Back in the U.S.S.A
Salty Snack of the Day: Is dead. Long live the great 2016 U.S. Cheese Doodle Census! We actually started this on our spring break run of shows. I can’t guarantee one every day as regionalism in the U.S. is a dying thing. They will be compiled in a separate post, but the ultimate goal is to elevate the doodle to the lofty, snooty heights of gas station wine. We will fling words like mouth feel and bouquet around like a Whole Foods sommelier.
Kitchen Cooked Cheese Kettle Kurls: Just horrible. I ate one and refused to eat another. We threw them away. That’s a damning statement, because after an hour in the van almost anything salty becomes desirable,
Texture: Like that green stuff in the bottom of plant containers. Or time capsule sponge cake.
Flavor: Fake butter. Seriously. Because the world needs a doodle that tastes like kettle corn.
Idiocy from the Van:
Terrence Trent D’Arby’s or Terrence Trent D’Roy Rogers
I’ve thought a lot about whether to continue writing the blog for the domestic portion of our tour. But when the truth of the fact of the matter is I write this for something to do, and not for any potential phantasmal readers, I know it’s going to happen anyway. In order to do this though, I need some sort of frame of reference. A reference point. A point blank (I could play this game all day!) enough to encompass the autumnal regret of Springsteen with the impotent longing Reeves and Swayze, but not whomever they cast in that reboot of Point Blank. (Chuck just reminded me the movie was called Point Break but I’m not changing it because it just doesn’t matter) Because are we really so bereft of creativity that we need to remake what is at best a cheese-bag movie? I’m sort of willing to accept Disney flipping cartoons onto the stage like Howard Hill adding a coat of paint to a murder house and calling it new, but only because I gather the staging is outstanding. I mean we’re averaging one original and impactful musical a decade now. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” in the ‘90’s, “Wicked” in the 2000’s, and now “Hamilton,” which I haven’t seen. A golden era this is not.
Anyway, the point I was trying to make is this is our third western adventure and I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Combine that with how utterly lovely every little thing seemed in England, and I wondered if it would be possible to view this trip with the perspective of a foreigner. Seeing as the pair of eyes I scooped out of a hobo in Piccadilly Square with a spoon went bad, (they’re way more delicate than kidneys) I will use the eyes of Olie! Yes! Olie is joining us for most of this tour. (You might remember Olie from such roles as being our driver in England.)
As we get ready to leave, the current state of Wussy is as follows: the band is financially strapped, (nothing new) everyone in the band is broke, the stress of finishing up the school year, trying to get everything done around the house, the guilt of leaving my kids during summer break, my dear wife carrying all the weight of keeping the family and house running. I’m not handling it well. I wish I was, but it’s been a month at least since I haven’t taken some sort of antacid every day. The net result of all this is that I have entered into a pitched battle with my tongue. I’m sure there’s a name for that piece of skin behind your two front teeth, and I hope that it sounds vaguely inappropriate like myoeatmymeatrium. Regardless, mine started hurting and I hadn’t even gotten a tortilla chip stuck up in it. I noticed that my tongue seemed to be pretty much stuck to the roof of my mouth all the time. Is it supposed to be? Is it always there? If it’s always there then why is the roof of my mouth hurting. I don’t think it is supposed to be up there all the time. I think it’s supposed to be resting peacefully in the bottom of the mouth. After all there seems to be a nice place carved out for it. It’s a horrible thing to be aware of your tongue. In trying to relax my face and get my tongue to settle back in it’s tongue-cave I now realize I have this large, wet, dangly thing in my mouth and now it needs to be told what to do. Great. And that’s only the tip of iceberg A-42*. I could make a list I tell ya.
We left at the ungodly hour of 8 am for the seven hour drive to Davenport.* This then would seem to be an excellent chance to practice my new open and naïve approach to seeing my country. Then I thought maybe I would start in Illinois. Because Indiana. I’m not a hero. I’m just one man.
Illinois seen from I-74 is rather nice. There are not much livestock visible, just unimaginable miles of young green corn plants. The fields of England are parceled out in tidy, eccentric packages bound by hedges and populated with small furry animals. That’s another early impression: the sides of the highways seem less tidy than in England. But how could it be otherwise? There is approximately 6.5 million miles of roads in the U.S. as opposed to not quite 400,000 in the U.K. We have the largest network of roads in the world.
Davenport is one of the Quad Cities, which also includes Bettendorf on the Iowa side of the Mississippi with Moline and Rock Island on the Illinois side. I asked someone how long it would take to go from say Davenport to Moline if you wanted to see a show. He said, “Oh, maybe 15 minutes.” So even though one of the recurring themes this tour is going to be how freaking yuge*** this country is, the Quad cities are fairly small. Davenport, described as pretty sleepy by a local, is showing signs of an uptick in shit going on. There’s barcade with Chexx Hockey (way better than foosball), a cool hipster tap room, and of course Daytrotter. Daytrotter has been recording sessions for a long time (since 2006). In the past they used to put the sessions on vinyl but now they make them available online. It’s treated like a real recording studio session with lots of care given to isolating the instruments and getting really good sounds. It was fun and having to focus in so much in order to sound like we know what we’re doing was an excellent way to get us back in touring fettle. They’ve also recently opened up a performance space, which is gorgeous. Then we ate Chipotle, died inside a little, and drove to St. Louis.
*I was going to give the iceberg a name. A name that would reflect my current state of mind. It turns out however, there is already a system in place for naming them. The National Ice Center monitors and names all icebergs 10 nautical miles or longer along one axis. They are assigned a letter depending on the point of origin.
A – longitude 0° to 90° W (Bellingshausen Sea, Weddell Sea)
B – longitude 90° W to 180° (Amundsen Sea, Eastern Ross Sea)
C – longitude 90° E to 180° (Western Ross Sea, Wilkes Land)
D – longitude 0° to 90° E (Amery Ice Shelf, Eastern Weddell Sea)
I chose the longitude for Cincinnati in naming my ‘berg.
** Davenport is what my Grandmother called couches.