All Dogs Go On Tour, Part Three: Where we forget stuff, prepare to die in the snow, dance the night away, fear and loath strip clubs and saloons, and sleep little.
Dear tour diary,
I have to go backwards. I forgot a day. I lost a whole day. A holiday even. Groundhogs day. I forgot to write about it and I can’t remember whether or not the damned dog-hog fled from his shadow. I’m losing holidays.
Columbia was somewhere between St. Louis and Wichita and also the first theater to put us up in a hotel. This one even had a pool! But alas, on Groundhog’s day we checked in with no time for a swim, and after the show the pool was closed and locked (really well). We hung our heads and wagged our tongues out of there. I don’t think the show was ultra memorable (obviously if I forgot the whole fucking day) but now I remember they had excellent beer, so perhaps that’s where the night went? I also remember being pointed in the direction of a guy with weed, who mumbled incoherently, and refused to state directly that he did or did not have drugs. I have much less patience while in this touring mode, and we gave up pretty quickly on the indecisive fellow and then crammed into our hotel room for sleep.
Continental breakfasts are made for hangovers because continental breakfasts are horrible, thus best experienced while in a sickly mind body state. The coffee at those things is one step below instant off brand. It’s really only coffee in that it’s what you expect it to be because that’s what they tell you it is. There, that pretty much get’s us through Columbia. I’ll assume the shadow chased the rat down the hole.
So skipping back to the less distant past, as we were leaving Wichita, our mothers and fathers and older brothers and little sisters and girlfriends were all leaving us messages and emails about how we were going to die in the perfect snow storm that had been destroying Denver. We were headed right for it and Denver had received several feet of violent white terror. The weather service told us not to go for it, to stay in, collect supplies and hunker down and our relatives told us to wimp out, and the theater promoter (Keith) from Denver said, “You’ll be fine, see you at the show.” It wasn’t really a choice, Denver is usually a great gig for us, and so without van heat we headed for the God-be-damned storm.
Filling our tank and adding oil to our old engine, winter came back to me for the first time in two years. Winter is cold. The wind lowered the temperature to nothing and I fed the van, wishing I had gloves trying not to spill oil. I used the gas station bathroom to add layers of socks and long underwear and sweaters, knowing all too well that outside and inside the van there was a disturbing similarity in temperature.
It happened to be my driving day, and as we drove, I watched the drifts on the side of the highway growing. The winds picked up and knocked the powder across the road and blew the van disconcertingly between lanes. I tensed up and prepared to be killed by falling ice. Nobody said it out loud, but I think we were all second guessing the decision to drive across America in February. All the worry was for not, because in the end we missed the precipitation. The trip was peaceful and fun after the wind died. The rolling hills out side of the city were white and looked like an alien ice planet. By the time we got into Denver the temperature was up and most of the roads were clear, though the giant drifts and trying sidewalks reminded us of what we’d missed by a matter of hours.
The Denver theater was heartwarming. They had really worked hard to promote the show, and 130 people came out and brought us over 200 Jerry’s and screamed and booed (upon request) and Goddamn it was fun. After the show, The theater bought pizza for pretty much everyone in attendance and poured us endless drinks. We pretty much had free run of the place. My memory of that after party is a bit blurry, (in my defense I had just driven for 6 hours and then put on a show, and then had really cool people making me laugh [and drink]) but I remember being handed a beer then going into a midnight showing of John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Perfect and then venturing back out for another beer and a round of dancing and karaoke, then right back into the theater to finish Perfect then back our for a repeat, until suddenly and out of nowhere I was walking back to the hotel room all by myself, thinking not much of anything. I pulled the old Irish Goodbye (I apologize for the inherent racism of that idiom, but it just sounds cooler than saying, “I got real drunk and left without telling anyone.”) The theater staff were so awesome that they were apparently concerned about my disappearance (they even searched the late night shows expecting to find me passed out in front of a movie) but my tour dogs assured them that I had most likely escaped to the hotel, which I had and later they found me soundly asleep, like an angel, hogging an entire bed for myself.
