronomical.

So I asked the fine Irish gentlemen of La Rocca
how they pass the long hours. A lot of lists, they
say. Like "50 famous blind people" or "10 people
who became more famous after horrific injuries or
diseases." And then there's "Call It."

Now, I didn't get the particulars of this game. Irish
people talk fast, clubs are loud, and memories can
get sogged over with low price swill. What I do
remember is the sheer brutality of the thing.
Basically, the game is predicated on embarrassing
your bandmates to a degree that borders on
criminal. Essentially, you put words into their
mouths or deeds on their hands such as (here's a
benign one) waiting until a cashier turns around,
saying "hurry up you slow piece of shite" then
scurrying out while your friend is left waiting for
his change, looking like a total prick. My favorite
(and I do realize this could send me to hell) is
honking the horn when you aren't driving and an
elderly woman is pushing her walker across the
crosswalk. Delightfully horrible. It doesn't really
sound like it passes the time that well, but writing
about it did, so, in some weird way, success is
ours. Or mine. Or something. I think I need to move
along here. Let's talk about Kansas, shall we?

People in Lawrence, Kansas tell us that Kansas is
Lawrence. They frowned on Topeka like an ugly
bastardchild who they ignored except on its
birthday, and even then they just got him a gift
certificate to Nordstrom's and begged him to get
some real clothes because, frankly, Topeka was
embarrassing them in front of Missouri, which is no
small feat in it of itself. The club (the
Bottleneck) was a gorgeous, wooden sort of place,
wall-to-wall with stickers and promo shots of
bands you love or forgot or wish you could forget
(damn you Tesla. Damn you). The bartenders were
cheery and accomidating (read: it was one of
thooooose shows) and the crowd was, well,
intimate. As Pete reminds us, that's how bands say
"nobody was there." But there were a few. A guy
from the Get Up Kids, for example, who were
always an unexpectedly fabulous show and
another gent who worked at the Freestate
Brewery and brought us two Moonshine jugs of
delicious beer, one of which fell out of the side
door the next day, shattered all over the parking
lot at the oil change place, and caused much
weeping and sweeping. Hopefully a pidgeon flew
down and got blotto but I've come to distrust the
intelligence of pidgeons. Must be the mangy,
disease-ridden thing. Anyway, those sma--intimate
shows are quite often secret gems on tours,
where you stay out too long, play a bit sloppy, and
it feels like you're playing to old friends instead of
people you've never met. A fine time was had by
all, regardless of the size of that all.

Minnesota was livelier. We got bumrushed onstage
by tambourinists from the audience and regaled
with stories at the end of the night about
Replacements and Soul Asylum tours which
involved drug smuggling, cop-dodging, and
interpersonal violence. It sounded like a 2 a.m.
Cinemax movie, just without all the exposed
boobies. I love that town. Great accents, pleasant
people, and my Halloween costume lives there.

Now? Heading to Chicago and a day off before a
Thursday night at Schubas. If you'll excuse me,
there's a girl scout helping a man in a wheelchair
cross the street. I need to honk Dave's horn.

5 comments:

Webb said...

I found myself in a stint of jackassery while in Vegas, apparently playing a version of the game “Call it.” Our version involved saying something completely outrageous while walking in front of someone with a video camera, and therefore being “that guy” who said “that thing.” The game hit its pinnacle when I ventured by a younger couple filming some cheesy landmark and claimed loudly, “and then I shat or her chest.” I can only imagine the awkwardness every time they show their family and friends their trip to Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Webb: That was brilliant!

My partner played a little something like "Call it" on me. By dropping one in the shopping aisle and knicking off without telling me ... leaving me to deal with the fallout .... so to speak ...

kasi said...

What about The Lost Boys? That's a classic vampire movie, although I guess it depends on your mood how much you would enjoy it. For a bit of a gruesome twist, there is Queen of the Damned. Not something I would otherwise mention, but Aalyiah played Akasha quite well. As for books to read while travelling..The Shining. It's a great way to freak yourself out when you're stuck in a car/van and an even better way to freak out the people your with when you repeat the words out loud, allowing their imagination to take over. "Call It" is the best game ever invented.
Glad you're having a good time.

elvette said...

Update, please...i got the shakes...

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