After a soul-crushing trip to the mall across the street to get coffee and food we embarked to the land of halcyon childhood memories - Niagara Falls. Yay! American side. Boo. After about an hour, John, who was driving asked, “So what’s the address to the club?” I look up and see signs for Rochester and we collectively shout, “No, we’re going to Niagara Falls.” John, in an understandably aggrieved tone shouts back, “No one told me.” Because that’s how stupid this band is. We decide to go to Niagara Falls but neglect to tell the person actually driving the fucking van. In order to decide whether we turn around and drive back we held an honest to God Yay Nay (if you say godyaynay fast and with a southern accent it sounds like you're yelling at your grandma for saying something embarrassing about immigrants again) vote. Chuck and Joe voted no, whilst Rene', Lisa, and I voted to go. Thus the motion carried and we turned around. (John abstained because fuck us) It was finally sunny out and the whole place was not as kitschy as I remember, although admittedly I think my memories are of the Canadian side. But the falls were just as awesome. The river was still frozen a couple of a hundred yards past the falls and it looked like an ancient glacier, all craggy and cracked. There was a reverse frozen wave of ice from all the accumulated mist off to the side of the falls that I desperately wanted to stand inside. The pathway along the river preceding the falls was closed for construction so I didn’t get to experience that rush of fear at being so close to death. I remember as a kid being terrified and fascinated as I unbidden kept projecting myself somehow slipping down the slope and being hurtled over the falls. When my family went on the Maid of the Mist all I remember now was looking down at the black water as the captain kept announcing the increasingly deep depths . It was like being suspended above some impersonal black hole where if I once again somehow slipped I would be sucked straight to the bottom and never see my parents again.
We went to the wax museum gift shop and all bought fortunes from the ancient machine containing a dusty and deteriorating mystic that Lisa said looked like Jamie Farr. I told her that was an offensive aspersion and didn’t talk to her for the rest of the day. Chuck bought a bag of differently sized adult plastic Buffalo (the fact they were all adults was an important point to him) that said only the word ZOO on it. He was truly tickled.
We got to the venue and it was a really small bar with the place where we set up being a little alcove on the floor. It was delightful though. A bunch of lovingly framed paint-by-numbers on the walls and a very cool, intimate listening type room upstairs. It was going to be like playing a house show as far as size was concerned so we turned way down and played a bunch of songs we don’t do very often like, “Little Paper Birds,” “Motor Cycle Song”, “Human-Brained Horse” etc. I had so much fun.
But here’s the best part. After the show I began talking to a kindly looking couple, and somehow or other the topic of birds came up. (as they do) (speaking of, the hotel we were staying at was decorated exclusively with full-sized Audubon bird prints. What I would give for one of those. Oh, and here’s a tidbit for the tots: The original Audubon Birds of America is one of the few books for which a complete census has been taken for every extant edition. People know the provenance of every single copy. The others I’m aware of are the Gutenberg Bible and some edition of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m no expert though.) They looked at each other and then he said, “Well, I’m an ornithologist,” in that casual way of most superheroes. It turns out his wife was a wetlands biologist as well, so how cool is that? We had what I thought was a fascinating conversation (even if they quickly began checking their watch and moving away from me in what I assume they hoped was an imperceptible manner) about what defines restoration of habitat. Restoring to a previous unsullied past or letting nature take its course? The ornithologist said both approaches were a form of manipulation so one is not morally better than the other and the biologist said it depends.
What a great night. I loved the club, the owner was very nice, the audience sweet, and we got to play some different songs.