Touring is simply specialized traveling and traveling is a mean educator. For example, despite many people's (including my own) distrust of large chains, motel chains are in fact a good thing. Sure, your typical Days Inn isn't the same as staying in a New Orleans bed & breakfast, waking up to Chicory and a beignet, but you've got the requisite amount of towels, at least one channel of HBO, and beds not infected with STDs or harboring amphibians. I forgot this lesson last night when I chose a motel named after a blind, overly religious poet instead of the imminently safer Red Roof Inn. Yes, if you're in the Syracuse area, I'd recommend avoiding the John Milton Inn. The price is right (forty dollars or so), but the fungal streak in the bathtub, the vague stench of creeping death, and the oh-my-God-I-hope-that-isn't-blood stain on the shower curtain tend to cancel out the feeling of fiscal intelligence.
Traveling also reminds you that any place on the planet is a whole lot better than its bureaucrats. See, from the moment we crossed the border into Canada, the populous was, well, not a bunch of power-tripping prick-bastards. In fact, they were all really accommodating. After our odyssey of frustration and near-extortion to enter Toronto, we ended up reaching our destination twenty minutes after we were to have begun playing, only to be bailed out by the Coast, a Toronto based band who let us use their amps and drums which allowed us to play much earlier than we ever could of pulled off by our lonesome. Everyone at the Horseshoe tavern ended up being lovely, dressed warmly, and, yes, said "eh?" after at least 75% of their sentences. I found it endearing. It's like the Southern "y'all" or Lady in Red: I can't explain why I like them, I just do.
The next day was far less stressful. We returned to our native land with a sigh of relief and a renewed sense of patriotism, not that ugly jingoistic kind, but that "our Border Patrol agents aren't sexless piglets from hell" kind of patriotism. Plus, I've been reading a 700 page history of America book this tour, so leaving Canada made me feel a little more knowledgeable about everything, although, truth be told, I don't know anything about Canada. I'm definitely "that guy." Prime Minister? Some sort of humanoid. Rules of Curling? Brooms are involved. Climate? Effing cold. That's the extent of my Canadian scholarship. Meanwhile, I'm learning about Boss Tweed and the Mexican-American Landgrab and all manner of historical happenings that were lost to years of doodling and spelling "BOOBLESS" on upside-down calculators. The point? As always: none.
Our glorious return to the U.S. was spent driving through upstate New York which is still covered in snow, although that snow is of the filthy-brown-road-side variety, but it's snow nonetheless and snow is pretty noteworthy when you live in California. There, we actually vacation towards snow. We find it picturesque and novel. I'm sure four months of thick jackets and soggy socks would kill that feeling, but, hey, that's why we live in Eurekaland.
Where was I? Ah, yes: Upstate New York. Last night, I had the pleasure of having my birthday at 12 midnight in Syracuse with Mason Proper and some rather talented local bands and another improbable win for the Golden State Warriors, who I'm aware nobody else really gives a damn about, but please: give me my small joy. I get to spend my proper b-day here in Boston (adios Utica) with Mason Proper again (who, by the way, get more lovable every night) and Ra Ra Riot for the first time (who, by the way, rock oh so hard with oh so much cello and violin and songs about Andre that remind me of what would an Arcade Fire song would sound like if Cat Stevens was singing it and I mean that to be a wondrous compliment). I expect to be rather blotto. That's what birthdays are for: taking years off your life. It's a strange irony but, I think, an important one. Until soon.