Monday, November 03, 2008

In which Birdmonster half-asses Halloween, full-asses New York City, and feels a faint sense of nostalgia and foreboding

Look: you're nervous. Me too. Tomorrow, 'Merica chooses between Jowls McCain and Ears Obama. I'll be out here on the East Coast, absentee ballot safely mailed, three hours ahead of my home state and the usual experience of going to sleep thinking a Democrat won and waking up to apologizing newsmen and a fistful of Zoloft. I will not be sleeping well.

Part of me simply wants to avoid the television all together---the silly race to call states first, the color-coded, kindergarten-easy way they analyze the election, the panels of eighteen well-groomed say-nothings yammering at ever increasing volumes: it's tiresome, really. But I know I'll watch. There's no way I don't. I'll be on Pete's parents' couch with a bottle of Rossi, slowly drinking my way to a proud and inclusive optimism or a dejected, ethereal sadness. I'm sure many of you will be there with me. Though not on the couch in Pete's folk's house. It only seats three.

Since every iota of mass media, individual conversation, and, yes, even your bowel movement (I saw Palin in mine this morning) will be revolving around the upcoming election, let's give ourselves a break. I know our exploits are far less important but, you know, in a way, it's good to be a bit frivolous in times like these; you can only vote once and, no matter how much TV you watch, only one of those guys is winning. Take deep breath. Watch a crappy movie. Read the next few paragraphs. I promise very little will have changed by the time you're done.


Last we spoke, we had been rejected by Canada and I had mistaken John Goodman in King Ralph for John Candy in Canadian Bacon. I hope you can forgive me.

We spent our two forced days off like we spend most of our time: sitting in a van that, despite our best efforts, is smelling more like a junior high locker room daily. We made it to Boston on time and didn't get rejected at the "Are You Wearing Yankee Apparel?" checkpoint and, like Lee Greenwood, felt proud to be an American. After all, there's nothing like spiteful rejection to make you love what you've got.

And here's the thing about Boston: they drive worse than New Yorkers. Pete brought this to my attention and, after an afternoon of getting cut-off by Celtic-bumper-stickered pick-ups and an evening of people refusing to wait in toll lines because they're better people than us, I thoroughly agree. It's like this: in New York, everyone's so aggressive that they expect you to be aggressive too so, deep down inside, they've got their guard up, their palm poised anxiously above the horn. In Boston, everyone drives with a sense of entitlement. They cut you off but they don't expect you to do the same. Of course, both Boston and New York pale in comparison to LA, where driving is not a priority when you're behind the wheel. I've seen people text messaging with one hand while mascara-ing with the other. I wish that was a joke.

We played Boston on Halloween and I bought my costume a good three hours before the show in a Goodwill thrift store that was resembled something out of Los Angeles in late April of 1992. For those who are curious, I asked the Rumble Strips what Halloween is like in England. They said that, basically, it's celebrated but not with the tenacity and vigor it is out here in the States. Furthermore, in Britain the emphasis is on being positively creepy while out here it's just on dressing up. Which is to say, in America, you could dress up like Elton John or a koala or a hot dog, whereas in the U.K., you'd have to be Bleeding-Out-The-Eyes Elton John or a koala with rabies or a hot dog.

At any rate, my costume sucked. I found some nurse scrub pants and a muumuu with pelicans on it and sort of looked like a skinny Dr. Moreau. It was embarrassing. The show was good as Boston shows tend to be and I gave my muumuu to an old friend who never really wanted it in the first place.

Then: New York. What a phenomenal place to end our stint with the Strips. They're still there, in fact, recording their second album beginning today. But New York was a blast. We saw some old friends, family, and, apparently, Jimmy Fallon. We played a fine set at a gorgeous venue. We ate pizza while a probably-homeless man regaled us with Beastie Boys verses. It was one of those days that was fabulous but no fun to write about since, well, who wants to hear a guy revel in his joy? Stories of Canadian-infused suffering are far funnier. Even I know that.

So, before I go, a few important things:

First, to the Rumble Strips: Godspeed, boys. You are a ridiculously tight, completely enjoyable live band. We loved our near-month with you and will be salivating while you record the second disc. Strangely, we've heard most of the songs already, which is an experience afforded to very few people. Thanks for dragging us along through America with y'all.

Second, to our van: thanks for not exploding. Three thousand miles to go, big guy. I know you've got it in you.

Third, to our friends, girlfriends, and family back home: we miss you immensely and smell terribly. Take us back in a week or two, please.

Lastly, we're heading back across the US of A starting National Election Hangover Day. We'll post the days on our website (though I do know the next thing is Cleveland on the 5th at Case Western University) and hope to see anyone we missed on the way out. And back. And out again. We really have to route these things better.


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