Unless you're at U-Haul. Then everyone's a dumbass.
See, we'd been killing our van (the Donald) for the past few years by not tugging a trailer; the shocks needed replacement and sometimes, there's this peculiar noise when you back up, like a robot with emphysema. So we decided to bite the bullet, get a hitch installed, and rent a trailer. Unfortunately, this necessitated not one, but two trips to U-Haul, which is essentially like going to the lobotomy ward at St. Judes Hospital for Adult Mongoloids. See, when you call U-Haul to make a reservation, they keep you on the phone for an hour an a half so that when you come in the next day for your hitch-installation appointment, they can confess that, no, you have no reservation, but they can take that information they took yesterday over the phone yet again, just so long as you're willing to sit there and watch an eighteen year old hunt and peck on the keyboard like some Ukrainian peasant whose knowledge of computers is confined to watching Gorbachev's kid play Tetris in a state sponsored video from 1989. Oh, and you'll get your hitch, even if it takes three times as long as you were advised. Just don't reserve a trailer because there's no way you're getting the size you ordered, but if you want a trailer anyway, they'll do their best to charge you for the only size they have left because, well,
So, say you make it through that an your have a trailer and a hitch. Now you want it installed? That'll take another hour and a half, regardless of the fact you were told it would take twenty minutes. In the meantime, you can wander around in circles, hollering invective. It'll be fun. Promise.
In the end, the best you can do is chalk it up as some bizarre rite of passage. You are mentally prepared for trips to the DMV, gas stations in central Ohio, and conversations with George Bush apologizers. It's like developing callouses on your brain. Of course, if I were you, I'd just take my word for it.
The end result is, thankfully, that the Donald is running like a dream, albeit a dream that smells vaguely of socks and rotten bananas. It's like sitting on a barcalounger that's sitting on a cloud that's can't go faster than sixty miles an hour.
And with that, we were back on tour. We are back on tour. Either way. In fact: both. Unfortunately, the overwhelming dumbassitude of U-Haul rubbed off on me personally, as I left all my keyboard doohickeys in my folk's garage in San Diego, which I discovered last night, right before I found out that my mandolin had been broken in half by a careless foot, right before I (yet again) spent a good few minutes wandering around a parking lot screaming words I'd rather not write, as my mother reads the blog from time to time. But more on that later. Rest in peace, little mando.
Our first night was San Diego's Casbah, which, admittedly, is pretty much the only place we play down in my childhood home, but if you played Scollari's Office the first trek down, you'd stick to the Casbah too. See, at the Casbah, they book less than eight bands, you're never really in danger of getting shivved, and no one screams "ROCK IT CALI-STYLE BROS!!!" at you the entire set. These are good things, although I'm not personally opposed to rocking it, Cali-style. I've plenty of nice things to say about the Casbah---the attentive and professional sound guys, the Churchillian amount of free booze, the astonishingly fantastic Ms. Pac-Man in the back room---but I've said them all before. I'm just happy we can keep coming back. It was always that club I wanted to go to in high school, but couldn't because it was never all-ages and my fake ID claimed I was a forty-year old Hindu. It's good to be old.
The jaunt to Los Angeles was, as always, too long, too slow, and filled with brown air, but it was worth it. The Pehrspace wasn't the cushiest club you've ever seen, but a $5 cover and a BYOB policy tends to make for happy evenings. Indeed it did. In fact, it was probably our favorite L.A. show to date. There were birthday girls, an old friend out for her first Birdmonster show, much dancing, and nobody doing the too-effing-cool-for-this, arms-crossed, Los Angeles non-dance.
That night had a little sadness as well: the aforementioned, mangled corpse of my mandolin. Lame. The worst part is that the thing was over a hundred years old (made by some long-dead gentleman named W.C. Cole in Boston) and that, in that century-plus, over who-knows-how-many-owners, no other buffoon managed to fustigate* that fragile little fellow. And then came me. And there went that. Let's just say I wouldn't recommend letting me hold your baby. Or your fine china. Or your cup of coffee. I'm like Mr. Magoo over here.
However, we've let that go. I'm carrying it's skeleton home for a proper burial, to be attended by my banjo, Dave's old Stella nylon string, Pete's old wheezy harmonica, and Zach's collection of cracked cymbals. Services will be at noon. Bring tissues.
We did the Arizona thing yesterday but, given our history with Arizona, I can't write about the state until we've actually left. In fact, writing that sentence just gave me heart palpitations. Let's just forget about the whole thing, Arizona. Just let us out alive.
* Fustigate is a perfectly cromulent word. It embiggens the soul.