"You know what the truth is?" said Karabekian. "It's some crazy thing my neighbor believes. If I want to make friends with him, I ask him what he believes. He tells me, and I say, 'Yeah, yeah--ain't it the truth?" -- K. Vonnegut
THIS PAST WEEK was a little wild. Six days on the road with The Anginator. Pretty much non-stop. We spent two days in Connecticut. Visited a number of breweries, but we couldn’t find the Ghandi-Bot. Struck out every which way we turned. Got to sample the Road 2 Ruin and Rye 95 at the larger than expected ‘Two Roads Brewery’. Their firkin Saison with Black Chili Pepper was tasty too. It had people going a little crazy. Met someone who gave me a record player. It looks like it’s in decent condition, but at the same time I don’t really know. It doesn’t have a power cable so I can’t plug it in or turn it on. I’ll have to find one of those. . .and some records. This could be a life changing situation.
We were on the road like nutz, and at one point I had to stop. I was yawning a lot and we still had 160 miles to go that day. I needed a coffee and a spot to walk around. We pulled off and followed some signs to a FleaMarket. For sure they’d have coffee there, and it was already perking me up that I’d probably be able to kick start my record collection.
At the FleaMarket, I noticed that it was a place that had a lot of talking but no conversations. It was all people looking at things, no one ever looked at each other. Nobody was looking into anyone else’s eyes. I tried and it was hard at first. I went to order a latte with extra whipped cream and I felt the guy starring me down. I was intimidated for some reason and I just gazed into the menu posted on the side of the truck. I went over and over it while placing my order and paying for it.
A Single Coffee.............1.99
and Cafe Latte..............4.29
and underneath it had an asterisk notating .50 for extra whipped cream. Aww, that whip is going to make my day. But, I needed to test my self. I saw that no one would make eye contact and everyone seemed to be talking. And this one coffee truck cashier had the balls to stare someone down? Stare me down?
So, he said, “Cafe Latte!” with a low grumble and I stepped up. I reached for it and looked him right in the face. That’s when I noticed it. His eyes were like mirrors. I could see a slight pupil behind it like a shitty one way mirror in a county fair funhouse, but it was looking down. Not at me at all. At the floor...in the distance. He was as lost or shy or frightened as the rest at any social interaction, and he was making me feel the same way.
As I was taking my first sip of the coffee, I noticed stacks and stacks of old - and new - records. I saw a huge pile of Beatles. Early Stuff: Meet the Beatles, Help!, Beatles ’65. There was nice copies of Let It Be and The White Album. The Red and Blue Greatest Hits. I had nearly 20 LP’s in my hands and I starred this guy down and told him I was taking the whole lot for 10 bucks. He said $225. I gave him $25 twice and took off toward the car.
The Anginator was running toward me. She just threw down .25 cents for a few random A/C Adaptor cables from a vintage technology table. In both cases I felt as if we were making off with a steal. It was about $2.20 per Beatles album. Oh, and I also picked up a copy of ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’, and with those cables Ang had grabbed there was a chance that we did just start our very own record collection.
And, imagine if we rigged that turntable to play in the car. Install a shock absorbent console in the middle of the back seat and we’d be listening to the Pepperland Orchestral section of Yellow Submarine on vinyl while cruising down Maryland’s 301 toward Richmond. Imagine how fun it would be to listen to long play records again. . .
I REALLY, REALLY want to tell this story, but I don’t know where to begin. I feel like I know the middle of it. I just don’t know how it gets to that part. I could pick a point earlier on and just start talking. That would get the story going. But, I feel that the story needs to be told right. There’s also too many people in it. Too many for me to try to play or too many for me to keep saying, “Well then Jenny said this and Toddler said this and so and so said whatever.” So, what’s the point? Why bring it up at all before the story’s ready to tell?
