Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chapel Hill

Animals: American Toad, Minnows, Carolina Chickadee

Quotes: “Any of you coeds like prospectors?”

“You must have a mirror in your pocket ‘cause I can see me in your pants.”

SIARPC: Christopher Plummet

With only a four hour drive to Chapel Hill we didn’t exactly have to hoof it. Joe and I got to sleep in the living room, which meant we were up with the earliest risers. Rich Tarbell is the man who made our "North Sea Girls" video, and it was at his and Polly’s house we were staying. On our first tour Rich got us a much needed Sunday show at the Mellow Mushroom in Charlotte (well, much needed in the financial sense) and a free hotel room. So we’ve known them a long time. Plus, they have a black lab named Jessie who was like one of those animals they take to hospital wards to cheer up the children. He would happily lick your face and lean up against you forever if you wanted. Both John and Lisa took him on separate walks in the woods in the morning. I went on a wonderful two-hour walk sans dog myself. Back when I was crazier than I am now I used to do this calming visualization exercise where I pictured myself in woods just like these. Walking in the woods by myself is about as powerful as the Zoloft. So it was a good walk with all those somewhat embarrassing words like dappled and babbling being applicable. Plus, I kept my streak of not finding a dead body unbroken. So that’s good. I saw an empty Trojan wrapper but since I don’t consider a wasted seed receptacle a tool of mass murder I’m not counting it.*

A goodly portion of the band were in the mood to just stay put in a comfortable house but I wasn’t. So Rich took Joe and I to the big pedestrian mall in downtown Charlotte. It was pretty and pretty upscale, but I do have one recommendation. There’s a vintage shop owned by a guy named Ike, who is one of those larger than life characters that sometimes I fear will disappear entirely from the American landscape. He was apparently in several non-speaking scenes in the Spielberg “Lincoln” movie, but when you’re in his shop he’ll regale you with the back story of every item in there, and say things like, “Oh you think that’s cool, come look at this! You’ll love it.” And I did.

We were playing the Cave, Chapel Hill’s oldest bar and a place I love. No one else in the band is quite as fond of it as I am, but seriously, the walls and ceiling are completely plaster covered chicken wire, and painted to look like you’re in an actual cave. There’s no phone service, it’s dank and dark. We were the only band and there was a simmering level of crankiness in the band, but for some reason I was feeling reasonably good for the first time this tour. I bought a Superchunk “Clambake” CD, a three volume set of murder and disaster songs from the 20’s and 30’s, as well as a DVD with every Iron Maiden video ever made, at the wonderful store across the street. Ate delightful Mediterranean food with Joe and John while wondering if anyone was going to show up. And they did. I mean 20 people did, but it’s a small enough club that it felt like a victory regardless. And Jerry showed up. He’s a very sweet elderly man who was at the show eight years ago when only five people showed up. He always seems to have a bodice-ripper paperback with him and does this dance with his hands on songs he likes. We love Jerry.

Anyway, I thought the show went well. Actually for me it was the best one of the whole summer from a playing standpoint. Even though we only had vocal mics I could hear everyone in the band perfectly, and it felt like I could lock in with them all in a way that some nights seems like a distant flickering impossibility. I’m hoping it was a crack in the door to playing the way I want to. Now for Joe the show sucked because he didn’t have a monitor and couldn’t hear shit. Chuck said a lot of the same things after the LA show, in that he thought we were incredibly locked in together, but for me that show felt typical.

And now for the requisite oddness. A few songs into the set a woman wearing huge headphones and wearing a t-shirt that said, “Art Images Live” on it started pulling pencils out of her red apron, and feverishly sketching us. She did this the entire set. Afterwards I ran into her at the back door and she said that John had given her some money. She then launched into her spiel about how she had suffered several disabilities but that the act of drawing had pulled her out of the worst of it. When I ask her what disabilities she got kind of vague but whatever. She talked about how she is trying to get grants for her live sketching project and that she never asks for money but if her project keeps growing she might need to get a car because right now she walks everywhere. She showed me the Wussy sketches and they were OK, just strange enough to be notable. So I gave her $4 and went to the band to get more. They looked at me like I was insane so I gave her $5 more. They gave me some shit saying it was a scam and why did I get taken in. I mean I know they’re right and I’m not new. Maybe I’m getting to the age where my children have to worry about me giving all my money to people who promise me a new roof but need the money upfront. Still, here’s what it comes down to with hopefully only a skosh of rationalization going on, but she was obviously wired differently. She was incredibly driven and it was a hell of a hustle. I mean she drew for nearly an hour. $12 (mine and John’s $3) seems like an OK payout even if we didn’t actually ask for the service.

Oh, and the Cave had an AC/DC pinball machine that played the hits like a juke box, had a bell you could toll, a moving train, and a working cannon. I’ve finally found a pinball machine I love more than Earthshaker.

Tomorrow is Jacksonville.

*As posted by Stephen - "Yes masturbation is Murder. But the only person it murders is your soul."

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