Ah, what is it about a fine hotel?
The chance to luxuriate upon Egyptian 1200 thread count sheets in soft terrycloth robes?
That small yet heartwarming gesture, the nightly gift of a mint on the pillow?
Perhaps you just like to scroll mindlessly through the Adults-Only titles on the 50” LCD monitor, is that it, you naughty rascal?
Heh—if you’re like us on a Friday afternoon at America’s Best Value Inn, East Austin, packed into one room as the other is being finished by the maids, your best values tend to aim a little lower…..
We keep checking the hallway, but the maid’s cumbersome workstation remains outside our door.
The day labororers standing around the front office, 40 oz jugs of amber malt liquor in hand, eyed us warily as we checked in.
We hear a lot of chingas and maricóns muttered in the background as we climb the stairs holding guitar cases.
There is a pickup game of soccer happening in the parking lot at the moment, apparently the drywallers are outscoring the busboys 3-1.
And now, I shit you not, Maintenance has been called to our room-in-waiting.
A big smiling chap comes back out into the hallway, carrying the dorm-sized fridge, and begins happily washing the congealed blood out of it.
Misters, your room is good now!
A quick vote is taken, and fearing to rest our pubis anywhere near the inevitably lice ridden bedspreads, we decide to forgo our customary nap and head straight to our beloved Casino El Camino: Let’s say say hello to the town.
Austin, you slutty drunk of a town, how we missed you!
We head over to Rainey Street, its burnt out hovels reimagined as ritzy dive bar hovels now, a playground for the Docker and Ralph Lauren set…
Foreclosed shacks are now home to 14 dollar Appletinis, and there are ATM machines set up on gravel driveways amongst the clucking chickens and dog shit.
Why can’t we have something like this, say, in Santa Fe Springs back home?!
Loading in and setting up merch, the bands meet up and talk about new grandkids and used guitars: Gonna be a fun night!
It turns out to be just a grand time, the bands are all on point and everywhere you look there is a familiar face wearing a goofy smile!
We’re on the outdoor stage tonight, and a warm yellow moon rises above the howling pack of degenerates at Red 7…..all we’re missing is a bonfire and a split haunch of venison and this primal ritual would be complete!
Luckily, Stitches have to close out this night.
Funny, in the old days, bands would fight over the headlining spot, going as far as faking car trouble or ailing Grandmothers to show up late.
Now, like value-minded Senior Citizens lining up for the 4:30 earlybird at the Parasol Diner, we’re at the club early and scrapping for the chance to play first!
Heh—you close out the show Sonny, we got some reruns of Matlock to catch up on!
We get back to America’s Best Value and fall into deep slumber clutching oozing Whataburgers, nary a thought of frozen blood or crab infestation disturbing our blissful sleep.
It’s up and out, and plans are made for a light breakfast at IronWorks BBQ:
And then, clever boys that we are, it’s back to Casino before hitting the road to Houston.
2 shows down and 9600 milligrams of Sodium up, I know we all are at that point in the weekend that we take a personal inventory:
Just need to choke down a couple litres of water, some Immodium and Vitamin C and we’re good, yeah?
But maybe there is an extra gram of tiredness in the limbs, an unfamiliar grumbling of stomach… but nothing we can’t get through.
After all, you’ve done it before: that becomes the true mantra of any man past the age of fifty, I suspect.
We measure our performance against the past, and tend to ignore the added seconds at the finish line, the stubborn top button on the favorite Levis.
Ah, but these little markers become the telltales of time claiming its territory.
And so we get back in and drive on, comforted only by the thought that it’s a Hilton booked for tonight.