Into the Wintergardens on Friday night, we’ve been given a nice late set time, though on the echo chamber that is OlympiaII stage….
We set up as Chelsea finishes up next door and away we go! We keep checking our watches, as we wanna jump off stage and get in line to see Stiff Little Fingers, so it’s a hot short set!
We finish up and meet up with a bunch of great people still hangin the rail:
We’re always speechless when meeting the folks who come to this global event, and they tell us they traveled from Finland or Budapest just to see us!!
Of course, I hear them next go up to the Lurkers and say the same thing….
And then we shift into fanboy mode, and navigate the backstage maze of the Wintergardens like resident rats, highlighted programs in hand!
Friday blends into Saturday, which we thankfully have off. It’s time to investigate the jolly streets of Blackpool, and soak up all the cultural highlights!
We’re at the Merrie England Bar at North Pier, when we suddenly realize we are not surrounded by punkers, but a surreal tableaux of human primitivism!
The Hen and Stag parties are getting rowdier as evening darkens the Irish Sea: These Brits, when they drink, they drink!
And in costume no less!
I see a bachelorette party dressed as naughty school girls get into a switchblade fight with a menopausal group of naughty flight attendants.
At the urinals, a trio of lads dressed as Charlie’s Angels bemoan Chelsea’s afternoon loss. A gent dressed as Randy Macho Man Savage vomits precariously close to my All Stars.
It is time to get back to the relative safety and calm of five thousand punk rockers in the Wintergardens!
Once again, Rebellion is Punk Rock High School reunion for the vet set. Though we’ve met them each a dozen times, it doesn’t stop us from asking for yet another autograph from Nick and Charlie!
Saturday night and we are exhausted, blissed out on sets of punk rock and pints of Strongbow Cider.
We take to the bar in the Empress Ballroom and get ready for our farewell to Rebellion, the New York fuckin Dolls!
After uproarious sets by the Subs and Slaughter and the Dogs, the crowd huddles in the darkened ballroom, ready to worship the Godfathers of Sleaze. The band comes out, the crowd goes nuts, David Johansen looks fab!
Soon enough we’re back in the night air, having said goodbye to friends and bands, promises made to meet again in a year.
We walk back to the Gresham as the Wintergardens still pulses with live music.
A new batch of tour buses have pulled up on Adelaide St, and we tenatively knock on a few windows, hoping to shake a few more hands before calling it a night.
Just fans out after a day of music, after all.
The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!
Yeah, yeah—-you call it disgusting, the epitome of fast food gluttony gone unchecked.
We call it genius!
If you recall the very first night of this little jaunt, all we ever wanted was to get our hands on one of these babies.
And, tell me– is there no sadder image than the fellas being denied a late night sammich, as they plead outside a Brooklyn drive thru through at 2 am?
Throughout the Eastern seaboard, the Double Down proved elusive:
Banned in Boston.
Ran out at 7pm in Jersey.
In Albany, we had the sandwich wrestled out of our hands by concerned relatives!
Fine. It’s Sunday, Rebellion accomplished and one little show left in the UK.
We figure what better way to say farewell to Blackpool than reward ourselves with a savory Double Down—we’ve been living on carrot shavings and beet juice for the last 10 days, only way to keep our girlish figures intact!
But now it’s time to cut loose and oh, they have KFC in UK, don’t you worry!
Sunday noonish and into the local Blackpool KFC and…wha? They don’t have the Double Down, never heard of it!!
We walk out of the franchise to the laughter and cockney jeers of the cruel locals. They call us yanks and wankers, and anti-carbohydrate fascists!
We load in and get back on the M6 before the bottles and rocks start flying, once again denied the mythic snack.
And in the capital of all things fried, for God sake!
Quick jaunt down to London and it’s back to Camden and the Dublin Castle:
Turns out Dublin Castle is the old Madness headquarters, and they say that Suggs actually still comes by now and again for a drink!
We take photos of photos, and even do a quick shot for ol pal Otis, knowing he would enjoy the thought!
And then it’s off to explore Camden once again, and yes—– perhaps wander innocently into a KFC and end up in a sodium induced coma!
Turns out that even in this Metropolitan jewel they have not heard of the DD. We grudgingly surrender to conveyor belt sushi for dinner, comforted only by the thought that we will be flying home in the morning, and that much closer to the snack that has now become a unattainable treasure…….
Back to the Castle and catch Valdez roarin through their set:
And then it’s time for the our last set in the UK.
Backstage now, and Kimm is listlessly picking at the leftover catering:
“What is it chum?” I ask. “Done good, we’re goin home Matey.”