The next morning was Super Bowl Sunday, and sorry America, we didn’t watch the game, but we did get vegetarian Buffalo Wings which were fucking amazing (seriously, I’m not usually that into the fake meat thing but these wingdings…Goddamn!) Then we hung out at the theater nursing hangovers and doing boring internet work. That’s something most people don’t realize get’s done when people are on tour. Lots and lots of boring, promotional, typing and confirming, and mailing of posters and dealing with venues, and boxing and mailing hundreds of Jerry Maguire tapes. But it’s Denver so we had medicinal work medicine, and the theater gang hung with us and kept giving us drinks and showing the Puppy Bowl. That makes the work day go by much quicker.
After Denver we had two days off to make the trek to Boise, where we were to play at the rock club known as Neurolux. The drive ended up being a tough one. We ran into a storm in the mountains. It’s hard to make good time (our van peaks at about 70 miles an hour before it starts vibrating apart) when suicidal/homicidal semis shoot by you in blinding sleet, and heavy winds, at night, on winding mountain roads (not to mention that again, the van has no fucking heat). We had to pull over at a rest stop to make a pot of coffee and switch out stressed drivers. It’s funny when truck drivers see us making coffee at rest stops in a French press. At first they think we are strange (usually because of the way we are dressed) then they say something like, “You can’t make coffee here!” and we say, “Sure we can, look!” Then they are immediately jealous, “Goddamn! What a great Goddamn idea!” And then their caffeine riddled lives are changed.
We had the night off and drove through the mountains until we simply could not be in the van any longer. Arbitrarily, we chose Green River, Wyoming to sleep in. But before hunkering down in the one road town, we decided to stop at the first bar we saw, The Wild West Saloon. Expectedly, the bartender, and the five or six patrons stopped and stared at us as we moseyed in. They quoted us prices and after the drinks were poured, the prices were changed, raised to an out-of-towner rate. We waited for someone to wonder out loud if we were gay or Jewish, (which happens as much as one would think unfortunately) but while we drank our whiskey, they were friendly. The two girls drinking, and the bartender all urged us to go to the local strip club. That’s all they wanted to talk about and we wondered if the bar was nothing more than a capitalistic advertisement for the dancers down the road. They kept pushing for us to visit the club and we kept giggling and after our drinks we proposed the idea of us filming a video in which a one of us, dressed like a giant adorable dog (Turbo AKA Radical), puts a dollar bill in the g-string or garter belt or whatever, however it works. Perhaps this was a bad idea, but we were tired and the bartender (a former employee of the club [what’s strange is that the bartender was pissed off at the strip club for firing her, but at the same time this lady was desperately trying to sell us on going there]) and the two girls in the saloon (off duty dancers) tell us, “Yeah, those dancers would love to be in a funny video, just go talk to Pookie or Crystal!”
So we roll up to the strip club and it’s not like we busted in the place in costume like a bunch of a maniacs, no, we stumble in like gentleman and try to explain the situation. But it sounds creepy to Pookie that we want to make a video. The club is an empty, small, black lit stage with two young strippers dancing for four local middle aged men. Of course it’s creepy (what were we expecting?). We suggest that perhaps it would be better if we didn’t show faces in our video? Pookie isn’t having it. Perhaps she deals with lots of creeps who want to make videos with her girls (though I really think our video would have been positive, and hilarious and certainly no worse than dancing for the same four middle aged dudes every night in Green River) and we are told that it isn’t going to happen. Then Pookie explained further that these girls are mothers and that Crystal’s kid is in intensive care.
Then she offered us beers.
Then the place that was supposed to be strange felt depressing and exhausting and we were the jerks for wanting to dress like silly dogs in a strip club. We walked out with our heads down and found a cheap and gross hotel with duct tape covering the holes in the walls and we slept in Green River, Wyoming most likely for the last time.
The show in Boise was fun but exhausting. They gave us more drink tickets than we could handle and we met some sweet, heavily tattooed rockers. I believe one of the rockers with a tattoo of an astronaut dog (pretty amazing) asked us to go out drinking after the show, and at the moment we were like, “Great, see you there!” but after packing up gear, loading the van, and cleaning up, going out was laughable. We were zombies and my intention was simply to sleep forever, undisturbed until the end of time in the lovely hotel room that was provided for us. And that’s what we did. After that would be Missoula and then up to the west coast and out of the country. But before all that would be wonderful, beautiful, forgiving rest.
Brian Kamerer is a writer and a musician and a lover of dogs. See the tour dates here. Read Brian’s fiction here and check out Brian’s music here.