Or maybe the point is that there is no story. If the story was good, it would almost tell itself right? That’s how we talk when we’re hanging out, over dinner, on a car ride, in a room, where ever we tell stories right? We just start with something like, “Ooh” then BAM -- Story. But, here is a point in time set aside so I can tell a particular story and it’s not happening.
Maybe I should just start. . .”Oooh. No. Ooooooh. Hmmm. I needed help. There was potholes everywhere. I couldn’t avoid them all and I was pretty sure I had just shredded one of the tires. I should have just stopped or at least slowed down. It’s just that it was late. I didn’t feel like being out in that particular part of town. I was late too. I was supposed to be home 30 minutes ago and I didn’t want to spend extra time finding an alternate route around all these damn potholes. Shouldn’t someone be in charge of keeping the freaking city streets in working condition?
All of these frustrations kept boiling up in my head covering up what really should have occupied that space: A solution to this mess because my original solution of trying to barrel through was just about all used up.
The car started swerving out of my control for a moment until what was left of the tire blew off completely. Now I was grinding on a rim and it was slowing me down dramatically. Finally, I had a real thought, not some hypothetical blame game that I’d use while explaining this all to my wife when I got home. I decided that I would stop and check out the damage. Before I brought the car to a complete halt with the brakes, the potholes outside did it for me. The rubber-free rim slid deep into the mother of all potholes and dug right in. It felt like I had just run into a brick wall. The air bag even popped out and clubbed me in the nose. It deflated immediately and I wanted to just sit there. I was done. I was deflated too.
I forgot to bring my phone with me that night, as I always do, so I just sat there imagining the calls I would make. Soon after that I fell asleep.
LATER THAT EVENING I wound up talking to Tony B and Pinoke in a bar. They were out watching Butcher Brown tearing it up at The Parkland. They bought me a couple of Victory Dirt Wolfs and a way too full glass of Jameson. I had forgotten about the accident. I forgot about everything. About where I left the car. About going home. I just knew that some bad shit went down and I was trying to leave it all behind.
Tony B. said something about getting something to eat at the local food eatery and we all decided that it was a good plan. I just had to take a James first.
In the world that I live in “Taking a James” means to go to the bathroom. It comes from the phrase “Taking a Leak” which morphed at some point in my younger years to “Taking a Link”. I think every crew has their form of slang that just begins at some point. Once it is realized, it becomes funny and fun to do. I think intro to slang was to add “n’s” to words that do not have “n’s” in them. So, ‘Leak’ became ‘Leenk’ which became ‘Link’. There was a school teacher at the time who was a real wimp. He was always giving away clues that his wife had him by the balls. Something happened with him midway through the school year where he had to quit or he just left or something. Word was that he had lost a bunch of money to some slick real estate salesman and he almost lost his wife during the whole ordeal. I don’t know how everything turned out, I just hope he learned a powerful lesson about ‘Who’s the Boss’. Anyway, his name, the teacher, was James Lyngk. Shortly after he was gone, we switched saying “Taking a Link” to “Taking a James”. Ever since then it stuck.
It’s important because I had to take a serious James that night. The bathrooms inthat place are up front to the right side of the stage. The men’s room is small with only one urinal and a toilet right beside it. No divider. I can’t stand that type of scene. I went up there opened the door and some other dude was pissing in the urinal. I hesitated for a second to make a decision. I don’t know why I hesitated because it’s not my style to go in there and stand next to that dude and just start doing some sort of collabo James. I’ll hold it and wait. But, the hesitation at least made me feel more solid about that prearranged decision because this dude was wobbling from too much booze and he was unloading that booze all over the place. I turned around to wait outside and passed another boozehound on the way. He went right in. Stayed in. “So weird,” I thought.
So, I was standing there on the outside of the bathroom but right in the zone of the Butcher Brown rhythm section. Tight, snappy drumming, thick bass, melodic keys. It was such a transcendent groove that I once again forgot everything that was going on. But, this time I felt energized, pumped up. . . inflated.