“Yeah. I know. The show’s have been great, it’s just that….” and here he pauses, and I know what’s coming next.
Kimm’s voice cracks as he whispers the 3 syllables:
I look around, and though we have played a fine set, and here we are in London on a crystalline Sunday evening, the lads are down.
Ant stares emptily into space. Alf dumps small salt packets into his mouth.
Enough is enough. I dry the fellas’ tears and we parade out of the Castle, jaywalk boldly across Parkway Ave, holding hands like children on a field trip to the zoo.
Fuck KFC and their arbitrary blessings! We’ll say when and where we’ll have our meal, goddamnit—even if we have to make it ourselves!
And that is how we ended up at a McDonalds on this historic night, and showed the Brits a thing or two about American ingenuity!
The CH3 Double Down:
2 Fiesta Fried Chicken Sandwiches*
1 Bacon Western Big Mac*
*Available only in Greater UK Franchises and in Western Malaysia
Take chicken patties out of sandwiches. Discard buns and lettuce.
Take Hamburger patty and bacon out of sandwich. Discard bun and lettuce.
Assemble: Chicken Patty, Hamburger, Bacon, Chicken Patty (2)
A crowd of curious Anglos gathered around us as we furiously worked over our projects. The whispers became audible gasps: “Corr, have a look at what they’ve done there!”
“It can’t be…it’ll never work!”
“Crazy Yanks. God bless em, the crazy Yanks.”
“The tall one, what is he, a Mexican or some sort of hairy eskimo?”
I gingerly grab hold of the creation and take the ceremonial first bite.
The sodium rush, the explosion of liquified grease.
The melding artificial flavors.
These all come together in an orgasmic symphony, and I pass the sandwich down the row.
Each man takes a bite, eyes roll back into heads, the bliss is palpable.
Tour complete, but more importantly, we’ve ended the quest on our terms.
We exit triumphantly into the night air, bellies satisfied and memories already engraved. We each try to put into words what just happened, how to tell the folk back home the good good work we’ve done here.
Luckily, there’s video!
A fine way to end our Summer, we walk the streets of London, lips shiny with grease.
We’ve come full circle yet again, it seems, and another tour ends as it should, among pals and laughter.
Cheers to you all — old dear friends and those we’ve met and count as our friends now, see ya again soon-M
When we last left our heroes, they were wandering the streets of London in a salt and grease induced haze, the UK shows done and hearts looking homeward……
The fellas said their bittersweet goodbyes on that sultry Monday morning:
The work week bustle of London swirled about us as we stood on separate street corners, guitars and knapsacks in hand, suddenly purposeless as mercenary soldiers bewildered by a world at peace.
We each make our way home in a fashion: Anthony and Alf spend an extra week out in Haiti, volunteers on the Wyclef Jean Presidential campaign until plans for the puppet regime are outrageously interrupted!
Kimm, as usual, takes to a small monastery outside of Kyoto, taking a vow of silence just so he won’t have to discuss the Last Time I Drank….. album with yet another curious fan.
And me? It was a courier flight back home via Minneapolis, where I hand delivered a human heart, cornea and a sparkling green iris to the Mayo clinic.
We finally reconvened on a magical Friday night on Anaheim avenue, a quick pre game tune up with Joe Jost’s specials, eggs, and hefty schooners of Busch!
Ah, Long Beach—how we missed your savory snacks, your sodden alleyways!
It’s with a jaunty skip that we make our way back to Alex’s Bar.
What can I tell you people that you don’t already know?
Those warm red lights, the humid fertile atmosphere…..this is less a bar than a uterus we’d like to incubate in for nine months, smart cocktail in hand!
And so we sling on those guitars one last time, say farewell to the Summer.
The worn leather straps fit into the grooves that have been notched into our shoulders, a physical defect earned by a thousand nights in a thousand bars.
Much has been made of this location and the otherwordly charm it has acquired since filling in for a vampire bar on a popular sitcom.
Pfffft—-please. The regular denizens on any given weekend night would make those wimpy bloodsuckers run away like frightened children……
Yes, it’s on those soaked planks surrounding the bar that the true creatures of the night haunt!
But it’s the next morning, when you wake up in the bed of your pickup truck, which is parked in an abandoned warehouse.
You are wearing nothing but a lobster bib and surgical booties; your mouth is welded open from snoring the dry air and, yes, a most recent meal of chicharrones and hummus.
You look for any clue of what has happened to you, scan your body for any new wounds. And then you spot it:
The tell tale stamp on the back of your hand.
It was a night at Alex’s, afterall, and you are truly back home.