Sunday, July 05, 2009

No Whammies

My car is always a disaster. Between the Wendy's logo foil that lines the floorboards and the crumpled Krispy Kreme napkins that ride shotgun, there's enough evidence of my destructive personal habits to save the CSI team some paperwork when my aorta eventually explodes. This morning, for example, I fumbled my sunglasses across the car and they landed on a wadded McGriddle wrapper that was nestled beside an empty bottle of Muscle Milk, the unlikeliest pairing since Heidi Klum met Seal.

I don't live this way, I just drive like it. Here in my apartment, you can eat off the floor, provided that you're cool if each bite is covered with dog hair, fossilized shards of Pop Tart frosting, and an errant staple.


When I stopped at Exxon this morning, I shoved the nozzle in the gas tank, mashed the button for the cheapest grade, and was kick starting my memory, trying to recall when I last ordered McNuggets so I'd know whether to eat the one resting comfortably in the cup holder. The gas pump bleated that it was finished and--before spitting out a receipt--asked if I would like to save $2 on a car wash. Just like a Phish fan, my car hasn't been bathed since Bonnaroo. I looked at the insect bodies Jackson Pollacking the windshield and the dried mud icing the doors and enthusiastically pressed YES.

I replaced the gas cap and drove to the car wash half of the parking lot, the side of the building decorated with an unlicensed reproduction of Buzz Lightyear, one juuuust misshapen enough to avoid trademark infringement and also to make him look like his mother drank throughout her pregnancy. After spending seven minutes in the LASERWASH--approximately two Spooky Tooth songs worth--I drove out Bonnaroo free, glistening and pure like a newborn infant. A newborn infant that had also just been laserwashed to get all of the birth-nasty off.

It's fitting--poetic, even--that I de-Roo'ed my wheels the day after I learned that there's more live music in my future. I'll be part of the credentialed press for this October's Austin City Limits festival which promises to be all kinds of awesome. The lineup is top-to-bottom mindblowing, including Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Lily Allen, Levon Helm (late of The Band, the least Google-able band ever), Jack White's shiny new project The Dead Weather, and--a sleeper fave--Texas' own Daniel Johnston.

I sat in the car absentmindedly fumbling with the now-fraying Bonnaroo wristband that I'm still rocking on my right arm and thinking about that weekend. There were countless tiny moments that I'll try to remember, all of them tangled together like coat hangers int the back of the hall closet...and a much smaller bundle I'd prefer not to recall.

The former includes things like seeing Elvis Costello--1/3 of my Three Favorite Englishmen Ever--quietly singing along backstage as Jenny Lewis belted out "Handle With Care"; the latter is my hotel and everything affiliated with it, including the damp carpet, the convenient location between the exit ramp and the site of a recent gas explosion, and a whiff of menace that made me half expect Javier Bardem to kick the door in before calmly pressing a cattle prod to my forehead.

Most of the time when I travel, I'll do a workout in the hotel room, one probably close to what people in prison do to pass the time: a circuit of sit ups, push ups, and squats followed by five minutes of trying not to cry after inadvertently ramming my face into the corner of the dresser. Since this place would be filed below Typhoid Mary's kitchen on the sanitation scale, I went to the plexiglass panel that served as a lobby to ask about finding a gym.

I tapped quietly on the glass.

"Yeah," the attendant said, not looking away from a Game Show channel rerun where a man with wide lapels and a glistening--possibly wet--mustache was clapping, chanting "No whammies, no whammies."

"Yes, I was just curious if there was a fitness center nearby?"

"Nope," she said, popping a piece of Nicorette out of the plastic and lodging it in her jaw. Considering that all the contestants, the host and most of the audience members were quite possibly dead by now, I thought maybe she could take a break to look me in the eye.

"OK, well, what about running?" An animated Whammy snickered and ran a lawnmower over a bag of money as Wet 'Stache shook his head and dramatically snapped his fingers.

"What about it?"

This was going well. "Right, I wondered if there was a place to run around here?"

She stood up and turned the television off in one swift movement. "I wouldn't," she said, walking out of the room.

Everything I wrote that week was published at BitchBuzz, the organization who trusted me to be a serious journalist, albeit one who almost abandoned her career after her backpack brushed against the walls of the porta-john. I also learned that it's effing hard to be pretentious when your pen has the Family Dollar logo on both sides.

Those words are all here: Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Speaking of BitchBuzz, last week I had the chance to interview Robyn Hitchcock for the site. No, really. Those of you nice enough to be longtime readers know that when it comes to a matter of personal importance, this is like if Paula Deen had the chance to talk with the dude who invented butter.

For the new kids, he's been soundtracking my life since I was a college freshman, when I scored a ride to the Record Exchange to trade a stack of one-hit-wonders for a different collection of bands you rarely hear unless you need a root canal. When Hitchcock's "Oceanside" blasted through the store's speakers, I almost smacked the Salem Light out of an employee's hand in my rush to find out who was singing. I dropped $8 on a used copy of Perspex Island and immediately transferred it from its cracked case into my stereo where it remained for the rest of the semester. That album twisted my brain around in a way I've never forgotten--or never recovered from--and ensured I'd spend unsettling amounts of time roaming the H aisle of countless music stores until I'd collected his entire catalog.

Since then, his subsequent releases have each provided a waypoint as I navigated the tangled mess of my twenties. I fell in love to A Star for Bram (1999) and managed to sustain a reasonably healthy relationship for the rest of his solo career. He’d formed a new band by the time my heart was incinerated to Ole! Tarantula (2006) and I scorched someone else’s after casually peeling the plastic from a vinyl copy of Goodnight Oslo (2009). I got fired to Robyn Sings (2002). And to Spooked (2004). And in time for the B-sides of the I Wanna Go Backwards box set (2007), completing my hat trick of insubordination.

You can (you should!) check out Part One here; Part Two will be posted on Monday can be found here.

Stay tuned...


The Imaginary Reviewer said...

As well as The Band, it's also pretty hard for fans of The The to find appropriate websites through Google.

Eddie said...

I'll be at ACL too, for the...fourth?...year in a row, and fifth time ever. We can hook up, and talk about that time where I totally didn't kill you when the script called for you to descend below the stage.

miss. chief said...

"Here in my apartment, you can eat off the floor, provided that you're cool if each bite is covered with dog hair, fossilized shards of Pop Tart frosting, and an errant staple."
are you sure you're not describing my house?

p.s. my verification word is "refur" ... like re-fur a shaved dog or maybe like REEEEEFERRRR

typographysnob said...

I'll also be at ACL, for the 3rd year in a row, 4th total. It's always a great time, just be prepared for the heat. If you're not from Austin or South Texas, it'll blow you away and there is no real place to escape it once you are in the park! You'll have a great time!

Eddie said...

Ah, but they've pushed it back to September this year. When it was in August, there was a casualty count, no lie. Shade is indeed hard to come by, although with a press pass you might have an easier time finding some. said...

My eyes look particularly beautiful in this seething shade of jealousy green.

starpower said...

Great interview! Was it conducted over the phone, in person, online? How exciting to meet someone you admire so much. Yay!

HarryLime67 said...

So did you eat the friggin' McNugget or not? Shit son, you can't leave me hangin' like that. If it's been there as long as we all think it's been, then you're definitely going to need some sauce. Man, the thought that that mamma jamma is still sitting in the cup holder is gonna fester.

flynnster said...

"...this is like if Paula Deen had the chance to talk with the dude who invented butter."

This statement will now sum up every important episode of my life.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

No way! You interviewed Robyn Hitchcock?!!!

I'm so friggin' happy for you! You must've wet yourself ... twice.

Going over to read the interview now.