Touchdown at O’Hare on a crisp Fall afternoon, and it’s straight to The Berghoff for us—I told ya we were tourists, dammnit!
Kimm has been the week in Montreal on business, got in a day early and meets up barside looking refreshed and sparkly.
The rest of us, however, have spent another hellish day in the stratosphere, enduring the usual indignities of modern air travel.
Say, here’s fun: if you ever happen to be on my same flight, and lucky enough to have the seat directly in front of me, then by all means! — feel free to lean that fucker all the way back and pulverize whatever remains of Patella and Articular Cartllage!
Trust me, I don’t even feel it any more…..
Ah, but after a few pints and some sincere insults from the surly bartenders, we’re all feeling top notch once again.
Bring on the Autumnal dishes and let’s get this night going!
We marvel, as always, at Brooks’ and Kimm’s doppleganger-esque profile and demeanor.
We make them trade jackets and underwear for our weary amusement:
Wandering the back stairways of the club, we find a record store, small cabaret and a true rock club within the same bunker.
The night is already scrolling by too quickly, our West Coast biological clocks telling us we should still be in Happy Hour cocktail mode.
But it is a mere hour from downbeat, and the DE boys take to the stage in fine form.
Brooks has gone all out and brought out his gleaming new Orange stack.
Kimm and I spy it from stage right and both run for it, calling dibs!
Kimm wins out when I take my eyes off the amp for a moment, fascinated by an actual sewer grate stage center!
We plug ’em in and do that thing, and it is Saturday night in America, all over again……
Do yer self a favor a check out Punkvinyl!!
Was the club packed? Was the crowd insane?
Depends. Do you want the truth, or do ya want the Internet Truth, hmmmm?
Hell no, continuing our recent and quite charming habit of drawing quite meager crowds, there’s maybe 60 people in the whole joint. And half of them are musicians in the other bands!!
The people that do show, though, are always the best.
And the highlight of the evening is the hangout afterwards with the crazy cats in this wacky town…..
We reluctantly say our goodbyes, not nearly enough time to hang out in this city.
We head up State towards the swanky Travelodge, but not before stopping into the South Loop Club for some late night chow, because that’s how we roll!
We chat away whatever remains of this long ass day into night.
I look down the bar and see the rhythm section is getting cranky, our usual signal to call it a night:
And so Kimm and I carry the sleeping kids up to the room in our arms, lay them to bed and take off their shoes.
And we stand there in the doorway for a moment, just a perfect golden moment, and marvel once again at how fast they grow!
Ah, Chicago, you drunken slut of a town—-God How we missed ya!
The hair is dyed, the pajamas are packed, and we’ve stashed enough Immodium and Zantac to see us through the upcoming weekend.
A plan to meet up with ol pals in Destroy Everything, a gig Saturday at Reggie’s, and then a quick jaunt up to Green Bay for a Sunday nighter: Downbeat right after the Packers demolish the Vikings…….!
Fond memories come flooding back:
Taking in a late season Cubs game, years before they installed lighting at Wrigley.
We were thrilled to see people stream out of the office buildings at 11 am on a Wednesday, already tearing neckties from collar and downing beers as they walked
to the ballpark.
No matter that the team was a good 21 games out of first, these people were gonna go see their goddamn team through til the end, not like the dismal late season attendance of Southern California ballparks…hell no!
It made us ashamed of our own city.
Where was our goddamned commitment to blowing off work, drinking during the day and cheering on a team with no chance to play the post season—huh?!
Afterward, sitting in the Cubby Bear, with the August sun still high in the sky and pitchers of Old Style sweating on the table, Drummer Noal has the charisma and steadiness of hand to pierce a curious waitress’ supple pink bosom with a match-blackened safety pin.
The charmed lass looks at her newly accesorized nipple in wonder, then scampers off to the kitchen to show the rest of the gals
Our work here is done!
We’d stay the week at our dear old pals the Suckows, and Mr Mike would graciously allow us to grill Brats in the backyard while he was at work, only to come home and find we’d drank all the Extra Old Style in the house…..
Then he’d shoo us off to spend our days at the lake, Barbecueing chicken thighs at the Articles of Faith picnic spot and swimming in the strangely salt free waters of Lake Michigan!
Late nights exploring the exotic drinking locales, ordering another round in disbelief at 4 fuckin a.m.! Have we gone to heaven?!, we’d ask each other over generous buckets of Jack and tinkiling ice cubes.
One night Doug and I jumped out of the Blue and White, had the fellas go around the block while we ran inside 1,000 Liquors to grab a 12 pack.
Once inside the store, we discovered a doorway that lead right into a proper dive bar connected to the store!
We were thrilled as teens finding a black garbage bag full of Hustlers in the riverbed underpass.
One by one, the rest of the fellas would jump out of the van to find out where the hell we were, only to order up a highball themselves and pull up a stool.
Poor Jackie, behind the wheel, cursed to inevitably circle the block solo, finally double parked our van full of gear and succumbed to the siren call of bourbon and lager as well….good times!
And yeah—Mr. Smartass!—–we’ve actually played some more recent gigs as well.
Memories Bar, 2007:
What is it about this town that makes us act unabashedly like the kook tourists we really are?
Waiting 2 hours in line to get to the top of Sears tower?
Eating overpriced veal chops at Harry Caray’s?
—count us in!
And so we’re heading back once more, to visit a nuttly little town that we love.
And like that one funny Uncle, the one who only sees you maybe every third Christmas, his schedule determined by parole board or shady out of state employment, we’ll come back bearing gifts.
He smells faintly of Old Spice and Old Grandad, and hugs you overlong before holding you at arms length and looking you over with sparkling eyes.
And then he says it, just like the last time and the time before that: he wonders at how much you’ve changed, but how ya never looked better!
Driving home Wednesday with all intentions of sitting down at the ‘ol Macbook and jotting down yet another self fellating entry, maybe a lil weekend preview:
Friday at The Vault in Temecula, an all ages wonderland where the kids rule the joint. No Bar!
Mom drops them off in the industrial parking lot with a smile, looking forward to a full night of uninterrupted shopping at Ross and a half dozen Cadillac Margaritas at the local TGIF.
Meanwhile, Junior has his chance to smoke cigs in the alley, load up on Rockstars and go crazy in the pit.
When Mater shows up buzzed and happy, the kid is sweaty and grinning, a few bruises from the pit and a text message buzzing in his pocket: that tatted cutie he bumped into while wating in the merch line. Win Win!
Then juxtapose that with the gig Saturday at The Shakedown in San Diego–I suppose the exact opposite of an all ages club.
In fact I think the entry age should be a minuimum of 32, the debauchery and foolishness that goes on within those cinderblock barriers!
The Malt Liquor, yes, it flows like champagne, and the crowd is rowdy yet friendly.
As eager to buy ya a shot of cheap whiskey as they would box yer ears, both acts of endearment meant to cause residual pain.
But then they broke into All Things Considered and I learned, as we all did in a viral moment, that Apple founder Steve Jobs died.
I took the news with a sigh, not much more, heard he was sick, that’s too bad.
I was never one of those that stood in line for 2 days to get an Ipod Nano, not once spent a Saturday afternoon at the Genius Bar at the Grove Apple Store…you know, just hanging out, diggin the vibe.
But still, sad to see a good guy go, I crossed myself and took the offramp, and punched the radio preset from NPR across the breadth of the digital band to KROQ, where those cutting edge upstarts were playing Welcome to the Jungle!! What fuckin year is this again?!
But the more I thought about it, the Apple lifestyle did in fact mean a lot to the musician, yeh?
Sure, to yer garden variety Angry Punk, Apple products suck!
Just another pacifier from the corporate enemy (oi!), but that —sigh–that goes for anything, really.
Oh, I’m sure over in the Subhumans headquarters they’re not too fond of Coca Cola or the Kia Hamsters either, but you can bet they take their goddamn Iphones along with them when they go on tour.
For the whole smart phone revolution seemed as if created just for punkers on the go.
In a true DIY sense, what punk band, on their own without an army of handlers, tour managers and roadies can be expected to drive all day to a strange town, navigate while promoting the gig on Facebook and locate any gas stations that sell beer on the way, hmmm?
That little slab of touchscreen in your back pocket, that thing made it all the easier to say, fuck off, I’ll do it myself!
So yeah, we all have a phone that does more than just chirp at the most embarassing times.
But Apple brings all these must-haves into the same stable: Sleek and simple computers, and howsabout them Ipads, huh?
Those wondrous toys that the most skeptical of us dismissed as another geek toy, until you held one in your sweaty paws at the Best Buy and decided you could not live without it.
And while I can appreciate Jobs’ integration of Japanese Calligriphic flow in establishing the Apple font and control, this device more importantly revolutionized the way we access porn and masturbate in hotel rooms……..
And what about Pixar, hmmm?
But come on now, it’s the fuckin Ipod that changed the whole thing.
Think back to those strange days just when music was getting converted to MP3’s. Napster was a wonderland, you logged in and were blown back by the songs being shared by people.
And you thought, well, this is amazing!
I was finally able to get digital versions of the Rejected album, but more importantly, some poor misguided soul out there took the time to hook a turntable up to a computer somehow and burned it for us all—and he thought he was doing something worthwhile!
So the internet opened it all up like the Wild West and digital versions of all your favorites were flying across the ether—-for free!
But what about those people creating the music, hmmmm?
We all thought it was over, the way music was recorded and packaged.
It was good, sure, that we could get our music in the hands of those who wanted it, but you can forget about packaging that cd again next Summer, brother!
Hell, I believe we were this close ! –to getting all our publishing back from Posh Boy for about 190 bucks…….
But then here came the Ipod, and more importnatly, Itunes…
And while far from perfect (What tha….MP4?!), Jobs and company seemingly found a logical, inevitable way to corral all those renegade songs back into a format we could all, if uneasily, live with.
So now you had your whole catalogue and more at the double click of the mouse, and guess what?
It turned out alright.
You were surprised that people still wanted to buy that song you wrote twenty-*cough* years ago, and that it meant enough to them that they would carry it along with them in these new devices.
And in a big way in gave a whole new boost, allowing some aging punk rockers (ahem) to get their fat asses off the couch and back in the van, for just one more Summer at least.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
After all, the Ipod is well known to be manufactured by 12 year old Chinese girls at a price of 96 cents each, and Mr. Jobs was surely not alone in designing these toys.
And if it wasn’t Apple, someone else surely would’ve figured out we needed this stuff.
But maybe it wouldn’t have been presented with nearly as much charm and class.
Funny, with an army of unemployed hipsters camping out on the faux cobblestones of Wall Street, lunching on donated meals of Panera Steak Paninnis and Chai Lattes, how a person could be so mourned.
A man as surely aligned as the face of a giant corporation is mourned with tears?
Because he became our Walt Disney, a man with a vision living in a world gone flat.
As with all things gone digital, viral, corrupted and deleted, our whole life has become compressed versions of reality.
And this world, we hold not in some monolithic slab of wires and circuit board, no–your whole life fits in your pocket, and soon to be non existant, physically, at all.
It will all be up in the clouds, as we all will someday.